Volkswagen To Debut Electric Zero-Emissions Beetle

Eco-friendly vehicles have come a long way from simply being prototypes. Manufacturers have been ambitious with emissions-free cars, even attempting to assemble them using resin. However, for big names in the industry, keeping it simple is key. Known for its funky appearance, the VW Beetle is getting another makeover — this time, it’s going electric.

“If we wanted to do a Beetle, electrically it would be much better than today’s model, much closer to history, because it could be rear-wheel drive,” said [VW chairman Herbert] Diess.

It may still be in the talks, but VW already has its hands full with an electric version of its classic microbus. Despite their overflowing to-do list, it seems fans of the Bug are on their toes. Thrilled prospective customers have been pleading with the chairman to follow through via letters and e-mails.

VW is aiming for a massive revamp of its vehicles by 2030. While that may seem a long ways away, its $24 billion budget speaks volumes about the group’s potential.

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China Testing Trackless Autonomous Train

It’s been a year of firsts for the railway system — from going solar to launching its fastest model. Pushing its limits even further, China is test-driving its Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit system, which is fully electric and trackless.

ART bears the physical appearance of a train but it doesn’t rely on following a track. Instead, it follows a virtual route using an electric powertrain and tires. It’s expected to function much like an urban train or a tram, but since there’s no investment cost in laying down rails, it should be much cheaper to implement.

The train can only travel 15 kilometers at a time, but can fully recharge in just 10 minutes. Environmentalists will likely tip their hats off to the new system — it’s entirely emissions free! Smoggy China could surely use more sustainable public transport alternatives. Thankfully, its government has been taking other measures to ensure that its locals don’t further experience pollution-caused health issues.

40 percent of China’s factories have been shut down, and authorities are reportedly working on a timetable to end the sale of gas- and diesel-powered cars.

A round of applause for China — sounds fresh!

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Dubai Is Test-Flying A Two-Seater Taxi Drone

Since Margot Krasojevic’s conceptualization of the dragonfly bridge, it was only about time that flying vehicles came to light. Dubai is fast-tracking this reality, test-flying a two-seater taxi drone that transports passengers autonomously.

The [Autonomous Air Taxi] is environmentally friendly, powered by electricity, and the prototype version has a maximum flight time of 30 minutes, at a cruising speed of 50 km/h (31 mph), and a maximum airspeed of 100 km/h (62 mph).

As it would, the notion of a crew-less flying taxi may be somewhat petrifying. However, the AAT comes with emergency parachutes and batteries, so you can rest — or fly — easy. Developers also plan to create an accompanying booking app, much like Uber, but for the skies.

“Encouraging innovation and adopting the latest technologies contribute not only to the country’s development but also build bridges into the future,” Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed said in a statement.

Dubai hopes that by 2030, 25% of transportation methods will be autonomous. With many organizations working towards a more efficient traveling system, there is much to look forward to in the future.

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Swedish Startup Provides Free Solar Power With Car

As electric vehicles increase in sustainability, they also decrease in parts. Built with only 580 components, the XYT eco car is tiny, but in every way efficient. Banking on the “less is more” theme of newer hybrids, Swedish group Uniti has treats in store for its buyers. Along with its “smartphone car”, the startup is throwing in five years of free electricity for eager consumers.

“Today, there are many new possibilities,” Tobias Ekman, Uniti’s innovation manager, said… “The car and the driving experience has been digitalized in order to increase safety, comfort, and driving pleasure while minimizing environmental impact.”

At $17,560, its features seem entirely worth it — and some 1,000 preordering customers can vouch for that. The car is a jack of all trades, seating up to five passengers and running 185 miles on one charge. The fun apparently doesn’t end there.

It’s optimized for urban and highway driving; and has an auxiliary battery that can be removed for indoor charging, or charged while still inside the vehicle.

Could Uniti’s brainchild be the iPhone of all vehicles? Seems likely.

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Toyota To Introduce Autonomous Service Vehicle

As self-driving delivery vans hit the streets of England, Toyota is brewing up its own unique prototype. With no itinerary, the popular automaker has all the time in the world to be ambitious. (Maybe even a little over-the-top!) Over the weekend, the vehicle manufacturer announced the “e-Palette”, an autonomous vehicle that does… well, whatever you want it to do.

[Toyota] describes them as “fully-automated, next generation battery electric vehicle[s] designed to be scalable and customizable for a range of Mobility as a Service businesses.”

Essentially, the buggy is a self-driving cargo van that grows (or shrinks) depending on what it’s carrying. There’s no word on a launch date, or whether Toyota will actually build its formidable e-Palette. Still, makers are fixated on the idea — to suit millennials in particular.

“Just think how good e-Palette would be at Burning man,” quipped Akio Toyoda, Toyota Motor Company’s bespectacled president.

Whatever Toyota has up its sleeve next, it’s good to know that future technologies will match its ambition.

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