• Jul 8, 2014
Apparently, Chevrolet Volt battery covers make suitable homes for bats. As part of an Eagle Scout project, Matthew Netherland created 30 bat houses out of scrapped Volt battery covers donated by Chevy. 22 of the bat houses will be set up near hydroelectric dams in Michigan. Each bat house will accommodate 100 bats, and divert the scrapped materials from the landfill. The battery covers also make great nesting boxes for wood ducks, which General Motors has previously set up at its Milford, Michigan Proving Ground.

Last weekend was the Silvretta E-Auto Rally, which saw emissions-free vehicles cross the Montafon Mountains in Austria, including cars from Mercedes-Benz. These cars included the B-Class Electric Drive, B-Class F-Cell, SLS AMG Electric Drive and even the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive. Also on hand for the Silvretta Classic Rally was a V8-powered C111, a 1978 Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC and 300 SL Roadster. Read more in the press release, below.

BMW has finalized pricing for the i8 in the US at $135,700 (plus $925 in destination charges). In addition to the base price tag, which we've known for a while, BMW Blog has the complete pricing guide with options and packages. Most of the i8 orders were the Pure Impulse World package, which includes various aesthetic upgrades. It also provides membership to the BMW i Pure Impulse Program, which allows you to "to enjoy innovative ideas and trends in a variety of areas, including home styling, culture, gourmet gastronomy, design and many more." Head over to BMW Blog for more information.

The new generation of the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid will arrive later than the rest of the model lineup, confirms Car and Driver. While the gas-powered Sonatas get updated now for the 2015 model year, the Hybrid remains unchanged until late this year or early 2015, when it will arrive as a 2016 model. Hyundai is offering a 2015 Sonata Eco edition, but with 28 miles per gallon in the city and 38 mpg highway (32 combined), it's not quite as appealing as the current Sonata Hybrid's 36/40/38 figures. Read more here.

In June, average US fuel economy was 25.5 miles per gallon, making it the fifth straight month above 25 mpg, according to University of Michigan. The average window sticker ratings from vehicles sold in June dropped slightly from 25.6 mpg in May. The year started at 24.9 mpg in January, and hasn't dropped below 25 mpg since. Head to Automotive News for more analysis, or go to the source at U of M's Transportation Research Institute.
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Silvretta Rallye 2014: Legend meets zero-emission: C111 and B-Class Electric Drive on a mountain trip

On 3 July the Silvretta Rally will start with an anniversary. It will already be the fifth time that locally emission-free vehicles will cross the roads of the Austrian Montafon Mountains. This makes the Silvretta E-Auto Rally a somewhat classic. It is also the fifth time that Mercedes-Benz and smart will participate – and with six electric vehicles they will again have the largest fleet of the electric rally. While the new B-Class Electric Drive will celebrate its début in the mountains, the Silvretta Classic Rally will witness a revival: Mercedes-Benz returns the legendary C 111 to the road for the Silvretta Classic Rally.

The Silvretta High Alpine Road in Austria's Montafon region is considered one of the most beautiful panoramic routes in the Alps. From 3 - 5 July 2014 it will be the setting for the legendary Silvretta Rally that will feature some 150 vintage cars and 30 locally emission-free electric cars.

The newest member of the Mercedes-Benz electric car family participates in the rally for the very first time: the B-Class Electric Drive. "This car doesn't scream: Look here, I am electric. The B-Class Electric Drive rather impresses with comfort, safety, spaciousness and driving pleasure without compromises", stresses Juergen Schenk, chief engineer for electric vehicles at Mercedes-Benz Cars. "It is simply a true Mercedes – AND electric." Already in its second generation, the B-Class offers the ideal platform for alternative drives. Since 2010 it has been proving itself as the Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL powered by a fuel cell with customers in Germany, the US and Norway. Two of this customers are Klaus Ambacher and Klaus Ege. They will participate in the Silvretta E-Rally for the second time and have been driving the B-Class F-CELL as their company car for three years: "The future for long distances lies in the fuel-cell technology", both of them state confidently.

Through the mountains of the Montafon with tradition

While the Silvretta E-Auto Rally celebrates its fifth anniversary in 2014, it will already be the 17th edition of the Silvretta Classic Rally. The route through the Alps doesn't become a racetrack; rather the drivers have to prove their driving skills with regard to constancy and reliability during the three-day drive through the mountainous scenery of Austria's Vorarlberg state. The classic cars and electric vehicles will be led by two B-Class F-CELL cars, which will point the way over the mountain as lead No. "01" vehicle.

With a total distance of 362 kilometres, ascents of more than 2000 metres in altitude and slopes whose gradients in some cases exceed 15 percent, the Silvretta E-Auto Rally presents a challenging terrain for the drivers. On each of the three days the teams will drive between 110 and 133 kilometres on the steep switchbacks of the Austrian Alps.

Electric vehicles from Mercedes-Benz and smart

As like every year since the first Silvretta E-Rally, Daimler will again have the largest fleet in 2014. At total of six locally emission-free vehicles will be at the starting line this year.

The B-Class Electric Drive will celebrate its Silvretta début – just before its official market launch in the US in mid-July. The model has been rolling off the assembly lines in Rastatt, Germany since April 2014 and proves to be a full-fledged and versatile vehicle for up to five people. With a range of 200 km, a maximum power output of 132 kW and a peak torque of 340 Nm, the course over the high Alpine road will not present any problems at all for the B-Class Electric Drive. The vehicle will be available in Europe by the end of the year.

In contrast, the B-Class F-CELL is almost an old hand on the route through the Alps. The fuel-cell vehicle impresses with a range of about 400 km, a power output of 100 kW and 290 Nm of torque. The fuel-cell technology scores points with long operating ranges and a refuelling time of only about three minutes.

The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupé Electric Drive is also a returner to the e-rally. And even though victory on the Silvretta is not won with speed: with a combined maximum power output of 552 kW, a peak torque of 1000 Nm and an sprint time from rest to 100 km/h of 3.9 seconds, the super sports car is the world's fastest electrically powered production vehicle.

Of course, the smart fortwo electric drive is an absolute must at the event. In 2012 and 2013, it was the market leader of all new electric vehicles registered in Germany. With a range of 145 km, a power output of 55 kW and a peak torque of 130 Nm, the battery-electric city speedster is also perfectly equipped for the demanding drive through the Austrian Alps. No less than three smart vehicles will face the hill climb: a coupé will be backed by a BRABUS cabrio and an edition by Jeremy Scott BRABUS, whose most striking feature is constituted by the vertically arranged wings at the rear. Both BRABUS variants put a power output of 60 kW and a peak torque of 135 Nm on the road.

A legend returns

Mercedes-Benz Classic will return the legendary C 111 to the road as part of the 2014 Silvretta Classic Rally Montafon. This exciting research vehicle will be taking part in the regularity race through the Montafon valley as a unique V8-engined variant. The C 111 with 3.5-litre V8 engine dates from 1970, one year after the gullwing sports car designed to test the Wankel rotary engine made its début at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The research vehicle with pronounced wedge shape and gullwing doors has a body made of fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP) and is powered by a three-rotor Wankel engine. The revised version of the C 111 was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show the following year, now powered by a four-rotor Wankel engine. This version of the C 111 could accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.9 seconds and reach a top speed of 300 km/h. It was this second version of the research vehicle that served as the basis for a V8 variant of the C 111 powered by an M 116 production engine (147 kW/200 hp), which Mercedes-Benz engineers and technicians used for the purposes of comparison with the rotary-engine sports car.

To celebrate 120 years of motorsport history at Mercedes-Benz, the exclusive line-up at the Silvretta Classic Rally will, in addition to the C 111, include a 1978 Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC Coupé driven by brand ambassador Karl Wendlinger, and a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster (W 198).

Following the overwhelming victory in the London–Sydney Rally in 1977, Mercedes-Benz continued to focus in the year after on participating in particularly demanding long-distance competitions. For the nearly 29,000 kilometre long South America rally (Rallye Vuelta a la América del Sud) in 1978, exclusive Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC Coupé models were readied in addition to the proven saloons of the 123 model series. As the rally rules precluded changes to the engine, transmission and body, the competing cars were for the greatest part equivalent to the production versions. Only auxiliary headlamps and raised bodies provided an external indication that these were competition vehicles. The rally ended with Mercedes-Benz holding the first five positions. The 450 SLC took 1st, 2nd and 4th places.

Mercedes-Benz unveiled the 300 SL Roadster at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1957 as successor to the gullwing 300 SL Coupé. In terms of engineering, the convertible sports car closely resembled the coupé model, although modifications to the space frame permitted the installation of conventional doors. The chassis with a single-joint swing axle and low pivot point was improved by the addition of a compensating spring for the first time in the 300 SL Roadster. From 1958, the Roadster was also optionally available with a removable hardtop. Production of the 300 SL Roadster ceased in 1963 after a total production run of 1858 of these highly exclusive sports cars.

A strong team

Once again, Mercedes-Benz is the main sponsor of the Silvretta 2014. Thus, not only the rally participants but further Mercedes-Benz vehicles are driving through the Montafon mountains during the upcoming days. The teams from Auto Motor Sport and Mercedes-Benz will be supported by numerous vehicles of the brand with the three-pointed star – among them the new C- and S-Class, but also commercial vehicles such as the Sprinter and the V-Class.


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      Mike
      • 2 Days Ago
      Does the Transportation Research Institute recalculate all its historical figures based on MPG restatements by automakers? If not, there could be an artificial drop of the aggregate MPG due to using new EPA numbers for current sales vs. past sales. This may just be insignificant noise in the figures, but I wonder if they've considered it.