Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Random Rumblings

Random finds while surfing the net instead of working ...

Spinning 22s? Full-surround air bags? Hybrid engines? A zillion miles to the gallon? Yeah, yeah, those are all great, but what Americans really want are a few more cup holders. Thanks to Autoblog for the find.

Yesterday's technology today - in an effort to squeeze even more efficiency out of their hybrid vehicles, Honda is looking into steam engine technology. When a hybrid is cruising along at regular highway speeds, it isn't really any more efficient than a standard car. Honda is looking to address that by harnessing some of the immense heat created (and then lost) by a combustion engine. Slap a small steam generator on that baby and use it to charge the vehicles batteries and voila! The 2000s borrowing from the 1800s. Pretty cool stuff.

Ever wonder what happened to that beater you drove in college? Or maybe the car dad drove you to soccer practice in? Check the Lost Car Registry and maybe you can find out. You're gonna need a VIN though. You still have that, right? (Thanks to Autoblog)

The debate over the benefits of ethanol rage on. The latest volley comes from Science magazine. And they have some pretty harsh criticism. Their main critique seems to be that forests would need to be cut down to make room for all of the new crops. The loss of those trees would have a "carbon cost" of 17 to 420 times the annual savings by using the new fuel. Uh oh.

Looking for a new ride? The 2009 Nissan Murano is the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety's top pick for SUVs. The next best choices are the Mazda Cx-7 and CX-9 and the Mitsubishi Endeavor. THe poorest performers are the Jeep Liberty, Jeep Wrangler and Kia Sorento.

If you aren't looking for an SUV, you might want to check out Consumer Reports' Annual Auto Issue which is about to be released. Hyundai is a surprise winner, with two best-in-class choices in the Elantra SE (Small Sedan) and Santa Fe (Midsized SUV). Otherwise, you can always stick with the regulars - Toyota had four winners.

One drawback to electric vehicles has always been the batteries, in particular their size and weight and the cost of the precious metals they require. A small company out of Portland, Oregon might have a solution. QuantumSphere says that their catalytic nanoparticle coatings greatly increase the catalytic action of any materials. They have produced a battery with a 320-percent power gain over traditional alkaline batteries.

Do you like cars? Do you like stock markets? Do you like fantasy sports? Well, step right up, mister, because Edmunds has something for you. They are launching their Car Stock Exchange, an online exchange of new car models using play money. Think a model is going to be a big seller? Buy! Is GM making a big mistake with their new Box On Wheels? Sell short! Maybe you can become the Warren Buffett of the fake car stock market.

No comments: