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Green Cars

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Car parts made out of mushrooms will — wait, what?

Man, is there anything mushrooms can’t do? They make a damn fine fake meat, they make Mario bigger, caterpillars smoke hookahs on them, the whole nine yards. And now, thanks to a company called Ecovative, they can be used to replace styrofoam in some of Earth’s most persistent enemies: packing materials and car parts. The fake foam actually grows itself -- Ecovative fills a mold with a mix of mushroom spores and a waste material like oat husks, and over a few days the mushrooms grow and the roots glue themselves together into a strong and lightweight material. Like styrofoam, …

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Putin test-drives, makes fun of radical new hybrid

Mikhail Prokhorov, Russia's richest man and owner of the New Jersey Nets, has bankrolled an all-Russian natural gas-electric hybrid car called the ë-mobile (pronounced yo-mobile), but that wasn’t enough to impress Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his tiger blood. Putin: "This yo-mobile of yours, I hope it won't fall into pieces, will it?" Before a test-drive of the ë-mobile, the famously butch-tastic Putin also joked about whether it had the range to make it all the way to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's house. Ha ha, puny hybrid! But the car held it together, so when the rest of the world …

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Powering up: Green tech investment surges

The money's coming in for green tech.Photo: MoneyblognewzSome good news on the environmental front for a change: Global investment in green technology in the first quarter of the year spiked 52 percent compared to the previous quarter, to $2.57 billion. That's according to a report released Tuesday by the Cleantech Group, a San Francisco research and consulting firm. The increase represents a 13 percent jump over the first quarter of 2010, and indicates that investors' appetite for renewable energy, electric cars, and other green technologies continues to rebound from the recession. But the numbers aren't exactly good news for entrepreneurs …

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Obama to encourage America’s truck companies to do thing they were already planning to do

A group of truck fleet-owning companies that collectively owns 275,000 vehicles is scheduled to get a gold star from the president today, as part of the administration's Clean Fleets Initiative. FedEx, UPS, AT&T, PepsiCo, and Verizon are the charter members of a group that is pledging to reduce its collective petroleum consumption by more than 7 million gallons a year. Through the magic of hybrid vehicles, mostly, these companies will be given backslaps and encouraging words from the federal government for doing the thing they are already required by law to do -- make money and generate shareholder value by, …

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China charges up the on-ramp of the electric highway

Electric charging stations like this one in Shenzhen could become a common sight in China if the government sticks to its ambitious EV goals.Photo: Remko TanisWhen it comes to the future of electric cars, as with other green technologies, the wild card is China. The People's Republic has invested billions in renewable energy and has become a solar superpower in photovoltaic manufacturing. It's also poised to one day potentially blow away the competition in wind turbine production. China's new five-year plan calls for dramatic increases in energy efficiency and designates electric cars as a strategic industry. (The government has set …

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Free ride: Rising oil prices boost electric cars’ affordability

Will car buyers get the message?Photo: Tom LafteryOne of the biggest knocks against electric cars, other than their current range, is the rather steep upfront cost due to the price of the battery. Of course, you're essentially pre-paying much of your fuel costs for the life of the car. But that's a hard message to get across to a potential buyer contemplating forking over $41,000 for a Chevrolet Volt or $33,000 for a Nissan Leaf before state and federal incentives. However, rising gasoline prices -- now topping $4 a gallon in the San Francisco Bay Area -- may finally drive …

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Charging ahead: Report predicts 3.8 million electrics on road by 2016

The Volt is still charging up.As the first mass-market electric cars start to, slowly, hit the streets, the big question is whether battery-powered vehicles are the future or a fad. The answer won't be known for years but a new report from GTM Research offers some interesting insights into where the electric road might lead. The report, "The Networked EV: The Convergence of Smart Grids and Electric Vehicles," predicts there will be 3.8 million electric cars on the road worldwide by 2016, with about 1.5 million in the United States, 1.5 million in Europe and 760,000 in Asia. "It is …

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The E.U. wants gas-powered cars gone from its cities by 2050

Can he look forward to a future with no gas-powered cars?Photo: Alison OddyThe European Union has just announced an ambitious transportation goal: the elimination of gas-powered cars in its cities by 2050. It's part of a plan that aims to radically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation sources: A new European transport plan [PDF] aims to increase mobility and further integrate the EU's transport networks -- while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the bloc's dependence on imported oil. Measures to encourage major infrastructure investments, change the way freight moves and people travel would boost economic competitiveness and create jobs. The …

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Budget-strapped police forces going with green vehicles to save on fuel

Aspiring Blues Brothers may be able to get old Crown Vics cheap pretty soon -- but if you’re at all eco-minded, you may not want to drive them. The iconic and soon-to-be-retired police rides only got 14 m.p.g. in the city, but the Ford Interceptor -- set to be their primary replacement when they go out of production -- does 20 to 25 percent better. That’s good news for the planet, but even more compelling for most police departments, it’s also good news for local budgets. Detroit, for instance, could save $2 million a year on fuel costs with a …

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How coal could make your car more efficient

That’s right: You may soon be able to use coal to make your car more fuel-efficient. Not by running it on coal -- gross! -- but building it out of metal mixed with structures found in coal ash. Fly ash, a byproduct of burning coal, contains microscopic bubbles called cenospheres. They sound like Clive Barker creatures, but they’re actually really useful -- because when you mix them with metal, they make the metal lighter without compromising its strength. Even regular gas-powered cars could be at least 10 percent lighter, and thus more fuel-efficient, if they were made out of cenosphere-infused …