During the course of this year’s Gulf Oil Spill
, a lot of media attention was paid to the oil booms used to contain and/or absorb the surface slick. While a small percentage of the sausage-shaped tubes of netting were stuffed with unusual materials such as hair, most of them contained oil-absorbent polypropylene. Now that the Deep Horizon well has been capped, the question of what to do with all that oily plastic arises. It turns out that some of it will find its way into Chevrolet Volts
It’s been a big week in the world of mass-produced electric vehicles. Hot on the heels of Nissan delivering the first of its LEAF all-electric vehicles
to a customer in California last Saturday, a retired airline pilot by the name of Jeffrey Kaffee has become the first customer in the U.S. to take delivery of a Chevrolet Volt
. Although the Volt he received wasn’t actually the first available for sale, with that particular vehicle going to the winner of an online charity auction
, which closed on Tuesday with a winning bid of US$225,000.
After a build-up that's lasted for almost four years, you now finally have the chance to buy the first-ever Chevrolet Volt
“extended range electric vehicle” available for retail sale. The catch: General Motors has decided to auction the car off to the highest bidder. Proceeds will go to the Detroit Public Schools Foundation, to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics initiatives. Online bidding started at US$50,000, and at the time of publication is already up to $180,000. The car’s MSRP is $41,000.
With hybrid and electric vehicles appearing in more and more automobile showrooms around the world, the traditional fuel efficiency measure of miles per gallon (MPG) alone just doesn’t cut it anymore. With cars able to be powered by electric power alone or a combination of electric and gasoline, new measures are needed to better inform consumers when buying a new car. To this end, General Motors (GM) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have teamed up to design a new window label for the Chevrolet Volt
that has more information than any EPA label before it.
The 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show
Design Challenge – which asked designers to come up with an efficient 1,000lb (454kg), four-passenger vehicle that maintained comfort, safety, driving-performance and style – has finished in a tie between GM’s Cadillac Aera concept and the Smart 454 from Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design. Previously, the Design Challenge was restricted to major Southern California automotive design studios but this year
saw the field widen to include studios from Germany and Japan, resulting in entries from Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Nissan, Toyota and Maybach.
Not long ago, there was informed debate on whether a purpose-built computer would ever beat a chess master. Now mobile phones have achieved Grand Master status. Computers continue to get exponentially faster, not to mention considerably smarter through improved software, whereas humans are effectively nearing their limits. Hence, it’s arguably only a matter of time and R&D focus before computers (plus improved sensors and software) surpass any specific human capability. This week Audi revealed that its Autonomous TTS research car had completed the 12.42-mile Pike’s Peak mountain course in 27 minutes. An expert driver in the same car would take around 17 minutes – now we have a benchmark, the race is on, and it's almost inevitable that a computer will one day outdrive the best of our species, and it may be sooner than you think.
For the past six years, the Los Angeles Auto Show
has invited automobile designers to participate in its Design Challenges. The challenge for this year’s show was to come up with a design for “a 1,000lb [453.6kg], four-passenger vehicle that is both comfortable and safe, while delivering satisfactory driving performance without sacrificing the styling consumers’ demand.” Entries are being judged not only for meeting the weight constraint (no more than 1,500 pounds/680 kg with passengers), but also for artistic beauty, comfort, uniqueness of design, roadworthiness, sustainability, performance and user-friendliness. The winner will be announced at the show, on Nov. 18. Here’s a look at some of the higher-profile entries...
There are businesses that let you glaze your own pottery, cook your own steak or pick your own strawberries, but when it comes to the hands-on experience, a new offer from General Motors has them all beat. If you order a 2011 Corvette Z06 or ZR1, you have the option of traveling to GM's Performance Build Center in Wixom, Michigan, and hand-assembling your car’s LS7 or LS9 engine. It’s called the Corvette Engine Build Experience, and is believed to be the first program of its kind (if any readers would like to dispute that claim, please do so). If you don’t like the idea of providing GM with your mechanical expertise for no cost, don’t worry - you’ll have to pay an extra $US5,800 for the privilege.
A few days ago, I managed to get up close and personal in Shanghai
with one of the most interesting concept cars the world has yet seen. SAIC's Yez concept car is the first automobile, concept or otherwise, that's ever been conceived to have a negative carbon footprint. That is, it removes more pollution than it creates.
Not long ago we told you about the Moto Student competition
, wherein teams of students from across Spain and the rest of Europe are competing to build racing motorcycles. Well, a similar competition is underway in the US, and it’s called EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge. In this contest, teams of North American engineering students are competing to convert GM-supplied vehicles into super-efficient, super-clean-running, high-tech wonders. The second year of the three-year contest wrapped up this week, with Mississippi State University (MSU) taking the top spot.