Hybrid drives could usher in Macs with more, cheaper storage

A new Apple patent published Thursday by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office reveals plans for a new type of hybrid drive that combines the benefits of both platter-based and flash storage. It’s not a new idea, but Apple’s patent contains a unique new twist.

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Today’s announcement of a collaboration between Toyota and Ford began with a chance encounter between the two companies CEOs at an airport in April. Four months later, the companies will work together on development of a new hybrid system for SUVs and pickup trucks. It’s been difficult to sell a rear wheel drive, hybrid light truck but both companies recognize that Americans aren’t giving up their pick up trucks anytime soon. This is a huge market that could be a shaken up with a blockbuster, fuel efficient SUV or pickup. The collaboration also includes some joint work on telematics and wireless communication in the vehicle, an area where Ford has received acclaim and Toyota is lagging.

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Let’s start the day with a retraction — thankfully, not my own. Japan’s Nikkei newspaper may have to walk back a Monday story claiming that Toyota would make plug-in recharging a standard feature on all its new Priuses. “We don’t see (plug-ins) as a car for everybody,” Toyota spokesperson John Hanson told AOLAuto, and further confirmation has come out since then. Why not make every car plug-in? Well, it will probably cost a lot more, even though Toyota has declined to say just how much more. It turns out that plug-in cars have to come with a lot of hardware and software to manage recharging from grid-linked power sources, for accurate pricing as much as for the technical challenges in fast-charging and other emerging fixes to the EV range anxiety problem. For a sense of how complicated the car-charging world is, please refer to the mildly corrective comment at the bottom of this story I wrote in January — thanks, Nick Chambers — which lays out the AC and DC charging regimes, and just how certain standards may win out.

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President Barack Obama is giving a speech on energy this morning, a broad bill of particulars aimed at an overarching goal — cutting U.S. oil dependence. With unrest in the Middle East leading to rising oil and gasoline prices, and nuclear crisis in Japan putting the future of nuclear power in question, Obama’s speech had a lot of ground to cover — and some of the President’s goals will be harder than others. Cutting oil imports by one-third by 2025, for example, is a plan that will outlast his presidency, and will require the adoption of clean energy incentives likely to face opposition by Republicans and some industry groups — even if Obama sought to sweeten that part of the deal by saying he would expedite offshore oil drilling and exploration permits as well. There were other concrete pledges, including a goal of adopting an “alternative-fuel vehicle only” federal buying policy by 2015. Of course, the list of alternative fuel vehicles includes natural gas-fueled trucks and cars, as well as hybrids, plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles.

said he Some of Obama’s plans will be harder than others