Monday, November 30, 2009

City Car Sharing program, car2go, Pilots In United States

car2go smart fortwo cars are on the streets of Austin as part of the car2go car sharing program. Image Credit: Daimler car2go

City car sharing program, car2go, pilots in United States

Austin, Texas becomes the first location in the international expansion of an innovative solution to short term/short hop transportation use within a city environment.

The "car2go" concept rental program first placed into process in Ulm, Germany October 2008, proved to be a success with the project’s 200 vehicles being rented between 500 to 1,000 times per day. In Ulm, they are used by 15,000 registered customers, which equals more than 15 percent of the citizens who possess a driver’s license within the city. Although the system allows users to book a vehicle in advance, the pilot showed that 90 percent of the participants take advantage of the unique offer to use car2go on a spontaneous basis and by many for one-way trips.

Registered members will have to wave their card to a reader behind the windscreen to gain entry to the cars. Image Credit: Daimler car2go

The United States pilot will also launch with 200 Smart Cars in a joint partnership between the City of Austin and Daimler (Smart Car manufacturer) will initially see the "smart fortwo" vehicles made available 24/7 within the city to a select group of city employees and their relatives, with plans to increase the number of cars and have them registered accessible to all Austin residents and students in early 2010.

Personal PINs (Personal Identification Numbers) will keep track of each driver's usage. Image Credit: Daimler car2go

“The City of Austin is committed to identifying and implementing solutions to address the challenges associated with urban growth, mobility and environmental sustainability,” said Austin, Texas Mayor, Lee Leffingwell. “This pilot-program partnership between car2go and the City of Austin represents a significant step toward helping us alleviate congestion, reduce emissions and increase the use of public transportation.”

200 smart fortwo cars will take part in the car2go pilot throughout Austin, Texas. Image Credit: Daimler car2go

This excerpted and edited from gizmag -

car2go car sharing program hits the US
By Darren Quick, gizmag - 21:22 November 26, 2009 PST

The Austin pilot will see the city become the official headquarters of car2go in North America and is part of the company’s plans to extend the system internationally.

According to car2go, the car sharing market in the US is enjoying the highest growth rate in the world, which is why they made a very conscious decision to bring the concept to a North American city. One of the many reasons the Texan metropolis of 750,000 on the Colorado River [Austin] was selected as the first international site was due to its similarity to Ulm as a science-oriented and university city.

For the Austin pilot, the pick up and drop off area is limited to the greater downtown Austin area, which has an expansion of about 17 square miles where more than 60,000 employees work. Charges are not based on distance, but on time – with rates starting by the minute and competitive hourly or daily rates available for those needing longer rental periods. The rates are all-inclusive, with the cost of all fuel, maintenance and insurance taken care of.

There’s also no need to feed the meter with city-controlled parking fees waived thanks to a deal that sees car2go paying a usage fee to the City of Austin in the form of free driving minutes for employees driving on City business. But the loss of parking revenue should be offset by the reduction in fuel and operating costs for city employee vehicles.

”The goal of the Austin pilot project is to gather experience we can use to ensure the public launch of car2go in North America in 2010 is successful,“ says Nicholas Cole, CEO of car2go North America LLC. “In the second phase we will increase the number of cars in Austin and open the service to the public. We are also talking to a large number of cities in North America and Europe about additional rollouts of car2go.”
Reference Here>>

This may signal the changing face of Public Transportation. Personal use of a public owned car tailored to an audience-of-one!

... notes from The EDJE


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

CityWalk, Downtown Disney, and now "Downtown INDY"

Today Speedway, Indiana is primed to build upon the town’s unique history and motorsports ancestry – both an integral part of the rich fabric that makes Speedway a great place to live, work, play, learn and shop. /// From creating four vibrant development districts primed for business growth – including the Motor Sports Technology district, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway district, the Museum/Entertainment/Retail district and the Town Center district – to working with the state of Indiana to develop targeted incentive packages that will attract domestic and international companies and stimulate startup firms, Speedway, Indiana is poised for fast success. Image Credit: IndyCar Garage

CityWalk, Downtown Disney, and now "Downown INDY"

That's right, why not bring a little fun and amusement park excitement placed just outside of a major gathering venue in America's mid-west?

Developments like Universal's CityWalk, ABC CapCities' Downtown Disney, Hollywood's Kodak and Chinese Theater, and even New York's Times Square retailing amusement center complexes have a real winning combination being located next to a natural entertainment draw like Broadway, an amusement park or ... a one-of-a-kind motorsports racing track!

"Speedzone" redevelopment plan for Main Street Speedway, Indiana. I wonder if this crowd knows that ESPN already uses "SpeedZone" for the name of its themed restaurant at "Downtown Disney" outside of Disneyland Amusement Park in Anaheim California? Image Credit: Speedway Redevelopment - from PDF

This excerpted and edited from IndyCar Garage -

Speedway breaks ground on the future
Posted by IndyCar Garage on November 24, 2009 at 1:56pm

The Town of Speedway, Indiana broke ground last Thursday on the first phase of a multimillion dollar project that will give the town that surrounds the Indianapolis Motor Speedway a huge facelift.

The Main Street project is the first milestone in the town's Redevelopment Area One and is part of a $500 million investment to breathe new life into 400 acres of multi-use property that will be primed for commercial, shopping and entertainment, residential and research and development projects. Made possible through private and public investment, the redevelopment zone will be a vibrant, thriving and attractive downtown that will foster growth within the existing business community and encourage development of new business.
"Main Street will be the backbone of a bustling, vibrant downtown district," said SRC President Vince Noblet. "The project we're commencing today will bring a safer pedestrian experience, with room for sidewalk cafes and a bike path to re-energize the atmosphere on Main Street and attract new businesses, shops and restaurants."

"As we celebrate our Centennial Era and look toward our next 100 years, the Town of Speedway joins us in looking toward the future by moving forward with a redevelopment plan that is crucial to the success of the businesses that call Speedway home," said Fred Nation, Indianapolis Motor Speedway vice president of communications. "Racing is an integral part of the culture in Speedway and the redevelopment of Main Street will attract race fans by providing a variety of entertainment options close to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway."
Reference Here>>

Welcome to the birth of America's first motorsports amusement shopping and living experience ... Welcome to "Downtown Indy" at Speedway, Indiana, home of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the INDY 500!

... notes from The EDJE

Monday, November 23, 2009

Auto-Culture: Miles per gallon ratings short-circuited by electric power

The Tesla Roadster is a fully electric sports car, and is the first car to be produced by electric car firm Tesla Motors. Tesla claims prototypes have been able to accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in under 4 seconds, and reach a top speed of over 130 mph (210 km/h). Additionally, the car will be able to travel 221 miles (356 km) on a single charge of its lithium-ion battery. The Roadster's efficiency is reported as 133 Wh/km (4.7 mi/kWh), equivalent to 135 mpg–U.S [ctrl-click image to launch YouTube video]. Caption and Image Credit:

Auto-Culture: Miles per gallon ratings short-circuited by electric power

The ratings systems that determine the efficiency of a car's use of fuel output is becoming effectively outdated and unreflective in an alternative power world.

Take, for example, a car that has as a power plant an all-electric engine ... like a Chevy Volt. If one were to use the old standard "Mile Per Gallon" ratings system, the new Chevy Volt electric car has a projected fuel economy equal to 230 mpg.

A more realistic view upon which to comparatively judge the power effectiveness of a car, wither it be gasoline, hybrid, alternative-fuel, or electric would be a new system that focuses on an average monthly cost to a consumer based upon a defined usage parameter.

In an Automotive News (April, 2009) interview, new GM CEO Fritz Henderson, admitted the obvious - that GM will not be able to make their first mass-produced electric car both affordable and profitable for a long time, saying that GM plans to lose money with “Gen-1 and 2″ of the Chevy Volt. “We have been very clear with the task force, particularly in Gen-1 technology, like the Volt, the cost is high,” Henderson said. “And that means, it doesn’t necessarily pay the rent. It actually consumes rent when it’s launched.” Caption and Image Credit:

This excerpted and edited from National Association of Convenience Stores -

Electric Cars Muddy the MPG Waters

Alternative-fuel vehicles do not allow for the same miles per gallon measurements as gasoline-fueled cars
NACS Online - Posted: Nov 23, 2009

With more electric, fuel cell and hybrid vehicles on the road today, measuring miles per gallon isn’t as easy as it was in the old days. is asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to come up with fuel-cost ratings to assist buyers in comparing the cars. On Sept. 15, the agency asked for public comments on emissions and fuel economy standards for plug-in electric and hybrid cars.

“A consumer could reasonably assume, based on the way that they have been using window stickers now going back to 1975, that the Chevy Volt is over four times more efficient to operate than the Toyota Prius. And [that] would actually be completely wrong,” said Jeremy Anwyl, CEO of would like for the EPA to stop allowing car makers to promote vehicles based on mpg. “If car companies are building cars with very high monthly costs from a fuel perspective, that’s the sort of information that needs to be out there,” he said.
Reference Here>>

Then there was this comment left at a forum site discussing all electric-powered automobiles ... "I wonder how many miles you'd have to drive one [an electric car] before you become sterile."

... notes from The EDJE

Thursday, November 12, 2009

MPG Luncheon - Mazda USA - Hydrogen powered H2 RX-8

Mazda Hydrogen powered H2 RX-8 pictured here in the front of the Proud Bird Restaurant with some high-flyers of an era gone by, the Supermarine Spitfire, a British single-seat World War II fighter aircraft, and further back, a Douglas SBD Dauntless which was a naval dive bomber made by Douglas also during WW II. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

MPG Luncheon - Mazda USA - Hydrogen powered H2 RX-8

Robert T. Davis, Senior Vice President, Product Development and Quality for Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) presented a detailed technical summary of Mazda’s plan to improve the average fuel economy of Mazda vehicles sold globally by 30 percent by 2015, under the company’s long-term vision for technology development, “Sustainable Zoom-Zoom”.

Previewed was the Mazda Hydrogen powered H2 RX-8.

One of the more useful understandings to come out of the presentation was the answer to the question ... Why Rotary? As it turns out, the heat build-up in the combustion chamber of a standard internal combustion engine (due to the very nature of the "stationary" defined space of each cylinder) is not an issue with the movement of the combustible and compressed air and fuel mixture action of the Rotary engine functionality.

After the presentation, one of the members, Merkel Weiss - Accident Re-constructionist with Stephen Blewett & Assocs. expressed extreme disappointment in the stated advancements and efficiencies put forth by Mazda. He said that 1) There was really nothing new, and 2) He believed that Mazda was just scrubbing down old platforms to make them more efficient and could have pursued this effort years ago, in that, they were stating from a reputation of being one of the least efficient (in terms of gas mileage and pollution) of auto manufacturers.

In aggregate, the fact that Mazda has set a course to embrace what they term as "Sustainable Zoom-Zoom" upon which a long-term course was charted, Mazda and its design, engineering, and marketing departments would create automobile technology that would excite, look inviting to drive, fun to drive enough to want to drive them again, and all of this with the overlay of being improved in terms of a sustainable future for cars, people, and the Earth.

As Mazda's Robert Davis put it in the presentation (to paraphrase), "We are not just bringing our philosophy of a green strategy of automobile manufacturing and function to just one nameplate or platform, we are growing a brand identification."

Mazda's Robert T. Davis, Senior Vice President, Product Development and Quality for Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) standing photo right, engaged in a conversation with E. Reeves Callaway, Founder, Callaway Cars West (center) and an unknown MPG Luncheon attendee photo left. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

At the luncheon, I met E. Reeves Callaway, the founder of those Callaway Corvettes that run in the 24 hours of Le Mans and have street versions for sale. Reeves got in a conversation with the chief engineer for Mazda's Hydrogen powered H2 RX-8, Tod Kaneko, about putting the rotary engine into a Callaway for a run at Le Mans. Reeves said he had contractual problems with placing a different engine in the modified Corvette platform, so Tod, the engineer, said ... "Why not a whole Mazda, why not a whole Callaway Mazda?" Reeves then said, "Wow, that is a thought ... and we are not even drinking." I chimed in with, "Well, we can give it the working name of the 'CM - Le Mans' ... and if we were drinking I think you all would be doing mark-ups for the Callaway Mazda on cocktail napkins right about now."

... notes from The EDJE

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

From MPG Track Day 2009 To SEMA 2009 Las Vegas

Bronze 2010 Chevy Camero getting ready for the show. Image Credit: (2009)

From MPG Track Day 2009 To SEMA 2009 Las Vegas

The ebb and flow in the winds of the events that surround Southwest automobile culture can be pretty much an effort in sensory overload. At Track Day ... one is treated to being able to drive a multitude of automobile platform concepts, available for sale to a buying public, where just two weeks later, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) tradeshow and exposition in Las Vegas ... one is treated to a visual explosion of tricked-out versions of cars that they, by those at the MPG Track Day event, may have driven just two weeks earlier.

The stock $270,000+, 510bhp, 0-60 in 4.2, seconds Aston Martin DBS Volante: Features a 13 speaker 160 watt Bang & Wolfson stereo with dash mounted pop-up tweeters. A very nice Street Test vehicle, one of many at the 2009 MPG Track Day held at Auto Club Speedway. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

The 2009 edition of the SEMA Show previews products in this $36 billion-a-year automotive aftermarket industry. This portion of the automobile market includes performance and racing components, cosmetic and functional accessories, wheels and tires, mobile electronics, safety products, restoration parts, handling equipment, drivetrain parts (as plug-in hybrid aftermarket kits)and more ... and now consists of over 7,094 companies worldwide, bringing together aftermarket manufacturers, original equipment manufacturers, media, car dealers, specialty equipment distributors, installers, retailers and restoration specialists.

A 2010 Aston Martin V12 Vantage and a Rolls Royce tricked out with an open roof and ground effects package sporting DUB rims. Image Credit: (2009)

Further, the SEMA Show is where automobile manufacturers love to show off their cars in a more radical and modified makeover set-up. Afterall, the aftermarket industry delivers products that cover muscle cars, classics, luxury vehicles, sport compacts, street rods, light trucks (off-road and sport trucks) SUVs and recreational vehicles.

A couple of days before traveling to Las Vegas for show set-up, Suzuki dropped by MPG Track Day (put on by the Motor Press Guild) to preview what it had done to show-off their latest sport sedan line known as the Kizashi and an Equator pickup ... packing in every aftermarket gizmo imaginable. The world’s very first look at the four concept vehicles fresh out of the shop was introduced by Jeff Holland, American Suzuki‘s Senior PR Manager (and Motor Press Guild board member).

Suzuki Kizashi at reast outside the hall at SEMA Show 2009. Image Credit: (2009)

This excerpted and edited from AutoSpies Auto News

SEMA AUTO SHOW: SEMA As It Ever Was. Opening Day Photos Now LIVE!

SEMA AUTO SHOW: SEMA Employees Going Rogue? EXCLUSIVE Photos Leak

Dear 001,

The 2009 SEMA Auto Show opens tomorrow but I got you these exclusive sneak preview photos from the show floor one day early.

I've always wanted to be a spy and today I finally got my chance.

Hope you and your readers enjoy the early shots.

Hey, if Sarah Palin is going rogue, why can't I?

2009 SEMA AUTO SHOW Photo Gallery

By the way, the rumor is that the Spies SEMA headquarters are at the Wynn Towers.

Any truth to that rumor?

Signed: Eye In The Sky
Dear Eye in the Sky.

Thanks for the killer shots and your intelligence about us is pretty darn good.

Better watch my back! ;)

Check back often and look for more great photos, in our 2009 SEMA auto show photo gallery.

Here are a few teasers to wet your appetite!

2009 SEMA AUTO SHOW Photo Gallery

Reference Here>>

Hidden tool storage options for the contractors working breed of vehicle. Image Credit: (2009)

The business end of a 2010 Murcielago Lamborghini. The $350,000+, 680hp "E" ticket ride, driven by IRL driver, Richard Antinucci, that put in an appearance at MPG Track Day to the delight of many of the journalists in attendance. Image Credit: (2009)

On the infield road track at Auto Club Speedway during MPG Track Day 2009. Porsche Boxter (drove), Murceilago Lamborghini (rode), Dodge Charger (drove), and a Mazdaspeed Mazda3 (drove) entering the final turn, turn 11, a reducing radius turn just before entering the front straightaway [ctrl-click image to launch "Track Drive" experience video]. Image Credit: Pete Lyons/MPG (2009)

The world of Sponge Bob Squarepants makes an appearance on the side of this vintage Chevy Monte Carlo. Image Credit: (2009)

The SEMA Show takes place at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, from Tuesday, November 3rd to Friday November 6th, 2009.

... notes from The EDJE