The future of cars for the next billion people

While electric cars are the subject of much media attention, the future of cars for the next billion people to enter the middle class on the planet could be bare-bones, low-cost cars like Tata’s $2,500 Nano.

3D TVs Are Coming, but Where’s the Content?

Panasonic (s PC) started to sell its new line of 3D TVs through a partnership with Best Buy (s BBY) today, offering a bundle of a of 50-inch plasma TV, a 3D-capable Blu-ray player and a pair of glasses for around $2900. Consumers will also soon be able to buy similar set-ups from Samsung and Sony (sw SNE).
However, at least some of these devices won’t be available at Amazon (s AMZN) and other online retailers. Panasonic announced that it’s going all bricks-and-mortar with 3D TV to educate consumers about the technology, according to an article from
Question is, will consumers bite? Not only are 3D set-ups significantly more expensive that your regular LCD or LED screen, with pairs of extra glasses alone costing $150 a pop, but there’s also limited content available to show off the technology. Panasonic will give buyers of its 3D TVs a free Blu-ray disc of Monsters vs. Aliens, which is Dreamworks’s (s DWA) first 3D release. However, 3D box office blockbuster Avatar won’t even be available in 3D when it’s released on Blu-ray and DVD some time before June.
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Daily Sprout

Reva’s Low-Volume EV Scheme: Reva Electric Car Co., the Indian automaker developing an electric vehicle with General Motors (s GM), plans to set up four overseas automaking ventures that may be profitable building as few as 5,000-10,000 cars a year. — Edmunds Green Car Advisor

So Long Copenhagen, Hello Cochabamba: After international climate talks in Copenhagen failed to produce binding agreements last month, Bolivian President Evo Morales said Tuesday he’s inviting activists, scientists and government officials from around the world to an alternative climate conference in Cochabamba, Bolivia in April. — Associated Press via NYT

Whole Foods Chief on Climate Change: When Whole Foods CEO John Mackey told the New Yorker “that no scientific consensus exists’ about the causes of climate change, he thrust himself – and his chain – negatively into the spotlight among many ec0-minded shoppers.” Just 10 days earlier he stepped down as chairman of Whole Foods, prompting some critics to call his comments “loose talk.” — Environmental Leader

Incredible Shrinking Fleet: “The United States scrapped 14 million autos while buying only 10 million last year, shrinking the country’s car and light duty truck fleet to 246 million from a record high of 250 million, according to the report to be released on Wednesday by nonprofit group the Earth Policy Institute.” — Reuters

Energy on the Fast Track: Thirty–one proposed projects involving solar, wind and geothermal power, as well as transmission “have been put on the fast track for approval by the Bureau of Land Management, with the aim of getting them paid for with stimulus funding.” — NYT’s Green Inc.

Daily Sprout

Yes Men Take It to the Hill: The climate-minded Yes Men stunt group offered up another prank today, just a day after punking the Chamber of Commerce with a fake press announcement — this time showing up on Capitol Hill in Survivaball suits to hector Sen. Arlen Specter and the Senate in general for their “wishy washy” stance on climate issues. — Grist

Plug-in Car Factory News, Oh My: India-based electric car maker Reva plans to work with Bannon Automotive, a Long Island electric-car firm, to build a three-door hatchback near Syracuse and DOE-backed plug-in hybrid startup Fisker Automotive says it will announce a site for its plant “soon.” Meanwhile, startup Tesla Motors is still looking for an assembly plant for its Model S electric sedan. — NYT’s Green Inc.

Buffett’s BYD Bet Probably About the Batteries, Not the Car: Who’s going to build the world’s most popular electric car? It won’t necessarily be the automaker with the best battery, or the first model on the road. So it’s all too likely that Warren Buffett, who has made a big investment in China-based BYD, may actually be betting on the company’s future as a leading battery supplier than as a leading car company. — Business Insider’s Green Sheet

How Does Your State Measure Up?: The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy has released its 2009 scorecard on state energy efficiency policies, programs and practices (we wrote up a preview of the report here), ranking states from best (California) to “most room for improvement” (Wyoming). — ACEEE

Climate Cooperation Bonus: Chinese President Hu Jintao has told President Obama that closer cooperation on fighting climate change could help improve overall ties between the world’s top two greenhouse gas polluters. — Reuters

Reva Revs Phone-Controlled Charging for Electric Cars

Smartphones and electric cars make a handsome high-tech couple, and this morning Reva threw a new smartphone-EV idea into the mix: The India-based manufacturer of the G-Wiz electric city car has announced plans to unveil at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show an “instant remote recharge” system. Dubbed “REVive,” the system is set to roll out in the 2010 Reva NXR four-seater and 2011 NXG two-seater that Reva plans to debut at the event next week, and the telematics technology is meant to serve as “an invisible reserve fuel tank.”
Modeling vehicle systems after smartphones like Apple’s (s aapl) iPhone, including leveraging built-in GPS, an intuitive user interface, or a set of web-connected applications to let drivers manage charging and maximize efficiency, could help make the vehicles more convenient for many drivers and potentially encourage more widespread adoption. Plug-in vehicles are also increasingly being designed to connect with the phone itself, too, providing certain monitoring and management tools to drivers through their smartphone.
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Reva to Boost Range with Lithium-Ion Battery

It’s about time Indian electric car company Reva, which has one of the best-selling electric vehicles in the world, opted for a few higher-end, better-performance options. According to a press release posted on the G-Wiz Owners Club forums (hat tip Autoblog Green) Reva is launching a lithium-ion-battery-powered electric vehicle for the European market, along with a fast-charging station that can charge the lithium-ion battery 90 percent in one hour.

Up until now, Reva has been selling a relatively low-cost version ($9,000) of its electric vehicle that uses a lead-acid battery and has a range of about 50 miles per battery charge. Throughout 2008 Reva had been pretty open about the fact that it had been researching lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries to extend range and increase performance. The new vehicle — dubbed the REVA L-ion — will have a range of about 75 miles per charge and a max speed of 50 miles per hour, according to the press release.
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