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Electric Bus Catches Fire On Road In China

According to the Chinese media, an electric bus caught fire in Shanghai this Monday and it appears that unfortunately this isn’t the first incident of this type. A report revealed by Reuters indicates that at least one earlier incident has been reported in the last three months. We don’t know if the bus you see in this photo was stationary, in service or parked by the roadside but what we do know (and what really matters) is that nobody got hurt after this incident.

The bus that caught fire was a part of a test fleet that uses ultra-capacitors in order to store energy from a network of charging points. These buses are almost entirely different from the regular EVs sold in the United States, including here the Volt and the Leaf, which store the energy in lithium-ion batteries that as you already know, charge at very slower rates. These cars do not use ultra-capacitors so these cannot store a lot of energy but can provide a high level of power very fast.

If we do a little bit of math, these ultra-capacitors may recharge at 182 kilowatts which is a lot faster than any EV on sale today. At a 65% efficiency rate, 60 kW (or more) of heat may be shed during the recharging process, which is a lot if you think about it.

EVs charge either at 3.3 or 6.6 kW on dedicated 240V Level 2 charging stations or a maximum of 50 kW on the Level 3 DC Quick-Charge stations.

Source: Reuters, Shanghaiist via Green Car Reports | Photo: Eastday

UK Road Deaths Reach Lowest Level In History

We have extremely good news coming from the UK Department of Transport. It seems that the number of people who were killed last year in road accidents dropped by 16% from 2222 casualties to 1857, which is the lowest rate ever recorded since 1926.

There were 842 less casualties last year, which is 20% lower than in 2009. As far as motorcyclists are concerned, 403 people died last year, 15% less than in 2009 while the number of pedestrians that perished was 405, 19% less than in 2009.

The bad news is that the number of casualties among cyclists went up by 7% to 111 people, despite the fact that the cyclist traffic went up by only 0.5%.

Overall, a total of 208,655 people were considered to be casualties in road accidents last year in United Kingdom.

Source: Autocar.co.uk

SAAB Can’t Afford To Pay Its Employees

2011 SAAB 9-4X

We keep hearing bad news from SAAB for a few weeks and the latest one concerns the company’s inability to pay its employees. Swedish Automobile (formerly known as Spyker Cars), who is the owner of SAAB revealed this week that they don’t have enough money to pay the workers. As you probably already know, the Swedish automaker is having discussions with various companies in order to grab the necessary funding to keep the company alive.

Last week, on June 13th, SAAB said something about a 218 million pounds investment. This sum of money is expected to come from a Chinese manufacturing firm by the name of Youngman, who will be investing 121 million pounds, in exchange for a 29.9% stake in the company. The rest of the cash will come from Pang Da, yet another Chinese company, who will be investing 97 million pounds for a 24% stake in the Swedish automaker.

We hope that SAAB will find a solution to these financial problems once and for all.

Source: SAAB via WhatCar

Ford Reveals Tiny 1.0-liter EcoBoost Engine

A few days ago, Ford announced a new engine in its lineup, the 3-cylinder 1.0-liter EcoBoost power unit, which will be the smallest one available and it will be offered on a global scale. This new small power unit will benefit from a turbocharger, twin independent variable camshaft timing (aka Ti-VCT) and direct injection.

We don’t know the exact output of this engine but Ford says that it will offer similar performances in comparison to the bigger, 4-cylinder 1.6-liter unit that they use in the Fiesta, which means that power output should be around the 120 hp (122 PS / 89 kW) and 112 lb.-ft (152 Nm) mark.

We’ll have more information in September at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

PS: The engine in this photo is a 4-cylinder EcoBoost gasoline unit from Ford.

Source: Ford via WCF

Fiat 500C Arrives In The U.S.

2012 Fiat 500C

The second model in Fiat’s lineup for the North American market is the 500C. The base price for the convertible is $20,000 for the entry-level “Pop” model; while the top-spec “Lounge” will set you back $24,000. The 500C variant is available in only two models, while the hatchback has a third one, named “Sport”.

Based on the consumer inquiries and the dealer feedback, the Italian automaker is expecting that the cabrio version will exceed 10% of all 500 sales. For this year, Fiat’s sales target in the United States is 45,000 units for the 500 model

The car is available with a choice of three colors for the convertible top: red, black and tan. The sliding roof of the cabrio comes with a color-matched spoiler. Customers can choose from one of the 14 exterior colors available.

The Fiat 500C is sold with a four-year / 5,000-mile warranty that includes roadside assistance. In addition, buyers also get a three-year / 36,000-mile maintenance package.

In other news, the automaker said that 58 of its 130 dealerships planned for the United States are up and running. The Fiat 500 went on sale on March 2nd and customers already bought 2,200 units. Regarding the 500C, the company says that it has 70% less header shake in comparison to its rivals.

The Fiat 500C is powered by the same engine as we find in the standard 500 model, a 1.4-liter FIRE power plant that benefits from the company’s MultiAir technology that can regulate the valve openings in order to bring maximum efficiency, fuel economy and performance. The convertible mechanism of the car was built by Magna, while Haartz was responsible for developing the cloth for the car’s power top. In comparison to the regular version, the cabrio is 50 pounds heavier.

Source: Fiat via AutoNews | Photo: CarAndDriver

Good Debut For Raikkonen In NASCAR

The former Formula 1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen has made its official debut in the NASCAR racing series last weekend and he did a pretty good job. He participated in the Camping World Truck Series NC Education Lottery 200 in his No. 15 Perky Jerky Toyota Tundra.

He started the race from the 31st position, managing to end it in a respectable 15th position, crossing the finish line on the same lap as the leaders of the race. At one point during the race, the Finnish driver was on the seventh place, but he lost a lot of ground when he missed a pit stop at a crucial moment in the race.

He successfully evaded lots of multi-car accidents that happened in front of him and he managed to survive a couple of close calls. Kyle Busch, Raikkonen’s teammate won that race.

The F1 champion will return this weekend to Charlotte in order to participate in the Nationwide Series race, driving a Toyota Camry.

Source: Autosport via AutoBlog | Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty/NASCAR

Jaguar Delays Entry-Level Model

2011 Jaguar XF

Jaguar has announced last week that the entry-level model will be delayed in order to make room for the new generation of the XF which will be launched sometime in 2015. The reason behind this decision was that the model would have stolen sales from the current XF because both models have just about the same size. This means that the entry-level model will be out after a new, bigger XF is launched.

By postponing the launch of this model, the British automaker will have more time for improving the car, which will probably launched in 2016 or 2017.

Source: Jaguar via Autocar via WCF

EVCup Delayed Until Next Year

We have some bad news for those of you who were waiting for the European-based EVCup as it was delayed until next year. This specially-designed electric car race series has been conceived in order to bring EVs to the world of motorsports. The good news is that the races scheduled for the end of this year, the ones at the Auto Club Speedway and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will still be organized.

This EVCup consists of three different race classes: the CityEV, SportsEV, along with the PrototypeEV. The latter was designed for any type of non-production electric racing vehicle. The first category features only Think City EVs that have been race-modified. As far as the SportsEV class is concerned, it exclusively consists of only Westfield iRacers single-seaters.

We’ll keep you posted if more changes will occur in the EVCup schedule.

Source: EVCup via AllCarsElectric

Lotus Elan Delayed Until 2016, At Least

Lotus Elan Concept

It seems that we have some bad news for those of you who were waiting for the revival of the Lotus Elan. A spokesperson for the company told our colleagues from Car and Driver the other day that the 2-seat, mid-engine coupe will not be out until 2016, at least. The car that we saw last year at the Paris Motor Show was supposed to be out sometime in 2013 or 2014, replacing the Evora.

Lotus says that its Evora model, which was introduced in 2009, will be “allowed to have a more traditional life cycle”. In other words, it means that the British company will continue to produce the model for at least 5-6 years. There are good chances for a second generation of the Evora, but nothing is certain at the moment. If there won’t be a second-gen Evora, Lotus will roll out the Elan, but we don’t know if the company is considering two distinct cars, one Elan and one Evora II.

We do know that more variants of the Evora will be launched in the following years. This year, Lotus will roll out the Evora S with a 345-hp engine and the Evora IPS which will feature an automatic gearbox. Although this is good news, these two new variants will not pay the company’s bills and the executives over at Lotus know this so more tweaked Evoras will certainly be launched in the future. If you didn’t know, the car was developed from start to accommodate an open-roof model and we will probably see one in 2-3 years or so. It shouldn’t come as a surprise if we’ll see a more lighter and track-oriented Evora, following the same recipe of just about every model ever made by Lotus.

The Lotus Esprit is set to arrive in dealerships in 2013 which means that until then the Evora will be the only model produced by the company, taking into consideration that starting with this summer; the company will discontinue the production of its legendary Elise and Exige models.

As a reminder, back in September last year at the Paris Motor Show, the British automaker said that they are developing six new different models. It seemed a little bit too much ambitious at that time and now we have the confirmation that they can’t live up to their promises. We believe that other scheduled introductions will also be delayed. Let’s hope we’re wrong about this one.

Source: Lotus via Car And Driver

Oil Price Drops, Gas Price Increases

We live in a crazy world where the price for gas increases, although the oil price drops. According to Lundberg Report, the average price of a gallon of gas in the United States rose to 4$ a gallon, which is 12 cents more than two weeks ago.

According to some analysts, $4-4, 50 is the tipping point at which the drivers change their driving patterns by riding with friends, trying to combine trips or simply reduce the numbers of miles covered.

Over the last few months, one of the hottest car segments was the compact, fueled by the launch of the Chevrolet Cruze and the Hyundai Elantra. Due to the reason that the Japanese auto industry is still affected by the natural calamities, the inventory levels of high-mileage hybrids will be limited through this following summer.

Source: Reuters via Yahoo! News via TheCarConnection via GreenCarReports| Photo: WorkSmarterNotHarder

Chinese Investment Saves Saab, For Now

2012 Saab 9-3 Griffin

Saab’s problems with cash flow have been solved, at least for a couple of months, courtesy of a significant Chinese investment that will allow the Swedish automaker to resume production at its factory in Trolhattan. Spyker, the owner of Saab, has announced this week that they’ve signed up a deal with Hawtai, a Chinese car manufacturer, which will invest 150 million Euros, taking 29.9% stake. They will also give Spyker another 30 million Euros as a convertible loan.

This deal will clear the path for Saab’s entry to the very competitive Chinese market, which is very important for the company’s attempt to boost up sales to a profitable level. Hawtai decided to make this move because of Saab’s potential for technology sharing as well as the company’s European sales network.

The Trolhattan factory has been closed for more than a month due to unpaid bills, the suppliers refusing to send the necessary components. Production should restart next week and everything should be back on track.

Yesterday, Spyker grabbed another 60 million Euros of funding from a Lithuanian-owned investment fund and Vladimir Antonov, a very wealthy Russian businessman.

Source: Saab via Autocar

F1 Team Lotus Buys Caterham


A few days ago, the Formula One Team Lotus owners have announced the acquisition of Caterham, a lightweight sports car manufacturer, but they didn’t say how much money they had to pay for finalizing the transaction.

The England-based Caterham company became popular for rolling out the Seven model, which is a 2-seater lightweight sports car that was designed by Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus, who sold the rights of the vehicle to Caterham back in 1973.

Team Lotus announced that there aren’t going to be any changes as far as Caterham’s management is concerned.

For celebrating this transaction, Caterham is going to build a limited-run series of Team Lotus Special Edition Sevens. They will offer only 50 upgrade packages (25 for UK and 25 for the rest of the world) that can be applied on the Superlight R500, the range-topping model that produces 263 hp and can hit a top speed of 150 mph.

[youtube width="470" height="344"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGERIVg7ATE[/youtube]

The price for this package is going to be 3,000 pounds and it includes a special Lotus livery, in the company’s traditional green and yellow colors; a plaque that features the signatures of Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen, who are the drivers of the Team Lotus F1; along with an invitation to a tour of the Team Lotus F1 factory, located in Hingham, Norfolk.

Source: Team Lotus via Carscoop

U.S. Farm Senators Want More E85-Fueled Cars By 2016

2011 Buick Regal CSX

Running cars on E85 ethanol isn’t something new and you probably know that there are only a few cars in the United States running on this fuel composed of 85% ethanol blended with 15% regular gasoline. One of the reasons is because there aren’t many stations that provide this fuel in the U.S. However, things could change in the following years as a bill is now under consideration by a panel in the Senate of the United States that would mandate that 90% of cars sold in the country by 2016 be fully capable of running on E85 (aka “flex-fuel” cars).


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Hondas Are Still The Most Desirable Cars Among U.S. Thieves

According to LoJack’s analysis of the 10,649 cars stolen with its system installed last year, Honda is still the most preferred automaker among thieves in the United States. If you didn’t know, older Hondas and Toyotas have been a long time favorite among criminals, based on the high demand for spare parts and the relative lack of factory-installed antitheft devices. The 2000 Honda Civic was the most common model recovered with a LoJack locator and the next five top models where Accords from the late 90s.

If we look at the cars produced in the last five years, the most stolen ones were the 2007 and 2009 Toyota Camry.

1 Honda Accord 2
2 Honda Civic 1
3 Toyota Camry 3
4 Acura Integra 4
5 Cadillac Escalade 5
6 Toyota Corolla 6
7 Dodge Ram NEW
8 Nissan Altima 8
9 Nissan Maxima NEW
10 Chevrolet Tahoe 7

Despite the fact that auto thefts have reduced in the last few years, LoJack stated that in some cities, the rates of car thefts have gone up. The top 10 states for auto theft are:

1 California 1
2 Texas 2
3 Florida 3
4 New York 4

Source: Jalopnik | Photo: kiptip.com


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The University of Waterloo Shuts Down Student Car Team Over Racy Photo

The guys over at TheRecord.com are reporting that the University of Waterloo has temporarily shut down a team of students who were building a racing car after one of the girls in the team was photographed near the car, wearing a bikini and high heels. This means that the Formula SAE team will not be able to use the car, one that they’ve designed and built themselves for an international contest that will be organized in Michigan the next month.

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