Another Tesla Model S fire

Here’s the latest news on the third fire reported for the Tesla Model S. Tesla has sold over 19,000 of the all-electric Model S sedans but this news threatens to change the mostly positive image the company has created over the years.

Electric competition coming for Tesla?

Tesla Model S f

Tesla is riding high right now, as the Tesla S is a beautiful car and it’s piling up awards. The company is certainly worthy of all the praise directed its way. But, things are changing quickly in the auto business, as technological innovation is progressing rapidly. Thus, things can change quickly for Tesla as well with competition lurking.

GM and Honda made big news this week with an announcement that they’re teaming up to develop a mass-market fuel-cell system for future cars. The system, which is expected to debut in about 2020, chemically “burns” hydrogen to generate electricity without toxic emissions.

That electricity can then be used to power an electric motor: In other words, these will be electric cars, only without the batteries. GM and Honda also pledged to work on storage technologies for all that hydrogen, as well as on infrastructure — places to “get gas” for your future hydrogen-powered ride.

This doesn’t mean that the world is giving up on battery-powered electrics, of course. Batteries remain heavy and expensive, and take a while to recharge, but Tesla Motors has recently made it very clear that a great car can be built around a big heavy battery pack, despite the trade-offs.

But the GM-Honda link-up, along with Toyota’s recent confirmation that it would launch a fuel-cell car next year (a car that seems likely to be aimed directly at the Model S, by the way), is a good reminder that battery-electrics aren’t necessarily the way forward, just one of several possible ways.

That’s something that investors in any car company, including Tesla, should keep in mind.

Of course, this article is aimed at Tesla investors, and the stock issue is separate from the company and its current and future prospects. The stock may be a bit overpriced yet the company’s outlook can be fantastic.

Tesla has proven to be a leader in this space, and I think they can handle the competition. But the competition will be there.

Cadillac ELR plug-in hybrid looks badass

Cadillac ELR plug-in hybrid
© General Motors

GM showed off this new Caddy at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year. It looks pretty awesome and it’s basically a luxury version of the Chevy Volt as Cadillac brings plug-in hybrid technology to the Cadillac brand.

When General Motors (GM) decided to make a plug-in hybrid several years ago, there was a lively discussion behind closed doors about whether the first model to showcase the expensive technology should be a Chevrolet or a Cadillac. The Chevy advocates won and the Volt was born. History suggests that may not have been the right choice. The Volt—the first car to mix all-electric capabilities with an auxiliary gas engine to extend its driving range after the battery’s depleted—has had disappointing sales. Republicans during the presidential campaign pilloried it as a symbol of the failings of President Obama’s auto-industry bailout.

GM has decided to take a second stab at Volt technology, and this time it’s heading upmarket, with the Cadillac ELR plug-in hybrid, introduced Jan. 15.

That may be going a bit too far, as there’s nothing to indicate that a Cadillac would have fared any better as GM’s first plug-in option. The technology is just getting started, and the Volt’s price point was always an issue.

Hertz First Car-rental Company to Deploy A Zero-emissions All-electric Bus

This is great news for the advancement of green vehicles. From Market Watch:

The Hertz Corporation, the world’s largest general use airport car rental brand, announces today the use of BYD’s eBUS-12 at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), the first such use to be conducted by a rental car company. Hertz is testing the all-electric on its main routes to gain data on this new platform.

“Hertz is aggressively moving forward with its Global EV program, introducing electric vehicles into its worldwide fleet and testing other electric vehicles as they become available,” says Mark P. Frissora, Hertz Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Hertz’s mission is to provide the most technologically advanced mobility solutions to our customers, including the buses we use as part of our everyday operations at airports. We continue Hertz’s track record of innovation by being first to deploy an all-electric shuttle bus in the US.”

The BYD pure electric eBUS-12 is able to run 155 miles on a single charge in urban conditions, more than enough for Hertz’s use at its airport locations, and its energy consumption is less than 100 kWh per 60 miles. The eBUS-12 is designed with the customer in mind, with a low floor and ample space to allow easy passenger loading and unloading and the bus has specially engineered sound insulation for a quieter cabin experience. The eBUS is being tested at Hertz’s Los Angeles Airport location, shuttling car rental customers between the terminals and Hertz’s rental facility. With a lower cost of ownership than a traditional gas powered bus, replacing just one traditional bus with the eBUS will reduce emissions by over 320 kg of CO2 (per 150 miles traveled) and save Hertz an average of $76* per day, per bus in fuel costs! (*32 gallons of diesel at $3.20/gal are replaced with $25.92 in electricity for $0.08/Kwh — the night time EV charge rates in LA).

Read the full article.

Chevy to produce an all-electric version of the Spark

Chevy has announced it will produce an all-electric version of the Chevy Spark mini car, the Spark EV. This vehicle complements Chevy’s growing range of EVs, including the Volt and the 2013 Malibu ECO with eAssist technology. It will be sold in limited quantities in select U.S. and global markets starting in 2013. See here for more information.

Also, in an effort to meet the growing demand for safe, connected personal transportation, GM has decided to work on the next-generation EN-V concept vehicle and brand it with the Chevy badge. This two-seat, electric urban mobility concept is a zero-emissions vehicle powered by lithium-ion batteries. The Chevy EN-V concept will be updated with new features that customers need such as climate control, personal storage space and all-weather and road condition operation.

To learn more about the Chevy EN-V, check out the release here.

Check out Consumer Reports top picks for 2011

MSN.com breaks down the best cars in 10 categories, “proving goodness doesn’t require paying top dollar.”

Six new models made our Top Picks list this year, representing a diverse selection from Japan, South Korea, and the U.S. No automaker dominates; the 10 picks come from six manufacturers and eight brands, which reflect the increasing competitiveness within today’s auto market. Toyota is the only brand with more than one model. To see the best & worst 2011 cars and best new-car car values, go to Consumer Reports’ annual auto issue hub.

Our Top Picks are the best all-around models in their categories. Chosen from the more than 270 vehicles we’ve recently tested, these vehicles scored well in our testing, have average or better predicted reliability, performed well in government or insurance-industry safety tests, if evaluated, and offer stability control — a proven, lifesaving feature.

Check out the selections.

The Blue Oval keeps working on the color Green!

48704, SANTA ANA CITY, CALIFORNIA - Tuesday December 21, 2010.  MUSTANG TALLY - Bob Lucas's Car Still Going Strong After 45 Years And One Million Miles. A retired teacher who bought a car in 1965 is still behind the same wheel four decades later - after racking up more than one MILLION miles. Grandfather-of-six Bob Lucas, 79, bought the Ford GT Mustang 289 from his local dealer in 1965 for $3,000. Bob, then just 34, had no idea the hardy vehicle would last for the next 45 years - and clock up an astonishing million miles. Words by Paul Andrews, PacificCoastNews.com / Photograph: James Breeden,  PacificCoastNews.com

Ford isn’t letting up in trying to come up with all ideas possible to increase fuel efficiency. If this start and stop method can increase mpg by 10% in the city and 5% overall cars won’t need to be idle to get our attention! (just make sure the heater keeps running in Ohio winters!)

From the Truth About Cars:

Despite the fact that current EPA testing methods fail to demonstrate the advantages of “stop-start” systems, which shut down engines at idle, Ford will begin rolling out the technology on 2012 model-year vehicles. Automotive News [sub] reports that “some” four-cylinder models will go idle-free starting with next year’s rollout of 2012 models, and that

Based on the European rollout, the most likely initial vehicles include the 2012 Ford Fiesta and Focus cars, Escape crossover, C-Max minivan and Transit Connect delivery vehicle.

By 2015, Ford will have joined Mazda as one of the manufacturers offering start-stop across its lineup (on manual and automatic models). There was, however, no cooperation between the two firms on their respective stop-start systems. Ford’s newest system can reportedly improve efficiency by ten percent in the city and five percent overall.

Read the full article.

Fisker Automotive and China Grand Automotive Group to bring premium electric vehicles to China

Fisker automotive

You may know Fisker Automotive as the manufacturer of the Karma. The Karma is an electric car at heart, but with extended range to back up the green-savvy tech. It’s a very cool car, and you can see CEO Henrik Fisher’s design credentials (Vantage, DB9, Z8) come forth in the above Karma shot from the LA Auto show.

Fisker has partnered with China Grand Automotive Group, the number one passenger car trader in China, to deliver vehicles to the Far East.

From the press release:

“We are extremely proud to be working with CGA to support Fisker Automotive in the fast-emerging Chinese market,” said Henrik Fisker, CEO, Fisker Automotive. “With its vast network of experienced retailers CGA will give Fisker an instant and credible footprint in the region. CGA’s attention to detail and excellent customer service will ensure Fisker buyers receive the level of service and peace of mind expected of a premium brand.”

Fisker Automotive’s first car, the Fisker Karma, will make its Chinese debut at the Shanghai Motor Show in April 2011. The Karma represents Fisker Automotive’s vision of responsible luxury and is the world’s first true electric vehicle with extended range.

The Karma combines world class style and performance with industry leading economy and the lowest emissions of nearly any production vehicle. With a total range of 483 km (300 mi) the four-passenger Karma saloon is capable of traveling 80 km (50 mi) on emission-free electric power alone, and an additional 403 km (250 mi) on low-emission hybrid electric power.

This is a big announcement for the green movement and especially for China. Fisker has reportedly already seen 3,000 vehicle preorders from China.

2012 Ford Focus is “Built to Sell”

Ford has a new 2012 Focus entering the car market in early 2012 and this car is “Built to Sell” and I say that with total confidence in this new car. The current Focus is a solid vehicle with an outdated design that is more than holding it’s own. The 2012 Focus will have a very attractive, current and smooth design with all of the features that make Ford interiors some of the best in class. Also, This baby is clocking in at 40m.p.g. on the highway which put’s the 2012 Ford Focus at the top of the class. Great looks, well thought out interior and 40m.p.g. make for a scenario were the 2012 Focus will be flying off the lots as the assembly lines in Michigan will be roaring!

From the Detroit Free Press:

Ford expects that the 2012 Focus set to go on sale early next year will get 40 m.p.g. on the highway, an 18% improvement over the current model.

That puts the Focus on track to be the most fuel-efficient car in the compact class as it tries to conquer more market share.

Ford showed the sedan, hatchback and wagon versions of the Focus on Wednesday in conjunction with the Paris Motor Show — the first time the full lineup has been seen together. Ford will build both the hatchback and the sedan for the U.S. market at its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne.

The European Focus shares 80% of the same parts with the version to be sold in the U.S. Ford plans to produce 10 cars or crossovers from the Focus platform with a global volume exceeding 2 million by 2012.

Read the entire article here.

Toyota recalls more vehicles to fix faulty brakes

Toyota announced a recall of some of the hybrid vehicles because of faulty brakes. The faulty braking is caused by glitches in the software that operates the anti-lock braking system. The software will be updated and, according to the Toyota website, will make the braking far more consistent.

The call came on the heels of a report from CNNMoney.com that said ““Problems with Prius brakes have prompted 124 reports of difficulty stopping in the United States alone, along with four accidents, two of which caused injuries.” Toyota is going through a bad spell and problems with accelerator pedals, floor mats and braking systems have hit a wide range of its cars from the Corolla to the Camry. The Prius is a highly prized hybrid car that is often hailed as a triumph of Toyota technology and derives most of its energy from the braking system. A malfunctioning braking system is not only a threat to safety but also affects reliability since the car could run out of fuel. Reports suggest that from May 2009 onwards this problem has appeared in 270,000 Prius cars in the USA and Japan.

The Los Angeles Times has reported that at least 100 drivers have reported braking malfunctions on bumpy roads to the US government. The US government itself says that faulty brakes are responsible for at least four crashes and two minor injuries. Chairman Edolphus Towns (D-NY) said, “There appears to be growing public concern regarding which Toyota vehicles may be problematic and how people should respond. Consumers want to know whether their cars are safe to drive, and if not, they need to know what to do about it.”

Toyota has compounded its own problems by completely mishandling the PR relating to these recalls. Its reputation for building the best cars on the road is now under severe strain.If you are pursuing a personal injury claim,remember to use a lawyer on a “no win no fee” basis(if you lose you don’t have to pay the lawyer’s fees).

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