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Friday, September 30, 2011

Global spending on advanced oil, gas exploration tech to hit $10.17 billion in 2011

The Advanced Oil & Gas Exploration Technologies Market 2011-2021

The Advanced Oil & Gas Exploration Technologies Market 2011-2021 report analyses how this vitally important market will develop over the next ten years. The report quantifies the market in terms of global size and breaks the market down into sub-markets and seven regional markets, with forecasts and analysis provided for each market from 2011-2021. The report also examines the major drivers and restraints influencing the market over the next decade and explains the major technologies utilised, analysing which regions will drive growth for each technology. Our research shows that global spending in 2011 on advanced oil & gas exploration technologies will total $10.17bn.

Oil and gas exploration was once a painstaking, inefficient and time consuming activity. Prospectors looked for surface seepages from underground reserves, which occur only over a small proportion of deposits. Today, technological innovation allows more efficient management of fields and better evaluation of exploration prospects, reducing the need to drill numerous exploratory wells thus saving money and minimising environmental damage. A combination of high oil prices, improved extraction technologies, increasing global energy demands, and supply concerns including; declining production, depleting production fields, maturing reservoirs and increasingly more difficult frontier exploration that is deeper, more complex and more remote - is creating new opportunities for growth in the advanced oil & gas exploration technologies market. As the need to find new oil and gas deposits increases, the exploration industry will be relentlessly driven toward the use of more advanced surveying methods, including seismic 2D, 3D and 4D imaging, Controlled Source Electromagnetics (CSEM) and Remote Sensing techniques.

Though the industry will be faced with the restraints of proving the effectiveness of some of the new technologies on a commercial scale, overcoming environmental concerns, and confronting a weak global economy, the advanced oil & gas exploration technologies market is likely to provide substantial opportunities for potential investors. This report offers an examination of the advanced exploration technologies market over the next decade, providing detailed market forecasts for each of the regional markets and offering in-depth analysis of the opportunities and challenges facing companies in the advanced oil & gas exploration technologies market throughout the world.

The report also describes the most important technological changes within the advanced oil & gas technologies industry and assesses their importance for the growth of the market over the long-term. The various drivers and restraints of the market are evaluated in order to provide readers with specific insights into the future direction of the exploration technologies market.

How much is forecast to be spent in the leading regional advanced oil & gas exploration technologies markets in 2011? Who are the leading companies in the advanced oil & gas exploration technologies industry? Where are the growth opportunities over the next decade - in which countries and with which type of technology? These critical questions and many more are definitively answered in this comprehensive report.

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• Regional market forecasts from 2011-2021 and analysis for the 7 regional advanced oil & gas exploration technologies markets.
• Submarket forecasts from 2011-2021 for the 3 major advanced oil & gas exploration technologies.
• Profiles of the 32 leading companies within the advanced oil & gas exploration technologies market.
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Comprehensive analysis of the advanced oil & gas exploration technologies market

The Advanced Oil & Gas Exploration Technologies Market 2011-2021 report examines this sector critically by drawing upon a rich combination of primary and secondary research with a comprehensive review of recent contracts, official corporate and governmental announcements, news reports, industry publications, market analysis, policy documents, industry statements and an extensive consultation of expert opinion.

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- Seismic Exploration Technologies Market
- Controlled-Source Electromagnetics (CSEM) Exploration Technologies Market
- Remote Sensing Exploration Technologies Market
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Vision SCR still trying to make it into production





2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas priced from $26,155*

Honda Announces Pricing Information for 2012 Civic Natural Gas

All-new natural gas-powered Civic to go on-sale October 18 at qualified Honda dealerships nationwide

09/30/2011 - TORRANCE, Calif.

The all-new 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas (formally known as the Civic GX), the only dedicated natural gas-powered passenger vehicle manufactured and sold in the U.S., will go on sale at qualified Honda dealerships nationwide on October 18 with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price1 (MSRP) starting at $26,155.

To support growing consumer interest in alternative-fuel vehicles, American Honda is expanding its network of U.S. dealers which are qualified to sell and service the Civic Natural Gas to retail customers- expanding sales to 200 dealers in 38 states. Previously, retail sales of the natural gas-powered Civic had been limited to four states - California, New York, Utah and Oklahoma.

The Civic Natural Gas offers multiple benefits including significantly reduced operating costs compared to gasoline and lower fuel costs, with natural gas purchased at public fueling stations historically costing about 30-percent less than gasoline on a gasoline-gallon-equivalent basis. As an alternative-fuel vehicle with extremely low smog-forming emissions, the Civic Natural Gas currently qualifies for a state-issued decal allowing single-occupant access to High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) "carpool" lanes in California and several other states. The Civic Natural Gas engine produces almost zero smog-forming emissions and is the cleanest internal-combustion vehicle certified by the EPA (Tier-II, Bin-2 and ILEV certification as of August 2010).

Featuring new styling, enhanced performance and increased fuel economy, the redesigned 2012 Civic Natural Gas can now be equipped with the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System featuring an exclusive database of publically accessible Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) refueling stations across the United States.

Standard equipment on the 2012 Civic Natural Gas includes the new "intelligent" Multi-Information Display (i-MID) that provides a convenient platform for integration of vehicle information and compatible personal electronics with a driver-oriented 5-inch color LCD display and intuitive steering wheel controls. All models also come equipped with Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink® for wirelessly connecting compatible mobile phones and a USB audio interface for compatible music players.

A modified 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine found in the Civic Sedan and Coupe models powers the new Civic Natural Gas. A 5-speed automatic transmission is standard equipment. The Civic Natural Gas has an EPA-rated city/highway/combined fuel economy2 of 27/38/31 miles per gallon (gasoline-gallon equivalent). Compared to the previous model, city fuel economy is up by 12.5 percent and highway fuel economy is improved by 5.5 percent. Additionally, the 2012 Civic Natural Gas achieves a 10.7 percent improvement in combined fuel economy and range. The new model also incorporates the Honda ECO Assist™ system, an innovative technology that can enhance efficient vehicle operation at the touch of a button, while also providing visual feedback to the driver to promote and confirm a more efficient driving style.

The Civic Natural Gas engine incorporates unique features to operate exclusively on compressed natural gas. The compression ratio is increased to 12.7:1, compared to 10.6:1 in the Civic Sedan's gasoline-powered engine. Exclusive fuel injectors, intake and exhaust valves, and valve seats are designed to accommodate the unique properties of natural gas. Stronger connecting rods and crankshaft as well as special pistons are used to accommodate both the higher compression ratio of the engine and octane rating of the fuel.

The Civic Natural Gas has its 3600-psi fuel tank located between the rear wheels. The safety-engineered, aluminum-lined composite fuel tank can contain the gasoline-gallon equivalent (GGE) of 7.8 gallons of gasoline when filled with CNG to 3600 psi.

Designed with a sleek windshield rake, a sweeping roofline and a fresh interpretation of the previous model's "one-motion" profile, the lines of the 2012 Civic Natural Gas suggest a sophisticated and athletic appearance. A low and wide stance contributes to its distinctive visual presence, while thinner A-pillars stretch further toward the front of the vehicle than before to improve visibility and the perception of interior space. The C-pillars also stretch further toward the rear of the vehicle compared to the previous generation to better complete the flowing one-motion appearance. Aerodynamic features such as flat under-body construction and aerodynamic strakes in front of the tires help to increase fuel-efficiency.

The redesigned interior offers more style with new functionality and new features. An intuitive "two-tier" layout prioritizes frequently referenced instruments such as the speedometer by placing them high in the driver's line of sight. The i-MID can present audio information including album artwork, custom vehicle settings, and personal wallpaper backgrounds. A four-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system is standard, and it can stream music wirelessly via a Bluetooth connection with a compatible player, or via a wired USB connection. A Bluetooth HandsFreeLink system offers convenient device pairing and lets the driver make calls using pre-assigned voice tags and steering wheel controls.

Building on the successful packaging of the previous generation Civic , the passenger volume of 94.6 cubic feet increases by 3.7 cubic feet, and gains have also been made in front shoulder room (+2.9 inches) and rear legroom (+1.6 inches).

The 2012 Civic embraces Honda's tradition of making its vehicles fun to drive by continuing to use a fully independent suspension design, a premium and exceptional feature in the entry compact segment. The front MacPherson strut and rear multi-link suspensions are tuned for sporty driving fun, yet provide refined ride comfort.

For safety, a wide variety of standard equipment includes Honda's exclusive Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure for enhanced frontal collision energy management and vehicle-to-vehicle crash compatibility. ACE enhances frontal collision energy management through a network of load bearing structures in the front of the vehicle. Additional standard safety equipment includes Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) that integrates with the new Motion-Adaptive electric power steering (EPS) system; dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags; front side airbags with occupant position detection system (OPDS); side curtain airbags; and a 4-channel anti-lock braking system (ABS) with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist.

The Civic Natural Gas is recognized by the state of California as an Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) by meeting SULEV emissions standards and warranting its emissions durability for at least 150,000 miles or 15 year (in California and those states that have adopted California's ZEV regulations). The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) named the 2011 natural gas-powered Civic "America's Greenest Vehicle" for the eighth time in its Green Book® ranking of environmentally responsible vehicles. Natural Gas as a low carbon fuel emits 25 percent less CO2 emissions than gasoline when used to power an internal combustion engine.

The Honda Civic Natural Gas remains the only OEM-built, CNG-powered passenger car produced3 in America. All Civic Natural Gas models are produced at Honda Manufacturing of Indiana (HMIN). The 2012 Honda Civic is covered by a 3-year/36,000-mile New Car Limited Warranty; a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain limited warranty, and a 5-year/unlimited-mile corrosion limited warranty.

2012 Civic Natural Gas Pricing
Model Transmission MSRP1 City/Hwy/Combined2
Civic Natural Gas 5-Speed Automatic $26,155 27/38/31
Civic Natural Gas with Navigation 5-Speed Automatic $27,655 27/38/31

1 MSRP excluding tax, license, registration, $750.00 destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

2Based on 2012 EPA mileage estimates. Use for comparison purposes only. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.

3 Of domestic and globally sourced parts.

Team Lotus extends Formula One engine deal with Renault, will use KERS in 2012

We have done the very best job we can this year but without that extra power we are always competing on a different level to the teams ahead, so to give our drivers that boost is a key element of helping us catch the cars ahead, and compete with them when we do so.



Renault Sport F1 head Jean-Fran├žois Caubet said KERS – a system which transforms kinetic energy into useable power, providing Formula One racers with a six-second, 80-horsepower boost – is essential to competitive performance in F1.

USDA: Advanced biofuel payouts will create jobs, jobs and even more jobs

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Payments to Producers in 41 States to Expand the Production and Availability of Advanced Biofuels

WASHINGTON, September 27, 2011 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA will make payments to more than 160 energy producers in 41 states to support and ensure the production and expansion of advanced biofuels.

"Renewable energy production will create tens of thousands of direct, American jobs; thousands more indirect jobs, and clean electricity to power millions of homes. The payments I am announcing today represent the continuing commitment of the Obama administration to work with producers to provide the biofuel necessary to reduce our nation's dependence on foreign energy sources," Vilsack said. "The payments support America's growing advanced biofuel industry."

The payments are authorized under the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels (Section 9005 of the 2008 Farm Bill) and are made to eligible producers to support and ensure an expanding production of advanced biofuels. Payments are based on the amount of biofuels a recipient produces from renewable biomass, other than corn kernel starch. Eligible examples include biofuels derived from cellulose, crop residue, animal, food and yard waste material, biogas (landfill and sewage waste treatment gas), vegetable oil and animal fat.

To see a list of the recipients announced today click here.

For example, Ever Cat Fuels has been selected to receive a $98,507 contract payment to help offset the costs of producing almost 881,000 gallons of biodiesel at its plant in Isanti, Minn. Ever Cat uses the Mcgyan process to produce biodiesel, which efficiently and economically converts feedstock plant oils and animal fats to biodiesel. Ever Cat produces three million gallons of biodiesel annually and is the first commercial plant designed to use the Mcgyan technology. The plant began operations two years ago, creating 20 full-time jobs.

In Corinth, ME, Corinth Wood Pellets was selected to receive a $31,406 contract payment continue to produce and sell premium-grade wood pellets for the residential, industrial and commercial markets. The wood pellets are produced from sawdust and woodchip feedstock. A total of 18,224 metric tons of wood pellets were produced to generate 298,873,600,000 BTUs. This energy generation supports the Obama administration's ongoing efforts to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels by turning solid feedstock into alternative fuel that is used to heat residential, industrial and commercial buildings. USDA funding for this enterprise is expected to support 11 industry jobs.

On September 8, President Obama presented the American Jobs Act in an address to Congress. The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple: put more people back to work and put more money in the pockets of working Americans. The American Jobs Act is specific. It will put people back to work right now, and it will not add to the deficit. Through a combination of direct spending, such as infrastructure investments, and tax relief, such as an extension of the payroll tax cuts, it will lead to new American jobs. Since taking office, President Obama's Administration has taken significant steps to improve the lives of rural Americans and has provided broad support for rural communities. The Obama Administration has set goals of modernizing infrastructure by providing broadband access to 10 million Americans, expanding educational opportunities for students in rural areas, and providing affordable health care. In the long term, these unparalleled rural investments will help ensure that America's rural communities are repopulating, self-sustaining and thriving economically.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $155 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.

Executive shake-up underway at Ener1 as CEO resigns

Ener1 Announces Senior Management and Board of Directors Changes

NEW YORK, Sept. 27, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Ener1, Inc. HEV -4.85% , a leader in lithium-ion energy storage solutions, today announced two changes to its senior leadership team. Board member Thomas J. Snyder is replacing Charles Gassenheimer as chairman by assuming the role of non-executive chairman of the board. Chris Cowger, who has been serving as president of Ener1, will take over as chief executive officer from Mr. Gassenheimer, who is leaving the company. The changes are effective immediately. Mr. Gassenheimer is also expected to resign from Ener1's board of directors.

In addition, Ener1's board of directors has expanded the number of board seats from nine to 10 naming Chris Cowger to fill the new board seat.

"We are fortunate to have hired Chris Cowger earlier this year," stated Thomas J. Snyder, non-executive chairman of the board, Ener1, Inc. "He's done an excellent job re-focusing Ener1 on the needs of its current and potential customers."

Speaking on behalf of the board of directors, Snyder continued, "We very much appreciate all of Charles' contributions over the last five years in building Ener1 into a leader in lithium-ion energy storage solutions. We also anticipate that Chris' experience from working in executive leadership positions with companies like Dell and AMD, will bring additional expertise and insight to the Ener1 board to help us grow our business and achieve our business goals."

About Ener1, Inc.

Ener1, Inc. is a publicly traded HEV -4.85% energy storage technology company that develops compact, lithium-ion-powered battery solutions for the transportation, utility grid and industrial electronics markets. The company has sales and manufacturing locations in the United States, Korea and Russia, as well as a joint venture based in China. Ener1 also develops commercial fuel cell products and nanotechnology-based materials. For more information, visit Ener1's web site at www.ener1.com .

Nissan addresses Leaf battery life, replacement costs

Nissan Leaf battery

Hundreds, not thousands.

That's the word from Nissan's chief vice-president of global marketing communications, Simon Sproule, who believes that after five years of repeated use, the battery pack in the Nissan Leaf may require some maintenance, but not complete replacement.

Nissan states that after five years (or 60,000 miles) of use, the Leaf's battery pack will still retain at least 80 percent of its original 24-kWh capacity. But if the pack dips below that 80-percent threshold, then Nissan says individual module swap outs – not entire battery pack replacements – will be the most likely solution. Sproule stated:


There's been a lot of debate online about the replacement cost of the battery and it's very unlikely that anyone's going to have to replace the entire battery pack. Typically people will need to replace modules and we can open up the battery pack and do that. There's been a lot of chatter online about tens of thousands of dollars or euros to replace a whole battery pack, but really you want to focus on the modules and these will be in the hundreds, not the thousands.



As for the common concern that daily use of a quick-charge (Level 3) station will degrade battery life, Sproule responded:

If someone uses the fast charging system every day, they would be doing more than 200 miles [daily] and on an annual basis that would be over 70,000 miles. There aren't many people that drive 70,000 miles a year in any car so it's an unlikely scenario that someone would be fast charging every day. The constant heavy recharge cycle is the extreme and we engineer for the extreme but the reality day-to-day will be nowhere near that.



Looks like Sproule has his hands full dispelling Nissan Leaf myths.

Tesla expands in Europe with showroom opening in the Netherlands

Tesla Opens Showroom and Service Center in Eindhoven The Netherlands

- Tesla Expands Presence for Growing European Customer Base

Tesla Motors [http://www.teslamotors.com ] (NASDAQ: TSLA) expands its retail footprint today with the opening of a new Eindhoven Showroom, and Tesla Service Eindhoven, a new state-of-the-art service center, the largest in Europe to date. The new Tesla showroom and service center increase Tesla's commitment to the Benelux region, a market that has been receptive to the Roadster, Tesla' electric supercar, with over 100 cars registered. To complement its physical facilities, Tesla also has launched its web site in Dutch at http://www.teslamotors.com/nl_NL.

The Tesla Showroom and Tesla Service Eindhoven will make buying and servicing a Tesla vehicle fast and convenient for the growing customer base in the Benelux region and throughout Europe. Eindhoven is centrally located among Tesla's largest European markets; not only will the new facilities serve Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg, but will offer easy transport to and from Denmark, France and Northern Germany. Tesla Service Eindhoven is spacious, with room for up to five lifts, a full battery service and repair facility and other specialized EV equipment, bringing it on par with Tesla's state-of-the-art service centers in California and London.

"The new Tesla showroom and service center allow us to inform and engage more people about our exciting cars and the many advantages of going electric, and are a great platform for the Roadster and Tesla's new premium sedan, the Model S," says Tesla VP of Sales and Ownership Experience George Blankenship [http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/stop-go-electric ]. "By locating in Eindhoven, an important crossroads in Europe, customers can rest assured they will be well taken care of by Tesla."

The Tesla Showroom is located at Huizingalaan 66, 5628CM, Eindhoven, NL and Tesla Service at Ekkersrijt 4505, 5692DN, Son, Eindhoven, NL.

Tesla's retail growth is focused on service [http://www.teslamotors.com/own/service ]. Tesla has opened stores and service locations in the most convenient regions for its current and growing customer base, and will be relocating and renovating existing Tesla stores and service centers throughout Europe to continue to enhance customer experience. In addition to the accessibility of Eindhoven and other Tesla service centers, Tesla Mobile Service Rangers are available to travel to customers' homes to perform annual inspections, firmware upgrades and other services. Tesla's innovative "house call" approach allows customers peace of mind no matter where they are.

As the only company focused purely on developing electric vehicles, Tesla owns the entire process from conception to vehicle design to customer delivery. This allows for close communication between Tesla owners, engineers, sales and service to ensure product quality and an exceptional ownership experience.

ABOUT TESLA

Tesla's goal is to accelerate the world's transition to electric mobility with a full range of increasingly affordable electric cars. Palo Alto, California-based Tesla designs and manufactures EVs and EV powertrain components. Tesla has delivered more than 1,800 Roadsters, the world's first electric sports car, to customers world-wide. Model S, the first premium sedan to be built from the ground up as an electric vehicle, goes on the market in North America in mid-2012, and in Europe and Asia in late 2012.

Canadians may soon be able to buy used cars from Mexico

Chevrolet Montana

Canada is opening its used car market to vehicles from Mexico to fulfill the obligations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). While vehicles 15 years old or older can already be imported to Canada, this move concerns late-model used vehicles. The only other country Canada accepts used vehicles under 15 years old from is the United States, and NAFTA stipulates that Canada should have already completed this bit of border opening by the end of 2010.

According to Canada's Sympatico Autos, there's not likely to be an immediate flood of Mexi-cars into the Great White North, however. Brian Osler, president of the North American Automobile Trade Association (NAATA) notes that when cars from the United States became available, "it took a long time for people to become aware that there was more than one buying channel." Not only that, but vehicles will still need to meet Canadian emissions and safety standards, and the program is being phased in, starting with vehicles 10 or more years old. Every two years, newer vehicles will be allowed until the restrictions sunset in 2019 for all NAFTA signatories.

Global pressure on the economy and tight used-car values are likely to keep a damper on a buying bonanaza, at least in the short term. U.S. vehicles are also cushier and long-established in Canada's used-car marketplace, though some Canadian dealers are already establishing supplier channels in Mexico, and some already buy vehicles from Mexico to send to Europe. One peek at the ravages of road salt on a vehicle, and the allure of a vehicle that's lived closer to the equator becomes clear, and that's likely to be one factor that spurs Canadian buyers to consider used vehicles originally from Mexico. Us? We'd be interested in some of the Mexican market's forbidden fruit.

U.S. ethanol output dips to lowest level in 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Nissan Leaf nets middling 78-point <i/>Consumer Reports</i> score, still beats Volt

Consumer Reports: Redesigned Chrysler 300 now Ranks Among the Better Upscale Sedans

Hyundai Genesis tops competitive test group in November issue; Nissan Leaf & Hyundai Sonata Hybrid also tested

YONKERS, N.Y., Sept. 29, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Revamped for 2011, the Chrysler 300C scored an "Excellent" overall road test score of 80 in Consumer Reports' latest tests of four upscale sedans, up from 64 for the previous model. The 300C now ranks midpack among the 10 upscale sedans that have been tested by CR. Previously, it had been near the bottom of the pack.

It's unusual to see a redesigned model rise so far in Consumer Reports' ratings. CR's engineers and editors called the new 300 "the best Chrysler sedan we've seen in decades."

"The 300C's quick, muscular 5.7-liter V8 engine is now complemented by responsive handling and a more comfortable ride," said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center in East Haddam, CT. "And, thanks to a major upgrade, its roomy interior is now quieter, more luxurious, and has improved visibility."

Consumer Reports' latest test group included four upscale sedans-the Chrysler 300C, Hyundai Genesis, Toyota Avalon, and Acura TL. The Hyundai Genesis has topped CR's ratings of upscale sedans since 2009 and received an Excellent road test score of 92. The Genesis received a mild freshening for 2012, giving it a softer, more comfortable ride; a stronger direct injected V6; and a more fuel-efficient eight-speed automatic transmission, which helped to improve overall gas mileage by 1 mpg. Also receiving Excellent overall scores were the freshened Toyota Avalon and Acura TL.

Separately, the organization also tested the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, a fuel-efficient family sedan, and the all-electric Nissan Leaf. The Sonata Hybrid scored a disappointing 69, a full 20 points below the previously-tested and more popular conventional Sonata GLS. The Leaf scored a 78, which places it midpack among the six fuel-efficient hatchbacks that have recently been tested by CR.

The Sonata GLS is among Consumer Reports' highest-rated family sedans. Although the Sonata Hybrid gets better fuel economy than its non-hybrid doppelganger, the trade-offs in driveability, refinement, and braking performance are too high. The car stumbles and hesitates as it makes the transition from electric to gas power and both handling and braking are less capable.

The Leaf, which is the first widely available and affordable all-electric car, is a civilized vehicle with very low running costs. It's quick, very quiet, rides comfortably and is easy to get in and out of. The Leaf's main drawbacks are a limited driving range of only about 75 miles per charge, and it takes a long time to recharge, about 6 hours on 240V.

The full report on upscale sedans and fuel-efficient vehicles is available to subscribers of www.ConsumerReports.org on September 29th, and in the November issue of Consumer Reports on newsstands October 4. Updated daily, Consumer Reports.org is the go-to Website for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information. Check out CR's ongoing Twitter feed at @CRCars.

All of the models tested in this month's issue are Recommended except for the Sonata Hybrid and Nissan Leaf. The Sonata Hybrid scored too low to be recommended. Reliability is still unknown for the Leaf. Consumer Reports only Recommends vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on CR's Annual Auto Survey of its more than seven million print and Web subscribers, and performed at least adequately if crash-tested or included in a government rollover test.

Prices for the tested vehicles ranged from $26,695 for the Sonata Hybrid to $44,730 for the 300C.

The 300C is the top-level, V8-powered version of the 300 large sedan. The ride is steady and compliant, and the highway ride is composed. The cabin is very quiet overall. The Chrysler 300C ($44,730 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 363-hp, 5.7-liter V8 engine that delivers strong performance, but it gets just 18 mpg overall in CR's own fuel economy tests. Many buyers would be happy with the 300's base 3.6-liter V6 engine; it provides better fuel economy with still-strong acceleration. The 300C's five-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. Braking is Very Good. The interior is plush and well-finished with large and straightforward touch-screen controls. Driver visibility is much improved with the redesign, but it still isn't great. A shallow trunk expands by folding the 60/40-split rear seatbacks.

The V6 Genesis provides most of the benefits of a $50,000 luxury car for $10,000 less. The updated V6 powertrain is punchy, and fuel economy has improved slightly. Handling is responsive. The ride is now more settled, but it still falls short of a true luxury sedan. The Hyundai Genesis 3.8 ($39,850 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 333-hp, 3.8-liter V6 engine that is strong and smooth and gets 22 mpg overall. The eight-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. Braking is Very Good. The interior is well-finished and has simple controls. Cargo space is modest.

The Avalon could pass for a luxury sedan from Toyota's upscale Lexus brand. It has a relaxed and comfortable ride that deftly mutes road imperfections. On the highway it's remarkably serene. The Toyota Avalon Limited ($36,628 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 268-hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine that is strong and gets 23 mpg overall, impressive for such a large car. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts very smoothly and flawlessly. Braking is Very Good. The interior is well-finished with excellent seats, but the rear is rather cramped. The large trunk includes a small pass-through to accommodate long objects such as skis, but rear seatbacks don't fold down.

The TL is well-rounded, but it doesn't stand out in its class. Although some road and wind noise intrude, the cabin is quiet overall. The TL's taut ride is well controlled and firm, yet supple. The Acura TL ($36,465 MSRP as tested), is powered by a smooth, punchy 280-hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine that gets 24 mpg overall on premium fuel. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts quickly and smoothly. Braking is Very Good. The interior is well-finished. The trunk is a nice size but has a small opening. The center rear armrest folds down to allow long items like skis to pass through into the cabin, but the seatback doesn't fold.

The Sonata Hybrid's drivetrain lacks refinement. Throttle response is slow, making the car feel more underpowered than it is. The ride is controlled yet supple. The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid ($26,695 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 206-hp, 2.4-liter 4-cylinder hybrid engine that that is adequate and gets 33 mpg overall. The six-speed automatic transmission is not as smooth as the continuously variable transmissions found in most competing hybrids. The ride is controlled yet supple. Stopping distances are long and handling limits are reduced compared to other Sonata models. The interior is well finished. The Sonata's compact lithium-polymer battery consumers less trunk space than in competing hybrid sedans.

The Nissan Leaf's full road test culminates a five month period since CR bought the car in California. Driving range can vary dramatically depending on the conditions. Its battery was good for about 90 miles on good days with gentle driving. But in cold weather, CR's testers saw the range drop to as little as 60 miles because the heater puts an additional drain on the battery. The car's limited range makes it best as a commuter car or an urban runabout. The Nissan Leaf SL ($35,430 MSRP as tested), is powered by an 80-kw electric motor (equivalent to 107-hp) that accelerates effortlessly and power is supplied by a 24-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery that sits under the floor. On average, the Leaf delivered 3.16 miles per kWh, or the equivalent of 106 mpg in mixed driving. That gives the Leaf very low operating costs of about 3.5 cents per mile at average national electricity rates of 11 cents per kWh. The Leaf rides well but handling, though secure, lacks agility. Braking is Very Good. The interior is nicely finished but not posh. The hatchback has a deep well, but because of the battery's location, the floor isn't flat when the rear seats are folded.

Consumer Reports is the world's largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

Custom turbocharged Hyundai Veloster to bow at SEMA

To showcase the performance capabilities and aftermarket potential of its innovative three-door coupe, Hyundai has teamed up with ARK Performance to transform Veloster into a sleek and sporty rally car. The ARK Performance Veloster will be unveiled at the 2011 SEMA Show with a custom twin-scroll turbocharger increasing its horsepower to 210HP and a bright green and flat gray paint scheme to give enthusiasts a glimpse at Veloster's potential. ARK Performance's Veloster will be shown in the Hyundai booth between November 1-4, 2011 among other modified Velosters and Genesis Coupes.

"The Hyundai Veloster is an ideal car for enthusiasts with its distinctive design and dynamic architecture," said Ted Lee, owner, ARK Performance Inc. "At SEMA, our ARK Performance Veloster will bridge the realm between an affordable sports car and an extreme motor sports vehicle. From the first Tiburon, to the Genesis Coupe, and now with the Veloster, ARK Performance continues to uphold the torch as the pioneer of aftermarket performance manufacturing for Hyundai."

The ARK Performance Hyundai Veloster will showcase mechanical, interior and exterior modifications including an open wheel concept with aggressive fenders and Nitto tires. ARK will also develop Veloster specific parts to showcase the tunability of the engine and vehicle exterior.

ARK Performance has planed numerous modifications to make this Veloster a must-see vehicle at this year's SEMA Show.

Mechanical components ARK plans to customize include:

ARK Turbo Charger and Intercooler System
ARK Intercooler Piping System
ARK Custom Oil Cooler
ARK Turbo Manifold
ARK Lightweight Pulley System
ARK Six-Pot Big Brake Kit
ARK Eight-Point Chromoly Rally Style Roll Cage
ARK DTP Track Coilover System
ARK Upper Strut and Front and Rear Sway Bar
ARK Camber and Control Arms
ARK GRIP Dual Exhaust
ARK RSEPC Downpipes and Test Pipes

Interior enhancements include:

JPM Coachworks Custom OEM Seats with Alcantara Interior
JPM Coachworks Custom Alcantara Shift Boot
JPM Coachworks Custom Alcantara Dashboard
JPM Coachworks Custom Alcantara Headliner
JPM Coachworks Custom Alcantara Doors and Visors
JPM Coachworks Custom Floor Mats
JPM Coachworks Custom Alcantara Audio Finish
Image Dynamics Q450.4 Amplifiers
Image Dynamics Q600.1 Amplifiers
Image Dynamics XS65 Component Speakers
Image Dynamics ID10D4 Subwoofers
ARK Racing Pedals
DSG Performance / Password JDM Shift Knob
DSG Performance / SUN Automotive Eco
DSG Performance / SUN Hyper Voltage System GT
DSG Performance / SUN Automotive Gauss System
DSG Performance / SUN Automotive Hot Inazma Pocket
DSG Performance / SUN Automotive Hyper Ground System
Jason Noren Fabrications Custom Rally Cage
Adam Perry Custom Audio Setup

ARK Performance will also make moderate exterior modifications to the Veloster, including:

ARK CFX Designs Front Lip
ARK CFX Designs Side Skirt
ARK CFX Designs Rear Bumper
ARK SFX Designs Wide Front and Rear Fenders
ARK CFX Designs Grille
ARK SFX Rear Wing Mount
OneEighty Custom Headlights
OneEighty Custom Taillights
OneEighty Custom Fog Lamps
Rally Armor Custom Veloster Mud Flaps
Rally Armor Custom Veloster Mounts
DSG Performance / Password JDM Chromoly Lug Nuts
Yokohama Advan RZ Gunmetal x5
Nitto NT05 x5
Beyond Autobody Custom Paint and Finish

ARK PERFORMANCE INC.

The goal of ARK Performance Inc. is to become a leader in providing superior after­market solutions for a variety of vehicles. Showcasing our excellence through prod­uct demonstrations, ARK Performance currently leads the way in the automotive aftermarket. ARK Performance Inc. was founded fifteen years ago, and is now one of the largest manufacturing facilities in the Republic of Korea. Our primary objec­tives are to produce superior quality OEM and aftermarket automotive parts, while developing applications to contribute to the advancement of the automotive com­munity.

ARK has steadily achieved an increased market share. Our company has broad­ened its product line into performance exhaust systems, suspension, and CNC machined products that are currently being distributed to North America, the Middle East, and Asia. ARK Performance has received high marks for quality manufacturing, which is demonstrated by our ISO9001 and QS9000 certifications. This is the result of using the latest cutting-edge technology, and ultimately producing superior products. As our slogan suggests, the quality of our products directly contributes to the overall quality of performance. ARK Performance will continue to maintain its stance as a leader in quality, providing a satisfying experience for our customers.

2012 Nissan Leaf expands availability as U.S. sales reach 7,000 units

Nissan Launches All-Electric LEAF in New U.S. Markets

- Ordering begins in additional states, including New York metropolitan area -

FRANKLIN, Tenn., Sept. 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- On the heels of the 7,000th delivery in the United States, Nissan North America Inc. is expanding availability of Nissan LEAF, the world's first and only all-electric car for the mass market.

Orders for the 2012 Nissan LEAF begin today in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York. Deliveries of the LEAF, enriched for the 2012 model year with additional standard equipment including quick charging and cold-weather features, will take place in these key markets by December.

"Consumers have spoken, and it's clear that they are looking for a car that produces zero emissions and uses no gas," said Brian Carolin, senior vice president, Sales and Marketing, Nissan North America. "We are seeing tremendous consumer interest in the Nissan LEAF in these new markets, particularly in the New York metropolitan area."

A prioritized ordering phase begins today for individuals with existing reservations in these new markets. On Oct. 3, Nissan will open new reservations and orders to the general public. Nissan will expand into additional new markets as the year continues. By the end of the year, Delaware, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island will be added as markets where the Nissan LEAF will be available for order.

With thousands of Nissan LEAF drivers and enthusiasts actively discussing their experiences in online forums and in Nissan social media communities, Nissan also is announcing the launch of the "Go Electric" Owner's Blog. This new online destination, NissanLeafDrivers.com, will feature weekly content from 14 Nissan LEAF owners who will share personal experiences of owning a 100-percent electric vehicle. Nissan aims for the site to be a gathering place for potential and current Nissan LEAF owners to discuss electric vehicle ownership.

About Nissan Americas

In the Americas, Nissan's operations include automotive styling, engineering, consumer and corporate financing, sales and marketing, distribution and manufacturing. Nissan is dedicated to improving the environment under the Nissan Green Program and was recognized as an ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2010 and 2011. More information on Nissan in North America, the Nissan LEAF and zero emissions can be found at www.nissanusa.com.

About Nissan

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Japan's second largest Japanese automotive company by volume, is headquartered in Yokohama, Japan and is an integral pillar of the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Operating with more than 150,000 employees globally, Nissan provided customers with more than 4 million vehicles in 2010. With a strong commitment to developing exciting and innovative products for all, Nissan delivers a comprehensive range of fuel-efficient and low-emissions vehicles under the Nissan and Infiniti brands. A pioneer in zero emission mobility, Nissan made history with the introduction of the Nissan LEAF, the first affordable, mass-market, pure-electric vehicle and winner of numerous international accolades including the prestigious 2011 European Car of the Year award.

For more information on our products, services and commitment to Sustainable Mobility, visit our website at http://www.nissan-global.com/EN/.

Microcab reveals H2EV hydrogen fuel cell vehicle

High-MPG Toyota Aqua Hybrid to Launch in Japan

Published September 29, 2011


By Jeff Cobb



PriusC


Could the new Aqua look like this Prius C concept?




This week it was learned that Toyota will launch a Japanese-market compact member of the Prius family in January that could be the most fuel efficient hybrid yet produced.



The 2012 Toyota Aqua hybrid will receive a 94 mpg (40 km/liter) rating in Japan according to Reuters, which got the information in turn from a Nikkei business report.



The Aqua will reportedly use the same powertrain as the standard Prius, but Reuters noted its source did not say where it got this information from.



Toyota offered no comment, so the automotive world is parsing what knowledge it has to put together the pieces of this puzzle.



One thing for certain is the mid-sized Prius gets about 75 mpg on the Japanese test cycle, so this new car will beat its efficiency by 25 percent.



As the Japanese fuel efficiency tests tend to produce higher numbered results than the U.S. EPA test cycles, real world economy might be in the 60 mpg range.



For now, this could be moot for American buyers, as this is a car intended for Japan's home market.



The Aqua will reportedly be targeted at younger and female drivers, although we have no photos as of yet (so we posted a picture of the Prius C concept from this year’s Detroit Auto Show which may be a precursor to this production C-class Prius).



Its price will be 1.7 million yen, Reuters said, or about $22,100. In Japan, that will mean it sells for about $3,900 (300,000 yen) less than the regular Prius.



Rumors are yet stirring among various media outlets and chat forums.



It could be this Aqua is merely a version of the pending Prius C with a different name for the home market. The C is also expected to undercut the regular Prius in price and efficiency.



If so, now we know by how much. Stay tuned.



Reuters








CA dealers must affix new warning sticker to salvaged vehicles

Flood damaged cars at AutoZone

California has passed new a new law that further regulates the car-buying process, and the changes appear to be mostly positive. Automotive News reports that, beginning next July, dealers will need to slap a red warning sticker on any vehicle with a salvage title. That means any vehicle that has been legally deemed flood-damaged, junked or salvaged will receive the ominous label.

The new law will also mandate the use of electronic vehicle registration for new and used vehicle sales. This system will reportedly result in faster registrations, and a license plate will arrive in six weeks, which sounds good compared to the six months under the current system.

The dealers of California will need to pony up as a result of the new law, but in the end, the customer always foots the bill. The new legislation allows dealers to up documentation charges from $45 for leases and $55 for sales to $80 for both. That sounds like a lot, but AN points out that California car buyers will still pay less for documentation than all but one other state in the Union.

DOE ready to shift more money to plug-in vehicles in search of jobs

Department of Energy Releases Inaugural Quadrennial Technology Review Report

September 27, 2011 - 1:09pm

Report Provides a Roadmap for Advancing Key Energy Technologies and Outlines a Clear Vision of the Department's Goals for Energy Innovation

WASHINGTON, DC – The Energy Department today released it's inaugural Quadrennial Technology Review report (DOE-QTR) – an assessment of the Department's energy technology research and development portfolios. The DOE-QTR establishes a robust framework for the Department's energy technology activities, including principles it can use to prioritize its technology research and development. Inspired by the Quadrennial Defense Review, the DOE-QTR was recommended by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) as an initial step toward a government-wide Quadrennial Energy Review to help formulate a national energy policy.

"Innovation in energy technology is going to be central to solving our energy challenges," said John P. Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Co-Chair of PCAST. "New energy technologies can reduce the cost of energy services to firms and families, improve the productivity of manufacturing, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, increase the reliability and resilience of our energy infrastructure, and reduce the risks from climate change, even as they strengthen and sustain U.S. competitiveness in global markets."

"With this QTR, we bind together multiple energy technologies with the goal of transforming our energy system," said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "By unleashing technological innovation, we can help create new jobs and industries while building a cleaner, more efficient, and more competitive economy."

In an effort to address our nation's challenges, energy security and U.S. competitiveness, the DOE-QTR defines six key strategies: increase vehicle efficiency; electrification of the light duty fleet; deploy alternative fuels; increase building and industrial efficiency; modernize the electrical grid; and deploy clean electricity. Findings of the DOE-QTR include:

DOE should give greater emphasis to the transport sector relative to the stationary sector.
Among the transport strategies, DOE will devote its greatest effort to electrification of the vehicle fleet, a sweet spot for pre-competitive DOE R&D.
Within the stationary heat and power sector, the DOE-QTR finds that the Department should increase emphasis on efficiency and understanding the grid. It states that the Department's role as a source of information and as a convener of interested parties, two functions that are often underestimated, are unique and indispensible in advancing energy technologies.
Finally, the DOE-QTR highlights the need for the Department to develop stronger, more integrated policy, economics, and technical analyses of its research and development activities.

"With nearly 90% of the energy system owned and operated by the private sector, the DOE-QTR recognizes that the Department is not the sole agent in transforming the system," said DOE Under Secretary Steven Koonin. "Through discussions with hundreds of energy stakeholders, we have learned that, beyond our technology development activities, the Department's unique role as a convener and source of accurate techno-economic information is a great public benefit."

The DOE-QTR binds together multiple energy technologies, as well as multiple DOE energy technology programs, in the common purpose of solving our energy challenges. The DOE-QTR provides a multi-year framework for program planning by looking at a broader longer-term view than the annual budget process; allowing the Department to provide the consistent and predictable support necessary to for the success of our research, development, and demonstration activities.

Honda launches $8,018, 47-mpg Brio minicar in India

2011 Honda Brio
The India arm of Honda Motor has officially launched its fuel-sipping Brio minicar, joining its Japanese rivals in the fight for a chunk of India's lucrative minicar segment. Toyota launched its Etios Liva in April of 2011 and Nissan rolled out its Micra in mid-2010.

The no-frills Brio starts at 395,000 rupees ($8,018 U.S. at today's exchange rate), compared with 390,000 rupees ($7,904) for the Liva and 398,000 rupees ($8,079) for the barebones Micra. Takashi Nagai, chief executive of Honda India, states:


We have been able to launch the Brio at a competitive price due to our concerted efforts to control costs, maximize production efficiencies and minimize impact of currency fluctuations. We have achieved this through pure localization.



On the fuel efficiency front, the Brio sports Honda's Euro 4-compliant 1.2-liter four-cylinder i-VTEC engine with 90 horsepower on tap. This high-revving mill returns approximately 47 miles per gallon (U.S.). The Brio joins Honda's Jazz, City, Civic, Accord and CR-V in India.

Honda reveals 25% more fuel-efficient 125-cc engine for next-gen scooters

Honda develops new 700cc and 125cc engines and dual clutch transmission for two-wheelers

26 September 2011

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has developed new 700cc and 125cc engines for two-wheelers, as well as an accompanying lightweight, compact second-generation Dual Clutch Transmission, featuring a smooth, direct feel and excellent transmission efficiency.

700cc. This new engine is a liquid-cooled, 700cc, 4-stroke, in-line, 2-cylinder engine that fits into the mid-class range (displacement between 500 and 750cc) popular in Europe. Fuel economy exceeds 27 km/L (3.7 L/100km, 63.5 mpg US) WMTC (World Motorcycle Test Cycle) mode by Honda's calculation and achieves an approximate 40% improvement over other sports models in its class.

This new engine will be mounted on three models based on different concepts, which are slated for exhibition at EICMA2011 (69th International Motorcycle Exhibition) to be held in November in Milan, Italy.

Development of the new engine was performed to meet these requirements:

An engine that is easy to handle with plentiful torque in the range normally used, and which also delivers a pleasant, throbbing feel during sporty rides.

Top-class, fuel-efficient environmental performance best suited for the next-generation mid-class engine.

A lightweight, compact design that allows more freedom in the body layout and provides highly convenient space.

Honda determined the engine layout after examining a variety of engine types from numerous perspectives and decided on an in-line, 700cc, 2-cylinder engine with a 62° forward lean (cylinder assembly angle). To meet a wide variety of uses, two transmissions can be coupled with this engine: the second generation of Honda's innovative Dual Clutch Transmission, and a 6-speed manual transmission.

The new engine incorporates a wide variety of low friction technologies that aid better fuel economy. To improve fuel efficiency through better-controlled combustion while realizing a powerful ride in the low- to mid-rpm ranges, the bore-stroke ratio is set at 73×80mm. An optimized combustion chamber shape and optimum valve timing also contribute to achieve stable combustion. Resin coating is applied to the pistons, and lightweight aluminum material is employed for the first time in a motorcycle in the friction-reducing roller rocker arm.

Adoption of uneven-interval firing with a 270° phase crank and uniaxial primary balancer help realize an engine with a pleasant throbbing feel that also reduces vibration.

The layout of a branch intake port inside the cylinder head was chosen to have only one intake channel for two cylinders. This design creates deliberate interference between the two cylinders' intake processes to achieve precisely calculated changes to combustion timing.

In addition, to change the valve timing between the two in-line cylinders with one camshaft, the specifications provide for a cam with two timing routines for the intake valve. Through these measures, subtle combustion changes can be generated to give the engine a delightful, pulsating feel.

To maximize the efficiency of exhaust aftertreatment so that the three-way catalyst can be started promptly after the engine starts, the TWC has been placed directly beneath the exhaust ports. This design lets the combustion gas pass through the catalyst while the gas is still hot. In addition, a combination of measures, including the adoption of an electronically-controlled fuel injection system (PGM-FI), allows the engine to achieve an emission level approximately half the European emission standards (Euro 3).

Second-generation Dual Clutch Transmission. The Dual Clutch Transmission, developed for the first time by Honda for motorcycles and installed on the VFR1200F, is now lighter and more compact through a simplified hydraulic circuit and other design enhancements. A learning function has been added to each selected running mode to detect a variety of riding environments from city streets to mountain passes and automatically performs the most suitable shift control. Although it is an automatic transmission, the Dual Clutch Transmission delivers fuel economy on a par with manual transmissions as a result of its transmission efficiency.

125cc. The new 125c engine is developed for next-generation 125cc scooters and accommodates an advanced idle stop system for motorcycles. Fuel economy is approximately 25% better than that of conventional engines for scooters with the same displacement, according to Honda. This liquid-cooled, 125cc, 4-stroke, single-cylinder engine incorporates a wide range of low-friction technologies while packing its lighter weight in a more compact body.

This new engine will be mounted on a variety of 125cc scooters to be sold in many countries around the world and is planned for global rollout starting from 2012.

Development was performed to meet these requirements:

Powerful output and greater durability with an emphasis on practicality.

Excellent fuel efficiency suitable for the next-generation global-standard engine.

Contributing to CO2 reduction on a worldwide scale by applying to global models.

Realizing an affordable price.

Low-friction technologies such as an offset cylinder and a roller rocker arm are supplemented by such techniques as intelligent control to lessen friction during power generation and the first adoption of a shell-type needle bearing for the rocker arm shaft. Low-friction technologies applied include:

Offset cylinder reduces friction caused by the contact between the sliding piston and the cylinder.

Piston weight has been thoroughly reduced through CAE analysis.

A spiny sleeve with minute spines on the outer surface of the cylinder sleeve has been adopted to reduce oil consumption and improve cooling performance.

A shell-type needle bearing is used for the rocker arm shaft to reduce friction.

Smaller and lighter rollers together with an optimized cam profile and valve spring load.

Radiator core with high cooling efficiency has been adopted (approximately 1.5 times the efficiency of current models). This enables a smaller and lighter cooling fan on the back of the radiator and reduces friction loss by approximately 30%.

Transmission oil capacity is reduced 25% compared to current 125cc engines through modifications inside the transmission case in order to lower the oil agitation loss.

Bearings for each of the three axes in the transmission unit are exclusively designed according to the load received, resulting in an optimal set of specifications that lessen the rolling resistance inside the bearings. Friction loss has been cut by approximately 20% compared to the current engine (when running at 50km/h).

To increase combustion efficiency, Honda used a compact combustion chamber design incorporating burning velocity and cooling performance suitable for an engine that emphasizes torque characteristics in the rpm ranges actually used by a 125cc scooter.

Another step in this area includes redesigning the air intake port connection to the combustion chamber into a smoother shape that does not impede the flow of the fuel-air mixture. Optimal ignition timing is set due to improved knocking resistance created by a highly efficient radiator and a water jacket that efficiently cools the combustion chamber.

A smooth and quiet start has been realized through an electronically-controlled ACG starter, which serves as both a self-starter and a dynamo. An advanced idle stop system has also been applied.

A swing-back that returns the crank to its position before air intake is electronically controlled for easy restart, while a decompression mechanism mitigates cranking resistance arising from compression during engine start.

A wide-ratio continuously variable transmission with V-belt (V-Matic) utilizes a drive belt made of newly developed high-elasticity rubber. Both fuel efficiency and quietness are achieved through the efficient transmission of driving force by optimizing the lateral pressure applied to the belt, along with the durability of the belt.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Murphy Express in Tennessee becomes first gas station to install Level 3 quick-charger

Stemming from an agreement signed back in September of 2010, Eaton Corporation and Murphy Oil USA have revealed what's believed to be the nation's first Level 3 quick-charge unit installed at, wait for it, a gas station.

The Eaton DC Quick Charger, installed at
Murphy Express Gas on Lee Highway in Chattanooga, TN, can recharge electric vehicles to 80-percent capacity in less than 30 minutes. A Murphy Oil spokesperson told The Chattanoogan that:


Our business model is built around providing customers with the highest quality fuel at the best possible price. In this spirit, we are testing the feasibility of electric charging stations to see if it makes sense for consumers and our business.



Murphy Express Gas says the quick-charge station is open to the public and is free to use. Murphy Oil aims to install similar DC quick-charge units at "several more gas stations" by the end of 2011, in case you want to remake those Chevy Volt gas station ads with a different ending.

Japanese firms develop innovative techniques to reduce vehicle weight

PPS fuel injection rail

News outlet Nikkei reports that Japan-based steelmakers and chemical firms are developing materials and components that will make vehicles significantly lighter. The reason? Putting an end to Japanese automakers procuring components from rivals overseas.

These innovative lightweight materials include high-density steel tubes made by Sumitomo Metal Industries. A unique heat treatment process makes these tubes easy to mold into complex shapes, while at the same time making them up to 150-percent stronger than conventional steel. On the fiber front, both Toray Industries and Teijin are working to develop technology for producing low-cost carbon fiber components.

Finally, on the plastics side, DIC Corporation will build a production line for polyphenylene sulfide (PPS), a high-function resin. PPS has been drawing massive amounts of attention as a lightweight alternative to metal. It's main use is in components surrounding engines, like the fuel injection rail pictured above. DIC controls roughly 30 percent of the global PPS industry and with the additional production line, DIC will have the capacity to pump out up to 5,500 tons of PPS components a year.

Lightweight steel, low-cost carbon fiber and high-tech resins – a three-component approach to remain competitive with foreign rivals while at the same time reducing vehicle mass. Add it all up, and you've got the potential to bump up fuel economy in a big way.

US Energy Department proposes more spending on electric transportation

Published September 28, 2011


By Jeff Cobb



EcoCar


This year the Energy Department again co-sponsored the EcoCar Challenge exploring ways to improve efficiency with hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric and fuel cell technologies. Shown are the 2011 winners.




Yesterday the U.S. Energy Department released its first-ever "Quadrennial Technology Review," saying it wants to increase funding research for electrified vehicles and supporting infrastructure.




Its total 2011 budget was $3 billion, and the thinking by the government is it needs a faster return on its investment, so diverting a higher percentage toward electrification could engender more near-term solutions for America's pressing energy and environmental needs.




“Today, our nation is at a cross road. While we have the world’s greatest innovation machine, countries around the world are moving aggressively to lead in the clean energy economy,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel-winning physicist in an introduction to the 168-page review. “We can either lead in the development of the clean energy economy or we can stand back and wait for others to move forward a sustainable energy future. For the sake of our economic prosperity and our national security, we must lead.”






The Energy Department says it ought not to get too far ahead of the private sector in its research spending, and its proposed 2013 budget gives greater priority to investments that could be feasible in the next 10 years.




"Currently DOE focuses too much effort on researching technologies that are multiple generations away from practical use," said the review, which surveyed more than 600 stakeholders in industry, academia and government.





At present, the Energy Department said it is “underinvested” in transportation research with only 26 percent of its budget devoted to it.




Electric vehicle research received only 9 percent, and 4 percent went toward making vehicles more efficient. The lion’s share went to advanced fuels, but the Energy Department intends to shift the balance.




For heavy-duty road trucks, the Energy Department will also focus on advanced biofuels instead of “mature” ethanol and fuels that require new fuel station infrastructure.




This year’s spending allocated 51 percent for clean electricity, and here too spending is proposed to be shifted toward projects to help upgrade the aging power grid, and make buildings more energy efficient.




Carbon capture and storage research will also continue receiving funding as this fits with existing power infrastructure. The Energy Department will also focus on engineering support for licensing a new type of nuclear reactor known as the small modular reactor.




“The Department will give priority to research on technologies that can be operated economically with low water consumption, including solar photovoltaic and wind," the review said.




At least the plan is for all of these proposed priority shifts.





Chu and other DOE officials led the review, and used its results to guide planning for a budget proposal for fiscal 2013 that will be released early in 2012.




The review is modeled on similar efforts by the Defense Department, and the proposal must go through annual negotiations between the executive branch and Congress.




On its Web site, it said the DOE-QTR was written with the purpose to “address our nation’s challenges, energy security and U.S. competitiveness.”




The review, which you can download here, defines six key strategies: increase vehicle efficiency; electrification of the light duty fleet; deploy alternative fuels; increase building and industrial efficiency; modernize the electrical grid; and deploy clean electricity.




Findings of the DOE-QTR include:




• DOE should give greater emphasis to the transport sector relative to the stationary sector.


• Among the transport strategies, DOE will devote its greatest effort to electrification of the vehicle fleet, a sweet spot for pre-competitive DOE R&D.


• Within the stationary heat and power sector, the DOE-QTR finds that the Department should increase emphasis on efficiency and understanding the grid. It states that the Department’s role as a source of information and as a convener of interested parties, two functions that are often underestimated, are unique and indispensable in advancing energy technologies.


• Finally, the DOE-QTR highlights the need for the Department to develop stronger, more integrated policy, economics, and technical analyses of its research and development activities.




“With nearly 90 percent of the energy system owned and operated by the private sector, the DOE-QTR recognizes that the Department is not the sole agent in transforming the system,” said DOE Under Secretary Steven Koonin. “Through discussions with hundreds of energy stakeholders, we have learned that, beyond our technology development activities, the Department’s unique role as a convener and source of accurate techno-economic information is a great public benefit.”




Overall, the Energy Department led by Chu has maintained an optimistic tone.




"The stakes are high for our country, and I am optimistic that we can still lead the world in technological innovation," he said.




U.S. Energy Department, Automotive News.






2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid is evolutionary

White House delaying release of new fuel economy standards

U.S. Energy Department proposes more spending on electric transportation

Published September 28, 2011


By Jeff Cobb



EcoCar


This year the Energy Department again co-sponsored the EcoCar Challenge exploring ways to improve efficiency with hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric and fuel cell technologies. Shown are the 2011 winners.




Yesterday the U.S. Energy Department released its first-ever "Quadrennial Technology Review," saying it wants to increase funding research for electrified vehicles and supporting infrastructure.




Its total 2011 budget was $3 billion, and the thinking by the government is it needs a faster return on its investment, so diverting a higher percentage toward electrification could engender more near-term solutions for America's pressing energy and environmental needs.




“Today, our nation is at a cross road. While we have the world’s greatest innovation machine, countries around the world are moving aggressively to lead in the clean energy economy,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel-winning physicist in an introduction to the 168-page review. “We can either lead in the development of the clean energy economy or we can stand back and wait for others to move forward a sustainable energy future. For the sake of our economic prosperity and our national security, we must lead.”






The Energy Department says it ought not to get too far ahead of the private sector in its research spending, and its proposed 2013 budget gives greater priority to investments that could be feasible in the next 10 years.




"Currently DOE focuses too much effort on researching technologies that are multiple generations away from practical use," said the review, which surveyed more than 600 stakeholders in industry, academia and government.





At present, the Energy Department said it is “underinvested” in transportation research with only 26 percent of its budget devoted to it.




Electric vehicle research received only 9 percent, and 4 percent went toward making vehicles more efficient. The lion’s share went to advanced fuels, but the Energy Department intends to shift the balance.




For heavy-duty road trucks, the Energy Department will also focus on advanced biofuels instead of “mature” ethanol and fuels that require new fuel station infrastructure.




This year’s spending allocated 51 percent for clean electricity, and here too spending is proposed to be shifted toward projects to help upgrade the aging power grid, and make buildings more energy efficient.




Carbon capture and storage research will also continue receiving funding as this fits with existing power infrastructure. The Energy Department will also focus on engineering support for licensing a new type of nuclear reactor known as the small modular reactor.




“The Department will give priority to research on technologies that can be operated economically with low water consumption, including solar photovoltaic and wind," the review said.




At least the plan is for all of these proposed priority shifts.





Chu and other DOE officials led the review, and used its results to guide planning for a budget proposal for fiscal 2013 that will be released early in 2012.




The review is modeled on similar efforts by the Defense Department, and the proposal must go through annual negotiations between the executive branch and Congress.




On its Web site, it said the DOE-QTR was written with the purpose to “address our nation’s challenges, energy security and U.S. competitiveness.”




The review, which you can download here, defines six key strategies: increase vehicle efficiency; electrification of the light duty fleet; deploy alternative fuels; increase building and industrial efficiency; modernize the electrical grid; and deploy clean electricity.




Findings of the DOE-QTR include:




• DOE should give greater emphasis to the transport sector relative to the stationary sector.


• Among the transport strategies, DOE will devote its greatest effort to electrification of the vehicle fleet, a sweet spot for pre-competitive DOE R&D.


• Within the stationary heat and power sector, the DOE-QTR finds that the Department should increase emphasis on efficiency and understanding the grid. It states that the Department’s role as a source of information and as a convener of interested parties, two functions that are often underestimated, are unique and indispensable in advancing energy technologies.


• Finally, the DOE-QTR highlights the need for the Department to develop stronger, more integrated policy, economics, and technical analyses of its research and development activities.




“With nearly 90 percent of the energy system owned and operated by the private sector, the DOE-QTR recognizes that the Department is not the sole agent in transforming the system,” said DOE Under Secretary Steven Koonin. “Through discussions with hundreds of energy stakeholders, we have learned that, beyond our technology development activities, the Department’s unique role as a convener and source of accurate techno-economic information is a great public benefit.”




Overall, the Energy Department led by Chu has maintained an optimistic tone.




"The stakes are high for our country, and I am optimistic that we can still lead the world in technological innovation," he said.




U.S. Energy Department, Automotive News.






Toyota Prius C to be called Aqua in Japan, expected to return 94 mpg*

Toyota Prius C Concept

Toyota's upcoming compact hybrid, previewed by the Prius C Concept, will reportedly launch in January 2012 in Japan wearing the Aqua name, according to news outlet Nikkei.

The compact gas-electric is expected to carry a fuel economy rating of 40 kilometers per liter (94 miles per gallon U.S.) on Japan's generous JC08 evaluation cycle. That works out to be roughly equal to an EPA combined rating of 61 mpg U.S. For comparison, the 2011 Toyota Prius is rated at 32 km/l (76.7 mpg U.S.) on Japan's JC08 test cycle, yet is rated at 51 mpg city, 48 mpg highway in the U.S.

In an effort to keep its price in check, Toyota Motor will reportedly use the standard Prius powertrain, including its 1.8-liter gas engine, in the Aqua, which we're guessing will still be called the Prius C here in the U.S. Reports hint that Toyota will target a starting price of 1.7 million yen ($22,236 U.S. at today's exchange rate) for the Aqua. That's roughly 300,000 yen ($3,924 U.S.) cheaper than the 2011 Prius. We'd expect to see the Prius C sport a similar discount over the conventional Prius when it arrives in the States.

Toyota says the Prius C will launch in the U.S. sometime in 2012 and that $20,000 is its preliminary price target.

Upcoming Honda minicar to feature stop-start technology, 59 mpg

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pike Research says annual sales of plug-in vehicles in U.S. will hit 358,959 by 2017

Electric Vehicle Penetration Rates to be Highest in Smaller States

September 23, 2011

Sales of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) are expected to accelerate rapidly over the next several years, posting a compound annual growth rate of 43% between 2011 and 2017, with annual sales reaching almost 360,000 vehicles by 2017. Adoption of PEVs will vary significantly by geography. Unsurprisingly, the most populous states will see the highest sales, with California, New York and Florida recording the highest PEV sales over that same period. As a percentage of total vehicle sales, however, smaller states will lead the way. According to a recent report from Pike Research, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, D.C., and Delaware will all be among the top states for PEV penetration.

Hawaii, which typically has among the highest gas prices in the nation, will be the top state, with PEVs representing 6.3% of total light-duty vehicle sales in 2017. The second highest penetration rate will be in California (5.4%), followed by Oregon (5.4%), Washington, D.C. (4.6%), and Delaware (4.5%).

"PEV penetration will be influenced by several factors," says senior analyst Dave Hurst. "Demographics, consumer attitudes, and available infrastructure will all help determine the uptake of PEVs in different areas."

In addition, because of manufacturers' rollout schedules, the availability of PEVs will vary widely by state and by region. New York and California today account for more than half of the available PEVs in the United States, while Southern states like Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama, as well as largely rural states such as Wyoming and Alaska, have very few plug-in electric vehicles available. This means that certain utilities, such as Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric in California and New York's Consolidated Edison, will need to accelerate their preparations for significant rollouts of PEVs compared to their counterparts in other regions.

Consumer attitudes toward electric vehicles differ from state to state, as well. Using data from Pike Research's Electric Vehicle Customer Survey, as well as qualitative indicators, Pike Research developed an "Index of Positive Opinion" toward PEVs. Scores ranged from 4.36, for Northern California, to 0.07 (effectively, a negative overall opinion) in North Dakota.

Pike Research's report, "Electric Vehicle Geographic Forecasts", provides data and forecasts for the plug-in electric vehicle market at the state and metropolitan statistical area levels. The report also includes forecasts for plug-in electric vehicle sales within selected electric utility service territories. The data includes sales forecasts from 2011 to 2017 at each geographic level, and analysis of major trends in the forecasts. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm's website.

Pike Research is a market research and consulting firm that provides in-depth analysis of global clean technology markets. The company's research methodology combines supply-side industry analysis, end-user primary research and demand assessment, and deep examination of technology trends to provide a comprehensive view of the Smart Energy, Smart Grid, Smart Transportation, Smart Industry, and Smart Buildings sectors. For more information, visit www.pikeresearch.com or call +1.303.997.7609.

Epic pitches electric Amp side-by-side with wasp slaying, off-road action promo

Ford mulls building electric vehicles in China

Published September 27, 2011


By Jeff Cobb




Ford Motor Co. is making strides toward possibly building electric vehicles with its joint venture partner in China.



At a recent Ford Chinese transmission assembly plant groundbreaking ceremony, Ford’s CEO Alan R. Mulally indicated the blue oval brand is now mulling its options.



“As we move to more electrification, you’re going to see more hybrids, plug-in hybrids and all-electric” cars, said Mulally, 66, in a Bloomberg Television interview on Sept. 24 in Chongqing, China.



If Ford does decide to collaborate with its Chinese government-controlled JV partner, it will be following in the footsteps of General Motors and Daimler AG, which have already committed to building Chinese-branded EVs for the Chinese and neighboring markets.



As further reported by the Truth About Cars, if Ford proceeds as GM did, it will also appear to have contradicted recent statements made to the Detroit News denying intentions to design and manufacture Chinese EVs.



In response to one of several inflammatory letters from Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow accusing China of stripping U.S. companies of their intellectual property, both Ford and GM said “they have no plans to build electric vehicles in China.”



Regardless what the Detroit News thought it heard, last week GM made headlines by announcing it would be diving in head first to a JV agreement with SAIC.



GM and SAIC will co-develop EV architecture, jointly administer and – naturally – share profits. Similarly, last May Daimler announced a JV deal to build EVs with BYD.



A GM of China spokesperson told us last week that no plans were being announced as to whether Chinese EVs would ever be imported to the U.S., and there are no indicators to believe at this point that they would, although of course, it is not out of the question.



As it is, this week eyes are on Ford following its chief executive’s none-too-subtle suggestion.



His words were backed up by Ford Spokesman Daniel Pierce, as reported by the New York Times.



“We have a fleet of electric demonstration vehicles in China, but have not announced any plans to sell or produce electric vehicles in China,” Pierce said. “If we decide to produce electric vehicles in China, we would then determine what technologies would be appropriate to share with our joint venture and also what terms would accompany such an arrangement.”



Presently, other electrified Ford models being sold in China include the Transit Connect, Edge, Focus, Fiesta and the Mondeo and S-Max.



WheelsBlog, Bloomberg, The Truth About Cars











Incentives fail to boost electric vehicle sales in Europe

2011 Nissan Leaf

JATO Dynamics, a UK-based supplier of "automotive intelligence," reports that government subsidies and other monetary incentives have not significantly boosted plug-in vehicle sales in Europe.

JATO's research suggests that price has only a minute impact on the decision to buy a plug-in vehicle and points to Germany, Europe's leading plug-in nation, as a prime example this. According to JATO, sales of plug-in vehicles hit 1,020 units in Germany in the first half of 2011. That number of units sold puts Germany in first place in Europe, even though the country offers one of the region's lowest electric vehicle subsidies – a mere 380 euros ($516 U.S. at today's exchange rate).

On the flip side is Denmark, a nation that offers tax incentives of up to 20,588 euros ($27,956 U.S.) for the purchase of electric vehicles. However, electric vehicle sales in Denmark rang in at only 283 units in the first half of 2011. The number of people in each country plays a role here, but you would think 20,000 euros would move more units.

Gareth Hession, JATO's head of research, states:


It's reasonable to conclude that sales are more affected by other factors such as the degree of urban geography, market maturity and charging infrastructure than was previously thought. Local factors include the ability to use bus lanes and free city-center parking in Oslo and exemption from London's congestion charge, both of which appear to be more influential than point-of-purchase incentives.



A full rundown of electric vehicle sales in Europe in the first half of 2011, including subsidies offered by individual countries, is pasted after the jump.


Show full PR text

Ferrari 458 Spider priced from $257,000





Fiat 500 sales in U.S. not meeting expectations amidst marketing meltdown [w/video]

Chrysler set a hugely ambitious sales goal for the 2012 Fiat 500 here in the United States: 6,000 units per month. It shouldn't come as a surprise, then, to learn that early sales figures aren't exactly meeting expectations thus far, but according to Chrysler, this isn't by any fault of the car.

"I don't think we have a car problem; people love the car," Fiat chief marketing officer Oliver Francois said while speaking to Advertising Age. "I think we have an awareness problem."

Fiat has dumped its main advertising agency, Impatto, a small Southfield, Michigan-based firm that previously employed Laura Soave, who is now serving as Fiat's North American CEO. According to the report, Soave herself hired the Impatto back in January, and the ad industry rumormill has her on the hot seat for the failed relationship. How much fallout (if any) there will be from Fiat's advertising shakeup and the 500's underperforming launch remains to be seen.

Fiat's first attempt to market the 500 nationally on television has been with a recently launched music video-teasing spot starring Jennifer Lopez (view it after the jump), an effort that has been panned by many industry critics. And while company executives appear to bristle from the notion, Ad Age reports that celebrities have been essential to Fiat's brand strategy. In fact, the New York Post states that Fiat reportedly struck a deal with gossip TMZ in which the automaker would pay the website to photograph high-profile celebrities who were set up to drive the Fiat 500.

To date, Fiat has sold just 11,088 examples of the 500 range in the U.S., 3,106 of which were in August. And with new models like the Abarth not expected to arrive until next year, the 500 and 500C are the only offerings currently available. Head over to Ad Age to read the fascinating full report, and again, hit the jump to watch Fiat's television spot starring the voluptuous Jennifer Lopez.

BMW X6 Active Hybrid gets axed

350Green, Coulomb team to install 400-plus charging stations across U.S.

350Green to Install More Than 400 ChargePoint Network Charging Stations for Electric Vehicles Across United States

350Green to Install Charging Stations and Use ChargePoint Network Cloud-Based EV Charging Services as it Expands its National Footprint

CAMPBELL, Calif., Sep 22, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- 350Green and Coulomb Technologies today announced they will extend the reach of both companies' technologies and services. 350Green has agreed to purchase and install more than 400 charging stations across the country powered by the ChargePoint(R) Network, further growing the largest network of independently-owned charging stations. 350Green will also utilize ChargePoint Network cloud-based EV charging solutions to manage its national network, including charging stations from its other manufacturer partners. ChargePoint Network is the largest online network of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and drivers.

350Green is building out a national network of more than 1,000 charging stations, with projects under way in New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, and California. The company is installing both Level 2 and DC Fast chargers in convenient locations through partnerships with retailers like Walgreens and real estate developers like Simon Property Group.

As part of the ChargePoint Network, 350Green will be able to set up EV services, fees, track revenues, costs and utilization using rich analysis tools. Drivers will enjoy the advanced features and benefits of the ChargePoint Network including 24/7 driver support, driver billing options and mobile phone applications that provide drivers with real-time station location and availability, turn-by-turn navigation, and charging status.

"This is a significant expansion of our ChargePoint Network as 350Green has chosen to exclusively utilize ChargePoint Network to deliver services to its customers," said Pat Romano, president and CEO at Coulomb.

"With ChargePoint Network, we can launch a fully developed, feature-rich solution for managing charging services and stations," said Mariana Gerzanych, co-founder and CEO of 350Green. "This agreement will accelerate the development and launch of 350Green's national network of charging stations and provide us and our location partners with user-oriented features and host-oriented information and data."

About Coulomb Technologies, Inc.

Coulomb Technologies is the leading electric vehicle charging solutions company, providing the ChargePoint Network, the largest global online network connecting electric vehicle drivers to charging stations in over 14 countries. Coulomb also provides ChargePoint Network service plans, cloud-based solutions that handle all driver billing and support and give organizations the control and flexibility they need to optimize performance of their electric vehicle charging operations. Coulomb Technologies customers include large employers such as Google and SAP; utilities such and Orlando Utilities Commission and Austin Energy; municipalities such as City of San Francisco and City of New York; large shopping centers such as South Coast Plaza and Bellevue Square; and parking services providers such as Edison Properties, Priority Parking and InterPark. Open to all charging station manufacturers, Coulomb's ChargePoint Network is currently charging more than 26,000 vehicles per month, dispensing over 165 Megawatt hours (MWh) of energy each month, and doubling the electric transportation fuel dispensed each quarter.

About 350Green

350Green is a project developer that designs, builds and operates a scalable, nationwide network of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. The company partners with retailers, commercial property managers and developers, and municipalities to locate charging stations at places near where EV drivers live and work. Current projects are underway in Illinois, Pennsylvania, California, and New York. The company has signed partnerships with Walgreens and Simon Property Group, among others. More information is available at www.350green.com .

U.S. gasoline demand hits 10-year August low

Gasoline demand weak; total petroleum demand up slightly

WASHINGTON, September 23, 2011 – Total petroleum deliveries (a measure of demand) rose slightly in August (to 19.7 million barrels a day) compared with August a year ago, with demand for gasoline and distillates moving in opposite directions. Gasoline demand fell by 1.3 percent to a 10-year low for the month while distillate demand rose by 10.8 percent. On a year-to-date basis, gasoline demand was two percent lower than in 2010.

"The U.S. economy is still struggling," said API chief economist John Felmy. "Retail sales are weak, and we're seeing a reflection of that in the gasoline demand numbers. The rise in distillate demand accords with data that suggest modest growth in manufacturing, but consumers remain cautious."

Despite the dip in gasoline demand, U.S. refinery production of gasoline was up 0.6 percent over August 2010 and was higher for the first eight months of the year than any previous January-through-August period. Production of distillate fuel and jet fuel were also up, with distillate fuel production setting a record for any August and for any year to date. Refinery inputs remained over 15 thousand barrels per day for the third month in a row but were lower than in August a year ago.

At 1.6 million barrels per day, total imports of petroleum products were down from last year by 11.0 percent to a 14-year low for August. Crude imports fell by 1.8 percent to 9.4 million barrels per day. Canadian imports of crude oil showed a 7.0 percent jump from last year to average 2.1 million barrels per day for August.

Crude oil production fell to a three-year low for the month, slipping to its lowest level in 2011 to 5.1 million barrels per day. However, year to date, crude production was higher by 1.1 percent compared with 2010. Production in the lower-48 states was down by 6.3 percent. According to Baker Hughes Inc., total oil and gas rigs jumped by 57 to 1,957, a three-year high.

For the third time this year, crude oil stocks showed year-over-year declines, yet this stock level was still the second highest for any August since 1990, after August 2010. Total stocks of oil and products were down 6.5 percent from last year and down 0.7 percent from June 2011 levels. Motor gasoline stocks fell on a monthly and yearly basis to 210.0 million barrels, but they still were the second-highest for the month of August since 1998. Distillate fuel stocks rose from July levels but were down from last August by 8.0 percent.

API represents more than 480 oil and natural gas companies, leaders of a technology-driven industry that supplies most of America's energy, supports 9.2 million U.S. jobs and 7.7 percent of the U.S. economy, delivers more than $86 million a day in revenue to our government, and, since 2000, has invested over $2 trillion in U.S. capital projects to advance all forms of energy, including alternatives.

Spike TV readying reality show about turning around car dealers





Monday, September 26, 2011

2012 Kia Rio priced from $13,600*

2012 Kia Rio 5-Door Priced Under $14,000

-- Rio offers valuable combination of class-leading 138 horsepower(1) and fuel economy of 40 miles per gallon(2)
-- Models feature Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) and fuel-saving Idle Stop and Go (ISG) technology - a first for the segment

Kia Motors America, Inc. (KMA) today announced pricing for the all-new and completely redesigned 2012 Rio 5-door subcompact hatchback beginning at an impressive $13,600(3) MSRP, while the Rio 5-door A/T starts at $14,700(4) – both lower than the previous generation. The top-of-the-line, sporty SX trim starts under $18,000(4) and offers a plethora of consumer-friendly and upscale features, including stunning 17-inch alloy wheels and class-exclusive LED headlamp and tail light accents, a sport-tuned suspension with larger front brakes, projection headlamps, twin chrome exhaust tips, fog lamps, as well as standard UVO powered by Microsoft®(5) voice-activated infotainment system (expected to be available this fall) with a 4.3-inch color touch screen and rear camera display(6).

With an emphasis on being eco-friendly as well as staying on top of cutting-edge technology, the all-new Rio is the first vehicle to offer ISG technology outside of the hybrid and luxury segments, which helps to improve fuel economy by turning the engine off when the vehicle is not in motion – such as at a stop light or in traffic – and automatically restarting when the driver releases the brake pedal (expected to be available at the beginning of 2012). Also, at the end of its lifespan, 85 percent of the Rio's materials are recyclable, including seat foam material that utilizes 100-percent biodegradable and non-toxic castor oil, which benefits the environment in several ways, including reduced use of petroleum-based products.

Unveiled earlier this year at the 2011 New York International Auto Show, the 2012 Rio 5-door offers critically acclaimed exterior and interior styling along with class-leading horsepower and fuel economy. Equipped with a 1.6-liter GDI four-cylinder engine with the option of either a six-speed manual transmission (LX only) or efficient six-speed automatic, the 2012 Rio is one of only two vehicles in the segment to offer a GDI engine, providing an inviting combination of power and fuel efficiency and achieving class-leading 138 horsepower(7) while maintaining a class-leading fuel economy rating of 30/40 miles per gallon (mpg) (city/highway)(8). With the ISG technology the 2012 Rio will offer consumers an impressive and fuel-sipping 31/40 mpg.

Available in three trims – LX, EX and SX – the 2012 Rio 5-door's exterior design has been completely revamped, offering the same tabbed grille that has become so familiar to the Kia lineup, but slightly slimmed down to connect to the dynamic headlamp design to provide a new twist on the look that includes a bigger air intake to exude a youthful persona. The 2012 Rio also comes better equipped than the previous generation, offering standard air conditioning, electric power steering, an AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with USB and auxiliary ports, SiriusXM™ satellite radio with three months complimentary service(9), and a slew of standard safety features, including Electronic Stability Control (ESC), a four-wheel Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) and Vehicle Stability Management (VSM).

Design-Led Transformation and Product Line

Kia Motors has undergone a dramatic, design-led transformation, which has been delivering dynamically styled vehicles in several important segments at exactly the right time, contributing to the brand's continued gains in U.S. market share. Kia is poised to continue its momentum and brand growth through design innovation, quality, value, safety features and new technology. Kia's commitment to the U.S. market is represented by its U.S.-based manufacturing facilities in West Point, Georgia – KMMG – which is responsible for the creation of more than 10,000 plant and supplier jobs and added the critically acclaimed Optima midsize sedan(10) to its production line in September. Kia's model year 2012 vehicle line includes the Sorento CUV, Sportage compact CUV, Optima midsize sedan, Optima Hybrid, Soul urban passenger vehicle, Forte compact sedan, Forte 5-door compact hatchback, Forte Koup two-door coupe, all-new Rio and Rio 5-door sub-compacts and Sedona minivan.

(1) Class-leading horsepower claims based on comparisons to 2011 and available 2012 competitors as of September 2011.

(2) Class-leading fuel economy claims for highway based on comparisons to 2011 and available 2012 competitors as of September 2011. EPA fuel economy estimates 30 mpg/city and 40 mpg/hwy for 2012 Rio 5-door. Actual mileage may vary.

(3) Starting price is manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) for lowest trim level. MSRP excludes $750 destination and handling fee, title, taxes, license, options and dealer charges. Actual prices set by dealer and may vary.

(4) MSRP excludes $750 destination and handling fee, title, taxes, license, options and dealer charges. Actual prices set by dealer and may vary.

(5) Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

(6) The rear-view backup camera is not a substitute for proper and safe backing-up procedures. Always drive safely and use caution when backing up.

(7) Class-leading horsepower claims based on comparisons to 2011 and available 2012 competitors as of September 2011.

(8) Class-leading fuel economy claims for highway based on comparisons to 2011 and available 2012 competitors as of September 2011. EPA fuel economy estimates 30 mpg/city and 40 mpg/hwy for 2012 Rio 5-door. Actual mileage may vary.

(9) Sirius services require subscriptions, sold separately after 3-month trial included with vehicle purchase/lease. Subscriptions governed by SiriusXM Customer Agreement at siriusxm.com© 2011 SiriusXM Radio Inc. Sirius, XM and all related marks and logos are trademarks of SiriusXM Radio Inc.

(10) Optima Hybrid will not be built at KMMG.

About Kia Motors America

Kia Motors America (KMA) is the marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea. KMA offers a complete line of vehicles through more than 745 dealers throughout the United States and serves as the "Official Automotive Partner of the NBA." In 2010, KMA recorded its best-ever U.S. sales and 16th consecutive year of increased U.S. market share. Kia is poised to continue its momentum and will continue to build the brand through design innovation, quality, value, safety features and new technologies.

Information about Kia Motors America and its full vehicle lineup is available at its website – www.kia.com. For media information, including photography, visit www.kiamedia.com.

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