Monthly Archives: May 2010

VW BlueMotion Models Receives 2010 World Green Car Award

Here at Autopia, we have long been smitten by Volkswagen’s BlueMotion equipped models. Whether they’ve been BlueMotion Golfs or diesel hybrids or BlueMotion VWs making it into Green Car of The Year finalists, it has always seemed like a really good engine to us.

It seems that it’s not just the crew at Autopia that feel that way, but so does the World Car of The Year organization, who have just awarded Volkswagen’s BlueMotion brand the 2010 World Green Car of the Year Award.

Volkswagen’s BlueMotion cars are comprised of the Golf, Passat, and Polo models fitted with ultra efficient and relatively clean burning diesel engines.

The award for Green Car of The Year was given by 59 World Car jurors representing 25 countries throughout the world. The jury gave the top award to the BlueMotion brand over the two other finalists in the 2010 World Green Car award, the Honda Insight and the Toyota Prius.

“It is not necessary to add an electric motor and a heavy battery pack to achieve class-leading efficiency. Based on Volkswagen’s common-rail diesel engines, the BlueMotion models are among the most fuel-efficient vehicles on the market. In fact, the Passat BlueMotion can travel just about 1,000 miles on one tank of fuel in the European cycle. As far as internal combustion engines go today, these models are the ultimate you can get,” said the juror’s award statement.

Volkswagen was, naturally, quite proud of receiving this accolade: “BlueMotion is one of the most successful efficiency brands worldwide. It stands for tremendous competence in efficient and economical drive trains at Volkswagen,” Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, said.

The trophy was picked up at this year’s New York International Auto Show on Thursday morning by Walter de’Silva, head of design for Volkswagen Group.

Does Cash for Clunkers Help the Environment? It’s Debatable

Buyer’s remorse may be setting in for some who question whether the government’s cash for clunkers program is really all it’s supposed to be.

Sold as an economic stimulus and an environmental salve, the “cash for clunkers” program has succeeded in jump-starting the ailing auto industry. But some environmental and national security watchdogs are now arguing that the harm caused by destroying the used vehicles — required by the government trade-in program — may outweigh the benefits of exchanging pollution-spewing gas guzzlers for new, more efficient cars.

“Disposing of old products, a step required by most incentive and rebate programs, also has environmental costs,” Gwen Ottinger, a researcher at the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s Center for Contemporary History and Policy in Philadelphia, wrote in an opinion article published in The Washington Post on Tuesday.

“It takes energy to shred and recycle metals; plastic components often cannot be recycled and end up as landfill cover; and the engine fluids, refrigerants and other chemicals essential to operating products end up as hazardous wastes,” she wrote.

Others say it also does nothing to reduce America’s dependency on oil.

“Cash for clunkers is a historic mistake for America because it misapplies billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize more fuel inefficient cars that are bad for our dependence on foreign oil and bad for the environment,” said Edwin Black, author of “The Plan: How to Save America When the Oil Stops — or the Day Before.”

Black told that lawmakers had the right idea to get more fuel efficient vehicles on the road but executed it poorly. He said it’s too early to say how many vehicles purchased get 18 to 20 mpg rather than 30 to 35 mpg. 

“It could have also formed the basis for a crash program of fuel switching in the event of an oil interruption, which is being threatened by Iran as recently as this morning,” he said. “What we have now is a jobs program-bailout disguised as fuel efficient move.”

The Senate is weighing whether to pass a $2 billion extension of the program that the House approved overwhelmingly on Friday, tripling the initial cost.

As of Monday afternoon, $536.8 million worth of rebates had been processed through the government program, representing 133,767 new vehicles, according to figures provided by the Department of Transportation. An additional 100,000 to 130,000 were expected to be processed to reach the $1 billion set aside. 

Another $2 billion is expected to generate the sale of about 500,000 more vehicles.

Data released by the Obama administration showed the new vehicles purchased under the program were 61 percent more fuel-efficient than the trade-ins.

The average fuel economy of new vehicles purchased under the CARS program is 25.4 mpg and the average fuel economy of vehicles traded in is 15.8 mpg, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson wrote in a letter to senators.

“This improvement will save the typical buyer $700 to $1,000 per year in fuel costs,” they wrote. “In addition to the money saved on gas, people using the program will have safer cars and lower repair costs, and they will dramatically reduce the pollution released by their vehicles.”

To date, 83 percent of the trade-ins have been trucks and 60 percent of the new vehicles have been cars, the administration officials wrote. “New cars under the program are 18 percent more fuel efficient than the average new car currently available. This means the program is raising the average fuel economy of the fleet, while removing the dirtiest and most polluting vehicles from the road.”

They added that nearly half of new vehicles purchased under the program are from the Big Three automakers.

But the Obama administration is refusing to release government records to substantiate the claims. LaHood said his department will provide the data as soon as possible but did not specify a time frame or promise release of the data before the Senate votes.

Even so, the fuel efficiency gains helped sway Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California and Chuck Schumer of New York and Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine to maintain their support for the program they had originally sponsored. 

The three had complained that smaller rebates of $3,500 were going to people buying new cars that get as little as 4 more miles per gallon more than the gas-guzzlers they traded in.

“The original intent of the ‘clunkers’ program was to encourage people to buy more fuel efficient vehicles, and the data so far tells us that’s exactly what’s happening,” Feinstein said in a statement. “So I believe the right decision at this time is that the program should be extended.”

But Ottinger said lawmakers are not looking at all the data.

“It’s likely if you’re trading something in for a much more fuel-efficient vehicle, then those costs are outweighed by the fuel efficiency over the vehicle’s lifetime, but that depends on the vehicle’s lifetime,” she said, adding that several assumptions exist in the program’s stated objectives.

Ottinger told that figures on energy costs in production and disposal were not readily available.

“What I do believe to be the case is the running costs of an automobile — the costs entailed in operating the vehicle-burning gas — is probably the bulk of energy costs and the disposal and manufacturing is relatively less.”

Under the program, the government is advising car dealers to replace a trade-in’s engine oil with a lethal sodium silicate solution and run the engine to ruin it before giving to selling the car to a scrap dealer.

The Automotive Recycler’s Association says that means more waste, since the damage prevents the resale of parts like pistons as well as smaller profits for scrap yards, since it can cost $700 to $1,200 to process a car, including transport and removing toxic items like mercury.

ARA Executive Vice President Michael Wilson said that recycling auto parts saves 85 million gallons of oil per year in energy savings alone.

The two parts most in demand on the resale market are the engine block and the drive train, accounting for 60 percent of used-parts sales, he said. But when cars are scrapped, the engine block is destroyed by the silicon, and the drive train can be sold only under certain conditions.

“Why throw away good parts when the supply chain is in jeopardy? It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” Wilson told The Associated Press. 

But Jim Burton, a service manager at Randy Curnow Buick-Pontiac-GMC in Kansas City, Mo., said other parts of the vehicle besides the engine can be recycled and that will help people who can’t or wont’ trade in their cars.

“Doors, hoods, transmission, interior components can be reused. But a lot of people still have these cars, they can’t trade them or won’t, but they’re in pretty sad shape. This is going to give an opportunity for salvage yards and people to sell some of the components and maybe bring the car back to better condition,” he said.

He said some people have been calling him about donating the trade-ins to charities but he added he’s required to disable them.

Alternative Fuel Vehicles – Going Green?

Do you know what is the most significant problem facing us today? One which might end up in ruining humanity for all times! Not only that, but destroy the world as we know it? Global Warming! I am sure you must have heard of it. But it does not seem so dire when we just theorize about it offhand, does it? Not nuclear warfare or diseases but global warming and environmental pollution are going to be the worst causes of destruction of the earth! So what are you going to do to save this planet that we live in? Start limiting pollution, of course! You can use alternative fuel vehicles as a small part of stopping pollution.

According to records, there are about 600,000,000 cars around the world. That is one car for every 11 persons and the ratio is far higher in the developing countries like China and India. These vehicles use petroleum and petroleum products as fuel, which results in polluting the air due to emissions. This affects people causing various diseases and might even lead to devastation. Over 500,000 Americans die every year due to diseases caused by air pollution. So now you know why it is so important to stop pollution of our environment.

Alternative fuel vehicles use fuel which is different from the ‘traditional’ fuels like petrol or diesel. They can use bio-fuels, electricity or solar energy or compressed air as fuel for their engines. This means that there is less pollution by their use. Bio-diesel is a great option for those of you who already use vehicles with a diesel engine. You can switch from diesel to bio-diesel without any problem.

But one thing you must remember is that these alternative fuel vehicles are not entirely emission free. If you want a vehicle which has zero emission, you might want to go for a vehicle which is powered by electricity. However, this does not mean that they are preserving the environment. The electricity they consume is produced by burning other fossil fuels most of the time.

But using electric cars as alternative fuel vehicles is better than others because of the low emission, which prevents the greenhouse effect. This means lower global warming total.

There are several guides which help you to choose the best alternative fuel vehicles. You can refer to those to get more information about this subject. So what are you waiting for? Get an alternative fuel vehicle and do your bit for the Earth!

For more detailed information on alternative fuel vehicles, visit

Carry Your Mini Air Compressor Anywhere You Need It

Carry them here and bring them there, Air Compressor Pumps can be taken and used anywhere. So I told my buddy, Adam, the other day. And he said to me, “Anywhere? That I would want to see. I am certain I can think of a place that cannot be.”

So I agreed to the dare and asked him where he would need to see me work my air compressor. “Ok,” he said, “certain spots are obvious for good portable Air Compressor Pumps to roam, so let’s begin there, some place easy such as your home.”

As he said, it was easy as pie. I run my air compressor around my home all the time. I used it with my nailer to put up a deck in the yard and to put up the crown moulding in the living room (and with the chop saw I used to cut the moulding). I used the caulking gun to recaulk the shower stall, and a sander to revive a worn-out coffee table. Oh, and after I was done building my gazebo, I used a spray gun along with my portable air compressor for a fast way to spray on the varnish. This is definitely a must-have tool in your house!

“Sure”, he said, “I understand that was simple, but would you, could you, use it in a zoo?”
A zoo? Finding uses for it in a zoo would be just as easy.. Put yourself in the shoes of a zoo keeper and just realize what can be completed. First take a few portable air compressors and each use a grease gun to oil all the cage doors. No more squeaks to annoy the caretakers or irritate the animals galore! And since it is portable, I just move my compressor from cage to cage. And, since I’m already there with my air compressor, why not also use it along with my grinder to take off any rust that might have developed on the cage bars! The uses are limitless, and these are just a handful to prove to my friend that you can, in fact, use an air compressor in a zoo!
“Ok, I guess that wasn’t too difficult. But can you find a way to use it up on your rooftop?

Actually, I thought, that is not that hard either, I certainly would, I could, use portable air compressors on a roof! When up there I may use a drill to tighten the screws holding the vents. To clean up dirty vents, I can just use my grinder to make them sparkle like new again! If I’m up on a flat rooftop, I could even use my spray gun to put on a new coat of paint.

“Ok, you seem to have some easy locations covered without much trouble, but,” said Sam with a glimmer in his eyes, “I bet I may just stump you yet. What might you do with one on the Great Wall of China?” China, what? I’ve traveled there previously so at least I am aware of what is in store. First, although it is portable, I imagine that there is no chance I can take my air compressor as a carry on, so it needs to be checked! And because no extension cord can reach long enough, a gas generator is necessary. Now, I simply took one tool with me, as I generally knew what I had to do, and so I took a cleaning gun. As the wall was ancient, and visited often, it was full of a lot of mud and filth. It took awhile, but cleanworking day and night it wasn’t long before the entire wall was sparkling in the sun. Once that wall was all cleaned up, I heard reports that it was now visible from way out in space!

Now, most portable air compressors do not get to do an act so noble, but regardless of their use, they are able to be used any place you can imagine.

New solar plane takes maiden voyage

A plane designed to fly day and night using solar power has successfully taken its first maiden flight.

The Solar Impulse HB-SIA soared into the air for its first flight early Wednesday from its home in Switzerland. After a smooth takeoff, the plane climbed to an altitude of 1,200 meters (3,937 feet or three-quarters of a mile) and stayed aloft for a total of 87 minutes. Pilot Markus Scherdel used the flight to run the Impulse through different exercises and maneuvers to see how it would handle itself.

The Solar Impulse takes its maiden flight.

As thousands of spectators gazed skyward, Scherdel worked the controls to take the plane on a series of intricate turns and then steered the Impulse to simulate its approach and landing phases. Though piloting an aircraft so big and light is considered both difficult and risky, Scherdel’s maiden flight proved a success from takeoff to landing.

“This first flight was for me a very intense moment,” said Scherdel as he stepped down from the aircraft following the flight. “The HB-SIA behaved just as the flight simulator told us. Despite its immense size and feather weight, the aircraft’s controllability matches our expectations.”

The Solar Impulse HB-SIA is designed to fly without the need for fuel. Though its wingspan is as wide as that of a Boeing 474, the plane weighs only around 1.7 tons. The 12,000 solar panels on its wing collect energy from the sun to drive its four electric motors and charge the plane’s lithium polymer batteries, allowing it to fly at night.

Though the plane will ultimately use solar power for an upcoming flight this year, the maiden flight relied solely on the batteries, which were powered up beforehand in the hangar. The Solar Impulse’s first official flight followed a successful test flight in December, which was labeled more of a “flea hop” since the plane only traveled 3.2 feet off the ground for a distance of 1,148 feet.

Wednesday’s flight was the first to see how the plane would fare at a high altitude over a longer duration. It was also considered the riskiest phase of the project by Solar Impulse CEO and co-founder Andr? Borschberg as the 87-minute journey represented the culmination of seven years of research and testing. Borschberg said that the success of the maiden flight brought about a greater sense of serenity to move forward to the next phase.

Next on the plane’s itinerary will be further test flights, each one increasing the distance and duration that it stays in the air. The first day-and-night flight is scheduled for this summer to see if the Impulse can remain aloft for 36 hours operating on just solar power and batteries. Grander ambitions lie ahead for 2012 with a flight that will navigate around the world in five hops over the course of four to six days.

The Solar Impulse reached an altitude of 3,937 feet on its 87-minute voyage.

(Credit: Solar Impulse/Stephane Gros)

“We still have a long way to go until the night flights and an even longer way before flying round the world, but today, thanks to the extraordinary work of an entire team, an essential step towards achieving our vision has been taken,” said Solar Impulse Chairman and initiator Bertrand Piccard, in a statement. “Our future depends on our ability to convert rapidly to the use of renewable energies. Solar Impulse is intended to demonstrate what can be done already today by using these energies and applying new technologies that can save natural resources.”

Car Donations And Disaster Readiness.

Winter may be officially gone but it will not be easily forgotten, in some areas this extreme season is ending with a bang. Parts of Okalahoma received approximately ten inches of blowing snow on the first official day of spring which affected roads, power and even caused deaths in the region. While other parts of the country are starting to warm up their severe weather worries are far from over. Red Cross Dallas has provided information for what to do in case of a tornado on its website. This year’s weather has been anything but calm and shows signs of continuing intensity. This means that Red Cross will be busy and needs all the help it can get. You can give assistance in the form of time, money or a car donation. Depending on your local chapter your car donation may go toward funding or actually be used to help people during a disaster. The condition of the car is not important even if the vehicle cannot be resold with the profits going back to your local chapter the proceeds from the salvagable portions of the vehicle are still of value. just the donation.


Now that the weather is changing areas like the Midwest and southern are bracing for the possibility of tornadoes. Donated cars are an important part of funds for a lot of chapters. Red Cross Dallas is telling residents to be prepared by having emergency kits, contacts and plans in place if and when disaster strikes. Though tornadoes don’t usually last long they can do and incredible amount of damage in a short period of time. Donating your non running car you can help your local Red Cross get people to safety and be on the scene as soon as it’s safe to do so. Even if you don’t live in an area that is particularly prone to natural disasters it never hurts to be prepared and donating your car could help Red Cross save lives.

Going green could have saved the lives of the 25 West Virginia coal miners

Massey Energy Company, the largest producer of Central Appalachian coal, is the company responsible for the deaths of 25 West Virginia miners. Despite boasting about their safety in 2009, the mine had been fined several times for the safety violations that went ignored and wound up not properly ventilating the methane gas from the mine, which resulted in an explosion.

Why would they ignore violations? Because of demand.

The demand for coal in the US is enormous because both individuals and businesses demand cheap electricity. If the US can switch to investing in more renewable resources and individuals make the choice to purchase green power, incidences like the mine explosion on Monday can be completely avoidable.

Carbon dioxide pollution in the US is 5.8 billion metric tons (2008). Of this 5.8 billion, coal accounts for 2.1 billion or 36.5 percent.

According to the Department of Energy, in 2009 the US produced 1 billion short tons of coal of which Massey produced 36.7 million tons bringing them a revenue of $2.3 billion and a net income of $104 million. The net income alone tells you why the US hasn’t made the switch.
Coal is a money making machine that is comparatively inexpensive, but has many hidden costs. Coal is extremely inefficient. When burned, some of the best power plants only achieve 30 of the energy potential of coal and the rest is usually wasted.  It also releases toxic chemicals like mercury into the air, which directly effects the health of those living near the power plant. The environmental impact of mining for coal is detrimental to West Virginia. The mineral content of the springs in the area of the mines are so intense that it is a dead zone where no animals can live, but the biggest impact is the human element. 25 people have died as a result of the demand for cheap electricity.

So what can we do to avoid this in the future? It’s actually quite simple. Make the switch to green energy. In the DC area there are options for everyone that include wind or solar credits. Making the switch will increase the demand for these forms of energy, which will then cause companies to build more sustainable, renewable sources of energy and coal miners in West Virginia won’t have to to die anymore.

A few of the many companies from which you can buy 100% renewable resource credits at a reasonable price are:

Clean Currents offers 100% wind power for residential and businesses at the following rates for a 2 year contract (does not include distribution):

  • Maryland BGE customers: 10.8 cents per kWh
  • Maryland Pepco customers: 10.8 cents per kWh
  • Maryland Allegheny Power customers: 8.9 cents per kWh
  • DC Pepco customers: 10.8 cents per kWh

Dominion Power customers in Virginia can purchase 100% Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) directly from Dominion on their website.

CIBC forms team to focus on green energy

CIBC has become the first major Canadian bank to form an investment team focused on green energy and clean technology markets, forging a path that industry experts say is likely to be followed by its big-bank rivals.

Canada’s fifth-largest bank announced Tuesday it has appointed Don Roberts, a former managing director and forestry analyst at CIBC World Markets Inc., as vice-chairman of the new wholesale banking team.

Roberts told the Star the decision sends a clear signal to the market and internally at the bank that renewable energy and clean technologies are more than a passing investment fad.

“We’re really looking at a structural change in the economy to low-carbon energy sources,” he said. “So this isn’t just to take advantage of a short cycle. This is a long-term move for us.”

The 10-person team plans to offer a range of wholesale services, including pre-IPO private placements, project financing, public equity issues and corporate loans. It will also advise on mergers and acquisitions.

Tom Rand, head of the clean technology practice at Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District, said CIBC’s plan to more aggressively pursue the market – including everything from solar and wind projects to water technologies to biochemical production – could send ripples through the sector.

“The big banks don’t like to put their foot out first, but they also like to move in lock-step,” said Rand. “CIBC making the first move will certainly force the other four to move.”

The big banks have dabbled, but as Roberts explained, most of the activity has taken place in “silos” and not as part of a coordinated plan. For this reason, Canada banks have been labelled laggards relative to their European peers.

The opportunities of getting into the game now are still enormous. Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates that global expenditure on renewable energy projects alone will reach $150 billion (U.S.) in 2020, up from $90 billion in 2009. By 2030, the research firm predicts the market will reach $200 billion.

Progressive provincial policies in Canada, including Ontario’s Green Energy Act and feed-in-tariff program and B.C.’s carbon tax and forthcoming Clean Energy Act, are creating a long pipeline of renewable energy projects that will need billions of dollars in financing.

Meanwhile, venture investments are on the rise again after being hammered in 2009. Clean technology companies raised $1.9 billion during the first quarter of 2010, up 29 per cent from the previous quarter and 83 per cent from the same period a year ago, according to market research firm Cleantech Group.

Roberts said only $35 million in venture capital was raised by Canadian companies in the quarter. “It’s not great,” he said. “Clearly in Canada finance has been a problem. The whole financial community has to educate itself on this.”

Nicholas Parker, co-founder and executive chairman of the Cleantech Group, called CIBC’s new focus on the market “timely.” He said there’s no reason Toronto can’t become North America’s top centre for eco-financing, in the same way Canada’s largest city is the continent’s mining finance capital.

“This (CIBC announcement) can be the thing that sparks it,” said Parker.

The Toronto Stock Exchange is getting ready. The parent company of Canada’s senior stock exchange announced March 25 that it had partnered with credit-rating agency Standard & Poor’s to create a new clean technology index.

Roberts said CIBC plans to recruit for this new index. “Clearly our focus will be Canadian, but also taking other technology companies in the U.S. and elsewhere and bringing them to the TSX.”

Added Roberts: “I feel passionately that there’s opportunity here.”

Here Are Some Simple Measures To Conserve Energy

In the present times the problem of energy crisis has gripped the planet. Each country is battling some or the other kind of energy problem pleasantness the rising population. With the rise in the number of energy consumers, the power sources are bound to go in for depletion. So the need of the hour is to concentrate to this problem of energy crisis by saving it to the maximum possible level. Let’s look at some of the energy conservation tips.

One of the simplest things that you can do to save energy is stop ‘phantom’ use. There are so many appliances that continue to use a small bit of power even when they are turned off. If you need to save on power, it is important that you switch off the plug of these appliances after you switch them off.

In the similar principle, when you’re at work and aren’t on your desk, power off the Computer monitor or any other ornamental item that you could be using. A number of people are under the parable that monitors do not eat a lot of energy. The reality is that a computer monitor is its most energy hungry part. Power it down at every practical occasion.

Another important thing in this direction is to save water. It is of extraordinary significance particularly when the availability of drinkable water is nearing its end. Don’t let the water run away into the drain while you clean your teeth. Go in for low shower heads and low flow aerators. This is because they restrain the flow of water and hence preserves more. Chuck the common hosepipe. Instead employ sprinklers to water your plants. Do not ignore any problem of seepage in taps or taps. Actually get it should be fixed as and when detected.

A number of people commit the error of leaving the lights and airconditioning on all the time, even if they do not in the room. If you are leaving a room for over a minute or 2, power down the lights and airconditioner. Ensure that you do this at work and at home for most benefit.

Thermostat is a great energy hog so it has got to be used parsimoniously. Remember that every bit of energy that’s wasted brings the energy crisis a step closer. Make sure that you make the most sensible use of thermostat installed at your house. Adjust it according to the seasons and you can get the best results.

Yet another thing that you can do to save energy is replace incandescentr bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. The 2nd uses less energy and will help you bring down your utility charges.

So, wait no more. Simply incorporate energy saving tips in your daily plan and contribute your best to the conservation of the valuable energy.

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Capital Auto Auction Is The One Stop Shop For Your Automotive Needs

Capital Auto Auction is the one stop shop for all your automotive needs. You can donate, sell or purchase a car through us . We have public auctions every week with a wide range of vehicles that fit all tastes and budgets. Bids start as low as $100 with some auction vehicles requiring a slightly higher minimum bid. To ensure that you’re prepared to buy on auction day you can check us out online If you’re curious to find out exactly what we have to offer you can find us and all of the vehicles we have available online at or if you just want to see for yourself you can come in to one of our locations in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Philadelphia or New Hampshire. We hold public auctions every Saturday and you can come and browse our selection during the week. All you need to by a car is to be over the age of 18, have a valid driver’s license and $200 to make a down payment.

If you’re interested in selling your through our used auto auction car just visit our website and fill out a short questionnaire as we have a limited number of spaces if you able to get your auction vehicle on the list your job is done. We do all the work including advertising the sale of the auction vehicle. You won’t have to bother with the details of selling your vehicle you can just wait for the check instead. All that’s left for you to do is to get the money. You can also donate your car to one of the ten amazing charities that we work with. Each charity along with the breakdown of where the proceeds from the donation will go can be found on our website as well.

Whether you’re looking for a relatively new car to buy or interested in letting go of an old one, we can help. Just look us up online, come to one of our used auto auctions or come by and see us today!