Toyota Recall, VW Diesel Hybrid, Obama and Green Tech

Several interesting stories today, here are short bits about three of them...

Toyota recalls 1.7 million vehicles worldwide, here we go again


Today Toyota announced another massive recall, nearly 1.7 million vehicles worldwide. Most of the recalled vehicles are in Japan and Europe, but upwards of 280,000 are US Lexus models built between 2007 and 2009. On the affected US cars, a fuel pressure sensor could loosen, potentially causing a fuel leak.


Toyota is becoming the king of recalls. To be fair, they’ve been under the hot lights here in the US since the unintended acceleration debacle last year. The US government fined Toyota over $48 million for mishandling that one, and their reputation as a high quality manufacturer seems to be taking a hit; Toyota was the only major automaker to see sales FALL in the US last year.


WTF? Volkswagen unveils XL1 Concept Car, claims outrageous fuel economy


Volkswagen introduced a 261 mpg XL1 Concept Car at the Qatar Motor Show. two-seat, plug-in hybrid concept car that it says will deliver 261 mpg. The XL1 uses a lithium-ion battery pack, an electric motor and a tiny two-cylinder, 47 hp 0.8-liter diesel engine. But the kicker is it’s ultra low curb weight thanks to extensive use of carbon fiber in the chassis (not to mention styling cues from the 2000 Honda Insight!). You’ve gotta love Volkswagen, they can lay out some of the most outrageous stuff and do it with a completely straight face. Like the Phaeton.


Obama funding paradox


In his State Of The Union address Tuesday, President Obama called for increased government funding break our dependence on oil, and renewed his pledge to have 1 million plug-in vehicles on the nation's roads by 2015. In statements released before the speech, the White House said that the president plans to support about $8 billion in annual government aid for green energy programs such as those to develop “advanced generation vehicles and batteries”. That’s an increase of more than $2 billion over current levels.


So here’s the paradox: in the same speech the President called for a 5 year government budget freeze. That additional $2 billion has to come from somewhere Mr. President, and my pockets are pretty empty already. Keep your eyes on this one folks, the ETA for release new budget proposal is mid-February.