Living with All-Electric Nissan Leaf, Cold and All

By Jason H. Harper, Bloomberg News, April 21

The Nissan Leaf is the stuff of science fiction. An actual, no-kidding, all-electric car, costing less than $35,000 and aimed at regular consumers.

Yet Nissan opted to wrap this revolutionary ride in excitement-repelling protoplasm. It’s the stuff of Amazing Stories magazine, if you’d take out the cyborgs and time travel, and replaced “amazing” with “sort of interesting.” “Back to the Future” without the flux capacitor, Comic-Con without costumes.

The arrival of a mass-produced electric vehicle (EV), sans gas tank or tail pipes, should feel momentous. You’re not spewing bad stuff into the sky. (The same can’t be said about energy production itself, but still.) Continue reading…

Behold! The Future Comes in a Ford Transit Van (and Chevy Volt)

I’ve given up on jetpacks. Star Wars light sabers? Not, apparently, in my lifetime. And if regular air travel is any indication, space tourism will be expensive and uncomfortable.

Electric!: Ford Transit Van is the future... who knew?

As for the car of the future? I’m at the wheel of one right now, and it isn’t quite what I’d imagined as an overactive 8- year-old. Rather than a Jetsons flying machine or a Batmobile with afterburner, this looks pretty much like a delivery van.

The Chevy Volt, in the flesh

Exactly like one, actually.

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Bentley Supersports Gulps Asphalt, Not Bio-Fuel

Big guns: The Bentley Supersports is massively fast

Big guns: The Bentley Supersports is massively fast

Review by Jason H. Harper

Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) — The elite are in trouble. Those exotic carmakers who produce fewer than 10,000 cars a year are looking at future fuel regulations and are realizing they need a plan. Fast.

Coming up with an alternative-fuel powertrain is a big leap, especially since it’s harder than ever to move $200,000 cars right now.

So it is with Bentley, the once-English brand now owned by Volkswagen Group. Its best-selling models are the souped-up Speed models of its Continental GT coupe and convertible. Now, the follow-up is the uber-alpha-zoom-zoom model, the $273,000 Continental Supersports, which hits 60 in 3.7 seconds and has a top speed of 204 mph.

Best throw a bone to the environmentalists, though, no matter how small or lame. So the Supersports is flex-fuel capable, meaning it can also burn bio-fuel that comes from renewable sources like corn and sugar cane, versus just the high-octane stuff at the pump. Problem solved.

Well, not quite.

E85 biofuel is exceedingly rare outside of the Midwest — owing to smaller corn supplies and local politics — and I can’t imagine Amex Black cardholders demanding it at their local stations. Anyway, you won’t be able to buy one of those flex- fuel vehicles in the U.S. for quite some time — just the regular old petrol-burning version.

Big Wheel: The Supersports carves up the road

Big Wheel: The Supersports carves up the road

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Battle of the Nerds as VW Jetta Takes on Hybrids

April 14 (Bloomberg) — With all due respect to Toyota, the Prius is just plain ugly. There’s a good reason for its bulbous shape, which cuts air drag and improves efficiency. Honda’s hybrid, the Insight, looks remarkably similar.

Aerodynamics aside, part of that inbuilt dorkiness is calculated — an honor badge proclaiming that the car is a hybrid and, by extension, the driver a do-gooder. Hark the new world order: Nerds shall rule.

It makes me yearn for the time when your car wasn’t quite so political. {To read on Bloomberg News} Continue reading…