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Green Cars

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Can luxury car brands market green vehicles?

Luxury car brands have a problem. They want to be green, honest! But luxury, according to The New York Times, means "bigger, stronger, faster." None of those adjectives translate into "fuel economy." They're trying, though! Aston Martin, for instance, turned a tiny Toyota smart car into the fancy Cygnet, which has 1.3 liter engine. Mercedes is working on smaller cars, some with hybrid or electric engines. Lexus has a "compact luxury hybrid hatchback" (whatever that is). The problem is, luxury brands are afraid of screwing up and being laughed off the global auto sales stage for trying to pass of …

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Charge your EV in 10 minutes flat

Pretty much no one wants to wait around for their theoretical EV to charge, which is one reason why people aren't buying them in droves yet. But in the near future, charging won't take more than 10 minutes, thanks to Nissan. Along with a Japanese university, the car company developed an EV charger that takes a fraction of the time of current chargers without compromising battery life. Right now, charging an EV generally takes about eight hours, or 48 times as long as this new charger will need. It's still a little bit longer than a stop at the gas …

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Disadvantaged teens build 160 MPG hybrid car

West Philadelphia High School has a dropout rate of more than 50 percent, and 85 percent of students are low-income. But instead of making trouble in their neighborhood, getting in one little fight, or even shooting some B-ball outside of the school, a team of 15 dedicated West Philly students built a badass hybrid car that gets 160 miles to the gallon. Then they entered it in a contest where it beat the pants off cars built by fancy Ivy League engineers. The West Philly Hybrid X Team was the only high school team entered in last year's Progressive Insurance …

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Critical List: Invasive species jump the border; Gulf sheen not BP’s fault

While U.S. border monitors were busy looking for terrorists in cargo containers, a slew of invasive species slipped unnoticed into the country. Whatever that sheen in the Gulf is, it's not BP's fault, okay?? If carbon is a risk (and it is!), the market should adjust for that, valuing companies with high "exposure to climate change" less than those that are climate-resilient. But since markets don't seem to ever do what they should in theory, that hasn't happened yet. Electric vehicles are only as climate-positive as the electric grid that fuels them, so in places like China where coal-fired electricity …

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Talking motorbike runs on poop. That is all.

Here's a bike that runs on biogas from human poo, writes messages in the air, plays music, and features a talking toilet. Is it even worth making jokes about this? Is it even POSSIBLE? The bike is made by Japanese toilet manufacturer TOTO, and thankfully it does not appear to be headed for mass production -- it's a publicity tool to help TOTO raise environmental awareness. The company hopes its green initiatives will help reduce CO2 emissions in bathrooms by 50 percent by 2017 (no word on methane emissions). The bike is intended to draw attention to these environmental goals, …

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A day in the life of John Q. Public and his electric car

Kevin Day is just some dude who bought a Nissan Leaf and is kinda in love with it. Even with a daily 30-mile commute, he only has to charge it once every three days; he appreciates its fast pickup and ultra-quiet ride; and it saves him about $100 a month in gas. (As one commenter put it, "I'm a proud new owner too and it's amazing to just drive right past the gas station -- forever.") Watching this video, it's the very mundanity of his experience with an electric car that's the most remarkable thing of all. It's just … …

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Plane flies 200 miles in two hours on just electricity

Pipistrel-USA's Taurus G4 won the NASA's CAFE Green Flight Challenge (top prize $1.35 million!) by flying 200 miles in under two hours, using an amount of electricity equivalent to less than two gallons of gas. Google sponsored the competition, which is supposed to stimulate the “electric plane industry.” Who even knew there was an electric plane industry? Well, with that kind of seed money, THERE IS NOW. Plug-in personal aircraft, here we come!

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Watch Consumer Reports fall in love with the Nissan Leaf

Nobody tests products harder than Consumer Reports, and nobody better reflects the priorities of obsessive, value-conscious consumers. So we figured they'd be kinda harsh on the new Nissan Leaf, seeing as how John Q. Public has apparently gone paranoid from huffing tailpipe emissions, and is scared that the dawn of the electric car means the impending collapse of civilization. But they like it! The car accelerates nicely 'cause of all the delicious low-end torque electric motors can deliver. They weren't so sold on the handling, though, and there's still the range issue. With the heater on, you're looking at a …

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Here’s a win-win: Geothermal power can make lithium for electric vehicles

Existing geothermal power plants are powered by a hot brine from deep within the earth's crust, which is just lousy with dissolved minerals -- literally "half the periodic table," reports Scientific American. One of those elements is lithium, which can be extracted from the geothermal fluid that existing power plants in California's Salton Sea are already pulling out of the ground. This is remarkable on many levels at once. 1. The world is desperately in need of more sources of the “rare earth” elements that are required to build advanced batteries and just about everything else in cleantech. 2. Usual …

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Critical List: Energy Dept. picks more winners; natural gas boom comes to Ohio

The Department of Energy, always picking winners, you know? The first Quadrennial Technology Review, to be released today, favors technologies that could come into commercial use in 10 years — i.e. consumer goods you can spend money for. This could mean DOE favors EVs over new clean energy technologies. This company, Renmatix, will probably make it under the wire, though. It says it has the right technology to make commercially viable biofuels from biomass and just opened a plant to forward development of the technique. The natural gas boom comes to Ohio. Although Beijing usually gets a bad rap on …