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New Ford Illustrates Changing Consumer Interests

By Justin O'Neill
July 11, 2010
File under: Alternative Transportation, Auto Industry, Hybrid, Innovation


The odd van/car combination pictured above is the 2010 Transit Connect, a new offering from Ford with a name as strange as its appearance.  The Transit Connect, along with Ford’s 2010 Fusion hybrid sedan, earned top honors for North American truck and car of the year, respectively, at this week’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

This impressive double-win for Ford reinforces Ford CEO Alan Mulally’s mission to shift the auto giant’s focus from trucks and SUVs to smaller cars and more fuel-efficient crossover vehicles.  Under Mulally’s leadership, Ford has picked up on the fact that today’s conscious consumers and businesses are interested in less expensive, less environmentally taxing vehicles.  …read more of New Ford Illustrates Changing Consumer Interests here

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The shrinking American car (batteries included)

By Kirsten Dirksen
May 20, 2010
File under: Alternative Transportation, Auto Industry, Electric


The arrival of the Smart car on the U.S. market has helped Americans re-think whether bigger is better when it comes to their vehicles, but it’s only the beginning of the miniaturizing of the American market

It’s not just fuel economy that has driven an interest in smaller cars, but the changing demographics in America. “Even as fuel prices have stabilized, we’ve continued to see growth in the small-car markets”, explains Ford marketing manager Chantel Lenard. “There are two reasons driving that. One is the demographics of the baby boomers. As they’re getting older and their kids are leaving the household, they’re downsizing. On the other end of the spectrum, we see the millennials, the young people coming into the segment. They don’t need a bigger vehicle, so they’re buying on the basis of affordability.”

While most buyers of small are looking at compacts and subcompacts, there’s an even smaller category that is growing fast: The microcar …read more of The shrinking American car (batteries included) here

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Greenopia Overhauls Car Guide for 2010

By Colton Dirksen
December 3, 2009
File under: Hybrid, Innovation


With all the different green car types, models, and options it can be difficult to determine what’s he best car for you.  But for those of you in the market, there is good news.  Our partner Greenopia, a trusted source for green business and product listings, is helping to make this process easier with an overhaul of their car guide for the 2010 model year.  Visit Greenopia’s 2010 car guide or learn more about their criteria below.

Greenopia Car Guide Criteria Sheet:

Not only is there all new data, but we also included more criteria this time around are rated every car (rather than just listing the green ones) to make sure our guide is as complete as possible. …read more of Greenopia Overhauls Car Guide for 2010 here

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Segmenting the EV Market

By Ted Nelson
November 24, 2009
File under: Auto Industry, Electric, Innovation

Image Source: FrankH, Flickr CC

Ever since Henry Ford used the assembly line to introduce the Model T in 1908, cars have been the poster child for mass manufacturing. At the same time, consumers have become used to a great deal of choice when if comes to cars.

Cars are differentiated along several lines: make (compact, sedan, SUV, pick-up, stationwagon, etc.), price range, fuel efficiency, and power are among the most notable.

The young electric vehicle (EV) market hasn’t reached the point of either mass production or deep market segmentation yet, but it’s not too early to start planning the industry’s future. Consulting giant McKinsey offers some advice to the EV industry in a recent article featured in the McKinsey Quarterly.

Electric Commuter & ‘Around Towner’ Options

The central message offered by authors Nick Hodson and John Newman is that two distinct segments dominate the personal vehicle market–commuters and around towners–and that the EV industry can better serve its customers by creating specific products for each segment.

A major difference between an EV and a traditional gas vehicle is that a major cost driver for EVs is energy storage. For pure EVs, the authors conclude that driving around town requires roughly 1/3 the battery capacity of commuting, due largely to increased driving speeds on highways used for commuting.

For plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), the optimal all-electric range for driving around town (16 miles) is considered less than 1/2 of that for commuting (38). People who use their EV to drive around town will be overpaying for a commuting model.

What Does This Mean for You?

For the consumer, the implication is that a household may need two vehicles with two distinct uses (of course, public and/or self-powered transport are viable options in many cases). Many households already have two or more vehicles, and may already use them for slightly different purposes. Others may have a lifestyle that demands two multi-use vehicles.

Although the EV industry is still in its early stages, it has naturally grown up a bit around the incentive structure Hodson and Newman describe: neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) are low-speed and good for getting around town, while many EV and PHEV manufacturers–like GM with the Volt–are focused largely on consumers’ commuting needs.

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Fisker Starts Putting Government Loan to Use

By Ted Nelson
October 29, 2009
File under: Alternative Fuels, Alternative Transportation, Auto Industry, Electric, Hybrid

2009 Fisker Karma

Fisker Automotive will begin deploying its government loan designated to spur U.S. production of fuel-efficient vehicles by buying and restoring an out-of-use GM plant in Delaware. Fisker paid only $18 million for the idle plant, but plans to spend an additional $175 million on refurbishing it. This Wilmington plant will be the manufacturing site for the company’s second model, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) sedan.

The factory–originally built by GM in 1947–will reach full production capacity of 75,000-100,000 vehicles a year by 2014. By that point Fisker estimates that reopening the plant will create 2,000 factory jobs. The automaker expects production from this plant will create an additional 3,000 vendor and supplier jobs. …read more of Fisker Starts Putting Government Loan to Use here

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Discover the latest developments in improving technologies, tightening auto standards, fuel alternatives and how to make your current car eco-friendly. Find out which companies are investing in energy efficient vehicles.

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