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Changes that will affect car manufacturers and fuel companies could be in the pipeline with the aim to avoid two sets of rules.
In what’s being billed as an industry first in the United Kingdom, Toyota‘s manufacturing plant in Derbyshire, England, where it builds European market Avensis models as well as the Auris and Auris hybrid, is having a large scale solar panel array installed, in an effort to generate energy while reducing the plant’s carbon footprint.
The solar array consists of some 17,000 individual panels on an area of land within the plant perimeter that covers some 90,000 square meters (roughly 968,752 square feet or the size of almost four and half soccer fields). The project will cost some £10 million (approximately $16.5 million) and will be installed and paid for by UK utility British Gas.
It is believed that once operational, the solar panel array will save up to 2000 metric tonnes of Co2 emissions and 4,600,000 kilowatts of energy on a yearly basis, while at the same time generating enough to cover the production of 7,000 cars per year.
The project has already been started and it’s expected that the array will begin supplying power to the plant sometime next month.
Earlier today, Volkswagen launched its “Think Blue” campaign in the U.S. VW’s aim is to “encourage eco-friendly mobility and progressive ideas for responsible action in everyday life”.
This launch coincides with VW’s partnership with the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, as well as the May 24th inauguration of VW’s plant in Chattanooga, TN, a facility that encorporates numberous energy- conserving systems and efficiency upgrades.
The idea behind Think Blue is to heighten broad public awareness for sustainable actions and encourage individuals to play an active tole. Eco-friendly technology and efficient production processes are of major importance but the key lies in addressing social and cultural issues.
Think Blue originated with VW’s “Think Small” slogan of the 1960s, which focused on how the VW Beetle played a role in “democratizing mobility.”
A House of Representatives committee introduced a bill that would stop the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles from the year 2015 onwards, a key part of a national fuel economy program that is actually favored by many automakers.
While the bill was supposedly passed in the interest of keeping vehicle prices low for consumers, automakers have previously backed a single unified fuel economy system, rather than various state-by-state regulations. The automakers have not commented on the bill, introduced by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), but reiterated their support for a national program. Upton’s bill would leave NHTSA as the sole federal agency that was responsible for the program.
[Source: Automotive News]
If you thought the 55mph limit was bad, brace yourself. A study by Dutch consulting firm CE Delft claims that reducing the speed limit to 50mph will cut carbon emissions by as much as 30%.
A reduction in the speed limit is a polarizing issue, with some people doubtlessly in favor of such a move, which would result in less fuel being burned and fewer cars on the road. However, CE Delft stressed that the 50 mph speed limit would be most effective in the Netherlands, as more people would walk, bike or take public transit – options that aren’t always available in the United States. The spread out, suburban lifestyle we have here is just not conducive to this kind of change.
[Source: Transport & Environment]
We tend to think of America, Germany, Italy or Japan as the pre-eminent nations where the automobile is the national obsession. But a new study in Canada shows that Canadians would rather give up junk food, cigarettes or sex than give up driving.
In a study conducted by the World Wildlife Foundation, 36 percent said they would give up junk food before they gave up driving, 14 percent said coffee, 6 percent said television and 2 percent said sex. Those polled were generally frequent drivers and the most prolific motorists had children under 18, stable jobs and a “good or very good income.”
Despite the enthusiasm for driving, 79 percent of Canadians said they were concerned about the environmental impact of driving. The World Wildlife Foundation, which commissioned the study, was pragmatic about the results in an interview with the Toronto Star.
“We’re not saying people should give up the car entirely. That may not be feasible,” said Josh Laughren, director of communications for WWF. “But while it might seem easier to take my car to work, it may be better for me and my pocketbook and my stress levels and my quality of life to take transit.”
[Source: Toronto Star]
Lexus‘ HS250h hybrid sedan is having trouble meeting sales targets, due to the strength of the Prius as well as demand for the HS250h in Japan. Lexus is on track to sell about 14,000 HS250h hybrids this year, well below the projections of 20-22,000. So far just 4529 HS250h’s have been sold.
In an interview with Ward’s, a Lexus executive cited increased demand in Japan for the re-forecasting of sales numbers. “Right now, there’s so much demand for that product in Japan…maybe 20,000-22,000 might be more realistic,” said Mark Templin, Lexus Div. group vice president and general manager-Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. Templin also said that the company “underestimated the power of the Prius brand,” citing the strength of Toyota’s premiere hybrid.
While the HS250h seems like a slam dunk in light of the success of the Prius, the Toyota’s distinctive shape has an eco-cachet that the Lexus’ three-box design can’t match. The typical Prius buyer (read: affluent) is also the same buyer that Lexus is going after, and you can bet that they will always gravitate towards the status symbol, especially the kind that the Prius represents.
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This idea treads dangerously close to our idea of a “hipster hitchhiking” app that combines GPS, iPhones, and gold leggings — currently in beta testing — but still, using your phone to find a ride to work is a brilliant idea.
Provided there are people who are going the same way and aren’t creeps, of course. This free RideRemedy app (for the first three months) doesn’t reveal the email addresses or phone numbers of those using the program. After three months of carpooling, the program costs $4.99 per year — with ten per cent of the proceeds going to organizations intent on improving the environment.
Other features include:
- • Find a ride, create a car pool, share a cab, reduce your carbon footprint and save time and money while doing so.
- • Privacy: RideRemedy does not share phone numbers or email addresses with other ride sharers.
- • Utilize in-app text messaging. Incur no additional costs for contacting ride sharers within the RideRemedy application.
- • Obtain just-in-time matches or post your ride weeks in advance.
- • Calculate dollar savings and CO2 emission reduction for each ride.
- • Set variable time and distance preferences for finding matches.
- • Share rides anywhere in the world that your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch has data service.
If you’re so inclined, head over to the iTunes Store and try it out.