Wednesday, October 29, 2008

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrid Expected to Get 5 mpg Better than Toyota Camry Hybrid

Ford is getting ready to produce their Ford Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrid, due out in the first quarter of 2009. With the release of the new hybrids, Ford will double their line-up of hybrids on the road and, if the EPA agrees with Ford's estimates, show an impressive mpg for the effort.

They mention their new hybrids will show a 5 mpg improvement over the Toyota Camry Hybrid in city driving. Which makes me wonder about the highway mileage and why they aren't saying what they expect from that?

The good news for Ford is they are supposed to start making money on their hybrid vehicles now that they have doubled the line-up. But the bad news is where the gas prices are. If they stay down after the election, Ford may have trouble making people believe in the money it costs for the hybrid system.

Still, Ford is bringing some exciting numbers forward. The new hybrids will let the hybrid cars travel at up to 47 mph on all electric power (don't expect the all electric range to be huge, though) and you can theoretically travel 700 miles between fill-ups.

Other improvements include:

  • 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine (155 horsepower/136 lb.-ft. of torque) running the proven Atkinson cycle mated to an electronically-controlled continuously variable transmission or e-CVT.
  • Intake Variable Cam Timing (iVCT), which allows the vehicle to more seamlessly transition from gas to electric mode and vice-versa. The spark and cam timing are varied according to the engine load to optimize efficiency and emissions.
  • Enhanced electronic throttle control reduces airflow on shutdowns, reducing fueling needs on restarts.
  • Wide-band lambda sensor analyzes the air-fuel ratio and adjusts the lean/rich mixture accordingly to keep the system in balance and to minimize emissions.
  • A smaller, lighter nickel-metal hydride battery has been optimized to produce 20 percent more power. Improved chemistry allows the battery to be run at a higher temperature and it is cooled using cabin air.
  • An added variable voltage converter boosts the voltage to the traction battery to operate the motor and generator more efficiently.
  • A new high-efficiency converter provides 14 percent increased output to accommodate a wider array of vehicle features.
  • Smarter climate control system monitors cabin temperature and only runs the gas engine as needed to heat the cabin; it also includes an electric air conditioning compressor to further minimize engine use.
  • The regenerative brake system captures the energy normally lost through friction in braking and stores it. Nearly 94 percent energy recovery is achieved by first delivering full regenerative braking followed by friction brakes during city driving.
  • A simulator brake actuation system dictates brake actuation and delivers improved brake pedal feel compared to the previous generation braking system.
Overall, first blush observations from the press release added to the improvements Ford has made in quality and that makes the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrid exciting additions to the hybrids on the road.

Read the full press release below:

NEW FORD HYBRID SYSTEM EXPECTED TO DELIVER CLASS-LEADING FUEL ECONOMY, IMPROVED DRIVABILITY

* Ford’s next-generation hybrid system debuts in the new 2010 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan. The more efficient system delivers a more seamless driving experience and is expected to achieve class-leading fuel economy, besting the Toyota Camry hybrid by at least 5 mpg on in the city
* Fusion and Milan Hybrids can operate in electric mode at speeds of up to 47 mph with a range of more than 700 miles of city driving on a single tank of gas; a smaller, lighter high-volt battery has greater charge capacity and range than the previous generation battery
* Fusion and Milan Hybrids will arrive in dealer showrooms in the first quarter of 2009. With these new models, the Escape Hybrid – now in its fifth year of production – and the Mariner Hybrid, Ford has doubled the size and volume of its hybrid lineup, making Ford the largest domestic producer of full hybrid vehicles in North America

DEARBORN, Mich., Oct. 29, 2008 – Ford’s next-generation hybrid propulsion system builds upon the proven success of the Escape and Mariner Hybrids, delivering class-leading fuel economy for the all-new 2010 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan Hybrids that debut later this year.

"Offering consumers more fuel-efficient vehicle choices, including improving and increasing our hybrid vehicle offerings, is part of Ford’s broad plan to deliver technology solutions for affordable fuel economy for millions," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice president for Global Product Development.

"With the new Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrids, we are now able to offer even better range of travel on battery power at a greater speed, thanks to a more efficient, seamless transition between the battery-powered motor and gasoline-driven engine," he said. "These new hybrids will exceed expectations on all fronts – fuel efficiency, comfort, convenience and overall drivability."

With the new arrivals, Ford will be the producer of the most fuel-efficient mid-size sedans and SUVs on the planet – and the Fusion Hybrid is expected to be at least 5 mpg better in the city than the Toyota Camry hybrid.

The Ford Hybrid team has developed a powertrain system that combines the best attributes of the gasoline engine and electric battery-driven motors to deliver the optimal experience for the customer in terms of driving performance and fuel economy. Additionally, the propulsion system for the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrids transitions between gas and electric power and back more efficiently and seamlessly.

The overall system upgrade allows the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrids to operate longer at higher speeds in electric mode. The hybrid vehicles can operate up to 47 mph in pure electric mode, about twice as fast as some competitors. Plus, the city driving range on a single tank of gas is expected to be more than 700 miles.

"The challenge is to harness the power sources to make it transparent to the customer and operate each in their most-efficient power bands," said Praveen Cherian, Hybrid program management team leader. "We’ve taken these two power sources and harmoniously blended them where the system will run the engine at its most-efficient points more often and maximize battery usage over a customer drive cycle. The end result is optimum fuel economy without compromising performance."

The next-generation hybrid system features:

* 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine (155 horsepower/136 lb.-ft. of torque) running the proven Atkinson cycle mated to an electronically-controlled continuously variable transmission or e-CVT.
* Intake Variable Cam Timing (iVCT), which allows the vehicle to more seamlessly transition from gas to electric mode and vice-versa. The spark and cam timing are varied according to the engine load to optimize efficiency and emissions.
* Enhanced electronic throttle control reduces airflow on shutdowns, reducing fueling needs on restarts.
* Wide-band lambda sensor analyzes the air-fuel ratio and adjusts the lean/rich mixture accordingly to keep the system in balance and to minimize emissions.
* A smaller, lighter nickel-metal hydride battery has been optimized to produce 20 percent more power. Improved chemistry allows the battery to be run at a higher temperature and it is cooled using cabin air.
* An added variable voltage converter boosts the voltage to the traction battery to operate the motor and generator more efficiently.
* A new high-efficiency converter provides 14 percent increased output to accommodate a wider array of vehicle features.
* Smarter climate control system monitors cabin temperature and only runs the gas engine as needed to heat the cabin; it also includes an electric air conditioning compressor to further minimize engine use.
* The regenerative brake system captures the energy normally lost through friction in braking and stores it. Nearly 94 percent energy recovery is achieved by first delivering full regenerative braking followed by friction brakes during city driving.
* A simulator brake actuation system dictates brake actuation and delivers improved brake pedal feel compared to the previous generation braking system.

"Because our hybrid can run at a much higher speed in electric mode, you can do so much more in city-driving situations," said Gil Portalatin, Hybrid Applications Manager. "You can drive in your subdivision or mall parking lots without using a drop of gasoline."

Four Hybrids

The Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrids join the already successful Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner hybrids – the most fuel-efficient SUVs on the planet. With the addition of the two new hybrid sedans, Ford will be the largest domestic producer of full hybrid vehicles in North America.

The Fusion and Milan Hybrids will be built at Ford’s Hermosillo (Mexico) Stamping and Assembly Plant.

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Death and Re-Birth of the Two Mode Hybrid

Even as we get word Chrysler is shutting down the plant that makes the Durango and Aspen, including the two-mode hybrid models, GM has just announced they will be shutting down the plants that build the Tahoe, Suburban, Escalade and Yukon. Again, that includes their hybrid versions.

Hopefully, you weren't one of the few who went out and bought these hybrids, or if you had plans to do so, you might want to think twice about it. Re-sale value for these will tank on these truck based SUVs once the plant closes.

GM Vice-President Lutz had this to say, "It would have been very difficult in today's environment to spend a couple of billion dollars to do a replacement." Or, as Edmunds correspondent put it, "Look for the classic truck-based sport-utility vehicle to completely vanish from the American landscape over the next 24 to 36 months. — Paul Lienert, Correspondent."

But this does not spell the end of the two-mode hybrid, although it will likely go on hiatus. The Saturn Vue is due to be outfitted with a two-mode hybrid system, plus Chrysler wants you to know about the Ram Hybrid. But given how little support the companies seem to be giving these programs, it'd be a wonder if customers got behind the effort and bought one.

The lone investor in the system we haven't heard from, yet, is BMW. But since they haven't released their own version of the hybrid SUV, what chances that they will after seeing what Chrysler and GM have done?

BMW, Chrysler (when it was DaimlerChrysler) and GM spent a lot of money developing the two-mode hybrid engine. Has it all been for nothing?

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

Friday, October 24, 2008

Toronto Wants to Play Hard Ball With Daimler

After running into battery life issues with their new diesel hybrid buses, TTC of Toronto asked the nine city councilors who oversee the Toronto Transit Commission to approve moving back to diesel buses in 2010.  The council gave their approval and then went one step farther.

Now TTC is going to call up Daimler and try to renegotiate their deal for 2009.  It seems TTC is under contract to buy 130 more diesel hybrid buses, but given the trouble they've had, they don't want them.  Instead, they want to purchase diesel buses and the council has given the go ahead for TTC to renogiate the deal.


The council is telling the TTC execs to use the buses they are planning on buying in 2010 as leverage.

Which I think is too bad.  The maintenance issues they've had have been covered under the warranty.  The lower fuel efficiency numbers they are getting are from using the buses in open areas, rather than in the more congested areas they would excel at.  And the battery lifetime may no longer be an issue since the new buses they are ordering in 2009 will come as lithium-ion battery packs, not the lead-acid battery packs in the buses they purchased earlier.

But when the diesel hybrid bus costs $250,000 more than the diesel bus, those points may be moot.

Photo from flickr by R. Flores.

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

Consumer Reports Says Hybrids and Gas Sippers are Reliable

Once again, hybrid cars have been rated highly by consumer reports. Nine different hybrid models were rated as above average in predicted reliability. The Toyota Prius, Camry Hybrid, Nissan Altima Hybrid, Lexus GS450h were among the most reliable. The Lexus RX400h, Toyota Highlander Hybrid were also among the most reliable for midsize SUVs.

The Honda Civic Hybrid, Ford Escape Hybrid and Mercury Mariner Hybrid were all rated above average. They also found some of the small compact cars, like the Honda Fit, Scion xD, Smart ForTwo, and Toyota Yaris had few problems. The Scion Xd has the best predicted reliability score for all new cars with about 80% fewer problems than the average model.

Probably most surprising, for those who haven't been following Ford's progress, is how well Ford was rated. Ford's three nameplates - Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury - lead the domestic automakers and continue to pull away from the rest of Detroit. Except for some truck-based vehicles, almost all Ford products are now average or better. Excluding those, Ford's reliability is now on par with good Japanese automakers. The Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan continued to rank among the most reliable family cars. The freshened Ford Focus sedan rated above average, a vast improvement from when the new model debuted in 2000 with below-average reliability.

Given how highly the Fusion and Milan have been rated, that's good news for those looking for a hybrid in the next year. Ford will be building hybrid versions of those two vehicles in the coming months.

Read the full press release below.

YONKERS, N.Y., Oct. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Fuel-efficient
vehicles are a very reliable segment overall, European cars are improving,
and, on average, Ford continues to build the most reliable American cars.
Those are some of the results of Consumer Reports' 2008 Annual Car
Reliability Survey announced today at an Automotive Press Association
luncheon in Detroit.

More details, and a list of models with the best and worst
predicted-reliability Ratings, will appear first on
http://www.ConsumerReports.org. The reliability report will also appear in the
December issue of Consumer Reports, on sale November 4 and in the latest
Consumer Reports Cars publication, Best & Worst for '09, which also
includes predicted-reliability ratings for more than 350 models.

A total of nine hybrid models for which Consumer Reports has sufficient
data rated above average in predicted reliability, most from Japanese
automakers. From the Family Cars category, the Toyota Prius, the Toyota
Camry Hybrid, and the Nissan Altima Hybrid, as well as the luxury Lexus
GS450h Hybrid sedan are all among the most reliable. The Lexus RX400h and
the Toyota Highlander Hybrid are among the most reliable in midsized SUVs,
while the Ford Escape Hybrid and Mercury Mariner Hybrid small SUVs rated
above average in predicted reliability. The Honda Civic Hybrid is also
above average. In addition, conventional gas sippers such as the Honda Fit,
Scion xD, Smart ForTwo, and Toyota Yaris had few problems.

Ford's three nameplates - Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury - lead the
domestic automakers and continue to pull away from the rest of Detroit.
Except for some truck-based vehicles, almost all Ford products are now
average or better. Excluding those, Ford's reliability is now on par with
good Japanese automakers. The Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan continued to
rank among the most reliable family cars. The freshened Ford Focus sedan
rated above average, a vast improvement from when the new model debuted in
2000 with below-average reliability.

European automakers, particularly Mercedes-Benz, showed signs of a
comeback. Six Mercedes models, including the redesigned C-Class and E-Class
(V6) sedans and the ML350 SUV have improved to average reliability and are
now recommended. Last year, no Mercedes models had average or better
reliability and so could not be recommended by Consumer Reports.

Still, Japanese cars are the most reliable overall, leading 15 of 16
categories in Consumer Reports' predicted reliability ratings. The Scion xD
has the best predicted reliability score for all new cars with about 80%
fewer problems than the average model.

European, Japanese Brands Rebound; Korean Brands Excel; Chrysler
Struggles

Though Mercedes-Benz has shown improvement, a third of its models still
have reliability problems, and no models scored above average. Overall, the
brand moved up five places, from last year's 32 to this year's 27, in
Consumer Reports survey. Audi and BMW also continue to improve. Two-thirds
of Audi's lineup scored average or better, while most versions of the BMW 3
Series and some 5 Series are average or better. Volvo also improved leaving
only the redesigned XC70 wagon rated below average in reliability.

Last year Consumer Reports called out three Toyota models that slipped
to below average: the Camry V6, Tundra V8 4WD, and the Lexus GS AWD. But
Toyota seems to have rectified some of the problems since all 42 of the
Toyota, Lexus, and Scion models in the survey scored average or better. The
three models noted above scored average.

Nissan showed striking improvements, with the troublesome Armada SUV,
Titan pickup, and Infiniti QX56 SUV finally gaining average reliability.
The new Nissan Rogue and Infiniti EX have started out above average. Nissan
moved up in the Makes Rankings six places to fourteenth, while Infiniti
moved up one spot, to sixth place when compared to last year's results.

The two closely related South Korean nameplates, Hyundai and Kia, rank
right up there with the better Japanese makers. Most models scored above
average or better.

General Motors is a mixed bag. Among the bright spots is the redesigned
Chevrolet Malibu with above-average reliability for the 4-cylinder model
and average for the V6. The Buick Lucerne V8 and four-cylinder Pontiac G6
are both above average. The Chevrolet Avalanche is now average. But a
quarter of GM models are still well below average. Newer designs that did
well in our testing, like the highly rated Cadillac CTS and Buick Enclave,
GMC Acadia, and Saturn Outlook SUV triplets, were below average in
reliability.

Chrysler trails the pack. Though the Dodge Caliber hatchback and Jeep
Patriot SUV are above average, almost two-thirds of its products rate below
average. The new Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans
earned low scores, as did the Chrysler Sebring V6 and Dodge Avenger sedans
and Jeep Liberty SUV. The Sebring convertible had the worst predicted
reliability score: 283% worse than average.

Full reliability history charts and predicted reliability on hundreds
of 2009 models, plus a list of what's up and what's down, best and worst
models, and a comparison chart of brands can be found online at
http://www.ConsumerReports.org and in the latest Consumer Reports Cars
publication, Best & Worst for '09 ($5.99 U.S./$6.99 Canada), on sale
November 11, 2008 everywhere magazines are sold.

Findings are based on responses on more than 1.4 million vehicles owned
or leased by subscribers to Consumer Reports or its web site,
http://www.ConsumerReports.org, the biggest response in the Annual Car Reliability
Survey's history. The survey was conducted in the spring of 2008 by
Consumer Reports' National Survey Research Center and covered model years
1999 to 2008.

Consumer Reports' expert team of statisticians and automotive engineers
used the survey data to predict reliability of new 2009 models. Predicted
reliability is CR's forecast of how well models currently on sale are
likely to hold up. To calculate predicted-reliability ratings, CR averages
the overall reliability scores (used car verdicts) for the most recent
three model years, provided that the model remained unchanged in that
period and also didn't substantially change for 2009. If a model was new or
redesigned in the past couple of years, one or two years' data may be used,
or if that's all that's available.

Consumer Reports Annual Car Reliability Survey is used in determining
which makes and models are recommended to consumers by CR. Consumer Reports
recommends only models that have performed well in tests conducted at its
327-acre Auto Test Center in Connecticut, and that have average or better
predicted reliability based on its annual survey. In addition, vehicles
must perform well in government or insurance-industry crash and rollover
tests, if tested, in order to be recommended. Occasionally, Consumer
Reports may recommend a redesigned model too new to have compiled a
reliability record if the previous generation, and the manufacturer's
reliability track record has been consistently outstanding, and if the
model meets the other criteria.

Consumer Reports is one of the most trusted sources for information and
advice on consumer products and services. CR has the most comprehensive
auto-test program of any American magazine or web site; CR's auto experts
have decades of experience in driving, testing, and reporting on cars.

2008 CR CAR RELIABILITY SURVEY - APA

The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it
may not be used for commercial or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports(R)
is published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit
organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe
marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect
themselves. To achieve this mission, we test, inform, and protect. To
maintain our independence and impartiality, CU accepts no outside
advertising, no free test samples, and has no agenda other than the
interests of consumers. CU supports itself through the sale of our
information products and services, individual contributions, and a few
noncommercial grants.

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

Toronto Wants to Switch Back to Diesel Only

TTC in Toronto are going back to diesels. After trying the hybrid buses from Daimler, they've come to the conclusion the new hybrid buses are unreliable and too expensive to keep buying, although they will be buying over 100 more for next year because they have to under the contract they signed.

After a string of battery issues, leading to an 18 month survival time instead of the four to five years they were promised, TTC wants to buy 120 diesel buses for 2010. With only a 10% increase in fuel economy, instead of the 20-30% they expected, executives feel the hybrid bus technology just isn't worth the extra downtime.

Which is too bad, really. Daimler should have gotten this right. The batteries should have lasted longer than they did, and any issues in maintenance should have been addressed quickly. Daimler was covering the cost of the maintenance because the buses are still under warranty.  Also, I would bet a quick course on how to maximize the fuel economy in a hybrid would have really benefited the drivers (although they may have done that).

TTC estimates they will save $24 million by buying the 'clean diesel' buses instead of the hybrids, since the average cost of the hybrid bus was $200,000 more. But that's just in initial costs. The fuel savings at the low mpg numbers buses average can be huge over time. But at only 10% improvements, TTC wouldn't likely overcome the initial price differential.    The hybrid buses weren't being used in the most congested areas, where they would tend to shine since the battery pack can be recharged through regenerative braking and by shutting the gas engine off when stopped.  That sort of driving doesn't allow the hybrids to shine. 

The battery packs used in the buses were not the longer-lasting lithium-ion battery packs you would expect, but were lead-acid.  The hybrid buses due to be bought next year will have lithium-ion battery packs, which will likely solve the battery survival time issue, but TTC just doesn't want to deal with it anymore.

The hybrid buses were bought because of a federal incentive, which covered 1/3 of the price ($750,000) for the bus.  Since the extra cost for the buses is no longer going to be covered, it's really no wonder the TTC wants to switch back.

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Chrysler Accelerates Plant Closure, But What About the Hybrids

Chrysler, in an effort to combat slow sales and the weak economy, is shutting down one shift at a Toledo, Ohio plant (Jeep) and is closing their Newark, Delaware plant early.  That's the plant that builds the Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen, as well as the hybrid version of the same.

Autoblog notes these moves will also likely spell the end for the Durango and Aspen SUVs, as Newark is the only plant producing them. Which would spell the end of their hybrid line.

That's a very strange process indeed, given the amount of money spent developing the two-mode hybrid system with GM and BMW. The Aspen and Durango Hybrids just started sales this monthChrysler just made a bid deal about three possible EV vehicles.  Can we take any of that seriously at this point given how little time they invested in the two-mode hybrid SUVs?

The Delaware plant had been scheduled to be shut down in late 2009.

The shift reduction at Toledo North will be effective December 31, 2008, and will affect approximately 825 jobs. The closure of the Newark plant will also be effective December 31, 2008, and will affect approximately 1,000 jobs.

Update: Chrysler may not bring back the Aspen and Durango nameplate at all:
"We think there is a strong interest in the market for hybrid technology and we are excited about the Dodge Ram in 2010," Chrysler spokesman Stuart Schorr said. "We had good demand for the hybrid versions; unfortunately demand for those products alone is not enough to sustain the plant."

"The demand for our full-size SUVs has really dropped off this year," Chrysler spokesman Scott Brown told Inside Line. "Even though we got significant orders for the hybrids, it doesn't make sense to keep the plant open for just the hybrids."

And so, after having a hybrid for all of a few months, Chrysler is going to go without until the Dodge Ram in 2010.  And I can't imagine the hybrids they do build will be flying off the lots at this point.  The loss in value from a discontinued line should guarantee very few will be interested.

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

Limited Nissan Altima Hybrid About to Become More Limited?

Nissan is cutting production at their two assembly plants in Tennessee and Mississipi. Employees are taking days off without pay (unless they want to use their vacation time) for three successive Fridays.

The forced stop starts on October 17 and ends on the 31.

The Altima sedan, coupe and hybrid are built at the the plant in Smyrna, Tennessee. It's unclear how many cars will not be produced by Nissan's actions, or how many hybrids will be affected.

But given how limited the number of Altima Hybrids being built and sold in the US are, any cut in their production has an immediate impact.

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Solar Powered Plug-In Prius Available for Sharing in St Paul

Hourcars solar panel and plug-in prius
HOURCARS, a solar powered plug-in hybrid rental service has opened up in St. Paul Minnesota. The cars are avaiable at hourly rates which include the costs of gas, maintenance and insurance.

HOURCARS is a car-sharing initiative, allowing city residents to 'share' a car. Each member of the group can reserve the vehicle up to 3 months in advance. Each car has a car-sharing computer and a solar-powered recharging system/recharging station.

HOURCARs are part of a program of the nonprofit Neighborhood Energy Connection (NEC), whose mission is to "reduce pollution, conserve resources and improve quality of life by offering tools for energy-efficient living."

The plug-in HOURCAR is a stock Toyota Prius with a rather major modification: under the cargo area behind the rear seat is a 5 kilowatt-hour battery. This battery is charged via any normal, 120 volt electrical outlet—the car can be plugged in anywhere. The battery pack is a Hymotion L5 Lithium Ion Battery, manufactured by A123 Systems. It holds enough power for twenty-five to forty miles of carbon-free driving.

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

Plug-in Prius Goes to the NC State Fair

If you're in North Carolina and are interested in plug-in hybrid technology, you can see one at the NC State Fair from October 20-24. The plug-in Toyota Prius is part of the SMARTT Challenge mobile classroom exhibit.

The plug-in Prius is making the rounds on behalf of NC Public Power. It has already been seen in Clayton, Rocky Mount, Gastonia, and Albemarle. After the fair, it will go on to visit Morganton, Newton, Lumberton, Tarboro, Wake Forest and be part of the Raleigh Christmas Parade.

"We're excited to provide the opportunity to showcase plug-in electric hybrid technology to NC Public Power communities," said Jesse Tilton, CEO of ElectriCities, the organization responsible for the vehicle. "Throughout 2008 and into 2009, the vehicle will be on display across North Carolina, participating in energy education fairs and hometown parades, all with the goal of educating our customers about how this technology can help reduce dependency on foreign oil and help us be kinder to the environment."

Electricities is part of the Plug-in Partners National Campaign.

The plug-in Prius is a modified 2008 Prius with a larger battery pack installed. The engines are the same, but drivers can get up to 100 mpg. The Prius can run on all electric power up to 35 mph, after that the gas and electric motors work together to power the vehicle. You can plug in the car at a normal 120V, 15A household outlet. It takes about six hours to charge the battery.

The estimated operational cost per mile on electricity for the NC Public Power plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is 2.4 cents, assuming $0.12/kWH. Operational cost per mile on gasoline for a standard Prius is 8 cents, assuming a gasoline cost of $4/gallon and fuel mileage of 50 miles per gallon.

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mahindra and Mahindra Launch Micro Hybrid.... But is it Really a Hybrid?

Mahindra & Mahindra launched their micro-hybrid SUVs, the Scorpio and Bolero, but are they really hybrids?

The new SUVs from M&M come with start-stop technology that will give drivers around 5% savings in fuel. Start-stop technology turns the engine off when the car is stopped and restarts it when the vehicle is ready to go. In this case, when the clutch is pressed.

Many car companies are thinking of releasing this technology across their line-ups, since it's a relatively cheap solution to increase fuel economy slightly. Given new government restrictions and emissions rules, car companies are looking to increase fuel economy across the board and this is just one way of doing it.

But that doesn't really make it a hybrid car. A hybrid, by definition, has more than one engine (and more than one power source) to power or move the vehicle. A mild hybrid can't be moved by the secondary engine, although it 'assists' the main engine, while a full hybrid can be moved by either engine.

By calling these two 'micro-hybrids', M&M get to grab onto the hybrid reputation for fuel economy, but there may not be a real justification for it.

It may be time to define the term hybrid for everyone. With plug-in hybrids, E-REV, gas-electric hybrids (HEV), mild hybrids, full hybrids, and micro-hybrids out there, unless a clear standard is created and stuck with, the consumers who want to purchase these cars are the ones who will get lost. None of the car makers want that.

Source: M&M launches 'micro-hybrid' Scorpio, Bolero- Automobiles-Auto-News By Industry-News-The Economic Times

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

Monday, October 20, 2008

Designer Explains Changes in Volt: Concept to Production

Lutz at GM once joked the concept Volt would have been better off going backwards in the wind tunnels.

With a 40 mile all electric range promise to keep, the designers working on the 2011 Chevy Volt Extended Range Electric Vehicle (E-REV or plug-in hybrid) had a challenge to meet when they started moving from the concept vehicle to the production vehicle.

The concept vehicle was built with a long, muscle car look that impressed many.  It's large wheels and front hood covered up two big electric motors, a gas engine, plus the battery pack, which in the production vehicle is about six feet long.  That much motor required a lot of space, allowing the concept designers to stretch the hood out and made the Volt into an electric 'Camaro'.  The wheel base and larger wheels, if you had taken the Volt out for a spin, would have made it handle like a truck, but they certainly passed the 'cool' factor.

But the production designers needed to meet a different standard.  Since the Volt will be built on the base of the Chevy Cruze, and they could get rid of one of the electric motors and the battery was moved back and under the car, the hood could be downsized.  Put in a different angle for the windshield and all of a sudden this big muscle car was exchanged for a 'Prius' look. 

Plus, they got to have some fun with the interior

Many of the early fans have fled from the Volt 're-design', but in the end, Boniface and the design team are going to get their 40 miles of all electric range.  After that, the gas engine will kick in to charge the battery pack.  According to the designer, the concept would have traveled 10 or 20 miles less on all electric charge.

Source: Ohioans help refine Chevy Volt from sporty idea to real world - Business – cleveland.com

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

Even as GM and Chrylser continue their merger talks, work on the Chevy Volt continues.  Buehler Motor Inc. has been selected to provide the water pumps for the Volt and some other hybrids from GM.  The 12-watt and 50-watt auxillary water pumps are used to circulate coolant through the Volt's subsystems.


Buehler and GM have been working since mid 2007 in a technology partnership on providing the customized water pump.  The contracts for the production version of the Volt have just been finalized.

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

Saturday, October 18, 2008

How to Rent a Hybrid

Consumer Reports did a little bit of practical research in renting hybrid cars. While their 'study' consisted of attempting to rent in one city, the advice they have is still good.

Call, don't use the web. The web rental may not offer hybrid cars as an option.

Call as far in advance as you can. Hybrid cars are in demand, even as rentals right now. Trying to get a hybrid at the last minute is likely to leave you without one.

Keep in mind you may not be saving money by renting a hybrid. If fuel economy and cost savings are your thing, you may be better off getting a small car. CR was quoted a rate of $253 for a Altima Hybrid over three days, but could get an Impala for $111. There's very little chance you're going to spend that much more on gas over three days.

Source: Consumer Reports: Hybrid rentals heat up | KATU.com - Portland, Oregon | News

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hybrid Prices Expected to Drop Over the Next 10 Years

A new study by JPMorgan Chase & Co says hybrid costs will drop 67% over the next 10 years.

By 2018, they estimate a gas-electric hybrid will cost $1,919, as opposed to the estimated $5,869 they cost this year. They expect rising demand (9.6 million units by then) will push the price down.

Hybrid sales will increase by 10.2 percent of the overall market, with North America continuing to create the largest demand. Europe and China will trail, but analysts expect growth there will grow by 2013. Higher gas prices and stronger emissions standards are helping to create demand.

What this means to you is savings.  As the cost to produce a hybrid drops, you can expect to see more hybrids types available.   Car companies will be able to afford to build the hybrids we want, which will allow them to pass the stricter emissions laws, which will allow them to cut costs even more.

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

Thursday, October 16, 2008

2010 Prius Photos Released

Someone at PriusChat was kind enough to reveal some 2010 Toyota Prius photos.  Jalopnik has confirmed with Toyota PR that the photos are real and so we now know what the next generation Prius is going to look like.  From the rounded front end to the fuzzy dashboard photo, now we know what it's really like.

The teaser photos being released were a little bit ridiculous. I'm wondering if someone got tired of the whole run around, someone realized the teasers were ridiculous, or if Toyota planned this all along.

Update: Toyota confirms these pictures are the 'Real Deal'. Good for them.  Both for being aware the pictures had been leaked, and making the decision to back the photos.

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

2009 Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango Hybrid on Sale

With the first Chrysler Hybrid sold to Lee Iacocca, Chrysler released their new hybrid SUVs, the 2009 Chrysler Aspen Hybrid and Dodge Durango Hybrid.

After working together with GM and BMW to co-develop the two-mode hybrid system, Chrysler decided to undercut their GM rivals by offering the Aspen and Durango Hybrids for about $5,000 to $8,000 less than their GM counterparts. Add in the $2,200 in tax credits buyers may be eligible for, and you might see why Chrysler would feel good about their chances in competing in the hybrid SUV field.

The fuel economy in all of the new hybrid SUVs has improved about the same. Both hybrid SUVs from Chrysler have improved their fuel economy by about 50 percent in the city, giving them a 20 mpg city and 22 mpg highway rating from the EPA.

That doesn't exactly make them the most fuel efficient vehicles for 2009 on the road, but it certainly makes them much better than their oversized SUV counterparts.

Along with the electric motor, the new hybrid SUVs come with a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine with Multi-Displacement System technology along with an electrically variable transmission. Together, the two engines can produce 400 hp and 380 lb.-ft of torque. That gives them a towing capacity of 6,000 lbs.

The 2009 Chrysler Aspen Hybrid and Dodge Durango Hybrid are built in Delaware at the Newark Assembly Plant.  But that plant is scheduled to close sometime next year. 

The new hybrid SUVs from Chrysler were introduced at the LA Auto Show back in 2007 and are on sale now.

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Volt MPG Rating Between 120 and 200 MPG?

Will it or won't it? That's the big question for GM right now as they contemplate the ratings from the EPA. If the EPA treated the Volt like a hybrid car, the Chevy vehicle would most likely receive a rating somewhere in the high 40's.

But, under new rules GM hopes the EPA will stick with, the Volt mpg rating could land it somewhere between 120 and 200 mpg!

To say GM hopes for the latter would be an understatement.

"It's a huge milestone to beat 100 mpg. It's bragging rights," said Rebecca Lindland, an analyst at Global Insight in Lexington, Mass. "To many people, GM is just about gas-guzzling SUVs. They never get credit for fuel economy. If Toyota were doing the Volt, they would be having parades and waving flags."
It's a tricky situation, though.

If the EPA were to treat the Volt like a hybrid, it would want the battery pack to be fully recharged before ending its tests. Since GM wants the EPA to assume the customer would normally plug the car back in to recharge the battery, that seems wrong to them.

And I have to agree with GM. Although there will be times when you can't plug your car back in overnight and you will need to rely more fully on the gas engine, in most cases customers will find some way to plug the Volt to recharge the batteries overnight.

But at the same time, I hope the EPA does give you a rating for when that isn't possible. I want to know what the fuel economy is going to be like (your results may vary!) when I can't plug it in. That's good information to have.

But GM wants the Volt to be classified as an electric vehicle. It's not, though. It is partially electric. If it was fully electric, we wouldn't need to discuss the fuel economy rating.

No, the EPA needs to come up with a new classification and just treat the Volt, and the upcoming slew of new plug-ins differently. And customers have to start thinking about them differently, too. How far can the car travel on all-electric power? What is the fuel economy going to look like after that? Will the gas engine come on for other reasons before the all electric range is used up?

See the blog post from Tesla founder on how the ESS coolant is taking a lot of the battery power, whether the car is running or not! When you buy a new type of car, you need to know different things (link goes to NY Times complaining about the plug-in Ford Escape test vehicle keeping it's gas engine on throughout the test drive). And if there's one thing all parties can agree to, this is a new type of car.

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Conn Town Offers Tax Break to Those Who Buy Fuel Efficient Cars

There haven't been many towns in CT who have taken up their chance to offer a $1,000 in tax exemptions to those who are buying fuel efficient cars, but there's at least one now.

The town council in Wethersfield, CT has approved an ordinance allowing $1,000 in tax exemptions to those who purchase vehicles that get over 40 mpg. There aren't many cars that qualify, but they do exist.

Those who are interested in applying must pick up an application at the assessors office.

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Volvo Plans on Diesel Hybrids

Volvo is looking to hybrid technology in the next few years. By 2009, they plan on rolling out start-stop technology to the smaller cars in their line-up. By 2012, they plan on having diesel hybrids on the road in the larger sedans, crossovers and SUVs. And shortly after that, they plan on getting plug-in hybrids.

The start-stop technology turns the engine off when slowing down or when the car is stopped. Volvo will roll the tech out in their small car line-up first with the C30, S40 and V50. But will follow-up with their larger vehicles.

The diesel hybrid technology will be rolled out in their larger vehicles. They will be full hybrids, meaning they will run on electric power at lower speeds, and changing over to a gas/electric mix at higher speeds. The turbodiesel five-cylinder engine will power the front wheels, while the rear wheels will be powered by the electric motor.

Volvo plans on selling their diesel hybrids in Europe and the US in 2012.

Source: Autonews.

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

Friday, October 10, 2008

Win A Hybrid By Ordering From Charter

Charter is offering a Honda Civic Hybrid to one lucky person who orders anything online in the month of October. If you are already a customer or a new one, Charter says you're eligible to win, but only if you order online.

Press Release Follows:

Charter Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: CHTR) announced today that the Company will offer new and current customers a chance to win a 2009 Honda Civic Hybrid by ordering services online.

"Our customers continue to tell us our online sales channel is an efficient way of finding the package that best meets their needs," said Barbara Hedges, Senior Vice President of Consumer Marketing for Charter. "As a result, we are launching another fun promotion to promote this popular channel and at the same time reward our customers with savings and value."

Throughout the month of October, new and current Charter customers can order online any or all of Charter's services - Charter Digital Cable®, Charter High-Speed® Internet or Charter Telephone® - and be entered to win the 2009 Honda Civic Hybrid. By bundling Charter services our customers have the opportunity to "Save Green." By ordering online, one lucky customer will have the opportunity to "Go Green" in a 2009 Honda Civic Hybrid. Visit www.charter.com/hybridgiveaway for more information.

Last month Charter gave away 30 laptops to new and current customers who placed online orders in its Laptop-a-Day Giveaway. To see some of the winners visit www.charter.com/laptopaday.

Over the past year, Charter has invested over a billion dollars in capital to serve its customers and to enhance its service capabilities. Charter is committed to investing in its communities, providing an advanced network on which residential and commercial customers rely for their communications needs, and delivering value to all its customers by offering high-quality products and services backed up by superior customer care.

No purchase is necessary to enter or win. A purchase will not increase your chance of winning. See official sweepstakes rules for further details and restrictions. Void where prohibited.

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

Auto Makers Facing Tough Road Ahead

J.D. Powers has revised their 2009 forecast for new car sales world-wide and it isn't pretty. They're predicting a 16% decline in the US, a 9.7% growth in China (down from a 24.1% in 2007), 5.1% growth in India (down from 16% in 2007), and 3.1% drop in Europe.

But what's more shocking is the statement inside the press release.

"While the global automotive industry is clearly experiencing a slowdown in 2008, the global market in 2009 may experience an outright collapse," said executive director of automotive forecasting for J.D. Power and Associates. "While mature markets are being impacted more severely than emerging markets, no country or region is completely immune to the turmoil."
Words like collapse have a power all their own.

And dealers and auto makers don't want them out there. They are already complaining that foot traffic is down. They feel like the stories about credit being denied is being overblown. Yes, the percentage of those being approved is down, but a majority of people can still get loans.

Consumer confidence is shaky and the auto makers know it.

Auto makers stock prices are way, way, way down. Ford is trading below $3 a share, while GM is below $8. To say these companies are in trouble would be an understatement.

Will the $25 billion in loans from the government save them?

I might say this is a great time to buy stock in both companies, but I'm not going to. What about you?

Press Release below:

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., Oct. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- As the U.S.
new-vehicle retail market continues to deteriorate, new-vehicle retail
sales are projected to end 2008 at 10.8 million units, which is 2 million
units below 2007 sales, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

Approximately two-thirds of the decline in retail sales -- which are
reflective of actual consumer behavior in the new-vehicle marketplace --
can be attributed to consumers delaying vehicle purchases. On average,
consumers are keeping their vehicles 4 months longer in 2008 compared with
2007 -- up from 67 months to 71 months. The remaining one-third of the
volume decline comes from reduced leasing activity. Additionally, fleet
sales are expected to decline to 2.8 million units in 2008, which is well
below the 3.3 million unit level achieved in 2007.

"Buyers are both voluntarily and involuntarily exiting the U.S.
new-vehicle market," said Jeff Schuster, executive director of automotive
forecasting for J.D. Power and Associates. "The additional decline in
expected vehicle sales is a function of growing concerns around
availability of credit and leasing, declines in vehicle equity and general
economic stress."

The current turmoil and financial crisis adds risk to the 2008 forecast
of up to 200,000 units, as it is unclear how consumers will respond in the
fourth quarter.

Total U.S. Light-Vehicle(1) Market

J.D. Power and Associates forecasts total new light-vehicle sales --
which includes both retail and fleet sales -- to drop to 13.6 million units
in 2008, registering a 16 percent decline from 16.1 million units in 2007.

Market uncertainty has also led to a downward revision of the J.D.
Power and Associates 2009 U.S. light-vehicle forecast. Total new
light-vehicle sales are expected to drop to 13.2 million units in 2009,
with the retail sales market declining to 10.6 million units.

"Falling trade-in equity, fewer leasing options, credit market
restructuring and the increased migration to used vehicles are all putting
added pressure on the U.S. new-vehicle sales market in 2009," said
Schuster. "Any truly pronounced recovery appears to be more than 18 months
away."

China Light-Vehicle Market

Slowing within China's automotive market is projected to intensify
during the fourth quarter of 2008, and will likely lead to a downward
revision for 2009. Despite the slowing, light-vehicle sales -- including
passenger vehicle and light commercial vehicle segments -- in China are
expected to reach 8.9 million units in 2008, which marks an increase of 9.7
percent from 2007. However, the projected growth rate for the China
automotive market in 2008 is less than one-half of the 24.1 percent growth
achieved in 2007.

Indian Light-Vehicle Market

The light-vehicle sales forecast has also been reduced for the India
market, down 6 percent from the original forecast of 1.9 million units to
1.8 million units for 2008. The 5.1 percent growth rate forecasted for 2008
is considerably less than the increases demonstrated in 2007 (16%) and 2006
(21%).

European Light-Vehicle Market

Light-vehicle sales in Europe are expected to fall to 21.3 million
units in 2008, marking a 3.1 percent decline from sales in 2007. Within
Western Europe, sales are forecasted to decline to 15.6 million -- a
decrease of 7.5 percent from 2007. While sales in Eastern Europe are
expected to increase to 5.8 million in 2008 -- up 11.3 percent from 2007,
growth within the region is slowing considerably.

"While the global automotive industry is clearly experiencing a
slowdown in 2008, the global market in 2009 may experience an outright
collapse," said Schuster. "While mature markets are being impacted more
severely than emerging markets, no country or region is completely immune
to the turmoil."

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

Thursday, October 09, 2008

France Puts $500 Million Into Development of Electric and Hybrid Cars

France has decided to support the development of electric and hybrid cars through government support. French President Sarkozy pledged 400 million euros ($549 million) to the effort.

During the Paris Auto Show, he announced they money would go "exclusively for the research and development of nonpolluting vehicles" over four years.

And like the US government, he wants other European banks to invest in the development through loans to automakers.

Renault SA and Electrite de France are working to build the infrastructure to recharge electric cars, with a launch date of 2011 for their electric vehicle.

That's in step with their partner Nissan, who recently said they would prefer to skip over the plug-in hybrid and go straight to electric. Nissan plans on offering an electric car by 2010, but not the Nuvu.

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

Cadillace Escalade Hybrid Due in Europe in 2009

GM will be bringing the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid to Europe sometime in 2009. Although it's unlikely to bring other hybrids across the pond.

With diesel cars already entrenched in Europe, the fuel savings from hybrids may not be as welcome. Also, since hybrids are better at improving city driving fuel efficiency, Europeans may not be as interested. Surprisingly, more Europeans drive in the open country, rather than in the city.

GM also feels that having a green image is not as important in Europe.

"A specific body style for hybrid cars — or other future propulsion systems — isn't what customers are looking for. They want a decent car but don't want to [boast] that they're eco-friendly," said Anthony Lo, executive director for design for GM Europe, in Russelsheim, Germany.

Source: European View of Hybrids Challenges GM Product Planners

But that's kind of a funny thing. The Escalade Hybrid is all about image (in my opionion). The fuel savings on a car that can cost upward of $70,000, but only improves the fuel economy by 5 mpg in city driving, isn't exactly about saving the world. It's about showing others your style.

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

MTBOT Presses Their Lawsuit to Stop Hybrid Changeover in NYC, Involves Automakers

The Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade (MTBOT), which is suing the Taxi and Limousine Commision (TLC) to halt the hybrid changeover in NYC, is trying to beef up their lawsuit through safety concerns.

Part of the taxicab mandate is a partition placed in between the driver and the passengers in the backseat. And so, the new hybrids, which have not been designed with a partition in mind, need an after-market change to have the partition put in.

And so, when the MTBOT wrote to the car companies to verify the safety of the partitions, the car companies, of course, wrote they would not certify their safety.

Well, duh!

Of course they won't say how safe the car will be after you change them. That would be insane on their part.

But if you just read the headline from the press release, "Automakers Warn Against Using Hybrids as Taxicabs", you would think the car companies hate the idea of having hybrids used as taxicabs. And that just isn't true.

So, if you are interested, follow the links and read about the lawsuit. Then keep that in mind when you read the following press release from the MTBOT.

NEW YORK, Oct 08, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Safety Questions Left Unanswered, Responsibility Shifted Around

Two of the world's largest automakers, Toyota and Honda, have issued outright warnings against using their hybrid passenger vehicles as commercial taxicabs. In addition, Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Nissan, have refused to certify the crashworthiness of their hybrid New York City taxicabs as modified with mandatory partitions. Instead, the automakers shift that responsibility to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), which shift it to the federal government -- which does not require automakers to crash test vehicles modified with the hard, bulletproof taxi partitions.

In late 2007, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) mandated that all new taxis, the vast majority of which are required to have partitions, be hybrids or other vehicles that achieve 25 miles-per-gallon, disallowing the purpose-built stretch Ford Crown Victoria taxicab. The Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade has mounted a legal challenge, citing a 2008 engineer's report that finds hybrids to be unsafe and unfit as New York City taxicabs. The mandate has been delayed and awaits a federal court ruling expected later this month.

On August 29, 2008, Richard D. Emery, an attorney for the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, wrote to automakers including Nissan, Toyota, Ford, Honda, General Motors and Volkswagen requesting that they certify that their hybrids or alternative fuel vehicles are manufacturer-approved to be used as taxicabs and safe when modified with partitions and other TLC requirements.

In a September 19th 2008 response to Mr. Emery, a spokesman for Honda said "Honda vehicles are not sold or recommended for use as taxicabs." However, in a July 16, 2008 industry notice informing taxi owners which vehicles they can purchase for taxi use, the TLC lists the Honda Civic Hybrid as one of nine approved vehicles for taxi use.

Another automaker, Toyota, the largest manufacturer of hybrids in the world, has not responded to Mr. Emery. However, a Toyota spokesman told the New York Times on April 27, 2008, that "our engineers are nervous about it because they were not designed for commercial use." According to the article, "Toyota did not help convert cars into taxis because they were not intended to be driven so heavily." Still, in the July 16, 2008 TLC industry notice, the TLC lists 3 Toyotas, the Prius, Highlander and Camry on its approved vehicle list -- 1/3 of all approved vehicles. Several Toyotas remain in service as New York City taxicabs.

Nissan, which claims to be committing up to 200 Altima Hybrid taxicabs per month, refers Mr. Emery to a July 23, 2008 TLC letter that claims the partitions do not hinder side curtain airbag deployment. Nissan offers no crash test results on Altimas that are modified with partitions and concludes its response by stating: "If you have an underlying concern with the mandate to use fuel efficient vehicles, this situation is a result of New York policies, not Nissan's actions."

At a September 10th 2008 New York City Council hearing, Ford Motor Company acknowledged that "there is an increased risk for belted occupants to contact the partition in a collision" for "any vehicle with a smaller occupant space than the stretch Crown Victoria" noting that it is "not unique to the Escape Hybrid" which indeed has much smaller occupant space than a stretch Crown Victoria. Ford refused to certify the crashworthiness of Escape Hybrid taxicabs outfitted with partitions, instead shifting responsibility to the TLC which it says "has an important job in making judgments that balance competing benefits and risks involving driver and customer safety in a unique operating environment."

General Motors also refused to certify the crashworthiness of its Chevy Malibu Hybrid taxicab when modified with a partition or other TLC requirements. In a letter to Mr. Emery dated September 25th, 2008, GM wrote "your client's concerns about the taxicab partitions required by the TLC should be addressed to the TLC." GM was silent about the Saturn Vue Hybrid, which also appears on the TLC's approved vehicle list.

Volkswagen, which produces a clean diesel Jetta that appears on the TLC approved list, was also asked to certify the safety, suitability and crashworthiness of its TLC-approved hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles when modified with partitions and placed into service as taxicabs but, to date, has not responded.

The TLC has confirmed that it does not crash test hybrid taxicabs modified with partitions and says it relies, in large part, on federal testing to assert the safety of hybrid taxicabs. However, it has also been established that there are no federal crash tests for hybrid taxicabs modified with partitions -- nor are there front or rear crash tests in unmodified hybrids for adult rear occupants, which comprise the majority of taxi passengers. Hybrid automakers explicitly warn against any modifications to hybrid vehicles in the owner manuals. And indeed, according to automotive engineer C. Bruce Gambardella, partitions in hybrids are a "crude modification" that "changes the entire interior environment and takes us back about a half a century in automotive safety."

MTBOT is the country's largest taxi fleet association. It represents 27 yellow medallion taxi fleets in New York City and over 3,500 medallion taxicabs -- approximately 25% of the taxi industry. MTBOT members have operated more than 30 different vehicles over several decades including minivans, Compressed Natural Gas vehicles and hybrids. MTBOT advocates on behalf of its members, its 14,000 drivers and the riding public.

SOURCE Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade

Photo from flickr by denmar.

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

Ford Receives a $10 Million Government Grant to Study Plug-In Hybrid Technology

Ford received a $10 million grant to study plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) from the U.S. Dept of Energy. Ford will use the money to continue working on its twenty plug-in hybrid vehicles. The study is costing $20 million, so the DOE is picking up half the tab.

"This is really aimed at figuring out how to work through what's needed both on demonstration fleets and interface with the utilities to commercialize plug-in hybrids," said Nancy Gioia, Ford's director of sustainable mobility technologies and hybrid vehicle programs.

Ford is building 20 plug-in Hybrid Escapes for the study, 11 of which they expect to have finished by the end of the year. The first flex-fuel hybrid was delivered to the DOE in June, 2008. The first Escape PHEV was delivered to Southern California Edison in December, 2007.

Ford is working with Southern California Edison, the Electric Power Research Institute, Johnson Controls-Saft Advanced Power Solutions LLC, and DTE Energy, Michigan's largest utility to study plug-ins. Ford is expected to expand the partnership to include other utilities, including one in Canada.

The study is looking into how plug-ins fare in different climates and different altitudes. Also, can they set up a proper standard for plug-ins and how they interact with the electric grid.

The study is expected to last three years and will involve some consumers who will provide user feedback to the automaker and utilities.

The Ford Escape PHEV is equipped with a 10 kilowatt advanced lithium ion energy battery supplied by Johnson Controls/Saft that stores enough electric energy to drive up to 30 miles at speeds of up to 40 mph. The battery works in tandem with a small four-cylinder engine.

Based on current estimates, the vehicle would emit 60 percent less CO2 than a conventional gasoline powered vehicle. The CO2 reduction would reach 90 percent if cellulosic ethanol is used in place of gasoline.

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

Lee Iacocca First in Line for New Hybrid Aspen

A 2009 Chrysler Aspen was delivered to Lee Iacocca in Southern California, marking the beginning of Chrysler's hybrid sales. Lee Iacocca, the former Chrysler chairman, may have been excited to get the first Aspen Hybrid, but most people interested in large hybrid SUVs will be excited about the price.

Chrysler placed the pricetag on their hybrid SUVs $5,000 less than the GM hybrid SUVs. GM, Chrysler, and BMW worked together to develop the two-mode hybrid system to be used in their hybrid SUVs.

In the long run, based on the sales figures from GM, the number of hybrid SUVs sold by Chrysler or GM may not be all that significant. But the more hybrids sold, the better off the hybrid marketplace will be as more automakers and suppliers come on board, pushing the price down.

Source: The Oakland Press: The best place for news in and around Oakland County

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The 104 Most Fuel Efficient Cars for 2009

Previously, I've created lists for the most fuel efficient cars for 2008, 2007, 2006, and 2005. So, it should be no surprise that I have create the list of most fuel efficient cars for 2009. What is suprising, for those who aren't aware, is how the list is being changed dramatically.

With the release of 50-state compliant diesel cars for model year 2009, we are seeing big changes in how fuel efficiency looks in the US. Diesel cars are more efficient than gas powered cars, but oil-burners are more expensive to buy, and for now, more expensive to fill up.

Hybrid cars are still rounding up the top spots for fuel efficiency, along with small compact cars. Put them together and you get the top spots going to hybrid, small family sedans like the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid. But there are some larger cars, SUVs and other types of vehicles in the list. They usually have a diesel engine or a hybrid engine, but not always.

As with the previous lists, I rank the cars based on their combined (45% highway, 55% city) fuel economy ratings from the EPA. These mpg numbers from the EPA have been updated to reflect 'real world' driving. Also, the fuel efficiency rating is detailed on the engine type and size.

One other point, an automatic is different from a stickshift and a 4 cylinder engine is different from a 6 cylinder engine. Which means you're going to see the word MINI a lot in the list, since there are many different types of MINI's based on engine type.


MPG
Ranking Category Vehicle City Highway Combined
1 family sedan Toyota Prius 4 cyl, 1.5 L, Automatic (variable gear ratios), HEV, Regular 48 45 47
2 family sedan Honda Civic Hybrid 4 cyl, 1.3 L, Automatic (variable gear ratios), HEV, Regular 40 45 42
3 small cars Volkswagen Jetta 4 cyl, 2 L, Manual 6-spd, Diesel 30 41 35
3 station wagon Volkswagen Jetta SportWagon 4 cyl, 2 L, Manual 6-spd, Diesel 30 41 35
4 family sedan Nissan Altima Hybrid 4 cyl, 2.5 L, Automatic (variable gear ratios), HEV, Regular 35 33 34
5 small cars Volkswagen Jetta 4 cyl, 2 L, Automatic (S6), Diesel 29 40 34
5 hatchback Volkswagen Jetta 4 cyl, 2 L, Automatic (S6), Diesel 29 40 34
5 station wagon Volkswagen Jetta SportWagon 4 cyl, 2 L, Automatic (S6), Diesel 29 40 34
6 family sedan Toyota Camry Hybrid 4 cyl, 2.4 L, Automatic (variable gear ratios), HEV, Regular 33 34 33
7 SUV Ford Escape Hybrid FWD 4 cyl, 2.5 L, Automatic (variable gear ratios), Regular 34 31 33
7 SUV Mazda Tribute Hybrid 2WD 4 cyl, 2.5 L, Automatic (variable gear ratios), Regular 34 31 33
7 SUV Mercury Mariner Hybrid FWD 4 cyl, 2.5 L, Automatic (variable gear ratios), Regular 34 31 33
8 small cars Toyota Yaris 4 cyl, 1.5 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 29 36 32
9 small cars MINI Cooper 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Manual 6-spd, Premium 28 37 32
9 small cars MINI Clubman 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Manual 6-spd, Premium 28 37 32
10 small cars Toyota Yaris 4 cyl, 1.5 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 29 35 32
11 small cars Honda Fit 4 cyl, 1.5 L, Automatic 5-spd, Regular 28 35 31
11 hatchback Honda Fit 4 cyl, 1.5 L, Automatic 5-spd, Regular 28 35 31
12 small cars Toyota Corolla 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 27 35 31
13 small cars Chevrolet Cobalt XFE 4 cyl, 2.2 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 25 37 30
13 small cars Pontiac G5 XFE 4 cyl, 2.2 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 25 37 30
14 small cars Chevrolet Aveo 5 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 27 34 30
14 small cars Pontiac G3 Wave 5 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 27 34 30
14 small cars Chevrolet Aveo 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 27 34 30
14 small cars Pontiac G3 Wave 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 27 34 30
14 hatchback Pontiac G3 Wave 5 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 27 34 30
14 hatchback Pontiac G3 Wave 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 27 34 30
15 small cars Toyota Corolla 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 26 35 30
15 small cars Kia Rio 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 26 35 30
15 small cars Hyundai Accent 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 26 35 30
16 small cars Honda Civic 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Automatic 5-spd, Regular 25 36 30
17 small cars Kia Rio 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 27 33 30
17 small cars Honda Fit 4 cyl, 1.5 L, Automatic (S5), Regular 27 33 30
17 small cars Hyundai Accent 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 27 33 30
17 small cars Nissan Versa 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Automatic (variable gear ratios), Regular 27 33 30
17 small cars Scion xD 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 27 33 30
17 small cars Honda Fit 4 cyl, 1.5 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 27 33 30
17 hatchback Honda Fit 4 cyl, 1.5 L, Automatic (S5), Regular 27 33 30
17 hatchback Scion xD 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 27 33 30
17 hatchback Honda Fit 4 cyl, 1.5 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 27 33 30
18 small cars MINI John Cooper Works 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Manual 6-spd, Premium 26 34 30
18 small cars MINI John Cooper Works Clubman 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Manual 6-spd, Premium 26 34 30
18 small cars MINI Cooper S 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Manual 6-spd, Premium 26 34 30
18 small cars Honda Civic 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 26 34 30
18 small cars MINI Clubman S 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Manual 6-spd, Premium 26 34 30
18 family sedan Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid 4 cyl, 2.4 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 26 34 30
18 family sedan Saturn Aura Hybrid 4 cyl, 2.4 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 26 34 30
18 convertible MINI John Cooper Works Convertible 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Manual 6-spd, Premium 26 34 30
19 small cars Pontiac G5 4 cyl, 2.2 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 25 35 30
19 small cars Pontiac G5 GT 4 cyl, 2.2 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 25 35 30
20 small cars Honda Civic CNG 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Automatic 5-spd, RNG=170, Natural Gas 24 36 29
21 small cars MINI Cooper 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Automatic (S6), Premium 25 34 29
21 small cars MINI Clubman 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Automatic (S6), Premium 25 34 29
21 small cars Chevrolet Aveo 5 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 25 34 29
21 small cars Pontiac G3 Wave 5 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 25 34 29
21 small cars Chevrolet Aveo 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 25 34 29
21 small cars Pontiac G3 Wave 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 25 34 29
21 hatchback Chevrolet Aveo 5 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 25 34 29
21 hatchback Pontiac G3 Wave 5 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 25 34 29
21 hatchback Pontiac G3 Wave 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 25 34 29
22 small cars Ford Focus FWD 4 cyl, 2 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 24 35 29
23 small cars Scion xD 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 26 32 29
23 hatchback Scion xD 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 26 32 29
23 station wagon Pontiac Vibe 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 26 32 29
23 station wagon Toyota Matrix 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 26 32 29
24 family sedan Hyundai Elantra 4 cyl, 2 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 25 33 29
25 small cars Nissan Versa 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Manual 6-spd, Regular 26 31 28
25 station wagon Pontiac Vibe 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 26 31 28
26 SUV Saturn Vue Hybrid 4 cyl, 2.4 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 25 32 28
27 SUV Ford Escape Hybrid 4WD 4 cyl, 2.5 L, Automatic (variable gear ratios), Regular 29 27 28
27 SUV Mazda Tribute Hybrid 4WD 4 cyl, 2.5 L, Automatic (variable gear ratios), Regular 29 27 28
27 SUV Mercury Mariner Hybrid 4WD 4 cyl, 2.5 L, Automatic (variable gear ratios), Regular 29 27 28
28 small cars Chevrolet Cobalt 4 cyl, 2.2 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 24 33 28
28 small cars Pontiac G5 4 cyl, 2.2 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 24 33 28
28 small cars Ford Focus FWD 4 cyl, 2 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 24 33 28
28 family sedan Hyundai Elantra 4 cyl, 2 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 24 33 28
29 station wagon Toyota Matrix 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 25 31 28
30 small cars Mazda 3 4 cyl, 2 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 24 32 28
30 small cars Nissan Versa 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 24 32 28
30 family sedan Kia Spectra 4 cyl, 2 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 24 32 28
30 hatchback Saturn Astra 2DR Hatchback 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 24 32 28
30 hatchback Saturn Astra 4DR Hatchback 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 24 32 28
31 small cars Pontiac G5 GT 4 cyl, 2.2 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 23 32 27
31 small cars MINI Cooper S 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Automatic (S6), Premium 23 32 27
31 small cars MINI Clubman S 4 cyl, 1.6 L, Automatic (S6), Premium 23 32 27
31 family sedan Nissan Altima 4 cyl, 2.5 L, Manual 6-spd, Regular 23 32 27
31 luxury sedan Mercedes-Benz E320 Bluetec 6 cyl, 3 L, Automatic 7-spd, Diesel 23 32 27
31 coupe Nissan Altima Coupe 4 cyl, 2.5 L, Manual 6-spd, Regular 23 32 27
32 family sedan Pontiac G6 4 cyl, 2.4 L, Automatic (S6), Regular 22 33 27
32 family sedan Chevrolet Malibu 4 cyl, 2.4 L, Automatic (S6), Regular 22 33 27
32 family sedan Saturn Aura 4 cyl, 2.4 L, Automatic (S6), Regular 22 33 27
32 coupe Pontiac G6 4 cyl, 2.4 L, Automatic (S6), Regular 22 33 27
33 hatchback Saturn Astra 2DR Hatchback 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 24 30 27
33 hatchback Saturn Astra 4DR Hatchback 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 24 30 27
33 hatchback Dodge Caliber 4 cyl, 1.8 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 24 30 27
34 small cars Suzuki SX4 Sedan 4 cyl, 2 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 23 31 27
34 family sedan Nissan Altima 4 cyl, 2.5 L, Automatic (variable gear ratios), Regular 23 31 27
34 coupe Audi TT Coupe 4 cyl, 2 L, Automatic (S6), Premium 23 31 27
34 coupe Nissan Altima Coupe 4 cyl, 2.5 L, Automatic (variable gear ratios), Regular 23 31 27
34 station wagon Hyundai Elantra Touring 4 cyl, 2 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 23 31 27
35 SUV Chevrolet HHR FWD 4 cyl, 2.2 L, Manual 5-spd, Gasoline 22 32 27
35 SUV Chevrolet HHR Panel FWD 4 cyl, 2.2 L, Manual 5-spd, Gasoline 22 32 27
36 family sedan Kia Spectra 4 cyl, 2 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular 23 30 26
36 station wagon Hyundai Elantra Touring 4 cyl, 2 L, Automatic 4-spd, Regular 23 30 26


I will come back in the following months to update the list as more figures come out from the EPA. But in the meantime, if you see any cars you think I missed, please let me know in the comments. Keep in mind that it's not enough for a car to get over 25 mpg on the highway to make the list. The combined fuel efficiency has to be over 25 mpg to make the cut.

How I created the list. I was frustrated with how the EPA fueleconomy.gov site gives you the fuel economy figures. You could find any car, but I wanted to compare a lot of cars and types of vehicles all at once. So I pulled the information from the fueleconomy site, and then ordered them. It took a bit of work, but here you are.

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

Automotive Parts

Blog Archive

E-Bay Motors

 

  © Link to Privacy Policy

Back to TOP