Green Overdrive: Inside Tesla’s Model S Alpha

For our latest Green Overdrive show we get an inside look at Tesla’s Model S Alpha program, which Tesla will use to test out design and functionality of its next-generation all-electric car the Model S.

Green Overdrive: Safer, Greener Driving With GreenRoad!

Safer driving isn’t only better for your car and your personal well being, it can also lead to more fuel efficient driving. For this week’s episode of the Green Overdrive show we check in with GreenRoad, which helps companies drive more safely and fuel efficiently.

BRABUS iBusiness Is an Apple Fan’s Dream Mobile Office

The iPad has become a valuable tool for the mobile professional. It can be more valuable still, however, when swaddled in leather, partnered with a Mac mini and other Apple goodies and wrapped in a Mercedes-Benz S600, as Mercedes tuner BRABUS shows us with the iBusiness.

Ford Wants its Cars to Talk With Your iPhone

Autoblog picked up on an interesting story about Ford Motor Company’s (s f) efforts to create middleware that will let future cars interact with mobile devices, including iPhones. Sync, developed in conjunction with Microsoft (s msft), aims to not only give you access to your phone book and playlists, but also wants to allow you to use all those third-party apps you’ve downloaded.

Think about it: hands-free access to iPhone Apps as you drive. Sign us up. Read More about Ford Wants its Cars to Talk With Your iPhone

Cool iPhone App: Start Your Car From Virtually Anywhere

smartstartIn case you were wanting to experience the keyless remote entry system that came packaged with the new Zipcar app, but you already have a car of your own, you’re now in luck. According to Mashable, as of today, you can drop in at your local Best Buy (s bby) and pick up a Viper keyless entry and remote starter system from Directed Electronics for any automobile that features iPhone integration.

Not only that, but the range for the SmartStart app (iTunes link) that controls remote entry and car starting is said to be “virtually unlimited,” likely owing to the fact that it communicates via a data network connection rather than over infrared, which requires line of sight, or Bluetooth, which needs proximity. Read More about Cool iPhone App: Start Your Car From Virtually Anywhere

Could OnStar Be the Key to Unlocking a New GM?

The big business news — whether you’re a green geek or not — in the last week has been the auto industry. GM dominated headlines, as it emerged from bankruptcy and brought back the brash Bob Lutz as “vice chairman responsible for all creative elements of products and customer relationships,” according to the Wall Street Journal. But perhaps GM would have done better to seek the help of the less well-known Chet Huber, president of the company’s successful OnStar division.

Zenn Motor Still Waiting on EEStor

Updated: Zenn Motor‘s first highway-speed electric car, the cityZenn, is still on the way, but it may take a bit longer to get to market than originally planned, thanks to the slow moves of its energy storage partner EEStor. Zenn said this week that it’s waiting for the ultracapacitor technology from stealthy EEStor and doesn’t expect an initial introduction of the car until late 2009, with commercial availability in 2010. We contacted Zenn for clarification on what “initial introduction” means, exactly (Update: Zenn says “initial introduction” is introduction of a prototype/early production unit to press/industry). Zenn previously said it was targeting a fall 2009 launch for the cityZenn.
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So, what’s going on with EEStor? Toronto-based Zenn says it’s waiting for two final milestones in its contract with EEStor, but that the Cedar Park, Texas-based ultracapacitor developer is making “significant progress” in building out a full-scale production facility. Unfortunately, EEStor’s ultracapacitor — essentially a really advanced battery system — is at the heart of the cityZenn, which means the new car literally can’t move until either more progress is made on those ultracapacitors, or Zenn decides to switch to a different ultracapacitor or battery system.
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Coulomb Sets Up Shop in Europe

Coulomb Technologies, a car-charging startup based in Campbell, Calif., took its first step into a wider electric car market today with its establishment of a Berlin office aimed at serving the European, Middle Eastern and African (EMEA) markets. The European operation, called 365 Energy Group, is a newly formed venture of Estag Capital — the same Estag Capital that led Coulomb’s first round of venture capital funding just two months ago in January. Estag set up the venture to sell Coulomb’s charging stations overseas, although 365 Energy could eventually end up selling systems from other companies as well.
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Calling from the road in his plug-in Prius, Richard Lowenthal, founder and CEO of Coulomb, told us that he’s already shipped prototype charging stations to 365 Energy. “We have a number of projects that we’re working on,” he said. “The primary one, though, is establishing distributors throughout the EMEA region.” Lowenthal, who told us last December that Coulomb had set its sights on Europe, expects overseas charging stations to be up and running this year — he said 365 Energy is engaged in “several” sales opportunities.
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Put Some Sunlight in Your Tank

Can a car run on solar? Yes —as long as you don’t need to fit a whole lot in your trunk. And as long as you don’t mind that it doesn’t actually have a trunk. The new solar car from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Solar Electric Vehicle Team might be small on size, but it’s big on ambitions.

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Called “Eleanor,” the solar car has a cruising speed of 55 miles per hour — on a sunny day. Even if it’s cloudy, the team said that on a full charge the car’s batteries can hold enough power to drive from Boston to New York without needing any sunlight. That’s more than 200 miles on solar power.

There should be plenty of sunlight where they’re going — the car is set to compete in the World Solar Challenge race across Australia in October. This will be the 10th World Solar Challenge race, which draws teams from around the world for a 1,864 journey from Darwin in the Northern Territory to Adelaide in South Australia. The MIT team grabbed third place in the 2003 race, averaging 56 miles per hour with its last car, the “Tesseract.”

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SolarWorld Bidding for…Opel?

kadett-1smallCan a solar company run a carmaker? And do we really want to find out? Well, Germany’s SolarWorld announced today that it wants to take the plunge into the auto industry with a bid for Adam Opel, the well-known German brand and a subsidiary of struggling General Motors (s GM) since 1929. But analysts are very skeptical, and GM has flat-out denied the possibility.
“It’s pure speculation,” Geri Lama, a spokeswoman for GM, told us. “Opel is not for sale.”
SolarWorld, which makes solar modules for residences as well as large-scale solar plants, believes it can get Opel to go green, turning the automaker into a producer of more energy-efficient and low-emission vehicles.
SolarWorld said it’s planning to offer €250 million ($313.5 million) in cash, plus another €750 million in bank credit lines. But the company has put some high demands on the deal, saying that the credit lines are conditional on getting German government guarantees, and that a core prerequisite is the complete separation of Opel from GM, as well as compensation payments for all of Opel’s German jobs, totaling €1 billion. It’s not clear from SolarWorld’s statement whether GM is expected to cough up that compensation cash, or if it would come from the government.
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