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Green Auto News: Nissan Tire Pressure Innovation, Toyota Prius Sales Growth, Fisker Karma Deliveries

Nissan is introducing an innovation in its Altima line of sedans that will help owners maintain proper tire inflation.

Good tire pressure reduces rolling friction and allows a car to run more efficiently. In addition to increasing fuel costs, under-inflated tires also triple a driver's risk of an accident, according to a recent federal study.

Nissan’s Easy Fill Tire Alert system notifies a driver when the pressure in a tire becomes low. When an air hose is connected to the tire, the vehicle lights flash to indicate air is going into the tire and the horn sounds when proper inflation is reached.

"It's one of those simple slap your forehead moments, as to why someone has not thought of it before," said Nissan Product Planner Vishnu Jayamohan.

The system will first be available on 2013 model year Altimas.

The Toyota Prius hybrid became the world’s third best-selling car in the first quarter of 2012, according to a Bloomberg report citing increased U.S. demand and incentives in Japan.

Sales have increased significantly since Toyota expanded the Prius line to a “family” of four models.

Toyota introduced the Prius in Japan in 1997 and has sold 4 million of the vehicles worldwide since then.

Eric Noble, president of the Car Lab, an automotive consultancy in Orange, California, told Bloomberg the ongoing success of the Prius is due in large part to the strength of the brand. “Prius is a Prius first and a Toyota second,” he said. “The fact it’s doing well this year is a reflection of the strength of the model line and the Prius brand.”

The vehicle's impressive fuel efficiency also is helping sales in the U.S. where average gasoline prices remain above $3.50 per gallon.

Fisker Automotive generated more than $100 million in revenue on sales of its luxury plug-in hybrid electric vehicle in the first quarter of 2012.

Bloomberg reports the company delivered 1,000 of its Karma vehicles, which are priced at $103,000. According to the report, the company is back on track to produce a more affordable model after struggling with battery defects and funding issues in the last year.

The company has raised more than $1 billion in funding. But a $529 million Department of Energy loan was put on hold last year until the company proved it was ready to begin deliveries of the Karma.

Bart King is a PR/marketing communications consultant and principal at Cleantech Communications.

Bart King is the principal of New Growth Communications, a network of affiliated content producers and strategists serving clients in the emerging green economy. He is also Associate Editor of Sponsored Content for Sustainable Brands. Follow him @bart_king [Read more about Bart King]

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