Fisker Automotive's problems deepen further with the news that the electric car startup is now facing a lawsuit for the dismissal of 160 of its employees.
Fisker, makers of the range-extended electric Karma, laid off around three quarters of its workforce on Friday as it struggles to avoid bankruptcy.
Law firm Outten & Golden LLP filed the suit, reports Automotive News(subscription required), which states that Fisker failed to comply with both federal and local standards for the termination of employees.
As part of the U.S. Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), companies must give at least 60 days noticed before mass terminations, a condition Fisker has not met. ( Continue… )
There's a far more effective way of reducing pollution and dependency on oil than buying more efficient cars or going electric: Driving less.
It's not an option available to everyone of course, but it certainly helps reduce fuel use. And it's something Americans have been doing in a steady trend since 2005.
That's according to data from StreetFilms (via Treehugger), whose video neatly illustrates how Americans, per-capita, have been driving less over the last eight years.
Several factors could have played a part in this, and it's likely a combination of variables is responsible, but no single factor is to blame.
The trend started before the recession, for example, so the global financial crisis of 2008-2009 didn't start the downward movement. Nor did rising gas prices, given the graph shows lower car use despite a large drop in gas prices during the mid to late 2000s.
Others point to younger people lacking interest in cars and driving. That's certainly something the car industry is worried about, and it's also something that the rising cost of driving plays a very real part in.
We've seen surveys which suggest young people care more about their internet access than they do their cars. And the rise of car-sharing services heavily targets those younger users who may have a license, but can't afford to run their own car (rather than those who simply aren't interested).
The video's data shows how annual miles traveled in cars among 16 to 34-year olds dropped 23 percent from 2001 to 2009. Younger people are still getting about, they're just doing it in other ways. As are older people, with 1.1 million seniors giving up their licenses between 2001-2009.
There's a message behind all this, which is that transport planners still develop strategies based on the assumption that car transport is rising. Instead, StreetFilms proposes, they should be planning for a populus moving away from driving, and invest in better infrastructure for walking, cycling and public transit.
For some people, driving will only ever be the sole realistic option. But in cities in particular, it makes more sense to plan for future where people simply won't be driving as much.
If you're used to driving around in a Prius then average miles per gallon of 24.6 will sound a little poor in comparison.
But that's the average economy of all cars, light trucks, minivans and SUVs purchased in the U.S. in March--and it's an all-time high.
24.6 mpg is 0.2 mpg higher than January and February's revised figures, both the previous record holders. Rising average fuel economy is a consistent trend at the moment, with several months last year also setting records.
The data is sales-weighted, so the highest-selling models have the greatest effect on the figures--it'll be a while before the high MPGe figures of electric vehicles are represented to any degree by statistics such as these.
Even so, the constant upwards movement reflects the impressive efforts of automakers to improve the efficiency of their vehicles. From hybrid and electric vehicles through increasingly popular diesels and improved gasoline engines, today's cars aren't just cleaner than ever, they're more fuel efficient too.
The most recent figures are 4.5 mpg higher than those of October 2007, the first month that University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) started recording data.
That year's average was just 20.8 mpg, which rose to 23.5 mpg overall in 2012.
Average sales-weighted fuel economy figures do tend to fluctuate throughout the year, peaking in spring and summer, before falling in the colder months--so it's likely 2013's average highs won't be much greater than the current 24.6 mpg. But overall, 2013's average fuel economy should be even better than that seen in 2012.
UMTRI also keeps data for what it calls the Eco-Driving Index (EDI). This figure considers the fuel used per distance driven and the frequency of driving, to calculate average monthly emissions generated by the individual U.S. driver.
This crept up to 0.83 in January (the data is a few months behind, and lower numbers are better) but overall the figures show a 17 percent improvement since records started in 2007.
We've still a long way to go to really cut down on fuel use and emissions (and huge truck sales figures bring down the overall average) but the important thing is, we're still moving in the right direction.
Newspapers keep in their files pre-written obituaries for people who are old, known to be ill, or famous.
We have a feeling we should start dusting off the one we wrote awhile back for Fisker Automotive, which laid off the bulk of its remaining employees this morning at 8 am Pacific time.
Numerous members of the media received notes earlier today from at least one Fisker employee noting that the layoffs were coming.
As further details leaked out, GigaOm reports that 160 employees were laid off, with just 53 remaining.
Hyundai Motor Corp and its Kia Motors affiliate are recalling more than 1.8 million cars and SUVs in the United States to address a potentially faulty switch and a loose headliner, according to US safety regulators.
Hyundai is recalling 1,059,824 cars and SUVs and Kia 623,658 vehicles from model years 2007 through 2011 to replace a switch that could increase the risk of a crash, according to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
A Kia spokesman in the United States said the company was not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the issue, and did not have any information on whether the recall was being done in other countries. Reuters could not immediately reach officials at Hyundai.
In addition, Hyundai is recalling another 186,254 Elantra cars from model years 2011 through 2013 to apply adhesive strips to the headliner to prevent that part from becoming displaced during a side curtain airbag deployment and increasing the risk of cuts during a crash, the NHTSA said.
The malfunctioning stop lamp switch in the larger recall affecting Hyundai and Kia may cause the brake lights not to illuminate when the brake pedal is depressed, or cause an inability to deactivate the cruise control by pressing the brake pedal, the NHTSA said.
That malfunctioning switch may also cause intermittent operation of the push-button start feature, prevent the shifter from being moved out of the park position or allow the driver to move the shifter out of park without applying the brake, or cause the electronic stability control malfunction light to illuminate, according to NHTSA documents.
Failure to illuminate the brake lights or disengage cruise control could increase the risk of a crash, while disabling the brake-transmission interlock could result in a vehicle rollaway, the NHTSA said.
Both South Korean automakers are notifying owners, and dealers will replace the switch at no cost.
The affected Hyundai models include 2007-2009 Accent cars and Tucson SUVs, 2007-2010 Elantras, 2007-2011 Santa Fe SUVs, 2008-2009 Veracruz SUVs, 2010-2011 Genesis coupes and 2011 Sonata cars, according to the NHTSA.
The recall affects cars from the 2005 through 2009 model years sold in 20 states and Washington, D.C., where salt is used to clear roads in the winter.
Subaru says in documents filed with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that salty water can cause the brake lines to rust and leak. If fluid leaks, it could take longer for drivers to stop the cars, increasing the risk of a crash.
The problem was discovered in internal testing and no related crashes or injuries have been reported, Subaruspokesman Michael McHale said in an e-mail. Subaru is recalling the cars as a precaution. Owners of the cars should take them to a Subaru dealer for inspection, he said. ( Continue… )
March is turning out to be the best month for auto sales in at least six years.
Major automakers including Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, General Motors and Nissan all reported increases, with some reporting their best monthly totals since the start of the Great Recession in December of 2007.
Buyers were lured to showrooms by flashy new vehicles and low interest rates. Plus they continue to replace older cars and trucks — the average age of a vehicle on U.S. roads is more than 11 years.
"A strong first-quarter close and increased consumer confidence continue to position the auto industry as a leader in the economic recovery," Bob Carter, Toyota's senior vice president of automotive operations, said in a statement. ( Continue… )
In our experience, owners of electric vehicles are also rather keen on green energy. Where appropriate, many fit solar panels to supply some of their energy needs, and others use green energy tariffs and similar.
As it turns out, marrying the two is a good way of enticing people into electric cars--buying cars in the knowledge they're impacting the environment as little as possible.
Regardless of the type of vehicle a respondent had recently bought--be it pure electric, hybrid, or a conventional car--interest in full electric vehicles grew when paired with a green electricity program. ( Continue… )
Every year, an international panel of automotive journalists selects the best cars in the world under various categories, handing out its awards at the New York Auto Show.
Atop the hierarchy is the World Car of the Year, followed by the World Performance Car, the World Car Design of the Year and the World Green Car (where our own John Voelcker, editor of Green Car Reports, contributed his expertise for the panel of judges).
For 2013, the panel chose the Mark VII Volkswagen Golf (which will debut in the United States next year, as a 2015 model) as the World Car of the Year, saying it was “as close to the perfect hatchback design as any car company has come yet. If ever there was a car for everyman, the Golf is it.”
This makes two in a row for Volkswagen, as the brand took top honors in 2012 with its Up! city car. The new Golf beat an impressive list of finalists, including the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, the Porsche Boxster / Cayman and the Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ / Toyota GT 86.
In the World Performance Car category, the new Porsche Boxster / Cayman defeated the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta and the Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ / Toyota GT 86 to take the win, with the judges declaring that the Boxster is now less of a “secretary’s car,” while the Cayman is a “better Porsche sports car than the iconic 911.” Those are their words, not ours.
In the World Car Design of the Year Category, it was the stunning new Jaguar F-Type that beat out challengers like the Mazda6 and the Aston Martin Vanquish. Of their pick the panelists called the F-Type “almost Italian at first glance,” saying that the F-Type is “the promising dawn for the company’s latest roadster.”
Calling the Model S “fast and stylish,” the judges cited the car’s sensible range, seating capacity and near-supercar performance as grounds for their selection.
Life can be confusing for those motivated into greener cars with the aim of saving money.
With all the options available to today's buyers--more efficient gasoline, diesel, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric cars, biofuels and more--it's hard to know what is really best. Throw in the multitude of fuel efficiency claims, electric range and more, and, well, it gets pretty tough to understand.
That's why, says Earth Techling, Ford is offering prizes of $50,000 to software developers to come up with a smartphone app that helps people make sense of the barrage of information.
The Personalized Fuel Efficiency Apps Challenge asks software developers to design something that helps consumers better understand and improve their personal fuel efficiency. The service they provide will be highly personalized, taking into account the various factors that can see a car's fuel economy stray from official figures.
There's an element of irony in this of course, which is that Ford's recent Fusion and C-Max Hybrid models are particularly susceptible to driving style, resulting in many customers missing EPA numbers by a significant margin.
Using these as an example, one of the contest's successful apps might give consumers a better idea of how their driving style and typical use would impact upon fuel efficiency--perhaps leading to fewer disappointments.
Apps will be based on the OpenXC platform, an open-source platform developed by Ford for research applications. A software and hardware development kit gives developers access to a wide range of vehicle data. By using both real-time data from the car, and historical data, an app could offer a truly tailored service.
Interested parties can register with Ford via the contest's website, and submissions for apps open on April 24.