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Baby, You Can Drive My Car — In 2010

Lots more hybrids and hydrogen cars in the pipeline We begin with a public service announcement: Quit driving so damn much. Ride your bike. Take a bus. Walk. OK, with that out of the way, we turn to auto news, which is plentiful. Ford announced it would add four new hybrids to its lineup, at least one by the end of the year. GM announced that it would add two, both SUVs. GM also made a splash by unveiling the Sequel, a hydrogen fuel-cell-powered car with a range of 300 miles, something of a milestone in the hydrogen car biz. …

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Suit of Harmer

Automakers sue California over greenhouse-gas emission regs The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers filed suit against California on Tuesday, charging that the state's new regulations on greenhouse-gas emissions from vehicles (requiring a roughly 30 percent cut by 2016) amount to the imposition of new fuel-economy standards, which is the feds' purview. The Schwarzenegger administration has pledged to defend the regulations in court. Automakers predict that the regs will drive average vehicle prices in the state up by some $3,000, restrict consumer choice, and cause the sky to fall. To enviros' chagrin, Toyota, a company actually selling fuel-efficient cars, joined the suit, …

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Fond O’ Honda

Honda ranked as greenest automaker Of the six largest automakers selling vehicles in the U.S., Honda is the greenest, according to a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists. Emissions from Honda's 2003 vehicles amounted to less than half the industry average. Nissan, which ranked second, was the most improved in reducing emissions of carbon dioxide. GM, ranked last, was the only automaker whose emissions worsened in the 2003 model year compared to two years previous. A GM spokesflack pointed out that its ranking was low only because it makes bigger vehicles than the others. (As the kids say: …

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Hyper Activism

Software company Hyperion offers employees money for fuel-efficient cars California software company Hyperion is getting quite a bit of positive press for offering its employees $5,000 toward the purchase of a fuel-efficient car, and we're happy to jump on the bandwagon. The grant is available to any of Hyperion's 2,600 employees who have worked at the company for more than a year and who buy a vehicle that gets at least 45 miles to the gallon. The company will offer 200 grants a year on a first-come first-served basis. Currently, the range of vehicles that meet that standard is fairly …

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Take It E.V.

Electric vehicles catching on in China; Smart cars coming to U.S. All the talk these days is about hybrid and hydrogen cars, but in China, where air pollution is an ongoing crisis, they haven't given up on electric vehicles. Improvements in battery technology are making electric cars, scooters, and buses a viable option, with shorter charging times and traveling ranges that rival those of gasoline-powered vehicles. Electric scooters are already popular in crowded cities, and Beijing and Shanghai plan to deploy hundreds of electric buses in coming years. As Lee Schipper of the World Resources Institute points out, "Such cars …

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Umbra on Wal-Mart

Dear Umbra, Why is Wal-Mart evil? This is really a request for more information. I have often heard that the company has a weak environmental track record, treats its employees poorly, and generally is Satan incarnate. However, when challenged on this position, I have no data. My opponents argue that shopping in bulk reduces packaging. I also have to admit that a case of Pellegrino for $10 pulls me closer to the dark side. I am growing weak. Please combat my temptation with information. Hurry before I have lost my soul. James Washington, Penn. Dearest James, Why Wal-Mart is evil …

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Sundae Drive

New hybrids are more powerful and sexy, if less efficient The next crop of hybrid vehicles is eagerly anticipated not only by energy-conscious geeks and early-adopter hipsters, but by regular ol' Americans who like to have their apple pie and eat it too. Auto-industry flacks are predicting buyer excitement over soon-to-debut vehicles like the hybrid Honda Accord and Lexus RX SUV -- long on horsepower and sex appeal, short on gas consumption (though slightly less short than their predecessors). "It will be like enjoying a hot-fudge sundae, without the calories or the guilt," says Toyota's Don Esmond of his company's …

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Next Up: Hybrid Zambonis

Canada vows to get tough on vehicle CO2 emissions The greenhouse-gas emissions of cars and trucks in Canada will be cut by 25 percent by 2010, according to a duo of Canadian government ministers. In a joint interview, Natural Resources Minister John Efford and Environment Minister Stephane Dion said that they were committed to the deadline and the amount. "Are we going to say 10 percent is OK? Fifteen percent? No. Twenty-five percent is our goal and the auto industry clearly understands that," stressed Efford. California in September established its own rules to curb greenhouse-gas emissions from cars, and seven …

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The Barbarian Invasions

Despite vocal opposition, SUVs invade Europe European politicians spare no rhetorical flourish in demonstrating their contempt for SUVs and their owners. "I don't want to be like Freud, but SUVs are a projection, a compensating thing," said Rome's transportation commissioner, Mario Di Carlo. Paris Deputy Mayor Denis Baupin called the SUV "a caricature of a car.'' On the street, activists with the British group Alliance Against Urban 4x4's put fake parking tickets on SUVs. One alliance member, Sian Berry, said, "People who see Hummers driving around think, 'Oh, disgusting Americans.'" Despite elite and public opposition, however, SUV sales on the …

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What Would Jesus Ride?

Raging Cyclists push for bike-friendly reforms in Santiago Inspired by Critical Mass, the cycling activist group formed in San Francisco in 1992, the Furiosos Ciclistas -- or Raging Cyclists -- of Santiago, Chile, are inspiring real reform in that polluted city. The group is one of more than 200 inspired by Critical Mass in cities across the world. Santiago is one of the most polluted cities in the world, with frequent air-quality alerts, but bike usage is on the rise: Some 5 percent of residents now use bikes as their primary means of transport. Founded in 1996 and spread mostly …

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