EarthTechling report: singing electric cars, cargo ships with sails and more

EarthTechling

EarthTechling is a Portland-based online consumer publication focused on all things green technology that aims to bring different voices to the cleantech revolution discussion. From clean energy and electric vehicles to green gadgets and green buildings, our passionate team, contributing partners and readers weigh in on the latest green news, services and products.

Here's a roundup of what was popular over at our friends website EarthTechling this week:

1. Plug-In Electric Car Sales a Mixed Bag in April — So far, electric vehicles sales have been mixed in the US, with the Chevy Volt selling much higher than in 2011, but seeing a slight slump from its record high in March. Meanwhile, the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid chugged along, and the Nissan Leaf struggled on the market.

2. US Solar Aid in Line with Fossil Fuels, Study Says — Disproving critics of the Obama administration's backing of solar companies, a University of Tennessee study shows that emerging energy technologies have always been boosted by the government, and that in this case, it's a good thing. Solar energy investment has shown to generate jobs and help established technologies become more competitive. The study also warns against seeing bankruptcies like Solyndra as foreshadowing of the future, as business failures happen all the time, in all fields.

3. Cargo Ships With Sails Seen as Big Fuel Saver — Getting back to basics, it's being suggested that in order to cut back on fuel consumption, cargo ships ought to be fitted with sails, enabling them to catch the wind when they can, and get a free, and clean, ride. The University of Tokyo has created a model called the Wind Challenger, which features retractable, aluminum and plastic sails--more like airplane wings than traditional sails--that can be positioned for optimal wind capturing.

4. Audi Electric Cars to Sing Their Own Unique Songs — Audi's R8 e-tron electric cars are nearly silent, which can pose hazards to pedestrians. To combat this, Audi has created "e-sounds," which produce "melodies" unique to the car and based on its signals. They emanate from a loudspeaker mounted underneath the body of the car. The sounds have been specially constructed to be as pleasant as possible for the unwary pedestrian, but do no infiltrate the car's interior.

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