Entries Tagged as 'Cars Trucks Motorcycles'

Better Fuel-Economy Than a Prius?

In 2008 Popular Mechanics ran a marathon driving test between the 2009 Toyota Prius and 2009 Volskwagen Jetta TDi diesel.

While the Prius easily beat out the Jetta in city driving, you might be surprised to learn that the Jetta edged out the Prius on the highway.

Most urban drivers would definitely find that the Prius provided them with a lower cost of ownership; but if you drive a great deal on the highway, you may have other options.  So when you go looking for a “green” vehicle, consider your driving pattern along with the operating costs and environmental impact.

Originally posted 2010-01-11 02:00:47.

Better late…

It’s been a quarter century after the automotive industry received a wake-up call and they seem to finally get it.

A few auto makers toyed with all electric vehicles in the early 90’s; but Honda introduced us to the hybrid vehicle, and Toyota catapulted it into a business success.

Both Honda and Toyota had hoped to introduce fuel cell technology vehicles, but with the world’s economy in shambles building out the infrastructure for that isn’t likely to happen any time soon.

Now we have virtually every auto maker introducing electric, hybrid, plug-in hybrid; many are also introducing high efficiency (bio) diesel vehicles.

Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai, Ford, GM, Volkswagen — just to name a few — have made a serious commitment to increasing the fuel efficiency of their fleet (and thus decreasing their carbon foot print).

GM announced a 100,000 mile, 8-year warranty on their new Volt — displaying to consumers that they have a great deal of confidence in their offering.  Other companies like Tesla have offered a pre-purchased battery replacement.

I haven’t done exhaustive research on all the offerings; the Prius is likely to continue to be a near term winner, it get’s a plug-in option next year; and the Insight get’s that the following year.  However the Volt goes the other route and is an electric car with a backup generator (giving it over 300 miles range, and a somewhat simpler design since it doesn’t require the complex drive system found in most hybrids).

I’m still driving my 1997 Toyota 4Runner, it’s got 350,000 miles on it and going strong.  I’d considered replacing it during the “cash-for-clunkers” program, but it just didn’t seem to make sense to me since I couldn’t find any suitable replacement vehicle that got better than 30 miles to the gallon — and the math just didn’t work out financially, nor did the impact on the environment for disposing of a perfectly functional vehicle seem right.

It might not be until 2014 or so that we really have a number of good options for vehicles that provide the features and economy we’re looking for… but finally we’re on a path that should reduce the environmental impact of the continuing car culture.

Originally posted 2010-07-27 02:00:24.

New Car

So I purchased a new car today…

A 2011 Hyundai Elantra Limited with premium package; Titanium Gray with Black Interior.  I’ve posted a couple pictures on my gallery — so you can see it; or you can go to http://www.hyundaiusa.com/elantra/ for complete details.

Did I mention it’s rated at 40mpg?

I have several articles I want to post on my experience of car shopping in Northwest Florida — let’s just say for the moment it was an interesting experience; and next time I purchase a car I’m likely to do it on a trip to a real city after I’ve done my research.

I’m also going to post one article on why I chose the Elantra; and after I’ve had it for a month or so I’ll post one giving my feeling on whether or not it has lived up to my expectations or not.

Originally posted 2011-03-11 02:00:05.

Alternative Fuel

Alternative fuel is often a moniker attached to renewable energy sources, but technically it refers to any fuel that is not one of the conventional sources for energy employed since the industrial revolution (fossil fuels — petroleum, coal, propane, and natural gas; nuclear materials — uranium).

Clean alternative fuel sources that are renewable or plentiful will be an important source of energy for the decades to come, but we need to all keep in mind that all resources are limited; and without improving energy efficiency nothing can keep up with growing demand.

Alternative Fuel on Wikipedia

Originally posted 2010-01-17 02:00:05.

PHEV

PHEV that’s the acronym for plug-in hybrid electric vehicle… and the Toyota Prius may well be the first production car in that class.

Yes, there have been conversions for a number of hybrids in the past, but the 2011 Toyota Prius will be available as a PHEV (it may only be available as a PHEV — there has not been any official announcements from Toyota yet).

Currently Toyota is still using the nickel-metal hydride (NiMh) battery cells like used in the current Prius in the PHEV prototypes, but it is still a possibility that the 2011 will go production with Lithium Ion (Li-ion) or be switch to use the denser Li-ion technology in the near future.

A PHEV would allow most urban commuters to use electric for the vast majority of their driving (provided charging stations become more wide spread), and since it does have a gasoline engine there never need be a concern with exceeding the range of the battery.

Originally posted 2010-01-14 02:00:37.

100 miles to the gallon

That’s right.  The Edison2 (Lynchburg, VA, US) won half of the $10 million US  Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize for a gasoline powered vehicle capable of seating four adults that cruises city streets at over 100 mpg dubbed the Very Light Car.

Most of the high efficiency vehicles in the competition are electric powered.

X-Tracer (Winterthur,  CH [Switzerland]) with their two passenger E-Tracer; and Li-ion Motors (Charlotte, NC, US) with their two passenger Wave2 each won a quarter of the prize.

Originally posted 2010-09-18 02:00:20.

Define Your Vehicle’s True Identity

“Define Your Vehicle’s True Identity”, that is the slogan of carID — http://www.carid.com/ –I found this company when looking for a trunk mat for my new vehicle.

I’ve got a great deal of experience with WeatherTech — http://www.weathertech.com/ — I’ve used those in a number of vehicles, but they didn’t make a mat to fit.  So I did some reading and I liked what I read about Lloyd Mats — http://www.lloydmats.com/rubbertite.htm –Rubber Tite series.  They got favorable reviews, and they seemed at a fairly reasonable price point.

Well, like always, I started out pricing by using the internet to see where I might be able to save a little money…

That’s when I stumbled on carID — I’d never heard of them before; and frankly based on my experiences to date I certainly won’t be recommending them.

Here is the note I sent to them on 14-Mar-2011 at 1:36AM CDT

I came in with a 20% off coupon; and the first page says $44.91 for the mats for an 2011 Elantra (Limited – Sedan) — I was looking for cargo and front+back; but when I try and add either to my cart they appear at $67.41 — that’s a pretty hefty difference.

Referrer: http://www.carid.com/2011-hyundai-elantra-floor-mats/lloyd-floor-mats-161257.html

Here is what I got back from them on 17-March at 3:12PM CDT

Hello Soles,
Thank you for you interest in our products, we look forward to serving you.
Unfortunately we don’t provide discounts on weathertech items.

Sincerely,

Anthony Vertser
Customer Service
Tel 800.505.3274 Ext 883
anthony.ve@carid.com

Right… Lloyd and WeatherTech are two separate companies…

So here is what I sent back to them just a little while ago:

I do appreciate you taking the time to reply to my inquiry.. but I don’t think Lloyd (makers of Rubber Tite) and Weather Tech are even slightly related companies. In fact, I don’t think Weather Tech makes a custom mat set for 2011 Elantra Sedan (I’m quite happy with those in my 4Runner – I looked at their offering first).

I’m beginning to get the feeling that your company might not quite meet the bar for ethical advertising and business practices… it just feels questionable at best, with great potential for at least bordering on fraud.

Perhaps I’ll just take my money else where… I get the feeling it would hard to be more disappointed in dealing with an eTailer than I have been with yours.

I’ll be happy to share my experience with others – I wouldn’t want you to be deprived of the exposure.

– LR Soles

Maybe it’s unfair to gauge a company from one interaction — but you know the old saying

Fool me once, shame on you.

Fool me twice, shame on me.

I’ll take my business elsewhere – I don’t mind paying a couple dollars more for an item to avoid what looks like it has great potential to become a nightmare situation quickly — particularly with a statement like:

NOTE: These mats will be custom manufactured to your specifications and once ordered may not be returned for credit or exchange.

On their order page — what if there’s a mistake in their processing, a defect…

I certainly offered them a chance to explain the pricing discrepancy to me; and perhaps there is an explanation — perhaps I made an error… but their response just doesn’t cut it; and doesn’t encourage me to want to spend money there.

If you purchase from them, use a credit card that’s issued through a financial institution you have a good relationship with — sometime tells me you just might need a charge back to get satisfaction.

Originally posted 2011-03-18 02:00:25.

Hybrid Vehicles

There’s been a great deal of “buzz” over hybrid vehicles being green… but for a very long time I’ve had some serious questions about just how green they are.

Yes, there’s no question that their carbon emissions are substantially lower than gasoline powered vehicles (but remember, hybrids do use gasoline).

Yes, hybrids are a significant step forward (though the modifications to hybrids that allow them to be recharged and ran totally from electricity certainly makes them far more green; and really shouldn’t cost any more in a production model).

But the reality is green isn’t just about the emission in the every day use of the vehicle — green also has to do with the environmental impact of the production of the batteries and their disposal.

Most hybrids use lead acid, a few newer ones use Lithium Ion / Lithium Polymer… neither of which is exactly eco-friendly (I’d prefer them not to be buried in my back yard, or any where near where my water comes from).

Lead acid batteries have a limit life; how long they last depends on a number of variables, and some of the materials can be recycled and reused – but you need to make sure that your community has setup to deal with those issues before you buy your hybrid.  My reading indicates that only California has implement stringent rules for the warranty and handling of lead acid batteries in hybrid (hopefully more states will follow suit).

Lithium cells appear to be a great solution.  They’re small and dense; but the downside is they have a three year life span from the time they were manufactured.  And Lithium is an extremely dangerous substance to release into the environment.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy a hybrid; they are good choices for many drivers (particularly commuters who can’t use all electric), but consider the impact of the improperly disposed of batteries, and even the properly disposed of batteries resulting from normal wear and tear as well as accidents.

Green isn’t something you should try and see under a microscope — it’s an end-to-end game.

Originally posted 2010-01-17 01:00:52.

LA Auto Show

The auto show might be a no show…

With the big three US auto makers in dire financial shape, and most Americans finding themselves worrying more about how to put food on the table than considering a new vehicle… but the show must go on!

Some high lights:

  • The Mini Cooper Electric, the Mini E
  • The new Honda Insight [Concept] – redesigned to be more like the Toyota Prius, alledgedly with better fuel economy, and less expensive.
  • The new Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrid sedans ($1000 more than the Toyota Camry hybrid)
  • The all-new Nissan Cube (similar to, but smaller than the Scion xB)

Several auto makers with drew plans to launch vehicles at the auto show.

Originally posted 2008-11-20 18:00:12.

Going On A Trip?

Gas Buddy has a new feature… a trip calculator for gasoline — it’ll attempt to find the best gas prices along the way for you on your trip.

It does a reasonably good job; but it doesn’t take the strategy into account that you can top off your tank before you enter a higher priced gas area and only put as much as in at higher prices to make it through to a lower price area; but it’s a start.

http://www.gasbuddy.com/Trip_Calculator.aspx