GM has begun its production of the two mode hybrid transmission for use in their upcoming 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon large SUV Hybrids. Over $118 million was spent to expand the transmission plant in Baltimore by 38,000 square feet in order to produced the new two mode hybrid transmission.
The two mode hybrid system was developed in partnership with BMW and DaimlerChrysler. All three companies will be coming out with their own two mode hybrid cars, but GM will be the first. The two mode hybrid system will increase fuel economy for GMs large SUVs by 30%.
Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md) and Barbara Mikulski (D-Md) were on hand for the first transmission produced to come off the line. Seventy eight percent of the components used in the production also come from the US.
The hybrid SUVs will start coming next week from an assembly plant in Arlington, Texas. GM is hoping to sell 10,000 units combined for the 2008 model year.
GM is planning on bringing the two mode system out for the Cadillac Escalade SUV, Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups. The re-tooled transmission plant will also be supplying the two mode hybrid system for the Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango SUVs. BMW is expected to follow-up with the X6 crossover.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
GM has begun its production of the two mode hybrid transmission for use in their upcoming 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon large SUV Hybrids. Over $118 million was spent to expand the transmission plant in Baltimore by 38,000 square feet in order to produced the new two mode hybrid transmission.
Monday, October 29, 2007
The five finalists for the Green Car of the Year Award, sponsored by Green Car Journal, are in and they are all hybrids. The nominees were selected for their "newness" and must "forward environmental performance in meaningful and quantifiable ways."
The five finalists are the 2008:
- Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid,
- Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid,
- Mazda Tribute Hybrid,
- Nissan Altima Hybrid, and
- Saturn Aura Hybrid.
"There has been significant movement in the auto industry toward making mainstream models 'greener' in recent years, with notable milestones in fuel efficiency and low emissions," says Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of the Green Car Journal. "This is especially evident with hybrids, where gasoline-electric hybrid technology is being applied to popular models in the most important vehicle classes where consumers are shopping."
"The fact that all five Green Car of the Year® nominees are hybrids this year is a clear indication that the auto industry's significant investment of time and resources into gasoline-electric hybrid technology is paying off," explains Cogan. "Hybrids were not a specific focus during our nomination process. There are many pathways to achieving efficiency and emissions goals, and hybrids, while popular, represent just one of these."
To be considered, each vehicle had to feature fuel efficiency gains and offer extremely low emissions. Otherwise, the nominees were also firsts for one reason or another. The Chevy Tahoe will be the first to production with the dual-mode hybrid system developed by BMW, GM and DaimlerChrysler. The Mazda Tribute and Nissan Altima are the first hybrid for Mazda and Nissan respectively. (It should be noted the Tribute is just a copy of the Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner and the Altima uses the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive.) The Chevy Malibu and Saturn Aura Hybrids are the newest affordable hybrid sedans.
Sometimes, it just isn't easy trying to figure out which car to buy. If fuel economy is one of your primary selling points, then you should head on over to the fueleconomy.gov website to get the latest fuel economy (and emissions) from the EPA.
Unfortunately the EPA assumes people come into the site looking to purchase a particular type of car, whether SUV, small car, family sedan or hatchback. Not everyone thinks that way. So I looked through and located every 2008 model year car that gets over 25 mpg and sorted them by their fuel economy.
Not surprisingly, the top five most fuel efficient vehicles on the list are hybrids.
UPDATE (May 30, 2008): I've gone back and updated the list. There are now 99 cars listed that get over 25 mpg combined. As you can see from the list, the MINI(s) has been added in, along with the Saturn Vue Hybrid and a few others.
This Table Represents the Most Fuel Efficient Cars for 2008.
|1||family sedans||Toyota Prius 4 cyl, 1.5 L, Automatic (CVT), HEV, Regular||48||45||46.7|
|2||small cars||Honda Civic Hybrid 4 cyl, 1.3 L, Automatic (CVT), HEV, Regular||40||45||42.3|
|3||Coupes||smart fortwo coupe 3 cyl, 1 L, Automatic (S5), Premium||33||41||36.6|
|3||Convertibles||smart fortwo convertible 3 cyl, 1 L, Automatic (S5), Premium||33||41||36.6|
|4||family sedans||Nissan Altima Hybrid 4 cyl, 2.5 L, Automatic (CVT), HEV, Regular||35||33||34.1|
|5||family sedans||Toyota Camry Hybrid 4 cyl, 2.4 L, Automatic (CVT), HEV, Regular||33||34||33.5|
|6||SUV||Ford Escape Hybrid FWD 4 cyl, 2.3 L, Automatic (CVT), Regular||34||30||32.2|
|6||SUV||Mazda Tribute Hybrid 2WD 4 cyl, 2.3 L, Automatic (CVT), Regular||34||30||32.2|
|6||SUV||Mercury Mariner Hybrid FWD 4 cyl, 2.3 L, Automatic (CVT), Regular||34||30||32.2|
|7||small cars||Toyota Yaris 4 cyl, 1.5 L, Man(5), Regular||29||36||32.2|
|7||small cars||MINI Cooper 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular||29||36||32.2|
|7||Hatchback||Toyota Yaris 4 cyl, 1.5 L, Man(5), Regular||29||36||32.2|
|8||small cars||MINI Clubman 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Manual 6-spd, Premium||28||37||32.1|
|8||small cars||Toyota Corolla 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Man(5), Regular||28||37||32.1|
|9||small cars||Toyota Yaris 4 cyl, 1.5 L, Auto(4), Regular||29||35||31.7|
|9||Hatchback||Toyota Yaris 4 cyl, 1.5 L, Auto(4), Regular||29||35||31.7|
|10||small cars||Honda Fit 4 cyl, 1.5 L, Man(5), Regular||28||34||30.7|
|10||Hatchback||Honda Fit 4 cyl, 1.5 L, Man(5), Regular||28||34||30.7|
|11||small cars||Honda Fit 4 cyl, 1.5 L, Auto(5), Regular||27||34||30.2|
|11||Hatchback||Honda Fit 4 cyl, 1.5 L, Auto(5), Regular||27||34||30.2|
|12||small cars||Toyota Corolla 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Auto(4), Regular||26||35||30.1|
|13||small cars||Honda Civic 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Auto(5), Regular||25||36||30.0|
|13||small cars||Chevrolet Cobalt XFE 4 cyl, 2.2 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular||25||36||30.0|
|14||small cars||Scion xD 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Man(5), Regular||27||33||29.7|
|14||small cars||Nissan Versa 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Automatic (CVT), Regular||27||33||29.7|
|14||small cars||Honda Fit 4 cyl, 1.5 L, Auto(S5), Regular||27||33||29.7|
|14||Hatchback||Scion xD 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Man(5), Regular||27||33||29.7|
|14||Hatchback||Honda Fit 4 cyl, 1.5 L, Auto(S5), Regular||27||33||29.7|
|14||Station Wagons||Scion xD 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Man(5), Regular||27||33||29.7|
|15||small cars||Honda Civic 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Man(5), Regular||26||34||29.6|
|15||small cars||MINI Cooper 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Automatic (S6), Premium||26||34||29.6|
|15||small cars||MINI Cooper S 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Manual 6-spd, Premium||26||34||29.6|
|15||small cars||MINI Clubman S 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Manual 6-spd, Premium||26||34||29.6|
|16||small cars||Kia Rio 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Auto(4), Regular||25||35||29.5|
|16||small cars||Pontiac G5 XFE 4 cyl, 2.2 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular||25||35||29.5|
|16||Coupes||Pontiac G5 XFE 4 cyl, 2.2 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular||25||35||29.5|
|17||small cars||Honda Civic 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Auto(5), RNG=170, Natural Gas||24||36||29.4|
|18||small cars||Hyundai Accent 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Man(5), Regular||27||32||29.3|
|18||small cars||Kia Rio 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Man(5), Regular||27||32||29.3|
|19||Station Wagons||Pontiac Vibe 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Man(5), Regular||26||33||29.2|
|19||Station Wagons||Toyota Matrix 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Man(5), Regular||26||33||29.2|
|20||small cars||Ford Focus 4 cyl, 2 L, Man(5), Regular||24||35||29.0|
|21||small cars||Scion xD 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Auto(4), Regular||26||32||28.7|
|21||Hatchback||Scion xD 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Auto(4), Regular||26||32||28.7|
|21||Station Wagons||Scion xD 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Auto(4), Regular||26||32||28.7|
|22||small cars||Nissan Sentra 4 cyl, 2 L, Automatic (CVT), Regular||25||33||28.6|
|22||family sedans||Hyundai Elantra 4 cyl, 2 L, Auto(4), Regular||25||33||28.6|
|23||small cars||Chevrolet Aveo 5 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Man(5), Regular||24||34||28.5|
|23||small cars||Chevrolet Aveo 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Man(5), Regular||24||34||28.5|
|23||Hatchback||Chevrolet Aveo 5 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Man(5), Regular||24||34||28.5|
|23||Hatchback||Chevrolet Aveo 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Man(5), Regular||24||34||28.5|
|24||small cars||Nissan Versa 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Man(6), Regular||26||31||28.3|
|25||SUV||Saturn Vue Hybrid 4 cyl, 2.4 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular||25||32||28.2|
|26||SUV||Ford Escape Hybrid 4WD 4 cyl, 2.3 L, Automatic (CVT), Regular||29||27||28.1|
|26||SUV||Mazda Tribute Hybrid 4WD 4 cyl, 2.3 L, Automatic (CVT), Regular||29||27||28.1|
|26||SUV||Mercury Mariner Hybrid 4WD 4 cyl, 2.3 L, Automatic (CVT), Regular||29||27||28.1|
|27||small cars||Ford Focus 4 cyl, 2 L, Auto(4), Regular||24||33||28.1|
|27||small cars||Hyundai Accent 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Auto(4), Regular||24||33||28.1|
|27||small cars||Pontiac G5/Pursuit 4 cyl, 2.2 L, Man(5), Regular||24||33||28.1|
|27||small cars||Chevrolet Cobalt 4 cyl, 2.2 L, Man(5), Regular||24||33||28.1|
|27||family sedans||Hyundai Elantra 4 cyl, 2 L, Man(5), Regular||24||33||28.1|
|27||Coupes||Pontiac G5/Pursuit 4 cyl, 2.2 L, Man(5), Regular||24||33||28.1|
|28||Station Wagons||Pontiac Vibe 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Auto(4), Regular||25||31||27.7|
|28||Station Wagons||Toyota Matrix 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Auto(4), Regular||25||31||27.7|
|29||small cars||Mazda 3 4 cyl, 2 L, Man(5), Regular||24||32||27.6|
|29||small cars||Nissan Versa 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Auto(4), Regular||24||32||27.6|
|29||family sedans||Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid 4 cyl, 2.4 L, Auto(4), Regular||24||32||27.6|
|29||family sedans||Kia Spectra 4 cyl, 2 L, Auto(4), Regular||24||32||27.6|
|29||family sedans||Saturn Aura Hybrid 4 cyl, 2.4 L, Auto(4), Regular||24||32||27.6|
|29||Hatchback||Saturn Astra 2DR Hatchback 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular||24||32||27.6|
|29||Hatchback||Saturn Astra 4DR Hatchback 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular||24||32||27.6|
|30||small cars||Nissan Sentra 4 cyl, 2 L, Man(6), Regular||24||31||27.2|
|31||small cars||MINI Cooper S 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Automatic (S6), Premium||23||32||27.1|
|31||small cars||MINI Clubman S 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Automatic (S6), Premium||23||32||27.1|
|31||small cars||Chevrolet Aveo 5 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Auto(4), Regular||23||32||27.1|
|31||small cars||Chevrolet Aveo 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Auto(4), Regular||23||32||27.1|
|31||family sedans||Nissan Altima 4 cyl, 2.5 L, Man(6), Regular||23||32||27.1|
|31||luxury sedan||Mercedes-Benz E320 Bluetec 6 cyl, 3 L, Auto(L7), Diesel||23||32||27.1|
|31||Hatchback||Chevrolet Aveo 5 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Auto(4), Regular||23||32||27.1|
|31||Hatchback||Chevrolet Aveo 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Auto(4), Regular||23||32||27.1|
|31||Coupes||Nissan Altima Coupe 4 cyl, 2.5 L, Man(6), Regular||23||32||27.1|
|31||Convertibles||MINI Cooper Convertible 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Man(5), Premium||23||32||27.1|
|32||small cars||Nissan Sentra 4 cyl, 2.5 L, Automatic (CVT), Regular||24||30||26.7|
|32||Hatchback||Saturn Astra 2DR Hatchback 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular||24||30||26.7|
|32||Hatchback||Saturn Astra 4DR Hatchback 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular||24||30||26.7|
|33||small cars||Mazda 3 4 cyl, 2 L, Auto(S4), Regular||23||31||26.6|
|33||small cars||Suzuki SX4 Sedan 4 cyl, 2 L, Auto(4), Regular||23||31||26.6|
|33||family sedans||Nissan Altima 4 cyl, 2.5 L, Automatic (CVT), Regular||23||31||26.6|
|33||Coupes||Audi TT Coupe 4 cyl, 2 L, Auto(S6), Premium||23||31||26.6|
|33||Coupes||Nissan Altima Coupe 4 cyl, 2.5 L, Automatic (CVT), Regular||23||31||26.6|
|33||Sports/Sporty Cars||Audi TT Coupe 4 cyl, 2 L, Auto(S6), Premium||23||31||26.6|
|34||small cars||Chevrolet Cobalt 4 cyl, 2.4 L, Man(5), Premium||22||32||26.5|
|34||small cars||Pontiac G5/Pursuit 4 cyl, 2.4 L, Man(5), Premium||22||32||26.5|
|35||Hatchback||Dodge Caliber 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Man(5), Regular||24||29||26.3|
|36||family sedans||Kia Spectra 4 cyl, 2 L, Man(5), Regular||23||30||26.2|
|37||SUV||Toyota Highlander Hybrid 4WD 6 cyl, 3.3 L, Automatic (CVT), HEV, Regular||27||25||26.1|
|38||small cars||Pontiac G5/Pursuit 4 cyl, 2.2 L, Auto(4), Regular||22||31||26.1|
|38||small cars||Chevrolet Cobalt 4 cyl, 2.2 L, Auto(4), Regular||22||31||26.1|
|38||Coupes||Pontiac G5/Pursuit 4 cyl, 2.2 L, Auto(4), Regular||22||31||26.1|
Rankings for the Most Fuel Efficient Cars of 2008
The rankings for this list of the most fuel efficient cars in 2008 was based on the combined fuel economy (45% highway, 55% city). Since fuel economy is so dependent on the engine type, the EPA breaks down the vehicle by engine type. So, even though the list seems to be repeating itself, it's not.
The numbers shown are based on the new EPA MPG testing. The old ratings were not very realistic, leading to many complaints about not getting the fuel economy they were promised. And although many predicted that hybrids would be affected more than others, they are still there at the top.
UPDATE (May 30, 2008): The following paragraph is no longer true since I've gone back to update the list. But I would still like to hear from you if you see a car that's not on the list.
All cars on this list are 2008 model year. Notice that the 2008 Saturn Vue Greenline Hybrid is not on the list. For some reason it's not up on the fueleconomy.gov website, yet. If it was, in would be right up there with the top ranked vehicles. But since it's not there, I decided to keep it off the list.
You may notice other vehicles that are not on the list. If you do, please let me know in the comments below. When I come back to update the list, I'd like to get it right.
Update (August, 2008): I have lists up on the most fuel efficient cars of 2006 and the most fuel efficient cars of 2005.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Green Mountain Power joins the likes of Google, Bank of America, and Timberlake by offering a cash incentive to employees who purchase hybrids. The company is offering $1,500 for a new car or $750 for a used hybrid vehicle included in the EPA's Smart Way Elite category. That list includes the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid, Nissan Altima Hybrid, and Toyota Camry Hybrid.
"We have worked very hard to reduce Green Mountain Power's impact on the environment by converting our fleet to biodiesel, purchasing hybrid vehicles where possible for company use, and using the most efficient vehicles available for the required work," said Mary Powell, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. "Offering our employees an incentive for purchasing fuel efficient vehicles is the next logical step for ensuring that all of us at Green Mountain Power make positive changes to help the environment."
Green Mountain Power (www.greenmountainpower.biz) is an electric utility owned by Northern New England Energy Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Gaz Métro, a leading Québec energy company with a long history of investment in Vermont. Green Mountain Power transmits, distributes and sells electricity and utility construction services in the State of Vermont in a service territory with approximately one quarter of Vermont's population. It serves approximately 92,000 customers.
Toyota, Honda, Ford and GM are all donating money to the Red Cross (Disaster Relief Fund) in an effort to provide shelter, relief and recovery to those affected by the wildfires in Southern California.
- Toyota donated $2 million to the American Red Cross.
- Toyota will also donate lift trucks and palette jacks that will be used to unload and distribute relief supplies.
- Honda donated $250,000 to Red Cross.
- Honda is also matching at 100% any funds donated by employees of American Honda and its subsidiaries.
- Ford is donating $100,000 to the American Red Cross
- GM Foundation donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross.
- In the past, GM donated a fleet of HUMMER vehicles to assist in providing relief.
- The GM Foundation will also match any contributions to the relief efforts by their employees through November 30, 2007.
The Red Cross is providing residents, firefighters and first responders with shelter, food, water, clean up and comfort kits, and medical and mental health services. The Red Cross has nearly 3,000 workers on site in Southern California, including volunteers from all 50 states. To date, the Red Cross has provided the following services:
- Opened 24 shelters providing displaced residents with a safe place to stay
- Mobilized tens of thousands of cots, blankets, comfort kits, and clean-up supplies
- Volunteers are staffing 75 Emergency Response Vehicles, providing hot meals and snacks to residents, firefighters and first responders
- Red Cross mental health counselors are available to help residents and emergency workers in the affected areas manage the stress and fear that accompanies all disasters
Honda is working with the Governor's Office of Emergency Services to assess and identify its need for emergency assistance materials and resources such as Honda-made vehicles, generators, and other products, and will donate these materials as requested.
Ford is encouraging employees to volunteer in relief of those affeected. Ford is also offering to defer two payments on their vehicles for those affected. They are also donating 11 F-250 and F-359 trucks, as well as 9 Expeditions to the fire and rescue teams.
GM Onstar activated their Crisis Assist program which allows any subscriber to use any service at no additional charge. Routing assistance, hotel reservations, phone calls, etc... will be available to any subscriber, regardless of their service plan. OnStar is also partnered with the Red Cross to provide shelter information.
GM Goodwrench is offering to replace air filters free of charge at local GM dealerships. GMAC Auto Financing established a specialized call center for assistance those who need help including payment extensions. Insurance adjusters from GMAC Insurance are already out in the field to assist with property claims. GMAC ResCap will offer mortgage relief counseling.
GMAC customers are encouraged to contact these customer service locations: GMAC Insurance 800-468-3466; GMAC Mortgage 866-262-5363; GMAC Auto Financing 800-200-4622 or their branch offices where possible.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Toyota confirms the next generation Prius will come with a nickel metal hydride battery (NiMH), just as the previous generation does now. But the next generation will cut the price and size of the hybrid system in half.
"When we went from the first-generation Prius to the second-generation, we did the same thing," Executive Vice President Kazuo Okamoto, in charge of Toyota's research and development, told reporters in Tokyo. "... Lithium-ion is going to take some time."
Toyota has had issues with developing Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) batteries for their next generation hybrids. In previous reports, they have noted that Li-Ion "just aren't ready."
Those problems have led to delays in producing the next generation Prius, which was expected to come with the new battery type. Instead, Toyota has reportedly gone back to NiMH. Toyota has said all along the launch date has not been delayed since they never had a launch date to begin with.
Other news: Toyota is looking to design all future hybrids with some instantly recognizable detail which would announce this car is a hybrid. One possibility: a unique front grille.
Okamoto noted that while diesel engines are popular in Europe "There's really no reason to bring diesel cars (to the Japanese market)." Okamoto believes the next generation hybrids will be just as good, if not better than today's diesels even on the highway. Although he did concede that diesels were "inherently better suited" for long distance cruising.
Honda and Nissan are betting otherwise when it comes to diesels, but both sides of the issue may be biased by the domination Toyota has had so far in the hybrid vehicle marketplace.
Source: Toyota to halve hybrid price, size for next Prius | News | Market News | Reuters
Audi surprised auto show goers today by presenting the Metroproject Quattro plug-in hybrid instead of the A1.
Based on the Polo platform, the two door hatchback with seating for four is smaller than the A3 at just under 4 meters. The 1.4-liter 150 hp direct injection gasoline turbo engine drives the front wheels, while the electric motor drives the rear wheels. Driving via a dual-clutch semi-automatic transmission, they can produce 440Nm of torque delivering 0-62 mph (0-100 km per hour) in 7.8 seconds.
The electric motor (located in the trunk) is charged by the lithium-ion battery pack. The battery gets its power from a plug (think overnight recharging), regeneration from the brakes or the gas engine. By itself, the electric motor can power the vehicle for 62 miles (100 km) before needing the gas engine.
Audi says the Metroproject Quattro is rated with a top speed of 124 mph while getting 57.6 mpg or a CO2 rating of 112 g/km which is a reduction of around 15%.
There is also a touch screen system which allows the driver to fine-tune the suspension, steering and transmission. The driver can also access audio and video playback, GPS navigation and telephony services through the removable handheld. It is capable of recognizing Latin and Japanese and has handwriting recognition.
Mazda will be showing off its Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid (RE stands for rotary engine) at the Tokyo Auto Show. Mazda is looking to lease sometime in 2008 for demonstration and testing purposes.
The hybrid system is designed to take advantage of both engines strengths while covering up the others weakness. The hydrogen rotary engine has low torque and poor efficiency at low rev range, while the electric motor excels at low speeds. Together, the hybrid extends the range to about 200 km, or twice what the rotary engine is capable of by itself.
The RE is shut off at low speeds or when the vehicle is stopped (unless it is needed to recharge the battery). During acceleration or steady running speeds, the electric motor assists the RE.
The electric motor is powered through regenerative braking and by the hydrogen combustion engine.
Press Release Follows:
New Mazda Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid (Exhibition Model)
TOKYO, JAPAN, Oct. 24, 2007 - Thanks to its combination of Mazda’s trademark Zoom-Zoom performance and excellent environmental efficiency, the hydrogen rotary engine (Hydrogen RE) is one of the leading lights in Mazda's efforts to develop the power plant of the future. To demonstrate the exceptional environmental performance of this engine that burns hydrogen to generate motive power and emits zero CO2, Mazda has been leasing the Mazda RX-8 Hydrogen RE to corporations and local government bodies since 2006. In particular, the RX-8 Hydrogen RE not only offers clean performance, it also maintains a driving feel characteristic of a vehicle powered by a conventional gasoline internal combustion engine. With its dual-fuel system, the RX-8 Hydrogen RE can be switched between hydrogen and gasoline fuel at the touch of a button, and although it is an alternative fuel vehicle, it offers all the other acclaimed attributes of the base model RX-8, including its seating capacity for four adults.
The new Mazda Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid that Mazda is exhibiting at this year's Tokyo Motor Show is currently under development, and scheduled to commence leasing in 2008. Incorporating the dual-fuel system of the RX-8 Hydrogen RE, it is a further evolution in terms of practical use and driving performance thanks to improvements in the Hydrogen RE and the use of a new hybrid system.
- Extended range between refuelings
- Powerful fun-to-drive feeling
- Increased seating capacity for five adults and greater luggage space
The 2007 Tokyo Motor Show model also features Mazda Biotechmaterial derived from plants that contribute to further reductions in CO2 emissions. These materials exhibit excellent resistance to heat, shock and wear, as well as weather and fire damage. They also offer outstanding versatility and can be employed for interior plastic parts, seat covers and in a variety of other areas.
Mazda is actively engaged in developing unique technologies, including the hydrogen rotary engine, as part of its efforts to achieve the early realization of a sustainable society.
In particular, Mazda clean energy vehicles running not only on hydrogen but also on gasoline and diesel are expected to play a major role during the process of developing a hydrogen infrastructure.
The evolved hydrogen rotary engine delivers Zoom-Zoom power
Output of the evolved power unit is increased by 40% compared with the RX-8 Hydrogen RE resulting in much better acceleration performance. The hydrogen rotary engine, the core unit of the model, is changed from a longitudinal to a transverse layout and its intake/exhaust resistance and combustion efficiency are improved to yield high output across a wide range of engine speeds.
In addition, a new concept hybrid system to match the new hydrogen rotary engine has been developed. The conventional hydrogen rotary engine has problems of low torque and poor combustion efficiency in the low rev range. The new system overcomes both of these problems and, combined with increased hydrogen capacity, extends the hydrogen-fueled range to about 200km or twice that of the RX-8 Hydrogen RE. The vehicle is also equipped with the highly acclaimed dual-fuel system of the RX-8 Hydrogen RE, further enhancing its practical use.
The hybrid system efficiently converts energy from hydrogen combustion into electricity that powers the electric motor. Thanks to progress in electric drive technology, the system realizes high energy-efficiency and a quick response for powerful driving performance allied with low fuel consumption. Acceleration kicks in the instant you hit the accelerator, creating a dynamic feeling from the synchronized engine and motor power.
Energy flow pattern according to driving conditions
The main components of hybrid system-the hydrogen rotary engine and generator, inverter, motor, and battery-are optimally controlled to generate electricity, recharge and discharge the battery in accordance with driving conditions.
[When pulling away from stop]
[During regular steady running]
Mazda Biotechmaterial*1 for a resource-recycling society
The new Mazda Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid is a showcase of other original Mazda environmental technologies. Mazda is deeply involved in collaborative developments with companies, universities*2, and the government in Hiroshima prefecture as part of the New Regional Consortium Research Development Programme supported by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. This enabled us to become the first automaker to develop a plant-sourced bioplastic with a high-quality appearance as well as shock and wear resistance suitable for extrusion-molded automobile interior parts.
In a joint venture with Teijin Ltd, a company with research labs in Chugoku and Shikoku, and Teijin Fibers Ltd, Mazda succeeded in becoming the first in the auto industry to develop a 100% plant-sourced biofabric made of polylactate fibers that exhibits excellent wear, fire and weather resistance for use in automobile seat covers. The new Mazda Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid uses these Mazda Biotechmaterial for its interior trim and seat covers.
*1 General term for Mazda-developed plant-sourced materials including bioplastic and biofabric.
*2 Consortium members are: Hiroshima University, Nishikawa Rubber Co., Ltd., Hiroshima Prefecture Technical Research Institute (Seibu Industrial Technology Center), Daikyo-Nishikawa Co., Ltd., Japan Steel Works Ltd., Kinki University Engineering Department, National Research Institute of Brewing, Yasuhara Chemical Co., Ltd., MANAC, Inc., Mazda Motor Corporation (2 universities, 6 corporations and 2 experimental and research organizations)
Shock-resistance, heat-resistance and a quality appearance
Mazda has developed a unique bioplastic suitable for interior parts. To promote crystallization of polylactic acid, researchers developed a seed crystal composed of polylactate with a modified molecular structure that raises the melting point. They also developed a new compatibilizer to efficiently disperse flexible constituents to improve shock absorption, resulting in a material with enhanced capability to evenly disperse shock energy. The developed bioplastic, which is more than 80% plant-sourced, exhibits greatly improved shock absorption and heat resistance. And unlike conventional bioplastics whose properties are suitable for press-forming only, Mazda’s bioplastic can be extrusion-molded. Consequently, this bioplastic achieves the qualities and appearance required for use in car interior parts.
Combines the properties of wear-resistance, flame-resistance and weather-resistance demanded of fabric for use in automobiles
Mazda’s biofabric was developed using a crystallizing agent for polylactic acid with a high melting point polylactate molecular structure (stereo-complex structure) that allows application throughout the entire bio-fiber. The resulting biofabric is one hundred percent plant-sourced and exhibits exceptional wear-resistance, flame-resistance and weather-resistance.
Introduction of bumper-to-bumper recycling
Mazda is the first automaker to introduce bumper-to-bumper recycling-a system that collects damaged bumpers from cars on the road, almost completely removes the paint and reuses the material in new bumpers. Since its use in the RX-8 in March 2005, the recycled material has been introduced in new models and taken on more applications. Mazda Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid will also incorporate material recycled in this way.
Optical sorting technology discriminates presence/absence of paint
The key to bumper-to-bumper recycling is a unique optical sorting technology. In the recycling process, collected damaged bumpers are pulverized and formed into pellets with up to 98.5% of the paint removed. The optical sorting technology can accurately distinguish between pellets on the basis of paint content. As shown in the illustration, pellets flow down from the shooter past two CCD cameras. By blasting the pellets that still contain paint with compressed air, it is possible to achieve a paint removal rate of about 99.9%. The paint-free pellets are mixed in with fresh material to form new bumpers. Pellets that are rejected in the sorting process can be used in material for undercovers, splash guards and similar components.
Premacy Hydrogen RE Main Specifications (target values)
Progress in development of Mazda's hydrogen vehicles
Mazda developed the first HR-X equipped with a hydrogen rotary engine in 1991. A hydrogen rotary Roadster experimental vehicle was developed in 1993, and in 1995 we tested a hydrogen rotary engined version of the Capella Cargo for the first time on Japan’s public roads. On obtaining permission from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, we made the world’s first public road test of the prototype RX-8 Hydrogen RE in October 2004. More recently, in February 2006, Mazda began leasing the RX-8 Hydrogen RE mainly to government agencies and corporations.
Honda is ramping up its hybrid car plans for the next few years. They want to start mass producing their hybrid cars in an effort to sell hybrid cars in big volumes starting in 2010. They are targeting hybrids to become 10% of their annual sales or about 5 times their current levels.
In order to achieve that ambitious goal, Honda is looking to move a new hybrid based on their CR-Z hybrid (Compact Renaissance Zero) concept car into production. "This stylish coupe will join Honda's forthcoming 'global hybrid' family car, which is due to launch in 2009."
Honda's other new dedicated 'family' hybrid will start in 2009, targeting 200,000 units a year. Honda is looking to put a hybrid powertrain into their smaller vehicles, while turning their larger cars into diesels. For instance, the Accord hybrid is being retired and being replaced by a diesel next year.
Honda has had mixed success in their hybrid car production so far. The Insight, a low production two seater, was also retired leaving just the Honda Civic Hybrid. Combined hybrid sales of their vehicles have placed them firmly in second place, but it's a distant second place to the wildly successful hybrids from Toyota.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Mercedes-Benz is bringing its BLUETEC Hybrid cars to the 2007 Tokyo Auto Show. The BLUETEC hybrids were introduced in 2006 in the US, but Mercedes-Benz is still proud of their concepts.
There are two versions, the C-Class and S-Class, which use the modular drive system so that the hybrid engines can be introduced across the various platforms. The new E-Class will premier the technology in 2010.
The C 300 BLUETEC hybrid is a four-cylinder hybrid electric engine capable of producing 224 hp for only 4.6 l/100 km. The S 300 combines luxury and fuel efficiency for 5.4 l/100 km (or 142 grams CO2 per kilometer). The S 300 complies with the European EU6 and (in the US) BIN5 emissions standards. The BLUETEC diesel emissions control technology is one of the cleanest internal-combustion engines in the world according to Daimler AG.
The S 400 BLUETEC Diesel Hybrid has six cylinders, but uses only 5.8 l/100 km.
"This S-Class is perfect testimony to the aspirations and expertise of Mercedes-Benz in building the most exciting cars for our customers in future," says Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG. "In this way, we are giving our customers the certainty that their Mercedes will continue to meet even the highest expectations in terms of safety, comfort and assured performance - and do so in an environmentally compatible way that is quite unrivaled."
The F 700 research vehicle (concept) comes equipped with a hybrid diesel-electric engine. The diesel engine is turbocharged with a 1.8-litre four cylinder capable f delivering 238 hp, with a torque of 400 Newton metres. Add in the electric motor and you get 258 hp which can get you from 0 to 100 km per hour (62 mph) in just 7.5 seconds. All of that is delivered at just 5.3 litres per 100 km.
According to Dr. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG with responsibility for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development "The CO2 emissions of the F 700 - just 127 grams per kilometre - equal those of today’s diesel-powered compact models, making the F 700 a luxury long-distance saloon with the lowest petrol consumption of any saloon in the history of the car."
The diesel engine uses both turbocharging and common-rail direct injection. The hybrid module comes into play in stop-and-go situations.
This concept also uses the new active PRE-SCAN suspension. Two laser sensors positioned in the headlights map the road ahead. They alert the high pressure hydraulic system for 'precisely calculated fluid flows and pressures' for each wheel.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I would think mass production of a car would be second nature to car makers, but according to Chief Executive Takeo Fukui, "Right now, the Civic hybrid is pretty much hand-made." But with a new hybrid 'family car' coming in 2009 from Honda, they are looking to cut costs on production.
Which means they are looking to produce more hybrid cars than ever before.
According to Honda, they don't make any money on sales of hybrid cars, because the hybrid engine is more expensive. But if they mass produce the next hybrid car, their goal of a just $1,750 will be low enough to cover the running costs. (Note: Consumers who buy Honda hybrids are about to start losing out on their federal tax credits, so a lower premium for their hybrid cars would be good from another perspective.)
And if that wasn't good enough, if gas prices continue to rise, Honda may pair a diesel engine with an electric motor. (I would imagine it would have to rise significanlty, given that every quote I've ever seen on hybrid electric diesels means you have to double the premium paid to build the engine).
Fukui also said he was "not sure what kind of real advantages they would have," when asked about plug-in hybrids.
Source: Honda sees big hybrid volume push with next model | Reuters
Toyota is asking the Indian government to relax norms for importing hybrid cars. Honda has also looked to get India to change its rules.
But like Honda, Toyota has just begun negotiations. It may be quite a while before either company can convince government officials to open their borders.
It's unsure what type of demand Toyota will get for their hybrid cars. India is better known for smaller, cheaper (much cheaper) vehicles.
Source: Hybrids: Toyota wants import norms eased
Toyota says they may not use lithium-ion batteries in all their new hybrids, even when they do become available. The feeling is they will only need them in those hybrids that require the extra power.
Which makes some sense since lithium-ion batteries are going to be, at least in the near future, more expensive than the nickel metal hydride batteries that are in today's hybrid cars.
"Nickel-metal continues to be our main application," Yoshitaka Asakura, general manager of Toyota's hybrid system engineering division, said in an interview yesterday in Toyota City, Japan, where Toyota is based. "It's not the case that every vehicle will require lithium-ion. According to different vehicle needs, we'll use different types of batteries."Source: Bloomberg.com: Japan
Monday, October 22, 2007
Lexus has announced the GS 450h price tag will stay the same at $55,665.
All 2008 models have new front fascias, side-mirror turn signals, revised instrument panels and MP3 access. The GS 450h will get standard ventilated front seats.
The GS 450h was designed with power enhancement, not fuel efficiency in mind. It comes with a 3.5-liter V-6 that delivers (with the help of the electric motor) the power of a V-8 with 339 hp. It can go from 0-60 in 5.2 seconds. It is rated at 22 mpg city/ 25 mpg highway.
Friday, October 19, 2007
It seems Manchester has decided not to enact the city wide hybrid car tax credit. In a vote of 2-7, town directors defeated the proposal made by Republican Director Matthew B. Peak.
The tax credit, if enacted, would have cost $7,500 in the first year.
"Everybody would get more in terms of better health," Peak said, arguing for the measure during the board's Oct. 9 meeting. "This is not a something-for-nothing trade."But the others disagreed saying other incentives already exist, including a state sales tax exemption. One town director, Republican Director Cheri Ann Pelletier, said she couldn't back it since the state, although it allowed the exemption to be enacted, wasn't funding the exemption.
Source: Journal Inquirer - Hybrid tax credit defeated
Labels: State and Local Incentives
Toyota just isn't having a good month. Not only have they lost several high ranking executives, they've also reaped protests from environmentalist groups (Also see Target Toyota) over their support of weaker CAFE standards. Then Toyota lost their automatic recommendation from Consumer Reports over the less than stellar reports on their Camry V-6 and Tundra V-8. And now the word is out they lost an appeal over a $4.23 million award on a patent infringement case.
Paice LLC sued Toyota back in 2004 over a patent infringement related to their Hybrid Synergy Drive. The jury sided with Toyota on two out of the three patents, but ultimately awarded $25 per vehicle sold with the one patent they felt had been infringed upon. The vehicles affected were the Prius II, Highlander Hybrid and Lexus RX400h.
The US Appeals Court for the Federal Circuit ruled the court was correct in its ruling, but sent it back for reconsideration of the penalty. Since the Texas court did not give any reasoning for its $25/car verdict, the Appeals court asked the Texas court to look it over once again.
Both Paice and Toyota have appealed the ruling.
I can't help wonder if the lawyers on this case are going to take home more than $4 million in pay, making this a lose-lose case for both companies?
Thursday, October 18, 2007
And I thought Bush was serious about our 'addiction to oil' when he made his State of the Union speech. Apparently not, given he is already threatening to veto a tougher CAFE standard as it passed in the Senate.
Allan Hubbard, director of the president’s National Economic Council, wrote to Congress the other day to let them know the administration would recommend a veto if cars and trucks are combined under the new CAFE standards.
It seems that Targeting Toyota and Toyota's two-sided approach to the environment won't make a difference in the long run if enough Republicans line up behind President Bush.
A little bit of history:
The Senate passed a stricter CAFE standard, 35 mpg for cars and trucks by 2020. The House didn't even include standards in their version of the Energy Bill, although a joint committee has to reconcile the differences between the two bills. Which means the House could accept the standard set by the Senate. A compromise bill has been proposed setting the standard at 32 mpg by 2022 if 'technically feasible', while Bush has threatened all along to veto any standard since he thinks the standards should be set by the Executive Branch.
Subaru is looking to get a diesel to the US before a hybrid does, despite their partnership with Toyota. But even the diesel won't be here for up to five years.
Europe will probably get the diesel in 2008-2009 in the Outback and Legacy.
They developed the diesel engine in-house, but the hybrid engine will come from Toyota. In 20005, Toyota bought 8.7 percent stake in Subaru.
"We agreed with Toyota to utilize the Toyota system in developing our own hybrid technology," Ikuo Mori, president of Subaru parent company Fuji Heavy Industries said. "Fundamentally speaking, we can’t just plunk Toyota’s system into our own vehicles. We need to develop something that is adjusted to our products."
In the meantime, Subaru is looking for battery technology to catch up. Once it does, then they'll look to make a hybrid.
And this is despite introducing the hybrid concept Subaru B5-TPH at the 2006 North American International Auto Show. The concept used a Turbo Parallel Hybrid (TPH) powertrain system and lithium-ion battery pack. It was two-seat grand touring car.
According to the press release back in 2006:
The Subaru TPH powertrain in the B5-TPH places a thin, 10-kW motor generator between a vehicle's engine and its automatic transmission. The combination of the motor-generator and the turbocharged Subaru Boxer Engine creates a system that not only provides power in the mid-speed ranges when the turbocharger is active -- as with conventional turbo models -- but it also delivers excellent acceleration and fuel economy. This superb, all-range performance has been enabled by electric motor-assist, a feature that is designed to boost engine torque at low speeds.But even back then they said it all depended on lithium-ion batteries.
For even greater efficiency, the TPH gasoline engine adopts the Miller Cycle. A Miller-cycle engine leaves the intake valve open during part of the compression stroke, effectively shortening the compression stroke to avoid detonation. However, due to the turbocharger, the cylinder still packs a larger "charge" than would a conventional-cycle engine. In the Subaru B5-TPH, the Miller Cycle turbo boxer engine operates up to 30 percent more efficiently than a conventional gasoline engine.
In order to bring out even better driving performance from the TPH, Subaru is planning to equip the system with high-performance manganese lithium-ion batteries.
Source: Subaru: US get diesel before hybrid - Automotive News Europe
Labels: Other Automakers
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
This just isn't Toyota's month. First the brouhaha over their joining together with the other automotive companies to oppose stricter CAFE Standards, and now they are off the list with Consumer Reports.
Consumer Reports practice has been to recommend all Toyota vehicles, no matter the model. But with two vehicles, the Camry 6-cylinder (not the hybrid) and the four-wheel drive V-8 Tundra, getting below average rankings, Consumer Reports will no longer be recommending Toyota.
Toyota quickly put out a press release pointing out
led the industry with the greatest number of models, 17, ranked "Most Reliable" in this year's Consumer Reports Reliability Survey. With dozens of models from three dozen makes vying for a spot on the magazine's "Most Reliable" list, only 39 were chosen. Toyota, Lexus and Scion models accounted for 44 percent of the list."Which is all well and good, but it's still a downturn for them.
At the Toyota Open Road Blog, Toyota was more realistic about what the new report means for them.
Not the kind of glowing remarks we're used to seeing in this unassailable publication.What this means for their hybrid production is: not much. Despite other Toyota models slipping some, hybrids are still getting very high satisfaction and reliability reports from all over.
In the overall rankings, Toyota slipped from first to fifth place, while Scion finished third and Lexus sixth among all automakers, with the Camry V6, Tundra 4x4 and Lexus GS AWD not being recommended.
we aren’t happy with the results and will re-double our efforts to strengthen our quality and reliability--to Kaizen. After all, these two issues are of the utmost importance to consumers and the hallmark of our brands.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Edmunds Inside Line has the latest on the new BYD plug-in hybrid sedan. BYD is looking to show off their concept at the Detroit North American International Auto Show.
The plug-in will be based off of the F6 and will be called F6DM (DM stands for dual mode). It's range is about 60 miles on electric alone, but can be extended to 270 miles using the gas engine. The battery pack will be iron-based, not lithium-ion which all the other car manufacturers are waiting on. The company also claims the battery pack can be recharged to 70% in 10 minutes.
The F6DM has a top speed of 100 mph. BYD is looking to sell the plug-in hybrid in China in 2008. BYD acquired the assets of Qinchuan in 2005 and hopes to increase sales to 100,000 units a year.
Ferndale will continue its discounted parking policy, despite the limited response. Only 21 people have signed up for the discount in the past year, but city council member Craig Covey, who initiated the policy, believes it has been a success.
"It wasn't a large number but we opted to continue the ordinance. One of our main goals was to get people thinking about mileage and the wasting of resources. We accomplished that," Covey said.
I don't know how large the population is, or how many people park in the city often enough to make the $8 fee (for locals, $25 for out-of-town), to say how well they are reaching their target audience. But if we assume that 2% of that population has a qualifying vehicle, then they may be doing a great job of targeting their audience.
Ferndale has plans to update their list of qualifying vehicles based on the information from www.fueleconomy.gov.
Source: Ferndale hybrid discount renewed
Labels: State and Local Incentives
Monday, October 15, 2007
GM has posted some new photos of the Volt as it was seen in Boston over at Flikr.
Notice in the background how people have their Sox or Green Monstah hats and t-shirts on!
The Volt is catching on in a lot of different places, not just the enviro-blogging arena.
The IRS set the 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid Tax Credit at $2,100 for those who qualify. That's the same as the 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid Tax Credit.
As part of the Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit, hybrid cars (and other alternative fuel vehicles) can qualify their owners for the hybrid tax credit. But not everyone can get the full (or even any) tax credit.
Original owners may claim the full amount of the allowable credit up to the end of the first calendar quarter after the quarter in which the manufacturer records its sale of the 60,000th vehicle. For the second and third calendar quarters after the quarter in which the 60,000th vehicle is sold, taxpayers may claim 50 percent of the credit. For the fourth and fifth calendar quarters, taxpayers may claim 25 percent of the credit. No credit is allowed after the fifth quarter.
Toyota has surpassed that 60,000 mark and new owners can't get the credit. Honda has just passed the 60,000 limit, and so if you want to get the full credit, you will need to buy a Honda hybrid sometime in the next five months.
Labels: Federal Tax Credit
The latest PIN Insights (pdf) (published by Power Information Network, a division of J.D. Power and Associates.) report shows the Prius has the lowest turn rate for models in September.
The turn rate is the number of days the vehicle spends on a dealers lot, so vehicles with low turn rates are being sold almost as fast as the dealer can get them. For instance, Minis tend to have a low turn rate because they are almost custom made for their customer.
|10 Models* with Lowest Retail Turn Rates - September 2007|
|Models||Retail Turn Rate|
|Lexus RX Series||17|
|Lexus IS Series||22|
|Source: Power Information Network (PIN), September, 2007|
|*Note: More than 10 models included due to tie|
|Note: Models on sale 4 months or less not included|
The PIN Network notes that 4 of the 12 models are domestic and six of the twelve are crossovers.
Labels: Hybrid Car Sales
I've noticed that local radio pundits have been talking about the recent awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore (positively or negatively depended on their viewpoint of Gore). According to Nancy Gioia, Ford's hybrid chief, the award won't inspire sales of hybrids, unlike the Academy Award.
"I hate to say it, but I think the Academy Awards, seen by millions on television, was probably more of a boost in raising awareness levels. I think the Nobel Prize just reinforces it," she said.Nancy also had this to say:
- Ford is putting lithium-ion batteries on the fast track (who isn't?)
- Ford is not rushing to beat Toyota or GM (in other words, they are probably too far behind to compete).
- Milan and Fusion hybrids are on track and on budget.
- Start-Stop systems will most likely become part of most vehicles.
- Ford will most likely use diesels, rather than two mode hybrids (e.g. GM) for rear-wheel-drive transmission for light trucks