This may be the parking job ever.
Found on Fixed Gears Blog.
This may be the parking job ever.
Toyota wants to start testing plug-in Prius in China as soon as possible (Source: Nikkei via GCC). And it's no wonder that Toyota would like to succeed in China, where it seems everyone is increasing the number of cars they are selling at incredible rates.
But hybrids are not selling well, so it's a wonder that Toyota is pushing for plug-in hybrids in China. Maybe it's more of a political move, or maybe they are taking a long term approach. After all, the Prius wasn't what you would call an overnight success story here in the states. It took a lot of time for it to really catch on.
And it may just be they don't want GM to get ahead of them with the Volt or Nissan with the Leaf. It doesn't seem like Toyota is getting close to a production ready plug-in. And the Volt is only months away.
Nissan is pretty happy so far with the initial demand for their 100 mile range electric vehicle, the Leaf. According to reports, more than 6,000 pre-orders have been made in just the first three days.
There were 117,000 people who registered on the Nissan website to be informed when the Leaf was ready to be ordered. Within the first three hours of opening up reservations, 2,700 of those followed up with a small down payment to pre-order their Leaf.
Nissan has the capacity to build 50,000 Leafs in the first year. 3,700 people pre-ordered in Japan, making sure the supply will be going to both countries at first. That's going to keep the waiting list up if the reservation list keeps growing.
Part of the demand for the Leaf is coming from the price tag. Combined with the federal and state tax credit, you could be paying just over $20,000 for an all electric vehicle. Of course, you have to be living in the right state.
Nissan is hoping for 25,000 pre-orders by December.
Fisker is looking for more government money. After receiving almost $529 million from the federal loan program, they are looking for the state of Delaware to kick in another $9 million in a grant.
The grant money will be used to offset utility costs while it upgrades the GM facility in Newport using another $12.5 million from a convertible loan.
There's nothing really new about this sort of thing. The major automakers have relied on loans, grants, tax breaks and other money from the government for decades to build cars. The only difference here is the size of the automaker and the single type of car they are working on (plug-in).
Fisker has closed its loan with the federal government, giving it $528.7 million to help develop the Karma and NINA programs.
The NINA program is its new development, a family sedan to be built in the old Delaware GM plant.
"The story of Fisker is a story of ingenuity of an American company, a commitment to innovation by the U.S. government and the perseverance of the American auto industry," said Vice President Joe Biden. "The Boxwood Plant is opening again, employing workers in Delaware, and is serving as a roadmap for all we can accomplish if everyone works together. Thanks to real dedication by this administration, loans from the Department of Energy, the creativity of U.S. companies, and the tenacity of great state partners like Delaware—we're on our way to helping America's auto industry reclaim its top position in the global market."
Fisker says the NINA will cost consumers just under $40,000 after federal tax credits.
"Not only will the Fisker projects contribute to cleaner air and reduced carbon emissions, these plug-in hybrid cars will help put American ingenuity at the forefront of automotive design and production," said Secretary Chu. "And they will bring innovative cars to the market place while putting American workers back on the job," Secretary Chu added.
Fisker's plug-in hybrid products will be among the first to market and will help to accelerate the introduction of fuel-saving electrified vehicles in the United States. When full production is reached in 2015, Fisker estimates annual sales at up to 115,000 vehicles. Combining Fisker projected sales volume with the expected sales volume of the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Model S, sales of electric and PHEVs funded with DOE ATVM loans could exceed 300,000 annually.
Initially, Fisker Automotive will use the proceeds of the loan for qualifying engineering integration costs as it works with primarily U.S. suppliers to incorporate components into the Karma's design. The engineering integration work will be conducted in Irvine, California, where engineers will design tools and equipment and develop manufacturing processes. The Karma is scheduled to appear in showrooms in late 2010. The second stage will involve the purchase and retooling of the former GM plant to manufacture the Project NINA line of PHEVs, which is expected to begin rolling off the assembly line in late 2012.
Fisker automobiles are driven by electric motors that get their power from a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery, or, when that is depleted, by a generator driven by an efficient gas-powered engine. The Karma and Project NINA models will have an all-electric, tailpipe-emission-free range of 40 to 50 miles on a full charge, more than most Americans drive each day. The battery can be charged at home overnight. Using gas and electric power, Fisker plug-in hybrids are expected to have a cruising range of up to 300 miles.
The 2010 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan are included in a new recall by Ford. The recall affects the Explorer and Explorer Sport Trac, too.
The front seat manual recliners fail to comply with federal standards. The gear plate teeth may be out of dimension specification which could result in limited pawl to gear plate tooth engagement.
In a crash, the seatback and head restraint may move rearward, increasing the risk of injury.
Dealers will replace the manual recliners for both power and manual seats free of charge. The safety recall is expected to begin on or before April 30, 2010. Owners may contact ford at 1-866-436-7332.
Nikkei is reporting a Toyota minivan is in the works. The new minivan may, if the reports are correct, will come with a Prius badge. The report also has the new Prius MPV may be available as early as next year.
And to top it off, it may come with a lithium-ion battery pack, which the Prius doesn't have.
The report goes on to say the new larger hybrid will likely have three rows of seating for five to seven passengers and sliding doors.
The new hybrid minivan will be 'competitively priced,' whatever that means. I'm guessing minivan owners will be excited to have the choice of a more fuel efficient ride.
Labels: Toyota and Lexus
David Strickland thinks hybrids may be too quiet for safety.
"A quieter fleet could potentially put pedestrians at risk, especially blind pedestrians," Strickland said at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress.
Which means hybrid owners may soon be looking at artificial noise makers installed onto their cars. Strickland, as head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), will most likely back up any claims with requirements for all vehicles. Electric and hybrid cars, which run on electric power at low speeds, make little to no noise.
"NHTSA is currently conducting a research program on quieter cars and the safety of blind pedestrians. Our analysis of limited data from 12 states shows that hybrid electric vehicles do have a significantly higher incidence rate of pedestrian crashes than internal combustion engines for certain maneuvers -- like slowing or stopping, backing up, entering or leaving a parking space, and making a turn."
"I am challenging the auto industry and the cell phone industry to work collaboratively with us to keep the driver focused on their required task: driving."
It should be noted that not everyone thinks silent running is the problem, however. Amy Freeland, an investigator with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that most of the fatal encounters occurred when the hybrids were going faster than 35 mph.
"There's a piece we don't know about this," says Amy. "And I think that may be market distribution." She suspects -- but can't yet prove -- that people who drive in crowded areas with high pedestrian traffic, like cities or beach towns, are more likely to drive hybrids. More pedestrians means more chances of a pedestrian accident.
The American Public Gas Association (APGA), NGVAmerica, and Hybrid Kinetic Motors Corporation (HK Motors) formed an alliance to promote the mass production of natural gas powered hybrid cars. The alliance will promote the following ideals:
Russia is investing in hybrid technology to the tune of $204 million. In a joint venture, billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov and Russian truck maker Yarovit, will create three electric car prototypes in December (Source: Bloomberg).
Production will begin in January of 2011, and will 'break-even' by mid-2012.
That's quite a feat. Toyota, Honda and Ford took a lot longer to 'break even' on their initial investment into developing hybrid technology. Other automakers have yet to do so (it's hard to tell really. It's not like they come out and tell you).
The car will cost about 300,000 rubles ($10,300) to 450,000 rubles and will run on gas and methane.
Green Car Hawaii is ready to try something new. When you visit Hawaii, you may spend a lot of time in and around your hotel, which means you may not need a rental car for most of your stay. What if you had the option of renting a car by the hour? What if it was a hybrid?
That's the idea behind Green Car Hawaii (found via Pacific Business). Owners Warren Doi and Justin MacNaughton. And it's all at an amazing rate of $15 an hour!
In partnership with Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort and Spa, guests can rent one of four custom-made, family-friendly Ford Hybrid Escapes with all the latest technological frills, including an iPad, for an “all-inclusive” $15 per hour, Doi said.
The biggest difficulty I would see is getting to and from the hotel itself, but shuttles and buses can get you there and back to the airport. Now you don't have to worry about getting to the luau on the other side of the island.
Labels: Buying Selling and Renting
According to Edmunds Senior Editor, John O'Dell:
They seem to do everyting Toyota has said it's PHEV will do, ncluding powering down the freeway at a steady 60 miles an hour in all-electric drive for a bitBut isn't that what you want from a car? No matter what's in the engine compartment, you still want it to drive like every other car.
But absent some heart-wrenching flaw that wasn't apparent in my limited time behind the wheel, the most I can say about Toyota's PHEV Prius is that driving it is pretty much just like driving a standard Prius, but with a bit less engine noise.
GM says testing of the pre-production Chevy Volt is going well. The Volt batteries are averaging about 40 miles of all electric driving, but of course, your mileage will vary. After the initial all electric range, drivers can expect very high fuel efficiency from the small gas motor.
In the call this morning Andrew Farah, Volt Chief Engineer, had some interesting things to say.
Farah did explain that consumers will experience about a 20% variability in electric range depending on four variables in the following order of importance:Farah also said that he uses 50 mpg as his 'bogey' when driving in charge sustaining mode (when the gas engine is recharging the battery pack). And that "So far I haven’t been disappointed.” But don't expect the EPA numbers to reflect that.
“Driving aggressiveness is number one, terrain is number two, weather and terrain is number three,” he said. Bly noted in cold weather a car consumes as much energy to keep its occupants warm as it does to travel down the road.
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) have both praised and condemned two of the latest hybrid offerings. The UCS auto engineers feel the BMW ActiveHybrid X6, a 'muscle hybrid', squanders its hybrid drivetrain by boosting power.
At the same time, the Mercedes-Benz S400 is seen as partially successful. It lowers cost, but uses a 'relatively weak' hybrid drivetrain along with a downsized conventional gasoline engine, to increase fuel efficiency.
The UCS updated their Hybrid Scorecard to reflect their findings.
|BMW ActiveHybrid X6|
|S400 Hybrid from Mercedes-Benz|
Ford is continuing to expand on their ability to build hybrid and electric cars. In January, Ford announced they would be building and assembling hybrid battery packs in the state of Michigan, but hadn't said where. Ford has just sent a letter to the Rawsonville plant (Source: freep.com | Detroit Free Press) letting them know they are in line for the assembly.
Ford has taken a cautious route to building up their hybrid and electric car line-up. Despite being the first to develop and sell a modern-day hybrid SUV (Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner Hybrid), Ford has only expanded their hybrid line-up by two cars since then.
But, with the initial investment in, and the costs coming down, it looks like Ford is beginning the process of truly expanding on their hybrid and electric car expertise.
|Honda CR-Z Hybrid|
Just who is making hybrid cars these days and what brands are considering making hybrid cars in the future?
Major Hybrid Car Brands
Hybrid cars are currently being built and sold by General Motors, Ford, Honda, Toyota and Nissan. General Motors builds hybrid cars under several divisions including Saturn, Chevrolet, and GMC. Ford has the Mercury and Ford divisions. Toyota sells hybrids under the brand name of Lexus . While Honda and Nissan just sell hybrids under their own name plates.
Under the Toyota brand name, there are three models currently on sale. The iconic Prius is almost synonymous with hybrid and is the first car most people think of when they think of hybrids. Toyota also sells the Camry Hybrid and Highlander Hybrid under the moniker of Toyota.
Toyota also has their luxury division, the Lexus hybrids. Under the Lexus brand name, Toyota sells the HS, LS, RX, and GS Hybrids. They keep adding models under the Lexus nameplate, so expect and IS hybrid to arrive soon. The HS hybrid is a dedicated model like the Prius. The others are subtypes under the model. In other words, you can buy gas-only models, or you can opt for the hybrid engine.
Honda sells the Civic Hybrid under their brand name. They also currently sell the only other dedicated hybrid on the road, the Insight. They used to sell a Hybrid Accord, and the two-seater hybrid Insight, but have retired both models.
Expect to see Acura Hybrids in the future.
Nissan has only one hybrid model for sale, the Nissan Altima Hybrid. It is built using hybrid technology from Toyota and is sold in only eight US states. Nissan has plans to bring an Infiniti M35 Hybrid to market in the coming year.
General Motors (Cadillac, Chevy, Saturn, GMC)
They build several models (currently) using the Chevrolet brand. There is the Chevy Malibu and Chevy Silverado. The Chevy Volt, the Extended Range Electric Vehicle (E-REV), will be out soon and while GM considers the Volt to be a subtype of electric vehicle, it still falls under the hybrid type.
GM also builds the GMC Yukon and Sierra. And the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid also falls under the GM brand.
The Saturn brand was at one point, the cornerstone for hybrids under the GM umbrella. But Saturn is no more. You can still see the hybrid Vue and Aura on the road today.
Ford sells four different models under two different brand names. The Mercury Division sells the Milan and Mariner Hybrid. While Ford retains the Fusion and Escape Hybrid. The Lincoln division will have its own hybrid soon, but it's not here yet. The Mercury hybrids are the upgraded version of the Ford Hybrids, so expect them to be very similar if you take a look at both of them.
Chrysler sold the Aspen and Durango Hybrids for a total of two months before pulling the plug on both models. The Dodge Durango is very similar to the Chrysler Aspen, and both were built using the dual hybrid technology developed in partnership with BMW and GM.
Chrysler at one point had plans to bring a Dodge Ram Hybrid to market, but that seems to be on hold.
Hyundai is jumping in with both feet in the next year, with the Sonata Hybrid. Distinguishing itself from the other hybrids listed above, it's going to be one of the first hybrids to use lithium polymer battery packs, giving it an advantage over some of the more established hybrid models and brands listed above.
Mazda has sold the Tribute hybrid in very limited numbers. The Tribute was built using Ford Hybrid technology, when Mazda and Ford were a lot tighter than they are today. Now Mazda is looking to partner with Toyota for the technology used in the Prius for their future hybrid model in 2013.
Fisker and Tesla
Fisker and Tesla are both bringing hybrid cars to market (they probably don't appreciate being lumped together given the lawsuits over the past few years). These startups are working hard to go straight to electric or hybrid and are emphasizing performance, rather than fuel efficiency right from the get go.
Audi, Subaru, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Daimler, Ferrari, Lotus, Kia, Maserati, Porsche, Suzuki, Volkswagen and Volvo
Each of the brands mentioned above are attempting their own hybrid models, and several have brought some noteworthy test models to auto shows. Several are on their way to bringing those cars to market right now, but are still a few years away from seeing them on the road in more than just 'test fleets'. Some are closer than others, while some probably have no intention of ever going hybrid unless they are forced to do so by the tighter restrictions being enforced in Europe, Asia and the US in the coming years.
Looking for more information on one of the brands above?
Either search for the brand name here on this site or use the categories below or on the sidebars. Each of the major brands listed will have more information that I've accumulated over the years.
The Japan Automobile Dealers Association noted the Prius was once again the top selling car in Japan. Helped by government incentives, the Prius has been and will continue to be the top selling car for months.
Toyota sold 35,546 units in March. That's 11 months in a row the Prius has held the top spot, which was briefly held by the Honda Insight before the third generation Prius came to market.
Sales have quadrupled in Japan this year. Toyota has sold over a quarter of a million units so far (277,485)
|2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid|
|2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Interior|
|2011 Sonata Hybrid||2011 Toyota Camry Hybrid||2010 Nissan Altima Hybrid||2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid||2010 Lexus HS250h|
|Engine hp||169 hp||147 hp||158 hp||156 hp||147 hp|
|Engine torque||156 lb-ft||138 lb-ft||162 lb-ft||136 lb-ft||138 lb-ft|
|Electric Motor hp||40.2 hp||40 hp||40 hp||106 hp||40 hp|
|Electric Motor torque||151.2 lb-ft @ 0-1,400 rpm||199 lb-ft @ 0-1,500 rpm||199 lb-ft @ 0–1,500 rpm||166 lb-ft||138 lb-ft|
|Hybrid system net power output||209 hp||187 hp||198 hp||191 hp||187 hp|
|Hybrid system||Parallel||Power Split||Power Split||Power Split||Power Split|
|Battery type||Lithium Polymer||Nickel-Metal Hydride||Nickel-Metal Hydride||Nickel-Metal Hydride||Nickel-Metal Hydride|
|EV only operation limit||62 mph||42 mph||42 mph||47 mph||42 mph|
|Fuel economy city/ hwy||37/39 mpg(est.)||33/34 mpg||35/33 mpg||41/36 mpg||35/34 mpg|
|Curb wt.||3,457 lb||3,680 lb||3,469.8 lb||3,720 lb||3,682 lb|
|Power to wt. ratio (lbs./total system power)||16.54||19.68||17.52||19.48||19.69|
|Pass. Vol.||104 cu ft||101 cu ft||101 cu ft||101 cu ft||90 cu ft|