According to an AP report, Toyota put on a lesson for ER volunteers from Rockland, Westchester, Orange and Bergen counties attended last night in Pomona. The lesson demonstrated where the various power switches are located, and where the high voltage lines run.
Once in an accident, Toyota's computers shut down electric power.
SiLive.com: NewsFlash - Emergency responders learn how new Hybrid cars work
Friday, March 31, 2006
According to an AP report, Toyota put on a lesson for ER volunteers from Rockland, Westchester, Orange and Bergen counties attended last night in Pomona. The lesson demonstrated where the various power switches are located, and where the high voltage lines run.
Despite some resistance to the idea, Des Moines is looking into hybrid technology as a possibility for the future in their police cars.
The Mayor, Frank Cownie, has asked the police to look into the idea of replacing some of the police vehicles with hybrid cars. Most police cars are Crown Victorias, which get about 15 mpg.
But department spokesman Sgt Todd Dykstra was pessimistic about switching to hybrids with concerns about power and speed available to hybrid vehicles. It seems he was also concerned about reliability.
"You have to understand that patrol cars run 24/7," he said. "They have to be dependable and relied on."
Cars used by parking meter officers, might lend themselves to being switched over, however. Sheriff officials in Marion County, Fla., for example, use Toyota Prius hybrid vehicles to deliver subpoenas and run administrative errands. Cownie acknowledges the plan to covert to hybrids would be a multi-year process.
Read the whole story in the DesMoines Register.
My problem with this story may be the lack of understanding about hybrid technology. Hybrid cars can be more more powerful than their counterparts (see Hybrid Myth #6). The Prius may not lend itself to police chases, but that doesn't mean the Ford Escape hybrid wouldn't be a good choice for a town looking for an SUV to be used in its police fleet.
With a Ford Escape Hybrid as its base, the US Army unveiled a hydrogen hybrid at the 2006 SAE World Congress in Detroit.
Press Release follows:
DETROIT, March 30, 2006 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The U.S. Army and Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide, Inc., Irvine, Calif., (Nasdaq: QTWW), unveiled a hydrogen-hybrid demonstration vehicle today at the 2006 SAE World Congress in Detroit.
Using a Ford Hybrid Escape as the demonstrator platform, the Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC), with its National Automotive Center (NAC), and industry partner Quantum, is working to pair hybrid electric vehicles with a hydrogen delivery and storage system. Part of the 21st Century Base Initiative, this technology has the potential to offer a cost-effective alternative to full fuel cell powered vehicles.
"Currently one of the biggest vehicle technology focuses for the Army is alternative energy, both hybrid and fuel cell. Although the Army has set standards for Future Fleet hybrid energy use, we [Army] are looking at many industry solutions to infuse into the Current Fleet," said Paul Skalny, Acting Director of TARDEC's NAC. "The NAC has numerous agreements with top automotive suppliers and research companies, and we are continually exploring the uses of commercial fuel cell and hybrid platforms for both tactical and combat vehicles."
Under this collaborative agreement, the NAC and Quantum are developing an advanced hydrogen storage system, a fuel injection system, and electronic controls that are required for the Hydrogen Escape Hybrid. The complete Hydrogen Hybrid package will include: an electronic, multi-point hydrogen injection system; a turbocharger and intercooler for increased performance and efficiency; compressed hydrogen fuel storage modules equipped with a pressure regulation system; and, a hydrogen fuel delivery system that uses hydrogen compatible components.
"We are pleased that the U.S. Army has partnered with Quantum to develop the Hydrogen Escape Hybrid, as we [Quantum] continue our expansion into the hybrid vehicle market," said Alan P. Niedzwiecki, President and CEO of Quantum. "The U.S. Army NAC is at the forefront of supporting the development and demonstration of advanced technologies to support the needs of our Soldiers, and Quantum is proud to have been their partner on this and other programs."
Quantum's HyHauler Plus(TM) will be supporting the Hydrogen Escape Hybrid as a transportable hydrogen refueling station. In the fall of 2006, this infrastructure will be supporting the Department of Energy's Fuel Cell Fleet demo program at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Harrison Township, Mich., serving as an interim hydrogen fueling station until their permanent fueling station is complete.
TARDEC is headquartered at the Detroit Arsenal, Warren, Mich. It is the Nation's laboratory for advanced military automotive technology. TARDEC's mission is to research, develop, engineer, leverage and integrate advanced technology into ground systems and support equipment throughout the life cycle. Its technical staff leads research in ground vehicle survivability, mobility, intelligent systems, and maneuver support and sustainment.
Quantum and its subsidiary, Tecstar Automotive Group, are leaders in powertrain engineering, system integration, and manufacturing of packaged fuel systems and accessories for specialty vehicles and applications including fuel cells, hybrids, alternative fuels, hydrogen refueling, new body styles, mid- cycle vehicle product enhancements and high performance engines and drive trains for OEMs and consumers of aftermarket parts and accessories. Quantum also designs and manufactures hybrid and fuel cell vehicles. More information can be found about Quantum's products and services at http://www.qtww.com .
SOURCE U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center
CONTACT: Paul Mehney, +1-586-770-3438, or Ashley John, +1-586-405-5570, both of TARDEC
Copyright (C) 2006 PR Newswire. All rights reserved.
Labels: Armed Forces
According to Daimmler Chrysler, 40 Dodge Sprinter plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) will be tested by customers in several locations in the US. California, Kansas City, and New York will receive shipments of a test fleet in order to investigate the feasibility of plug-in hybrids.
The Dodge Sprinter is available in three configurations, the cargo van, the passenger van and a cab chasis. Its particularly designed for commercial applications. With this purpose in mind, a commercial PHEV may be plugged in after each shift, and will work well in urban traffic situations.
According to the press release, the Dodge Sprinter PHEV can drive up to 20 miles on electric power alone. The switch over to electric only mode can be done automatically, or there is a switch available on the dashboard. There are two combustion engines, a V6 gasoline and a five cylinder diesel engine mated to the PHEV system. The diesel engine is being tested in this fleet.
South Park took aim at hybrid drivers with their latest show "Smug alert". It seems Stan convinces all of South Park to drive hybrid cars, but a 'smug' cloud threatens to destroy them all. Its only when all of the hybrid cars are destroyed and everyone starts driving SUVs (the bigger the better!) that the danger truly passes.
In the real world hybrid owners, especially those who drive the Prius, are getting a reputation for being smug. This attitude is crytalised in the post "Why you won't buy a hybrid". This seems to stem from the privileges being passed onto hybrid owners, specifically being allowed to drive in the HOV lane. Or, it seems that people don't like to see hybrid owners driving the speed limit on the highway.
Why the Prius in particular? Most of the other hybrid cars and suvs aren't distinct. They tend, except for a hybrid badge, to look a lot like their gas counterparts.
Labels: Pros and Cons
The SAAB Biopower Hybrid Concept car was unveiled this week at the Stockholm Motor Show. According to the press release:
The engine runs on pure E100 bioethanol fuel. In other words, its fuel is made from sugarcane, corn, and other kinds of biomass, which means it has zero carbon-dioxide emissions. When in the city, you can switch to all electric driving, allowing the 'gas engine' to shut off completely. The 'Zero Mode' kicks in below 31 mph and will last as long as the battery doesn't need to be recharged (6-12 miles).
With 260 hp (191 kW) 2.0-liter turbo BioPower engine and 53 kW electric motors, it is expected to go from 0 to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds. Its also capable of going from 50-75 mph acceleration on 'kick-down' in only 5.5 seconds.
The electric engine sports a 42-cell, 300-volt lithium-ion battery bank, mounted under the floor of the trunk. The 42-Volt ISG powers the hybrid stop/start functionality. It serves a multi-functional role as a starter motor, alternator and 15 kW engine power booster, while also helping to iron out residual crankshaft vibrations. The water pump, air conditioning and power steering systems are electrically powered leading to fuel savings.
"Hybrids are certainly interesting for Saab in the future and this project allows us to evaluate and explore the potential of hybrid technology in combination with BioPower," says Jan Åke Jonsson, Saab Automobile's Managing Director. "Although the exact hybrid application shown in this concept does not currently figure in our production plans, the project has been extremely valuable in helping us further our expertise. It shows how we could develop the sporty performance associated with Saab while using only renewable resources and saving energy overall."
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Despite being the third largest consumers of hybrid cars, most Britons are unaware of what hybrids are, how hybrids work or why they should buy one.
1200 drivers were surveyed in Britain in new research released Tuesday by Honda Motor Co. at the London launch of the new Civic Hybrid, available April 1st. The survey was run by TNS.
Seventy per cent of respondents admitted they don't know how a hybrid actually works. More than half were not aware of hybrids. Eighty two percent did not mention hybrid cars when asked to name an alternative fuel vehicle.
Very few of those surveyed were aware of any tax benefits in owning a hybrid in the UK. Only four percent knew hybrid ownership entitled you to a reduced company car tax. Two percent were aware of the lower road fund tax and two percent were aware of the discount from the London congestion charge.
Of the few who knew of and would consider buying a hybrid car, the top motivation would be lower fuel costs, not environmental concerns.
Labels: The World
The Black Eyed Peas will showcase a Honda Civic Hybrid during their Honda Civic Tour. The car will be given away in a sweepstakes.
The car has a one-of-a-kind exterior, with a "custom fireball-flaked metallic red-and-black base coat treatment with marbleized gold scrolling." You can also find the signatures of the Black Eyed Peas members autographs on the car as well as the logo on the back.
The interior has been 'blinged' as well, with custom red leather seats with gold stitching. The Black Eyed Peas logo is on the headrests, and a microphone is used as the gearshift.
Inside Line: Say What? Black Eyed Peas Pimp Honda Civic Hybrid
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
According to an AP Report, the Bush administration has issued stricter rules in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy system (CAFE) for light trucks, SUVS and vans. For the first time the rules will also cover the largest SUVS, i.e. the Hummer and Chevrolet Suburban.
Light trucks have their average rise from 21.6 mpg for 2006 to 22.2 mpg for 2007. The fleetwide average will reach 24 mpg by 2011, when the largest SUVs will be included in the calculation. The largest SUVS range from 8,500 to 10,000 pounds and the rules will be applied in 2011.
New fuel economy rules issued to auto industry - Automotive - MSNBC.com
“The new standards represent the most ambitious fuel economy goals for light trucks ever developed in the program’s 27-year history,” said Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta.
“The fact that fuel prices have increased and more importantly, fuel price forecasts have increased since the proposal was developed suggests a stronger standard is warranted,” said Eric Haxthausen, an economist with Environmental Defense.
GM will be demonstrating its hybrid bus technology at Mt Cotton near Brisbane in Australia in two day for government and transport industry representatives.
GM has over 400 hybrid buses in 25 US citites. Hybrid buses save 20 to 25% on fuel costs and have lower emissions than conventional gas buses.
Australian Bus Story
As of today, GM is adding Tulsa, Oklahoma to the list of cities with transit buses powered by their diesel-electric hybrid systems. Tulsa becomes the 33rd community to invest in transit buses powered by GM hybrid system.
GM Media Online
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
The new 2007 Camry Hybrid has been priced at $25,900, $5,400 more than its all gas counterpart. That's a lot more than most people will pay for driving a hybrid. You won't be saving enough on gas to justify the cost, and so Camry Hybrid buyers are going to need other reasons to shell out 25% more than they have to.
The problem with hybrid sales in general (not that there are a lot of problems selling hybrids) is the cost difference between their gas sisters and themselves. In order to capture more than 1% of the market, the hybrid will need to be cost effective, not just environmentally effective.
That's why the tax credit this year is so important. But, according to the rules, the tax credit is available across car makers. And since Toyota sells more hybrids than any of the other car makers, they will most likely run out of tax credits in the third quarter this year.
Meaning, consumers who purchase the 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid won't be eligible for the tax credit, making that bigger up front cost a harder pill to swallow. We'll have to wait and see how this will effect overall hybrid sales next year.
Honda Accord Hybrid to be used as pace car at the IndyCar Series. Although pace cars aren't required to be too fast, perhaps this will combat hybrids reputation for less power than their counterparts.
Honda Accord Hybrid Named IndyCar Series Pace Car
The Honda Accord Hybrid will serve as Official Pace car for the 2006 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series, IRL officials have announced, marking the first time a car utilizing hybrid technology has been used to pace a major auto racing series.
The Delphi IRL Safety Team also will use Honda vehicles in 2006, operating a fleet of Honda Ridgelines as well as a Honda Pilot, all equipped for the various safety and medical needs of the Team.
Now in its second year of production, the Accord Hybrid features Honda's third generation of the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) that operates in combination with Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) technology to deliver high levels of fuel efficiency from the 3.0-liter Honda V-6 engine, along with highly responsive and powerful performance. The result is an SAE-rated 253 horsepower and 232-foot pounds of torque.
"The IndyCar Series has long been recognized for its leadership in motorsports safety and innovation," said Brian Barnhart, president and COO of the Indy Racing League. "We are proud to partner Honda in rolling out the Accord Hybrid Safety Car, a motorsports first."
The Accord Hybrid's list of technical features includes more than just hybrid engine technology. Electric Power Steering enhances steering response, Drive-by-Wire throttle control enhances acceleration, and a four-wheel independent suspension provides the handling required for an IndyCar Series pace car. The air conditioning system also features hybrid technology that switches to an electric compressor to keep occupants comfortable when the vehicle is not in motion.
Modifications to the Accord Hybrids required for IndyCar Series Pace Car duty include a safety roll cage and high-performance wheels and tires for race track use. The Accord Hybrids will be utilized at all domestic IRL races in 2006, except the Indianapolis 500.
Honda Performance Development (HPD), a subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., is the single provider of engines in 2006 for the IRL IndyCar Series. Honda joined the IRL at the start of the 2003 season, and late last year announced a new plan to continue as an engine supplier in IndyCar racing through the 2009 season. HPD will prepare and maintain the Honda Indy V-8 engines used by all teams for competition in the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Want to see what the new 2007 Camry Hybrid looks like? Take a look at autobytel's photo gallery of the new car, its engine and interior space, as well as its dashboard. They've also reviewed it (in a very positive light).
They point out that the Civic Hybrid is very similar to its counterpart with the all gas engine. The grille work and a badge are the only visible differences. The interior display has been changed and, of course the powertrain is also different.
Friday, March 24, 2006
Governor Pataki is expected to approve the new plan for a ten percent discount applied to hybrid drivers who use EZ Pass on the Thruway.
The Green Pass will be available to drivers of vehicles that are certified at 45 mpg or better highway and meet stringent emissions standards for their model years. The Green Pass transponders will be a distinctive kelly-green.
EZ Pass users currently get a 10 percent discount over those who pay cash. The Green pass will give hybrid owners another 10 percent discount. The Thruway will be the first toll collecting agency to offer such discounts according to Bill Rinaldi, acting director of operation for the authority.
Drivers can apply on April 1st, but the discount won't be available until May 1st.
New York's governor Pataki wanted this discount as part of his Strategic Energy Action Plan. As part of that plan, hybrid car owners are also allowed to use the HOV expressway lane.
Ontario currently refunds the eight percent sales tax paid on hybrids up to a maximum of $1000. But in its 2006 budget, Ontario will now offer a tax rebate with a maximum of $2000.
According to Dennis DesRosiers, head of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants, "Ontarians last year bought a grand total of about 1,000 hybrid vehicles. So, this is going to cost the Ontario treasury about $1 million."
Read the whole story at CANOE Money.
Someone is about to take advantage of the 0% financing and buy a Ford Escape Hybrid, but had some basic questions for others who own the FEH. If you're in the market for a new SUV hybrid, you should take a look in the greenhybrid forums.
That's what I really like about hybrids. The owners are willing to share information on not only what they like, but what they dislike about buying a hybrid car. Get some tips on how to negotiate with your local dealers, too. If you do a basic search of the forum, you can find some tips on how to drive a hybrid vehicle in order to maximize all the advantages.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
In an effort to increase trained technicians capable of working on hybrids, Macomb County Community College received a three year, $200K grant from the NSF (National Science Foundation) to cover the cost of creating a curriculum for working on hybrid cars.
The curriculum has been tough to build:
A growing need for hybrid mechanics
"It's a little difficult getting some information because the technology is so new that it is not widely circulated," said Urban, one of three auto instructors formulating the new curriculum. "There's not much written material out there, and the car companies are holding their information close to their vests. We have found some written material out there but we're trying to find a little deeper information.
"Getting deeper into it is tough."
The college will debut two, 16-week hybrid repair courses during the 2006-07 year. This first class will focus in on the fundamentals of hybrid technology, the second will delve into hybrid diagnostics.
This is good news for hybrid owners, as even though most routine maintenance can be handled by your local mechanic, the hybrid systems usually involve going to the dealer. And going to the dealer usually means paying more for the service.
Toyota and Antonov are embroiled in a lawsuit over a patent dealing with Toyota's hybrid vehicle drivelines in the Toyota Prius and Lexus RX 400h.
It seems Antonov is expecting a judgement in Germany in its favor, but Toyota has opened up a separate lawsuit in Japan.
According to a press release, "Antonov believes that Toyota's hard-line action in Japan indicates its apparent lack of confidence with regards to winning the German court judgement expected in August this year and is attempting to force Antonov to negotiate a settlement under the threat of significant costs incurred via the courts in Japan.
Toyota is also currently under investigation in the US over patent law infringement in a complaint made by Florida based Solomon Technologies, Inc. Solomon Technologies filed a complaint against Toyota for infringing on a patent it holds related to motor and transmission systems used in its hybrids.
Overall, they like the hybrid aspects, but dislike the luxury part of this luxury upgrade to the Ford Escape hybrid. After reading the article, I found myself wondering why it was rated at only 6.4. The reviewer had a real problem with the navigation and entertainment system but was happy with the overall ride. Is the nav system that important?
CNET Review of the Mercury Mariner Hybrid
* Editors' rating: 6.4 Good
* The good: The 2006 Mercury Mariner Hybrid has typically excellent full-hybrid fuel economy around town and in slow traffic. Its low-speed acceleration is solid, and it boasts a small, easily parkable footprint.
* The bad: The 2006 Mercury Mariner Hybrid's suspension manages to give both excessive body roll and harshness over poor surfaces. The entire entertainment/information system needs a serious upgrade in order to be even second rate.
* The bottom line: Although the hybrid system performs well in the 2006 Mercury Mariner Hybrid, the subpar navigation and audio system quickly lower the techie value of this small SUV.
The Honda Civic Hybrid is selling at twice the rate (January sales, February sales) as last year at this time. This added pressure is putting a squeeze on Civic Hybrid parts. Autoblog is reporting they expect Honda to expand it's Civic hybrid capacity, but aren't sure about how they can go about that.
Further information can be found at wardsauto.com
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
At a hefty pricetag, the Prius conversion is now being offered in the UK, as well. I think I'd rather have the one they're converting at the Make Faire. But at 130 mpg and a 30 mile range on electric only, the plug-in may be just what London commuters are looking for, especially if they get the congestion charge exemption.
Plug-in Prius now offered in UK - 4Car News from Channel 4
Specialist firm GoinGreen is offering Prius owners this modification from September 2006, though a small number of advance examples will be available from April. The conversion adds batteries to supplement the Prius's limited range in electric-only mode; these can be charged by simply hooking up to a conventional electric socket. . . It's not cheap, though; the conversion currently costs £12,700 plus VAT - and the cost of the Prius in the first place - though this will come down to £7,700 plus VAT from September.
In an effort to build up awareness and to challenge carmakers to do the same, CalCars is attempting to convert a Prius into a plug-in hybrid. The plug-in will get 100+ mpg when they're done.
CalCars at the Make Magazine Maker Faire
Sebastopol, CA (March 1, 2006)- Following President Bush's recent endorsement of advanced hybrids, and coinciding with Earth Day weekend, The California Cars Initiative (CalCars.org) will publicly convert a Toyota Prius hybrid into a "plug-in" hybrid during the inaugural Make magazine Maker Faire, April 22-23.
Over two days, CalCars engineers, along with a cadre of volunteers, will build and install a battery pack and make hardware and software adjustments to the stock Toyota Prius. The finished "PRIUS+" will drive back to Seattle, Washington after the Faire with a 10-mile low-speed all-electric range in addition to its regular hybrid extended range.
Unlike a standard hybrid, which uses the gasoline engine to power its battery, a plug-in hybrid adds a larger battery that can re-charge from a household 120-volt outlet. The result: a 100+ MPG plug-in hybrid fueled with gasoline plus cleaner, cheaper, domestic electricity.
Join the creators of MAKE magazine, the MythBusters, and thousands of tech DIY enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, science clubs, students, and authors at MAKE's first ever Maker Faire!
In an effort to stave off the crippling effect it's retiree health care plan is having on the bottom line ($10.6 billion in losses last year), GM is offering $140,000 to it's hourly workers with over 10 years experience if they will just leave.
One has to wonder if this is a good deal for any GM employees who are eligible for health care benefits after retiring. Health care costs are skyrocketing, with no end in sight.
GM, Delphi, UAW announce deal - Mar. 22, 2006
GM announced an agreement with the United Auto Workers union Wednesday, although it did not give the details of the offer being made to all 113,000 U.S. hourly employees. But a source familiar with terms of the offer confirms those UAW members with 10 years or more service with the automaker will get $140,000 if they agree to forsake the retiree health care coverage that has become a crippling burden for GM.
Those with less than 10 years service time will get $70,000 if they leave without the health care coverage.
An owner of a Honda Insight takes you through his journey as his battery dies. It's pretty shocking that it can take months for Honda to replace a battery that's having issues. This may be part of dealing with a car that only sells an average of 50+ or so cars a month.
What Really Happens When Your Hybrid Car Battery “Dies”?
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Toyota Highlander Hybrid reviewed by a dad for dads. Noting important things such as "Washable crayon washed off the leather okay" and "latch underneath and anchors on the backs of the second-row seats", Daddy types reviews the Highland Hybrid for dads.
He also notes all the cool options, such as more HP for the hybrid and heated leather seats. Although the new owner skipped out on the rear seat entertainment since "my daughter is at the age where, if she watches a DVD on there once, she will cry for it every time she gets in the car."
Based on the Highlander hybrid sales, I'd say more dads are agreeing that this SUV is better than a minivan.
And the reason is simple. Price. The Prius has a distinctive look and feel, and does not have a 'sister' all gas model to compare to.
The other hybrids do have that direct comparison, and consumers are having trouble justifying the upfront costs, despite the tax break and long term gas savings.
This is especially true for the larger hybrids such as the Toyota Highlander Hybrid and Ford Escape Hybrid. Chances of consumers forking over $6,590 more for the hybrid as opposed to the six-cylinder gas-only Toyota Highlander model are slim.
According to a story in the USA today, "The Lexus RX 400h sat on dealer lots an average of 32 days in February, five days longer than the conventional RX 330, Power reports. Honda Accord hybrid was averaging 49 days to sell in February, compared with 31 for the conventional version." Also, Ford is offering 0% financing or $1000 back in savings on the Ford Escape, while Toyota is offering 3.9% financing on Highlander in many larger cities.
Of course, the last issue is gas prices. Hybrid sales follow the price at the pump. As prices have stabilized, so have sales. If a jump in prices occurs, expect a similar jump in sales, even on the SUVs.
The New York Post is reporting on a plea from two NY politicians, Rep. Anthony Weiner and City Council Member David Yassky. Namely, the two Democrats from Brooklyn want a hybrid version of the Crown Victoria available to New York. Why? 95% of the cabs in New York are Crown Victorias.
If the current cabs in New York were replaced by hybrid versions, the two democrats estimate the cabs would reduce emissions in the city and reduce gas usage from approximately 50 million gallons to 40 million gallons a year.
Read more about the plea to Ford for Hybrid Crown Victorias at the New York Post.
My own estimate would be cabbies are not the ideal drivers of hybrids. Hybrids work best in non-aggressive driving situations. But hybrids turn off the gas engine when stopped or at low acceleration speeds so they do work well in stop and go traffic, so it may be a wash.
The mayor of london, Ken Livingstone, wants to impose the £8 congestion tax on drivers of the new Lexus 4X4 GS 450h hybrid. Despite being a hybrid, when running in all gas mode, the Lexus gets less than 30mpg around town and is in band F for the road tax, the highest rating reserved for the most polluting vehicles.
While the Lexus itself isn't much of a worry as a luxury vehicle with a very high price tag, there are very few to go around. But Ford and Land rover are both developing 4x4s that would also be exempt for being hybrids.
The congestion tax is imposed on all cars that drive in and around London. It is intended to cut down on pollution and traffic within the city limits.
There are only three hybrid models available in the UK, including the Prius.
Read the controversy over the Lexus hybrid exemption at the London Times online. I saw this story first at autoblog.
Labels: The World
The Mercury Mariner Hybrid has been awarded the Green Car of the Year award. The award was given by an 11 member panel of jurors comprised of automotive and environmental experts.
The Mercury Mariner Hybrid is the luxury version of the Ford Escape Hybrid. Although they are basically the same SUV, the Mariner has the luxury parts, which brings the price tag up.
Read more about the award at motortrend.com
I saw this story at hybridcarblog.
Ford has been working on a hydraulic hybrid for years now, ever since Ford and the EPA promised to develop a high efficiency automotive powertrain back in 2001. They've even demonstrated the concept in the E550 commercial vans in 2002. But newtechspy has reported the F-150 could be the big winner.
If newtechspy's claims are true, then the new F-150 due out in August, 2008 would get 300% more efficiency over the current model, allowing the F-150 to get 60 mpg. That efficiency is due to the hydraulic energy storage being so much more efficient than current batteries.
But why put a hybrid system into an oversized truck? Well, the hydraulic system needs the room and carries a lot of extra weight. Putting it into a smaller car would be difficult at best. Also, according to a story in detroit news, the hydraulic hybrids work best in stop and go traffic in large vehicles. UPS, for example, expects to use a hydraulic hybrid truck in the spring. Because of the added weight of the tanks used to store pressurized fluid in the system, engineers expect the best application for hydraulic hybrids will be in heavy-duty trucks that start and stop a lot in city driving.
According to the same story, Ford's Mighty Tonka 350 concept truck, unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in 2002, had a "hydraulic launch assist" to boost acceleration. But because of the added weight, the hydraulic hybrid doesn't do very well on the highways, and so "Ford is in a wait-and-see mode, officials said".
Monday, March 20, 2006
Three of the top 10 "hottest" cars in the US are hybrids. What are the hottest cars? Edmunds put together for CNNMoney the top cars that are selling closest to the vehicle's full sticker price; lowest amounts in rebates or other sales incentives; and shortest times spent on dealer lots before being snapped up by buyers.
Since the Prius is selling at 10 percent over the sticker price, without any incentives, and is spending an average of 9 days on the lot, it really ranks well. Of course, this is because the Prius is usually pre-ordered.
The Ford Escape has had it's sales slow down (for a hybrid) and is spending 36 days on the lot. Ford has also been offering 0% financing or $1000 back.
The car with the biggest price tag on this list is the hybrid Lexus 400h. With an average sticker price is $47,919, it's the only luxury vehicle on the list.
The hottest cars from CNNMoney/Edmunds: Prius, Mini Cooper, Pontiac Solstice, Scion, RX400h, Honda Civic, Rav4, and Ford Escape hybrid.
Ten hottest cars in America - Mar. 18, 2006
In a list of the 10 hottest cars now on the market, six of the 10 are products of the Toyota Motor Co. The Prius tops the list and all three of Toyota's low-priced Scion models are on the list, as well.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Suffolk County (New York) is buying hybrid cars in an effort to replace older vehicles. They will also be purchasing four hybrid buses and 59 diesel buses in the coming year.
Although the story doesn't note why these purchases are being made, typical statements in such a purchase by local authorities usually involve saving gas money, helping the environment, saving money through purchasing plans in the state, etc...
wcbstv.com - Suffolk Will Buy Hybrid Vehicles
Suffolk County has begun replacing county vehicles with more fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles.
County Executive Steve Levy said that 25 hybrid cars that get up to 50 miles per gallon would be purchased to replace vehicles that currently get under 30 miles per gallon.
Suffolk is also buying four hybrid buses next year, and it will purchase 59 clean diesel buses that spew 85 percent less emissions that current bus models.
Friday, March 17, 2006
Lexus GS 450h has an EPA estimated fuel economy of 25 city/28 highway. The GS 450h has recently gone on sale in Japan. According to Lexus, the hybrid sedan is the first of its kind.
As a full hybrid, it has fewer smog forming emissions, but the GS 450h also comes equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 engine designed to produce the same power as a V8.With 339hp and an acceleration from 0 to 60 in 5.2 seconds, the GS 450h is a hybrid of a different color.
The luxury sedan comes with a luxury price with a base MSRP of $54,900.
Read the ap report on theLexus GS 450h at automotive.com
According to a press release by Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide, five hydrogen hybrids, Toyota Prius, were delivered to Burbank as part of a program to develop and demonstrate hydrogen hybrid vehicles in Southern California.
Burbank, and four other cities including Ontario, Riverside, Santa Ana, and Santa Monica are participating in the program. Each city and AQMD headquarters will operate five hydrogen hybrids for five years each. Each location will also demonstrate hydrogen-fueling stations.
Hydrogen fueled vehicles are currently limited in range, but a hybrid should be able to travel farther between fill-ups. The biggest concern and drawback to hydrogen fueled cars is the possibility of fire.
Read the press release:Quantum Delivers Hydrogen Hybrid Vehicles to Burbank: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance
I've been looking through some extremely funny forum articles lately from prius owners. It seems that, for one reason or another, they have run out of gas more often (read for the first time in their lives).
It seems the gas gauge starts flashing too early, and people feel like they can get farther than they do. Or maybe some feel like they don't need the gas part of the engine.
The other issue is the expandable bladder. It creates a back pressure that causes auto shut off nozzles to shut off. So fill ups in a new prius can be slow. As the bladder ages, it should become less of an issue. One technique that seems to work is to 'burp' the bladder. Fill up as much as you can, then remove the nozzle. Gently rock your car and then continue to fill. You may be able to get a couple more gallons in, although you should be very careful if you do this.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
According to the heraldglobe, Ford will be offering 0% financing or $1000 back on the Ford Escape Hybrid. This is in limited areas and for only a short period of time.
Ford is responsding to Toyota's financing offers and it's slow sales the past couple of months. Ford has also had a real problem in distributing the hybrid SUV.
Ford Offers 0% Financing On Hybrids In 'Critical' Markets
Ford Offers 0% Financing On Hybrids In 'Critical' Markets
03-16-06 10:33 AM EST
DETROIT -(Dow Jones)- Ford Motor Co. (F) said Thursday that it will offer 0% financing over the next three weeks on its Escape Hybrid SUV in California and Washington, D.C., in an effort to spur sales in two markets that traditionally embrace hybrid vehicles.
Seven common perceptions about buying a hybrid are covered by CNNMoney. These are legitimate concerns, but most are dealt with in a rational manner.
For instance, buying a hybrid to save money in the long run is probably a mistake. But then, who buys a car to save money? Buying a car is one investment that isn't about making money. Cars depreciate in value every day. You usually 'lose' several thousand dollars just by driving a car off the lot, so anyone who says you are going to make money by buying a car is selling you the car.
Buying a car today is all about choice. What's your budget? Can you only afford a used hyundai? Or are you able to buy something a little more? Once you have a price range, then take a look at the cars in that range. Perhaps a hybrid can be one of your choices, and if you're looking for a car that pollutes less and one that you won't have to take to the gas pump as often...
Another concern is about the hybrid battery. I've dealt with this issue a few times recently, and it is a scary thought for people. These rechargeable batteries do need special care for when they die, but then, so do all car batteries. They are also guaranteed for the life of the car.
A big concern for some people is the question of added cost when it comes to repairing your hybrid car. That's a legitimate concern, but not a likely one. As with all cars, if something goes wrong with a 'system', you'll have to take it to the dealer who is going to charge you a premium for the service to the vehicle. On the other hand, most repairs/upkeep on a hybrid can be handled by any mechanic. Also, hybrids wouldn't be getting such a high satisfaction rating if they weren't reliable cars.
An interesting innovation by Toyota. Not only does the new Lexus GS 450 check for cars ahead, it will engage the brakes faster based on whether or not the driver is looking forward? Sounds risky to me.
Chron.com | Toyota Launches Rear-Wheel Drive Hybrid
Adding to the glamour is an advanced safety feature, billed by Toyota as another world first, that not only uses sensors to detect cars ahead but also uses a camera on the steering wheel to judge whether the driver is facing the front or not. If the driver is looking away, the emergency brakes kick in faster in a potential crash situation.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
The Ford Escape Hybrid sales have been slower than expected, but Ford is blaming that lack on growing pains and miscalculations on where the demand is. In Florida, sales were underestimated, but in New York, sales were overestimated.
The result: Ford had about 3,900 Escape Hybrids in stock at the end of February, and the base Escape Hybrid was discounted $1,411 under Ford's Simple Plan year-end sales blitz. Ford plans on offering rebates of about $1000 in the near future.
In some markets, such as Florida, the company underestimated the demand for the Escape Hybrid and overestimated the strength in others, such as metropolitan New York, sources close to Ford's hybrid program said.
"It's still moving faster than the traditional Escape, but it is turning slower than some of the hybrids," said Tom Libby, J.D. Power senior director of industry analysis. "The Escape as a hybrid is sort of middling."
Read more at automotive news.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
ABC News compared the pros and cons of the various eco cars, from hybrids down to biodiesel. I have a few issues with their cons for hybrids, but that's just me.
Batteries: There is much speculation on how long the batteries in hybrid cars last, but the owner of the first Prius (a taxi driver) has put 180,000 miles on his car without a battery replacement, and that's a good sign.
Vehicle Choice: Up until recently, you've only been able to get sedans that use hybrid technology. Manufacturers have recognized the popularity of the hybrids and have started to make SUVs with the technology. Here's the rub: Higher-powered vehicles (like trucks and SUVs) get better but not fantastic mileage, and they cost a lot more to purchase. According to Consumer Reports, the hybrid Escape from Ford gets city/highway mileage of 22/29, averaging at 26 mpg. The regular Ford Escape gets 12/27 mileage, averaging at 18 mpg.
Price: The 8 mpg differential is great, but for consumers, you have to factor in the increased costs of buying a hybrid. For the Escape, the MSRP on the hybrid is $8,000 more than the MSRP on the traditional, nonhybrid version of the same SUV.
Extra vehicle choice shouldn't be listed in cons, for instance. You would think it would be listed as a pro? The hybrids (especially the SUVs) do cost more to buy, but the costs tend to level out in the long run. Also, the hybrid battery life has never been a big issue, and yet it gets mentioned again and again for being a possibile issue.
Also, under price being a con, the difference isn't going to be $8000. Depending on what state you're in, you may get access to the HOV lane or perhaps free parking. Also, for instance, in CT you don't pay sales tax. Then, of course, there's the federal tax credit on hybrid cars.
Labels: Federal Tax Credit
It's often a quoted concern of hybrid owners and hybrid haters, will the battery hold up in hybrid cars, and how much will it cost to replace?
Hybrid batteries work like the lead-acid batteries (in gasoline only cars) in that they produce energy through a chemical process. What's unlike your typical battery, is the hybrid battery is made up of hundreds of cells filled with a nickel metal hydride (NiMH).
From all reports (admittedly from the carmakers themselves), these batteries have been very reliable. They have also been tested by government agencies with great results.
But they are expensive to replace, typically costing two or three thousand dollars. Prices of hybrid batteries should come down as more and more companies get in on the act and that is happening as sales of hybrids continue to increase.
In the meantime, carmakers have been willing to warranty these batteries for a lifetime, i.e. 8 years or 80,000 miles. Note that in California the requirements are for 10 years or 100,000 miles.
If a hybrid battery does die, it can cost thousands to replace. Like all depleted batteries, hybrid batteries should be treated as hazardous waste and recycled. These batteries can be fully recycled, however. Toyota has set a bounty of $200 on hybrid batteries and followed up by placing a phone number on each battery.
Still concerned? Read more: Will the battery in my hybrid keep going? - Ask The ConsumerMan - MSNBC.com
Yesterday, the Mercury News had some entries on why you should buy a hybrid, or more to the point why certain people did buy a hybrid. Today, they are letting the other side in on the arguement, and posted reasons why people won't buy a hybrid. Here's a sample of what people had to say.
Some can't justify the cost savings, because they just aren't worried about the environment: "Just $406 savings over five years? You gotta be kidding. That's $1.50 a week. I can save that by going to a station selling gas for two cents less per gallon."
Others feel like the mileage display can be too distracting: "It's only a matter of time until there is a study comparing these displays to cell phones as a detriment to good driving."
Others feel like hybrids are hogging up the carpool lanes: "if you are in carpool lane doing the limit, not only are you annoying the SUV driver behind you, you are annoying everyone behind him".."If there is a third in an Explorer carpool, a passenger-less Prius is a comparative gas guzzler."
Most responses had to do with bad driving of hybrid drivers:"Prius drivers seem especially loathe to allow people in front of them when lanes merge... Maybe these people were always sanctimonious and self-righteous"
Or: "I wish hybrid owners would simply come out of the closet and state the real reason they drive a hybrid -- snobbery."
I'm really finding it hard (like the editor of these letters) to bite my tongue, but I will. I'll let these statements speak for themselves.
Labels: Buying Selling and Renting
Autospies has pictures of the new 2007 Lexus GS 450h hybrid luxury sedan.
The Lexus GS 450h has a 3.5 liter V6 engine with an electic motor driving the rear wheels. It should have in excess of 300 hp with 0-60 in less than 6 seconds.
See the photos.
The GS 450h will probably get a combined mileage in the mid to high 20's, which will put it in close to the top for it's class. But this car just isn't about better mileage, so much as it is about applying hybrid tehcnology to a V6 in order to get V8 power.
Monday, March 13, 2006
The Mercury News out of San Jose, CA ran an article today about why people have bought hybrids.
Some of the answers are enlightening, but a majority of them are related to the environment: "It was the right thing to do. It helps the environment and also reduces our dependency on oil, a depleting resource."
Some answers were more practical : "I just got my carpool stickers for my Prius and boy is it nice. Cut my evening commute from 50 to 25 minutes."
And some were looking to save money: "I estimate my gas savings to be $1,900 a year. That's money in my pocket, like getting a raise." and "The hybrid was not attractive until the $3,000 tax benefit came into play"
And others are just looking to send a message: "We bought a Ford Escape hybrid because it has SUV utility with better mileage and fewer emissions and to send a message to U.S. car makers that there is a market for innovation, even if it costs more. I don't get why U.S. car makers think we still want these bloated, boring, rolling living rooms for cars."
Hybrid critics will have their say on Tuesday.
Labels: Buying Selling and Renting
Sunday, March 12, 2006
The government released two fact sheets on the Toyota Prius 2001 and 2002 Toyota Prius. Their fact sheet is based on one car each in Arizona. Both cars have gotten close to 40 mpg over the years.
The 2002 Prius has been driven over 160,000 miles. The estimated total ownership cost is 15 cents a mile (total ownership cost includes maintenance, gas, etc...). The Rear hub and bearing was replaced @ 40,000 miles at a cost of $321. The ECM was replaced @ 127,430 at a cost of $1,218. Power Steering ECM was replaced @ 145,594 at a cost of $699. The water pump was replaced @ 145,602 at a cost of $461.
The 2001 total ownership cost came in at 26 cents a mile, even though it has only been driven for 69,938 miles. The hybrid car had no major maintenance.
In both cars, the cumulative fuel economy has remained fairly steady at 40 mpg over the years of ownership. The 2002 Prius, despite it's maintenance history came in at a lower total ownerhip cost per mile because of it's higher mileage.
I first saw this at greenhybrid.
Friday, March 10, 2006
Wouldn't it be nice if Myth Busters (Myth Busters is a show on the Discovery Channel) took on the myths surrounding the EPA rating for mpg? It's a myth that you cannot achieve the EPA rating. With careful, slow driving, most cars are capable of achieving their mpg rating. There are even hybrids capable of hypermiling, i.e. getting better than the EPA mpg rating on a consistent basis.
Myth Busters is a great show that takes on different myths. They'd be well equipped to take on this myth that hybrid vehicles get the worst of the EPA rating. They could take a hybrid out and test drive it with the various methods for efficiency, from aggressive right down to the pulse and glide method.
Someone is making a lot of noise in an effort to make this happen over at discovery channel forum. Take a look and see if you can get this issue on the air.
Volvo unveiled hybrid technology for heavy vehicles, which they expect to offer fuel savings of up to 35 percent. That figure is based on approximations in city driving iwth frequent breaking and accelerations.
I-SAM is the new system which makes up the start moter, drive engine and generator. It works with a converted mechanical transmission, an electronic control unit and a conventional diesel engine and batteries with regenerative breaking.
The electric and diesel engine will be linked in parallel. I-SAM will provide sufficient power to start and accelerate heavy vehicles to speed without the diesel engine kicking in. The new engine is expected to cut down on noise pollution, as well.
There are four SUV hybrids available today; the Lexus RX 400h, Toyota Highlander, Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner.
Prices range from around $25,000 up to the mid $40's. The Ford Escape Hybrid comes in at the lowest price, and may have a $1000 rebate available. The Lexus RX 400h is a luxury vehicle and you will have to pay for that luxury. The Mercury Mariner is the luxury version of the Escape and you will pay a few thousand more for it, putting it in the low 30's which is comparable to the most popular SUV hybrid, the Highlander.
Power-wise, the Highlander and RX 400h have 168 hp @ 5600 rpm with a V6, while the Escape and Mariner come in at 155 hp @ 6000 rpm with only 4 cylinders. That extra hp gives you extra torque (212 ft-lbs @4400 rpm vs 12 ft-lbs 4250 rpm). All four SUVs are full hybrids with nickel-metal hydride batteries with regenerative braking. Power is supplied by both the electric and the gas motor. At low speeds and when stopped, the electric motor takes over. But when accelerating quickly or in high speed situations, the gas motor gives most of the oomph, although it will be supplemented by the electric motor.
The Ford Escape has the best mpg rating from the EPA with 36/31 City/Highway. The Mariner gets 33/29, and the RX 400h and Highlander get 33/28 each. But the Highlander and RX 400h have larger fuel tank sizes (17.2 gal) vs the Escape and Mariner (15 gal) which translates into being able to travel further between fill-ups.
The Escape, Mariner and RX 400h each have 5 seats, with 2 bucket seats in front. The Highlander comes with a third row giving it 7 seats, with the front two being captains chairs. The rear seats are all split folding benches. They each have plenty of cupholders and front power outlets (becoming a necessity with all the rechargeable items these days). The Lexus RX 400h also has power outlets in the rear and the cargo area. And while all four have air conditioning, only the RX 400h has automatic dual climate control. Also, both the Highlander and the RX 400h have interior air filtration.
All four come with 4-wheel ABS, but the Lexus has (standard) traction and stability control. They all have de-powered air bags. Side and head air bags are optional on the Escape and Mariner, while they come standard on the RX 400h and Highlander.
The Escape and the Mariner both have (optional) rear parking sensors. They all have an audio system, but as you would expect, the luxury vehicles get the better standard equipment as well as more speakers. Also, the RX 400h comes standard with the DVD navigation system. Optional CD nav systems are available for the Escape and Mariner.
The RX 400h and Highlander have a slight advantage in turning radius. The Lexus 400h is also longer than the others (by about a foot), while the Escape and Mariner have the better ground clearance (8.4 vs 6.9 inches). You should feel like there's plenty of room in the interior for all of them. But the RX 400h has the most cargo space (by over 10 cu ft), while the Highlander pays for it's third row seating with the least cargo space. The Lexus weighs in at over 4900 lbs, while the Highlander comes in over 4000 lbs. The Mariner and Escape are above 3700 and 3600 lbs, respectively.
The Lexus 400h may come in at a premium price, but you'll get all the extras standard as well. These extras include an overhead console, universal remote transmitter, extra outlets, cargo nets, a 40-20-40 bench (instead of the normal 40-60), leather seats that are heated, traction and stability control, extra safety features, memorized seatings, etc...
The Toyota Highlander hybrid is the most popular hybrid SUV on the road today. It handles great and has the extra seating (although it pays for that with less storage area). It has a big engine with great mileage.
The Ford Escape hybrid and the Mercury Mariner hybrid are the same car with different options. The Mariner being the luxury model for the Escape. Both get great mileage and handle great. They both suffer(in sales) from the Ford reputation, but not as standalones.
AAA selects the Ford Escape Hybrid as it's top SUV priced at $30,000. AAA judges it's cars based on several criteria, including handling, ride and performance, value, braking and fuel economy. The amusing part of this list is the choice for 'cool' car. Not the choice, but the category!
I first saw this story at autoblog, who got it from the autochannel.
BURNSVILLE, Minn.--March 8, 2006--AAA, one of the nation's leading consumer organizations for "all things automotive," has selected its top cars for 2006 in 13 distinct categories, including "Cool Car of the Year."
Category Car EPA Miles Per Gallon
-------- --- --------------------
Under - $15,000 Mazda 3 25/35
$15,000 - $20,000 Honda Accord Sedan 26/34
$20,000 - $25,000 Dodge Charger 19/27
$25,000 - $30,000 Toyota Avalon 22/31
$30,000 - $35,000 BMW 3 Series 20/30
$35,000 - $40,000 Volvo S80 21/30
$40,000 - $50,000 Infiniti M35/M45 17/25
$50,000 + Jaguar XJ8L 18/27
SUV $30,000- Ford Escape Hybrid 36/29
SUV $30,000+ Mercedes-Benz M-Class 16/20
Minivan Honda Odyssey 18/28
Pick Up Truck Honda Ridgeline 16/21
Cool Car Chevrolet Corvette Z06 16/26
Every year, AAA takes a comprehensive look at more than 200 vehicles and then judges them according to many criteria's like their ride and performance, braking, handling, passenger and cargo space, value, and fuel economy.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
It seems the Pennsylvania rebate program has been doing so well, they are about to run out of the money alloted to the program. They've already run through 1.3 out of the 1.5 million available to them. They expect it will run out in April, although they are encouraging owners to continue to apply after the program reopens.
Press Release follows:
DEP SAYS DEMAND FOR HYBRID ELECTRIC VEHICLE REBATES WILL SOON EXCEED SUPPLY OF FUNDS
More Funds Will be Available in July
HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania is encouraging hybrid electric and alternative fuel vehicles by offering rebates to motorists who buy and operate them in the commonwealth. The program has been so successful, the state is expect to run out of rebate money sometime in April.
DEP Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty said the commonwealth already has awarded more than $1.3 million in rebates from the $1.5 million allotted for the program for the 2005-06 fiscal year. Another $1 million will become available for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
Because buyers have six months from the time of the purchase to apply for the rebates, people buying hybrid electric and alternative fuel vehicles after the current funding runs out still will be able to apply for rebates when the programs reopens.
“Demand for these rebates clearly shows the public is interested in vehicles that achieve higher fuel efficiency standards and employ alternative fuel technologies,” McGinty said. “With each of us demanding low-emissions cars that get better gas mileage, we can lessen our dependence on foreign oil and improve the environment at the same time. I am grateful that Pennsylvania can offer this rebate program again in July.”
DEP will not accept rebate forms from the time current funding runs out until the program reopens. At that time, DEP will determine the amount of the rebate.
The Hybrid Electric and Alternative Fuel Vehicle Rebates are offered through the Alternative Fuels Incentive Grants (AFIG) program administered by DEP. To qualify for the rebate, the automobile must be registered in Pennsylvania and operated primarily within the commonwealth. The rebates are offered on a first-come, first-served basis throughout the year as long as funds are available.
Alternative fuels include compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, liquid propane gas, ethanol, methanol, hydrogen, coal-derived liquid fuels and fuels derived from biological materials. The use of these fuels offers an alternative to conventional transportation fuels that come primarily from petroleum imported from foreign countries, making AFIG even more significant as increasing energy prices impact consumers, businesses and local governments.
In 2004, Governor Edward G. Rendell signed into law an act that expanded the AFIG program, including offering the rebate instead of a grant to residents who purchase hybrid electric and alternative fuel vehicles. AFIG also helps residents purchase alternative-fuel vehicles and finances related fuel projects to create new markets that can have measurable impacts on pollution reduction, environmental protection and economic growth.
Since the inception of the AFIG program in 1992, DEP has awarded $28.7 million for 984 projects in 50 counties. DEP has also awarded $1.2 million since March 2005 to individuals who purchased hybrid electric vehicles. AFIG funds have leveraged more than $78 million from public and private fleet operators, fuel providers and the federal government
The AFIG expansion is just one piece of Governor Rendell’s vision to create clean, reliable energy from Pennsylvania sources.
Governor Rendell last year banned the purchase of conventional SUVs for the state vehicle fleet and is building on this initiative with a major effort to replace conventional vehicles with hybrid vehicles. In the coming fiscal year, the state will purchase 30 hybrids and set in motion a process to continually build on this commitment so that by 2011, fully 25 percent of the fleet will be hybrids.
For more information, visit DEP’s Web site at www.dep.state.pa.us, Keyword: “Alternative Fuels.”
According to the Boston Globe, hybrid owners are coming from the more affluent neighborhoods. Anecdotally, they tend to be more informed and pay in cash for their new car. Quite often, they know more about the tax credits available to them this year than the dealers do.
Boston Globe story
Hybrid cars have been selling in the United States since 1999, but their popularity has spiked in recent years and in certain communities. In Massachusetts, it's the affluent suburbs northwest of Boston -- Lincoln, Concord, Carlisle, and Harvard -- where hybrid fever runs strongest.
According to a Boston Globe study of all registered vehicles in the state, those communities, along with Chilmark on Martha's Vineyard, have the state's highest concentrations of people who own the iconic hybrid, the Prius. The highest rate of ownership was in Harvard, where 46 of the 3,847 registered vehicles, or 1.2 percent, were Priuses. That compares to six of the 25,950 cars in Lawrence.
And while the Ford Escape Hybrid has reported a slowdown in sales, the Prius still has customers on waiting lists, with 20 in Woburn and 70 in Lexington. Recently Ford has had to up the rebate to $1000 with no one the waiting list for its hybrid SUV.
Freeholders in Burlington, NJ voted yesterday to purchase two 2006 Chevrolet Silverado hybrids for use in the parks division. The Chevy Silverado hybrid is a mild hybrid, but is well suited to the type of work in a parks division, i.e slow driving in city areas.
The freeholders are purchasing at a discounted rate through the state's cooperative purchasing and contract program. Plus the county can apply for rebates from the federal government and the state's Clean Cities Alternative Fuel Vehicle program.
Read the article at the courier post online
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
It seems that all of the protests about their mistakes in calculating the depreciation costs have gotten through to Consumer Reports. They are revising their numbers on the cost of ownership. I think it's probably too late, though. The damage has been done and many others have and will probably continue to quote the mistaken numbers. We'll have to wait and see.
Kansas City Tribune
CR's revised analysis shows that two of the six hybrids recovered their price premium in the first five years and 75,000 miles of ownership. The Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid provide a savings of about $400 and $300, respectively, when compared with their all-gas counterparts-as long as federal tax credits apply. But extra ownership costs during the first five years and 75,000 miles for the other four hybrids ranged from an estimated $1,900 to $5,500, compared to similar all-gas models.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
According to MarketWatch, Ford has increased it's incentives to $1000 on the Ford Escape hybrid. They note how sales on the SUV hybrid have slowed down to the point where there is no waiting list. Which is a good thing if you're a buyer and interested in getting in on the hybrid now, but don't want to sacrifice your SUV.
They report sales of approximately 1200 hybrid SUV's in February (I'm still looking for the numbers to finish off my report on February hybrid sales). If there number is accurate, that's a slight increase in sales from last February (1098 Ford Escape hybrids, February 2005).
Ford spokesman Jim Cain feels confident, however.
"We're just starting to flex our muscles in the hybrid market," Cain said, noting that the company plans to introduce at least seven new hybrids by decade's end. He said factors such as a new federal tax credit for hybrid buyers and another potential spike in gas prices could goose demand for Ford hybrids in the near term.
Labels: Federal Tax Credit
I'm getting tired of saying the same thing over and over whenever I see a news article on hybrids.
iht.com written by David Leonhardt
First, hybrids have the most overblown mileage ratings in the auto industry. In the U.S. government's road tests, which are conducted in a world without much traffic or any air conditioning, the Prius gets 55 miles to the gallon, or 23 kilometers to the liter. (The Corolla gets 29 miles to the gallon.)
Consumer Reports says the Prius really goes 44 miles on a gallon of gasoline. When I used one last week - and there is no denying that it's a great car to drive - I got 45 in New York City and on local highways.
They always mention how the EPA rating on hybrid cars are overblown. Why not mention that EPA ratings are overblown on ALL cars? Why say I only got 45 mpg, even though it's rated for 55, but not mention that in the author's car, he was promised 33 by the EPA, but only gets 26?
And then they always mention this:
You can guess what this means for hybrids. Each one becomes a free pass for its manufacturer to sell a few extra gas guzzlers.This statement implies hybrid buyers are bad because others drive gas guzzlers. No mention of how the hybrid cars don't pollute as much? Or how about how car manufacturers are not reaching this goal for average gas consumption and are simply paying the fines each year. If someone buys a hybrid, it doesn't mean that someone else is free to buy a large car. American consumers are buying the large cars, irregardless of what someone else is doing.
Monday, March 06, 2006
Although the number of units sold in February for each car was down in comparison to January sales numbers, the total number of hybrid cars sold increased from last year. In February 2005, the number of hybrid cars sold was 10,400. That number has increased this February to over 13,000 (as of publication, the numbers on the Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner were not available).
Honda sales increased 18% from 2,230 to 2,635 units sold. The Honda Accord had sales drop 8% from 855 to 783 units sold. But both the Honda Civic and the Insight had their sales increase from 1,353 to 1,780 (32%) and 22 to 72 (227%) units sold, respectively.
Toyota sales also increased 55% from 7,078 to 10,981 units sold. Although sales of the Toyota Prius were down 8% from 7,078 to 6,547 units sold, the Prius is still dominant within the hybrid sphere. Toyota sales increased based on the additional numbers of the Highlander (2,631) and Lexus Rx 400h (1,803) units sold.
Students from West Philadelphia took a K-1 kit, an old Accord, and some soybean oil (along with some donated parts and money) and built a car that goes from 0 to 60 in 4 seconds and gets 50 mpg. While it may smell like french fries when you start it up, there's nothing lost in this car.
In fact, it was so good, the kids entered it in the Tour de Sol and won in 2005. In 2002, the same school (different kids, of course) put together an electric Saturn and won the Tour de Sol. This year's K-1 car has also been seen at the Philadelphia Auto Show (Feb, 2006).
Now this is impressive. Although the total cost of the car was estimated at $100,000, imagine if someone with an assembly line took the idea and ran with it. As Simon Hauger, a physics teacher who is the West Philadelphia automotive program's administrator, put it, "Who wouldn't want a cool sports car hybrid?"
I first saw this story over at rutrow.com.
Using data from the KPMG survey of 140 top auto executives, Business Weekly has a story on the future growth of hybrid car sales. Specifically, they expect hybrid car sales to continue to grow; from 1.3 % to 4.2% market share.
Much of that growth will come from the hybrid cars becoming more widely available. They expect that the types of hybrid vehicles available will also grow from 11 to 52 by 2012. As with any new industry, consumers will only buy what will fit into their lifestyle. When the hybrid car was first introduced, they were subcompacts with little room for families. With the introduction of the Ford Escape, the hybrids have a bigger chance going mainstream.
According to the KPMG survey, The types of vehicles expected to make the biggest gains in market share will be small, inexpensive cars and gas/electric hybrids, both prized for fuel efficiency. In fact: respondents think most likely to gain market share are hybrids (up this year from 74 percent to 88 percent) and a new category for 2005, low-cost cars (79 percent). North American auto executives are expecting a hybrid expansion, and four out of five Asians and Europeans agree. Also, the percent of auto executives who think consumers will accept hybrids has increased from 54 percent to 74.
But consumers have already accepted hybrids. If we go back to the Business Weekly story, which is citing a J.D. Powers and Associates survey, 87% of the consumers surveyed would consider buying a hybrid and nearly 85% of those surveyed are willing to spend more on them. Only half of the remaining 13% of those who would not consider buying a hybrid say they don't know enough about hybrids to feel comfortable buying one. And let's not forget that according to Consumer Reports, 95% of Prius owners would buy another one.
According to a Department of Energy (DOE) report, new techniques in oil recovery could result in double the efficiency. If such techniques are applied, 89 billion barrels or more could eventually be added to the current U.S. proven reserves of 21.4 billion barrels.
"The assessments looked at maximizing oil production and accelerating the productive use of carbon dioxide in all categories of petroleum resources, including as-yet undiscovered oil and the new resources in the residual oil zone."
The new method is called sequestration of industrial carbon dioxide and according to Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman, "By using the proven technique of carbon sequestration, we get the double benefit of taking carbon dioxide out of air while getting more oil out of the earth."
"Widespread sequestration of industrial carbon dioxide could eventually add as much as 430 billion new barrels to the technically recoverable resource."
GM will sell stock back to Suzuki, reducing it's current shares from 20.4 percent to 3 percent. By selling 92.36 million shares. GM hopes to realize U.S. $2 billion by the sale.
GM and Suzuki plan on continuing their joint research into alternative fuel sources, including fuel cell and hybrid systems. They have reportedly put in an option for buying back the stock within one year, as well.
The Toyota Prius and Honda Civic hybrid appear in Edmunds Top 10 Best Vehicles for Seniors in 2006. They evaluated each car on it's senior-friendly features, as well as overall quality and performance.
In placing the Toyota Prius at no. 3, they noted how the Prius has made it easier to deal with arthritis. It has a buttonless, easy to move shifter. Also, there's a keyless entry (optional) and touchscreen controls. Many of the controls are voice activated. A backup camera (optional) makes it easier to see what's happening behind your car.
The Honda Civic came in eighth place with its low cost to own reputation. According to Edmunds the Civic is comfortable and easy to manuever. And any 'green' senior will love it's ultralow emissions and great fuel economy.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
AC Transit will unveil it's fuel cell hybrid electric buses provided by Chevron Technology Venutures LLC in a ceremony on March 13th. The buses will be used in commuting services from Alamed County, East Bay and San Francisco.
AC Transit has been using a prototype for the past three years as part of a fuel cell demonstration program being sponsored by local business and government agencies. As part of the program, Chevron installed a hydrogen energy station in Oakland, which features a system that's able to produce hydrogen from natural gas. The hydrogen is then purified, compressed and stored for use in the vehicles.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
According to a press release by the Greater Cleveland Automobile Dealer's Association (March 2nd), a seminar was sponsored on how emergency crews should approach and deal safely with hybrid vehicles involved in a crash. More than 300 first responders and EMT personnel were expected to attend and learn about standard operating procedures for hybrid vehicles involved in an accident.
Most concerns center on avoiding electrical shock from the larger batteries in hybrid cars.
Related to it's Top 10 fuel efficient cars, Edmunds also has it's Top 10 Most Fuel-Efficient SUVs and Pickups for 2006. The top 3 spots (four cars) have gone to hybrids, with the Ford Escape Hybrid finishing in first.
The Escape was followed closely by the Mercury Mariner Hybrid, then the Lexus Rx 400h and the Toyota Highlander Hybrid tied for fourth, with a 33/28 ratio of city/highway mpg. The Saturn Vue came in at the 5th spot, but it's hybrid version (Green Line) has an estimated (by GM, the EPA hasn't rated it, yet) 27/32 ratio, which should put it in the fourth spot overall after it's release.
Note the Ford Escape, the Mercury Mariner and the Toyota Highlander all appear twice as they are available in both the hybrid and the gasoline version.
Ratings are based on a ratio of highway to city mpg: 55 percent of city mpg rating plus 45 percent of highway mpg rating.
1. Ford Escape Hybrid — 36/31
2. Mercury Mariner Hybrid — 33/29
3. Lexus RX 400h — 33/28
Toyota Highlander Hybrid — 33/28
4. Ford Escape — 24/29
Ford Ranger — 24/29
Mazda Tribute — 24/29
Mazda B-Series — 24/29
5. Honda CR-V — 23/29
Saturn Vue — 23/29
6. Subaru Baja — 23/28
7. Mitsubishi Outlander — 22/28
8. Hyundai Tucson — 22/27
Kia Sportage — 22/27
Toyota Highlander — 22/27
9. Mercury Mariner — 22/26
Honda Element — 22/26
Jeep Liberty Diesel — 22/26
10. Nissan Frontier — 22/25
Friday, March 03, 2006
According to a recent poll by Consumer Reports, 95% of Prius owners would buy a Prius again. This is followed at 93% for a Corvette. Who would have thought such a difference could exist in measuring satisfaction in Americans. The Corvette is know for it's powerful engine and smooth ride. The Prius is know for it's great mileage and environmental concerns.
All other American cars listed in the most satisfying to own are powerful V-8 engines more noted for their speed. Some of the foreign made cars are more noted for their reliability.
That satisfaction is obviously being passed on to other car drivers. Toyota sold over 100,000 Prius hybrid cars in 2005.
There's a discussion over at greenhybrid and the prius owners group on the consumer reports article claiming hybrid vehicles are more expensive to own in the long run. It seems that some are claiming their numbers are off.
Some of the claims Consumer Reports are making don't seem to make sense to me. For instance, hybrid cars do not depreciate at the same rate as their sister cars. Used hybrids sell very quickly for higher prices.
For instance, I peeked in at autotrader.com and searched for honda civics. A 2004 Honda Civic EX with 9,424 miles on it was being offered for $18,688. A 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid with 200,007 was being offered at $18,888. Now maybe that's a typo, but there was another 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid being sold at $19,488 with 41,027 miles. So the hybrid car that is 1 year older and 4 times as many miles is being sold for almost one thousand dollars more. Does this sound like they are depreciating at the same rate (or faster as Consumer Reports claims)?
Other problems I see with the report. They note the higher sticker price leads to higher costs in financing, sales tax, and insurance costs. The issue I have is the extra cost for insurance. Some companies are now offering discounts on insurance rates for hybrid owners.
Also, with federal and state tax relief and other rebates being offer (depending on your state), the extra cost of buying a hybrid is closer than it was. For instance, a poster at greenhybrid points out that consumers who buy a hybrid that gets over 40 mpg (EPA est.) highway don't have to pay sales tax. And of course, there are the little perks that hybrid owners have been getting, such as free parking, HOV access, etc... And all of this is before we add in any savings at the pump.
The only real concern about operating a hybrid over the years is in maintenance, but what some people don't realize is the lower cost of routine maintenance. For instance, you don't have to change the oil and the brakes as often. I would imagine larger issues will have larger bills, but it's hard to know. Hybrid cars tend to be very reliable and the batteries are guaranteed to last the life of the car (8 years?).
According to an AP Report, a bill was introduced in the Senate today that would allow tax deductions of up to one hundred thousand dollars for hybrid vehicles and other vehicles which use alternative fuels. Small business owners would also be allowed to claim depreciations on the value fo their vehicles not covered by the deduction
Small business owners are currently allowed up to three thousand dollars in tax credits for buying hybrid vehicles, just as everyone is depending on the vehicle bought. But tax deductions on large SUVs are currently at close to twenty five thousand dollars.
Tax deductions on large SUVs were intended to be used by farmers who buy large vehicles to be used in their business. But some larger SUVs also qualify and so have been eligible for the tax deductions.
According to Consumer Reports April issue, you won't save money buying a hybrid in five or even ten years. They did take into account increasing gas prices (projecting up to $4/gallon in five years). They also took into account the tax breaks available this year. And, according to the news story, most of the cost is related to it's higher cost at purchase.
I wrote about this before, why buy a hybrid?, but we should talk about it again from time to time. Today's consumers have an array of choices in front of them and if cost was the biggest factor, we would all be driving minis. For most drivers, buying a car is about image, comfort and reliability. And buying a hybrid is about being seen as being green. It's also about getting all those perks, like HOV access and free parking. It's also about being the envy of your neighbors.
If you're thinking of buying a hybrid vehicle to save money, you won't -- ever -- said Consumer Reports magazine.
In its April auto issue, due on newsstands Tuesday, the magazine said the six most popular gas-electric hybrids end up costing owners from $3,700 to $13,300 more over five years compared with similar gasoline models. Much of that comes from the higher purchase price of hybrids vs. non-hybrids, but they also will lose more of their value, the report said.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
It seems that Bradley Berman of businessweek feels the engineers should be designing more eco friendly cars. The problem is, engineers aren't the ones deciding what to build or why. They work for the automakers who are deciding the future designs. And the automakers are taking their cues from the consumer who wants bigger and faster cars.
Story from BusinessWeek
Boys, Toys, and a Planet in Peril
I recently urged a group of auto engineers to put away gas-guzzling engines and other childish things. They didn't like it one bit
There are times when it makes sense to play along with the crowd. And then there are moments when you have to say exactly what's on your mind. I had one of those moments at the recent Society of Automotive Engineers' 2006 Hybrid Symposium in San Diego.
Daily Tribune :
City may offer free parking for hybrid vehicles
By Michael P. McConnell
FERNDALE — It's no secret hybrid and electric cars save money for their drivers on the road, but they may soon save money even when they are parked — at least in Ferndale.
Councilman Craig Covey is touting a measure to allow free parking at city parking meters for hybrid cars. The savings would equal 50 cents an hour.
"I'd like to do it for a one-year trial period," Covey said. "If you drive a hybrid or electric car you don't have to feed the meters."
Such a move will encourage people to pursue "greener cars and less dependence on foreign oil," he said.
Edmunds has released it's Top 10 most fuel efficient cars for 2006 and hybrids take the top three spots. Ratings for the top 10 list are based on EPA mpg estimates, based on a ratio of 55% city, 45% highway.
Honda takes the top spot with its Insight. The Insight is followed closely by the Toyota Prius and the Honda Civic Hybrid. The Honda Civic appears twice (3rd and 9th) since it is available with and without the hybrid engine.
1. Honda Insight — 60/66
2. Toyota Prius — 60/51*
3. Honda Civic Hybrid — 49/51*
4. Volkswagen Golf TDI — 37/44
Volkswagen New Beetle TDI — 37/44
5. Volkswagen Jetta TDI — 36/41
6. Toyota Corolla — 32/41
7. Scion xA — 32/37
8. Hyundai Accent — 32/35
Kia Rio — 32/35
9. Honda Civic — 30/40*
10. Pontiac Vibe — 30/36
Toyota Matrix — 30/36
Consumer Reports shut out American cars in it's top 10 cars of 2006. Toyota Prius and Toyota Highlander Hybrid represent the only two hybrids in their top 10.
It's no surprise that Consumer Reports has snubbed the American cars however. They've been rating Ford and GM lower than JD Powers does in quality and reliability. Consumer Reports has rated the Ford Escape Hybrid and the Mercury Mariner hybrid as better than average and much better than average in reliability, respectively.
What this top ten list comes down to is reputation, however. Right now, the American public is down on American cars. Ford, in particular, has been spending quite a bit on turning that reputation around, but it still has a ways to go.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
It's stories like this that give hybrids a bad rap on gas mileage. Yes, the EPA estimates are higher than what you will get in the 'real world', although if you take your time, you can get higher than the EPA estimates. But they don't point that out in the story. Instead, they just say how high the estimate is for hybrids, without comparing to all other cars. It's bad reporting.
TheBostonChannel.com - News - Some Comsumers Unhappy With Hybrid's Fuel Efficiency
The sticker boasts 31 miles per gallon city driving, but a Team 5 investigation revealed a different story.
"I'm averaging somewhere around 21 and a half, which is disappointing considering the window sticker told me I'd be averaging somewhere around 31," said Jan Roberts, who drives a hybrid.
Roberts, a real estate agent, paid $5,000 more for her new Lexus hybrid because she thought that in the long run, the dual powering of electricity and gasoline would save her money on fuel.