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Carmakers put Apple's CarPlay in the slow lane

Computerworld -- Some car manufacturers are delaying their rollout of CarPlay, the software platform from Apple that synchronizes an iPhone to a vehicle's infotainment system.

At the same time, automakers are also queuing up Google's Android Auto for mirroring those smartphones to radio systems. Android Auto is expected to outpace CarPlay in manufacturer deployments, according to research firm IHS.

Apple's own website proclaims that CarPlay will be available in "select new cars in 2014." But, to date, no car manufacturer has rolled the software out, according to Filomena Berardi, a senior analyst with ABI Research.

Three of five leading carmakers who had expected to integrate the CarPlay middleware for 2015 models coming out this year appear to have delayed their rollout.  (go to article)

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Gas transportation system key to boosting power sector's gas use: Oglethorpe

Platts -- A US Environmental Protection Agency proposal to increase the capacity factor of natural gas-fired combined-cycle power plants to 70% by 2030 is "doable," but only if the country's gas transportation system is strengthened, officials with a large Georgia generation and transmission cooperative said Wednesday.

Oglethorpe Power, which supplies wholesale power to 38 electric cooperatives in the state, could comply with language in EPA's June proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the generation sector 30% below 2005's level by 2030 in part by increasing the use of gas-fired units to the 70% level, CEO Mike Smith said in a second-quarter earnings call.

But Smith said transitioning to an era when combined-cycle units provide much of the nation's baseload power would require a signif  (go to article)

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Maintenance: Chevron installs new equipment at El Segundo refinery

GasBuddy Blog -- Chevron's El Seguno refineryMaintenance: it's a reason you hear GasBuddy analysts cite sometimes for higher gasoline prices. Well, what is maintenance and why does it cause prices to go up? This article from Chevron talks about how complicated doing maintenance is- replacing, upgrading, installing, etc. To perform this work, part of a refinery is shut down so that repairs and upgrades can take place- temporarily causing the amount of gasoline that a refinery supplies the market- to drop, and causing prices to rise. Maintenance is absolutely essential for refineries to operate day in and day out and for supply to remain healthy.When you have a giant steel drum that's almost 100 feet long, 30 feet in diameter and weighs 300 tons, lifting it is a challenge. The task becomes even more daunting when you have six of them. Such was the task for Chevron's El Segundo Refinery this summer as it sought to lift its new coke drums into place using one of the largest cranes in the world.The refiner  (go to article)

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Oil Prices Edge Lower as Supplies Rise, Tensions Ease

Wall St Journal -- Updated Aug. 22, 2014 10:02 a.m. ET

Oil prices slipped Friday amid increasing global supplies and easing geopolitical tensions, while markets awaited macroeconomic signals from the central banker retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Light, sweet crude for October delivery fell 78 cents, or 0.8%, to $93.18 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent futures on the ICE Futures Europe exchange were down 23 cents, or 0.2%, at $102.40 a barrel.

The first tanker of crude from Libya's revived production left port and was looking for a buyer, Energy Market Institute analyst Dominick Chirichella said in a note. The Italian tanker Maria Bottiglieri was expected to be loaded with 600,000 barrels from Libya's Es Sider terminal, the country's largest.

Meanwhile, there was little news of advances  (go to article)

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U.S. Oil Futures Set for Fifth Weekly Drop on Demand

Bloomberg -- West Texas Intermediate crude headed for a fifth weekly decline, the longest losing streak in nine months, on concern refineries will reduce demand for crude as the end of summer driving season approaches.

Gasoline demand slid to a two-month low last week, according to the Energy Information Administration. U.S. refineries typically schedule seasonal maintenance for September and October. Traders are also awaiting a speech from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen for clues on the timing of higher interest rates.

“The focus is definitely on the U.S. and on concern about demand as we head into the maintenance season,” said Carl Larry, president of Oil Outlooks & Opinions LLC in Houston. “People are waiting to see what Janet Yellen is going to say.”  (go to article)

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6500 tickets sold for Keystone XL opposition concert

Fuel Fix -- Organizers say nearly all the $50 tickets for a Willie Nelson and Neil Young concert organized by opponents of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline have been sold.

The group Bold Nebraska said in a statement Thursday more than 6,500 of the 7,000 tickets for the Sept. 27 concert had been sold since Wednesday.

The TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline would carry oil from Canada south to the Gulf Coast. The concert will be held on a farm near Neligh that’s in the proposed path.

Pipeline critics worry it could contribute to pollution and contaminate groundwater. Young and Nelson have said they agreed to perform to highlight concerns.

TransCanada says the pipeline would be built with advanced safety features. The southern leg of the pipeline between Oklahoma and Texas is already operational.
 (go to article)

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Police urge undocumented residents to prepare now to apply for driver’s licenses

SBSun/LA Daily News -- Police are urging eligible undocumented immigrants to be ready for a new state law going into effect Jan. 1 that allows them to apply for a driver’s license for the first time in more than two decades.  (go to article)

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Proposal for one-person train crews criticized

The Spokesman Review -- A proposal that some freight trains through Spokane could have just one person on board as early as January has divided a union of rail workers and added fuel to a debate about how trains can be safely operated.

The tentative agreement, forged last month between BNSF Railway and a union representing conductors and engineers, would allow trains equipped with new accident prevention technology to shed their human conductors. The agreement was negotiated and signed by eight members of a general committee of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Union (SMART).

Nearly 6,000 BNSF ground service employees throughout the Midwest and Pacific Northwest would be affected by the change. Trains without the safety technology would keep their conductors.

 (go to article)

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Ford working on Prius rival to meet federal fuel standards

Detroit News -- Ford Motor Co. plans to introduce a new hybrid vehicle or line of vehicles in 2018 that would compete against the Toyota Prius and help Ford meet strict federal mandated mileage standards, a forecasting firm said Thursday.

An executive at Troy-based LMC Automotive said the firm expects Ford to introduce a “Prius-like family of vehicles eventually,” beginning with a unique 2019 model-year hybrid that would be built at the Wayne assembly plant.

Jeff Schuster, LMC’s senior vice president, Americas region and global vehicle, said in an interview the new vehicle, which would go into production in 2018, would be built on the automaker’s C2 global platform, which will also be used on the next-generation Focus and Escape.

Schuster said LMC expects Ford will produce about 90,000-100,000 of the  (go to article)

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Oil futures hover around $94 a barrel

MarketWatch -- Crude-oil futures moved in a narrow price range in Friday as some market participants think oil may be oversold.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange light, sweet crude futures for delivery in October traded at $93.82 a barrel, down 14 cents in the Globex electronic session.

October Brent crude on London’s ICE Futures exchange fell 14 cents to $102.49 a barrel.

Oil had gained overnight and both Nymex WTI and Brent crude have settled higher for two consecutive trading sessions.

“There’s not necessarily specific bullish news to argue that the market has become tighter but there has been at least some talk that OPEC might trim output to provide support if the market were to extend the downtrend,” Citi Futures analyst Tim Evans said.

But [OPEC] may not need to trim output despite ...  (go to article)

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U.S. Economy Loses $100 Billion Annually To Neglected Roads & Bridges

GasBuddy Blog -- Congestion on major urban highways now costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion a year in fuel and lost work time, estimates the American Society of Civil Engineers.And, says said Casey Dinges, the engineering group's senior managing director: "It's become a white-knuckle experience for many commuters." Age is a key factor. Most of the major highways were built decades ago.America's transportation structures look all the more frayed next to those in advanced economies in Europe and Japan, or in China, which has been busily constructing high-speed rail and new airports. Will we ever see real improvement? ...  (go to article)

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The best cars for kids

MSN -- You’re never too young to get behind the wheel, as this collection of fun-size cars proves

It's back-to-school time, and you know what that means -- moans and groans, pencils and books. But what better way to keep your littl'uns motivated than… buying them a car!

All kinds of weird and wonderful miniature cars are available for children, from the very expensive to the brilliant little convertible made from a trash can.
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Hawaiian Electric strikes deal with Canada's largest private utility

PACIFIC BUSINESS NEWS -- Hawaiian Electric Co. has reached an agreement with a subsidiary of Canada’s largest private utility to undergo a key liquefied natural gas process that could help lower its customers’ bills, a spokesman for the Honolulu-based utility told PBN.

The agreement with Fortis BC Energy Inc., is for liquefaction capacity in British Columbia, Canada, under controlled rates approved by the British Columbia Utilities Commission.

Liquefaction turns natural gas into LNG, a cold liquid that takes 600 times less space than gas.

The agreement is subject to approval from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, and will require other regulatory approvals and permits. It can also be assigned to the selected bidder for HECO's supply of LNG, according to Peter Rosegg, spokesman for the state’s largest...  (go to article)

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Public Data Reveal Secret Rail Movements of Crude Oil

Bloomberg Business Week -- It’s been almost four months since the Obama Administration ordered railroads to start giving state emergency officials details about their shipments of crude oil. The idea was that since these trains have a tendency to explode, and since they’re often rolling right through the middle of towns and cities, the least they could do would be to tell local firefighters when they’re coming. Not that municipal departments necessarily have the tools or resources to deal with 400-foot fireballs—but hey, knowing’s half the battle. Right, kids?  (go to article)

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An Increase In Fuel Tax? It's What Americans Want And What The Roads Need

Forbes -- The U.S. highway system is broken. More than 32 percent of the nation’s roads are in poor or mediocre condition, according to American Society of Civil Engineers, and will continue to fall into further disrepair unless we as a country take action now  (go to article)

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Bill would keep other states' radioactive fracking waste out of Michigan

Detroit Free Press -- A state senator says he wants to prevent Michigan from further becoming other states’ dumping ground for low-level radioactive waste from the oil and gas drilling process known as fracking.

Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, said Thursday that he plans to introduce legislation to stop companies in other states, such as Pennsylvania, from dumping low-level radioactive waste materials in Michigan landfills.

The Free Press reported Tuesday that a hazardous-waste landfill in Van Buren Township, Wayne Disposal, is to receive up to 36 tons of low-level radioactive sludge from a fracking operation in Washington County Pa. The sludge was rejected by landfills in western Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

“I’m angry that this is occurring in ‘Pure Michigan,’ ” Jones said. “It could harm the tourism...  (go to article)

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Gazprom says Ukraine's unpaid gas bill tops $5 billion

Reuters -- MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian natural gas exporter Gazprom said on Thursday that Ukraine's outstanding debt for gas supplies stood at $5.3 billion as of Aug. 1 and called on Kiev to ensure that gas continues to transit without disruption to Europe.  (go to article)

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Motorized Roller Skates That Make 12 MPH Feel Absolutely Terrifying

Wired -- Here’s the first thing I learned when riding a pair of RocketSkates: 12 mph might seem slow, but strap a pair of motorized roller skates to your feet and that speed becomes instantly terrifying.
After a quick tutorial, I donned on these hefty electric skates, pushed off, heard the motor kick in with a delightful digitized afterburner sound effect, and… then I immediately freaked out and bailed onto my toes like a chump. This happened roughly 10 times in a row. Luckily, the RocketSkates are easy to stop: You can either lean back on your heel to engage the brake, or you can simply step onto your toes like I did. The footplates of each skate end at about mid-sole, so your toes are always available for freak-out braking.  (go to article)

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America's Car Capital Will Soon Be... Mexico

Forbes -- Everything you need to know about the future of the global auto industry is printed on the business cards of Carlos Lozano de la Torre, governor of Aguascalientes, Mexico, a central province named for its abundance of hot springs.

Seated at an enormous round table inside the ornate 17th-century government palace where he has his office, he reaches into the side pocket of his dark gray suit and shuffles through a stack: Here’s one version in German, another in Chinese, another in English. “I have them in ten languages, but I only speak Spanish,” he says with a chuckle as he hands over the English version.

He has the translators working overtime for good reason. Seemingly overnight Mexico’s automotive output has soared, bolstered by a flood of investment from foreign-based carmakers, inclu  (go to article)

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Driving Tracker Zubie Wins First Nokia Connected Car Funding

IEEE Spectrum -- The only pedal you'll be pushing to the metal in the future will be the brake. Even then, your car or an aftermarket device will probably chide you if you hit it too hard. That's because devices that plug into your car will offer you suggestions—and commercial deals—to improve your driving behavior. Last week Zubie, the South Carolina maker of such a device, announced an investment of US $8 million from Nokia's Connected Car Fund (see our coverage of the fund's May launch). This is the fund's first investment, signaling how important Nokia considers this class of device.  (go to article)

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How Fast You Drive Reveals Where You Drive

IEEE Spectrum -- Don’t believe the hype. Insurance companies wanting information about what you do in your car say that they can’t use it to track your location. But a team of computer engineers at Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J., have shown that to be untrue. The engineers say they’ve figured out how to create a fairly accurate map of where a car has traveled based solely on where it started and a stream of data indicating how fast it has gone—no GPS or cellular triangulation is necessary.  (go to article)

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GOP senators predict highway funding will changes

The Hill -- Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) predicted this week that lawmakers will find a new way to pay for U.S. transportation projects beyond the gas tax, according to the Fort Smith, Ark., Southwest Times Record.

The federal gas tax, which is currently priced at 18.4 cents per gallon, has been the traditional source of revenue for transportation projects since the inception of the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s.

The tax has struggled to keep pace with infrastructure expenses as cars have become more fuel efficient, however, and lawmakers had to approve a nearly $11 billion patch for the Department of Transportation's Highway Trust Fund last month.
 (go to article)

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5 car brands customers don't buy twice

High Gear Media -- In today's auto market, competition is stiff. Every car seems built to last, which makes it difficult for automakers to tout reliability as their sole selling point. Consumers can shop nearly any brand, confident that they'll drive home in something that will hold up for years. That's led to the demise of brand loyalty -- especially among younger buyers.
 (go to article)

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Shock(ing) defect leads to Jeep, Ram, Chrysler recall

Cars.com -- Chrysler Group has recalled nearly 16,000 of it highest-profile new models because the rear shock absorbers might detach.

Affected are the new-model 2014 Jeep Cherokee crossovers, Ram 1500 pickups and the just-launched 2015 Chrysler 200 sedans.
 (go to article)

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Plains to build Cushing-to-Memphis pipeline for Valero

Reuters -- Plains All American will build a crude oil pipeline from its terminal at the U.S. futures hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, to Valero Energy Corp's Tennessee refinery, helping the largest U.S. refiner cut transportation costs to tap cheap inland U.S. oil.

Plains said on Thursday it will build the 440-mile (708 km), 200,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) Diamond Pipeline to the 180,000 bpd refinery, which is configured to process light crudes.

The $900 million project is targeted to start up in late 2016, Plains said.

The two companies have been evaluating the project for several months as Valero considered ways to cut crude procurement costs.

The refinery typically runs Light Louisiana Sweet (WTC-LLS), but last year received up to 100,000 bpd of North Dakota Bakken crude that was moved via rail to Loui  (go to article)

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U.S. Oil Imports Fell to 19-Year Low for July, API Says

Bloomberg -- U.S. imports of crude and fuel in July dropped to the lowest level for the month in 19 years as domestic production rose, the American Petroleum Institute said.

Imports slid to 9.06 million barrels a day, the least for July since 1995, the industry-funded group said today in a monthly report. Domestic crude-oil production rose to the highest July level since 1986, staying above 8 million barrels a day for a sixth month.

“Last month generated new records for many of the petroleum statistics we track,” John Felmy, chief economist at the API in Washington, said in the report. “Imports of crude oil and refined products set multidecade lows for the month."

Total imports dropped 12 percent from a year earlier, the API said. Imports of crude oil decreased 7.2 percent from 2013 to average 7.49  (go to article)

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The 10 automotive species on the verge of extinction

Motormatic -- In a first, Americans will likely buy more crossovers than midsize sedans this year — unseating the 4-door car as the default vehicle of choice. The crossover has become the family wagon equivalent of today, with hybrids and compacts SUVs expanding as the cars of choice for young singles, couples and families.

A long list of other model types now find themselves in the less-visited areas of new car dealerships. These vehicles that once drew enough buyers to justify new engineering now represent the endangered species of the auto industry. Some are in decline, others nearly defunct, and a few, sadly, may never return. Here are ten automotive species struggling to survive in the 2010s:

Compact and regular-cab pickups: The Ford Ranger, a truck that had been a top 10 seller throughout the 19  (go to article)

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Louisiana Attorney General Files Suit Against State Farm

John Rang | Leading Edge -- Suit alleges insurer has engaged in pattern of unfair and fraudulent business practices to control repair industry and force unsafe repairs without knowledge or consent of Louisiana consumers.

August 19, 2014: Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell filed a lawsuit Aug. 19 against State Farm alleging that the insurer has engaged in a pattern of unfair and fraudulent business practices aimed at controlling the auto repair industry and forcing unsafe repairs on vehicles without the knowledge or consent of Louisiana consumers.

“State Farm has created a culture of unsafe business practices in which consumer vehicle repairs are performed with cost-savings as the primary goal rather than safety and reliability,” said Caldwell.

The suit, filed in Louisiana’s 19th Judicial District Court, all  (go to article)

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Labor Day travel predicted to climb this year

CBS News -- It's good news for the economy, but bad news for anyone hoping to avoid sitting in traffic during the upcoming holiday weekend.

Travel is projecting 34.7 million Americans will venture 50 miles or more from their homes during the Labor Day holiday travel period, from Thursday August 28 to Monday September 1. That would be the highest Labor Day holiday travel volume since 2008, when the recession began -- and a 1.3 percent increase compared to the same time period last year.

The report says car travel over the holiday will rise by 1.4 percent, compared to last year's holiday weekend -- with nearly 30 million people expected to be on the road. Nearly eight percent of travelers, around 2.65 million passengers, will go by air. That's a one percent increase over 2013's figures, and comes  (go to article)

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Tire makers race to turn dandelions into rubber

Reuters via Yahoo -- MUENSTER Germany (Reuters) - Dutch biologist Ingrid van der Meer often meets with disbelief when she talks about her work on dandelions and how it could secure the future of road transport.

The reaction is understandable, given most people regard the yellow flowers as pesky intruders in their gardens rather than a promising source of rubber for tires.

"People just think of it as a horrible weed and ask how can you get enough material for tires from just a small root," she said.  (go to article)

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The futuristic vision that's driven Tesla's value above $30 billion

Yahoo -- The stock is up an astonishing 770% over the past two years, to a price above $257. And yet skeptics keep gunning for Tesla, with bets by short sellers that the stock will fall now accounting for more than 25% of Tesla’s available shares.
While some dismiss the market’s enthusiasm as irrational boosterism and bubbly momentum, the company’s knack for exceeding expectations, ecstatic consumer response and rapid expansion in production capacity are winning the benefit of the doubt, even from veteran car-industry analysts.
Gilad Shany, an analyst at big Tesla shareholder Baron Funds, calls the company a “once in a lifetime disruptor of the car industry,” and says that selling half a million cars in 2020 will translate into $25 billion in sales and $5 billion in profit – the latter estimate r  (go to article)

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Leaked window stickers suggest a thirstier 2015 Ford Mustang as weight creeps up

Automotive News -- DETROIT -- Adding independent rear suspension, numerous electronic safety features and other items raised the weight and lowered the fuel economy of several models of the rebuilt 2015 Ford Mustang, according to window stickers leaked on the Internet today.

Ford officials would not confirm the authenticity of the EPA numbers, which can be seen here: http://www.mustang6g.com/. [...]
 (go to article)

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Pipeline changes will send more Canadian oil into Minnesota

StarTribune -- More Canadian crude oil soon will be flowing into Minnesota in an expanded pipeline that is still undergoing environmental review.

Enbridge Energy is spending $200 million in Minnesota to add pumps and boost the capacity of its 1,000-mile Alberta Clipper pipeline. But the company says a yearlong delay in a U.S. State Department environment review has held up a presidential permit to ship more oil across the U.S. border.

In a move that surprised and angered climate activists who oppose the project, the Calgary-based pipeline company has found a way to legally circumvent the permit. Enbridge says it will temporarily switch the flow of two parallel pipelines on a 17.5-mile segment across the Canadian-United States border, maximizing the flows under existing permits.  (go to article)

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Motorist caught in alleged HPD ticket-rigging scheme

KHOU.com -- HOUSTON -- On a Tuesday afternoon in March, Houston Police wrote up a Houston motorist for speeding in Northwest Houston. But he wasn't your everyday kind of driver.

"I've been behind the radar gun," said the man.

He asked not to identified, because he too, is a police officer. We'll refer to him as Jerry.

And when HPD handed Jerry the ticket, there was a major red flag.

"I immediately know that something's hinky with the ticket," Jerry said.

That's because the ticket-writing officer listed another HPD officer as a witness.

"There was no other officer, he was the only officer there," Jerry said.  (go to article)

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Ford tells dealers to halt some C-Max, Focus sales

Reuters -- Ford Motor has told its U.S. dealers to stop test-driving and selling a small number of recently made C-Max and Focus models because of potential problems with the steering gear assembly, a notice sent to dealers on Wednesday shows.  (go to article)

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Imposed Gas Tax Affecting the Trucking Industry

Digital Journal --
Bipartisan bill could raise the Federal Gas Tax by 12 cents over the next two years

Tuscaloosa, AL -- (ReleaseWire) -- 08/20/2014 -- Recently, Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) introduced a bipartisan bill that would raise the Federal Gas Tax by 12 cents over the next two years. This would raise the prices at the gas pump, however many see it as a more equitable way to fix the nation's transportation problems. The money raised would be used to repair and replace aging, obsolete infrastructure, as well as replenish the Highway Trust Fund.

This could benefit certain areas of the country, especially the Northeast, which sees the highest road use in the country and a harsh winter climate that destroys the asphalt each winter...  (go to article)

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Flying in the Mercedes-Benz helicopter, for the ultimate commuter

Motoramic -- Extensions are not just for highways, electrical cords, and hair anymore; now they’re also for luxury automotive brands. When a consumer identifies with a high-end marque, one way to deepen this connection — and enhance precious loyalty — is to provide opportunities to engage with the brand in other aspects of their life aside from road rage and commuting. Mercedes-Benz has recently attempted to do this with a new offshoot, Mercedes-Benz Style, which is charged, according to Project and Design Manager Stefano Tam, with “Creating new, non-automotive design collaborations with other manufacturers who are on the same level as Mercedes-Benz.”  (go to article)

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U.S. DOT maintains V2V technology initiative

GasBuddy Blog -- The US Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) and a supporting comprehensive research report on vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications technology.The report will include analysis of the Department’s research findings in several key areas, including technical feasibility, privacy and security, and preliminary estimates on costs and safety benefits, while the ANPRM seeks public input on these findings to support the Department’s regulatory work to eventually require V2V devices to be installed in new light vehicles.The report includes preliminary estimates of safety benefits that show two safety applications, Left Turn Assist (LTA) and Intersection Movement Assist (IMA), could prevent up to 592,000 crashes and save 1,083 lives per year. The report says that by providing advance warning, V2V technology could help drivers avoid more than half of these types of crashes that  (go to article)

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Audi rethinks the piston engine

Fox News -- Audi’s engine of the future may be a little off-kilter.

Autocar reports that the automaker is working on a unique four-cylinder motor that features a bank of pistons sitting offset and parallel to the crankshaft rather than directly above it.

 (go to article)

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New Volvo Garbage Truck Uses Only CNG

Gas 2 -- Natural gas vehicles represent a potential stepping stone to a cleaner, greener transportation system, though many consumers are wary of a lack of CNG stations and less power. Volvo hopes to solve both with its latest CNG garbage truck, which uses a new kind of CNG engine developed specifically with urban driving and repeated stops and starts in mind.

The Volvo FE CNG garbage truck has an all-new, 9-liter (!!) engine pumping out 320 horsepower and 1,000 ft-lbs of torque that runs solely on CNG. At the core of the engine’s design is new spark plug technology developed specifically for the jerky stop-start driving cycles garbage trucks endure. By switching from diesel to CNG gas (or methane as its also called), Volvo says that carbon emissions are reduced by up to 70%. Even so, Volvo stil  (go to article)

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Honda Fit re-test yields top safety score

USA Today -- Honda says its 2015 Fit small car earned a high safety score from an insurance trade group but only after the automaker redesigned the front bumper and paid for a re-test.

A new list of crash-test results from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awards the 2015 Fit a Top Safety Pick rating, which for years had been the best, and now is second to the Top Safety Pick + rating that requires anti-crash technology mainly found on larger and more expensive cars.

Fit is classed a mini-car by IIHS, along with the likes of the Fiat 500 and Chevrolet Spark.

Fit's new high score is the result of a second test, after Honda engineers redesigned the car's front bumper structure.  (go to article)

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Honda to modify Fit to boost test score, calls back 12,000 cars

Reuters -- (Reuters) - The first 12,000 U.S. customers who bought the 2015 Honda Fit subcompact cars will be asked to have the vehicles retrofitted to attain top marks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Honda Motor Co (7267.T) and the IIHS said Thursday.

The action - which is not a safety recall aligned with U.S. safety regulators - is aimed at allowing all 2015 Fit cars to have the same, more robust front bumpers as cars made after June 9, when Honda changed the way they were produced, Chuck Thomas, chief engineer for vehicle safety at American Honda, said.

Honda said it would inform the affected 12,000 Fit owners late in September to bring the cars to dealers for the retrofit.  (go to article)

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2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Gas Mileage: 26 MPG Combined: UPDATE

Green Car Reports -- The 2015 Ford Mustang has attracted plenty of attention for its 2.3-liter turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder engine--and not all of it positive.

Fans of chest-thumping V-8s may scoff at such a downsized engine, but everyone else will likely want to know how efficient it is.

While not strictly for fuel efficiency, the EcoBoost makes for less-inefficient performance.

Now, there are some gas-mileage numbers to supplement the speculation.

A rating of 26 mpg combined (22 mpg city, 31 mpg highway) was released for the 2015 Mustang EcoBoost equipped with the six-speed manual transmission.

This fuel-economy data comes from a leaked 2015 Mustang window sticker posted on enthusiast site Mustang 6G.

The leak did not include ratings for the six-speed automatic EcoBoost, but it also  (go to article)

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Brent Drops on China; WTI Spread Near Widest Since June

Bloomberg News -- Brent crude fell with West Texas Intermediate as a measure of Chinese manufacturing missed estimates. The spread between the grades was near the widest in two months after stockpiles at Cushing, Oklahoma, surged the most since October.

Futures declined as much as 1 percent in London and New York. A preliminary Chinese Purchasing Managers’ Index from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics slid to 50.3 for August. A median 51.5 was projected in a Bloomberg News survey. Crude inventories at Cushing, the delivery point for WTI, rose 1.755 million barrels in the seven days ended Aug. 15 to 20.155 million, the Energy Information Administration said in a report yesterday.
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Less pain at the Gas Pump Eases Market Pain

USA Today -- Pain at the pump this summer was supposed to cause major pain in the stock market. But gas prices headed south instead, siphoning risk out of the market.

Since the start of summer on June 21, the average national price for a gallon of regular gas has fallen from $3.68 a gallon to $3.44, according Bespoke Investment Group. That 24 cent-per-gallon drop equates to a 6.5% decline.

Wall Street was expecting prices at the pump to skyrocket, given the peak summer driving season and global hot spots critical to oil supplies,  (go to article)

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Oil well battle moves to suburbs

Detroit News -- Shelby Township officials are scrambling to halt oil drilling near a residential area, something other Southeast Michigan communities haven’t succeeded in doing.

West Bay Exploration, a Traverse City drilling company, will begin operating a test well this week in an area roughly 500 feet from the closest homes. In response, township trustees approved Tuesday a six-month moratorium on oil drilling in the township — a move designed to buy time for local leaders to consider their options in opposing the operation.

Several West Bay projects have faced opposition in areas such as Rochester Hills and Scio Township. But planning and zoning officials around Michigan often have found they can do little to stop the drilling “unless very serious consequences would result from the extraction of thos  (go to article)

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Subaru Revs Up Tech & Safety Features on Legacy & Outback

GasBuddy Blog --
Image From ..carscoops.comSubaru is now arming its two hottest-selling models, the Legacy and Outback, with an impressive array of safety features at tantalizing prices. For $1,200, drivers can add adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and pre-collision braking, the LA Times reports.
Those features, which together give a glimpse into the future of self-driving cars, can cost thousands more on luxury cars. The smart packaging should further aid Subaru's bid to sustain recent sales gains. Once a niche maker of oddball vehicles, Subaru now outsells Volkswagen and is gaining ground on the major Asian brands.In the last five years, Subaru has almost doubled its sales in the U.S., and it's done so while offering far fewer dealer incentives than most automakers, according to Edmunds.com. Sales are up 16% for the first six months of 2014....  (go to article)

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Turning natural gas to gasoline — at $1 per gallon

SFGate -- Bay Area startup Siluria Technologies has developed a way to make gasoline, diesel and jet fuel from natural gas — not crude oil.

And the oil industry has noticed.Today, the 6-old-company will announce that its latest $30 million financing round was led by Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company.

“Their business isn’t just oil,” said Ed Dineen, Siluria’s chief executive officer. “It’s oil and gas and petrochemicals and power. And when they look across that spectrum, they have a strong interest in increasing the value of their gas. This will allow them to do that.”

Aramco has also put together a team studying ways to deploy the technology in Saudi Arabia. Based in San Francisco, Siluria has now raised $99 million from such investors as Bright Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Bye  (go to article)

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Transparent solar panels may be a window into the future

Tech Times -- Clean solar power may be the future of energy. Transparent solar panels that seem just like normal glass may make that future real.

Researchers at Michigan State University have created a solar panel that resembles typical glass, which can be placed on top of a window to collect solar energy, while still providing an unobstructed view.

Called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator, the panel uses organic molecules made to absorb invisible wavelengths of light, such as ultraviolet and near infrared light. The material moves this unseen light to the edges of the panel, where strips of photovoltaic solar cells pick it up and convert it to electricity.

There have been past attempts at similar tech, but the results that have been produced were not transparent enough or were tinted.
 (go to article)

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PG&E CEO Anthony Earley says utility won't be bankrupted by fines from pipeline explosion

San Jose Mercury News -- SAN JOSE -- PG&E believes it can withstand expected fines of up to $3.6 billion resulting from the fatal 2010 gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno without having to file for bankruptcy, the utility's top executive said Wednesday.

PG&E Chief Executive Officer Anthony Earley, in a wide-ranging interview with the editorial board of this newspaper, also said the utility was surprised by a charge of obstruction of justice in its most recent federal criminal indictment, and asserted that PG&E is making good progress on efforts to upgrade its natural gas system.
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This Billionaire Is Betting on America’s Auto-Debt Addiction

Wall St. Cheat Sheet -- America’s fascination with cars and debt does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon. Due to either affordability issues or rising confidence, recent reports reveal that drivers are filling up on auto loans at a record pace. While some investors may doubt how much longer this trend will continue, at least one hedge-fund billionaire placed a major bet on the financing industry.

Daniel Loeb, founder and chief executive officer of Third Point, took a new position in Ally Financial during the second quarter, according a new 13-F filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Founded in 1919, Ally is one of the largest providers of automotive financing in the United States, serving the financial needs of approximately 16,000 dealers and 4 million retail customers. The company...  (go to article)

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