Thursday, September 30, 2010

2011 Lexus CT 200h

The Lexus CT 200h is a full hybrid luxury vehicle through and through. Introduced at the Geneva Auto Show, the hybrid Lexus provides full luxury in a compact vehicle hybrid.

The 1.8 litre motor is paired with an electric generator to provide power in four different drive modes. Each mode allows the driver to choose how he wants the hybrid to respond. Sport, eco, ev, and normal. To maximize fuel efficiency, the outer design was selected to minimize drag and optimize airflow.

Press Release follows:
The new CT 200h represents the synthesis of five key Lexus attributes which offer customers an unprecedented experience in premium compact motoring: Lexus Hybrid Drive and the extremely rigorous set of development standards known as the Lexus MUSTs; a unique driving character; the dynamic yet elegant styling inherent in the latest realization of Lexus’ L-finesse design philosophy; Lexus’ outstanding manufacturing quality and attention to detail; and the renowned customer service which lies at the heart of the Lexus ownership experience.

Lexus Hybrid Drive Powertrain
The CT 200h’s Lexus Hybrid Drive features a unique energy management system. Through the application of brand-specific engineering solutions and software tuning, Lexus engineers have focused on enhancing both the environmental and driving performance of the full hybrid series/parallel system, as well as its low NVH levels.

With a total system output of 134 hp (100 kW), the CT 200h will accelerate seamlessly from 0-60 mph in 9.8 seconds. Conversely, the CT 200h boasts remarkably low fuel consumption – a combined EPA estimated fuel economy rating of 42 mpg.

Lexus Hybrid Drive generates significantly less NOx and zero particulate emissions compared to an equivalent diesel engined vehicle. Moreover, when operating in a switchable EV mode, it generates zero NOx and particulate emissions, driving for up to one mile at speeds of up to 28 mph.

Further enhancing the Lexus Hybrid Drive system’s outstanding environmental credentials, the CT 200h incorporates numerous additional energy saving and environmentally-conscientious measures. These include LED lighting, an energy-efficient audio system amplifier and bamboo charcoal speakers, and the use of bio-sourced materials.

Dynamic Package
With a highly-focused driver’s environment, the new Lexus CT 200h has been developed to combine superior handling and a dynamic driving experience with the ride comfort expected of any Lexus.

Key to the new premium compact full hybrid’s sporting driving experience is its highly focused driver’s cockpit. It features a low driver’s seat with enhanced lateral and lumbar support, a sporting, wide grip steering wheel and a driver-focused instrument binnacle housing large, high-visibility, triple dials.

The CT 200h benefits from a highly modified existing platform incorporating numerous, exclusively developed body, chassis and powertrain control system engineering applications designed to offer customers a choice of two distinct driving moods – Dynamic, or Relaxing - in conjunction with the full hybrid’s EV, ECO, NORMAL and SPORT, ‘on-demand’ drive modes.

Particular attention has been paid to promoting superior handling stability through the high structural rigidity of the bodyshell, a low center of gravity and the minimizing of the yaw inertia moment through the use of an aluminum hood, tailgate and bumper reinforcements.

Introduced for the first time on a Lexus in this segment, a unique lateral performance damper system has been designed to help absorb and minimize body vibrations, giving a linear steering feel and further enhanced ride comfort.

The Lexus CT 200h features a bespoke suspension design which combines a proven, MacPherson strut front system with a new, fully-independent double wishbone architecture to the rear, offering superior levels of ride comfort, handling and package efficiency.

The Lexus CT 200h introduces a powerful new evolution of Lexus’ unique L finesse design philosophy to the heart of the premium compact segment.

Marrying refined elegance to sporting dynamism, the CT 200h has a highly distinctive, sharp-edged, resolute appearance, generating a unique aura which immediately sets it apart from segment rivals. With a powerful new Lexus frontal design, sweeping lines which mimic the natural flow of wind over and around the bodywork and a purposeful, wide track stance, the new full hybrid is the perfect expression of compact precision and power.

The CT 200h’s efficient and elegant cabin combines superior ergonomics, advanced Human/Machine Interface technologies and spacious passenger accommodation with hand-crafted feel, premium quality materials to create an outstandingly refined driving environment.

Its efficient package enables front and rear seat passenger accommodation that is spacious and a 14.3 cu. ft. luggage capacity is comparable to any vehicle its size.

The new premium compact full hybrid is equipped with a comprehensive range of active, passive and pedestrian impact safety features in the entry luxury segment.

The CT 200h offers an optional pre-emptive, Pre-Collision Safety system incorporating Adaptive Cruise Control. Eight airbags including driver and front passenger knee airbags and Whiplash Injury Lessening (WIL) front seats are fitted as standard, and an upgraded Electronically Controlled Braking-Regeneration system (ECB-R) incorporates Anti-Lock brakes (ABS), Brake Assist (BA), Traction Control (TRAC) and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and a hybrid version of the brake override system, Smart Stop Technology.

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Jaguar C-X75 Extended Range Electric Vehicle

Jaguar C-X75
Jaguar has introduced the C-X75 plug-in concept. The Extended Range Electric Vehicle (E-REV) from Jaguar has two gas micro-turbine from Bladon Jets along with two switched reluctance generators from SR Drives. The generators move the car along, while the gas turbines are there to recharge the battery that powers the generators.

Along with the above, four traction motors located on each wheel provide a total drive power of 580 kW/780 bhp. Jaguar thought it might be necessary to provide torque-vectored, all-wheel drive traction and grip when the vehicle produces 1,180 lb-ft of torque.

Twin Turbine Power Train
Full electric range is 68 miles (110 km), but will travel up to 560 miles once the gas turbines kick in (thus the 'extended range'). Acceleration is 0-62 in 3.4 seconds, 50-90 mph in 2.3 seconds and a top speed of 205 mph. Emissions are very low, at 28 g/CO2 per km on the EU test cycle.

The car’s interior is equally impressive, with the driver and passenger seated ahead of a sealed airbox that houses the micro gas-turbines. The seats are fixed to the bulkhead as in a single-seater racing car, and air to feed the turbines passes smoothly around them via channels in the structure of the body. With the seats anchored in place, the steering wheel, controls, main binnacle and pedal box all adjust towards the driver.

Dramatic theatre lighting is activated as the driver approaches the car; phosphor blue electro-luminescent wire lights illuminate the perimeter of the cabin and the turbines. When the car is started, additional blue LED lighting gently floods the door and bulkhead speaker cavities, highlighting the car’s lightweight construction. Bespoke interior materials include cream and grey leathers, polished and vapour-blasted aluminium and a soft-feel textured neoprene.

A new interface for the driver has also been created for the C-X75 using high-resolution TFT screens. Building on Jaguar’s 10-year expertise in touchscreen technology, the Jaguar Co-Pilot display in the centre console supports the driver in extracting the full potential of the C-X75 by seamlessly managing information.

The C-X75 – At a glance

  • DESIGN – A celebration of 75 years of beautiful, fast Jaguars which points the way to a new design language
  • PERFORMANCE – 0-100km/h (62mph) in 3.4 seconds, top speed of 330km/h (205mph) and 80-145km/h (50-90mph) in just 2.3 seconds
  • PROPULSION SYSTEM – A Range-Extended Electric Vehicle (RE-EV) using a unique combination of electric motors and micro gas-turbines to increase its range to 900km (560 miles)
  • EMISSIONS – A zero tailpipe emissions range of 110km (68 miles) while running solely on battery power
  • SUSTAINABILITY – By capitalising on its plug-in charge capability the C-X75 will produce just 28 grams of CO2 per kilometre on the EU test cycle
  • CONSTRUCTION – Jaguar’s advanced lightweight aluminium construction techniques provide great weight-saving and economy benefits. Additionally, up to 50 percent of the metal content is recycled
  • ACTIVE AERODYNAMICS – Drag coefficient of 0.32Cd and active downforce created through the use of an underbody Venturi
  • THEATRE – A dramatic entrance to the car is created by striking electro-luminescent wire lighting which alters to enhance the driving experience
  • UNIQUE USER INTERFACE – The touchscreen Jaguar Co-Pilot interface manages the information workload by predicting the needs of the driver
  • BESPOKE MATERIALS – Interior seamlessly blends traditional, hand-tailored leathers with textured neoprene panels and two different aluminium finishes

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Volvo Wants to Charge Up Your Car in a Different Way

Image from MotorTrend
Volvo, and nine other corporations, are looking to put the battery pack you might find in a plug-in vehicle (either electric or plug-in hybrid electric into a different place.

By using composite materials, they are examining the possibility of putting the battery into the body of the car.  The fun image they have at MotorTrend shows how much of the body would be taken up.

The composite material consists of carbon fiber and polymer resin.  The material is capable of storing great amounts of electric energy (enough to allow the car to travel up to 81 miles of all electric power (the Leaf goes 100 miles, while the upcoming Volt gets 40 miles of all electric range.  It's also supposed to recharge faster than a conventional battery.

Another advantage is by turning the battery pack into the body of the car, you can distribute the weight.  And the composite material is lighter than conventional building materials, reducing weight by as much as 15 percent.

The questions I'm left with is what if you're in an accident?  I can't imagine the body panels would be cheap to replace.  Also, what about scratches, dings, or outright dents?  Will that impact the cars ability to recharge or retain its charge?

The other partners in this project include the Imperial College London, Advanced Composites Group, Bundesanstalt Fur Material forschung undprufung, Chalmers, ETC Battery, Fuel Cells Sweden, INASCO Hella, Nanocyl, and Swerea SICOMP. The European Union jump-started the endeavor with 35 million Swedish krona ($5.2 million).

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

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Honda IMA Hybrid for Less in Europe

2011 Jazz Hybrid to Debut in Paris
Honda is debuting the Jazz Hybrid at the Paris Auto Show. Due out as a 2011 model, the newest IMA hybrid is built using the Honda hybrid system used in the sporty CR-Z hybrid and Insight.

The Jazz hybrid will still have the same interior space, despite the addition of the electric motor and battery pack. The control unit and battery have been placed under the boot floor. The 'Magic Seats' still fold entirely flat to increase the cubic space inside, or can be folded to sit vertically, allowing for taller items to be transported.

Honda testing has shown the 1.3 litre i-VTEC engine has similar emissions at 104 g/km as the Honda Insight. At low speeds, the Jazz hybrid can run at all electric. Combined fuel efficiency is being estimated at 4.4 l/100km.

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

Monday, September 20, 2010

Kelley Blue Books Says Now is the Best Time to Buy a Used Hybrid

Kelley Blue Book (KBB) says now may be the best time ever to buy a used hybrid. That is, if your intent is to reduce emissions and greenhouse gases, but not necessarily if you want savings at the pump.

Used hybrid car prices have started to normalize, as consumers have more choices than ever. That means the appreciation of comparable segments have outpaced hybrid cars in the past year.

New hybrid sales are down (mostly due to the spike from the Cash for Clunkers program) and values have leveled off. Along with steady gas prices (higher gas prices mean more hybrids sold), more cars are getting 40+ mpg. That means there is more competition in the fuel efficient segment.

Put it all together and you get a good time to buy a used hybrid, although not necessarily if you're looking to buy a Prius (see below).  And consumers may be catching on.  Monthly traffic at Kelley Blue Book has increased by 10-20 percent.

"If shoppers are convinced to buy a hybrid today, they should keep in mind that it can take upwards of 10 years to recover the premium paid for a hybrid versus a comparable non-hybrid alternative (based on $3 per gallon fuel prices and 12,000 miles driven per year)," said Juan Flores, director of vehicle valuations for Kelley Blue Book. "For those consumers considering a hybrid purchase purely to save money, they must consider how long they intend to hold the vehicle."

KBB points out that the hybrid premium can take years to 'pay off'.

According to their analysis, "If a consumer were to consider a new vehicle, the time needed to recoup the hybrid premium is more than 10 years. A driver would have to rack up 160,000 miles on a Prius, or more than 190,000 miles on a Civic Hybrid, before simply breaking even on their hybrid purchase! If a consumer were wise enough to purchase a used hybrid vehicle, the time needed to break-even falls substantially. For the Civic Hybrid, the break-even point is realized just shy of five years down the road as opposed to the sixteen years required for a new purchase. This would require only 57,600 miles to be driven before the hybrid premium was recovered. This seems quite reasonable and this kind of mileage should be easily handled by the Civic. For those in the market for a hybrid vehicle, Kelley Blue Book's best recommendation is to consider buying a used vehicle first."

When buying used, consumers should consider purchasing the hybrid alternative of an existing nameplate as opposed to an all-hybrid vehicle like the Prius, since it takes twice as long to recover the hybrid premium for a Prius as opposed to a Honda Civic Hybrid in the used market. Over time, the Prius has acquired a large following that has lead to what is called a "Prius Premium," in addition to the already costly hybrid premium. By sticking to a hybrid vehicle built off an existing platform (Civic Hybrid, Fusion Hybrid, etc.) a consumer has a far better chance of coming out ahead on the purchase of a hybrid vehicle.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Toyota Outlines Plans for Future Hybrid Development

Toyota has ambitious plans when it comes to hybrid and other alternative cars. By 2012, they will launch the plug-in Prius and a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle by 2015. Along with those more exotic introductions, they will also launch six new hybrids by the end of 2012.

Toyota is aiming for 20,000 plug-in sales in the first year, with a cost of $3,000 - $5,000 more than a Prius.

Four of the new hybrid vehicles will be Toyota and two will have Lexus branding.

Toyota continues to focus on hybrids because they are more cost and range effective than pure electric cars according to Mr. Uchiyamada, vice president of Toyota’s research and development.

“Based on the current battery tech, it is not feasible to have full electric vehicles to be the main way now,” he told reporters, through a translator, during a visit to Detroit. “There will be a period of time where plug-in hybrid vehicles will be used heavily. As battery technology gets better, there will be a transition to pure electric vehicles.”

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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Report Card for Cars, What Grade Will Your Car Get?

New Fuel Economy Sticker for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles
The EPA and DOT are working together to create a new fuel economy sticker to be placed on new cars. They have proposed two different labels, which while different, are both designed to let the buyer know just what kind of car they are buying.

The first label gives a letter grade to the car, based on its fuel economy. Electric cars would get A+ ratings, while no van would get over a C+. Plug-in hybrid vehicles would fall in the A- range.

The second label focuses in on the miles per gallon and the estimated fuel costs. This allows for greater comparison between vehicles, especially given the big differences that are happening with new cars.

Both label have MPG and GPM (gallons per 100 miles) ratings along with greenhouse gas emissions. They will also give an estimate of annual fuel costs, plus more information comparing the fuel economy of this car to that of other like vehicles. Smart phone owners will be able to scan in the QRR code and get additional information.
Electric Vehicles Get an A+

The exciting part for those who are following the new types of cars (electric, plug-in hybrid, E-REV, etc...) is the new labeling system. Vehicles like the Volt are supposed to drive for 40 miles or so on all electric power, then go hybrid. After that initial electric range, you need gas to go, so the fuel efficiency figure is important to know.

That type of information will now be found on the sticker. The new sticker is designed to let you know the estimated fuel economy in each different mode (electric, hybrid, or gas-only).

The only problem I have with the new sticker is its emphasis on 'energy consumption measurement' where the energy consumption (in this case, electricity) is in MPGe, or Miles Per Gallon equivalent. That sort of measurement is confusing to people. The KiloWatt hours is shown on the electric vehicles, but not on the plug-in hybrid vehicles. That's less informative than it could be.

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