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Hydrogen power gets up to speed

August 18, 2007|Daniel Yi | Times Staff Writer

Albert Gore III was clocked at more than 100 mph in a Toyota Prius. Perhaps police should be glad he didn't get his hands on a Ford Fusion Hydrogen 999.

Ford Motor Co. said this week that it set a land-speed record for a production-based hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered car when its prototype racer ran 207.3 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Wendover, Utah.

The 999, named after a record-setting 1902 race car owned by company founder Henry Ford, was the first of its kind to attempt a speed record, but the result was impressive nonetheless.

Green car technology is cheered by environmentalists, but it has largely failed to rouse performance enthusiasts. Ford said the work it did to set the speed record would help it develop commercially viable hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

The zero-emission engine, which uses hydrogen to power an electric motor, is one of several alternative-fuel technologies being explored by carmakers, along with ethanol, hybrid technology and plug-in electric power.

2 luxury sedans get top crash ratings

Out of five large luxury sedans tested, only two received the highest safety ratings in side-impact crash tests by the insurance industry.

The Volvo S80 and the Acura RL received ratings of "good," and the Mercedes E Class and the Cadillac STS were "acceptable." The BMW 5 Series received a rating of "marginal," just above the lowest rating of "poor."

Side-impact crashes are the second-most common type of fatal crashes on American roads, behind frontal crashes, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which conducted the tests. About 9,200 people were killed in side-impact crashes in 2005.

The Kia Amanti was also rated "good" for side impact. All tested cars were 2007 models, except for the BMW, which was a 2008 model.

The Volvo S80 also received the highest ratings in previous tests for front and rear crashes.

Pump prices fall again in Southland

Summer temperatures may be rising, but gas prices continued to drop this week, by more than 8 cents in most of the region, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area was $2.864, 8.1 cents less than last week, 26 cents lower than last month and 37 cents lower than a year ago.

The price in San Diego was $2.894, 8.2 cents lower than last week's price, 24 cents lower than last month and 36 cents cheaper than last year.

In the Inland Empire, the average price was $2.847, a drop of 8 cents from last week, 26 cents from last month and 42 cents from last year.


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