By Charles Krome
Okay, first things first: GM says the new powertrain gadgetry set to debut on the 2012 Buick LaCrosse—and deliver estimated EPA ratings of 25 mpg city and 37 mpg highway—is NOT a hybrid setup. Instead, the eAssist technology is a “light electrification” system that just happens to holster a lithium-ion battery pack, an integrated power inverter, a 12-volt power supply and an “electric motor-generator,” all of which work to increase the LaCrosse’s fuel efficiency by about 25 percent and offer an extra 11 kW (15 hp) of power during acceleration.
I suppose the difference is that, according to Steve Poulos, the system’s chief engineer, “The battery system is designed to provide power assistance to the internal combustion engine, rather than storing energy for all-electric propulsion. It’s really an extension of the conventional internal combustion engine, not a replacement for it.”
By Tim Healey
The Los Angeles Auto Show is the last major show in the calendar year, but it’s the first one of the auto-show season. While the biggest reveals are saved for Detroit, automakers looking to get ahead of the curve won’t hesitate to launch new products in L.A.
Given its sunny West Coast location, and California’s “green” leanings, it’s not uncommon for OEMs to introduce hybrids or other alternative fuel vehicles along with convertibles and other fun-in-the-sun type autos. So what does the show have in store for this year?
By Chris Haak
Giant industrial conglomerate General Electric has announced plans to purchase 25,000 electric vehicles by 2015 for its fleet. These purchases represent fully one-half of GE’s corporate fleet, and are an immediate shot in the arm for EV demand in the US.
Though there are certainly environmental benefits to be seen through a large purchase of [tailpipe] emission-free vehicles, the move is not purely altrustic on GE’s part. The company obviously gets a considerable amount of goodwill from stepping up to the plate and becoming an early adopter of EV technology.
By Chris Haak
As we know, the – those born in the postwar period between 1946 and 1964 in the US – is getting older, and as the baby boom goes, in many ways, so does the United States. As members of this group enter various stages of their lives, the enormous size of their ranks mean that they have a profound impact on culture and the economy.
Just think back to the early years – say, the early 1960s – as that generation was entering school age. Their numbers required the construction of new schools (ever notice how so many public schools are 1960s-vintage?) Then in 1964, as the first boomers hit age 18, there was a car called the Ford Mustang making its debut at the New York World’s Fair that was perfectly catered to the idealistic, independent youth. And that car sold like hotcakes. This generation actively participated in the muscle car era, and consumed a considerable amount of the world’s natural resources as they entered their prime earning years and purchased more and more SUVs.
By Charles Krome
Like a number of other auto observers, I’m jumping on a recent survey from that bastion of journalistic integrity known as The Hollywood Reporter, which in this case commissioned an in-depth look at the audience demographics for the country’s top four late-night talk shows—including the preferred auto brand for each show’s audience. And what makes this particular factoid especially interesting for us is that the hosts of three of the four shows in question have some serious gearhead cred.
Take a certain Jay Leno, who in addition to handling “The Tonight Show” duties also happens to have one of the most amazing car collections on the planet. Leno’s menagerie has now grown to nearly 100 cars, and we’re talking about some serious metal here. There’s everything from a 1906 Stanley Steamer to a 2006 GM EcoJet. Haven’t heard of the latter? The 650-hp supercar, powered by a Honeywell LT-101 turbine engine running on bio-diesel, was something he thought up during a chat with GM design chief Ed Welburn back in the day, and GM was kind enough to put one together for him.