Friday, March 30, 2007

About Hybrid Car Review

Hi, and welcome to Hybrid Car Review. My name's Mike and I started this blog back in November of 2005 in an attempt to learn more about hybrid cars. I really didn't know all that much, but I was curious and wanted to find out more. Hopefully, I've put together a nice resource for you to use in your search for information about hybrid cars, the current marketplace and any pros and cons in this new technology.

Basically, I do this as a hobby, not as a full time job. I probably spend too much time working on this site, but I feel it's worth my time.

If you came here looking for some information, but can't find it: Please leave a comment on this page, or any other page for that matter. I may know the answer, I may be able to point you in the right direction at another site, I may have already posted it somewhere, or I might just take some time to write a new post about your question. If I'm available and have some time, I'll try to answer your question as soon as possible. Hey, it can't hurt to ask.

You can stay up to date by subscribing to my feed. I use feedburner to keep track of those reading my words through RSS.

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Sweden offers rebate on green cars

Sweden, through the Swedish Road Administration, will be offering a rebate of 1,070 euros on each new car that emits less than 120 grams per kilometer of CO2. The program lasts through December, 2009.

They are allocating 5.4 million euros this year, with twice that being set aside for 2008 and 2009. The SRA believes they can boost green car sales by 10 to 15 percent with their rebate.

All cars, not just alternative fuels or hybrids are eligible for the rebate.

Other new Sweden mandates include requiring all major stations to provide an alternative fuel and free parking for green cars.

Source: Swedish government offers discount to buyers of green cars - Automotive News

Sweden joins several other countries that offer some sort of incentive for buyers to purchase cars that either emit less or use less fuel. The US offers a federal tax credit, while Canada recently announced their intentions to give $2,000 to those who buy hybrids while buyers of gas guzzlers will have to pay up to $4,000.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Study Shows Trend to Heavier, More Powerful Hybrids

Over at GCC, they point out a study on hybrid cars and the trend to heavier, more powerful hybrids is eroding the technologies fuel consumption benefit.

I have to disagree with that conclusion. There is no trend. As one commenter pointed out, the Prius and Insight were the only two vehicles at one point. They weren't designed for everyday driving for all kinds of drivers, but to maximize fuel economy to prove the concept.

As other, more real-world Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV) reach market which are based on vehicles which had internal combustion engines (ICE) engines beforehand they are going to be bigger with more safety features and more power. Besides which, some of the new hybrid vehicles have been designed with size, power or luxury in mind, not fuel economy. In other words, the hybrid SUVs, Honda Accord, and Lexus hybrids came along. So, given the small sample size, those cars have just as much weight as the Prius.

The Prius, on the other hand, has improved on fuel economy despite getting bigger. And the next generation Prius is supposed to get even better fuel economy as the hybrid system gets simpler and loses weight. At the same time, the Prius makes up half of all hybrid sales.

So, the marketplace is not trending toward the bigger, the more powerful (see the Honda Accord sales, for instance) or the more luxurious which erodes the impact of fuel economy. Since the market is being dominated by the Prius, and the Prius is getting better fuel economy while getting bigger, the conclusion being drawn is misleading.

This study just points out the obvious. The new hybrid cars on the road are bigger than the old ones (i.e. the Prius and Insight) and as such, are getting poorer fuel economy. The technology, however, still gives those new hybrids better fuel economy than their counterparts. Even when they are designed for more power, that extra power is gained at less fuel cost.

The Study: "How hybrid-electric vehicles are different from conventional vehicles: the effect of weight and power on fuel consumption"; C Reynolds and M Kandlikar; Environ. Res. Lett. 2 (January–March 2007) 014003 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/2/1/014003

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Hybrids and Diesels Will Take 9% of the Market By 2009

J.D. Power and Associates are predicting hybrids and diesels will continue to gain market share. By 2009, hybrids and diesels will make up 9% of U.S. auto sales.

Toyota will continue to dominate this marketplace, given their increased production capacity. Toyota has sold 70% of all new hybrid vehicles over the past two years. But the report is predicting that share will fall to 50% as other automakers release their models.

The article predicts that hybrids and diesels will reach 9% of U.S. auto sales by 2009, and Toyota Motor Corp. will continue to lead this category in sales. Thanks in large part to increased production capacity, more than 70% of all new hybrid sales in the past two years have been Toyotas, although that number is expected to decline to 50% by 2009, reflecting the growth of new models from other automakers.

The article is called "The Steady-But Slow-Rise of Hybrids and Diesels in the U.S. Auto Market." It was published March 22, 2007 as part of a special report on global automakers published on RatingsDirect, the real-time, Web-based source for Standard & Poor's credit ratings, research, and risk analysis, and in the April 4 issue of CreditWeek.

J.D. Powers is predicting a similar rise for diesels.

"As gas prices rise, diesels seem a natural solution for the U.S.,especially for manufacturers with large operations in Europe, where diesel cars are already in large demand," says Kevin Riddell, manager at J.D. Power and Associates Automotive Forecasting. "For these carmakers, diesels provide a far more economical means than hybrids of improving CAFE averages. A vehicle with a modern diesel engine will have 30% better fuel economy than a comparable gasoline engine. Plus, advances have made modern diesel engines perform similarly to gasoline engines in terms of noise, filtration systems, and drive quality."

Related Posts:
ABI Predicts 6% Market Share of Hybrids by 2013
Hybrid Cars Market Share Expected to Grow

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Hybrid Golf VI?

In an earlier story, Martin Winterkorn said: "There will definitely be compact hybrid models, such as Polo and Golf, and without any great delay."

Now there's a new report on the Golf Hybrid according to eGMCarTech. They are quoting from Auto-motor-und-sport, which noted the Golf VI was set to arrive in 2008. The hybrid variant will be available after. There's nothing to indicate how long 'after' means.

The Golf VI comes with flat chrome inserts, a more aggressive grill and a slightly modified rear. The first hybrids from Volkswagen are expected to be a mild hybrids, incapable of running on battery power alone.

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DaimlerChrysler Plug-In Hybrid Dodge Sprinter

DaimlerChrylser is releasing 20 plug-in hybrid Dodge Sprinter vehicles for testing. Up to 20 of the all new 2007 Dodge Sprinter are being delivered in the United States between now and the first quarter of 2008 as part of a test-fleet program. Four of the vehicles, built on the previous- generation Dodge Sprinter, already are in operation with customers.

Some of the new plug-in hybrids will be coupled with diesel, an industry first according to DaimlerChrysler. The diesel hybrids will yield the best fuel economy.

The plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) from Dodge can run for up to 20 miles on electric power alone. Either the driver can manually switch to all electric power, or the internal system can dynamically control the switchover.

DaimlerChrysler believes PHEVs are uniquely suited for industry work, since the vans can be returned to their home base after each shift to be plugged in once again.

"For plug-in hybrid technology to move forward, a dramatic leap in battery technology is necessary," Chrysler group Vice President Mark Chernoby said. "The energy storage systems in the Dodge Sprinter (plug-in hybrid) concept fleet will provide valuable field experience on the possibilities with lithium-ion batteries."

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H-RacerWhile this isn't a hybrid, it's just too cool not to post about. The H-Racer, named one of the 11 coolest new products in the third annual Bottom Line Design Awards for ingenuity in business success, is (according to the press release) the world's best-selling consumer product to integrate PEM fuel cell technology.

Only 6-inches long, the H-Racer can go for three minutes using hydrogen fuel. A real , if miniature, fuel cell station is filled with water which is converted to energy via a solar panel. Fueling is animated by a special blue light display.

H-Racer can be purchased for $115 dollars from Horizon Fuel Cell. Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies is located in Singapore and established its key facilities in Shanghai.

You may want to hold off on buying right away, though. Scheduled for launch later this year is the R/C version of a newly designed H-racer toy car, which will offer longer run times, higher speed and R/C functionalities.

Thanks to autobloggreen for locating this one.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

How to Add $4,000 to Your Used Car Sale

Are you so desperate for a carpool sticker in California that you would be willing to pay $4,000 more for a used Prius? Apparently, there are some buyers who are, according to Kelley Blue Book. This news story: Carpool sticker adds value to used Priuses in California at (found via hybridcarblog) outlines the added value.

Solo access to hybrid car owners was granted to 85,000 people in California. 75,00 were granted at first, but the Governator signed an extension for 10,000 more this year. All 10,000 extra stickers were taken within the first two months.

The stickers are required to stay with the car, not the driver. Which means anyone who buys one of these used Prius can have solo access to the HOV lane. And since the highways are so congested, people are willing to cough up thousands more in order to save up to half-an-hour a day in driving time.

"It appears people buying Prius vehicles had a different angle" than just saving fuel or polluting less, says Eric Ibara, Kelley's market valuation director. Kelley sampled prices of 30 2004-06 Priuses offered at used car websites. That's sufficient to confirm the price difference, Ibara says.

If gas prices stay at $3 a gallon and if you value your time at $20/hour, the extra you pay for the carpool sticker could be offset in about 30,000 miles.

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Tax Credit Proposal for Battery Powered Vehicles

U.S. Rep Dave Camp (R-Midland) proposed a tax credit for the purchase of battery powered vehicles. He wants to provide an incentive to develop further technological developments in vehicles powered by batteries, rather than gasoline. Or, at least, less dependent on gas.

The tax credit does not apply to any particular types of plug-in vehicles. Pure electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids or plug-in fuel cell vehicles could all benefit.

A qualifying vehicle would have to have at least 4 kilowatt hour of battery capacity. The amount of the credit would be the lesser of 10 percent of the cost of the vehicle or $4,000 plus $250 for each additional kilowatt hour of battery capacity above 4 kilowatt hours and up to 50 kilowatt hours.

The press release also mentions current work on the Volt by GM, the Dodge Sprinter by DaimlerChrysler and the Ford Edge. In other research, Saturn wants to develop a plug-in version of the Vue. Toyota has also promised a plug-in hybrid.

Each of the carmakers has pointed out the limitation on battery technology. Automakers want lithium-ion battery packs, but they just aren't available today. In other words, depending on how long this tax credit lasts, this may be an empty gesture for consumers. But it does show that Congress may be willing to follow up when these new 'battery cars' become available.

Source: >Congressman Dave Camp - Representing Michigan's 4th Congressional District via GCC.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Republicans Love Hybrid Cars

Or at least, they should love them. But unfortunately, because of 'An Inconvenient Truth,' right wingers everywhere seem to think hybrids should be branded as evil.

Recently, a student editorial brought up the false comparison of a Hummer vs a Prius that was done by CNW Marketing in their Dust to Dust study. The study claims that if you take into account the entire energy used in the lifetime of a Prius and compare it to a Hummer, the Prius will lose out.

Too bad the study got it wrong. As a small example of what they did wrong, they calculated the lifetime of a Prius to be 100,000 miles, while a Hummer got 300,000 miles. The Prius is also based on newer technologies, while the H3 is based on older tech. So, the R&D costs of a Prius are, of course, set higher. If the study was done next year, the next generation Prius will have been simplified just as the Hummer has been over the years.

At the end of the day, there are plenty of places where this study was dissected and proven wrong. That's not what this post is about.

Unfortunately for everyone, the editorial piece was picked up by many right wing blogs with an axe to grind. They have looked at it and used it as an excuse to attack hybrid technology, because it fits in with bashing Al Gore and his politics. I wish they would pick a different subject.

Republicans Love Hybrids

If there was one cause I believe all Republicans should get behind it is reducing our foreign oil dependency. Hybrid cars, if they are built for fuel economy, help us do just that.

Are hybrid cars the answer to all our prayers? No, of course not. But they do help.

Not only are they a great bridge between today and ever so talked about fuel cell/hydrogen technology that seems to always be around the corner, by driving a hybrid, people use less gas than they would have. By using less gas, they are making an immediate impact on our oil import problem.

Another solution would be to drive smaller cars, but that just isn't practical for most people. It would be great if everyone had one car for commuting and one car for 'family outings' when more space is needed. But the truth is we don't have that situation.

Instead, by putting in hybrid technology into larger vehicles, we can go farther for less no matter which size car we need or want. Need a family sedan, pick the Prius. Bigger than the Corolla or the Yaris or the Aveo, you can still get great mileage without going so small. Want an SUV, but are afraid of the fuel bills? Pick the Escape Hybrid or Highlander Hybrid. Again, you'll pay less at the pump and you can send a message to the carmakers that fuel economy is just as important to you as those few souls who can get by with a mini.

No, I'd say the Republicans have it all wrong. They should love hybrids and start promoting them, not trashing them. But even if you don't want to, please stop using the dust to dust study by CNW Marketing. Find something a little more factual.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

New York Auto Show has Concept Hybrid Cars

The New York International Auto Show will feature over 17 concept cars with various approaches to new and developing technologies. The Press will get in on April 4 and 5, while the public is invited in from April 6 through the 15th.

There are several hybrids being featured, but none of them are new.

The Ford Airstream comes with a plug-in hydrogen hybrid fuel cell drivetrain that operates under electric power at all times. It was influenced by Airstream's design and the cult film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The Chevy Volt, which caused quite a stir when it was introduced for GM will also be there. The Volt is designed to use the E-Flex Propulsion System, making it capable of running on electriciy, gas, E85 or biodiesel. By plugging in, the Volt is capable of running on battery power for 40 miles. Once the charge wears down, the secondary power source, whether it be gas, E85 or biodiesel can help propel the vehicle down the road. Unlike the other concepts featured here, GM is looking to actually produce a version of the Volt as soon as the battery technology catches up.

The Toyota FT-HS will also be at the NY Auto Show. The FT-HS is Toyotas hybrid sports concept. Small but powerful, it is a front-engine, rear drive sports car that can go 0-60 in about four seconds. It gets 400 hp from a V-6, 3.5L engine coupled with Toyotas Synergy Drive.

Saabs BioPower 100 will also be there. The BioPower runs on E100 (bioethanol).

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Virginia has Extended the HOV Access for Hybrids

Viriginia has once again extended the HOV access for hybrid cars. Back in February, the VA legislature passed the HOV extension. Today, Gov. Tim Kaine signed the bill, allowing the extension to run through July 1, 2008. Hybrids and cars that run on compressed natural gas or hydrogen are allowed access if they have the 'clean special fuel' license plates. But after that, the rules get strange.

Whenever you bought your hybrid, you can drive solo, if you have the special plates, on I66 and the Dulles Toll Road (DTR). But you are only allowed solo access to I95 and 395 if you bought your hybrid before July 1, 2006. Lawmakers were worried too many hybrids were taking advantage of the law, possibly adding too much congestion to the HOV lanes.

There has been some debate about whether these extra cars are congesting the HOV lanes, but it's always harder to take away a privilege than it is to keep it. Besides which, most hybrid owners would argue they aren't the problem. The HOV lane is getting clogged by those who are breaking the law.

Source: Hybrids Can Keep Using Va.'s HOV Lanes via Metroblogging

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Federal Government and Hybrid Cars

As President Bush tours two hybrid car factories today, I thought I would take a moment and review recent developments in the interaction between hybrid cars, other alternatively fueled cars and the US government.

President Bush and Congress are proposing a giant leap in CAFE standards. At 4% a year, the goal is to require fleet wide fuel economy levels of 34 miles per gallon by 2017. Just a few days ago, CEOs of the major automakers were called in by the Congress to testify on the impact such mandates would cause.

Domestic automakers would rather see incentives to improve the use of alternative fuels, such as ethanol or biofuels. President Bush backs this method, while pushing for an increase of CAFE at the same time. Bush proposed legislation that would require autos use 35 billion gallons of alternative fuels by 2017. Too bad the Energy Information Administration is only predicting 11.5 billion gallons of ethanol a year by 2017.

Toyota would rather see Congress focus back on hybrids. What they want Congress to do is take out the 60,000 car limit on the federal tax credit enacted in 2005. Since they are the only company being phased out of the tax credits so far, Toyota is losing the battle to influence even other car makers to back them.

The UAW would rather see a "Marshall Plan" to stimulate new investment in the U.S. auto industry, which would include a tax credit to any manufacturer who builds advanced technology vehicles and their key components in the United States. They are concerned that key components of hybrid systems are being manufactured outside the US, even though assembly for some are being done right here in the US.

They want the US to stop funding technology development outside of the US. "Our tax policy is actually subsidizing overseas production," said Jim Wells, director of UAW Region 5. "We think it makes more sense to provide incentives to build advanced technology vehicles and their key components right here at home."

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Honda Accord Hybrid Recall

Honda will be recalling 166,000 cars, including the Honda Accord Hybrid in the US over a faulty component in the fuel pump. The fault may cause the engine to stop and then fail to restart. No accidents have been reported.

The Accord Hybrid, Accord, Odyssey, Acura TL, Acura RL and Acura TSX from 2005 are affected. The 2006 Ridgeline is also being recalled.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Saturn Aura Hybrid Tax Credit

The IRS is setting the Saturn Aura Hybrid tax credit at $1,300. Since the price tag of a hybrid Aura is only $1,700 more than a conventional, gas-only model, this mild hybrid could be very tempting for those who are looking at the Aura.

The Aura Green Line gets an EPA rating of 28 mpg city/35 mpg highway, which is a 30% improvement over the XE model. It's a mild hybrid, capable of turning the gas engine off when the car is stopped (say at a red light), with regenerative braking for the nickel-metal hydride battery pack. The electric motor is paired with a 2.4-liter gas engine that together provides 164 horsepower (122 kW) at 6400 rpm and 159 lb.-ft (215 Nm) of peak torque at 5000 rpm.

In case you missed the commercials, the Aura midsize sedan won the 2007 North American Car of the Year. It received five stars in government frontal and side-impact crash tests. Standard features include dual-stage front, side head-curtain and front-seat thorax protection air bags; StabiliTrak electronic stability control; four-wheel disc brakes with ABS; and GM’s OnStar safety and security system.

Compare the Aura to other hybrids.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Honda Civic Hybrid is the Greenest Car in Britain

The Environmental Transport Association (ETA) announced the Honda Civic Hybrid as the Greenest Car in Britain for the second year in a row. Their top 10 list includes:

  1. Honda - Civic Hybrid
  2. Vauxhall - Corsa 1.3CTDi
  3. Toyota - Yaris 1.4 D-4D Manual
  4. Renault - Modus 1.2 16V VVT
  5. Daihatsu - Sirion M300
  6. Citroen - C1 1.1
  7. Toyota - Aygo 1.0 Manual
  8. Peugeot - 107 Manual
  9. Daihatsu - Charade Manual
  10. Fiat - Panda 1.3
Notice they are some of the smallest cars available. The ETA ranks 'green' by looking at it in terms of power (engine capacity), CO2 emissions, fuel consumption, noise and finally safety (impact on pedestrians). So, smaller is better in their book.

The top 10 worst cars are:
  1. Lamborghini - Diablo Roadster
  2. Lamborghini - Murcielago Roadster
  3. Ferrari - Supermerica
  4. Ferrari - Scagliatti
  5. Bentley - Azure
  6. Bentley - Arnage RL
  7. Aston Martin - Vanquish
  8. Aston Martin - DB9 Manual
  9. Bentley - Continental Flying Spur
  10. Ferrari - Spider
The ETA also announced a new category for Innovation. Saab won with its Bio Power Flex-Fuel Technology. They developed the first production car that runs on E85 bio fuel.

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Bush Tours Hybrid Car Plants

Bush is set to tour a GM and a Ford assembly plant on Tuesday. The GM plant in Fairfax, Kansas builds the Chevy Malibu and the Malibu Maxx. The Saturn Aura Hybrid will be built there later this year. The Ford assembly plant is in Claycomo, Mo. There they build the Ford Escape Hybrid, the traditional Ford Escape and the F-150.

Bush and Congress have been bearing down on the automakers lately. Bush wants to speak on his push for alternative fuels, a move both GM and Ford support. Both the president and the congress want to increase CAFE numbers. Although Bush has called for the pull back on the 60,000 limit on the current federal tax credit, Congress has not acted to do so.

Source: Bush to visit GM, Ford hybrid-car plants, tout energy initiatives

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Automakers talk to Congress

Congress wants to increase the CAFE numbers by 4%, automakers don't want them to. So, Congress called in the heads of Toyota, GM, Honda, Ford and DaimlerChrysler to discuss the possibilities.

Automakers pressed for incentives instead of mandates. Saying they want to encourage consumers to use ethanol and bio-fuels. This would cut back on our dependence on foreign oil, they said. Otherwise, the cost of upgrading to CAFE standards would be too high. Toyota was the only company not sticking to that particular line.

Instead, they pushed for removing the federal tax credit limit. Toyota being the only company to pass that mark, however, means no other car makers are willing to support them.

Afterwards Jim Press, the North American president, said Toyota would be interested in making an hybrid capable of running with ethanol. While no timetable was set for a more general mating, the Toyota Tundra is scheduled to come out with an E85 option in 2009.

Source: Japan

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

DaimlerChrysler will have a hybrid option on all cars?

According to Motor Authority » All DaimlerChrysler cars will come with hybrid option, which is a pretty tall order. Ford once made the same promise, but backed off on it. Toyota looks like they are going about making this happen, although they are doing it with full hybrid technology. I wonder which way DCX will go?

DaimlerChrysler is looking to create the mild hybrid option on all cars. Mild hybrids have basic start-stop, regenerative breaking and their electric motors can assist the gas engine, but cannot power the car by itself. This gives the car higher fuel economy at less cost.

GM has mild hybrid technology in the Saturn Vue Green Line, but is switching to the two-mode hybrid system next year. BMW and DaimlerChrysler co-operated in developing the dual-mode system, and will have their own full hybrids on the road in the next couple of years.

There doesn't seem to be any timeline attached to the hybrid option on all DCX cars.

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Now May Be the Best Time to Buy a Hybrid

Edmunds thinks now would be the best time to buy a hybrid.

  1. According to True Market Value(R) (TMV(R)) pricing system, average transaction prices of most hybrid vehicle models are at their lowest levels in history because the supply is finally beginning to exceed the demand.
  2. For the first time ever, incentives are being offered on many popular hybrids.
  3. Certain hybrid tax credits will be lower for those who purchase later in the spring, after automakers reach specific hybrid sales targets.
  4. Gas prices have begun their seasonal rise. AAA recently reported that unleaded fuel is up 32 cents per gallon compared with one month ago.
It should be noted that these benefits depend on which hybrid you buy. Although the last point applies to all cars, only Toyota is currently being affected by the federal tax credit phase out period. Honda (which is most likely to cross over the 60,000 car limit) probably won't be affected until next year.

Also, to be fair, the press release mentions solo access to HOV lanes being one of the perks of owning a hybrid. California, being one of the states that offers that perk, has run out. So, if you buy a hybrid today, you won't be able to get into the HOV lane as a solo driver in CA.

Press Release from Edmunds follows:

SANTA MONICA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Considering a hybrid vehicle? Now is the time to buy, according to, the premier online resource for automotive information. There are four key reasons:

1. According to True Market Value(R) (TMV(R)) pricing
system, average transaction prices of most hybrid vehicle
models are at their lowest levels in history because the supply
is finally beginning to exceed the demand.

2. For the first time ever, incentives are being offered on many
popular hybrids.

3. Certain hybrid tax credits will be lower for those who purchase
later in the spring, after automakers reach specific hybrid
sales targets.

4. Gas prices have begun their seasonal rise. AAA recently
reported that unleaded fuel is up 32 cents per gallon compared
with one month ago.

“In the past, our research showed that the True Cost to OwnSM a hybrid vehicle was exorbitant,” said Alex Rosten, Manager of Pricing and Market Analysis for Edmunds’ “However, our latest analysis indicates that, considering current hybrid price trends and rising gas prices, it is financially sound to purchase a new hybrid vehicle within the next few weeks, before the tax credits are further reduced.”

“Hybrid vehicles have always been a compelling choice for drivers who want to save fuel and to drive an environmentally friendly car,” said Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor at “While buyers used to pay a premium for hybrids, now the vehicles are more affordable and there are a number of additional benefits.”

Additional benefits of hybrid ownership include:

* Government Tax Credits and Rebates - Federal, state and local governments provide various incentives for consumers to purchase hybrid vehicles.
* HOV/Carpool Lane Driving - Some state governments permit hybrid vehicles in High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes and carpool lanes even if the driver is alone in the car.
* Free Parking – Some local governments and other organizations (such as the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose, Calif.) provide free or reduced parking for hybrid vehicles.
* Corporate Cash-Back – Bank of America, My Organic Market and other companies offer cash incentives to any employee who purchases a hybrid vehicle.
* Insurance Discounts – Insurance companies such as Farmers Insurance Group and Travelers Insurance offer special discounts to drivers of hybrid cars.

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10.5 Million Alternative Fuel Vehicles

There are now 10.5 million alternative fuel vehicles on the road today according to R.L. Polk and Co. That includes hybrids, ethanol-capable E-85, and clean diesel autos. There are 60 models available today, as opposed to only 12 in 2000.

"We are happy to see that consumers are, in fact, discovering the alternatives that are available to them on dealership lots nationwide," said Dave McCurdy, president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

Some alternatives are better than others, though. Most people think the alternatives are better, but consumers should be careful to look at each one carefully. The Honda Accord Hybrid, for instance, was built for performance, not for fuel economy. Also, having E85 is great for those who have an E85 pump nearby, but otherwise, it really doesn't help all that much.

But overall, having more alternatives out there makes it better for everyone.

Press Release from the auto alliance follows:

Consumers are Discovering the Alternatives: 2006 Sales of Alternative Fuel Autos Exceed Automakers’ Expectations by 50%

Washington, DC – Automakers kicked off National Alternative Fuel Autos Week by announcing that there are 10.5 million Alternative Fuel Autos on the nation’s roads today, according to 2006 sales data from R.L. Polk and Co.

The Polk sales figures also reveal that an unprecedented 1.5 million Alternative Fuel Autos were sold in 2006, surpassing automakers’ sales expectations by 50 percent. Currently manufacturers are offering 60 models of Alternative Fuel Automobiles for sale including hybrid electric, ethanol-capable E-85, and clean diesel, up from just 12 models for sale in 2000. A complete list of available autos can be found at

“There are 10.5 million Alternative Fuel Autos on the roads and highways of every state across the country. We are happy to see that consumers are, in fact, discovering the alternatives that are available to them on dealership lots nationwide,” said Dave McCurdy, president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. “We believe that the numbers of Alternative Fuel Autos on the roads continues to rise because consumers can choose from a variety of autos that reduce fuel use while still providing the utility, safety, performance and comfort they seek.”

In addition to the 60 Alternative Fuel Autos currently being offered, auto engineers are working to include a diverse range of highly fuel-efficient technologies in new vehicles. Today, every model for sale is available with some kind of fuel-efficient technology, such as fuel injectors, four-cylinder engines, variable valve timing, continuously variable transmissions, cylinder deactivation and more.

Automakers are also working with the energy industry to develop a range of alternative fuels capable of sustaining mobility while ensuring more secure energy sources. In fact, Alliance members have forged more than 25 partnerships, joint ventures or research and development projects with energy producers to expand the fueling infrastructure for fuels such as ethanol, biomass and hydrogen. Automakers are also working with the government, fuel providers and fuel retailers to help grow the E-85 ethanol fueling infrastructure. Since mid-2005, the industry has helped add 200 fueling stations in 13 states.

McCurdy added, “Having exceeded our sales expectations in 2006, we hope that 2007 will be another banner year for sales of Alternative Fuel Autos. This year marks the first-ever National Alternative Fuel Autos Week and automakers hope to draw more attention to the availability of these autos currently for sale.”

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is a trade association of 9 car and light truck manufacturers including BMW Group, DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Mazda, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen. For more information on advanced fuel-savings technology, visit the Alliance website at

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Federal Tax Credits for 2008 Ford Hybrids

The 2008 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner Hybrids are getting a bump up in federal tax credits. The FWD models will be $3,000 and the 4WD can net you $2,200 in credits.

Since Toyota hit the 60,000 limit halfway through last year, their tax credits have been phasing out. Which means Ford hybrid buyers can claim (and Ford wants you to know it) the most tax credits.

For both vehicles, the new EPA-certified fuel economy for FWD models is 34 mpg city and 30 mpg highway, and 29 mpg city and 27 mpg highway for AWD models. The tax credits increased because their real world fuel economy increased for 2008.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Cities in Illinois could have to go hybrid

An Illinois Representative wants all cites to buy hybrid or other alternative fuel vehicles. Rep Mike Boland, D-East Moline wants to accomplish two things. Promote E85 and help the environment.

The biggest problem with encouraging E85 or biodiesel, of course, would be the availability. Most towns are unlikely to have a pump serving either nearby, so buying an E85 or biodiesel vehicle would either 1) be a waste of time since they would be using gasoline anyways or 2) require a pump to be installed locally, costing the towns even more money.

Hybrid cars come with the larger price tags, which can be hard for towns, especially smaller ones) to swallow. Although, I would want to point out the recent studies which came to the conclusion that they would save money in the long term. (A little bit of sarcasm here - if there's one thing I would bet local town budgets are noted for, it's long term planning .

Source: STLtoday - News - Illinois News

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Bentley Hybrid

BentleyAccording to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Bentley is considering putting in hybrid or diesel engines as early as next year (found via GermanCarBlog). While I couldn't begin to translate the article, autobloggreen has.

According to them Bentley (which is connected to Volkswagen) is looking to transform their image by installing diesel and hybrid engine into next year's models. Profitability comes first, however.

Perhaps they are just responding to other luxury car makers recent announcements on providing hybrids in the coming years.

Autoblog would prefer they just make diesel engines, but I'd say that's only going to help part of their image. Wouldn't hybrid engines help Bentley when it comes to future guidelines regarding emissions? Also, if they are looking to expand into the US, hybrids are currently more popular than diesels.

As a side note (again from the translation from autobloggreen), Bentley sold about 9,300 vehicles last year. Their sales goal is to sell between 9 and 10,000 vehicles a year.

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Parking in Portland

According to kgw of Oregon and SW Washington, City Center Parking in Portland is partnering with the Oregon Environmental Council to offer discounts to hybrid car drivers. Like HOV perks in California, these discounts are only being offered to those hybrids that are above and beyond, i.e. they get over 35 mpg.

The discount is being called the Drive Green, Save Green campaign.

Hybrid car owners can save up to $15 monthly on their parking fees or about $180 a year. About 200 people have already signed up for the discount, meaning the garage has already lost out on $36,000.

As Greg Goodman, president of City Center Parking puts it, "No, it's not chump change, but in the scope of things it's just the right thing to do."

Source: | hybrid car parking discount

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Hybrid Car Benefit

Why are hybrid cars beneficial? There are many benefits to owning a hybrid car, but there are drawbacks, as well.

The benefits are:

  • Lower fuel costs
  • Lower emissions
  • Tax credit
  • Local Perks
  • They are here today
  • Feelings of doing good/less harm

The first thing most people notice on hybrid cars is the higher fuel economy. When you see numbers like 60 mpg, most are overwhelmed. Of course, that higher fuel economy comes for a premium price. But in the long run, you can save money buying a hybrid. It depends on which hybrid you buy, and it does take years to do so, but you can save.

Fortunately for buyers, there are all sorts of short term benefits. Just by driving a hybrid, you are more likely to emit less pollution. Full hybrids let you drive on electric power (battery power) at low speeds, when gas engines are less efficient. The gas engine will kick in at higher speeds letting you get the best of both worlds. Hybrid cars take the top spots when it comes to green ratings.

Helping you feel better about paying more is the tax credit you may qualify for. Depending on which hybrid car you buy and your own financial situation, you may get several thousand taken off in credits. Some states offer tax benefits, from reductions in sales tax to rebates. (And if your state doesn't offer anything, maybe you should lobby them?)

There are some nice local perks, too. From free parking to HOV access to tax benefits. Again, inquire with your local lawmaker for any benefits you may be eligible for.

But mostly, what's nice about hybrids is they are here today. Unlike the fuel cell or E85 revolution, no new infrastructure is needed. No new pumps are necessary. And, unless you buy a plug-in, you don't have to do anything with a hybrid that you wouldn't have done with your gas only car.

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2009 Hybrid Cadillac Escalade

Car and Driver has a nice write up on the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid. Expected to be released as a 2009 model in April or May of 2008, GM showed off the working prototype at the "Ten" event in Hollywood. Jennifer Hudson strolled down the runway with the latest hybrid.

The Escalade Hybrid is expected to be outfitted with GM's new dual mode hybrid engine. It will come with a 6.0-Liter V-8 coupled to two electric motors. This is a full hybrid, capable of running on electric mode at low speeds. There will also be a cylinder deactivation for better fuel economy.

The two-mode hybrid system is supposed to improve the Tahoe hybrids fuel efficiency by 25% when it comes out next year, so we should probably expect the same from the Escalade hybrid.

The writer notes that "some changes will be made to the grille and front bumper to create a distinction between the hybrid."

Source: 2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid - Auto Shows - Car and Driver March 2007 via autobloggreen.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Saab Hybrid Plans

According to a Reuters report, Saab is looking ahead to building their own hybrids. They plan on using the dual-mode system co-developed by BMW, DaimlerChrysler and GM. GM is planning on rolling out the Saturn Vue as a dual-mode hybrid next year, modified to work in a front-wheel-drive vehicle. Saab hopes to build their hybrid off of the same technology.

According to the story I read, Saab is looking to cut costs by integrating themselves further with GM overall, so this would be part of that plan. Saab wanted to get the news out despite not having any firm plans, what with their direct competitor Mercedes-Benz said on Tuesday that it would bring its first hybrid to market in 2009.

Source: CNN: Money

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Hybrid Car Sales, February 2007

Hybrid Car Sales FiguresToyota and Nissan made the big splash this month in their hybrid car sales. Toyota sold 187,330 vehicles, an increase of 12.2 percent over February 2006. Of those, 10.1% were hybrids. Meanwhile, Nissan debuted the Nissan Altima Hybrid.

Total hybrid car sales were 22,998 units sold, up 53.8% from last February. I still don't have access to GM hybrid sales, but I've decided not to worry about that since GM hybrids are mild and I was already excluding the hybrid trucks for that reason. Nissan debuted the Nissan Altima Hybrid in eight states (those with stricter emissions for fleet sales). Hybrid Car Sales Graph

Toyota sold 18,860 hybrids, or 82.0% of the hybrids sold in February. The Prius sold 12,227 units, an increase of 86.8% from last year. The Toyota Prius made up over 53% of hybrid car sales for the hybrid market. The Highlander Hybrid sold 1,892 units, an decrease of 28.1%. The Toyota Camry sold 3,332 units, making it the second most popular hybrid car.

The Lexus division sold 160 units of the GS 450h and 1,249 units of the RX 400h. The Lexus 400h dropped 30.7% from last February.

Honda sold 1,924 units of the Honda Civic Hybrid, an increase of 8.1%. The Civic Hybrid is the third most popular hybrid. The floundering Honda Accord Hybrid dropped to 312 units, a decrease of 60.2%

Ford sold 1696 units combined of the Escape Hybrid and Mariner Hybrid. That's an increase of 26.5%.

Nissan sold 206 units of the Altima Hybrid in its limited release.

Percentage-wise, 79.0% of the hybrids sold were cars against 21.0% SUVs.

Hybrid Car Sales, January 2007

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Porsche Cayenne Hybrid

Autoblog is reporting things are 'firming' up for the Porsche Cayenne Turbo Hybrid. At the Melbourne Auto Show, Michael Winkler, Australian managing director for Porsche, noted the hybrid Cayenne would be on the road in 2009. This is later than their stated goal of 2008.

The design is of more interest, though. It seems the hybrid engine is being designed to work with any of the engines in the Cayenne lineup. So, Porsche is being smart about this, making their debut in the hybrid marketplace with a model that is scalable to their entire line.

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Lotus Hybrid Proton Gen.2

Lotus is looking to break into the hybrid marketplace with a prototype to be unveiled at the Geneva International Motor Show. The new model is named 'EVE', or Efficient, Viable and Environmental.

Lotus is hoping to integrate their hybrid technology into existing cars, rather than develop a dedicated hybrid platform. It will be less expensive to do so, but it may not be the best long term solution. The best counter example would be to consider the most successful hybrid on the road, i.e. the Prius, is a dedicated hybrid. Also Lexus is looking to build a hybrid only.

The Lotus hybrid engine has been fitted into a Proton Gen.2 for the show. The engine shows remarkable improvements, going from 39.2 mpg to 50.2 mpg and reducing tailpipe emissions by 22% (172 g/km to 134 g/km).


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Friday, March 02, 2007

Hybrid Cars are on the Top Picks of 2007 -- Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports selects the top picks of 2007 using the following criteria: - Top Picks 2007

Our Top Picks are recommended vehicles that have met our stringent requirements in three key areas:

* Testing: Of the more than 250 vehicles we’ve recently tested, each Top Pick has scored at or near the top of its category.
* Reliability: Each has proven average or better in reliability, which is based on more than 1.3 million responses to our Annual Car Reliability Survey.
* Safety: Top Picks also performed at least adequately in overall crash protection if tested by the government or the insurance industry. The report card accompanying each Top Pick shows how the vehicle fared in those areas. Based on those multifaceted criteria, we’ve judged these vehicles to be the most well-rounded packages in their categories.

Among the top picks are two hybrids along with a special note of one more.

The top Green Car was the Toyota Prius, with its high fuel economy along with 'reasonable performance.' Special mention of the Honda Civic Hybrid. The Honda Civic took home the top pick in the small sedan category.

The Toyota Highlander Hybrid took first prize in the Midsized SUV category. Noted for its 'excellent overall package,' the Highlander gets moderately better fuel economy along with a 'comfortable, quiet ride', and 'excellent fit and finish.'

The Honda Accord was first in the family sedan category, with the hybrid model noted for its higher mpg.

Related: Hybrid Reliability and Satisfaction as Reported by Consumer Reports
On in Three Will Consider Hybrids
Consumer Reports Admits it Was Wrong
Consumer Reports Prius Most Satisfying to Own

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

BMW and DaimlerChrysler to Partner on Mild Hybrid Technology

BMW and DaimlerChrysler announced they are expanding their hybrid technology partnership, by looking into mild hybrid technology for luxury vehicles. I'm just not sure why they would want to do that.

Mild hybrid technology is what you get in GM cars like the Saturn Vue Hybrid. Capable of stopping the engine when the car is stopped, regenerative braking, and an electric motor to assist the gas engine is what makes a hybrid engine mild. Full hybrids are capable of powering the car without using gas at low to moderate speeds.

The pros of such a mild hybrid engine are:

  1. You get to (call it/market it as) a hybrid
  2. Fuel economy numbers go up (slightly)
  3. It's cheaper, both in research costs/ production costs
  4. It's cheaper to buy, since mild hybrids cost a thousand or two more than their conventional gas only counterparts, while full hybrids can cost several thousands or more.

The cons are you get what you pay for:
  1. Marketing-wise, you look weak against the full hybrids from Toyota/Lexus.
  2. A lot of the 'wow' factor is erased.
  3. The 'green' aspects are less, as well as the fuel savings
But, as I already mentioned, GM, DaimlerChrysler and BMW have already partnered to create a full hybrid system, the dual-mode hybrid. So, perhaps this new partnership should be taken as a rounding out of what they already have.

They are promising mild hybrids in three years, but also note that each car would be distinct to their brand.

BMW had previously announced they would be making mild hybrid cars.

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