Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Land Rover's e-Terrain technology (land_e) showcase

As part of Ford's continuing environmental initiatives, they are showcasing their new land rover's e-terrain technology. Their integrated electric rear axle drive gives them a hybrid, capable of shutting of the engine when the car is stopped. And as long as you don't accelerate too quickly, the gas engine won't turn on until you hit 20 mph. It also has regenerative braking for recharging the lithium-ion battery.

By attaching the electric system to their Integrated Electric Rear Axle, the land rover gets additional low-speed torque input, which is quite useful in low-speed or icy conditions.

Partial Press Release follows:
Integrated Electric Rear Axle Drive : provides electric drive alone at low speed, plus improved 4x4 ability in tough conditions

Integrated Electric Rear Axle Drive – used in conjunction with the ISG Integrated Starter-Generator system (as described below) - improves both urban emissions and off-road ability.

Land Rover’s unique electric drive is different from the hybrid technology used by some 4x4 rivals. They use electric drive only to the rear axle, significantly reducing off-road capability. Integrated Electric Rear Axle Drive enhances off-road performance by augmenting rather than replacing the mechanical drive.

Off-road, the Integrated Electric Rear Axle Drive system can provide additional torque, as required. And because electric power can offer maximum torque from standstill, it is most effective from virtually zero mph/kph. This offers better low-speed control and enhanced pull-away in difficult situations – such as on slippery surfaces or when towing.

On-road, the additional low-speed torque input from the Integrated Electric Rear Axle Drive offers multiple advantages. It allows electric-powered 'traffic creep' and low-speed acceleration up to 20mph or 32kph, without restarting the engine, benefiting fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Whenever required, the ISG system restarts the engine, and the vehicle is then propelled by a combination of electrical and conventional engine power. The combined effect of delaying the restarting of the engine plus the continued assistance of electric drive, significantly reduces fuel consumption.

When quicker acceleration is required, the engine can be restarted immediately, so both the conventional engine and the Integrated Electric Rear Axle Drive system supply power from rest. In this case, the electric torque boost provided by the Integrated Electric Rear Axle Drive significantly improves acceleration without adversely affecting either fuel consumption or CO2 emissions.

The additional low-speed electric torque boost not only gives extra off-road ability, it also improves efficiency by using stored energy from the additional high-voltage battery system. Completely separate from the normal 12-volt battery system, this is a high capacity lithium-ion battery pack which is charged by regenerative braking energy.

The regenerative braking puts otherwise wasted braking energy back into the high-voltage storage battery system. When slowing the vehicle, pressing the brake pedal causes the driveshafts and propshaft to transfer energy from the wheels to the Integrated Electric Rear Axle Drive system, decelerating the vehicle and transferring the 'braking' energy to the storage battery. For harder braking and for emergency stops, the conventional braking system is retained and fully operational, working in conjunction with the regenerative braking function.

ISG Integrated Starter-Generator system improves emissions in traffic

One of the simplest yet most effective CO2 -reducing features highlighted on the Land_e is the ISG Integrated Starter-Generator. The ISG package replaces the conventional alternator and continues to take its drive from the normal ancillary belt. It is a ‘micro-hybrid’ system that allows the engine to be stopped automatically whenever the vehicle stops, as in traffic, and under the control of the ECU it restarts the engine quickly and smoothly when required. The engine does not idle unnecessarily when the vehicle is stationary, to the further benefit of both fuel economy and CO2 emissions.

Together the engine stop-start function of ISG, plus the regenerative braking function, provided by the Integrated Electric Rear Axle Drive offer the potential of a 20 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions. The outstanding multi-terrain ability that is at the core of Land Rover is also enhanced.

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Monday, February 27, 2006

Hybrid drivers to receive incentives in the UK?

In an attempt to crack down on larger, gas guzzling cars, UK ministers are contemplating an array of incentive programs for hybrids and other low emission cars, while penalizing the gas guzzlers.

Times Online

In an interview with The Times, Malcolm Wicks, the Energy Minister, said: “There is crass irresponsibility in some of the larger monstrosities people drive around suburbia and in London. We have to move against this kind of thing.”

Owners of cars with high emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, face higher taxes. Those who choose hybrid cars and vehicles powered by alternative fuels will benefit from incentives designed to accelerate the shift to “low carbon cars”.

In the short term, the Government is considering raising vehicle excise duty for gas guzzlers. The Treasury is understood to favour proposals from the RAC Foundation for a new top rate of £200 to cover cars that produce more than 250g of CO2 per kilometre.

Although the government currently offer £1000 in grants to drivers of Prius, the minister feels they need more.

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Mazda loans ten tribute hybrids to orange county fire authority

Mazda donated 10 tribute hybrids to the Orange County Fire Authority. These are prototypes, and will be in service for only two years. These are non-emergency vehicles and will most likely be used in educational visits.

Press release follows:
IRVINE, Calif. – Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) today donated 10 clean-burning, fuel efficient prototype Tribute Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV) to the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) at a ceremony at OCFA’s headquarters in Irvine, Calif. The Tribute HEVs will be in service for two years. The vehicles are prototypes of a gasoline-electric hybrid version of Mazda’s Tribute compact SUV and are the first of 30 total Tribute Hybrid SUVs that Mazda will loan to fire agencies across Southern California.

These Tribute HEVs, clad in the familiar OCFA red and white, will be driven by OCFA staff in various assignments throughout Orange County. They will mainly be used for non-emergency functions, such as travel to fire safety inspections, educational programs, and fire station maintenance activities.

“We wanted to give something back to the community with these Tribute Hybrid SUVs,” said Jim O’Sullivan, MNAO’s president and CEO. “ Southern California firefighters are among the best in the country, and we’re proud to have them in our backyard. The lives and property of our employees and dealers were saved a few years ago by these brave men and women, and it is a privilege for us to be able to partially repay their courageous efforts with the two-year loan of these Tribute HEVs.”

Other fire departments in Los Angeles, Corona, San Bernardino, San Diego and Riverside will also receive the environmentally responsible Tribute HEV prototypes, courtesy of Mazda.

Patrick McIntosh, OCFA Assistant Fire Chief, along with several firefighters, was on-hand to receive their Tribute Hybrids.

“We are so grateful to Mazda for their generous loan of these four-wheel-drive Tribute HEV prototypes,” said McIntosh. “What makes this such a significant gesture by Mazda is that these are clean, fuel-efficient SUVs, which means we can evaluate the reduction in our operating costs while contributing to a healthier environment.”

Putting Tribute HEV prototypes into the hands of the Southland fire agencies also helps Mazda.

“Although we don’t sell a Tribute HEV now, the varied driving conditions these vehicles will be put through, as well as the input on on-road performance we will receive from the fire agencies, will be valuable in the development of our first production HEV,” O’Sullivan added.

Mazda’s Tribute HEV is 99.4 percent cleaner, on average, than a conventional vehicle, yet still delivers the performance required by SUV owners. With a combined output of 155 horsepower, this Tribute HEV provides plenty of power yet meets strict Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEVII) and Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) standards in California – the strictest emission regulations a gasoline-fueled vehicle can meet.

Mazda North American Operations is responsible for the sales and marketing, customer parts and service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States. Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., MNAO has more than 700 dealerships nationwide.

The Orange County Fire Authority is a joint powers authority that serves as the all-risk emergency response agency for 1.3 million Orange County residents in 22 cities and the unincorporated areas of the county.

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

New York Hybrid drivers get access to HOV lane

New York hybrid drivers to get a waiver on HOV lane access on March 1 according to the NY Times.  I wonder if they'll start regretting it after a few years, as the Virginia HOV access to hybrids program is now under fire for overcrowding.

Hybrid Cars to Get High-Occupancy Waiver - The New York Times

Hybrid Cars to Get High-Occupancy Waiver By DANNY HAKIM Published: February 25, 2006 Certain hybrid-power cars will be allowed to use H.O.V. lanes on the Long Island Expressway starting on March 1, regardless of how few people are in the car.

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Hypermilers and hypermiling

Hypermiling is the term applied to greatly exceeding the EPA rating for a vehicle. It's most often applied to hybrid vehicle drivers who apply certain techniques. For instance, there are some hybrid drivers who can, by the technique of "pulse and glide", can get over 100 mpg in their Toyota Prius.

When hypermiling, their are several special techniques that can be applied, but you should always start out with the basics. I've already covered most of the ways you can save money on gas, no matter what kind of car you drive. These methods include regular maintenance on your car, including oil changes and checking the tire pressure. You should also avoid jackrabbit starts and try to use cruise control or overdrive when you can. You should also keep your speed down and your windows closed.

The special technique applied to hybrid cars with the biggest gain is called the pulse and glide. According to Wikipedia, the pulse and glide "method is a trick that can be used with hybrids to minimize ICE waste. The idea is to optimize acceleration in order to reach the optimal threshold of the hybrid engine. At this point, some vehicles (when the accelerator is minimally pressed) will glide in electric only mode."

First accelerate up to 40 (or so). Avoid using energy from the battery, but don't accelerate too quickly either. Once there, you can start the glide. Gliding is the point where you are not taking any energy from the engine at all (hence the name). In order to glide properly, you need the right readout (i.e. Prius energy screen). If you can put yourself into that halfway point where there are no arrows point anywhere on the energy screen, you've successfully put yourself into glide. You will need to ease back on the accelerator, and then push it back down slightly to get into this mode.

A warning to anyone trying the pulse and glide, however. This technique should not be used in high traffic or high speed areas. Not only is it dangerous, but it will be infuriating to your fellow drivers. So don't do it. Also, if you (or your passengers) are in a rush, this may be frustrating. Keep in mind that courtesy to your passenger(s) and fellow drivers should be a given.

Another special technique is to use the auto-stop as much as possible. Don't try to edge up at stop lights, for instance. You can turn the gas engine back (in light or mild hybrids) on for no gain (0 mpg). You might also try to "glide" down hills, by putting your car into neutral for instance.

If you'd like to know more about hypermiling, you can find information at wikipedia. Hypermilers are usually part of hybrid driving clubs and forums.

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Friday, February 24, 2006

HyMotion has a PHEV battery for your Prius

While If you are worried about getting that extra mileage on battery alone, this may be a good idea for you. Turn your hybrid into a plug-in with one big battery that hooks into a socket. The only problem I see is the price. At $5000, what they hope the price is going to be when it goes on sale to the public next year, that's a steep addition to any budget. Add in the extra cost of buying a hybrid in the first place and most consumers will probably balk at the upgrade.

HyMotion's PHEV battery lets you plug in your hybrid - Engadget
But HyMotion is here to help with their new PHEV Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicle), which adds an extra battery to you hybrid that can be charged from a regular wall outlet.

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

The Cleveland Division of Police won a brand-new 2006 Mercury Mariner Hybrid

* The Cleveland Division of Police won a brand-new 2006 Mercury Mariner Hybrid for participating in the Ford “Hybrid Patrol”, a nationwide tour where BP and police departments nationwide joined Ford to boost drivers’ fuel-economy awareness.
* Throughout the 10-city tour Ford Hybrid Patrol distributed over $65,000 worth of BP gas cards to consumers around the country.

CLEVELAND, Ohio, Feb. 24, 2006 – The Cleveland Division of Police (CPD) today received the keys to their new 2006 Mercury Mariner Hybrid as part of an award from the Ford Motor Company for helping boost consumers’ fuel-economy awareness. The Ford Hybrid Patrol tour worked with hundreds of officers in blue across the country to boost their knowledge on becoming green with hybrid technology.

Last fall, 11 police departments from around the country participated in the Ford Hybrid Patrol, an educational tour on hybrid technology and fuel-saving techniques. Each participating department was entered into a drawing to win a new Mercury Mariner Hybrid. At the conclusion of the Ford Hybrid Patrol national tour, the CPD was randomly selected as the winner of the new premium compact hybrid SUV from Ford.

“We're very honored that Ford Motor Company selected the Cleveland Division of Police as one of its cities to showcase the Ford Hybrid Patrol,” says Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath. “Our officers were really excited to participate in this innovative program. We will use the Mercury Mariner Hybrid as part of our accident investigation unit and we look forward to adding more hybrid vehicles to our fleet.”

When the Ford Hybrid Patrol arrived at each city officers were enrolled in fuel-economy clinics and participated in driving challenges to discover the most “fuel-efficient” officer in Ford’s hybrids. Of the 38 police representatives that participated in the fuel economy challenge, officers’ fuel economy averaged 45.38 miles per gallon. The officer earning the best fuel economy from each city was then entered into a random drawing to win a 2006 Mercury Mariner Hybrid for their police department.

Taking the Ford Hybrid Patrol to the streets, police officers – with help from Ford hybrid engineers – went patrolling to give drivers citations for good driving behavior. In Ford hybrids outfitted for patrol, officers surprised thousands of local drivers “caught in the act” of demonstrating good gas-saving practices. Drivers were "“ticketed” with $25 gas cards provided by BP and additional fuel-saving tips for efficient driving practices. Over the three-month national tour Ford and BP distributed over $65,000 worth of free gas to consumers.

“The Ford Hybrid Patrol was a great program that demonstrated our commitment to hybrid technology and the benefits our consumers can experience with these vehicles,” says Nancy Gioia, director of Ford’s Sustainable Mobility Technologies and Hybrid Programs. “With the success of the Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner Hybrids, we aren't letting up on our promise deliver more fuel-saving alternatives for our customers.”

The Ford Hybrid Patrol tour was supported by BP and also rolled into Chicago, IL; the Boston suburb of Somerville, MA; Boston, MA; Alexandria, VA; East Point, GA; Phoenix, AZ; Los Angeles suburb, Glendale, CA; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; and Miramar, FL.

“BP and Ford are working collaboratively on the development of more efficient engines and motor fuels,” says Polly Flinn, president of BP’s U.S. convenience retail operations. “Working together on the tour, we focused on fuel conservation which fits our shared vision of sustainable mobility solutions for our customers.”

About Cleveland Division of Police

Founded in 1866, the Cleveland Division of Police has been innovative in law enforcement having been cited for a number of “fascinating firsts” including introducing the first police call box and the first closed circuit camera, which was used in banks to photograph unsuspecting criminals.

About BP

BP markets more than 15 billion gallons of gasoline every year to U.S. consumers through 14,000 retail outlets and supplies more than four billion gallons of fuel annually to fleets, industrial users, auto and truck manufacturers, railroads and utilities.

BP is the single, global brand and formed by the combination of the former British Petroleum, Amoco Corporation, Atlantic Richfield (ARCO) and Burmah Castrol. BP is a global producer, manufacturer and marketer of oil, gas, chemicals and renewable energy sources. For more information, please visit www.AmocoUltimate.com or www.BP.com.

Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures and distributes automobiles in 200 markets across six continents. With about 300,000 employees and 108 plants worldwide, the company’s core and affiliated automotive brands include Aston Martin, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercury and Volvo. Its automotive-related services include Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.fordvehicles.com.

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

Toyota Prius lost its major market share

Green Car Congress posted its monthly sales report for January. I posted similar hybrid sales numbers at the beginning of February, although I could never track down the number of Ford/Mercury sales. After reading Mike's post, I had a few questions. Why so late? And where did you get the numbers on your Ford and Mercury numbers? But that's not what this post is about.

I just noticed the Toyota Prius has only 48.2% of the hybrid market. It's the first time the Prius has lost its majority share. So, where did the percentages go? Well, to Toyota, basically. Although the Honda Civic jumped up to capture 19.9% of the buying market, the Accord fell drastically to 2.2%, leaving Honda's share fairly steady at 22.5%. The Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner fell a couple of points to 5.7%.

The Lexus 400h held fairly steady at 9.3%, but the Toyota Highlander grabbed 14.3%, a five and a half percent jump upwards. And so, the Toyota Prius lost its share to its sister the Highlander.

The Toyota Prius losing its majority market share is still a significant event. It shows just how much the hybrid choices have grown. In 2004, there were only three choices if you wanted a hybrid. Now there are eight, with several more on the way.

The total number of hybrids being sold has grown at a phenomenal rate. In January, 2004 4252 units were sold. Now in January 2006, 15868 units were sold. That's over 300% increase in hybrid sales in just two years. But the hybrid market is no longer being dominated by just one car. It's no longer a Prius (hybrid) world.

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

Full Hybrid

Full hybrids (or strong hybrid) are defined as hybrid cars that can run on just the batteries (electric part of the engine), just the gas (the gas engine) or a combination of both. In order to run on just the batteries, a large capacity battery is needed to offset the power requirements. The engine also tends to be more complex, with a differential-style linkage between the engine and motor connected to the head end of the transmission.

Full hybrids are akin to having an electric car, but one that can run on gas, too. So, there's no need to plug it in, and you can (if needed) have the power and range of a gas engine.

The Toyota Prius and the Ford Escape Hybrid (SUV) are examples of hybrid cars with full hybrid engines. Both engines use Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive.

What this means in the real world. As with all hybrid cars, you still have regenerative braking and the gas engine will turn off when you come to a stop. But with a full hybrid, you can get away with driving on the battery alone at low speeds.

General Motors, BMW, and DaimlerChrysler are working together on a so-called Two-Mode Hybrid system. The Chevy Tahoe hybrid (2008?) will have this system installed.

Read more about the hybrid engine.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

BMW looks at steam hybrids

BMW is developing a 'turbo-stamer' that reclaims the heat lost from the engine's exhaust system. It reminds me of the early stages of regenerative braking. It looks like they have a ways to go, though. An extra 220 lbs plus the space to fit all of the components for it makes this a hard pill for any carmaker to swallow. But a 15% drop in gas reward is pretty good.

BMW’s Hybrid Vision: Gasoline and Steam - Popular Science
Certain parts of a car’s engine can reach temperatures in excess of 1,500˚F. With this in mind, the engineers at BMW developed a way to boost efficiency: Transform that otherwise wasted heat into energy the engine can use. The resulting Turbo- steamer reclaims more than 80 percent of the heat lost from the engine’s exhaust and cooling systems. It uses this surplus heat to generate steam that helps drive the engine. It boosts power and torque by 10 percent and cuts fuel consumption by 15 percent without using a single additional drop of gasoline. At around 220 pounds, the Turbosteamer will have to shed some weight before it meets BMW’s weight-distribution standards, but expect to see a version on the road within the next decade.

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

Guilford County, NC buys two hybrid cars

In what they hope is a cost saving measure, Guilford County, NC bought two hybrid cars, a Honda Civic and a Ford Escape. While the primary reason for buying a hybrid is almost always cited as being environmental, the county is also hoping the hybrids will last longer and provide cost savings in the long run.

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Honda Fit Hybrid

Interesting. Imagine how well a low cost hybrid would do in the US. If they do it. One of the biggest complaints so far from automakers has been the lack of profitibality of their hybrid divisions. Despite the numbers sold, the hybrids are expensive to design and create, unlike the bigger and badder SUV's. That's why hybrids are coming out with all the options. The car makers want to capitalize on the people who are willing to spend more just to make the statement 'they drive a hybrid'.

Honda Not Commenting on Hybrid Report - Yahoo! News
TOKYO - Honda will start selling a hybrid version of the Fit subcompact as early as 2007, leading Japanese business daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported Wednesday.
The Fit hybrid is expected to sell at about 1.4 million yen ($11,800), about 200,000 yen ($1,600) more than the regular Fit, the report said.

Toyota plans to release a hybrid version of the Camry in the spring, targeting 2006 sales of 30,000 hybrid Camrys in the U.S. The price for the hybrid Camry has not been announced, but hybrids on sale now cost about 2 million yen ($16,800).

Honda sold 390,000 Fit cars in 2005 around the world and plans to start selling the model in the U.S. this year.

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

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Toyota Prius, a beginning

A must read for anyone interested in hybrid technology and automakers. How did Toyota get the Prius out and into production. How did such a conservative company beat out the innovators?

FORTUNE: The Birth of the Toyota Prius - Feb. 21, 2006
Toyota: The Birth of the Prius
The world's most admired automaker had to overcome punishing deadlines, skeptical dealers, finicky batteries, and its own risk-averse culture to bring its hybrid to market.

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

Monday, February 20, 2006

Oil price spikes japans economy

Although it would be assumed Japan's economy would suffer whenever oil prices spike, the opposite seems to be occuring. According to Asia Times Online, Japan, despite being resource poor and having to import a majority of it's oil, profits from price of oil increases.

Part of that benefit comes from it's automotive exports from companies like Toyota, which saw it's sales of cars increase once again in the US. As US fuel efficiency awareness increase, Toyota's sales increase. Especially in their sales of hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Prius. "Of the approximately 5.47 million autos Japanese makers sold in the US in 2005, roughly a third were shipped from Japan."

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

Sunday, February 19, 2006

UPS Expands “Green Fleet” with 50 Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Press Release

4,100 Low-Emission Vehicles Also Being Acquired in 2006

ATLANTA, Feb. 17, 2006 - UPS (NYSE:UPS) today announced it had placed an order for 50 new-generation hybrid electric delivery trucks and also would acquire 4,100 low-emission conventional vehicles during 2006.

The hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) are being purchased in two sizes from International Truck and Engine and Freightliner LLC. The trucks will feature lithium ion batteries that are capable of faster re-charging and have a longer life than batteries used in previous generations of HEV’s. The truck bodies will be identical externally to the signature-brown trucks that now comprise the UPS fleet.

The first of the 50 HEV’s will be deployed in Dallas this June and will join more than 10,000 low emission and alternative-fuel vehicles already in use. The UPS alternative fuel fleet - at 1,500 vehicles one of the largest in the United States - currently includes trucks powered by compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, propane, electricity and hydrogen. Research also is underway with the Environmental Protection Agency on a hydraulic hybrid drivetrain.

“We’re excited to be among the first to deploy this latest in HEV technology because it promises a 35% increase in fuel economy in addition to a dramatic decrease in vehicle emissions,” said Robert Hall, UPS’s fleet environmental manager. “UPS has been involved in HEV research for more than eight years, but that’s just one part of a multifaceted strategy to reduce fuel dependency, cut greenhouse emissions and in the long run, reduce operating costs.”

The 50 HEV delivery trucks collectively are expected to reduce fuel consumption by roughly 44,000 gallons over the course of a year compared to a normal diesel truck. The hybrids also should reduce by 457 metric tons the amount of CO2 gases released into the atmosphere over the course of a year. The 4,100 low emission vehicles offer a 15 percent improvement in fuel economy over the vehicles that will be retired. These vehicles will save roughly 1.5 million gallons of fuel over the course of a year, emitting 16,000 fewer tons of CO2.

A hybrid electric vehicle replaces a conventional engine and transmission with a small fuel-efficient diesel engine that acts as a generator to provide electrical energy for batteries and drive motors, which in turn assume the primary role of powering the vehicle. When additional power is required, the truck can draw it directly from the small engine.

The hybrid electric vehicles also use what is known as regenerative braking, meaning the energy generated when stopping the moving vehicle is captured and returned to the battery system as electrical energy.

UPS was the first package delivery company to introduce a HEV into daily operations with a research program it launched in early 1998. In 2001, the company deployed the industry's first hybrid electric package car into regular service in Huntsville, Ala., where the truck worked a 31-mile route with about 160 pickups and deliveries each day. UPS then introduced its second generation HEV to its Kalamazoo, Mich., fleet in 2004, while at the same time deploying the first hydrogen fuel cell delivery trucks into regular service.

While continuing to develop its alternative fuel fleet - UPS already has invested more than $15 million in the effort - the company also has purchased and is operating more than 8,800 low emission conventional vehicles. These vehicles have regular gas- and diesel-powered engines but employ the very latest technology and manufacturing techniques to reduce emissions as much as possible.

The majority of the 4,100 low-emission vehicle chassis to be purchased in 2006 will be made by Freightliner LLC and will enter the UPS fleet throughout the year, allowing the retirement of older trucks.

“Our long-term goal is to minimize dependence on fossil fuels, and we will get there by deploying a wide variety of new automotive technologies in our fleet,” Hall said.

UPS is the world’s largest package delivery company and a global leader in supply chain services, offering an extensive range of options for synchronizing the movement of goods, information and funds. Headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., UPS serves more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. UPS’s stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange (UPS), and the company can be found on the Web at UPS.com.

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

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Ford Oakville to build hybrid versions of new vehicles

According to autonews24h, Ford will be investing $1 billion dollars in refitting the Oakville, Ontario plant. Plans include making the plant capable of building hybrid cars, making it the first auto plant in Canada capable of building hybrids.

The new plant will be able to build the hybrid versions of the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX crossover utility vehicle. Production of hybrids is not expected until 2010, however.

In order to build hybrids, the plant is being outfitted for flexible manufacturing. This will allow the assembly line to be reconfigured quickly as needed based on consumer demand.

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

Friday, February 17, 2006

Hybrid Perks

Washington Post writer, Steven Ginsburg, wrote an article on hybrid perks (2/14 - Washington post requires registration... which I hate!) relating to the Virginia HOV. While outlining the issues related to hybrids taking up more space in the traffic that is facing carpool lanes in Virginia, it seems like Steven Ginsburg is coming out against hybrids in the HOV. But, based on his comments in a discussion that afternoon, I had to change my opion. He is simply pointing out an issue faced by Virginia lawmakers about what to do about a growing problem.

First, let's outline the issues. Since allowing hybrids in, use has gone from 4% (two years ago) to 25% of the traffic in the HOV lane on I95. That's a big jump and one that concerns many a lawmaker. Why? If congestion builds up in the carpool lane, drivers may move back into their own cars. The arguement against that is, how many people were carpooling in the first place?

People tend to misunderstand why HOV lanes exist. It's not just to reduce traffic congestion (an extremely worthy cause, in and of itself). It's also meant to reduce gas and oil consumption as well as pollution in the cities. And that is exactly what hybrids do best.

That's why people buy hybrids in the first place. Consumers are not buying hybrids in order to get into the HOV lanes. It's a nice perk, but it doesn't pay the bills.

If you want to clean up the traffic congestion in the HOV lanes, the lawmakers should increase the fines relating to cheating. Those drivers who feel it's worth the risk to drive in the HOV lane when they don't have a sticker or don't have the extra occupants will think twice if the fine is increased from $50 on the first offense. Also, the increased fines would pay for the enforcement.

One issue I take with some of those who argue against allowing hybrids because some cars get better mileage is that question of pollutants. If a hybrid reduces it's pollution by 50 - 90% over your car, even if that car gets better mileage, then isn't that a huge benefit in the smoggy (is that a word?) cities.

Oh, one other point. Have you ever gone down and seen the HOV not being used because nobody was carpooling? Seems like a waste of space to me. If the HOV lanes slow down a little based on the hybrids occupying that space, I'd have to come down on the side of it being worth the price of admission.

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

Three hybrids listed as Greenest Cars of 2006

Of the top 12 greenest cars of 2006, as listed by Washington-based American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, only three hybrids made the cut. The Honda Insight, Toyota Prius, and Honda Civic hybrid.

Although both the honda insight and the honda civic gx (a limited natural-gas powered) tied with the highest (57) green score, the Honda Insight has a better mpg, giving it the top spot.

Toyota and Honda took all five top spots, while GM had three cars at 10, 11 and 12 with the Pontiac Vibe, Checy Cobalt, and the Saturn Ion.

The 'Meanest' vehicle was the DODGE RAM SRT10, with Dodge vehicles rounding out three of the worst five.

According to the FAQ at greener.com, the green score is calculated as follows:

We analyze automakers' test results for fuel economy and emissions as reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board, along with other specifications reported by automakers. We estimate pollution from vehicle manufacturing, from the production and distribution of fuel and from vehicle tailpipes. We count air pollution, such as fine particles, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and other pollutants according to the health problems caused by each pollutant. We then factor in greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide) and combine the emissions estimates into a Green Score that runs on a scale from 0 to 100. The top vehicles this year score a 57, the average is 30 and the worst gas-guzzlers score around 12. Further information can be found on the GreenerCars.com Methodology page.

The Greenest Vehicles of 2006

Make and Model Specifications a Emission Standard b MPG: City MPG: Hwy Green Score
HONDA INSIGHT 1.0L 3, auto CVT Tier 2 bin 5 / SULEV II 57 56 57
HONDA CIVIC GX 1.7L 4, auto CVT [CNG] c Tier 2 bin 2 / PZEV 30 34 57
TOYOTA PRIUS 1.5L 4, auto CVT Tier 2 bin 3 / PZEV 60 51 55
HONDA CIVIC HYBRID 1.3L 4, auto CVT Tier 2 bin 2 / PZEV 49 51 53
TOYOTA COROLLA 1.8L 4, manual Tier 2 bin 5 / ULEV II 32 41 46
HYUNDAI ACCENT 1.6L 4, manual Tier 2 bin 5 / ULEV II 32 35 45
KIA RIO / RIO 5 1.6L 4, manual Tier 2 bin 5 / ULEV II 32 35 45
HONDA CIVIC 1.8L 4, auto Tier 2 bin 5 / ULEV II 30 40 44
MAZDA 3 2.0L 4, manual PZEV 28 35 44
1.8L 4, manual Tier 2 bin 5 / ULEV II 30 36 44
CHEVROLET COBALT 2.2L 4, manual PZEV 25 34 43
SATURN ION 2.2L 4, manual PZEV 26 35 43

a Certain other configurations of these models (with different transmissions or meeting different emission standards) score nearly as well.
b A listing with two emission standards (e.g., Tier 2 bin 5 / SULEV II) denotes a single vehicle carrying both a Federal and California emission certification. Green Scores for such listings reflect the cleaner of the two certifications.
c Compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle fuel economy given in gasoline-equivalent miles per gallon.
d These vehicles are "twins" — the same base model carrying different names.

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Quantum Awarded Contract to Develop Hydrogen Hybrid SUV for the US Army

The army is going green, looking to evaluate and develop a hydrogen fueled hybrid (Ford Escape).

Irvine, California, February 15, 2006

Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide Inc. has announced that it has been awarded a contract to develop a hydrogen-fueled Ford Escape Hybrid vehicle for the U.S. Army National Automotive Center (NAC).

Under this contract, Quantum will evaluate different hydrogen fuel system configurations, considering the feasibility of bi-fuel (switchable between gasoline and hydrogen) and dedicated hydrogen systems. Quantum will develop an advanced hydrogen storage system, fuel injection system, and electronic controls required for the Hydrogen Escape Hybrid. The work will be conducted by Quantum at its Advanced Vehicle Concept Center in Lake Forest, CA.

This Hydrogen Escape Hybrid contract complements the Mobile Hydrogen Infrastructure program, which is funded in the FY 06 Department of Defense budget. The overall objective of the MHI program is to demonstrate the capability of Quantum's HyHauler Plus(TM) transportable hydrogen refueling stations to meet emerging hydrogen fuel demand as hydrogen and fuel cell technologies are deployed throughout the military as part of the 21st Century Base initiative. This demonstration program includes supporting the deployment of hydrogen internal combustion engine administrative vehicles, including the Hydrogen Escape Hybrid, as well as fuel cell vehicles.

"We are pleased that the U.S. Army has selected Quantum to develop the Hydrogen Escape Hybrid, as we continue our expansion into the hybrid vehicle market," said Alan P. Niedzwiecki, President and CEO of Quantum. "We are pleased that our successes with the Aggressor high-performance fuel cell hybrid off-road vehicle, the hydrogen hybrid Prius, and the HyHauler Plus(TM) transportable hydrogen refueling stations have led to new opportunities. Quantum is excited to see the traction that our hydrogen and hybrid vehicle technologies are gaining in the growing market."

About Quantum:

Quantum and its subsidiary, Tecstar Automotive Group, are leaders in powertrain engineering, system integration, and manufacturing of packaged fuel systems and accessories for specialty vehicles and applications including fuel cells, hybrids, alternative fuels, hydrogen refueling, new body styles, mid-cycle vehicle product enhancements and high performance engines and drive trains for OEMs and consumers of aftermarket parts and accessories. Quantum also designs and manufactures hybrid and fuel cell vehicles.

Quantum has product commercialization alliances with General Motors, AM General, and Sumitomo. Quantum's customer base includes General Motors, Toyota, Opel, Hyundai, Suzuki, Ford, DaimlerChrysler, AeroVironment, and the U.S. Army.

More information can be found about Quantum's products and services at www.qtww.com.

About the NAC

The National Automotive Center (NAC), founded in 1992, is the Department of Defense/ Army focal point for collaborative ground vehicle research and development. The NAC, located at the Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM), is an integral part of the Army's Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC). The NAC serves as a catalyst linking industry, academia and government agencies in the development and exchange of automotive technologies. The NAC leverages government, commercial industry and academia R&D investments, and initiates shared automotive technology programs. Its primary focus is to benefit current and future military ground vehicle systems through: performance improvements, service life extensions, and reduction in ground vehicle design / manufacturing / production / operation / support costs.

Forward Looking Statements

Except for historical information, the statements, expectations, and assumptions contained in the foregoing press release are forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, the Company's expectations regarding expected future revenues and operating results; future opportunities for Quantum; the Company's ability to fulfill orders in the future; and other statements about the future expectations, beliefs, goals, plans, or prospects expressed by management. Such statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, and actual results could differ materially from those discussed in any forward-looking statement. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from such forward-looking statements include, among other factors, prevailing market conditions; the Company's ability to design and market automotive products; the Company's ability to meet customer specifications and qualification requirements; availability of component parts and raw materials that meet the Company's requirements; and the Company's ability to source alternative materials and suppliers. Reference should also be made to the risk factors set forth from time to time in the Company's SEC reports, including but not limited to those contained in the section entitled "Risk Factors" in the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended April 30, 2005. The Company does not undertake to update or revise any of its forward-looking statements even if experience or future changes show that the indicated results or events will not be realized.

Source: Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide, Inc.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Ford is giving away an Escape Hybrid

As a follow-up to the Kermit the Frog ad in the superbowl, Ford is holding a sweepstakes to give away a brand new 2006 Ford Escape Hybrid. It's called the Easy Being Green sweepstakes. The Ford Escape Hybrid Sweepstakes begins on 2/5/06 and ends at 11:59 PM ET on 5/5/06.

Here's the link just in case you want to see the Kermit the Frog commercial again.

Test your hybrid IQ.

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Hybrid Engine

Hybrid Engines are typically described as engines with two power sources. The most common today is a hybrid gas-electric engine that combines the low pollution output of an electric engine, with the high power output of a gas engine.

There are as many gas-electric engines as there are hybrid cars. Each engine is designed to allow the gas engine and the electric engine to connect to the drive train to power the engine.

The gas engine and the brakes are used to recharge the battery for the electric engine eliminating the need to plug in overnight, as is necessary for a plug in electric only engine. When braking, some of the energy being expended to stop a car is collected by the regenerative brakes in an electric engine.

Typically, in a full hybrid, the electric engine takes control when the car is cruising, at stop, or when slowly accelerating. When extra power is needed, the gas engine kicks in to give the acceleration expected from today's cars. By allowing the electric engine to take over, hybrids are able to get higher mpg than their sister cars with gas only engines. But since most of the energy is collected/saved when the car is stopped or in braking, hybrid cars tend to get better mileage in city driving. Which is opposite what gas only cars should expect, as gas engines are most efficient at high speeds (highway).

When comparing hybrid cars to plug-ins, hybrid engines have not only eliminated the need for plugging in, they have also increased the range that is possible.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Tax Deduction on your 2005 hybrid -- Form 1040

Trying to figure out how to enter your tax deduction for buying a hybrid last year? Kiplinger is here to answer your questions

Hybrid Cars Save Taxes and Gas
Unfortunately, the IRS still hasn't found room on the 1040 to give this deduction it's own line. But you can claim your tax savings on line 36 of the Form 1040. That appears to be the place to total all the deductions listed above it, but you should just write "clean fuel" on the line and include your $2,000 deduction in your total.

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Monday, February 13, 2006

IC and Enova team up to create hybrid school bus


Project Increases Fuel Economy by About 40 Percent,
Signals IC Corporation’s Continued Leadership in the School Transportation Industry

WARRENVILLE, Ill. (Jan. 30, 2006) – IC Corporation, North America’s largest school bus manufacturer, is working with Enova Systems, Inc. to introduce the nation’s first hybrid school bus. The two companies have developed a prototype school bus with a hybrid diesel-electric drivetrain that is currently undergoing testing.

“Together, IC Corporation and Enova are delivering an integrated solution that allows the customer to attain an approximate 40 percent increase in fuel economy and also greatly reduce emissions,” said Mike Staran, Enova’s vice president of marketing.

The project features Enova's post-transmission 80 kW Hybrid Drive System and is currently being evaluated at IC Corporation’s research and technology facility in Fort Wayne, Ind. The hybrid school bus will be delivered to a school bus customer in spring 2006.

“With fuel prices at all-time highs, new innovations in hybrid technology are needed to help customers keep their operating costs lower,” said Michael Cancelliere, vice president and general manager of IC Corporation. “We feel that this technology could provide significantly improved fuel economy. In addition, even though current International diesel engines produce no visible smoke and low emissions, the hybrid program will reduce engine emissions even further.”

The hybrid bus announcement is the continuation of research and development for new technology in a number of different vehicles. IC Corporation’s parent company, International Truck and Engine, is working extensively on hybrid trucks for the utility industry.

The initial powertrain for the school bus project will couple an International® VT365 V8 diesel engine with an 80 kW hybrid-electric powertrain, incorporating a transmission, batteries and permanent magnet motor. The system is based on a parallel architecture, allowing the system to utilize both diesel and electric power in a highly efficient manner.

The system recovers kinetic energy during braking, charging the batteries while the bus is slowing down. This provides additional power for acceleration, making the hybrid buses ideal because of the frequent starting and stopping of the bus.

“IC Corporation is committed to environmental leadership and delivering value to our customers,” said Cancelliere. “We believe that diesel-electric hybrid technology can be made commercially viable for the school bus industry and this collaboration is the first step in making that a reality.”

About IC Corporation

IC Corporation, the nation’s largest integrated school bus manufacturer, is a wholly owned subsidiary of International Truck and Engine Corporation. International produces school bus chassis, mid-range diesel engines, medium trucks, heavy trucks, severe service vehicles, and is a provider of parts and service sold under the International brand. Both IC and International are subsidiaries of Navistar International Corporation (NYSE: NAV). Additional information is available site at: www.ic-corp.com.

About Enova Systems, Inc.

Enova Systems is a leading supplier of efficient, environmentally friendly digital power components and systems products. The Company’s core competencies are focused on the development and commercialization of power management and conversion systems for mobile and stationary applications. Enova applies unique ‘enabling technologies’ in the areas of alternative energy propulsion systems for medium and heavy-duty vehicles as well as power conditioning and management systems for distributed generation systems. The Company develops, designs and produces drive systems and related components for electric, hybrid-electric, and fuel cell powered vehicles. For further information, contact Enova Systems directly, or visit its Web site at www.enovasystems.com.

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Despite it's own success, Toyota is leary of interference from Congress in the follow-up to President Bush's State of the Union Address. As with most industries when faced with additional 'oversight' from the federal government, auto execs would be more likely to want their 'own solution' to the problem.

From an AP Report:

Toyota Motor Corp.'s top U.S. executive praised President Bush's emphasis on alternative fuels in his recent State of the Union address, but said the auto industry must devise solutions to the country's dependence on oil.

"We have to reassert our voice and take responsibility for being part of the solution," said Jim Press, president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. "It's time to stop being an 'against' industry and come out 'for' something."

Press spoke at the opening of the media preview of the Chicago Auto Show, which opens to the public Friday through Feb. 19.

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Marshall Plan for auto industry

An interesting idea being touted by the United Auto Workers Union (UAW) and now being championed by Hillary Clinton (D-Sen, NY). The "Marshall Plan" for automotive makers who invest in fuel-efficient technologies, such as hybrid or ethanol cars, would get federal funding for retiree benefits.

The Marshall Plan comes from history. After WWII, Secretary of State George C. Marshall developed a plan to aid Europe in getting back on it's feet after the devastation to it's economies, infrastructure, and people.

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Friday, February 10, 2006

Toyota investigated in patent infringement case

According to a Reuters, Toyota is being investigated by the US International Trade Commission in a complaint made by Florida based Solomon Technologies, Inc. Solomon Technologies filed a complaint against Toyota for infringing on a patent it holds related to motor and transmission systems.

While this sort of patent infringement cases are common in law, the results could be devastating to Toyota's import of hybrid vehicles (including the Prius and Highlander). If the ITC rules against Toyota, the motor and transmission under scrutiny would be banned from being imported into the US. Of course, that means the cars they come in would not be allowed, either.

Chances are good that nothing so serious would come of this matter, as such cases are usually settled out of court.

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Hybird Minivans

The only hybrid minivan out today is Toyota's Estima Hybrid Minivan, available in Japan. It was launched in 2001 as the first mass-produced four-wheel drive hybrid. The Sienna is American's (larger) version of the Estima. The hybrid Sienna will most likely be available in the US in 2007.

This seems like a huge opportunity for carmakers, that is just being left on the table. Most minivans retail in the high $20 to $30 thousand. It's quite likely the consumers who buy minivans would opt for the more expensive hybrid vehicle since minivans are already expensive. Consumers who buy minivans are looking for comfort and space, but are not worried about price. Give them a hybrid option, and I bet they would flock to buy them.

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Hybrids and US Policy

David Leonhardt wrote an interesting article for the New York Times titled 'How U.S. policy undermines hybrid cars'. But he gets some things wrong.

"Too bad the benefits of the new cult car have been so exaggerated...
hybrids have the most overblown mileage ratings in the auto industry. In the U.S. government's road tests, which are conducted in a world without much traffic or any air conditioning, the Prius gets 55 miles to the gallon...
Consumer Reports says the Prius really goes 44 miles on a gallon of gasoline. When I used one last week - and there is no denying that it's a great car to drive - I got 45 in New York City and on local highways."

While it's true that the MPG on hybrids is wrong (and by 10 mpg), it still puts the hybrid head and shoulders over the competition. And by not mentioning the EPA estimates of mpg on all cars is wrong, he seems to imply the hybrids are the ones that are getting it wrong. The EPA tells you these estimates are just that. You should use them for comparison purposes, not as real world predictions.

"In 1978, Congress set a minimum Corporate Average Fuel Economy for all carmakers. Today, the mandated minimum average for cars is 27.5 miles a gallon. For light trucks, which include SUVs, it is 21.6.

You can guess what this means for hybrids. Each one becomes a free pass for its manufacturer to sell a few extra gas guzzlers."

He forgets to point out how this policy has changed the production priorities of the big carmakers. Not to mention the savings in pollution output. To say hybrid cars makes it possible to gas guzzling cars/suvs to be sold is irresponsible. It's the US marketplace that is determining how many of these gas guzzlers are being sold.

The carmakers are paying the fines for being below the minimum average and are basically just costing them out as part of doing business. They are just passing those fines onto the customers, who are gladly paying them.

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Intellichoice selects hybrids as best overall value

Intellichoice, in it's 2005 Best Overall Value Awards, selected several hybrids for their significantly low costs to own. The Best Car Value for cars under $23,000 went to the hybrid Toyota Prius as well as the the Best of Midsize Class (under $21,000). Meanwhile both SUV categories -- under $28,000 and over $28,000 -- went to the Ford Escape Hybrid two-wheel drive and Toyota Highlander Hybrid two-wheel drive, respectively. In Best Compact over $16,000, the Toyota Camry Hybrid took first prize.

Hybrids are noted for their low fuel costs, but also their low maintenance costs. Not only that, but hybrids are especially good at keeping their value, resulting in high trade-ins.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

GM promotes it's March to Zero campaign.

As part of it's press release on promoting greater use of E85 technology, GM is also promoting it's March to Zero campaing for a global hydrogen economy. While years away from fruition, GM does have several hybrid vehicles available soon or available today. They include the Saturn Vue, the Chevy Tahoe, and GMC Yukon.

‘March to Zero’

E85 is just one of many gasoline-saving strategies GM is pursuing in its ultimate “March to Zero” vision of a global hydrogen economy. They begin with improvements to the internal combustion engine with technologies such as variable valve timing, six-speed transmissions, improved aerodynamics and Active Fuel Management™, GM’s fuel-saving cylinder-deactivation technology.

The Saturn Vue Green Line and Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon Two-mode Hybrids are among 12 hybrids GM will launch, providing customers with several levels of fuel economy savings at different price points on vehicles ranging from cars to full-size SUVs. The Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid SUV will go on sale this summer, deliver a 20-percent improvement in fuel economy and feature a base price of under $23,000. Next year, GM will introduce the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon Two-mode Hybrids, which deliver an estimated 25-percent improvement in fuel economy when GM’s two-mode hybrid system is mated with Active Fuel Management.

GM already builds and sells the industry’s first and only hybrid pickups, the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid and the GMC Sierra Hybrid, which deliver the highest city fuel economy in their segment. The trucks became available nationally as of the 2006 model year. GM’s patented two-mode technology also is at work in 380 hybrid diesel transit buses across the U.S. , with deliveries of 216 additional buses scheduled for 2006.

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Monday, February 06, 2006

Mayor Menino signs on to promote the hybrid plug in campaign

Mayor Thomas M. Menino has joined the Plug in Partners Campaign. According to the pluginpartners.org website other U.S. cities including Austin, Baltimore, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle have signed on to promote the use of plug-in hybrids.

The campaing is focused on promoting the use of PHEV's in cities by getting petitions drives and pledges for 'soft-orders' of PHEV's when they are available.

The plug-in hybrids allow the user to recharge their batteries using outlets overnight, allowing the car to travel 25 to 35 miles on battery power alone. This sort of technology is considered beneficial to in-city driving, where a local driver may not drive more than that every day. The use of PHEV's in the city cuts down on pollution and gas use in the areas where it is most needed.

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General Motors Gives Green Flag To Nascar E85 Ethanol Campaign At GM Flexfuel 250

Press Release:

DETROIT – In addition to promoting E85 and E85-capable vehicles on the street, GM will take its E85 ethanol campaign to the race track during the 2006 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) season, beginning with the season-opening GM FlexFuel 250, Feb. 17 at Daytona International Speedway.

FlexFuel-branded Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks also will serve as pace vehicles at Daytona and 10 other races on the 25-race NCTS circuit, as components of the “Live Green Go Yellow” (LiveGreenGoYellow.com) initiative announced last month in Washington, D.C. Live Green Go Yellow is an innovative partnership designed to promote E85 use and showcase GM’s E85 FlexFuel vehicle leadership to U.S. consumers – including millions of loyal NASCAR fans – throughout the year.

“GM and the Chevrolet Silverado brand are dedicated to helping grow an E85 infrastructure in the U.S. ,” said Brent Dewar, GM vice president, North America marketing and advertising . “Leveraging Chevy’s prominent presence in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series helps spread the word as we work to increase consumer awareness of E85 as a domestically produced alternative to imported oil and a way of reducing emissions.”

Tom Stephens, group vice president of GM Powertrain, is the Grand Marshal of the GM FlexFuel 250; and Beth Lowery, GM vice president of environment and energy, is the Official Starter of the race, which is the first on the 2006 NCTS schedule.

“E85 is a natural fit for Chevy cars and trucks, because it’s a high-octane fuel that delivers uncompromised power and driveability – a must for our customers,” said Stephens. “The pace vehicles are among the approximately 400,000 E85 vehicles GM will produce this year.”

Chevrolet has had a major presence in the NCTS since its inception, winning six of 11 manufacturers championships and 120 of the 267 races to date.

“It’s an honor to be the starter of the GM FlexFuel 250,” said Lowery. “Waving the green flag not only symbolizes the start of the race, but also GM’s ‘Live Green Go Yellow’ motto for our E85 initiative.

“There’s no better way to raise awareness of the energy and environmental benefits of E85 than through the excitement of NASCAR racing. Diversifying our energy supply is of national importance.”

E85 is a fuel blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. In the U.S. today, most ethanol is made from corn. E85 FlexFuel vehicles can run on any combination of gasoline and/or E85. GM already has 1.5 million E85 vehicles on the road in the U.S. and Canada , with 400,000 more coming this year.

The availability of E85 pumps more than doubled in 2005, with approximately 600 stations today and an estimated 2,500 by the end of this year, as consumer demand for the domestically produced renewable fuel increases.

General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), the world’s largest automaker, has been the global industry sales leader for 75 years. Founded in 1908, GM today employs about 327,000 people around the world. With global headquarters in Detroit, GM manufactures its cars and trucks in 33 countries . In 2005, 9.17 million GM cars and trucks were sold globally under the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, HUMMER, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn and Vauxhall. GM operates one of the world’s leading finance companies, GMAC Financial Services, which offers automotive, residential and commercial financing and insurance. GM’s OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. More information on GM can be found at www.gm.com.

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Friday, February 03, 2006

Increased Hybrid sales in January 2006

Honda and Toyota reported increased sales of hybrids in January 2006 as compared to January 2005. The number of Honda Civic hybrids increased from 1169 to 3165 (171% increase). The Insight sold 59 cars, as compared to 7 a year ago. The Toyota Prius maintained it's dominance in the hybrid market, selling 7654 units compared to 5566 (38%) last year.

Although sales were down on the Honda Accord, 805 to 351, Honda increased it's total number of hybrids sold from 1974 last January to 3516 this January.

Toyota Highland sales increased from December from 2198 to 2263. Meanwhile the Lexus RX 400h sales (1477) were down from December (2172), in a decrease of 32%.

Sales of hybrid cars have increased dramatically over the past two year. In January, 2004 4252 hybrid cars were sold. Only the Honda civic, Insight, and Toyota Prius were available at the time.

Sales figures on the Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner (hybrids) not available as of yet.

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Honda Accord Hybrid Pricing

Honda released it's pricing on the new accord hybrid and it's not going to be cheap. An accord (non-hybrid) has an MSRP Price Range: $18,225 - $29,400. The Accord Hybrid is going to start at $30,990. Add on the optional Satellite-Linked Navigation System with Voice Activation for an additional $2000. But don't forget the destination charge of $550.

The reason for the high price? It's not all because of the hybrid parts. It's about the luxuries, including leather interior with heated front seats. There's a dual zone automatic climate control, XM satellite radio, and a 6 disc cd changer. A moonroof will come standard on the 2006 model.

Resource: Honda Press Release 2.1.2006

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Hybrid batteries by Sanyo and Volkswagen

The next generation of batteries should be cheaper and lighter.  Sanyo is predicting the battery business for hybrid cars to come in at 400 billion yen in 2010.  Considering their goal of capturing half the market, that should pay off for both Sanyo and Volkswagen.

Sanyo, Volkswagen to jointly develop batteries for hybrid cars - Forbes.com

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Hybrid Cars allowed in HOV lanes.

The virginia senate has voted to allow hybrid drivers to continue using the HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes. Although there were some concerns about traffic congestion from the additional vehicles, the value of driving a hybrid (lower emissions, less fuel burned) in high traffic areas seems to have won out.

nbc4.com - News - Hybrid Cars Keep Place In Va. HOV Lanes

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General Motors Announces Production Of First Light-Duty, Hybrid Transmission To Be Manufactured In The U.S.

Good news for hybrid sales in the US. If GM can start to produce hybrid parts locally, this will bring prices down sooner. It's also great for producing jobs, as well.

Interesting note, however, is the $118 million dollar investment by GM, but a $10 million dollar investment by Toyota to create changes in Kentucky to create hybrid vehicles in the same line as their sister (non-hybrid) camry. I wonder if the numbers being quoted are measuring the same values?

WHITE MARSH, MD. - General Motors announced today that the first light-duty integrated hybrid transmission to be designed and built in the U.S., will be produced at GM's Baltimore Transmission plant. The new two-mode hybrid transmission will go into production next year and will initially be used in GM's all-new full-size SUVs, the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon. The vehicles will be assembled at GM's Arlington, Texas.

The only other U.S. designed and built hybrid transmission from a major auto manufacturer is also produced by GM. A heavy-duty two-mode transmission for urban transit buses began production in 2003. GM has provided 388 hybrid propulsion systems, designed and built in Indianapolis, Indiana, for transit systems in 29 cities in North America and Yosemite National Park. GM begins 2006 with orders for an additional 216 hybrid bus systems.

GM will invest up to $118 million to upgrade its GM Powertrain Baltimore Transmission facility for building a new, rear-wheel drive two-mode hybrid vehicle transmission. The investment will create up to 87 new jobs.

"Our two-mode hybrid transmission is a leap forward in hybrid technology and a key part of GM's unique strategy to offer several different hybrid systems in a range of popular vehicles," said GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner. "Our multi-pronged hybrid program is in addition to our many other efforts to minimize the impact of our cars and trucks on the environment, including the 1.5 million GM vehicles already capable of using ethanol/gasoline blended E85 fuel, and our cutting edge advances in hydrogen fuel-cell technology.

"With the first light-duty, hybrid transmission to be designed and built in the U.S., we're also very excited to be bringing new jobs and capital investment to Maryland," Wagoner said. "We applaud the United Auto Workers and Maryland's federal, state and local leaders for making this investment possible."

"This $118 million investment in new manufacturing equipment, new tooling and facility upgrades, is welcome news for UAW Local 239 members at Baltimore Transmission, and the Baltimore community," said UAW Vice President Richard Shoemaker. "This investment underscores GM's commitment to deliver fuel efficient, hybrid vehicles with cutting edge components from UAW-represented facilities like Baltimore Transmission."

GM Powertrain's Baltimore Transmission facility opened in 2000 and its 440-member workforce currently builds the Allison 1000 Series automatic transmission. The new investment will involve upgrades to the existing facility, including new manufacturing equipment and new tooling. About 100,000 square feet - approximately a quarter of the facility - will be dedicated to producing the two-mode hybrid transmission.

GM, DaimlerChrysler and the BMW Group are co-developing the light-duty two-mode technology, modeled on GM's multi-patented hybrid-electric diesel technology in urban transit buses. This partnership pools the technical expertise of all three companies and speeds development time while reducing costs for each OEM partner. In GM's SUVs, the two-mode hybrid system will be mated to a Vortec V8 with Active Fuel Management™ for a fuel efficiency gain of at least 25 percent by:

* Capturing electrical energy through regenerative braking
* Shutting the engine off (and fuel) at idle and during deceleration
* Providing an all-electric launch and drive capability

Two-mode hybrid technology uses a variable transmission with two electric motors and two hybrid modes of operation. The addition of a second mode to the drive system improves efficiency and reduces the need for exceedingly large electric motors. The second mode is used mostly when the vehicle is at higher speeds, such as on the highway, so fuel economy will be optimized in both city and highway driving.

The two-mode hybrid delivers seamless, dependable power on demand and in a more efficient package, with motors less than half the size of single-mode systems. It also presents tremendous possibilities for GM globally because it can be adapted for a wide range of vehicle types in any region of the world.

GM is launching a broad range of hybrid models, providing customers with several levels of fuel economy savings at different price points on vehicles from cars to full-size SUVs. GM already builds and sells the industry's first and only hybrid pickups, the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid and the GMC Sierra Hybrid, which use a light hybrid system and deliver the highest city fuel economy in their segment. The trucks became available nationally as of the 2006 model year.

General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), the world's largest automaker, has been the global industry sales leader for 75 years. Founded in 1908, GM today employs about 327,000 people around the world. With global headquarters in Detroit, GM manufactures its cars and trucks in 33 countries. In 2005, 9.17 million GM cars and trucks were sold globally under the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, HUMMER, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn and Vauxhall. GM operates one of the world's leading finance companies, GMAC Financial Services, which offers automotive, residential and commercial financing and insurance. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. More information on GM can be found at www.gm.com.

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Hybrid cars in Korea

The Korean government, in an attempt to combat rising oil prices and air pollution, has decided to buy 418 hybrid vehicles in the coming year. This is in continuation of policy that began in 2004 with the purchase of 50 hybrids from Hyundai.

Read more at the Korea Times.

The ministry plans to purchase a total 3,808 hybrid cars over the next three years; 1,195 in 2007 and 2,195 in 2008.

In 2004, the government purchased 50 Click hybrids manufactured by Hyundai Motor, the country’s largest automaker.

The government also purchased and operated 312 Hyundai Motor’s Verna and Kia Motors’ Pride hybrid models last year.

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