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Sara Barz's Posts

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Capture the eco flag

The specs and the dish on the 2010 third generation Prius

UPDATE: This story was changed to reflect updated EPA mileage estimates. Photo courtesy of Toyota. Toyota's newest hybrid is almost here. Last week, the car company invited a group of journalists and bloggers to the third generation Prius preview in Napa, Calif. The deal was we could road test the 2010 model to our heart's content, but we needed to stay mum about our impressions of the car and mileage readings until the end of March. Sigh. So I have been figuratively bound and gagged, but the Toyota folks did provide more detailed technical specs than those announced in January …

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Green Light: All up in my bus-ness

A zero-emission bus tours California, Toyota flirts with ethanol, and more green auto news

Thursday in San Francisco, it was easier to get an electric bus than an electric car. Proterra, a commercial hybrid- and electric-vehicle manufacturer in Golden, Colo., finished its weeklong California clean bus tour in the city by the bay. The sleek EcoRide BE35 climbed the hills of San Francisco, flaunting its environmental and fiscal charms before California municipal and transit stakeholders. Getting bus-y? Proterra's EcoRide BE35. Why California? Besides being the ultimate destination for fair-weather roadtrips, the California Air Resources Board mandated that 15 percent of all municipal urban bus fleets purchased for the 2012 model-year and beyond must consist …

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Earle-y victory

Sylvia Earle, oceanographer and author, wins 2009 TED prize

Noted oceanographer Sylvia Earle is one of the three 2009 TED prize winners. The three winners are awarded the opportunity to share "one wish to change the world," along with $100,000 each to fund the pursuit of that wish. Here is Earle's wish: I wish you would use all means at your disposal -- the films, the expeditions, the web! -- to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas, hope spots large enough to save and restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet. Earle said she did not know how much of the oceans …

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Green Light: Greetings, master Toyota

Toyota becomes world's biggest automaker, Prius goes solar, and other green auto news

Toyota this week officially overtook the ailing General Motors to become the world's largest automaker. Both companies saw sales declines in 2008, but Toyota's 8.97 million vehicles sold bested its U.S. rival by about 620,000. GM was the globe's undisputed auto-king for 77 years. The 2010 Prius' solar roof. Photo courtesy of Toyota. Sales of Toyota's hybrid models dropped by 45 percent in December 2008, but the carmaker might win customers back with the 2010 Prius, which boasts 50+ mpg fuel efficiency, rooftop solar panels, three different drive modes to minimize fuel consumption, and LED headlights. Meanwhile, Toyota announced Tuesday …

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No rain on this parade

Photos from Plug In America's inaugural parade

Toyota RAV-4 EVs. Photo: Siel of greenLAgirl.com. Saturday morning, EV RIDRs and Obamamaniacs converged on the Santa Monica Civic Center to advocate for electric vehicles and celebrate President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration. The Inaugural (EV) Parade West, led by Plug in America, attracted over 70 electric and hybrid vehicles to zoom the city streets in PEBO's honor. Four Tesla Roadsters, 40 Toyota RAV-4 EVs, one converted Porsche Speedster, and even one converted EV Hummer H2 (!?) joined the festivities. (To the New York Times editorial board: I believe these are the folks who will drive Detroit's fuel-efficient and electric vehicles. That …

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Green Light: Electric shock

Automakers parade EVs in Detroit, Ontario Betters itself, and more green auto news

• Detroit: It's still around, and as long as the feds continue to give transit short-shrift, we'll be driving and bailing for years to come. But in honor of our societal shift toward fuel efficiency, the automakers have some brand new electric vehicles and hybrids they have been showing off this week at the North American International Auto Show, Jan. 11-25. From the third-generation Prius to the Dodge Circuit to the Mini E, talk of fuel efficiency and battery-life replaced praise for horsepower and chrome. Thank goodness for the 505-horsepower Revenge GTM-R or we might confuse ourselves and our cars …

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From Detroit with love

A photo tour of the green concepts and cars from North American Int'l Auto Show

The North American International Auto Show opened in Detroit with a bang. Literally. Apparently, the Chrysler Pentastar fell from the ceiling and startled a cluster of journalists as well as billionaire investor Wilbur Ross and his entourage. No one was hurt, but the portentous crash may be more than symbolic for the American auto industry if their bets on electric and hybrid vehicles fail to deliver, or if China's BYD motors beats them to the punch with their plug-in F3DM. Though subdued -- Chrysler left the steer back at the ranch this year -- the more "rational" Detroit Auto Show …

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Let's clear the air

NASA: China's pollution control efforts improved air quality during the Olympics

Over at the Atlantic, James Fallows noted a NASA study, presented at the December meeting of the American Geophysical Union, that shows that China's efforts to clean up the air pollution during the Olympics did improve air quality. Though the reductions in air pollutants seems to be specific to the Beijing area, the report noted: During the two months when restrictions were in place, the levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) -- a noxious gas resulting from fossil fuel combustion (primarily in cars, trucks, and power plants) -- plunged nearly 50 percent. Likewise, levels of carbon monoxide (CO) fell about 20 …

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Preaching to the yet converted

Consumer Reports knocks plug-in hybrid Hymotion L5 conversion kit on efficiency, value

Is a product doomed if the highest praise its evaluators can offer is "viable"? In the February issue of Consumer Reports, CR editors tested a 2008 Toyota Prius equipped with a Hymotion L5 conversion kit sold by A123 systems of Watertown, Mass. The conversion kit failed to deliver its promised 100 mpg, but did spike the prius' average efficiency of 42-mpg up to 67 mpg for the first 35 miles of driving. But at a $11,000 a pop, CR concluded that the kit "won't save the consumer money overall." For the truly plugged-in, however, Hymotion's lithium-ion battery conversion kit is …

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