Turn your bike electric with the Smart Wheel By FlyKly

Here’s another wildly successful Kickstarter project. Check out the video above and you’ll be amazed at the opportunity to revolutionize biking with the Smart Wheel. It works with practically all bikes. You replace the back wheel with the Smart Wheel and all of a sudden you have an electric bike that you can control with your smart phone. FlyKly has not yet set a price, but I suspect this will be wildly popular.

Review of 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid

2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid Offers 26 MPG Combined Fuel Econom

The stereotype of hybrid cars is slowly becoming obsolete as more vehicles are offered with hybrid options. With the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid, consumers can now purchase a full-sized CUV with real towing capacity while enjoying the improved gas mileage offered by hybrid vehicles. Sure, you won’t approach the MPG numbers of smaller hybrid vehicles, but you’ll you’ll have a real advantage over gas-powered large vehicles.

I traveled to Nashville and had the opportunity to drive the new Pathfinder Hybrid and came away impressed. When driving the vehicle it feels very much like the gas-powered version. The Hybrid was designed to introduce the new hybrid powertrain system to enhance fuel economy and reduce CO2 emissions but with no reduction of driving performance, passenger roominess or cargo capacity. The designers used a space-saving Li-ion battery fitted under the 3rd row seat which preserved Pathfinder’s 2nd row sliding functionality and easy access to the 3rd row. You get all of the roominess and comforts of the new Pathfinder without making sacrifices for the hybrid technology.

The Pathfinder’s standard 3.5-liter V6 is replaced in the Hybrid by a new supercharged 2.5-liter gasoline engine and an electric motor paired with a compact Lithium-ion battery. The 15 kW electric motor and gas engine were designed to work in tandem to provide performance similar to the conventional Pathfinder. The Hybrid system is rated at 250 net horsepower and 243 lb-ft of torque while the 3.5-liter V6 has 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. These similar numbers are evident in the driving experience when you compare both vehicles.

The result, however, is improved fuel economy as the Hybrid is rated at 26 MPG combined (25 city and 28 highway), an increase of 24 percent over the standard Pathfinder. Like the gas model, the Pathfinder Hybrid has a large 19.5-gallon fuel tank for a highway driving range estimated at more than 546 miles. These MPG numbers won’t challenge smaller vehicles but have to be evaluated in light of the size and performance of this vehicle. For example, the hybrid can tow up to 3500 pounds when properly equipped which is less than the gas-powered Pathfinder’s 5000-pound towing capacity but is still very useful.

Like all hybrids the Pathfinder has a regenerative braking system that automatically recharges the battery by converting the vehicle’s kinetic energy that would be otherwise lost in braking. Still, I would have liked to see more features in the dashboard gauges showing me how well I was using this system and the electric motor as these features are a big selling point in other hybrids.

The Pathfinder Hybrid offers an appealing option for consumers looking for a large vehicle, as now you can get all the benefits without being stuck with a gas guzzler. Take it for a test drive and you’ll see immediately that you’re not sacrificing performance or comfort for the gas mileage boost.

2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid Offers 26 MPG Combined Fuel Econom

2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid Offers 26 MPG Combined Fuel Econom

Nissan LEAF sales continue to impress

2013 Nissan LEAF

Hybrid cars have been growing in popularity for years, but now we’re starting to see the demand for electric vehicles increase as well. The Nissan LEAF is a good example. October sales set a record at 2,002 vehicles, an increase of 26.8 percent over last year’s numbers. LEAF deliveries are up 166.2 percent in 2013 and have set 8 consecutive monthly sales records.

If you’ve been considering an EV, not might be a good time to start looking as prices have been coming down. That has helped to fuel LEAF sales. Of course when considering an EV it’s all about lifestyle. What ranges will you be driving and can the EV handle that. As we get more electric charging stations the issue of range anxiety will start to go away, but for many people that is still an issue.

Honda Accord Hybrid gets good reviews

Honda Accord Hybrid reviews

The market for hybrids is heating up as more popular nameplates are getting hybrid versions. The Honda Accord has been one of the most popular four-door sedans for decades, and with this hybrid version it will get plenty of attention in the marketplace.

The reviews have been very positive. Bullz-Eye.com was impressed with the fuel mileage and hybrid engine features:

I drove the Accord Hybrid on a wide variety of roads and found the vehicle to be very responsive. In one of the city setting we were challenged to try to get the highest gas mileage along a prepared route. Once you get the hang of how the Hybrid works you can achieve some very impressive mileage numbers in slow traffic areas.

The Accord Hybrid achieves impressive fuel economy ratings with 50 MPG city, 45 MPG highway and 47 MPG combined by using a two-motor hybrid system called Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) that continuously cycles between three different modes (EV drive, hybrid drive and engine drive) to maximize fuel efficiency. The gas engine powers a generator in most driving conditions which then provides energy to charge the hybrid battery and/or for the electric motor to power the wheels. The i-MMD can also operate on gasoline engine power only, usually during medium- to high-speed cruising.

The folks at Edmunds noted that Honda made the correct choice this time to focus on fuel economy over performance:

The 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid is EPA rated at 50 mpg in the city and 45 mpg on the highway. More importantly, the combined rating is 47 mpg, and Honda’s new two-motor hybrid system (introduced last year with the Accord Plug-In Hybrid) aims to deliver those numbers to all but the incurably lead-footed.

Hybrids are becoming more sophisticated as pointed out by Autoblog:

So, let’s start there, with the powertrain. It’s a complicated mess to understand if you’re not a Honda engineer (and maybe even then), but it’s a complicated mess that works well.

You can also choose the plug-in hybrid model as well with the Accord, so we definitely have a new entry that will give consumers even more choices in this market. It’s clear you no longer have to sacrifice styling and comfort if you’re looking to be green or just save on gas costs.

Issues regarding the export of natural gas

The fracking boom has led to low prices and high supplies of natural gas in the United States, which makes consumers and manufacturers who use natural gas very happy. But prices overseas are much higher, so there are 19 applications to sell liquefied natural gas overseas, and many are watching to see what the Obama administration will decide.

In Europe and Asia, where natural gas sells for $10 to $16 per million British thermal units—three to four times the U.S. price—demand is high. Imports from the U.S. could also give European countries greater power to bargain on prices with Russia’s Gazprom (OGZD), now a dominant supplier of natural gas. All that’s missing are the U.S. facilities to liquefy gas for export.

There’s a ton of money to be made for gas producers, and the natural gas could replace coal, which is growing as an export to Europe. Since natural gas is cleaner, many argue that allowing exports would be good for the environment.

But there is opposition from domestic manufacturers who don’t want to see natural gas prices go up. The article linked above points out that “Paul Cicio, president of the Washington-based trade group Industrial Energy Consumers of America, has called for delaying approvals for some new export terminals to avoid a domestic price shock.”

Stay tuned . . .

Will we see natural gas cars?

With natural gas being so cheap, there’s a push from producers to showcase how compressed natural gas can be used in cars. The issues involve things like trunk space since the fuel requires much more space, and also fueling stations. Trucking companies are setting up fueling stations for well-defined routes, but for someone who wants to buy a car we’re a very long way off.

With all the options surrounding alternative fuel vehicles, it seems like these are a long shot in the short term.

Whether to buy an electric car

With tax credits and lower prices from manufacturers, particularly lease deals, we’re starting to see an increase in sales for electric cars. Automakers have a huge incentive to sell these vehicles in order to comply with regulatory mandates.

Push for a carbon emissions tax

A carbon emissions tax is a huge long-shot in today’s political climate, but that’s not deterring former congressman Bob Inglis.

Debate over Keystone Pipeline

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There are all sorts of opinions on the Keystone Pipeline. Many environmentalists are very much opposed, while many people concerned with weaning ourselves off of Mid East oil are in favor of it, even with all the new oil American is producing through fracking. The Arkansas oil spill complicates the issue of course.

Here’s T. Boone Pickens discussing natural gas, oil and the pipeline.

Air-Powered Cars

Here’s a new kind of hybrid car that might just start another revolution in car design.

If you’re looking for a hybrid with superior mileage per gallon, then compressed air may be your thing. PSA Peugeot Citroen says its new C3 VTi 82 hatchback–which it unveils at a motor show next month–will go 81 miles, in optimum conditions. That’s compared to the Toyota Prius’s roughly 45 mile performance. And there’s no need for expensive, and heavy, lithium batteries. The compressed air system provides power as well as storage: as with other hybrids, it recovers energy from a gasoline engine when you brake or slow down.

From the video, you can see that the Air Hybrid system works in three modes, depending on the neighborhood. Above 43 miles per hour, it uses a conventional engine. Around town, it goes on air alone. And then there’s a combined mode when you need more power at lower speeds. An electronic management unit switches modes automatically.

The idea of powering a car using compressed air isn’t particularly new–several companies have explored the technology. But PSA Peugeot Citroen is the first major one to go big on it, developing a drive-train it hopes to use across several models, including light commercial vans. The company hasn’t released prices yet, saying only that the vehicles will be “competitive both in European and international markets,” but that is likely to be a major draw. Lithium batteries remain uncompetitively expensive.

Hybrids and plug-in hybrids offer incredible potential, and we’re seeing progress with hydrogen fuel cells as well. But with compressed air you have a novel approach that produces ZERO emissions when in that mode. That’s pretty impressive. Expect to hear much more about this, as it’s also much more practical than things like the AIRpod, which relies totally on compressed air but doesn’t have the size and range of this hybrid.

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