Friday, July 30, 2010

GM Increases Production of Volt in 2012

A pre-production Chevy Volt nears the end of the line
GM has decided to increase production from 30,000 to 45,000 on the Volt in its second year (2012). GM just opened up pre-orders a few days ago on the Chevy Volt. If they decided to up production by 15,000 units, to me, that means they are having very strong pre-sales.

At $41,000, you would think the Volt was not going to be a high production vehicle. But at 45,000 units a year, you can't label the Chevy Volt as 'green washing' either.

Expect a nice trickle down effect on suppliers, too.

Press Release follows:

DETROIT, Mich. – General Motors today said that thanks to strong public interest in the Chevrolet Volt, the 340-mile extended range electric vehicle, it will increase U.S. production capacity of the groundbreaking new car by 50 percent, from 30,000 units to 45,000 units, in 2012.

The announcement came as U.S. President Barack Obama toured the Detroit-Hamtramck facility, where the Volt is being produced now for sale later this year.

“The Chevrolet Volt provides drivers with the latest technology, outstanding innovation, and something no other electric vehicle can provide – peace of mind,” said Edward E. Whitacre, Jr., GM Chairman and CEO. “We are very proud to host the President of the United States at this plant, where the future of the American automobile industry is being built today by the men and women of General Motors.”

The expanded U.S. production capacity is the latest in a series of positive developments for the Chevrolet Volt. This week, participating Chevrolet dealers in launch markets began taking customer orders for the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, following the release of retail and lease pricing. The brand also recently announced unprecedented battery and vehicle limited warranties to bring value and peace of mind to Volt customers. And the number of U.S. launch markets for the vehicle recently was raised from three to seven. In the past few weeks, more than 25,000 people have joined the Chevrolet Volt enthusiast list.

The Volt offers a total driving range of about 340 miles and is powered by electricity at all times. For up to the first 40 miles, the vehicle drives gas- and tailpipe-emissions-free using electricity stored in its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery. When the Volt’s battery runs low, a gas-powered, engine/generator seamlessly operates to extend the driving range another 300 miles on a full tank.

The Detroit-Hamtramck plant received $336 million in new investment to prepare for production of the Volt, part of more than $700 million GM has invested in eight Michigan facilities to support Volt production since 2008. This includes a 33,000 square-foot battery systems lab in Warren; a battery assembly facility in Brownstown Township; and supporting engine and stamping operations in Grand Blanc, Bay City, and three plants in Flint.

Besides direct GM jobs, the Volt has helped spur additional supplier employment and investment. Earlier this month, battery cell supplier LG Chem/Compact Power Inc. broke ground on a $300 million, 650,000 square-foot plant in Holland, Mich., to support Volt production, creating 400 jobs. In addition, the Volt helped start an electrification trend. Since its debut in January 2007, other automakers have announced 30 plug-in hybrid or electric vehicles.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New York City Loses Bid to Force Hybrid Taxi... Again

New York City has lost again in its battle to create a hybrid taxi fleet in New York City. Cab owners have been fighting the city for years, claiming the city was attempting to mandate fuel economy and emissions, which only the federal government can do.

Cab owners aren't really worried about federal lawgivers rights, however. They just don't want to spend more money on purchasing the vehicles. Cab drivers love driving hybrids, since they save so much money on gas over the Ford Victoria.

The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected the city's appeal. The next step, if the city wishes to pursue it, would be the Supreme Court.

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But Do You Want Them to Pick You Up?

Enterprise Rent-A-Car will be offering 500 Nissan Leafs for rent starting January 2011. The Nissan Leaf, an all electric vehicle (EV), has a range of about 100 miles (depends on your driving conditions). It can be recharged in a standard 110-volt home outlet. Although you do have the option of speeding things up if you have a 220-volt or even a 480-volt outlet available.

Enterprise is offering the EV in eight different markets; Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; Knoxville and Nashville, Tenn.; San Diego; Los Angeles; Portland, Ore.; and Seattle. The cars will only be available in limited number of branches, assuring they can train their workers on how to show customers how to recharge.

Beginning in November, Enterprise locations will be installing charging stations at 100 locations.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

2011 Chevy Volt Price

2011 Chevy Volt, $41K for an E-REV
All the speculation is over as the Chevy Volt price has finally been revealed. And at $41,000, the E-REV from GM is not going to be a car for everyone.

The price is not surprising, but it is a bit disappointing. I was hoping that with the lower than expected price tag on the Nissan Leaf, GM would be forced to bring it down to at least the mid $35,000 range. Keeping it under forty thousand would have been something.

But, you could also point out that GM is pricing the Volt closer to what it truly costs them to build (at least for now). With an all new battery type, engine type, production plants, etc... the Volt has been an expensive car to build. It's likely that GM will lose money on the Volt for years, something a company just out of bankruptcy and government loans needs to be careful about.

The Nissan Leaf lease is almost identical to the Chevy Volt lease. By matching the Leaf lease, GM is hoping to compete with Nissan. The lease terms are supposed to entice customers who are reluctant to buy into an unknown type of car.  The $7,500 federal tax credit is applied to the cost of the car when you lease, which is why the price is set so much lower.  If you buy the car outright, you have to get the tax credit yourself, if you qualify.

The Nissan Leaf qualifies for the $5,000 tax credit in California for being a PZEV, but the Volt does not.

Others reacting to the price announcement:
Detroit News
Edmunds Blog Green Car Advisor
Autoblog Green
Hybrid Car Blog
Clean MPG Forums (Price, Lease)
GM Fastlane

Still interested?  Head to to place your order. The website will let you see where you are on the waiting list. GM will build 10,000 Volts in the first year, 30,000 the next. Then we'll see where the demand is and whether they'll expand on the production.

GM has created a website,, which will let customers start placing orders today with dealers in launch markets.

Interestingly, GM is already pushing back on the comparison to the Volt.  With only 100 mile range, the Leaf may be a bad comparator, but would they rather the comparison be with the Prius?  At almost half the price, would that be good for them?

Read more about the Volt, the lease terms, and how to order:

SAN JOSE, CA – Starting today, participating Chevrolet dealers in launch markets will begin taking customer orders for the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, the industry’s first electric vehicle with extended-range capability.

Chevrolet is so confident in the overall value of the Volt that the brand will offer a lease program on the Volt with a monthly payment as low as $350 for 36 months at Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price with $2,500 due at lease signing, including security deposit based on current conditions, which could vary at time of delivery. The benefit of the $7,500 tax credit is included in the reduced lease payment, with the tax credit going to the lessor. The Volt’s MSRP will start at $41,000 ($33,500 net of the full federal tax credit, which ranges from $0-$7,500) including a destination freight charge of $720. Customer deliveries of the Chevrolet Volt are scheduled to begin in launch markets late this year with initial production limited.

“The Chevrolet Volt will be the best vehicle in its class…because it’s in a class by itself,” said Joel Ewanick, vice president of U.S. marketing for General Motors, who made the announcement at the Plug-In 2010 conference. “No other automaker offers an electrically driven vehicle that can be your everyday driver, to take you wherever, whenever. The Volt will be packed with premium content and innovation, standard.”

The Volt will be initially available to Chevrolet customers in California, New York, Michigan, Connecticut, Texas, New Jersey and the Washington D.C. area. To be among the first to purchase a Volt, customers can visit their nearest participating Chevrolet Volt dealer. A Volt dealer locator will be available later today at The dealer will begin the order process, which will be followed up by contact from a dedicated Volt advisor who will be available to answer any questions and keep the customer apprised of the progress of their order. For customers needing general Volt information, Chevrolet will have a team of Volt advisors available to answer questions starting today at 1-888-VOLT-4-YOU (1-888-865-8496).

The Chevrolet Volt is the only electric vehicle that can operate under a range of weather climates and driving conditions with little concern of being stranded by a depleted battery. Volt has a total driving range of about 340 miles and is powered by electricity at all times. For up to the first 40 miles, the Volt drives gas- and tailpipe-emissions-free using electricity stored in its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery. When the Volt’s battery runs low, a gas powered range-extending engine/generator seamlessly operates to extend the driving range another 300 miles on a full tank.

Depending on their tax situation, Volt owners can qualify for up to $7,500 in U.S. Federal income tax credit, as well as other potential state and local tax credits, depending on location. Owners in certain states may qualify for the added convenience of High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane access.

While the Chevrolet Volt will come standard with a 120-volt charge cord that will provide owners with the ability to charge their Volt directly from a standard home electrical outlet, a total of 4,400 Volt buyers in launch markets could be eligible for a free 240-volt charging station, including home installation. The installations are part of a program developed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to install approximately 15,000 240-volt home charging stations across the U.S.

Technologies Keep Volt Customers Connected

When it comes to advanced technology, Volt customers are on the leading edge. The 2011 Chevrolet Volt has standard technology features that link and entertain in innovative ways, starting with standard seven-inch touch screen navigation and an energy-efficient Bose premium audio system.

The Volt is the first GM vehicle to offer five years of OnStar Directions and Connections service, which includes Automatic Crash Response, stolen vehicle assistance and connected navigation, all standard. Volt will expand on OnStar’s foundation of leading-edge safety and security technology through the introduction of an OnStar-enabled mobile app that connects the vehicle to the owner’s smartphone.

“We wanted to make the Volt ownership experience unlike anything we’ve done at Chevrolet, because the Volt is unlike any vehicle we’ve offered,” said Tony DiSalle, director of Chevrolet Volt product marketing. “We want customers to fully enjoy the Volt lifestyle by providing unprecedented connectivity to their vehicle through the Volt mobile app.”

Unprecedented Warranties Bring Value and Peace of Mind

Volt owners will be provided outstanding battery and vehicle limited warranties. The Volt’s 16-kWh lithium-ion battery is covered by an industry-leading transferable warranty of eight years or 100,000 miles. In addition, Chevrolet will provide:

3-year / 36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper coverage
5-year / 100,000-mile roadside assistance and courtesy transportation
5-year/100,000-mile limited gas engine coverage
6-year/100,000-mile corrosion protection coverage
The Volt also has an array of standard safety features, including eight air bags -- dual-stage frontal, side-impact, knee, and roof-rail side-impact - and StabiliTrak electronic stability control with Traction Control. The Volt is constructed of 80 percent high-strength steel for additional safety and protection.

Chevrolet will also provide customer assistance via a Volt advisor available 24/7 by phone or Internet. Dealers will also provide on-site dedicated Volt service and sales experts who will be able to address inquiries.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Volt Pricing to be Set on Tuesday... Will the Volt Flop Before it is Produced?

We'll finally have a clue as to whether or not the Chevy Volt; often cited, advertised, overexposed, etc....; will succeed or not. The MSRP will be announced Tuesday at 12 PM ET on July 27. Ever since the Volt was a prototype, this has been the biggest question on everyone's mind. It's all well and good to make a prototype that gets great reviews. It's even better when a plug-in hybrid is designed as a production vehicle. Even in bankruptcy, GM has promised the Volt for the fall of 2010 and has kept to that timetable. It's been pretty remarkable.

And along the way, GM has garnered praise for its forward thinking and the progress it is making to move the US away from its oil dependence. But all that could backfire on Tuesday if GM announces a price and everyone realizes this car was made only for millionaires and will be a fringe luxury car. Green-washing will be the claim and it will stick.

What is the Volt?
If you don't know it (and what rock have you been hiding under?), the Chevy Volt is GMs upcoming Extended Range Electric Vehicle (E-REV). GM promises the Volt will travel 40 miles on all electric power, but the small gas engine will 'extend' the range for another 300 miles. Your mileage will vary depending on driving conditions, but that's the basic idea.

After you get home, you can plug the car back in and fully recharge the battery pack, giving you another 40 miles of all electric drive.

The Competition Already Exists
The Volt may be the first production plug-in hybrid vehicle to hit the road to truly make an impact. Others exist, either in post-production re-work or in smaller companies making a few hundred a year. But the Volt will the first plug-in from one of the major auto maker who's willing to make tens of thousands a year.

So it's easy to see why the price tag for the Volt can be seen as the comparison point for all upcoming plug-ins. But it already has some competition. Since plug-in hybrid electric cars can be thought of as the midway point between all electric and hybrid electric vehicles (EV and HEV), GM has to keep the price lower in order to compete with the people who are already buying a Toyota Prius (mid $20-30,000) and the electric Nissan Leaf. I'm sure it won't exceed $40,000, not when the all electric Nissan Leaf was set at $32,780. With federal and state tax breaks, you can buy an all electric car for about $20K.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Shocking Price Tag for Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid
I admit it, I'm shocked to see this. Ford has opted to price the hybrid MKZ at the same price as its gas-only version.  At $35,180, including destination and delivery, this is still not a cheap car.  But hybrid cars have always come with an increased price tag.

In case you're wondering (and I was) the gas-only version is a V6.  So, if you were going to buy the V-6, why wouldn't you opt for the hybrid version?  You're fuel economy will go from 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway to 41 mpg city and 36 on the highway.

The other hybrid in that price range is the Lexus HS 250h, which gets 35/34 mpg. And it will cost about $250 less.

This will certainly help the MKZ Hybrid gain some notice in a field (luxury hybrid sedans) that is already getting crowded and is about to see some more competitors. Nissan will be releasing the Infiniti Hybrid, along with competition from the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf. The Leaf and Chevy may not be considered luxury, but will certainly draw off possible buyers given the price range and who may be interested in buying a hybrid model.

More about the MKZ Hybrid can be found in the PR below:

Lincoln’s new MKZ Hybrid – the most fuel-efficient luxury car in America – will be a standout in the marketplace for another unique distinction when it goes on sale this fall: It will be priced the same as its conventional gas sibling.

“Lincoln is about delivering luxury standard,” said John Felice, general manager, Ford and Lincoln Marketing. “Whether it’s our new MKX with standard MyLincoln Touch™ technology or the no-cost choice of a gas or hybrid powertrain with the Lincoln MKZ, we want to give customers premium amenities with unexpected value.”

When the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid goes on sale this fall, it will have an MSRP starting at $35,180, including destination and delivery. The pricing is identical to the 2011 Lincoln MKZ gas model and below the 2010 Lexus HS 250h, the MKZ Hybrid’s nearest competitor.

Lincoln is the first automaker to offer luxury customers a premium hybrid vehicle with an MSRP that matches its conventional gas sibling.

The decision to offer the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid and gas models at the same price point is another example of the Lincoln brand’s philosophy of bringing luxury standard to customers. From standout product design, and class-leading technology and powertrains that deliver top performance and fuel efficiency, Lincoln is changing the game in the luxury market.

2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid redefines future of American luxury
The new 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is a game-changing vehicle that offers modern car buyers all the indulgence of a premium midsize sedan and all the environmental benefits of a hybrid vehicle at an amazing price.

Building on Ford’s reputation as a world leader in electrified technology, the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid uses the company’s second-generation hybrid technology – the 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle
I-4 hybrid engine – named one of Ward’s 2010 “10 Best Engines.” The system combines the best attributes of the gasoline engine and electric battery-driven motors to deliver optimal performance and fuel economy.

The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid delivers a 41 mpg fuel economy rating in the city, topping its only near competitor – the 2010 Lexus HS 250h – by 6 mpg. It also trumps the Lexus with more passenger space, more standard luxury and segment-exclusive safety features.

The following features come standard on the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. They are either not offered at all on the Lexus HS 250h, or are available at an extra cost:

  • SmartGauge™ with EcoGuide – Ford’s highly successful interactive technology provides real-time information to help drivers maximize fuel efficiency, and coaches drivers on how to optimize hybrid performance. Lincoln takes SmartGauge to the next level of engagement by giving drivers enhanced positive feedback on long-term fuel efficiency and driving performance through the “growth” of virtual small flowers on the system’s right-most screen. Lincoln’s white flowers, inspired by apple blossoms, remain permanently unless long-term fuel economy is reset.
  • Genuine wood trim – In addition to their exquisite appearance, the Swirl Walnut and Olive Ash wood trims offered in the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid are eco-friendly as well. The veneers come from well-managed forests, as defined by strict environmental, social and economic standards, and from other rigorously controlled sources.
  • Bridge of Weir leather-trimmed seats – The world-renowned luxury leather from Scotland is unembossed, allowing the natural beauty and character of the grain to shine through. The leather is milled for up to 12 hours to ensure a buttery, soft hand, and Bridge of Weir uses a chromium-free tanning process, which makes it easier to recycle.
  • Lincoln SYNC® – The Lincoln-exclusive voice-activated communications and entertainment system provides an omnipresent link to contacts and information. In addition to Bluetooth® phone, audible text and MP3 player capabilities, Lincoln customers also can access Vehicle Health Report and 911 Assist™.
  • 10-way power passenger seat – The seat is designed to accommodate a diverse group of passengers. Memory functions enable passengers to fine-tune and recall positions.
  • Power driver memory seat settings – The driver seat memory feature helps ensure personal seating preferences anytime, with the touch of a button.
  • Heated and cooled front seats – This uniquely engineered system delivers exceptional heating and cooling comfort.
  • Reverse sensing system – This system senses what drivers might not see behind them and relays an audible alert if objects are near, which increases in frequency the closer a driver gets.
  • Keyless entry keypad – This Lincoln-exclusive feature provides secure entry at a driver’s fingertips. A personal combination holds a memory for driver preferences. So if an owner is out for a run and doesn’t want to take the keys along, the vehicle can be opened with the touch of a few buttons.
  • Easy Fuel® (capless fuel filler) – This Lincoln-exclusive feature uses an integrated spring-loaded flapper door to eliminate the need for a fuel tank screw cap. That means no more fumbling to remove and tighten the cap and less fuel odor on a driver’s hands.
  • Personal Safety System™ – This Lincoln-exclusive suite of seven protection technologies work together as a system to help protect vehicle occupants. The system includes dual-stage front airbags and an occupant classification system to sense whether the passenger seat is occupied. It tailors – or suppresses – airbag deployment to help provide an appropriate level of protection. It also features the Ford Belt-Minder® system to remind front seat occupants to buckle up.
  • MyKey™ – This Lincoln-exclusive feature allows parents to program a key to limit speed and audio volume to encourage teens to drive safer and improve fuel efficiency. It also encourages seat belt use, provides earlier low-fuel warnings, and can be programmed to sound chimes at 45, 55 and 65 mph.
  • Integrated spotter mirrors – The traditional sideview mirrors are designed with a secondary convex spotter mirror in the top outer corner, which provides a view of the driver’s blind spot. When traffic enters the driver’s blind spot on either side of the vehicle, it is visible in the secondary convex mirror, alerting the driver of obstacles.
  • Acoustic laminated windshield – This windshield features a layer of sound-absorbent vinyl sandwiched between two sheets of glass, which enhances interior quietness.

“Customers are very enthusiastic about the MKZ Hybrid and we think they will be even more excited to learn they sacrifice nothing to be able to go green in style,” said Felice. “We’re launching a world-class hybrid that beats all competitors, and at an introductory price that is sure to draw the interest of new customers to Lincoln.”

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Honda Gets Aggressive With Hybrids

Honda CEO Takanobu Ito has decided it will be more aggressive in the hybrid playing field.  Probably because Toyota has dominated in Japan with their new Prius sales (becoming the number one car sold in Japan), Honda has decided they need to be more aggressive in creating hybrid cars.  Ito laid out Honda's strategy in an address in Tokyo.

Honda will introduce new advanced environmental technology vehicles, including a battery-electric vehicle and a new plug-in hybrid vehicle, to the U.S. market in 2012, the company announced today in the mid-year address by Honda Motor Co., Ltd., President and CEO Takanobu Ito, in Tokyo, Japan. Ito also announced application of a lithium-ion battery in the next-generation Civic Hybrid in 2011.
The announcement outlined Honda's commitment to developing advanced environmental technologies for application across all of Honda's global operations. Highlights specifically related to the U.S. market include:
  • By the end of 2010 and continuing through 2011, Honda will roll out a battery-electric vehicle demonstration program in the U.S. with participants, including: Stanford University, Google Inc. and the City of Torrance, Calif.
  • The City of Torrance will receive a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle for evaluation by the end of 2010.
  • A battery-electric commuter vehicle will be introduced in the U.S. market in 2012.
  • A new plug-in hybrid system for mid-size to larger vehicles will be introduced in the U.S. market in 2012.
  • Honda's first hybrid application of a lithium-ion battery will debut in the next- generation Civic Hybrid to be introduced in 2011. The lithium-ion battery was developed through the Honda and GS Yuasa joint-venture company, Blue Energy Co., Ltd.
All of this and the Civic will go completely hybrid in Japan. The biggest news is the switch to lithium-ion battery packs in the next generation of hybrids. Any automaker will quickly fall behind if they don't start switching over.

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Toyota Settles Lawsuit with Paice

Toyota has finally settled the lawsuit made by Paice LLC, which had a patent infringement case going for six years. The agreement was announced just before the hearing was set to begin in front of the US International Trade Commission.

The agreement says that "Toyota invented, designed and developed the Prius and Toyota's hybrid technology independent of any inventions of Dr. Severinsky and Paice as part of Toyota's long history of innovation."

But according to the news article, Toyota has agreed to license all 23 of Paice's patents.

Toyota had already lost the case, and could not argue in court they weren't impinging on the patent. So, a settlement on their part is no real surprise.

“After six years of litigation, we are pleased to reach a settlement with Toyota,” said Frances Keenan, chairman of the Paice board of directors in a statement. “Toyota has been a leader in the hybrid industry – selling more hybrid vehicles than anyone in the world – and we appreciate and applaud their achievements.”

Paice has already settled with Ford, but that lawsuit was less visible.

If things had gone really badly in court, Toyota may have been forced to stop importing all of their hybrids.

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Friday, July 16, 2010

President Obama Praises the Chevy Volt

President Obama Next to Chevy Volt
President Obama, even as BP finally cuts off the flow of oil into the Gulf (maybe!), was visiting the ground breaking of a battery plant in Holland, MI. The Compact Power (Compact Power is a subsidiary of LG Chem) battery plant will make the battery cells for the Chevy Volt. The Chevy Volt will be the first of it's kind, an Extended Range Electric Vehicle (E-REV).

The battery plant was partially built using federal funds of $151 million and matched by the company. The plant will create several hundred jobs over the next few years as construction finishes and workers are hired.

Powered by electricity, the battery pack can be recharged by a small gas engine designed only to recharge the battery. So, you can travel for up to 40 miles on electric power, then you can keep on going as gas engine kicks in.

The Volt goes on sale later this year in select states.

According to Obama, the US will have the capacity to build 40 percent of the world's batteries by 2015.

Ford will also be purchasing batteries from the Compact Power plant.

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Toyota Electric RAV4 Will be Built by Tesla

Tesla and Toyota announced today they will partner to build an electric RAV4. The prototypes will be made combing the RAV4 with a Tesla electric powertrain. One prototype has already been built. Tesla will produce and deliver the fleet of prototypes this year.

The electric RAV4 will used Tesla's liquid cooled lithium-ion battery configuration. The configuration ties together thousands of commodity cells that you would normally find in a laptop.

In May, Tesla and Toyota announced the partnership to cooperate on the development of electric vehicle parts and production systems. Tesla wants to benefit from Toyota's experience in engineering, manufacturing, and production. Toyota wants to benefit from Tesla's technology, 'daring spirit, quick decision making and flexibility.'

The electric RAV4 will be marketed in the US starting in 2012.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

GM Warranty for 100,000 Miles on the Volt Battery

GM is guaranteeing their Volt battery for eight years, 100,000 miles. That's a pretty good guarantee. And GM hopes it will be enough to alleviate the worries new Volt buyers may have about the new battery types.

The 16kWh lithium-ion battery found in the Volt isn't based off of new technology, but it is expensive. If it failed (and there was no guarantee), it would cost thousands to replace.

Used Volt buyers a decade from now... they may have something to worry about. But that's the risk people take when they buy used. If you bought a used gas-only car and the transmission died, it's going to cost. So, buying a used hybrid or E-REV like the Volt should be the same, right?

The warranty covers the battery components, the liquid thermal management system, charging system and electric drive components and is transferable at no cost.

The rest of the warranty is extensive:
100,000 mile/5-year transferable Engine Limited Warranty (for Range Extender)
100,000 mile/5-year 24/7 Roadside Assistance Program
100,000 mile/5-year 24/7 Courtesy Transportation Program
36,000 mile/ 3-year no deductible Bumper-to-Bumper transferable warranty
100,000 mile/6-year corrosion protection

One last note: the graphic is a bit ridiculous. The comparison to the Tesla is warranted, but a better comparison would be to the Prius battery warranty, not to cell phone batteries. Yes, cell phone batteries are lithium, but really...

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Honda Building a New Hybrid Plant in Japan

There's a Nikkei report Honda will be building a new hybrid plant by 2013. They will drop their plans to build a minivehicle factory in order to make room in Saitama.

They hope to meet the 'rebounding demands' in Japan and in North America.

Source: Marketwatch.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

GM Will Have a Warranty on the Lithium-Ion Battery Pack in Volt

I can't say that the warranty Toyota and Honda put on their battery and hybrid engines was the key to their successful launch of hybrid cars in the US. But I can say this, without them, they would have failed.

Even though we know now battery failure occurs at an extremely low rate, people still ask about it and worry about it a decade later.

Customers would not have lined up to make the Prius one of the top ten vehicles sold in the US if they were worried the battery, which cost thousands to replace, didn't have the warranty.

So, it's no surprise to hear GM knows this and is working on their own warranty plan for the Chevy Volt, their plug-in electric hybrid with lithium-ion batteries. Especially since lithium-ion batteries are a lot more expensive than the batteries found in Toyota, Honda and Ford hybrids.

Details of GMs plan are expected to be announced on Wednesday (DetNews).

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LG Chem to Supply Batteries for Ford Focus Electric

Ford will be using battery packs made by Compact Power, a subsidiary of LG Chem in their Ford Focus Electric due out in 2011. The lithium-ion battery cell production will be built in Holland, MI. The Ford Electric will be built at the Michigan Assembly Plant along with a next-generation hybrid and a plug-in hybrid in 2012.

Press Release Follows:

Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) today announced it has selected Compact Power, Inc. (CPI), a subsidiary of LG Chem, to build lithium-ion battery packs for the Ford Focus Electric, which will go on sale in the U.S. in 2011.

The Focus Electric battery packs will leverage CPI and parent company LG Chem's deep expertise in advanced flat format lithium-ion cells and advanced liquid-cooled modules and battery management systems.

"CPI is an emerging leader in the lithium-ion battery field and we are pleased to have them as a strategic supplier as we prepare to bring the Ford Focus Electric to market," said Sherif Marakby, Ford director, Sustainable Mobility Products and Hybrid programs. "We are moving aggressively with our electrification strategy and our work to help make Michigan a center of excellence for a range of electrified vehicles."

CPI, based in Troy, Mich., will begin battery pack assembly for the Ford Focus Electric next year and is finalizing production site selection for the U.S. The lithium-ion cells for the packs will initially be sourced from Korea through LG Chem. LG Chem and CPI will be localizing cell production at their new site in Holland, Mich.

"We are very excited to be partnering with Ford on their new battery electric-powered Ford Focus," said Prabhakar Patil, CEO of CPI. "It tells us we are on track in developing high-power and high-energy lithium-ion batteries that the industry needs as it moves toward the electrification of vehicles that lessen our dependence on foreign oil."

The cells will incorporate LG Chem's proprietary chemistry and its industry-leading safety-reinforced-separator technology that provides unparalleled safety performance.

Focus Electric will have a targeted range of up to 100 miles per full charge with zero tailpipe emissions. It is one of five electrified vehicles Ford is bringing to market in the U.S. in the next two years. These include the Transit Connect Electric, a small commercial van in 2010; Focus Electric in 2011; two new lithium-ion battery-powered hybrids; and a plug-in hybrid in 2012.

Focus Electric, a full battery electric passenger car, will be produced at Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., which will begin producing gasoline versions of the all-new 2011 Focus later this year.

Ford previously announced plans to invest $550 million to transform Michigan Assembly Plant from a large SUV factory to a modern car plant to build the new Focus and Focus Electric. The plant also will produce a next-generation hybrid and a plug-in hybrid in 2012. All of the vehicles will be built off the company's new global C-car platform.

This complements Ford's overall strategy to establish a center of excellence in Michigan for electrification of a broad range of vehicles, including lithium-ion battery-powered hybrids, plug-ins and pure electric vehicles. Ford is committed to delivering electrified vehicles as part of its overall vehicle portfolio designed to deliver both the fuel efficiency and the performance customers demand.

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2010 Infiniti M Hybrid Engine

Nissan's new hybrid system will be better than Toyotas.  That's a big deal, since Toyota has the most efficient hybrid motor on the road today.

Powered by a lithium-ion battery pack, the newly developed hybrid motor may be the "most efficient 1-motor, 2-clutch parallel full hybrid system."  It's important to keep in mind when comparing to the Toyota hybrid engine is a good part of what makes it the most efficient is its use of lithium-ion battery pack.

In other words, if Toyota makes the switch to lithium-ion, it's unclear who's engine would be the more efficient one.

According to Nissan:

The Nissan Hybrid System

Nissan Hybrid Engine
The hybrid system allows for the elimination of friction by completely disconnecting the engine from the system during motor driving or deceleration. It is highly energy-efficient because the battery is charged efficiently by the engine while driving, while the rotational energy of the wheels is used for energy regeneration. When the clutch is engaged, the engine, motor and wheels are directly connected, so the system also achieves responsive acceleration for sporty driving. In addition, accurate control allows the engine to be stopped more frequently. During test demonstrations conducted in city conditions, it was found that the engine was in a halt condition for almost 50% of the driving time.

The motor is powered by a laminated lithium-ion battery featuring the same structure as the one used on LEAF, Nissan's electric vehicle. The powerful lithium-ion batteries are used to deliver high-response linear acceleration and fuel consumption equivalent to that of compact cars. The batteries are supplied by Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC), a subsidiary jointly established by Nissan and NEC Corp. of Japan.

The hybrid system is scheduled to be available on the Infiniti M in late 2010.

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Thursday, July 01, 2010

Lexus Hybrids Included in List of Vehicles Affected by Possible Engine Stalling, Possible Recall

The Lexus hybrids are included in the possible recall list by Toyota. The LS 600h, 600hl and the GS 450h are three of the eight models included in the list of vehicles affected by the engine stalling problem affecting Toyota cars worldwide.

Overall, 270,000 vehicles may be recalled as Toyota considers its options (Source: Reuters).

Other vehicles affected the Toyota Crown and Lexus LS 460, GS 460, GS 350, and IS 350.

The vehicles may have excessive noise coming from the engine as the 4.6-liter and 3.6-liter have an issue with the valve spring. That issue can cause engine failure or stalling.

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