What the new fuel standard really means

Federal regulators on Wednesday released a proposed rule for hiking the fuel economy for cars to be sold from 2017 to 2025, and it’s full of incentives for encouraging automakers to use battery-powered and other alternative-fuel technologies.

Nautical Monkey: Like car sharing but for boats

Car-sharing companies highlight the fact that people only use their own cars less than 10 percent of the time. But when it comes to boats, owners use them even less, or about two weeks out of the year — that’s according to startup Nautical Monkey.

DOE bets on lightweight steel for fuel efficient cars

Greener transportation doesn’t just involve electric vehicles and biofuels. Lighter weight steel can make a car more fuel efficient, too. That’s the idea behind the Wednesday announcement by the federal government to offer a $730 million loan to a steel maker Severstal in Michigan.

Miranda IM 0.9 Released With Improved Unicode Support

I’m now primarily a Mac user, but back when I was on Windows, my multi-protocol IM client of choice was Miranda IM. It’s a lightweight, highly extensible and unobtrusive open-source tool. The Miranda IM team this week released version 0.9, which contains some useful new features:

Car Buyers Want More Data & Tighter MPG Standards: Survey

“Utter market failure.” That’s how Mark Cooper, research director for the consumer advocacy group Consumer Federation of America describes the U.S. vehicle supply. For the 2010 model year, just 44 models (4 percent of all EPA-rated vehicles for the year) get 30 MPG or more, despite widespread consumer interest in more fuel efficient vehicles, according to a new survey conducted this month and released today from the group.

Published just days ahead of the deadline for public comments on tighter fuel economy standards, the CFA survey finds 78 percent of Americans support raising the bar to 35 MPG by 2016 (up from 25 MPG today) for the average MPG of an automaker’s fleet, as the Obama administration has proposed.
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Cali Unleashes Info Galore on Emissions, Incentives for Green Car Geeks

“Oil is finite, but information is infinite,” Google (s GOOG) CEO Eric Schmidt said a year ago in a talk for the New America Foundation. Fortunately, we have online tools to organize and manage that information, sometimes in the interest of reducing oil consumption, as well as emissions and fuel expenses for drivers. The California Air Resources Board has just launched such a web-based tool, with its revamped DriveClean Buying Guide.
Announced Thursday afternoon, the web site allows users to compare vehicles based on Global Warming and Smog scores — snapshots of how a car’s fuel consumption, carbon-equivalent emissions and contribution to smog (through production of certain volatile organic compounds) compares to all other vehicles in that model year. By state law, these scores now appear on an Environmental Performance label displayed in the window of cars manufactured since January 2009 and brought to market in California. Now they’re also available online in a ranking system similar to the side-by-side comparison tools offered by the federal FuelEconomy.gov site and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Vehicle Guide, but with a couple key differences, including increased emphasis on vehicles’ contribution to climate change (relative to FuelEconomy.gov, at least), more integration of rebate an incentive info and a more slick interface.
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Mac OS X 10.6.2 Update Points to New MacBook Pros

Two Spanish Apple (s aapl) sites are reporting that the latest build of Apple’s upcoming update to its Mac OS X Snow Leopard software contains references to as-yet unreleased new models of MacBook Pro.

Build 10C531 lists “MacBook Pro 6,1” and “MacBook Pro 6,2”, an indication of major revisions of the MacBook Pro lineup. The current family of MacBook Pro’s range from 5,1 to 5,5.

macbookpro-6.1

Last week’s introduction of refreshed iMacs brought Intel’s (s intc) new Core i5 and i7 (Nehalem) processors to Apple’s most popular desktop machines, but the refreshed product lineup didn’t include any new MacBook Pros. Applesana suggests that the new MacBook Pro models will likely feature quad core processors based on Intel’s Arrandale architecture which brings i5/i7 technology to a more power-efficient mobile chip.

The last time Apple refreshed the MacBook Pro line was in early June at the Worldwide Developers Conference. Read More about Mac OS X 10.6.2 Update Points to New MacBook Pros

Acer Joins Android Army, Demotes Windows Mobile

android-logo1Fanbois and girls alike constantly debate the future mobile operating landscape. Is there room enough for all of the current platforms or will there be just a few? From a consumer standpoint, there’s room for plenty of competitors — after all, choice is good, right? But more choices can play havoc with the finances of the companies that produce handsets. With a fixed budget of resources — in a tight economy, no less — handset makers need to judiciously manage their resources and devote them strategically.

Acer is reportedly doing just that, says Digitimes, and they’re adding to the growing trend of phone makers who are joining the Android army.

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Cash for Clunkers Update: Congress May Triple Funding, Extend Through 2010

cash-for-clunkers-cars-logo UPDATED So much for the estimate that the government’s cash for clunkers coffers would last for four months — they’re just about empty after less than a week. When Congress allocated nearly a billion dollars for the program, which provides vouchers to help drivers pay for new, more fuel-efficient vehicles when they trade in gas guzzlers, it said the program would run until all the money was spent, or on November 1 of this year. Whoops.
This morning, with more than 250,000 guzzlers having come in for the $3,500-$4,500 vouchers, Democratic leaders in the House are fast-tracking a bill to add $2 billion to the program and extend it through the end of September 2010, Politico reports.
Some folks on Capitol Hill aren’t too thrilled with this idea (Politico has a great quote from Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas protesting the bill as picking winners in the auto industry, when the struggling poultry industry isn’t getting a “cash for cluckers” program). Word from policymakers yesterday that the program would have to be suspended unless it gets more cash, however, didn’t go down too well with thousands of dealers and car buyers who have already made deals expecting vouchers to come through. Still, the legislation could go through relatively smoothly because the bill would just move money around between different areas of the stimulus package, rather than allocating new dollars — and because legislators want to get off the Hill for their scheduled month off. More when we know more.
Update: That was fast. The House has just approved a transfer of $2 billion in stimulus funds to the cash for clunkers program, with a vote of 316-109. Next the bill goes to the Senate, where it will be considered next week.