Green Overdrive: We Drive the Mercedes Fuel Cell Car! [video]

Not many big auto makers are producing fuel cell cars, but that isn’t stopping Mercedes-Benz, which has produced 200 of its F-Cell vehicles. For this week’s Green Overdrive show we take the F-Cell to the streets of Los Angeles.

10 Green Cars To Watch For At the LA Auto Show

The city that’s so defined by its car culture, traffic and massive freeways, is hosting a major auto show this week: the LA Auto Show. Here’s 10 green cars to watch for outta the show this week.

Made in Germany: Daimler, Evonik to Crank Out Electric Car Batteries by 2011

The growing number of companies and policy makers trying to build a booming electric vehicle battery industry in the U.S. have so far found the biggest competition coming from Asia, home of lithium-ion cell manufacturers that dominate the market for laptop and electronics batteries. But now the seeds of competition are also sprouting up in Germany. Daimler AG (s DAI) and Evonik Industries have just finalized plans to build a lithium-ion battery pack plant in Kamenz, Germany, near an existing facility for the companies’ lithium-ion cell venture, Li-Tec.

daimler-evonikDaimler and Evonik want to move fast — Evonik on Tuesday released a timeline for the project: Begin construction this fall, start churning out battery packs by 2011, and launch them in vehicles starting with models in the 2012 lineup from Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz. From there, the Daimler-Evonik battery system joint venture, called Deutsche Accumotive, aims to pursue sales to third-party automakers. Read More about Made in Germany: Daimler, Evonik to Crank Out Electric Car Batteries by 2011

What the Looming Lithium Squeeze Means for Electric Car Batteries

Piles of lithium carbonate-rich salt in Bolivia.

Lithium-ion batteries are everywhere — in your phone, laptop, and by this time next year, maybe your car. The technology is slated for GM’s (s GM) Chevy Volt, Toyota’s (s TMC) plug-in Prius, and electric versions of the Daimler Smart (s DAI) and BMW Mini (s BMW).

Until recently, lithium went primarily into ceramics and glass. Now batteries make up one-fifth of the world’s end-use market for the mineral — a share that will only grow if the auto industry goes where lithium-ion startups like ActaCell, A123 Systems and Imara are betting it will. But shortages could stop an emerging industry in its tracks — or dramatically reshape it — within a decade: Mitsubishi (s MMTOF) estimates that lithium demand will outstrip supply as early as 2015.

The U.S. Geological Survey’s mineral commodity specialist on lithium, Brian Jaskula, offers a more conservative estimate, forecasting that demand will begin to drive lithium prices up in the next 10 to 15 years. But the signs are clear: Lithium, which now costs less than a buck per kilogram, will not stay cheap for long. Read More about What the Looming Lithium Squeeze Means for Electric Car Batteries

Daimler to Electrify Autobahn With “e-mobility Berlin”

Berlin’s autobahn will be getting a charge from the “e-mobility Berlin” program Daimler AG officially unveiled today. The automaker is working with German utility RWE to put more than 100 electric cars on the city’s roads by 2010. Under terms of the joint venture, Daimler will provide electric vehicles from its Smart and Mercedes-Benz lines while RWE will install some 500 charging points around the city.

The announcement gives no legs to the rumors circulating about Daimler’s possible partnerships with a slew of cleantech startups. Last week, the Financial Times reported that electric car poster child Tesla Motors would be supplying the batteries for the Smart cars, but the release doesn’t say whose batteries will be in them. Read More about Daimler to Electrify Autobahn With “e-mobility Berlin”

Apple Inc to Design Mercedes Navigation Systems

GPS Magazine points to a German report (FOCUS automotive magazine) that Apple Inc has struck an exclusive deal with Mercedes to develop their in-car navigation systems. The Luxury car maker will have exclusivity to Apple’s design for the first 6 months, after which it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see these Apple Navs popping up in other Luxury brand names as well.

The Apple in-car Navigation systems won’t be showing up in Mercedes’ vehicles until the 2009 model year, so we’re around a year away from seeing what Apple’s got up its collective sleeve. It’s probably a safe bet that an enhanced version of the Google Maps feature (found in the iPhone) will be used in some shape. GPS Mag points out the obvious, that iPod and iPhone integration would be no-brainers – the latter being more useful in this writer’s opinion.

Notice how I referred to Apple by their new name here, twice? I’d say news of this sort is yet another reason they dropped the restricting ‘Computer’ tag from their name. They’re quickly evolving into some new and interesting markets with the Apple TV, iPhone, and now in-car GPS…

Apparently this is a couple weeks old, but the first I’d heard about it. I blame the iPhone for eclipsing everything else from view…or something like that. Regardless, should be interesting to see where Apple takes this.

Lafayette votes today for city-wide fiber optic network

The citizens of Lafayette, Louisiana vote today to approve the funds needed to build a city-wide fiber optic network for high-speed internet connectivity.  The city won a legal challenge by the two private sector companies that serve Lafayette earlier and if the voters choose to approve the network this city in the heart of Cajun country could be the impetus to other cities throughout the country. 

If Lafayette is successful in winning support for its network, it could help rally citizens in the 14 states where municipal networks have already been banned or limited, said Joey Durel, president of Lafayette Parish.

"What the cable and phone companies do a lot better than provide service to customers is work politicians," he said. "Unless towns like Lafayette get moving, I’m afraid that more states could pass laws limiting these kinds of networks. If this referendum passes here in Lafayette, I think we’ll start to see some states undoing those laws."

(via CNET)