BMW Group Posts 7.0 Percent Sale Rise In May

Thanks to the rising sales of the new BMW X5 and Mini hatch, BMW Group managed to increase sales in May 2007 by 7.0 percent to 128.408 units. According to the world’s largest premium carmaker, BMW-brand sales rose 5.8 percent from a year earlier to 108,488 units, while Mini sales increased by 14.0 percent compared to May 2006, climbing up to 19,864 cars. As for Rolls Royce, the British brand sold 56 vehicles, exactly the same as last May. Comparatively, the Mercedes Group’s (Mercedes-Benz & Smart) sales rose by 2.9 percent in May 2007 to 116.000 cars (partially due to the introduction of the new C-Class and Fortwo) while Audi’s sales advanced 10.0 percent in May 07 to just over 87.000 units.

  • Brand: – May 07 – Difference May 06/07 – YTD 07 – Difference YTD 06/07
  • BMW Group Automobile: – 128.408 – +7,0% – 580.043 – +2,1%
  • BMW: – 108.488 – +5,8% – 494.712 – +1,9%
  • MINI: – 19.864 – +14,1% – 85.110 – +3,5%
  • Rolls-Royce: – 56 -0% – 221 – +3,3%
  • BMW Motorräder: – 12.289 – -1,1% – 47.632 – +9,1%

Technorati: BMW, cars, autos, vehicles

Solar Power Getting 40% Cheaper by 2010

The all-knowing (or at least oft-correct) Worldwatch Institute has just released a report saying that they expect the cost of solar panels to drop 40% in the next few years. The recent explosive growth in the solar power industry has caused a world-wide shortage of silicon that will soon be ending.

Silicon manufacturers are currently strugling to keep up with demand, but high prices means that new silicon manufacturing plants are being built all over the world at break-neck pace. This is and isn’t a good thing. We should all be hoping for some simple-to-manufacture silicon alternative because silicon is somewhat environmentally costly to produce. But not as environmentally costly as more coal-fired power plants.

But, in short, there will soon be a world-wide surplus of silicon, driving raw material prices for solar way way down, up to 40% in just three years. Worldwatch estimates that the threat to traditional utilities by solar will be signficant by 2010, and they will be either looking to get in on the game themselves or muscle solar out through some dirty underhanded tactics.

But for the average EcoGeek, this is pretty exciting. By 2010, you might have an inexpensive solar roof charging your sleek and stylish Chevy Volt plug-in.

Via TreeHugger and Worldwatch

OLPC is the Greenest Laptop ("By a Factor of Ten")

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program is moving ahead with orders from Nigeria, and strong interest in the machines from Uruguay, Nigeria, Pakistan, Argentina, Brazil, Thailand, and Libya. The computers are destined to be the possessions of the kids, not the schools so the kids will have an incentive to take care of them.

The specs for this small laptop are impressive, the first models, the OLPC XO-1 will have:

  • 700 Mhz AMD x86 processor (They went to Intel first, but Intel dropped the ball by not responding fast enough. AMD ended up with the contract.)
  • 256 M Ram
  • 1G flash memory provides instant on and very long battery life. Your typical hard drive sucks a lot of power.
  • 3 USB Ports
  • Inbuilt Video
  • Wifi mesh network (kids can collaborate, text message etc.)
  • Rugged (survives drops that would kill an ordinary computer. No hard drive to crash.)
  • Stereo sound with 2 audio output jacks
  • Dual mode display for indoor and outdoor viewing (sunlight readable)
  • Highest resolution in dots per inch than any laptop they know of
  • Extreme low power: 2W Nominal. (A well-nourished person can generate 15-20W with the “pencil-yellow hand crank”. TheyÂ’ve got it so you can get 10 minutes of use out of 1 minute of cranking.)
  • Adjustable ear antennae give it 2-3x range for picking up wifi.
  • Sugar user interface (you should check this out, very abstract looking)
  • Wide range of alternative power inputs  
  • “Greenest laptop by factor of ten” (1/2 size, 1/2 weight, 1/3 part count, RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive) compliant, no Hg, Cd, Pb, etc.)
  • Fedora Linux, Windows XP ready (which is convenient as Microsoft just announced that theyÂ’d be selling versions of the Windows OS for $3 in select developing countries.)

First thoughts are that the amount of memory seems tiny and 1Gig storage… even tinier, but the OS is very efficient and I can remember being impressed by a lot less not so long ago.

Other benefits: no bloatware (that heinous stuff that you never want that ships on your brand new laptop and takes up space/processor power), no capslock (becaUSE WHO USES…darnit…stupid capslock), AND peer to peer everything (woohoo!)

A friend of mine who ran a program that brought computers and laptops to the Detroit Public Schools pointed out that tech support may be the Achilles heel of the project. Not much has been said of the OLPC tech support. In areas where there is little or no communications infrastructure this could be a concern.

Much thanks to Catherine Laine at AIDG for this info, there is much more at the AIDG Blog.

Sony: Children Should Power Their Own Toys

Editor’s note, this post is by guest writer Evan Vella, who actually speaks Japanese…lord wouldn’t that be a fantastic asset to any gadget blog. Lets hope we can get him to come on full time!

Batteries not included? BAH! It looks like Sony is aiming to harness the boundless energy of children by having them generate electricity through cranking, rolling, and twirling their gadgets. This new line of kinetic devices with interchangeable power sources is called ODO. The meaning behind the word “ODO” remains as opaque as the genesis of Japanese ball-kicking porn.

ODO, much like Voltron, is composed of five components with interesting Engrish names:

  1. A kinetic engine (“Push POWER Play”)
  2. A still camera (“Spin N’ Snap”)
  3. A solar array (“Juice Box”)
  4. A digital video camera (“Crank N’ Capture”)
  5. Stereo headphones (“Pull N’ Play”)

The “Spin N’ Snap” still camera doubles as its own crank; its mild mannered viewfinders are also finger-holds for cranking. The “Crank N’ Capture” digital video camera, true to its name, has a top-side crank, and resembles a sleek, miniaturized version of an early 20th century movie camera. The cameras derive supplemental energy through “Push POWER Play”, a boxy screen with a roller base. Kids roll “Push POWER Play” to generate additional electricity, and presumably attach it to the camera.

Because cranking and rolling may not be enough to power a digital camera, the children also have recourse to solar energy: “Juice Box,” a credit card-sized object, which morphs accordion-style into a solar panel array. The variety of power sources is ingenious, because, regardless of the situation, an alternative power source is available. When stuck on a packed commuter train with no space for cranking and rolling, a kid might still be able to capture some sun; while at night, cranking and rolling theoretically will suffice to power ODO devices.

The key components of the ODO line are the kinetic engine and the solar panel array. They can be used interchangeably to power ODO-brand cameras, headphones, and other devices Sony chooses to include in the brand if the prototype is successful. Sony hinted at plans to used simplified packaging and recycled plastic in the manufacturing of ODO products as part of their broader “Sustainable Product” initiative.

Via: Makoto Ichiro Tanaka, DigiCame Watch and Donald Melanson, Engadget

GM Awards Battery Control Contracts

Exciting news from the auto-world. General Motors has just awarded contracts to Compact Power and Continental Automotive Systems to create the battery systems for a new line of high-efficiency vehicles. One of those vehicles is the (potentially) awesome Chevy Volt that they announced earlier this year.

These two companies will be producing battery control systems, especially focusing on longevity and safety. GM hopes to get at least 10 years, the expected life of a car. They also are working on ways to measure battery cell charge, as overcharging sometimes causes batteries to fail. Even though it is early, GM is confident that they will have working batteries by June next year.

Every move GM makes puts the Chevy Volt closer to our hands. Hopefully the follow through will continue and we will finally see a sexy, mass produced Detroit car…with a plug sticking out the back.

Via AutoBlogGreen and GM Fastlane

Alfa Romeo Motorcycle With A 4-Cylinder Boxer Engine!

From time to time we like crossing over to the wonderful world of two-wheels. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to stumble upon really weird creations like the 3wheeler Mercedes SLK or the Alfa bike you’re seeing here that attempt to mix characteristics from both worlds -cars and motorcycles. Not always with the same success apparently. While there’s no info on the heavily modified bike, it seems to be wearing a 4cylinder Alfa Romeo boxer motor combined with some parts that look to have come from a BMW motorcycle boxer engine. -More pictures after the jump


ΟPEC Threatens To Drive Oil-Prices Through The Roof

This is exactly what we needed now; OPEC warning – threatening (take your pick) through its secretary-general, Abdalla El-Badri, that if the West continues to develop bio-fuels as an alternative energy source to combat climate change, the price of oil could go “through the roof” as the cartel’s members will start cutting investment in new oil production.

OPEC (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) which controls about 40 per cent of world oil production, plans to spend about $130bn until 2012 to raise oil output. Iraq production apart, the petrol cartel forecasts a capacity of 39.7m barrels of crude oil per day in 2010, up from today’s 35.7m b/d. El-Badri told FTP that OPEC also plans to invest another $500bn in production development during the period 2013 to 2020. However, always according to El-Badri, that could change depending on the biofuels outlook.

And to think that world production of biofuels were equal to a mere 1 per cent of all road transport fuel in 2005! To make a long story short, what those democratic and anthropocentric fellas at OPEC are telling is, stop trying to find alternative fuels or we’re going to shove a raise so deep up your rass that it’ll take your economies years to recover.

Source: FTP , Via: Edmunds Straightline

Give Blood for Oil

No…I’m serious. Gasoline is now so coveted in America, that folks are swapping one life-giving, all-powerful fluid for another. Yep, if you donate blood to the American Red Cross in Pennsylvania or New Jersey this summer, you’ll get a chance to win $3,500 in gas!

I guess it would be creepier if it were a direct swap (thanks for the blood, will that be regular or premium.) So I guess there’s nothing wrong with a little incentive..we’re all for blood donations. We just wish people didn’t want / need gasoline quite this bad.
Via AutoBlogGreen

WINDPOWER 2007: Industry Taking Bird Kill Seriously

They pretty much have to, thanks to coal-state congressman Nick Rahall
(R-West Virginia) who, concerned that the occasional deadly intersection
between birds and wind turbines constitutes "a violation of the Migratory
Bird Act and the Endangered Species Act," and so is pushing legislation that
would seriously curtail the generation of wind energy in the United States.
(Never mind that Audubon Society president John Flicker has given the wind
industry his blessing, saying that while we can measure how many birds are
killed in wind turbines every year the number killed by coal-fired power plants
is almost impossible to count.)

In any case, having attended the American Wind Energy Association’s annual
conference this year, it seemed clear that the industry was taking the issue
seriously (despite the fact that house cats kill more birds each year than
wind turbines — a few hundred million more).

The first thing they did was
admit responsibility: when they built a wind farm in Northern California’s
Altamont Pass, says congressman and wind advocate Jerry McNerney, "we had no
idea that birds would fly into those windmills. We figured they could see
better than us!" To address the problem, AWEA president Randall Swisher has
pledged to create a "wind wildlife institute" which will study the impact of
wind technology on birds and bats, and work to find technological solutions
to the problem.

But there was evidence on WINDPOWER 2007’s exhibit floor
that such innovations were already taking place: several companies were
marketing new, extra-tall wind turbine towers that not only put rotor blades
above the flight path of most birds, but take better advantage of
high-altitude, higher-velocity windspeeds. Hopefully the industry won’t be
playing defense on these kinds of issues (or non-issues, as the case may be)
for much longer.

Google Public Transit is Amazing

Oh Google, how you amuse me. This isn’t much use in my tiny town, but for those big-city dwellers out there, your mass-transit life just got much easier. Just go to and type in your location and destination, and Google will tell you how to get to your location using mass transit. Google even works out walking times to bus stations and subway stops.

You’ll get a brief overview of your trip, along with cute little arrows indicating where you have to walk to. Plus, Google will tell you exactly how much your trip will cost you for bus / subway fairs, compare that with how much it would cost to drive your own car at current gas prices!

If that’s not cool enough, it’ll even give you several different routes to choose from, including what time you should leave your house to get to the bus-stop on time. MARVELOUS!

Now, if it was just available in more cities…we could really give Google a gold star.

Via AutoBlogGreen

Uber-Eco-Towers: The Top Ten Green Skyscrapers

Green skyscrapers offer so much for the average EcoGeek to drool over. Each one can contain hundreds of innovations that make the world a cleaner place, they build up, rather than out, and many of them are frikkin gorgeous.

Lucky for us, more and more eco-towers are popping up all the time. In fact, a symposium about greenscrapers called Mixed Greens: An International Survey of State-of-the-Art Sustainable Skyscraper Design just wrapped up last month in NYC.

Lucky for us, Jon Schroeder is on the case, and is bringing us the top ten green skyscrapers.

The Age of Windustry

Day one of the Windpower 2007 conference has come to an end, and having just
rubbed elbows with something like 6,000 attendees, 400-plus exhibitors and
national legislators and policymakers from around the country, I thought I’d
try to make sense of it all. The confab
was put on by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), and heavily
attended by many of folk who belong to it: wind energy producers,
manufacturers who produce things like wind turbines, poles, and transmission
lines and wind outreach and education organizations. The conference features
tons of panels, discussions and presentations, but much of the talk at this
year’s Windpower focused on just a few issues: 

  • A lot of people -­ and not just wind industry representatives, either ­-
    believe that wind energy is and will remain an increasingly crucial part of
    our national renewable energy portfolio. No one had anything particularly
    negative to say about nuclear or other non-c02-emitting power generation
    technologies, but all agreed that of those other options, none were as ready
    as wind power was to step up to the plate and work. (It takes
    years and years to bring a nuclear power plant online, for instance, and not
    nearly as long to build and permit wind turbines). The wind industry feels
    that its golden moment is now.
  • The AWEA has set a really tough goal for itself and for the wind industry:
    to produce 20% of the U.S.’ power by the year 2020. As good as that sounds,
    no one really knows how it’s going to be accomplished. Panelist Bob
    Lukefahr, of BP¹s alternative fuels division, stressed the challenges: It
    will require "technology we haven’t invented yet," he said, and entails "political and economic complexity this business has never faced before."
    For starters, they’re going to have to figure out how to deliver
    all that energy; even if we had the turbines to do it right now, it would
    cost at least $60 billion to build the transmission lines to get that power
    onto the country’s grid, according to AWEA President Randall Swisher.
  • The future of the wind industry depends on the White House, and if the
    next few presidents we have aren’t wind-friendly, wind will stay small for
    the long haul.

The good news is, there are plenty of states out there interested in having
the wind industry set up shop in their regions. At Monday’s confab alone,
the mayor of Los Angeles and the governors of Montana and Iowa made nice to
the assembled windustryites, and at least one congressman (D.C.’s own Jerry
McNerney) and a senator (Tom Daschle) lent their support to the cause as a
whole. In short, the industry is booming, consumer interest in renewable
energy has never been higher, and the future ­ depending in part on what
happens in the 2008 election ­ looks bright.