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In Gear

In Gear offers a fresh look at the world of cars – its technology, economics, and future – through the eyes of Monitor staffers and other automobile writers from around the world. 

A Nissan Leaf charges at a electric vehicle charging station in Portland, Ore. Oregon, among the country's top states for electric cars, now has a state Chief Electric Vehicle Officer. (Rick Bowmer/AP/File)

Top states for electric cars. Where does yours rank?

By John VoelckerGuest blogger / 12.10.13

If you live in parts of California, electric cars--from the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid all the way up to the Tesla Model S--are no longer uncommon.

The streets of Palo Alto, in the center of Silicon Valley, are practically crawling with Teslas these days.

But in other parts of the country, you may go months without seeing a single car with a plug.

Three weeks ago, Mother Nature Network took a look at which states have the most plug-in electric cars, and why.  ( Continue… )

A Mustang badge is seen on Gail Wise's Skylight Blue 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang in Park Ridge, Illinois. Gail Wise made the first known retail purchase of a Mustang in 1964. The 2015 anniversary model was announced last week and the company is considering diesel, hybrid and electric versions of the model. (John Gress/Reuters/File )

Ford considers diesel, hybrid and electric versions of new Mustang

By Stephen EdelsteinGuest blogger / 12.09.13

Someday, muscle-car enthusiasts might brag about kilowatts, not horsepower.

Future versions of the 2015 Ford Mustang, which was revealed last week, might possibly get diesel, hybrid, and even electric powertrains.

At the car's unveiling, Ford global powertrain chief Bob Fascetti told GoAuto that the Blue Oval is pondering all of these options, in an effort to make the Mustang greener.

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Fascetti did not divulge any specifics, only saying that improving fuel economy is a priority and that Ford is looking at all available options to accomplish that goal.  ( Continue… )

People walk past a Tesla Motors Model S electric sedan with Alcatraz Island in the background during a demonstration in October. A Tesla Model S was purchased entirely with Bitcoin in California. (Eric Risberg/AP/File)

First Tesla bought with Bitcoin. The future is here.

By Nelson IresonGuest blogger / 12.08.13

If you're not familiar with Bitcoin, you might want to change that. The electronic cryptocurrency is rapidly gaining acceptance around the globe, with many businesses--and even one university--accepting Bitcoins as readily as dollars. Now, a Tesla Model S has been purchased directly with Bitcoin.

The car, sold for an undisclosed sum of Bitcoin by Lamborghini Newport Beach in Costa Mesa, California, appears to have been a lightly used model, if only because it wasn't sold directly by Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA].

Announced on the dealer's blog, the sale marks the first Bitcoin purchase for Lamborghini Newport Beach--but it won't likely be the last.

"Lamborghini Newport Beach is proud to announce that we are fully capable of accepting Bitcoin as legal tender for vehicles.  We are excited to opening the door to this new currency," the company wrote on its blog.

Bitcoins are generated by "mining," wherein computers execute mathematical operations to find the coins through a distributed, decentralized network. Depending on the user's available computer power, it can take anywhere from minutes to months to generate a single Bitcoin.

Currently, the Bitcoin-U.S. dollar exchange rate is about $1,013 per Bitcoin. At that rate, a new Tesla Model S would cost about 70-100 Bitcoins.

Despite a recent spate of battery fires due to road debris strikes, and an ongoing NHTSA investigation, the Tesla Model S continues to generate a great deal of interest among new-car buyers, particularly those nearer the cutting edge of technology--so perhaps it's unsurprising the American-made electric car should be among the first known vehicles purchased directly with Bitcoin.

A woman wearing a mask walks on a bridge during a hazy day in downtown Shanghai December 5, 2013. US officials will work with China to draft new carbon emission guidelines. (Aly Song/Reuters/File)

How the US is helping China curb carbon emissions

By Richard ReadGuest blogger / 12.07.13

Once upon a time, when people thought about "smog", they thought of Los Angeles. Then China opened its doors a little wider, and we got a good look at Beijing. 

The pollution problem is only getting worse. As China makes its long, slow crawl toward something resembling capitalism, its middle class is expanding. And as that group of consumers grows, they want what consumers elsewhere have -- especially automobiles. Demand is so high, the government has created a lottery system for doling out license plates in some areas.

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That's created huge growing pains in a country of over one billion people. According to AutoNews, in 2012, there were roughly 120 million privately owned vehicles in China. By 2020, that number is expected to hit 200 million. Not only is this causing problems with pollutants, it's also putting huge stress on the nation's infrastructure: in 2010, China hosted the worst traffic jam in history, which lasted 12 grueling days. ( Continue… )

Smoke rises from the stacks of the La Cygne Generating Station coal-fired power plant in La Cygne, Kan. Companies are preparing to pay for carbon emissions, a new CDP study shows. (Charlie Riedel/AP Photo/File )

Pricing carbon emissions? Bring it on, some large companies say

By Stephen EdelsteinGuest blogger / 12.06.13

It seems many large companies are willing to pay a price for their emissions.

A new report by environmental data company CDP found that at least 29 companies--including the five major oil companies, Walmart, and American Electric Power--are now incorporating a price on carbon emissions into the their financial plans, according toThe New York Times.

Many of these companies previously resisted acknowledging the scientific consensus around climate change, and many have close ties to the U.S. Republican Party, which makes this a remarkable shift.

Now, the companies are moving toward accounting for carbon emissions as a cost of doing business.

ExxonMobil has long been known for contributions to research attempting to deny climate change, but now the company seems to be planning for a future in which carbon emissions are priced at $60 a ton.  ( Continue… )

The Chevrolet corvette logo is seen at the Chevrolet booth at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show last month in Los Angeles. Chevy announced that the 2015 Corvette will debut next month at the Detroit Auto Show. (Jae C. Hong/AP/File)

2015 Corvette to be unveiled at Detroit Auto Show

By Nelson IresonGuest blogger / 12.06.13

While the world whets its appetite for the official details on the 2015 Ford Mustang, Chevy is aiming to steal a bit of that thunder, announcing the debut of the 2015 Corvette Z06, due next month at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show.

The Z06 will be the range-topper in the new Stingray line (for now, at least, until the supercharged/turbocharged versions arrive).

While stats and performance figures remain under wraps, we expect the new Z06 to pack as much as 600 horsepower from a V-8 engine of some sort--rumors include a twin-turbo 4.5-liter and normally aspirated 6.2-liter and 7.0-liter options.

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A supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 with Corvette badges has been spied, as well, with speculation that it might get the nod for Z06 use--though it could also be reserved for the next generation of the ZR1.

Whatever comes of the C7 Corvette Z06's specs and stats, however, we fully expect it to be the best Corvette ever--the standard Stingray with the Z51 package is already darned close.

This article originally appeared 

Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally sits in the driver seat of its all new 2015 Ford Mustang on ABC's Good Morning America in New York Thursday. The new Mustang will have independent rear suspension for the first time in 50 years. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

2015 Ford Mustang gets first 4-cylinder engine since 1993

By John VoelckerGuest blogger / 12.05.13

You may or may not be aware that the new 2015 Ford Mustang has now officially been unveiled.

Perhaps you saw it this morning on Good Morning America, or came across some of the other coverage that's emerged over the last couple of days.

MORE: 2015 Ford Mustang Preview: Official Photos And Video

The entirely restyled Mustang is sleeker, crisper, and more modern than the outgoing model, which dated back to a car launched for 2005.

Beside the new sheet metal and redesigned interior, there are two pieces of news: The Mustang now, for the first time in 50 years, has independent rear suspension--and it also gets its first four-cylinder engine since a 105-horsepower 2.3-liter four was dropped after the 1993 model year.  ( Continue… )

The 2015 Ford Mustang. Ford will reveal the new Mustang on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, at events in New York, Los Angeles, Shanghai, Sydney, Barcelona and its hometown of Dearborn. It goes on sale next fall in North America and will arrive later in Europe and Asia. (Ford/AP)

2015 Ford Mustang has fresh styling, new engines (+video)

By Viknesh VijayenthiranGuest blogger / 12.05.13

Ford’s sixth-generation Mustang has been revealed, just a few months out from the iconic pony car’s 50th anniversary. The 2015 Ford Mustang goes on sale next year and brings with it fresh new styling, an advanced chassis, a plusher interior and a trio of engines including a new four-cylinder turbo.
The 2015 Mustang features a low and wide stance plus a reduction in roof height that gives it a very sporty look. The fenders are also wider than on the predecessor, which has allowed engineers to install a wider track.

Part of the reason for this was to accommodate a brand new suspension design, which finally gets rid of the antiquated solid rear axle that’s been part and parcel of the Mustang since the original made its debut on April 17 at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York.

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At the front, new double-ball-joint front MacPherson struts feature and enable the use of larger, more powerful brakes. At the rear is an ‘integral-link’ independent rear suspension. New aluminum rear knuckles also help reduce unsprung mass for improved ride and handling.

Under the hood, buyers will find one of a trio of engines: the familiar 3.7-liter V-6, a new 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder and a more powerful 5.0-liter V-8. The V-6 delivers at least 300 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, the new EcoBoost unit, which features turbocharging and direct-injection technologies, offers up 305 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque, while the V-8 rates in at more than 420 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. ( Continue… )

Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn poses besides Renault's concept car "Frendzy" during the press day of the Frankfurt Auto Show IAA in Frankfurt, Germany in 2011. Renault says their electric cars could drive as far as 250 miles by 2020. (Martin Oeser/dapd/AP Photo/File )

Renault: 250 miles for electric cars by 2020?

By Antony IngramGuest blogger / 12.04.13

Save for a few electric vehicles on the fringes of the market--the Tesla Model S, for example, or the tiny Smart Electric Drive--most subcompact and compact electric cars currently offer a range of 80-100 miles.

For many people, that's perfectly fine. But it wouldn't hurt to have more, right?

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Renault says that more could be on the way--and by 2020, the range of a subcompact electric vehicle like its Zoe could be as much as 250 miles.

We've heard such claims before of course, despite electric car range remaining fairly static since the first serious production vehicles debuted a few years back. You'll get little more from a car like the cutting-edge BMW i3 than you will the Nissan Leaf, which debuted in 2010.  ( Continue… )

The Maserati Centennial Logo. The new centennial logo was introduced yesterday as part of the centennial celebration. Two new sedans, the flagship Quattroporte and mid- size Ghibli, were also introduced in honor of the automakers hundredth year. (Maserati/PRNewsFoto)

Happy centenary, Maserati!

By Antony IngramGuest blogger / 12.04.13

Get ready to spend the next year wishing Maserati a happy birthday--as the Italian automaker enters its hundredth year in business this December. The company was officially founded on December 1, 1914, starting operations on December 14, 1914. That makes December 2013 the start of its hundredth year, and for the next twelve months, the historic marque will host celebrations all around the world.

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There's plenty to celebrate: Maserati's history is long and illustrious, even when compared to fellow domestic marques like Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Lamborghini. The firm produced its first car, the Tipo 26, in 1926. It took its first victory that year in the Targa Florio, the first of many for the marque in virtually every major racing event. Maserati has taken two Indy 500 victories, 9 wins in Formula 1, and the 1957 F1 World Championship at the hands of Juan Manuel Fangio. It produced its first passenger car in 1947, and since then Maserati has also been known for beautiful luxury sports cars and sedans--something that continues to this day.  ( Continue… )

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