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Prius is the only survivor of $3 million car crash

A car crash in Japan that's being hailed as the most expensive ever, even though it totally wasn't, totaled eight Ferraris, a Lamborghini, and three Mercedes...es. (Ugh, I just looked it up and Mercedes looks like a fifth-declension noun with the nominative plural "Mercedes," so I can't even make up a cutesy Latinate plural, WHATEVER LATIN.) Nobody was seriously injured, so you can feel free to point and laugh a little bit at the 1 percent getting their fancy toys smashified (to the tune of an estimated $3 million, no less). Here's where it gets really funny, though: The crash …

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Efficiency standards are the SINGLE BIGGEST CLIMATE DEAL EVER

The U.S. federal government teamed up with all of the major auto manufacturers and hammered out a deal to double the average fuel efficiency of all vehicles on the road by 2025 -- to 54.5 miles per gallon. New vehicles sold under the program will save "a total of four billion barrels of oil and prevent two billion metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution," reports Tom Friedman, whose most recent stab at being a cleantech advocate almost redeems all that time he spent misdirecting us on foreign policy.  According to Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign of the …

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Electric car ad from 1912

Matt Novak of the always worthwhile blog PaleoFuture just stumbled across this ad for an electric car -- from 1912. The Columbus Buggy Company once employed 1,000 people in a factory that produced horse-drawn carriages, and at the dawn of the automobile it attempted to make the leap to motorized versions. At the time, there was nothing odd about electric cars, given that no one had any preconceived notions about how a car should operate. Then Henry Ford rolled out the Model T and the rest is history. 

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Interactive map shows hybrid and electric car sales in your area

See the map This interactive map from NPR, which shows hybrid and electric car sales figures across the U.S., is a handy way of calculating the hippie concentration of your area at a single glance. But it also might help predict which areas will get EV infrastructure soonest, because of high demand. Also, it's kind of neat. San Francisco is leading the pack, no surprise there, and on the whole the West Coast is seeing more green car sales than the East Coast or the Midwest. I'm surprised that my city, D.C., had the highest hybrid and EV sales percentage …

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After-school EV club is so much cooler than yearbook

In Kansas City, Mo., high school students enrolled in the after-school program Minddrive are building an electric car. They meet three times every two weeks. They started with a decade-old Reynard Champ Car, and have turned it into an electric vehicle that will drive from Jacksonville, Fla., to San Diego, Calif., over their spring break. Every 100 miles, they will stop to recharge the car and meet with other students to talk about electric vehicles. The extra awesome part of this program is that it's targeted to students that haven't been thriving in traditional classrooms. In Minddrive, they learn actual …

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Uganda’s electric car is super cute

Meet the Kiira. It was built in Uganda, from parts mostly sourced in Uganda. It's a triumph of "African Science," a phrase that reminds this reporter of "gay parking," but whatever. And it is adoooooooorable. The Kiira is a two-seater that can go 50 miles on a charge, with a top speed of around 60 mph. It was built by students at Uganda's Makerere University, and not by Santa’s elves, like you might think from looking at it. Some people hate the Kiira. But some people club baby fur seals to death, so whatever.

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Critical List: IPCC says humans causing bad weather; physics causes cyclists to breeze by stop signs

The IPCC is officially saying that human-generated emissions are screwing up the weather. Fukushima rice that was supposed to be safe has unacceptably high levels of radiation. Energy Secretary Steven Chu survived five hours of questioning from Congress about Solyndra. Can we let it go now? The Green Car of the Year is the Honda Civic Natural Gas, which still lets you burn fossil fuel, but a cleaner, cheaper variety. Forget Dixie cups. Now disposable, compostable cups previously marketed to businesses are available to us normal people at Bed, Bath & Beyond. There's a reason you don't stop at a …

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‘Solar forests’ charge your car while looking awesome

If electric cars are really going to compete with the gas-guzzling kind, we're going to need new infrastructure -- mainly charging stations so people can juice up when they're on a road trip. And if you have to dot the country with new charging structures, doesn't it make sense to make them awesome-looking? The "solar forest," a concept from designer Neville Mars, does that while also being extra-efficient. The solar "trees" don't just look great -- they also move around to maximize sun exposure, plus they keep the cars below shaded and cool.

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How your Prius is hurting the planet

Hybrid cars like the Prius emit less carbon than conventional cars. But they also depend on rare earth materials to make their engines work. And the mining of rare earth extracts a heavy toll on the environment in other ways. China has most of the world's easily accessible rare earth (which isn't actually rare, just hard to find in concentrations that make extraction profitable), and it recently decided to cut off supply to other countries. But the United States is also jumping into the business. Here's the big environmental problem, as Mother Jones explains: Rare earths occur naturally with the …

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How electric vehicles can give a boost to local clean energy

A plug for plug-ins.This post originally appeared on Energy Self-Reliant States, a resource of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance's New Rules Project. The Northwest could get an additional 12 percent of its electricity from local wind power if one in eight of the region's cars used batteries. That's the conclusion of a study [PDF] from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories investigating how electric vehicles can help smooth the introduction of more variable renewable energy into the grid system. The study examines the Northwest Power Pool, an area encompassing roughly seven states in the Northwest. With around 2.1 million electrified vehicles, …