Mini makes car for Tron fans

Tron_miniMini is going to be building a limited run of a fan-designed special edition Mini Cooper, an $8900 package price that gives the awesome Tron-themed look shown here. It’s basically a cosmetic package…some LED lights and interior trim options…and unfortunately, doesn’t glow like the real Tron vehicles. But hey, I still want one…

Configure your own here

Running a car…on aluminum?

phinergy-citroenPhinergy has developed a battery that’s, well, a bit difficult to categorize.  It’s powered by aluminum and air, but it’s not readily rechargeable.  Every 200 miles it needs to be refilled with water, and after 1000 miles, the aluminum plates need to be replaced.  So, what’s the point?  Well, it has some potential as a range-extender used in conjunction with a conventional rechargeable battery.  This Al battery could be a ‘reserve’, or for long road trips, actually replaced enroute (the cost of the raw material being replaced would be ~$50, so it might not cost much to do this).  It’s an interesting idea…and ideas like this take creative marketing and some lucky business deals to work out.  We’ll see.

(read more at extremetech)

VW to start selling 261mpg car

001-volkswagen-xl1-geneva-2013628opt-1Volkswagen unveiled the production version of its XL1 two-seater car at the Geneva Motor Show recently.  It’s a diesel-electric plug in hybrid vehicle that gets about 261mpg and an electric-only range of around 30 miles!  While those numbers may end up slightly lower once the car goes through the US tests (the European test cycle turns in higher numbers typically), it’s still incredibly impressive.

Powered by a .9 liter two cylinder diesel engine, it’s not especially fast, even with the electric motor assist….0-62mph takes 12.7 seconds, for example.  There’s no official word on price, though since it’s a low volume, largely hand-built production car, you can expect the price to be pretty high, probably pushing six figures.  Definitely an ‘early adopter toy’, but also a good example of the future of automobiles.

Read more at AutoBlog and NPR.

Video review below:

Next generation hybrid cars

ford-fusion-energi-04-1a.jpeg.492x0_q85_crop-smartThe Prius has been the shining example of hybrid technology for many years, but let’s face it, its design is aging and the technology isn’t keeping up.  Ford has really led a charge lately with fuel efficient hybrids, such as this Fusion Energi that provides 21 miles of electric range (up to 85mph) and a combined MPGe of 100.  All this in a big, traditional family car…not bad!  They have a similar drivetrain in the smaller C-Max and given those choices, I’m not sure why anyone would choose a Prius anymore (except for perhaps wanting a car with a more normal-sounding name…).

I think of these Fords as second-generation hybrids…they offer better styling and usability, as well as electric-only mode.  What’s really cool are the third generation hybrids being worked on, especially the Volkswagon XL1.  The XL1 is really optimizing ALL pieces of the puzzle…slippery aerodynamics combined with a maximum efficiency diesel engine to produce an astounding 235mpg!  Note that this is just a two-seat car, but imagine one of these as your commute vehicle…pretty cool!