Thursday, May 27, 2010

Toyota Denied Again in Patent Case by Paice

Toyota was once again denied a reprieve in their patent case with Paice LLC. The US International Trade Commission judge Theodore Essex denied Toyota's request to dismiss the case.

Also, it was once again re-iterated that Toyota could not argue the patent was invalid, since Toyota has already lost that case.

Toyota Loses in Appeal
Toyota loses to Paice
Toyota Sued Again by Paice
Paice vs Toyota summary

Source: BusinessWeek.

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Rotary, Battery Price and Possible Price Drop for the Chevy Volt

Photo from flickr
Inside Line has the latest and greatest info for those interested in the Chevy Volt.  First, they let us know GM is looking at replacing the ICE in the first generation Volt with a rotary engine.  Second, they say GM is hoping the price tag on the battery pack would drop in half (from $10,000 to $5,000) by the time the second generation Volt is ready.

And third, GM is contemplating launching the Volt at around $35,000 to compete with the Nissan Leaf price.  There's been some contemplation on how the Leaf's price would affect other electric vehicles, but this is the first I've seen that GM was looking at dropping their probably price from $40K down to $35K in response.

That's really good news for those who have 'range anxiety' but are still interested in full electric driving.  The Volt will travel about 40 miles on all electric power before having the small gas engine recharge the battery pack.  And you can plug it in to recharge the car overnight, getting the full 40 miles again tomorrow.

But at $35,000, GM is basically subsidizing the sale.  Add in the possible $7,500 credit from the federal government, plus any local credits and the Volt is suddenly costing just about what a Toyota Prius costs.  That could move the early adopters and Prius converts into GM's corner.

BTW, Inside Line says GM is contemplating the rotary engine because of its size.  The rotary is actually less fuel efficient, and produces more vibrations which would require more dampening, but GM may consider those a small price to pay.  Other options include diesel or a two-cylinder motor.

Any of the three make the Volt more of a one-of-a-kind proposition, rather than something they can use in other models.

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Honda Brings CR-Z to E3 Expo

I'm not sure I'm buying into the whole thing, but Honda thinks the upcoming CR-Z sport hybrid coupe is 'evocative of video games.' And so they're bringing the CR-Z along as a demonstration for the E3 Expo.

Press Release follows:

The all-new 2011 Honda CR-Z sport hybrid coupe will make its Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3 Expo) debut on June 15th. Evocative of video games, the two-passenger CR-Z introduces a number of interactive features including a new three-mode drive system that allows the driver to select between Sport, Econ (Economy) and Normal driving modes. The CR-Z will go on-sale later this summer.

In addition to the car display, a new game featuring CR-Z will be available for demonstration along with the opportunity to download exclusive content. Additional news regarding Honda’s activities at the E3 Expo will be announced closer to the show.

The CR-Z and a component-revealing cut-body of the vehicle will be on display the Honda booth located in the West Hall Lobby (booth F7).

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ford Adding to Hybrid Electric Production in Michigan

Ford will be creating a new 'center of excellence' in Michigan to assemble battery packs and electric-drive transaxles. The parts are being designed for the next generation of hybrids from Ford which will be based on Ford’s global C- and CD-car platforms. The next generation of hybrids is expected to begin production in 2012.

Ford will be investing $135 million in the new center. In a statement, Ford's president of the America's Mark Fields said "Electrified vehicles are a key part of our plan to offer a full lineup of green vehicles, and we are building a center of excellence in the U.S., here in Michigan, to keep Ford on the cutting edge."

The Rawsonville Plant in Ypsilanti will assemble the battery packs beginning in 2012 The Van Dyke Transmission Plant in Sterling Heights will build the H35 electric drive transaxles beginning in 2012 from a supplier facility in Japan. Ford is adding a combined 170 jobs at the Rawsonville and Van Dyke facilities to build these key components.

More from the statement on the Center of Excellence
Ford’s creation of a center of excellence for vehicle electrification in Michigan now includes the design and manufacture of electrified key components as well as total vehicle manufacturing for hybrids, plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles. Ford is adding more than 50 engineers to work on electrification as we bring these technologies in-house. By physically bringing research, engineering and manufacturing closer together, Ford, its suppliers, universities and related industries can drive both innovation and job growth in this evolving form of transportation.

Ford’s in-house team will design and engineer the advanced lithium-ion battery systems powering its next-generation hybrid vehicles. These battery systems will be designed specifically for the company’s next-generation hybrids, including the new global CD-car platform hybrid and the new global C-car platform hybrid, which will be built at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in 2012.

To launch the new transaxle, Ford will add engineering and production jobs in Southeast Michigan, including about 130 manufacturing jobs at its Van Dyke facility, while investing about $125 million. The investment includes a grant received from the Department of Energy to help create green technology jobs in the U.S. This investment includes manufacturing capital equipment, launch and engineering costs and supplier tooling upgrades, all required to support the production launch of the HF35 transaxle.

Ford's global electrification strategy includes plans to launch five new full electric or hybrid vehicles in the compact, midsize and light commercial segments for the North American market by 2012 and European markets by 2013. This lineup includes:

  • The Transit Connect Electric light commercial vehicle in North America later this year and in Europe in 2011
  • The Focus Electric in North America in 2011 and in Europe in 2012
  • A Lincoln MKZ hybrid, available this fall in North America
  • A next-generation hybrid electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle based on Ford's global C-car platform in North America in 2012
  • A C-MAX hybrid electric and plug-in hybrid electric model for Europe in 2013

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Lexus Recall for the LS

The latest recall from Lexus does involve the hybrid 2010 LS 600h and LS 600h l. A programming change of the steering control ecu for the variable gear ratio steering (vgrs) system can cause improper activation of the steering system protection logic designed to protect the system when larger than normal steering inputs are applied at a fully turned position.

An improper activation of the steering system protection logic can cause the steering wheel to become off-centered up to 90 degrees. this may occur after the driver has fully turned the steering wheel in one direction then quickly attempts to turn it back to the center position. should this occur while driving, the risk of a crash is increased.

This affects only vehicles manufactured from August 20, 2009 through May 13, 2010.

This recall also affects the 2009-2010 LS 460.

Toyota has stopped selling the LS for the next three weeks or so until they roll out the fix to their cars.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Maryland to Offer $2000 Incentive to Drivers Who Plug-in

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley went on a signing spree today. Some of the bills signed today include banning hand-held cell phone use while driving, maintaining a three-foot buffer while passing a bicyclist, mediation in a foreclosure in some cases, and a Heritage Tax Credit used toward the rehabilitation of older neighborhoods.

And while the governor was at it, a $2,000 excise motor vehicle tax credit for anyone who buys a plug-in or electric vehicle. (read the pdf here)

Added to the $7,500 tax credit from the federal government, and you can see why people are so excited about the $32K price tag for the Leaf. Volt enthusiasts might be excited, too, if we ever find out how much the E-REV (or plug-in hybrid) costs.

Added in to the bill is a privilege for HOV drivers. There are two HOV lanes along federal highways: one on I-270 in Montgomery County; and one on U.S. Route 50 in Prince George’s County. No matter how many people are in the car, plug-in and electric vehicles will be allowed into the HOV lanes starting October 1, 2010. You will need a special state permit.

The tax credit and HOV access are set to expire July 1, 2013.

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Toyota Auris Hybrid Price and Options

Toyota Auris Hybrid
Toyota has set the price for its Auris Hybrid at £18,950 for the base model, T4. The T Spirit model will cost £20,700.  That makes it a little more expensive the Honda Insight and a little bit less expensive than the Toyota Prius in the UK.

The Auris hybrid is the first hybrid to be built in the UK at the Derbyshire plant. The Auris hybrid mates the 1.8 liter engine to an electric motor for a total of 134 hp. It improves the Auris fuel efficiency by 19 percent and emits 17 percent less. The T4 is rated at 74.3 mpg with CO2 emissions of 89 g/km and the T Spirit models will average 70.6 mpg and 93 g/km. And it can go from 0-60 in 11.2 seconds for a top speed of 112 mph.

The Auris hybrid was shown at the Frankfurt Auto Show back in September. It's the first offering for what Toyota expects to be a full conversion of their line-up into hybrid options. Toyota hopes to capture the consumers who don't want to stand out as much from the crowd by buying a Prius. Instead, they want the fuel efficiency but without making a statement about it.

The T4 grade includes:
  • Climate control air conditioning
  • Six-speaker audio with CD, radio, MP3 file player
  • USB and Aux-in connection
  • Front and rear electric windows
  • Electric, heated door mirrors
  • Front fog lights
  • LED running lights
  • Colour-matched door handles and mirrors
  • Push-button start
  • Seven airbags, including driver’s knee airbag
  • Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control (TRC)
  • Hill-start Assist Control (HAC)
T Spirit grade adds:
  • Leather and Alcantara upholstery
  • Cruise control
  • Bluetooth
  • Dusk-sensing headlamps
  • Rain-sensing windscreen wipers
  • Smart Entry and Start
  • Auto-dimming electrochromatic rear view mirror
  • Rear view camera display in rear view mirror
You can add in an optional NAV package for £1,200 or Bluetooth for £285. The NAV package includes satellite navigation, rear camera and rear parking sensors.

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NHTSA Will Add Sound to Hybrids

Photo from flickr
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will begin writing legislation to set requirements "for an alert sound that allows blind and other pedestrians to reasonably detect a nearby electric or hybrid vehicle" within 18 months and must finalize the rules within three years (Source: Detroit News, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers).

The sound will be activated automatically and drivers will not be allowed to turn off the sound.  The NHTSA still has to decide how loud and what type of noise the cars need to make in order to alert blind or other pedestrians.  They also have to consider the overall community noise impact.

There has been recent study data indicating hybrids have a higher rate of pedestrian impacts, although there is some controversy over the results.

The legislation will impact hybrid cars and electric vehicles which can run 'silently' at low speeds.  The concern is for blind pedestrians who listen for oncoming cars and will not realize a car running on electricity is there.  Two major auto manufacturing groups, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, sent a letter supporting the move by the legislation.

"Good policy is a collaborative effort, and this is a good approach for pedestrians and automakers," said Alliance President and CEO Dave McCurdy in a statement. "This encourages an innovative solution."

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Calcars Lists 20 Companies Making Plug-ins

The Companies Who are Making Plug-in Vehicles - Calcars
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the reason you keep hearing about plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) lately is because everyone is doing it.  Calcars put together a list of 20 car makers who are working on their plug-in hybrid technology, and the list just keeps on getting longer.

I love the image they put together (I hope they don't mind my posting it here with attribution to them!).  It really brings home how cars are moving towards electrification.

By merging the best of gas engines and electric cars (in other words, getting rid of range anxiety from electric cars while reducing gasoline usage), car makers are betting that PHEV technology will bring more consumers to the table than all electric vehicles will.  And with more stringent laws about emissions coming, car makers have to increase their fuel efficiency now.

Some car makers are more serious about their efforts than others, with Fisker basing their whole business model on electric options, GM building the Volt, Toyota plugging in the Prius and so on.  Others are just talking about it or building concepts that may or may not become production models.

The good news for you is, the more car makers who opt in, the more choices you have.  The better news is, with more companies working on and building cars with bigger batteries, the sooner the cost on those batteries will come down.

The Nissan Leaf, an electric vehicle with 100 miles range, is going to sell at for over $32,000 here in the US.  And at that price, Nissan is talking about taking a loss.  Over half of that price tag comes from the battery pack alone. The Chevy Volt, with 40 miles of all electric range, plus several hundred more miles of range using the gas engine, is predicted to cost $40,000.  Those price tags put the electric and plug-in electric cars out of the range of most buyers, even with the tax credits from the federal government (up to $7,500).

But with more companies jumping in, the more quickly the prices on the batteries and the technology will drop.  

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Nissan Looks for Leaf to Become Profitable in Three Years

Brian Carolin, Nissan's US sales and marketing chief, predicts the Nissan Leaf will be profitable... eventually. With the battery pack costs at $18,000, it's just about impossible to make money off the car.

“Over the course of the vehicle life, it is profitable—in year three,” he said (WSJ).
But in 2012, when Nissan starts producing the Leaf in the US at the Smyrna plant in Tennessee, Nissan hopes the economies of scale will have kicked in. The Smyrna plant has the capacity to build 150,000 cars a year.

As it is, only about 20,000 cars will be sent to the US each year for the next two years. Since the Leaf already has 9,000 pre-orders and hopes to have 25,000 by the time it launches, anyone who doesn't pre-order will most likely have to wait for that plant to open up before they can get one.

Keep in mind that the pre-orders that have been made were done so without any advertising and were in a closed system. Now that Nissan has opened up to the public, Nissan is very likely to surpass that 25,000 mark easily.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Nissan Opens Up Leaf Reservations to the Public

Nissan Leaf Reservations Open to Public
Nissan is opening up reservations for the Leaf to the public. After taking 9,500 reservations from consumers who had previously shown an interest in the compact electric vehicle, Nissan is hoping for another 15,000 pre-orders (according to reports).

The Nissan Leaf will be available starting in December, but only in select areas. Full market rollouts won't occur until 2012. Anyone with reservations will be sequenced in order for their particular market.

The Nissan Leaf price was surprisingly low, and can be made a lot lower if you live in certain states (Nissan details some of the possibilities in their statement, see below).

To make a reservation, follow the guidelines:
  • Through the Nissan LEAF website via, the customer will create an account, configure his or her vehicle, and answer questions to complete a driving profile.
  • Consumers will be asked to pay a fully refundable $99 reservation fee by credit card.
  • After placing a reservation, a customer will be able to indicate a preferred dealer.
  • Consumers who reserve a Nissan LEAF will receive confirmation numbers. Nissan will provide individual updates for their reservations by June 30.
  • Reservations are limited to one per household.
  • Consumer inquiries about the reservation process can be answered at the Nissan LEAF call center, 1-877-664-2738.
Including the maximum $7,500 federal tax credit for which the Nissan LEAF will be fully eligible, the consumer's after-tax net value of the vehicle could be as low as $25,280. The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price *(MSRP) for the 2011 all-electric, zero-emission Nissan LEAF is $32,780. Additionally, there is an array of state and local incentives that may further defray the costs, and increase the benefits, for owning and charging a Nissan LEAF. For example, a $5,000 clean-vehicle rebate is offered in California; a $5,000 tax credit in Georgia; a $1,500 tax credit in Oregon; and carpool-lane access in some states, including California. The lease price for the Nissan LEAF begins at $349 per month.

*MSRP excludes applicable tax, title and license fees. Dealer sets actual price. Prices and specs are subject to change without notice.

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Darker Side of CT 200h

Dark Ride Campaign
Lexus is ramping up their marketing campaign before they launch the new CT 200h (more details on the new Lexus hybrid) in 2011. As part of the campaign, viewers can take charge as Norman 'Tony' Reedus drives across the Nevada desert.


Get more details from the press release below:

TORRANCE, Calif., May 14 /PRNewswire/ -- "Get in, buckle up and start talking." Lexus customers will be calling the shots in a high-definition interactive film entitled "Dark Ride." The film features Lexus' newest hybrid, the CT 200h premium compact car, piloted by actor Norman Reedus (Boondock Saints franchise). Reedus is behind the wheel in this 12:30 action film, but he is following the directions of the person riding shotgun...the consumer.

"With 'Dark Ride' we are creating a unique virtual test drive opportunity so consumers can experience this hybrid, that is like no other, months before it is available at dealerships in early 2011," said Dave Nordstrom, Lexus vice president of marketing. "In it, consumers play a co-starring role as the fun-to-drive Lexus CT 200h is put through its paces. By guiding the driver and the CT through a series of adventures, customers will be exposed to 'The Darker Side of Green,' which is completely different than the way hybrids are usually portrayed."

The film releases online at today along with the trailer for the film, which will appear in select movie theaters across the country. Visitors to the site will get to insert themselves into the film, sitting beside "Tony" (Reedus), and navigating while he drives the CT 200h from the Nevada desert to a Los Angeles safehouse and protects it from a variety of enemies who wish to get their hands on the new prototype.

Consumers will use an array of interactive features in the film — allowing them to insert their own likeness (via a Webcam or profile pic), record their own dialogue lines, control the camera movement and POV, and make decisions that alter the path of the film so new situations arise each time.

The "Dark Ride" film is the next step in the launch of the Lexus CT 200h and demonstrates Lexus' marketing theme, "The Darker Side of Green." This theme, which shines a different light on this new breed of a fun-to-drive hybrid, debuted at a star-studded event prior to the CT 200h's North American debut at the New York International Auto Show in April. This initiative will continue through the launch period with in-market custom events and a VIP marketing program that will give tech-savvy influencers access to an edited "Dark Ride" list of restaurants, clubs, bars and lifestyle brands. Brand partners include Duncan Quinn bespoke suits, VeeV Acai Spirit, The James Hotel and Grand Hospitality for The Soho and Tribeca Grand Hotels.


The all-new CT 200h premium compact hybrid will go on sale in the U.S. in early 2011 as the first dedicated hybrid vehicle in the premium compact segment. Expected to lead its class in fuel economy, the stylish, sporty five-door also delivers a dynamic, fun-to-drive experience. The CT is powered by a 1.8L Atkinson cycle four-cylinder gas engine with Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) and Lexus Hybrid Drive technology. The CT will be equipped with four drive-modes: Normal, Eco, Sport and EV.

With its reputation for high-quality products and exemplary customer service from its 228 dealers, Lexus has been the top-selling luxury automaker in the U.S. for ten years in a row. In addition, Lexus is the luxury hybrid leader, now offering four hybrids, with a fifth on the way, that provide the best in innovative technology and first-class luxury. When Lexus was established in 1989, it offered two models of vehicles. Now, more than 20 years later, Lexus offers variations of 11 vehicles, from the entry-level IS 250 to its first V10 supercar, the LFA.

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Hawaii Rebates for Plug-in Hybrid and Electric Vehicles

Hawaii will receive $4.25 million in stimulus money to help develop the plug-in hybrid car market in the island state. Rebates of $4,500 will be made available to those who purchase an electric or plug-in hybrid starting on August 1st. The program ends March 30, 2012.

That's in addition to the up to $7,500 available nation-wide. In addition, another $500 will be offered to those who purchase a charger for their new vehicle.

This is good news for those who were excited to learn Hawaii had been added to the short list of the initial states the Nissan Leaf would be available in. Also, the Chevy Volt launch date is rapidly approaching.

Another $3.25 million will be allocated for the installation and deployment of charging stations.

Rebate forms and grant applications will be available on the state's energy website and is given on a first-come first-served basis.

Source: KITV

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Infiniti G37 May be Hybrid Essence

Motor Trend is reporting a source inside Nissan may take the Essence concept vehicle and use it as the basis for the new G37 due out in 2012.

The G coupe may also get a hybrid powertrain option, inherited from the M35 that develops around 360 total horsepower. At the same time, another source is claiming the partnership with Daimler may lead to a hybrid diesel, which would likely go on sale outside of the US.

I'll file this under rumors for now.

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Suzuki Swift Plug-in Hybrid

Suzuki Swift Plug-in Hybrid
Suzuki is testing 60 Swift plug-in hybrids in Japan this autumn. The Swift plug-in was first seen at the the Tokyo Motor show in October. The small K-car may not have the range of the Volt, but the price should make it an attractive option if it gets to production.

The hybrid engine combines a 600cc ICE with an electric motor.  The car runs off the battery pack exclusively (like the Chevy Volt), while the gas engine is used to recharge the battery pack after it runs low. The battery pack runs down the center center of the car and the electric motor can produce 55kW, while the gas engine can produce 40 kW.

The plug-in hybrid (really, it's an Extended Range Electric Vehicle or E-REV) can run 9 miles (15 km) on a fully charged battery (I've seen some reports saying 12 miles or 20 km).  After that, it relies on the gas engine to recharge the battery pack.  Sanyo announced they will be providing the lithium-ion battery pack for the Swift.

Compared to the Chevy Volt, that's a low range (the Volt is expected to run 40 miles on a full charge before it needs the gas engine to kick in).  But for a mini city based car, 9 miles may be enough.  It should also keep the costs way down, as the lithium-ion battery pack may end up being the most expensive part in the car.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hawaii One of the First to See the Nissan Leaf

Nissan has decided to start selling the Leaf, an all electric vehicle in Hawaii, as part of their initial launch in the U.S. beginning in early 2011. Nissan and Hawaii have been working towards a partnership to promote the development of an electric vehicle network. As part of the collaboration, Nissan has committed to make the highly anticipated all-electric Nissan LEAF available to Hawaii consumers.

"We appreciate Nissan's recognition of Hawaii as a global model for electric vehicles and a leader in clean energy," said Governor Linda Lingle. "The introduction of the Nissan LEAF electric vehicle will build on Hawaii's progress to end our state's over-reliance on imported fossil fuels and increase our energy security."

"Nissan is looking forward to bringing the all-electric Nissan LEAF to the people of Hawaii," said Brian Carolin, senior vice president, sales and marketing, Nissan North America. "Through its work in fostering zero-emissions mobility throughout the state, Hawaii is demonstrating that it is EV-ready. These efforts, along with strong consumer interest, led us to name Hawaii as an early launch market for the Nissan LEAF."

"In response to strong consumer demand and our commitment to electric vehicle networks, we are pleased that Hawaii was selected as one of the first launch states," said Theodore Liu, Director, State Dept. of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. "As part of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative's goal of moving towards 70 percent clean energy by 2030, we believe that the introduction and expansion of electric vehicles will give consumers more choices and reduce our state's overdependence on fossil fuels."

At $3.50 per gallon, a car that gets 25 miles per gallon has a fuel cost of 14 cents per mile.
At $0.23 per kilowatt-hour, the Nissan LEAF has a fuel cost of 5 cents per mile.

"I'm looking forward to these vehicles being available," said Ted Peck, Energy Program Administrator, Hawaii State Energy Office. "We've been transforming our buildings to be cleaner, more efficient, and renewable. Now we can transform our cars. This is good for consumers and good for our environment."

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Ford Hybrids in Europe by 2013

Ford and the Spanish government say it may cost $36 million to develop, but the end result will be a hybrid electric vehicle for Europe by 2013. The C-Max compact minivan will begin selling in Europe late in 2010, but the hybrid version is three years away.

Ford says the C-Max hybrid will be built at the Valencia Plant in Spain. Ford will spend almost $410 million to develop the C-Max vehicle line-up, including a seven seater to be exported to the US next year.

"These new advanced technology models are key to Ford's commitment to delivering a portfolio of alternative powertrain vehicles globally and to European customers in the next few years," Ford of Europe CEO John Fleming said in the statement.

Overseas, Ford will have five battery-electric or hybrid-electric vehicles ready for the European public by 2013. The company next year will start selling a battery-electric version of its Transit Connect van in Europe, while a Ford Focus EV will debut in Europe the following year. Ford will also introduce an additional hybrid-electric model in Europe by 2013, but hasn't disclosed details.

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Toyota Continues to Work on Recalls

To date, Toyota has performed more than three million remedies on their three recent recalls:

  • 1.6 million to address the potential for sticking accelerator pedals,
  • 1.5 million to address the potential for floor mat pedal entrapment, and
  • 115,000 program updates to the anti-lock brake systems (ABS) in certain 2010 Prius and Lexus models.

More than 732,000 vehicles have received the modification to the pedals and floor mats. That brings the total number of serviced vehicles to about 2.4 million. That means they've coverd about 70 percent of the recalled vehicles at a rate of 120,000 remedies per week.

“Toyota and Lexus dealers continue to make significant progress in servicing customers’ recalled vehicles as quickly and conveniently as possible, and we appreciate their extraordinary efforts,” said Steve St. Angelo in a press release, Toyota Chief Quality Officer for North America. “Over the past three months, Toyota has delivered on its commitment to listen to the voices of customers more intently and respond more swiftly and effectively to their needs. Above all, we want to thank our customers for their patience as we implement the recall remedies, and we won’t let them down.”

Approximately 27 percent of the floor mat entrapment modifications have been completed on the 5.4 million vehicles that were recalled for this issue, and more than 75 percent of the ABS program updates have been performed on the 147,500 Prius and Lexus models that were recalled.

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Lexus HS 250h is Under Target

Sales of the HS 250h, the first dedicated luxury hybrid from Lexus, is well below what Toyota had targeted (source: Ward). Initially, Lexus thought they could sell 25,000-30,000 HS annually. But after the rush of sales in Japan, Lexus started keeping more units in Japan, rather than shipping them to the US.  Lexus subsequently downgraded their target to 20,000-22,000 units annually.

"Right now, there’s so much demand for that product in Japan…maybe 20,000-22,000 might be more realistic," Mark Templin, Lexus Div. group vice president and general manager-Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc., told Ward’s in November.
But now the feeling is that target may have been a stretch.
"I think we underestimated the power of the Prius brand," he says, referring to the Toyota brand’s purpose-built hybrid. "And we overestimated what the market would look like based on gas prices. But if we can do over 1,000 units a month, 1,000-1,500 units a month, we feel really good about what we’re doing in the marketplace."
Since August, when the HS 250h first went on sale, Lexus has sold just over 11,000 units. So far in 2010, they are on target to sell under 14,000 units.

The HS 250h has been affected by more than just the Prius. The Toyota recalls have affected Lexus sales, and the soft market in auto sales has been lingering.

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Volkswagen Thinking in All Electric Terms by 2013

Last time Volkswagen updated their sustainability plans, their plan was to build a hybrid Golf and Passat after starting with a Jetta in 2012. All three models are exciting options for those interested in hybrid technology.

But it seems that VW is now upping their game. In their latest sustainable driving plan, VW is expanding on the possibilities. VW will be selling an electric Golf and Jetta soon after the electric Up! comes in 2013.

According to Car and Driver, Volkswagen will have a fleet of 500 electric Golfs for testing.

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