Audi, Honda, and Toyota have hydrogen fuel cell vehicle concept vehicles now, with production starting in 2015

A7h140005__midHydrogen vehicles have been predicted as the next big sustainable mobility innovation for almost 20 years.

Now it looks like auto makers are intent on making hydrogen vehicles an option for us all. But when?

The Audi A7 h-tron concept vehicle which debuted at the 2014 LA Auto Show, put down Audi’s marker on this technology, which will finally begin emerging in earnest from research centers in 2015. In the A7 h-tron, Audi has combined two great propulsion options in one vehicle, creating a plug-in electric combined with a hydrogen fuel cell power supply.

Below Audi’s Board Member for Technical Development details what the A7 h-tron has going for it inside.

Above you can take a look at Toyota’s hydrogen vehicle.

The Audi A7 hydrogen plug-in EV concept was announced a day after Toyota announced major upcoming investments in hydrogen vehicles, including a California hydrogen vehicle infrastructure commitment.

Toyota chose not to highlight their hydrogen vehicle plans at the LA show, but they did at give everyone a look at their intentions at the 2014 Computer Electronics Show, shown in the video above.

Honda FCEV Clarity for 2015

honda-fcev-concept-2013-los-angeles-auto-show_100447353_lWe’ve been covering the evolving hydrogen vehicle story, for example at the 2013 LA auto show. In the video to the right of this paragraph we spoke with Honda representative Jessica Fini about the Honda hydrogen concept vehicle, their FCEV, which they announced would be available in 2015.

So, it seems we have just a year more to wait, as more hydrogen vehicle fueling stations are built in California, Oregon, and Washington states, creating a “hydrogen highway” that will be ready by the time the 2015 LA Auto Show opens and Audi, Honda, and Toyota, plus presumably other manufacturers, will have production vehicles available for purchase by residents of the western U.S. states.


November 23, 2014 at 2:40 am Leave a comment

U.S. Air Force Base on Leafs


U.S. Air Force Staff Sargent Rey Sedantes of the 61st Civil Engineering and Logistics Squadron at Los Angeles Air Force Base receives instruction on how to operate a bidirectional electric vehicle charging station during a training demo in El Segundo, California.

Air Force Base on Leafs

What it means about what’s ahead

By Dean Adams Curtis

For a look at what’s ahead for electric vehicle (EV) and renewable-energy-equipped living, it is helpful to look at what the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines are up to.

The service branches of the U.S. Department of Defense are under legislative mandate and executive order to electrify as much of their non-tactical vehicle fleets as is economically feasible. The U.S. Air Force has approximately 200,000 vehicles. In this story we focus on forty of them.

On overcast November 14, 2014, the USAF announced an example of what’s ahead for a brighter future for us all, a demonstration smart grid at the Los Angeles Air Force Base (LAAFB) including 40 electric vehicles, such as Nissan Leafs and Phoenix electric buses. As cool as the project is, it’s what isn’t seen that’s revolutionary. Inside is what’s ahead for you, being demonstrated now by the Air Force at the home of the Space and Missile Systems Command.


This fleet of Leafs has something your run of the freeway fast lane Leaf currently does not have. The cars feature bi-directional charging software Nissan North America has equipped them with.

So what’s coming up for you, based upon what is already being shown in action at the space base?

The word bidirectional is key to the most important concept. These vehicles don’t just charge up from the grid, they can also send electrons from their onboard batteries back through the charging stations and into, that’s right INTO, the electric grid.

Why is this so important? And why would you want to discharge your EV’s battery anyway?

It means you can sell your excess electrons, if you choose to do so. Once you’ve used all you need to of the electrons stored in your EV’s battery for your daily travels, as well as for your residential needs, you may well decide that, for the right price, you’d be interested in selling spare electrons that your residential renewal energy resources have generated.

To whom? To your utility, to your neighbors, to whomever wants them. Your utility, instead of meeting demand for electrons by using coal, gas, or nuclear, all of which have the benefit of being constant, can utilize more renewables, which are not constant, by buying what electrons they need to keep the power level consistent. Are40LeafBiDirectionalChargingFleet-Charging you willing to sell?

Look at it this way, in your current/future domicile you do/will generate power from renewable sources, mainly solar and wind. The same if you’re in a condo association or a coop building sharing renewable energy resources that are highly variable, as the Sun goes behind clouds, rises and sets. Up and down goes the number of electrons that solar cells generate.

That’s why batteries come in handy. You will need a battery energy storage system (BESS) to store the electrons generated by highly variable residential renewable energy resources.

And where is the best BESS in your future casa going to be stashed?

In your electric vehicle.

Your future home will have a smart microgrid. The Air Force space base has a smart grid, so shouldn’t we all? Yes. What’s so smart about a smart grid anyway? Imagine every electricity using device in your residence having a built in Wi-Fi phone. Each electrical device is able to dial back, or to dial up its power usage, on demand. Once they’re connected to your EV BESS and BESS’s partner DRAS, a demand response automation system, you’re set to be in control of and empowered by your electrical power more than you already are.

40LeafBiDirectionalChargingFleetBehindChargersAnd you’re also set to augment your income via your residence renewable energy resources and profit from your energy conservation by having more electrons to sell back to the grid. You set the price at which you’re willing to sell, and how much power you’re willing to sell, then go on with your day and let your DRAS and other software take care of the transaction if someone decides to buy.

Looking forward to making money by buying your EV and installing renewable power? Here are a few nuts and bolts. The vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capable vehicles at the LAAFB participate in the fast response California Independent System Operator (CAISO) markets. Every 4 seconds the DRAS receives secure CAISO instructions and forwards, them using the Open Automated Demand Response (OpenADR) protocol, to EV charging-discharging software and hardware. LAAFBv2gChargerThe LAAFB is utilizing Bosch Software Innovations’ eMobility Solution fleet management software suite for their charging-discharging (bi-directional charging).

Bigger still, the LAAFB is one of five V2G project locations of a larger U.S. Department of Defense V2G project, which also includes Joint Base and Army installations. The Air Force plans to expand the V2G demonstration next to Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. The service will also continue to look for additional capabilities, such as utilizing used batteries as a form of on-base energy storage.

Knowing that in the future, if you decide to, you will be able to utilize used EV batteries in your residential battery rack, while they still have 50 to 80% of their capacity to store electrons, is a great awareness to counter concern about buying an EV due to worry about the lifespan of their batteries.

And finishing up with the U.S. Department of Defense V2G project, the second phase involves approximately 500 medium duty EV trucks at six military bases, including L.A., and a third phase will expand the EV fleet to approximately 1,500 vehicles. The entire program will include V2G activity.


November 16, 2014 at 4:10 am Leave a comment

2014 Nissan NV200 – Cargo van with families in mind

The 2014 Nissan NV200 is a compact cargo van designed to add a new, family-sized dimension to the Nissan commercial vehicle lineup. More than 4 1/2 feet shorter in length and 2 1/2 feet lower in height than the Nissan NV 2500/3500 High Roof Cargo Van, the new NV200 is designed to be the “right size” for a growing number of small business owners and fleet operators wanting smaller, more efficient work vans. It is also ideal for drivers who are accustomed to driving passenger vehicles, thanks to the NV200’s cargo size optimization and interior versatility.

– The Family Car, August 29, 2014

August 29, 2014 at 9:26 pm Leave a comment

Honda sweeps Best Family Cars for sedan and minivan

2014 Honda Odyssey

The newly redesigned Honda Odyssey is a hit with families.

Confirming something that many families have already discovered, Parents Magazine and just announced that the Honda Odyssey and Honda Accord have been named Best Family Cars for 2014.

Here’s the news release:

The 2014 Honda Accord ( and 2014 Odyssey minivan ( have both been named to the 10 Best Family Cars list compiled by the experts at Parents magazine and The two family-friendly Honda vehicles – each earning the highest possible rating of TOP SAFETY PICK+ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) – were selected out of hundreds of models for excelling in the key areas of safety, convenience features, performance and value.

“The Accord and Odyssey lead their segments in the areas that matter most to the family buyer – safety ratings, fuel efficiency, value and innovative features,” said Jeff Conrad, Honda division senior vice president and general manager. “As the top vehicles in their segments in sales to individual buyers, we know families appreciate the hard work we’ve put into making these vehicles value and performance leaders.”

The Accord features sophisticated styling, fuel-efficient powertrains and advanced technology features like the available LaneWatch display and a standard multi-view rearview camera.

The Accord features sophisticated styling, fuel-efficient powertrains and advanced technology features like the available LaneWatch display and a standard multi-view rearview camera.

The Accord was recognized as one of the top sedans for families by Parents magazine and for the second straight year. The Accord features sophisticated styling, fuel-efficient powertrains and advanced technology features like the available LaneWatch™ display and a standard multi-view rearview camera. With safety a top shopping consideration for families, the Accord shined by earning the highest possible rating of  TOP SAFETY PICK+ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and nabbing the best possible rating from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) testing with a 5 Star Overall Vehicle Score.1

The Odyssey was also recognized as one of the best minivans for families on the 10 Best Family Cars annual list. As the top-selling minivan to individual retail car buyers in the U.S.2, the Odyssey continues to lead its class in the areas that families look for when selecting a vehicle like fuel efficiency, safety, interior spaciousness and driving experience. The Odyssey was the only minivan to earn the highest possible rating of IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK+3, and the Odyssey has earned the best possible overall safety rating from NHTSA with a 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score1. Additionally, the Odyssey is rated at a remarkable 28 mpg4 highway, the highest EPA fuel economy rating of any eight-passenger minivan.

For more information about Parents magazine and’s list of the 10 Best Family Cars for 2014, please and The full list will be featured in the July 2014 issue of Parents magazine.

1Government 5-Star Safety Ratings are part of NHTSA’s New Car Assessment Program ( Model tested with standard side airbags (SABs).
2Based on IHS Automotive, Polk new-vehicle retail registration data through the end of December 2013.
3The Odyssey was the only minivan to qualify as a 2014 IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK+ as of March 1, 2014 and the Odyssey has earned the best possible overall safety rating from NHTSA with a 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score.
4Based on 2014 EPA mileage ratings. Use for comparison purposes only. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.

June 4, 2014 at 4:59 pm Leave a comment

Audi A3 targets families with high tech luxury at an affordable price


For 2015, Audi is introducing a premium compact sedan that is fully appointed with luxury items, top-notch technology and a style that will turn heads wherever it rides.

The new Audi A3 offers the latest in progressive technology without compromising on luxury, design or performance. With a base price of just under $30,000, the new Audi sedan will attempt to lure those who aspire to luxury level status without having to shell out executive-level payments.

With an exterior design that boldy defines the athletic ability of the sedan, the A3 features a high-tech in-vehicle environment, including read-aloud Facebook and Twitter alerts, access to thousands of internet broadcasts stations, RSS news feeds and much more.

The A3’s new navigation system uses a fist-ever 4G LTE platform provided by AT&T to connect the driver to Google Earth for online traffic information. There’s even a nifty service that will guide you to a location based on a picture that you download into the vehicle’s navigation system.

The wraparound dash, three-dimensional instrument panel and available LED interior lighting package provides passengers with a feeling of luxury and sophistication normally found in sedans with much higher starting prices.

March 17, 2014 at 6:50 pm Leave a comment

2014 Chevrolet Silverado is a farmer’s best friend . . . and North American Truck of the Year

A dog may be considered man’s best friend, but when it comes to a farmer’s best friend, it has to be a truck. That’s why we took the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado to the chicken ranch recently to make sure the cluckers had enough feed, water and protection from wandering prey. The Silverado handled the challenge like a champ, with plenty of accessible bed space to carry bags of chicken feed while we sat in the quiet comfort of the spacious, well-appointed cab.

While making the trip along narrow Yankee Jim’s Road across the ravine to Foresthill, we came upon a couple of trail bikers (or rather they came upon us) who were enjoying a ride on the rough and dusty road. But while the path may have been better suited for those two-wheelers, the Silverado handled the twists, turns and bumps with grace and ease. When at one point we were faces with another vehicle coming up toward us on the single-lane roadway, the rear view backup camera provided an easy way for us to reverse into a spot wide enough to let the car pass by.

Once we arrived at the ranch, the Silverado’s convenient “CornerStep” bumper and built-in handholds made for easy unloading2014-Chevrolet-Silverado-LTZ-009-medium of the feed bags and hay bales from the extra long (6-foot-6) cargo box. Had we been working in the dark — as farmers typically do — the under-rail lighting would have come in very handy as did the EZ Lift and Lower tailgate that glides flat when opened.

The Silverado 1500 offers three all-new EcoTec3 engines: a 4.3-liter V-6 with 285 horsepower; a 5.3-liter V-8 with 355 horsepower; and a new 6.2-liter V-8 that produces 420 horsepower. EcoBoost provides fairly impressive fuel economy estimated at up to 23 mpg highway for the 2WD models, the best of any V-8 pickup on the market.

The base price for the 1500 starts at $23,590 (plus $995 freight charge) while the crew cab with 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V-8 starts at $33,195.

All this adds up to a great work truck. Perhaps that’s why the Chevy Silverado was named the 2014 North American Truck of the Year.

February 22, 2014 at 1:20 am Leave a comment

2014 Jeep Cherokee thrills in the hills

2014 Jeep Cherokee TrailhawkOne quick glance at the all-new Jeep Cherokee sport utility vehicle will tell you that even though its name may be identical to the car carrying the same name in the 1990s; this is NOT your parent’s Jeep Cherokee.

With steely, cat-like running lights, a gap-tooth grille and two-tone engine cover, the 2014 Jeep Cherokee has returned from the grave and is ready to pounce on whatever challenge comes its way. Whether it is off-road trails, rock-studded stream beds or steep embankments, the Cherokee is ready, willing and totally capable of handling all encounters with the ease and grace that one would expect from a true four-wheel-drive. It’s a Jeep, after all.

But let’s face it, for most of us, the closest that we will ever get to going off-road is a trip down a dusty lane to the farmer’s field for some hand-picked produce. Or maybe it will be a post-snowstorm trek to the local market before the city plows have cleared the suburban streets of slush and snow. In fact, it’s on dry roadways and freeways where the new Cherokee distances itself from its predecessor. While 2014JeepCherokee.desertthe old version handled well enough in rough terrain, it failed on flat streets because it rode like a truck, with all the rattles, bangs and bounces that go with a boxy workhorse design.

Today’s Jeep Cherokee rides more like a fine-tuned sedan than an SUV, sporting world-class on-road dynamics and a top-rated fuel economy of up to 31 mpg. You read that correctly, a Jeep that is so technically advanced that it rivals much smaller sedans in fuel efficiency. The Cherokee is the first-ever SUV to feature a nine-speed automatic transmission mated to a choice of two engines. The 2.4-liter Tigershark I-4 engine (standard) delivers an EPA rating of 22 city/31 highway and 25 mpg combine in 4X2 models, a 45 percent improvement over the previous model.

For a more powerful ride, a 3.2-liter Pentastar V-6 engine is available, producing 271 horsepower and had a tow capacity of 4,500 pounds. In two-wheel drive models, fuel economy for the V-6 is 19 city/28 highway/22 combined.

JeepCherokeeOf course, most Jeep buyers will want four-wheel-drive capability because that’s where the Cherokee excels. With three systems available, the Cherokee is sure to satisfy the desires of the off-road crowd. There’s the Jeep Active Drive I, which features a one-speed power transfer unit (PTU); Active Drive II with two-speed PTU and low range function; and the Active Drive Lock, available on the Cherokee Trailhawk models, with two-speed PTU, low range and locking rear differential. All 4×4 systems feature the Jeep brand’s renowned Selec-Terrain traction control system, which allows the driver to choose the on- and off-road setting for optimum performance.

Up to five customized settings are offered: Auto, Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud and Rock.

Sporting a distinctive and stylish “Trailhawk badge,” the new Cherokee includes, as standard equipment, aggressive approach and departure angles, complements of the unique front and rear fascias, one-inch factory lift, Jeep Active Drive Lock with locking rear differential, skid plates and signature red tow hooks. The locking rear differential is selectable in any low range terrain mode, but will lock automatically when in certain modes, such as “Rock,” to maximize effort to the tire that can support it.

IMG_1690According to Chrysler, the “Trail Rated” badge on the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk indicates that the vehicle is designed to perform in a variety of challenging off-road conditions identified by five key consumer-oriented performance categories: traction, ground clearance, maneuverability, articulation and water fording.

The interior appointments of the new Cherokee are similar to those luxury amenities previously found only in the Grand Cherokee. The trim is soft to the touch and seats are comfortable and ergonomically designed and trimmed with available Nappa leather. The second row seats split 60/40 and are adjustable to provide better comfort for tall passengers, or extra space for cargo.

2014 Jeep Cherokee charging padAlso available is a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel, ventilated front seats, wireless charging pad, 8.4-inch touch screen multimedia command center, and Uconnect system that allows the driver to control the audio, climate, heated/ventilated seats and much more from the screen or with voice commands.

Active and passive safety features abound in the new Cherokee, including a special parking system called “ParkSense” that uses ultrasonic sensors to find and guide the vehicle into an available parking space. Other features include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning; 9-1-1 assist call; electronic stability control; electronic roll mitigation; blind-spot monitoring; rear cross path detection; rear backup camera and 10 standard air bags.

The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for The Jeep Cherokee is $22,995 (plus $995 destination charge) for the 4×2 Sport model, with the rest of the models priced this
• Jeep Cherokee Sport 4×4: $24,995
• Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4×2: $24,495
• Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4×4: $26,495
• Jeep Cherokee Limited 4×2: $27,995
• Jeep Cherokee Limited 4×4: $29,995
• Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk 4×4: $29,495.
BJ.Christina.Ram3500Special thanks to our expert off-road drivers, Christina Selter and BJ Kileen of





February 17, 2014 at 8:20 pm Leave a comment

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