Tech Culture: The electric drive
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Tech Culture: The electric drive

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Find out which Hollywood blockbuster used solar power generators, Apple lets you recharge, and we test drive the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i Miev.

-Hey, I'm Mark Licea and this week, we test drive electric cars, Apple has a battery recharger, and find out what summer blockbuster movie used solar power on the set. The Green Show starts now. Battery powered electric cars are leaving the stage and CNET got some alone time with two models. Brian Cooley has more. -The Leaf looks like a Nissan Versa that ate too many cookies, but that means this four door with its wheels pushed way out into the corners is a spacious real world compact car. It will go about a hundred miles on a full charge, then needs eight hours on a 220 outlet, or sixteen hours on a 110 outlet, to completely refill its lithium ion batteries. This LCD navigation head unit will be standard because it incorporates all kinds of EV survival tools, like a range indicator on the map, and icons showing charging stations you can get to with your remaining juice. Price on this guy will be just shy of $33,000, but that's before a $7500 federal tax credit and, potentially, thousands more in credits depending on what state you live in. We probably won't see Mitsubishi's i-MiEV until late 2011, although real world samples are here for testing. Now this car is narrow and tall looking with a chipmunk face. It, too, is rated at about a hundred miles on a full charge with about the same charging times as the Leaf, but the i-MiEV is a simpler car, at least for now without the elaborate electronics and the center console, and it has more Spartan build quality. Price is still a guesstimate but maybe $30,000 before the same credits the Leaf qualifies for. Now, both these cars have the magic of electric power, that transforms into driving into something effortless like you've never known before, but in exchange for that, you get this nagging concern about range that never really leaves your mind. The actual range we got varied widely in each car, by terrain, driving style, and whether or not we were using the heater. Add to that the fact that places to charge are still few and far between and that 110 outlets are really just for long, slow survival charges, and you quickly get the idea that infrastructure where you live is as big a deal as which EV you buy. For the Green Show, I'm Brian Cooley in San Francisco. -If you haven't seen the movie Inception yet, you should, and according to Mother Nature Network, te set of the film used solar powered generators. -Something you should know about me. I specialize in a very specific type of security. -Reportedly, Leonardo di Caprio suggested that Warner Bros. use solar power on the set and the inception of his idea became a reality. They're saying it's the first eco-friendly Hollywood blockbuster. Apple updated their iMac line last week but they also released a double A battery charger, nothing groundbreaking but the charger will shut off once the batteries are fully recharged. Apple claims the batteries will last you 10 years and you can purchase the charger for $29. That's the show for this week, I'm Mark Licea, thanks for watching.

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