Southern California environment news and trends

Electric vehicle sharing service finds success in San Diego

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Rising gas prices continue to reap dividends for electric and hybrid industries. As we reported recently, Toyota reported a massive jump in Prius sales over the month of February, attributed in part to consumers fighting back against the cost of gasoline.

Now a report out of San Diego says that car2go, North America’s first all-electric car sharing service, has registered more than 6,000 users who have taken over 25,000 trips in the company’s 300 vehicles in just the first 100 days of availability.

"At a time when the cost of fuel is reaching record-high prices, San Diegans are looking for ways to reduce their dependence on fuel and for more cost-efficient modes of transportation; and car2go is a very logical choice for them," said Nicholas Cole, president and CEO of car2go in a company press release.

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GM, Chevy Volt owners fire back at Gingrich over gun rack jab

James Rojas/KPCC

It has been a hard year for GM’s plug-in hybrid car, the Chevy Volt. Despite a popular commercial during Super Bowl XLVI, sales have been sluggish. It even took a hit by not making the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s top 12 “greenest” cars of the year in a recent poll.

Now the Volt is suffering the ultimate injustice of being used as a political punch line. During recent campaign stops in Georgia and Oklahoma, Newt Gingrich (who recently found himself stranded in West Hollywood) has bashed the Volt as an instrument of “cultural warfare” on his way to deriding the car because “you cannot put a gun rack on it.”

GM has had enough. News comes out of Detroit that the automaker launched a new blog today to fire back at the Republican candidate, albeit humorously.

“That's like saying 'You can't put training wheels on a Harley.' Actually, you can. But the real question is 'Why would you?' In both examples: It looks weird,” replied GM spokesman Selim Bingol, according to the Detroit News. “It doesn't work very well, and, there are better places for gun racks and training wheels — pickup trucks and little Schwinns, respectively.”

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Washington State to impose $100 tax on electric car drivers

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Bryan Mitchell, Getty Images

The Nissan Leaf prototype electric car.

Electric vehicles are definitely on the rise. With the market continuing to expand from the Volkswagon Electric E-Bugster to the much discussed Neon Leaf, it could be argued that EV’s are the current belle of the auto industry ball.

With the State of California setting “clean car” rules to further reduce auto emissions, all signs are pointing to an overall healthier environment for everyone.

The state of Washington, however, seems to have missed the memo. Just last week, the Washington state senate passed a new law that charges owners of electric vehicles $100 to make up for lost gasoline tax. Senator Mary Margaret Haugen (D) sponsored the bill, and commented on its passage in a press release:

“We think the purchase of electric vehicles is great for the environment, but we also need to maintain our roads, which is why we have the gas tax,” she stated in the release. “Electric vehicles put just as much wear and tear on our roads as gas vehicles. This simply ensures that they contribute their fair share to the upkeep of our roads.”

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Electric Avenue: Stanford team wants to recharge your car while you drive

MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

For the environmentally  (as well as financially) conscious driver, electric cars are the only way to cruise. With California stressing greener cars and automakers making a concerted effort to bring more affordable electric vehicles to the public, the need for basics like charging stations are increasingly paramount. Even big retailers like Ikea and Walmart are getting onboard by adding said stations to their stores (the easier to shop inside, of course).

Now researchers at Stanford are working on a progressive system that would all but eliminate the need for charging stations by literally electrifying the roads we drive on. Using technology known as magnetic resonance coupling, the general idea is that metal coils would be placed in the actual freeway itself, creating a wireless transfer system that could literally charge an electric car’s battery as it drives.

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Drayson introduces fastest all-electric racecar ever

Drayston Motors

Drayson Racing Technologies

The Lola-Drayson B12/69EV

While the 2012 North American Auto Show was the greenest it’s ever been, a much faster green machine was being introduced overseas.

Green-tech automotive company Drayson Racing Technologies introduced what they’re calling the world’s fastest electric-powered racecar with a top-speed around 200 miles per hour. The 850-horsepowered Lola-Drayson B12/69EV made its’ debut at the 2012 Low Carbon Racing Conference at the NEC in Birmingham, England, earlier this month.

“Electric racing represents a considerable new business opportunity for motorsport and underlines the growing commercial potential of green racing and technology,” explains Lord Drayson, one of the company’s managing partners.

The world will get to see the car in action against other electric vehicles at the new FIA Formula E world championships across Europe this coming August.

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