Tata to launch Nano on March 23, begin taking orders April first week in April

The Tata Nano has endured more than its fair share of delays, having originally carried a planned sale date of October, 2008. Needless to say, that time frame came and went with zero Nanos rolling down the assembly line, due to a wide range of issues, not the least of which was a great deal of civil unrest at the first site where production was planned in West Bengal. The Nano's assembly plant was relocated to Gurajat.

All that bad news seems to be over today as Tata has announced that its little city car will finally be launched on March 23 and the Indian automaker will begin accepting orders just a few short weeks later. The price being thrown around is 100,000 rupees, which translates to just under $2,000 in U.S. dollars at current exchange rates. That would make the Nano, which comes equipped with a 625cc twin cylinder gasoline engine, the world's cheapest automobile.

Toyota to launch pure electric car in U.S. by 2012

DETROIT (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp said it would launch an all-electric car for city commuting by 2012 in the United States as part of its plan to speed up the introduction of green cars as its global sales falter.

The FT-EV concept made its debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit Sunday, where the world's top automaker is also unveiling two new gasoline-electric hybrid cars.

The FT-EV concept shares a platform with the tiny iQ urban commuter car, which runs on a gasoline engine and emits just 99 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer.

"Now, more than ever, while we are so focused on the pressing issues of the moment, we cannot lose sight of our future," Irv Miller, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. group vice president, said in a statement.

Toyota said the concept car is targeted at the urban dweller driving up to 50 miles between home and work, for instance.

"Last summer's $4-a-gallon gasoline was no anomaly," Miller said. "It was a brief glimpse of our future."

Toyota, which had previously said it would aim to get an electric car out by the "early part of the next decade," would join rivals General Motors Corp and Nissan Motor Co in the race to grab the lead in the zero-emission car segment.

But Toyota said it still considered gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles its long-term core powertrain technology.

With an aim of selling 1 million hybrids annually soon after 2010, Toyota will launch as many as 10 new hybrid models by then in various markets. The third-generation Prius and the Lexus HS250h, to debut in Detroit, are part of that effort, it said.

General Motors, which Toyota passed in recent years to become the top global automaker by sales, has said it will launch its Chevrolet Volt electric car in the United States in late 2010. GM says the Volt will have a 40-miles range for driving on one battery charge.

(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim, editing by Peter Bohan).

S.F. unveils electric car charging stations

The City of San Francisco unveiled three new electric car charging stations at City Hall, Wednesday, that car-share services can use to power their cars.

Public charging stations will be available to City CarShare and ZipCar vehicles as well as the plug-in hybrid cars now part of San Francisco’s municipal fleet.

“Electric vehicles are the future of transportation and the Bay Area is the testing ground for the technology,” said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom at a press conference for the unveiling of the charging stations.

Zipcar has one plug-in hybrid in its fleet of vehicles.

Campbell-based Coulomb Technologies provided the three charging stations for a two-year demonstration period. But in November, Newsom, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums announced a plan to make the Bay Area the “Electric Vehicle Capital of the U.S.”

The plan includes a partnership with Palo Alto-based Better Place to provide electric vehicle charging stations throughout the Bay Area. Better Place said it will invest $1 billion in its electric vehicle infrastructure here over the next several years.