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[1THING] Blog: Archive for July, 2012

[ A Look at Electric Cars from Chevy and Tesla ]

In March we took you on a video test drive of the all-electric Nissan Leaf (see below). Today we explore a few other electric models.

With estimated electric car sales in the United States set to jump from less than 20,000 in 2011 to 40,000–60,000 in 2012 (with some optimistic predictions going as high as 100,000), you might say the electric car has arrived for good. I guess time will tell.

Up to now, the history of the electric car has played out in fits and starts. Debuting at the turn of the 20th century and rivaling gas- and steam-powered engines, the electric car fizzled out by the 1920s, elbowed out by advances in the internal combustion engine (namely electric starters) and newly discovered oil in Texas. It had a brief resurgence in the mid-1990s with GM’s EV1. The development of the hybrid electric — epitomized by Toyota’s popular Prius (who knew Sen. Lamar Alexander drives one?), which arrived on the world market in 2000 — likely paved the way for today’s resurgence of electric propulsion on U.S. roadways.

While electric cars have still yet to become competitive with their gasoline-powered counterparts, that could change. As innovative materials become more roundly adopted, battery technology improves (lowering their costs), and charging infrastructure expands, the range of electric vehicles will improve, as will their ease of use, and their prices will come down. Meantime, as more and more models are being rolled out, we decided it was time to take a close look at a few more and report on them. Check it out above. (And directly below is our Leaf video, in case you missed it.)

Learn More

The EV Project – the largest deployment of electric vehicles and charge infrastructure in history

Five Real-World Facts About Electric Cars – from Rocky Mountain Institute

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[ Nigeria’s Rocky Effort to Wean Itself From Subsidized Fuel ]

Nigeria faces an uphill battle in removing fuel subsidies that kept gasoline  cheap, but critically hampered the country’s development.

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[ One Year After Fukushima, Japan Faces Shortages of Energy, Trust ]

By summer, no nuclear plants will be operating in Japan, where mistrust reverberates one year after the world’s second-worst nuclear accident, at Fukushima Daiichi.

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[ Solar Energy Brings Food, Water, and Light to West Africa ]

For two arid villages in Benin, starvation seemed a greater problem than the lack of electricity. Solar drip irrigation tackled both issues at once.

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[ Natural Gas a Weak Weapon Against Climate Change, New Study Asserts ]

A new study argues that replacing all the world’s coal power plants with natural gas would do little to slow global warming this century.

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[ BP Oil Spill’s Sticky Remnants Wash Up Sporadically On Gulf Beaches ]

Tar balls from the worst oil spill in U.S. history continue to soil the Gulf Coast two years later, although at irregular intervals. Scientists say the tiny fragments hold clues for future understanding.

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[ While Rare-Earth Trade Dispute Heats Up, Scientists Seek Alternatives ]

While nations clash with China to ease its monopoly over the rare-earth minerals critical to energy technology, scientists hunt for other options.

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[ With Gas Prices High, U.S. Refinery Closures Hit Workers and Drivers ]

The economic pain of U.S. East Coast refinery closures may spread beyond job losses. Already high gas prices could climb still higher as summer approaches.

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[ Growing Food Demand Strains Energy, Water Supplies ]

In western India and around the world, agricultural growth is being stoked by unsustainable irrigation practices that sap aquifers and require huge amounts of energy.

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[ Delhi Offers Cleaner Auto Rickshaws, but Residents Choose Cars ]

In India’s clogged cities, some view auto rickshaws—motorized three-wheelers—as a solution to pollution and congestion. But these “tuk tuks” struggle to compete with the allure of car ownership.

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