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Prius 2013

Green Fleet Roundup: Toyota, Boeing, Tesla, Envision Solar

Prius 2013Toyota will use an older coolant, R134a, for its Prius Plus, Lexus GT86 and Lexus GS in Europe instead of switching to the more environmentally friendly coolant, R1234yf, required by EU norms, Industry Week reports. In boycotting R1234yf, Toyota joins Daimler, which stopped using the newer refrigerant because it says in some head-on collision test scenarios, R1234yf burst into flames. This despite a June study — endorsed by automakers including Toyota — that concluded the low-global-warming-potential R1234yf air conditioning system is safe for use in cars. Automotive engineering association SAE International initiated the evaluation in response to Daimler’s safety concerns.

Boeing has completed the first 787-9 Dreamliner, the second member of the super-efficient 787 family. At 20 feet longer than the 787-8, the 787-9 will carry 40 more passengers an additional 300 nautical miles while using 20 percent less fuel and producing 20 percent fewer emissions than similarly sized airplanes. First delivery to launch customer Air New Zealand is set for mid-2014.

Tesla Motors announced last week that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has awarded the Tesla Model S a five-star safety rating overall as well as in every subcategory. The Model S does not have a large gasoline engine block in the front, which creates a much longer crumple zone to absorb a high speed impact.

Tesla also made news for registering a trademark for the Model E, Autoblog reports, but the registration does not give away anything else. Autoblog speculates that the Model E could be for a lower-cost sedan and crossover electric vehicle versions of the Model X, expected to be launched in 2014.

Envision Solar says it has launched a stand-alone EV charging station that does not need building permits or a grid connection, since power comes from on-board battery storage. The San Diego-based sustainable product developer says the EV Arc is designed to fit inside one standard parking space. Cars can park on its ballasted pad so parking space won’t be wasted.

The UK’s Network Rail says it is developing a prototype of a battery powered train that can use non-electrified and diesel train lines and recharge at terminal stations. It is working closely with Derby-based train manufacturer Bombardier and will use operator Greater Anglia’s Class 379 models as a test-bed to determine future battery requirements and what kind of train might be needed.

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