Mike Spinelli

Parlez Vous Électronique? In Paris, Electric Cars Steal the Show

With promises of production by early next decade, car makers focused their energies on battery power at this year's Paris motor show

Venturi Volage: Monaco-based Venturi showed off its latest electric sports car, the Volage, at the Paris motor show. A joint venture with Michelin, the Volage is propelled by four in-wheel electric motors.  Venturi
Alongside the traditional luxury cars, pricey exotics and thrifty urban runabouts displayed in Paris this year, an eclectic group of electric cars captured the world's attention. Some represented radical visions for a more distant future, while others are in the production pipeline, and could hit the market by early next decade. Below are some of the standouts, launch the gallery for a further look.

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Report: Honda to Launch Hybrid Motorcycle by 2011

Will volatile gas prices and global-warming concerns cause trickle-down adoption of hybrid tech?

Earlier this month, Japanese media reported Honda and Yamaha were each planning a line of electric motorcycles by 2010. The new bikes, which reports say can travel up to 60 miles on a charge, will use lithium-ion batteries for power. Now, word from Japan's Mainichi news service is Honda is also planning new gas-electric hybrid motorcycles.

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A $40,000 Hyundai? Luxuriating in the 2009 Genesis Sedan

Hyundai undercuts Lexus, Infiniti and Mercedes with a luxury car that'll give car buyers another reason to forget the Korean carmaker's checkered past

The world has turned upside-down. The US government is the hottest ticket on Wall Street, Cadillac builds European sports sedans, Saab markets SUVs, and now Hyundai makes a $42,000 luxury car. Someone e-mail the Bizarro Justice League, stat.

The 2009 Hyundai Genesis has been a long time coming for the South Korean automaker. Years ago, Hyundai introduced to the American market an ignoble range of economy cars that, unadjusted for inflation, cost the equivalent of pocket lint. It's a different company now. To mangle a Pink Floyd lyric, 20 odd years may have gotten behind Hyundai Motor America, but it didn't miss the starting gun.

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2009 Honda Fit: A Little Economy Car Grows Up, a Little

Honda updates its smallest, most economical US model with more space, new features and increased refinement. Does that mean it's over the hill?

The first Japanese hatchback I ever loved was a borrowed, battered 1978 Honda Accord CVCC. It was punchy and raw, light as a laundry basket and it loved to be tossed into a dusty bend and coaxed back out. It was just the thing for a teenaged-hack Stig Blomqvist with more hormones than money, and I returned it reluctantly, a changed not-quite man.

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Driving The 2009 Corvette ZR1: Detroit's Mild-Mannered Supercar

Chevrolet's latest sports car pairs supercar horsepower with driving comfort. Yes, we're sure it's a Corvette.

Chevrolet's 2009 Corvette ZR1 is the best thing to come out of Detroit since Dearborn-style pistachio baklawa. I don't say that lightly; pistachio baklawa is spectacular.

Leading with a headline-grabbing horsepower figure, the ZR1 delivers sharp, predictable handling, unjarring road feel and performance as barmy on pavement as on paper, all without artifice or intimidation. Yes, it’s a Corvette, and while that may confound anyone who assumes the badge signifies rough trade, the ZR1’s excellence won’t surprise anyone whose watched GM’s Corvette program evolve over the past decade.

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Crashing the Car Business

Futurists foresee a world where motorcycle builders go four wheeling, Formula One takes on the city and the Karma comes to life

The Karma: Finland's Valmet Autos will be building the luxurious $80,000 Karma.  Fisker
Fisker automotive, creator of the Fisker Karma prototype hybrid-electric car, announced today that it has signed a production deal with Finland's Valmet Autos to build the luxurious $80,000 Karma.

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BMW Planning Electric Minis for California

The auto-manufacturer aims high with a limited run of Cali-bound e-Minis

As California returns to requiring automakers to sell zero-emissions vehicles, BMW is apparently aiming to get in first on the gold rush. Automotive News reports BMW will export an electric version of its Mini to California. The state's zero-emissions vehicle program will require nearly 60,000 plug-in cars to be sold in the state between 2012 and 2014.

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Ferrari Prius?

Company president confirms hybrid Ferrari in the works

Formula One is introducing a hybrid-drive system for the 2009 season, but the first road car to benefit from the trickle-down effect may come from Ferrari

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Kinetic Energy for Formula One

An innovative fuel-generating system could bring car racing into the green era

Is Formula One racing out of step with an auto industry whose greatest innovations have been in the area of fuel economy?

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Burning Rubber Without Burning Green

To save money on pricey fuel, Ferrari's F1 team orders new simulator for off-track testing

Passenger-car gasoline in Italy costs the equivalent of around nine bucks a gallon. Formula One racing fuel goes for several euros more. And at a (full-speed) fuel consumption rate of between three and four miles per gallon, Ferrari's F1 cars can burn through heaps of Italian green during track testing. That's one reason the company, along with a few other F1-entrenched firms, are betting on the latest virtualization tech to help shave a few Euros off the high cost of testing.

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Vacuuming Up the Competition

Industrial designer James Dyson throws his hat into the electric car ring

British industrial designer James Dyson made a fortune turning a pedestrian household appliance into a fashion item for suburban strivers. Box-store shoppers recognize his bagless vacuum cleaner by that future-sexy, ultra-maneuverable yellow orb that stands in for wheels. Now, according to the UK's Daily Mail Dyson is turning his attention from closet to garage: his firm is reportedly developing an electric car.

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Iguanas, Tigers and SUVs - Oh My!

We take the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan for a test drive to see if it really is the GTI of sport utilities

Sometimes car marketers really earn their shrimp cocktail. Saddled with an unfavorable Euros-to-dollars conversion, Volkswagen North America needed a sales hook to take the edge off the slight premium buyers would pay for its German-built 2009 Tiguan. The answer was to hail the new compact model as "The GTI of SUVs." That tagline implies the Tiguan packs the driving entertainment of the company's sports hatchback, with extra room for lawn chairs, soccer balls and a 72-pack of Mott's.

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When Le Mans Racecars Fly

Should sports-car racing's top dogs be grounded for safety?

The run-up to the annual 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race is always a nail-biting enterprise for race teams. Naturally, techs are most concerned with assuring cars' ability to sustain the day-night race, which is the ultimate test for GT cars and sportscar prototypes that will wind through the Circuit of the Sarthe -- on a combination of racetrack and public roads -- in Le Mans, Sarthe, France. This year there's an added kink keeping teams up nights. It appears the gods of aerodynamics have been sending LeMans prototype-class racecars into the ether with a cosmic finger flick.

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Poise and Luxury on the Track

The freshened 2009 Audi A4 brings smart tuning and luxury touches to the table to compete with genre stalwarts BMW and Lexus

Audi A4 '09 On the Track:  Audi
The business of cars, like that of pop music, is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately proposition. Take Audi, which has moved scores of A4s since the mid-1990s. Like any other automotive hitmaker, every so often it must turn out a fresh one that reads like a John Grisham novel, a force multiplier that reacts to trends and keeps things moving forward. This can get tricky, as Ford found out when it tried to update the popular Taurus in 1996 and wound up, as Britney Spears did with Britney (the one where she tried to write her own songs), on the losing end of a pivotal moment.

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A Motorcycle You Can Wear

This motorized exoskeleton concept looks like the lovechild of Ironman and a Segway—but is it the future of transportation?

The tripod is a fine and stable construct for photography and navigation, but how well will it work for motorcycles? We're not sure,
but one student at California's Art Center Pasadena is challenging singletrack motorcycles and typical three-wheelers with an anthropomorphic, Yamaha-branded three wheeler concept called the Deus Ex Machina.

The forward-looking personal conveyance is a mobile exoskeleton propelled by in-wheel electric motors—or, more succinctly, a trike you can wear.

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