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Green Fleet Roundup: Nissan Leaf, Coca-Cola, Ford, Retail Algae

Teijin Limited’s Eco Circle Plantfiber bio-polyester has been selected for use in the seats and interior trim surface of the electric Nissan LEAF (see photo). More than 30 percent of the material is made with biofuels derived from sugarcane. This is the first time Teijin’s Plantfiber product has been used for the interior of a mass-produced vehicle. The seat and interior trim surface were co-developed by Teijin, automotive seat manufacturer Suminoe Teijin Techno Co., and Nissan.

Coca-Cola has partnered with Nissan to test the automaker’s e-NV200, an all-electric commercial vehicle. Field tests started in November, both companies said. Coca-Cola’s regional organization Coca-Cola Central Japan will use the Nissan commercial van as a sales vehicle in Yokohama, evaluating its performance and practical usability compared to conventional internal-combustion engine vehicles.

Ford has unveiled EV+, an energy efficiency feature for its plug-in vehicles, in which the vehicle’s GPS system helps it learns the routes of frequent destinations and changes the way power is used to save fuel and stay in electric mode longer. The patent-pending feature combines built-in GPS with software algorithms developed by Ford engineers.

Ford will introduce the compact Transit Connect Wagon, a seven-passenger vehicle expected to deliver up to 30 mpg-plus on the highway. Ford designed the vehicle to drive like a car with the flexibility to be used as a utility van that can haul the payload of a full-size pickup truck. The wagon will be brought to North American Ford dealerships in the fourth quarter of 2013, Ford said.

Toyota is recalling 670,000 of it s2004-2009 model Prius hybrids in the US to fix problems with the steering system, according to a notice filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Toyota recalled the vehicles because the metal used for the steering component doesn’t have “sufficient hardness” and could wear out, resulting in a loss of steering ability. A second recall covers about 350,000 of those same vehicles for an unrelated electric water pump problem. The recall is part of a global recall of 2.77 million Toyota vehicles covering 14 models including the Prius hybrid and Corolla, Businessweek reported.

Propel Fuels and Solazyme have partnered to make algae-based fuel available at retail pumps through a month-long pilot program. The pilot program will test consumer response to the renewable fuel, which will be sold at Propel’s Clean Fuel Points in Redwood City, San Jose, Berkeley and Oakland, Calif.

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