Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trading in for a hybrid

Edmunds released another top 10 list a few days ago, and I've been trying to write about it ever since. Unfortunately, there was an issue at their site all day yesterday and I couldn't find the article again. But it's back up and I can finally get the whole list.

What cars are being traded in when buyers go for a hybrid? According to Edmunds, it's a mixed bag:

  1. Toyota Prius
  2. Toyota Camry
  3. Honda Civic
  4. Honda Accord
  5. Ford Explorer
  6. Toyota Highlander
  7. Jeep Grand Cherokee
  8. Ford Escape
  9. Toyota Corolla
  10. Lexus RX 300
It's not surprising to see some of the most popular cars being traded in at high rates. After all, there are more out there to be traded. Also, Edmunds points out the high loyalty rating Toyota enjoys. Given that most hybrids being sold are from Toyota, its not surprising to see 5 Toyota/Lexus vehicles being traded in for hybrids. Also, the Prius has a very high satisfaction rating, so its really no surprise to see the Prius labeled number one. A highly satisfied customer who decides to go new will often buy the same car.

One suggestion for Edmunds. It might be interesting to see these ranked by a percentage of cars available. What I'm thinking about is the Honda Insight. Never in major production, it might be interesting to see if previous Insight owners go hybrid again (I'm thinking they do). But they'll never end up on this list given the low production numbers.

Source: Top 10 Models Traded In for Hybrids

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

Monday, October 30, 2006

ABI predicts 6% market share of hybrids by 2013

Despite all the talk about hybrid cars, altogether hybrids only make up about 1.25% of the US vehicle market. ABI, a hybrid research company looking into global market trends, cost and technological evaluations is predicting continued growth in this marketplace. Most of the growth will be due to the continuing expansion in choice of hybrids. At the moment, there are many different choices when it comes to hybrids, whether you are concerned with fuel economy, the environment, performance, or size consumers can find the hybrid that's right for them.

Press Release: Hybrid Vehicles Broaden Appeal to Grow Sales, According to ABI Research

-Hybrid vehicles have been a niche market at best since their first introductions in the late 1990s. First developed by Toyota and Honda, the early systems were examined in detail by their competitors, and the conclusion was that the added complexity and weight would make the vehicles too expensive for all but wealthy consumers with an interest in preserving the environment.

“Early hybrid vehicles sacrificed space, comfort, and performance for low emissions and high fuel economy,” says ABI Research senior analyst David Alexander. “Now a much wider variety of hybrid vehicles is available.”

A new ABI Research study, “Consumer Hybrid Vehicles,” finds that the market now offers the benefits of a number of different hybrid applications, some of which are still designed for reduced fuel consumption and emissions, while others offer enhanced performance or exclusive features such as AC power outlets. This adaptation to a wider market should see consumer hybrids’ market share in the United States rise from just 1.25% in 2005 to at least 6% in 2013.

“In the consumer market, education is critical to the uptake of any new technology,” says Alexander. “Many vehicle buyers now appear to have learned how hybrid technologies work and are getting interested in benefits other than better mileage. If fuel prices come down, performance becomes more desirable.”

Toyota has broadened its hybrid range from the deliberately quirky Prius, to include the Highlander SUV, the mainstream Camry, and a couple of Lexus luxury vehicles. Each is tuned to appeal to particular market segments. Honda has dropped its hybrid special vehicle, the Insight, in favor of enhanced versions of the Civic and Accord, both of which lean slightly more toward performance than economy.

GM will be launching its two-mode system next year in its full size SUVs under the tag line “No Compromise.” It has already introduced the mild hybrid Saturn Vue Greenline, and the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid pickup truck that features a built-in 110-V power supply. Ford’s Escape was promoted from the start as V6 performance with four-cylinder economy.

“Manufacturers are starting to tailor hybrid-electric technology to meet the needs of the target audience,” concludes Alexander.

“Consumer Hybrid Vehicles” (http://www.abiresearch.com/products/market_research/ Hybrid_Electric_Vehicles) provides an analysis of global market trends, cost and technological evaluations of different approaches and strategies used by hybrid system developers, and discussion of existing product announcements. Sales forecasts for vehicles are provided globally, by region, from 2003 through 2013. The study forms part of ABI Research’s Automotive Systems Research Service (http://www.abiresearch.com/products/service/ Automotive_Systems_Research_Service). (Due to their length, these URLs may need to be copied/pasted into your Internet browser's address field. Remove the extra space if one exists.)

Founded in 1990 and headquartered in New York, ABI Research maintains global operations supporting annual research programs, intelligence services and market reports in broadband and multimedia, RFID and M2M, wireless connectivity, mobile wireless, transportation, and emerging technologies. For information visit www.abiresearch.com, or call +1.516.624.2500.

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

Saturn Vue Green Line, why should you buy it?

When it comes to hybrid vehicles, GM is way behind in the technology and publicity. Toyota and Honda came out with the Prius and Insight, became 'overnight' sensations and GM has been trying to play catch-up ever since. But, they keep trying to do it in an economical manner, and keep getting slammed by hybrid 'purists' for it.

I say the Vue is a good step in the right direction. It may not be a huge step, but it is a step forward.

Vue pales in comparison
The Vue hybrid pales in comparison to the other hybrids on the marketplace. At about the same price, you could get a Prius, which claims an EPA rating of 60 city/ 51 highway. Other hybrid SUVs get much better fuel economy, and are capable of being full hybrids. In other words, they can move on electric power alone at low speeds.

Why buy a Saturn Vue Hybrid?
So, why should you buy a hybrid VUE? What it comes down to is price comparison. There are five SUV hybrids available today. The Saturn Vue Hybrid comes to the forefront if you have to have a SUV and you want to make a 'green' choice, but you don't have the extra money. With a price tag under $25K, you can't get a better deal on a hybrid SUV.

But there is a downside to that. You won't be getting any of the frills or fancy computer readouts that come with the more expensive hybrid SUVs. You also won't get as good a return on your fuel economy, which means you won't make up the extra money for over six years in gas savings. Your neighbors won't think you're saving the world (not when other hybrids can claim much higher rates), but you will impress other SUV owners.

Simple Questions
So at the end of the day, you need to ask some simple questions.

  • Do you want SUV space and towing?
  • Do you want to spend under $25K?
  • Do you want a hybrids fuel economy?
If so, you'll want to check out the Saturn Vue Green Line.

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

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Toyota Prius tops the depreciation list

Consumer Reports placed the Toyota Prius on top of their top 10 cars for depreciation. It seems used Prius are in high demand, both for their scarcity and for being one of only two hybrids available (until a very short time ago).

I wonder what will happen when there are more hybrids on the road (and more used hybrids on the lot).

Source: ConsumerReports.org - Top 10 best and worst cars in depreciation - Consumer Reports 10/06

Top 10
  1. Toyota Prius
  2. Mini Cooper
  3. Scion xB
  4. BMW M3
  5. Lexus RX
  6. BMW 6-Series
  7. Lexus GX
  8. Acura TSX
  9. Scion xA
  10. Honda Civic & Civic Hybrid

Bottom 10
  1. Ford Freestar
  2. Ford Crown Victoria
  3. Buick Rainier
  4. Lincoln Town Car
  5. Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan
  6. Mercury Grand Marquis
  7. GMC Envoy
  8. Ford Explorer
  9. Buick Rendezvous
  10. Chrysler Town & Country

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

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Go on a diet

Slate and Treehugger are sponsoring an eight-week carbon diet, to reduce your carbon footprint by 20% or about 5,000 lbs of CO2. Some details are found below.

By learning more and by pledging to take certain (even sometimes very small) actions, treehugger and slate are betting you can make this diet work. By taking a 'quiz' each week for eight weeks, they are hoping to change your habits.

For the next eight weeks, Slate, in collaboration with eco-Web site treehugger, invites you to consider your own individual contribution to global warming—and challenges you to go on a carbon diet. The goal is to reduce the amount of CO2 that you put into the atmosphere by 20 percent. If you're a carbon glutton who doesn't bother to turn off the lights when you leave the house, you may find this diet pretty painless. (And just think of the fringe benefits—lower heating bills, poorer oil barons.) But even if you're already a svelte recycler or a carpooler, there's a lot more you can do.

Start here by taking this initial quiz to determine your current carbon output. This is like weighing yourself at the beginning of a diet. Then, go straight to the first segment, which asks you to assess your transportation-related emissions and suggests ways to reduce them. Then, come back every week between now and Dec. 11 for the other units we've developed on such subjects as food, clothing, electricity, and holiday shopping.

You'll always take a short quiz, which will point you to a series of "action items"—things you can do to reduce your carbon output. It's only a few hundred pounds here and there, but it adds up. Once you've registered, we'll keep track of the carbon pounds that you lose from week to week, following up with reminders and additional tips while the program continues. We'll also keep track of how much we've lost collectively, shooting for that 20-percent reduction overall. Don't worry if you've missed the launch date; you can get started at any point by taking the initial quiz. And please, spread the word.

If you succeed in losing the full 20 percent, you will be eligible for two rewards. The first is a free Slate/treehugger Green Challenge T-shirt, brought to you by our friends at I'm Organic, which the first 500 people to complete the challenge will receive. The other is the knowledge that you've trimmed down to help the planet.

Via: autobloggreen

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

Hybrid Car Search Engine

In an attempt to use the new google coop search engine (see the search box above) to find relevant results for people looking for information about hybrid cars, I created a new search engine emphasizing certain sites I look to when I look for information about hybrid cars.

By emphasizing, I mean those sites will come up at the top of the list, but google still searches the whole world wide web.

That new search engine can be accessed here at my site or on its own home page, but I'm looking to you, my readers, to point me in the right direction as to other sources of information.

The sites I'm currently "emphasizing" are:

But these were just the ones I thought of off the top of my head. Are there other sites out there you think I should include? Let me know and I'll add them in.

* Update *
I added in several new sites, based on feedback (and good old common sense): treehugger.com, cleanmpg.com, hybridcars.about.com, and hybridcars.com.

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

Monday, October 23, 2006

Bob Stempel pushes for hybrids

Former GM Bob Stempel wants automakers to focus on hybrid electric vehicles, rather than just waiting for fuel cell technology. He believes by focussing in on hybrid technology today, carmakers will benefit in the transition to hydrogen later on.

The theory is this. By educating consumers on the advantages of change, they will be ready to transition to fuel cells later on.

Source: Fuel Cell Today - Car makers urged to focus on hybrid development to speed up fuel cell adoption

"We want automakers to use hybrids as a transition to hydrogen fuel cells and to introduce hydrogen power to increase consumer awareness," he told the newspaper.

"With more awareness comes more demand and with more demand, more companies will be willing to accelerate plans to add hydrogen pumps. Hydrogen stations are the key to this.

Bob Stempel is not an unbiased bystander, however. He is the current chief executive of Energy Conversion Devices, a company that manufactures conversion devices designed to allow conventionally-powered cars into a hybrid hydrogen system.

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

Demand for Hybrids will double by 2020

The Freedonia group, a Cleveland-based researc firm is predicting demand wordwide for hybrid electric vehicles will double by 2020.

By 2015, worldwide demand will hit 4.3 million units, and then double by 2020. With higher demand leading to higher production numbers, the premium cost is expected to decline.

Demand from Japan will be lower than in the US. Although demand from China is expected to escalate. Diesel options will keep demand down in Europe. Pressure from South Korea is expected to increase with local production.

Source: IndustryWeek : Demand For Hybrid Electric Vehicles Will Double By 2020

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

IRS certifies two more Ford models for the tax credit

The IRS recently certified the 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid 2 WD and 4 WD for a tax credit of $2,600 and $1,950 respectively. They also warn about the 60,000 hybrid car limit to the tax credit, but that's not really going to apply to Ford, despite their competitor, Toyota being already over the limit.

Read more below:

The tax credit for hybrid vehicles applies to vehicles purchased on or after January 1, 2006.

The hybrid vehicle certifications recently acknowledged by the IRS and their credit amounts are:

* Ford Escape 2 WD Hybrid Model Year 2005 $2,600
* Ford Escape 4 WD Hybrid Model Year 2005 $1,950

The 2006 Model Year Ford Escape Hybrid front wheel drive and 4 WD models previously were certified in the amounts of $2,600 and $1,950 respectively.

Consumers seeking the credit may want to buy early since the full credit is only available for a limited time. Taxpayers may claim the full amount of the allowable credit up to the end of the first quarter after the quarter in which the manufacturer records its sale of the 60,000th vehicle. For the second and third calendar quarters after the quarter in which the 60,000th vehicle is sold, taxpayers may claim 50 percent of the credit. For the fourth and fifth calendar quarters, taxpayers may claim 25 percent of the credit. No credit is allowed after the fifth quarter.

The total number of qualifying Ford hybrid vehicles reported sold as of June 30, 2006, was 11,885. Therefore, purchasers of Ford's qualified vehicles may continue to rely on the previously issued IRS certifications under Notice 2006-9 concerning the vehicle's qualification for the credit.

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

Friday, October 20, 2006

Upcoming Hybrids from GM

The Saturn Aura Hybrid will begin production next week in limited numbers down in Fairfax. The plant will be producing five hybrids a week for testing. GM is expecting the Aura Hybrid to be available in the spring of 2007. The latest hybrid from GM is expected to get about 20% better fuel economy than the conventional Aura gas only vehicle.

Sometime after that, GM is expected to produce the Malibu hybrid, which was originally promised for 2007, but has been pushed back.

The Aura Hybrid (Green Line) will be a mild hybrid, similar to the Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid SUV. With a smaller battery and electric motor, a mild hybrid is incapable of movement by electric motor only. Instead, GM has incorporated a belt-alternator start-stop system, capable of shutting down the gas engine when the vehicle has slowed or stopped. Regenerative braking will recharge the battery pack.

GM is also planning on releasing the The Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra as hybrids in the coming year. Based on new hybrid technology developed with BMW and DaimlerChrysler, the new dual mode hybrid is expected to improve gas mileage by 25%.

GM, BMW and DaimlerChrylser have invested over $1 billion in this new hybrid technology and all are expected to benefit from the joint effort. GM will be using the new hybrid technology (dual-mode hybrid) in its 2007 Yukon and Tahoe. DaimlerChrysler will have a hybrid Durango in 2008, while BMW, who just signed on last year to the joint operation, plans on having a hybrid in about three to five years.

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

Thursday, October 19, 2006

As gas prices drop, owner retention of larger vehicles increases

Of course, the opposite has been true over the past year. As gas prices increased, more and more consumers switched to smaller or just more fuel efficient vehicles. But now that prices have dropped significantly, more car buyers are sticking with what they know.

According to the Power Information Network (PIN), a division of J.D. Power and Associates, four of six high-volume large pickup models, four of five large utilities and seven midsize utilities all have experienced increases in owner retention during the same time period (mid-August to early October).

“It’s early, but this data suggests there still is life in these segments,” said Tom Libby, senior director of industry analysis at PIN. “These segments are important because they include many high-volume, high-profit models. These findings are also relevant because Ford, General Motors and Toyota all have new products coming in these segments.”

“The effect of rising gasoline prices on sales mix and retention rates has been evident for some time now,” said Bob Schnorbus, chief economist at J.D. Power and Associates. “It will be interesting to see if falling gasoline prices will have a completely opposite effect on the market, especially if prices remain above $2 per gallon. Most likely, consumers have fundamentally changed their perception of the importance of fuel prices in their purchasing decisions and will continue to shy away from larger vehicles.”

In other words, most consumers are pessimistic about gas prices increasing once again. So, Schnorbus feels that a fundamental shift has already occured. Despite the increase in loyalty rates, most consumers are going to look smaller in the future.

Source: PIN: Sales of Large Pickups and SUV Models Revive

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

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Cars Getting 30 mpg or better

I was curious about the fuel economy numbers released by the EPA and how GM was spinning them, so I tried tabulating some of the results. What I found surprised me. And yet, after a few moments of thought, it all started to make sense.

For instance, I had supposed that the smaller the car, the better the mileage. Of course, I had totally disregarded how small performance cars are. Of the 37 minicompact cars listed, only 2 of them (the VW Beetle) get 30+ mpg. But that number becomes less surprising when you consider Porsche accounts for 24 of the 37 since each powertrain is considered separately.

And when you look at class of cars, the small station wagon actually has the highest percentage (24 of 41 models for 59%) of cars getting 30+ mpg or better highway. Compact cars are right behind at 53%.

What follows is the number (and percentage) of models getting 30+ mpg highway for each manufacturer and class. Keep in mind that some manufacturers will have several lines (Toyota and Lexus; Ford and Mazda, etc..)

Models getting 30+ All Models
Manufacturer n %
ACURA 2 25% 8
AUDI 10 29% 35
BENTLEY 0 0% 6
BMW 8 16% 49
BUICK 1 9% 11
CADILLAC 0 0% 22
CHEVROLET 26 20% 127
CHRYSLER 2 6% 32
DODGE 3 6% 49
FERRARI 0 0% 6
FORD 8 13% 63
GMC 0 0% 79
HONDA 13 52% 25
HUMMER 0 0% 2
HYUNDAI 7 37% 19
INFINITI 0 0% 13
ISUZU 0 0% 5
JAGUAR 0 0% 12
JEEP 0 0% 30
KIA 5 33% 15
LEXUS 2 10% 20
LINCOLN 0 0% 3
LOTUS 0 0% 2
MAZDA 9 32% 28
MERCURY 0 0% 10
NISSAN 7 19% 37
PONTIAC 10 45% 22
PORSCHE 4 12% 34
SAAB 7 39% 18
SATURN 8 47% 17
SUBARU 2 7% 30
SUZUKI 11 58% 19
TOYOTA 17 35% 48
VOLKSWAGEN 17 68% 25
VOLVO 8 22% 37

Models getting 30+ All Models
Class n %
COMPACT CARS 63 53% 118
LARGE CARS 7 11% 61
MIDSIZE CARS 43 35% 122
SPEC PURP VEH - S.U.V. - 2WD 8 6% 131
SPEC PURP VEH - S.U.V. - 4WD 0 0% 155
TWO SEATERS 12 19% 63

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

GM Spins the EPA results

While spin has become expected at all levels of businesses, it's always fun to see spin back. Green Car Congress published a report today on the press release from GM over the latest EPA report on fuel economy for the car company. GM wants you to know that they have more models getting 30+ miles per gallon than any other automaker out there.

Green Car Congress makes the obvious point. GM produces and sells more models than any other automaker. With 52 out of 298 models getting 30 mpg or better on the highway, GM gets only 17.45% of its cars over that mark. In comparison, Honda gets 45.5% of their models over that mark by having 15 of their 33 models getting high marks for fuel economy.

Personally, I think it would better to break down the models by class, and then see where the automakers fall out. It's fairly easy for carmakers to get the subcompacts to get great fuel economy (see the Yaris or Fit, for example). So perhaps we should look at the percentage of cars being sold on differing scales. For instance, percentage of subcompacts getting 40 mpg or better, then compacts at 35 mpg or better and so on. GM sells more SUVs than Honda does, for instance, so it might be nice to compare apples to apples.

Either way, I found the discussion and points made by GCC enlightening. Take a look:Green Car Congress: Playing with Percentages: 30+ mpg Highway US Models for 2007

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

EPA rates hybrids to be the best when it comes to fuel economy

The US Dept of Energy and US EPA released the 2007 Fuel Economy Guide yesterday. According to their charts hybrids lead the pack taking best of class in compact (Honda Civic Hybrid), midsize (Toyota Prius), and SUV (Ford Escape Hybrid).

The top four best vehicles for fuel economy were hybrids, as well, with hybrids taking five of the top ten spots in the ranking by the EPA. Ranks were determined based on the system the EPA has used for decades to test fuel economy. The EPA is due to revamp their system in the next year due to consumer complaints on not being able to obtain these idealized ratings. Since the system was created before air conditioners became standard, you can imagine why some cars are getting significantly less than the measures released by the EPA.

What you won't see on this list is the Hummer, which may surprise some people. But the EPA does not rate trucks over 8500 pounds, making the Hummer excempt.

Highest Fuel Economy Models by Vehicle Class - 2007 Model Year

Class Model city/highway

  • Two-Seater Mazda MX-5 (manual) 25/30
  • Minicompact Car New Beetle Convertible 22/30
  • Subcompact Car Toyota Yaris (manual) 34/40
  • Compact Car Honda Civic Hybrid 49/51
  • Midsize Car Toyota Prius (hybrid) 60/51
  • Large Car Hyundai Sonata (manual) 24/34
  • Small Station Wagon Honda Fit 33/38
  • Midsize Station Wagon Ford Focus Wagon (manual) 27/37
  • Sport Utility Vehicle Ford Escape Hybrid FWD 36/31
  • Minivan Dodge Caravan 2WD 20/26
  • Pickup Truck Ford Ranger Pickup 2WD (manual) 24/29
  • Mazda B2300 2WD (manual) 24/29
  • Van (Cargo&Passenger) Chevrolet G1500/2500 Chevy Van 2WD (4.3 and 5.3 liter engines)15/20
  • GMC G1500/2500 Savana 2WD Cargo (4.3 and 5.3 liter engines)15/20
2007 Model Year Overall Fuel Economy Leaders

Rank Manufacturer/Model city/highway

  1. Toyota Prius (hybrid-electric) 60/51
  2. Honda Civic Hybrid 49/51
  3. Toyota Camry Hybrid 40/38
  4. Ford Escape Hybrid FWD 36/31
  5. Toyota Yaris (manual) 34/40
  6. Toyota Yaris (automatic) 34/39
  7. Honda Fit (manual) 33/38
  8. Toyota Corolla (manual) 32/41
  9. Hyundai Accent (manual) 32/35, Kia Rio (manual) 32/35
  10. Ford Escape Hybrid 4WD 32/29, Mercury Mariner Hybrid 4WD 32/29

Lowest Fuel Economy by Vehicle Class - 2007 Model Year

Class Model city/highway

  1. Two Seater Lamborghini L-147/148 Murcielago 9/14
  2. Minicompact Car Aston Martin DB9 Coupe, Volante (manual) 11/18
  3. Subcompact Car Bentley Azure 11/16
  4. Compact Car Bentley Continental GT 12/19
  5. Midsize Car Ferrari 612 Scaglietti 10/17
  6. Large Car Bentley Arnage LWB 10/15
  7. Small Station Wagon Audi S4 Avant 15/21
  8. Midsize Station Wagon Mercedes-Benz E63 EMG Wagon 14/20
  9. Sport Utility Vehicle* Jeep Grande Cherokee 4WD 12/15
  10. Minivan* Ford Freestar Cargo Van FWD 17/23
  11. Ford Freestar Wagon FWD 17/23
  12. Mercury Monterey Wagon FWD 17/23
  13. Pickup Truck* Nissan Titan 4WD 13/18
  14. Van (Passenger and Cargo)* Chevrolet G15/25 series 14/18
  15. Chevrolet H1500/2500 series 14/18
  16. GMC G15/25 series 14/18
  17. GMC H1500/2500 series 14/18
*Trucks over 8500 pounds gross vehicle weight rating are currently exempt from federal fuel economy requirements.

Lowest Overall Fuel Economy Models*
2007 Model Year

Rank Manufacturer/Model city/highway
1. Lamborghini L-147/148 Murcielago (automatic) 9/14
2. Bentley Arnage LWB 10/15
3. Lamborghini L-147/148 Murcielago (manual) 10/16
4. Ferrari 612 Scaglietti (automatic) 10/17
5. Ferrari 599 GTB 11/15
6. Bentley Azure 11/16
Bentley Arnage 11/16
7. Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder 11/17
Lamborghini L-140/715 Gallardo (manual-LR) 11/17
Ferrari 612 Scaglietti (manual) 11/17
8. Aston Martin DB9 Coupe, DB9 Volante (manual) 11/18
Bentley Continental Flying Spur 11/18
Bentley Continental GTC 11/18
9. Jeep Grande Cherokee 4WD 12/15
10. Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG 12/16
Mercedes-Benz R63 AMG 12/16

*Trucks over 8500 pounds gross vehicle weight rating are currently exempt from federal fuel economy requirements.

Source: Environmental Protection Agency - EPA Press Release: EPA/DOE Release Top Fuel Economy Lists for 2007 Models

The following online sources provide more fuel economy information:
-The joint DOE-EPA Fuel Economy web site, http://www.fueleconomy.gov , offers detailed information on vehicle fuel economy, including a complete downloadable version of the Fuel Economy Guide.

-Comprehensive information about EPA's Fuel Economy program: epa.gov/fueleconomy

-The Green Vehicle Guide web site, epa.gov/greenvehicles , provides browsers with a guide to locate the cleanest running and most fuel efficient vehicle that meets their needs.

The 2007 fuel economy leaders within each class as well as the lowest fuel economy models are listed below and available: epa.gov/fueleconomy/overall-high.htm

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

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

City Cab comes up with a new hybrid taxi

Some taxi cabs in London will have a new look in the near future, as the new City Cab comes to town.

The new cab seats five. "With air-suspension, its floor can be lowered 80mm to aid wheelchair access, and once inside, passengers can even watch the taxi's driving route, or surf the Internet. Although the cab is only a design study at the moment, it will soon be evaluated on test in Helsinki, with a view to it going on sale worldwide."

I just like the look of it. Also, the handicap access is impressive. The engine is built off of Toyota's Prius hybrid powertrain (Toyota Synergy) and runs near-silent at low speeds.

Source: Hybrid taxi | Auto Express News | News | Auto Express

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

Volkswagen looking to develop hybrid batteries

Volkswagen AG is establishing a special, donated, Chair for Applied Material Sciences for Energy Storage and Energy Conversion at Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster. Research is to be focused in on lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries have added power and longer life compared to the nickel-metal hydride batteries used in most hybrid cars today.

‘For Volkswagen AG, advances in the area of energy storage are one of the keys to further advancing drive technology. The deal sealed today lays the foundation stone for a very promising collaboration between industry and university-based research,’ said Prof Jürgen Leohold, head of Volkswagen Group Research.

Source: Volkswagen News | Volkswagen forges ahead with hybrid battery development

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

Monday, October 16, 2006

oyota Group Companies to Display Latest Electric,

Toyota is announcing their participation (in Japan) in the 22nd International Battery, Hybrid and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Symposium & Exposition (EVS-22). Demonstration models will include the GS450h cut-away display.

Toyota Press Release follows:

TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC), TOYOTA AUTO BODY CO., LTD., HINO MOTORS, LTD. and DAIHATSU MOTOR CO., LTD. announced today that they plan to exhibit at the 22nd International Battery, Hybrid and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Symposium & Exposition (EVS-22) to be held from October 23 to 28 at the Pacific Convention Plaza Yokohama (Pacifico Yokohama) in Yokohama. EVS-22 is one of the world's largest gatherings of its kind.

The exhibit by the four companies will occupy 450 square meters (Booth C-6 in Hall C), introducing the activities of the Toyota Group toward the realization of sustainable mobility and featuring the above four companies' latest electric, gasoline/diesel-electric hybrid and fuel cell vehicles (with some of the vehicles available for test rides).

Exhibit Outline


  • GS450h cut-away display
  • Fine-X fuel cell hybrid vehicle (concept model shown at the 39th Tokyo Motor Show in 2005)
  • FCHV-BUS cut-away display
  • High-pressure hydrogen storage alloy tank and 70MPa high-pressure tank for fuel cell vehicles
  • COMS (production electric-vehicle model with sealed lead acid battery)
  • Two COMS-based concept models (one with a lithium battery and the other with a fuel cell)
  • Hino Dutro Hybrid truck (production model)
  • HIJET CARGO Hybrid (production model) and hybrid unit
  • Tanto FCHV (concept fuel-cell-hybrid-vehicle model shown at the 39th Tokyo Motor Show in 2005)
  • Copen EV (concept model)

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

Intellichoice picks the Best deals of October 2006

IntelliChoice.com's "Best Deals of the Month" identify new cars, trucks and SUVs with the best ownership cost value in 29 respective classes. Selections are based on current vehicle pricing, market conditions and the lowest national manufacturer consumer rebate. In addition, IntelliChoice.com uses the latest information from numerous automotive resources to evaluate what it costs to buy, own, and operate each new model-year trim line over a five year basis.

Not surprisingly, given their emphasis on cost value, hybrids do well each time intellichoice runs their best deals list.

The following "Best Deals" for October 2006 are ranked by vehicle type and size:

Class  Brand  Model
Subcompact  Honda  Insight (Manual)
Compact over $16,000  Honda  Civic Hybrid (Auto)
Midsize under $21,000  Toyota  Prius
Compact Utility over $21,000  Ford  Escape Hybrid 2WD
Intermediate Utility over $29,000  Toyota  Highlander Hybrid 2WD

Source: Best Deals for October 2006

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

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Interest in Hybrid cars declining due to falling gas prices?

Cars.com released a statement indicating interest in hybrid cars and other fuel efficient cars was falling in relation to the falling gas prices. At the same time, interest in larger cars and SUVs has seen a big increase lately:

The top 10 increases for used vehicles were:

1. Porsche Cayenne, 15.13%
2. Hummer H2, 14.17%
3. Lexus LX 470, 13.64%
4. Hummer H3, 13.03%
5. Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class, 12.73%
6. Infiniti QX56, 9.06%
7. Ford Bronco, 8.42%
8. Mercedes-Benz CL-Class, 8.35%
9. Cadillac Escalade, 7.40%
10. BMW X5, 7.29%

The top 10 decreases for used vehicles were:

1. Honda Insight, 30.65%
2. Toyota Prius, 29.88%
3. Toyota Yaris, 27.91%
4. Chevrolet Prizm, 27.23%
5. Ford Contour, 26.46%
6. Geo Metro, 25.01%
7. Volkswagen Jetta, 24.08%
8. Volkswagen Beetle, 22.91%
9. Toyota Tercel, 22.80%
10. Ford Focus, 22.42%

But their report leaves a lot of questions. It's not surprising to see a dip in searches, but what's the overall rate of searches for these cars? If there were 50,000 searches in August on the Prius and there were 35,000 searches in September (30% drop), that would be a big decrease. But if the Porsche Cayenne increased 15% from 15,000 last month to 17,250 searches, that's a big increase, but still fewer searches than for the Prius.

At the end of the day, and despite the headlines according to CarMax, fuel-efficient cars remain popular. The 10 most popular vehicle searches from the nearly 4 million visits to carmax.com this September are (in order or ranking): Honda Accord, Ford Mustang, Toyota Camry, Honda Civic, Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford F150, Nissan Maxima, Toyota 4Runner, Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

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

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Audi worries about demand for hybrids

In the article from Reuters, Marius Lehna, project manager for the hybrid Audi Q7 sport utility vehicle, warns that greater demand of hybrid vehicles must come from the US.

The US is the largest consumer of automobiles in the world. And with 70 percent of the hybrid vehicles sold worldwide being sold in the US (21 percent in Japan), the demand for hybrids is being driven by the US market.

But the demand isn't high enough to justify the complexity of building and selling these cars. It seems (reading between the lines in the comments from Marius) that a bottom limit of 15,000 units per year need to be sold to justify the extra costs. But, at the moment, the younger crowd can't get into the market in large numbers.

Of course, that's becuase the cost is too high for the younger market (in my opinion) to enter. Its going to take a reduction in price to get them 'energized.' But, of course, in order for the cost to come down, more hybrid cars need to be manufactured.

But Marius seems to be missing part of the story. Toyota seems to be willing to pay the initial cost of investment into this industry and has already received some of the dividends. Audi and other carmakers whoc choose not to enter the hybrid market, won't be able to take advantage of the goodwill from consumers (and the loyalty that comes with it).

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

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

How are hybrid cars made?

This piece from ZDNet is quite amazing. A description of how the plant that makes the Toyota Prius, Camry Hybrid and Premio (Japanese only) cars over in Japan makes me (almost) want to go work there.

A list of some of the innovations noted:
1. The andon cord is hung overhead on both sides of every production line. When a worker sees a problem, he pulls the cord, stopping the line ... And, instead of an alarm, a cheery song plays.

2. New engineers spend two months on the floor followed by three at a dealer.

3. A doorless system, whereby Toyota removes the doors after painting and before final assembly to reduce nicks and scratches.

4. About two to four hours of inventory are kept on hand. Whenever workers in the procurement area fill a bin with parts...an electronic order is placed at a third-party supplier for more parts.

5. Except for hybrid cars and gas cars, different cars and engines are assembled on the same manufacturing line.

7. Toyota looks to the concept of "jidoka," which roughly translates to "man and machine working together." A dolly filled with parts and spare tools follows a worker as he walks from one end of his work area to another. (These are different than the motorized robots that scurry across the floor). Following the worker cuts down on wasted movement (although, it may be creepy in a sci-fi movie type of way).

8. The rakuraku, a sling-chair thing suspended from the ceiling, shuttles workers along as the car goes through the assembly line.

9. Both the rakuraku and automated dolly were suggestions from assembly line workers. Overall, employees submit about 600,000 ideas a year--that's about 14 suggestions per employee--on ways to improve processes. Employees get bounties ranging from 500 yen (about $4.20) to 200,000 yen (about $1,680) for ideas that get implemented.

The results: In all, it takes only about 20 hours to go from stamping out the first steel body parts to a finished car. Toyota accounts for 43 percent of car sales in Japan, excluding the minicar market, and 16.5 percent of U.S. sales.

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

Monday, October 09, 2006

Ford Escape Hybrid Recall

Ford is placing a recall on all Escape Hybrids built between July 28, 2005, through April 21, 2006, at Ford's Kansas City, Mo plant. After a handful of complaints, Ford investigated and found an issue with the drive-train shaft.

Source: RECALL: 6,164 Escape hybrid SUVs with drive-train problems: South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Ford Motor Co. will recall 6,164 Escape hybrid sport-utility vehicles for inspections because a drive-train shaft may fracture, a U.S. agency said.

Ford will replace the shafts if necessary, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said today in Washington.

The intermediate shaft may not have been properly heat-treated, and a fracture may result in the SUV rolling after the gearshift is placed in ``park,'' the agency said on its Web site.

Ford received a ``handful'' of reports about the problem and then began examining it, said Kristen Kinley, a spokeswoman for Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford.

``There have been no reports of injuries or accidents,'' she said.

The recall covers only the four-wheel-drive version of the gasoline-electric 2006 Escape. It's expected to begin on or before Oct. 23, the safety agency said.

The SUVs in question were produced from July 28, 2005, through April 21, 2006, at Ford's Kansas City, Mo., assembly plant, the company said in a statement. Ford, the second-largest U.S. automaker, said it identified 14 reports of the problem through its internal database.

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

Turn off the backing up beep in the Toyota Prius

I found the following hack on how to turn off the back up beep in the Toyota Prius. Source:Disable Backup Beep - GreenHybrid

1. Power on the car to IG-ON or READY. IG-ON will do for this purpose.
2. Using the Trip/ODO button, set the Trip/ODO display to ODO (not Trip A or Trip B)
3. Power off the car.
4. Now power the car to READY (brake on). This is required so that step 6 works correctly.
5. Within 6 seconds of powering on, press and hold the Trip/ODO button for 10 seconds or more (there is no indication... just count)
6. WHILE STILL HOLDING ODO *after* the 10 seconds, shift the "gear" selector to R, then press the P button. Now release the Trip/ODO button.
7. If the last step was successful, "b on" or "b off" should be displayed in the location where the Trip Odometer or Odometer is normally displayed (front dash area). "b on" is beep on (default), and "b off" is beep off.
8. Press Trip/ODO to toggle the mode.
9. Now power the car off to exit the toggle mode.
10. Power the car on to READY and confirm the reverse beep status by shifting to R. The beep should not be audible if "b off" was selected, and should be audible if "b on" was selected.

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

Friday, October 06, 2006

Ford looks to build hybrid vans

Ford is not giving up on hybrid technology, they've just taken a side turn. After backing off a promise to build 100,000 hybrids by 2010 (an unlikely proposition when they are only selling 1,700 hybrid vehicles a month right now), Ford declared they were going to concentrate on flex fuel vehicles instead.

But at the same time, they announced a huge investment by Volvo into developing hybrid technology and now they are looking to build hybrid vans.

Azure Dynamics Corp announced they will be building a hybrid system for Ford's E-350 and E-450 commercial chasis by early 2008.

"Ford has stated its desire to become a world leader in hybrid vehicle technology," Azure Dynamics Chairman and CEO D. Campbell Deacon declared in the press release. "We are excited to work on this product."

It's an interesting insight into the Ford vision. They seem to be looking to capitalize in the hybrid marketplace on what they know about (Vans, SUVs) and are leaving the smaller vehicles to Honda and Toyota.

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

Whats new for the 2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrid

Mariner Hybrid Proves its Durability and Urban City Prowess

Mariner Hybrid comes with a 2.3-liter DOHC 16-valve Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine and a permanent magnet AC synchronous motor. The gasoline engine produces 133 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 124 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,250 rpm. The electric motor produces 70 kw @ 5,000 rpm and 330V maximum voltage. The net result is 155 horsepower with 0-60 times comparable to a 200 horsepower V6 engine and a boost in city-driving fuel economy of nearly 75 percent. A smooth-shifting, electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is the only available transmission on the hybrid model.

For 2008, Mariner Hybrid engineers made revisions to software in the control system to improve transparency, or the transition between gasoline and electric operation. The transition from all-electric to gasoline power to a combination of the two is now even more seamless and virtually imperceptible to the driver. Also, the four-wheel-disc regenerative brakes have also been retuned to provide better feel. With the 2008 model year, Mariner Hybrid will be available for the first time with a choice of front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Previously, the Mariner Hybrid was offered only as a four-wheel-drive model.

Mariner Hybrid continues to be a “full” hybrid. This means that, unlike other "mild" hybrid vehicles, Mariner Hybrid can run on 100 percent electric power up to about 30 mph, maximizing in-city fuel economy. Mariner Hybrid automatically switches between pure electric power, pure gasoline engine power or combined operation of the two to maximize efficiency and performance.

Full hybrids achieve their greatest improvement in fuel economy during stop-and-go driving where the electric motor is most efficient. The Mariner Hybrid provides approximately 75 percent better fuel economy in city driving than the conventional V6 Mariner.

Enhanced Styling
  • A “top of dash” display positioned at eye level on the dashboard shows inside and outside temperature, radio functions and climate control readouts. When the driver or front passenger adjusts a knob or button on the instrument panel, the change is reflected in the eye-level display instead of lower down on the dashboard where information is typically located. This simple, efficient design puts much of the vehicle’s information in one place at the top of the dashboard, making it easier to read while driving.

  • Ice Blue Lighting replaces green on the instrument cluster, on the center console, on the door lock and window switches and on the steering wheel. Ice Blue presents a cool, crisp, easy-on-the-eyes light for night driving and enhances the overall quality feel of the interior.

  • Replacing the traditional “brick” design for the radio and heating/air conditioning controls, Mariner features dials and buttons that “poke-through” the center console. The instrument panel houses audio and climate controls, a standard MP3/iPod ® jack, controls for the heated seats and an available in-dash Navigation system. The result is a more integrated, more finished look.

Reduction in Road Noise

Engineers made a host of changes to the 2008 Mariner to lower NVH levels inside the vehicle. A new acoustic windshield laminate is sandwiched between two glass panels in the front windshield. In addition to preventing the windshield from breaking apart in a collision, the new laminate material reduces the sound level of wind noise experienced in the vehicle. There’s an acoustic headliner in the vehicle as well, and the interior carpet is thicker than the previous model and does a better job of isolating noise. Overall, carpet volume has increased by 25 percent with a 50 percent increase in thickness over about 50 percent of the area.

  • Side glass thickness has increased from 3.8 to 4.7 mm and helps prevent outside noise from entering the passenger cabin.
  • On V6-equipped models, engineers moved the alternator from the right to left side of the engine. Because the engine is transversely mounted, the noise is now located farther away from the passenger cabin.
  • A new, quieter cooling fan reduces idle noise.
  • All-wheel drive models have a new rear differential that is quieter and smoother.
  • New windshield molding and low profile wipers help improve airflow around the vehicle and reduce wind noise.
  • Redesigned recessed channels on top of Mariner are staggered and shorter to reduce boom as air flows over the top.
  • Outside mirrors are larger and careful attention was given to their design to minimize wind noise.
  • Additional sound deadening material has been added throughout the vehicle to reduce noise throughout the interior.

Safety Canopy™ with "Roll-Fold" Technology Offers Enhanced Rollover and Side-Impact Protection

Safety Canopy™ side air curtains deploy in certain side-impact collisions, or if an impending rollover is detected, to help protect front- and second-row outboard occupants. The curtains remain inflated for several seconds after deployment to enhance protection during an extended crash event.

The air curtains feature "roll-fold" technology. If occupants are improperly seated and resting their heads against a window, the Safety Canopy™ is designed to slide between the glass and occupants as it inflates.

Mariner is also one of the first 2008 model year vehicles designed to meet the upgraded, phase II Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) for front- and side-impact collisions.

Designed with the new standard in mind, Mariner has new doors and a standard side-impact protection system; on the previous-generation Mariner, the side-impact protection system was available as an option only. Mariner also enters 2008 retaining the previous model’s double four-star front occupant safety rating from NHTSA.

Additional Mariner safety features include front seat load limiting seatbelts with dual-pretensioning that, in the event of a collision, remove the slack out of the safety belt in two places – at the buckle and at the retractor. This cinches the driver and front passenger in their seats and allows the seatbelts to "payout" through the ride-down of the crash event. Additionally, the driver and front passenger front airbags are new (the driver’s bag is one inch larger), and the energy absorbing knee bolster system of the instrument panel has been redesigned to provide better protection for both driver and front passenger.

Other Safety Features
  • Anti-lock Brake System (ABS): ABS regulates brake pressure to help prevent wheel lockup when trying to stop the vehicle.
  • Traction Control: When the traction control system detects a loss of adhesion between the wheels and the road surface, a computer quickly responds by reducing engine power when necessary and selectively applying brake force to the slipping wheel while transferring power to the opposite wheel.
  • Yaw Control: When understeer (which leads to “pushing” wide in a turn) or oversteer (which leads to the rear-end losing grip and coming around, or “fishtailing”) is detected, the system selectively applies individual brakes and modifies engine power to maximize control.
  • Vehicle Roll-motion Sensor: The Ford-exclusive gyroscopic roll-rate sensor helps monitor vehicle roll motion approximately 150 times per second. If it detects a significant roll angle, it automatically engages AdvanceTrac ® with RSC ® to help keep all four wheels safely on the ground.

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

2007 Chevy Silverado wins Highest Ranked Large Pickup in Initial Quality

Chevrolet introduced the all-new 2007 Silverado which is the newest generation of the industry’s most dependable pickup truck. Chevrolet Silverado is the strongest Silverado that delivers segment-best power and fuel economy.

Source: Modified Press Release

For a smoother and responsive ride the 2007 Chevrolet Silverado lineup is built on an all-new platform. A lineup of six powerful, Gen IV small-block V-8 engines balances the stronger frame for a light-duty delivery of segment’s highest-rated towing capacity, horsepower and fuel economy, with a maximum payload capacity of 2,160 pounds.

2007 Silverado Classic model includes the Silverado Half-Ton, Silverado Hybrid, Silverado SS, Silverado 1500HD, Silverado 2500HD and Silverado 3500.

Chevrolet’s Silverado 2500 and 3500 came top among pickups in the heavy-duty segment in Strategic Visions’ 2006, Total Quality Awards. Chevrolet’s Silverado 1500 light-duty earned the “Highest Ranked Large Pickup in Initial Quality” of J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study. As per their study, Chevrolet Silverado 1500 light duty is the most sophisticated, silent, smoothest, well equipped, and a pleasurable pickup introduced in many years. Flexible ride has been enhanced to a higher comfort level as a driver-selectable suspension (AERC option) on a pickup truck has been applied for the first time.

One of the many power train options is the popular 315-horsepower 5.3-liter V8. The Silverado can be also be equipped with a 195-hp 4.3-liter V6, a 295-hp 4.8-liter V8, a flexible-fuel 5.3-liter V8 that operates on E85, or a 367-hp 6.0-liter V8. For heavy-duty models diesel engines will be available, which will be available around February 2007.

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

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Nissan Altima Hybrid - 2007

The 2007 Nissan Altima Hybrid was unveiled at the Model Orange County Auto Show in Anaheim, California today.

Built in Smyrna, Tennessee this is the first hybrid car produced by Nissan to sell in the United States (they also produce the Nissan Cabstar). Nissan has been reluctant to enter into the hybrid automotive marketplace and has fallen behind in developing their own technology. The next hybrid car out from Nissan will most likely be built on Nissan technology exclusively, but not until 2010 at the earliest.

Therefore the new Altima Hybrid (available in early 2007) will be built on Toyota technology mated to a Nissan engine with a few tweeks. Inside the new hybrid engine, you'll find a 244-volt Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) battery pack, electric motor and continuously variable timing control system (CVTCS) for continuously variable valve timing (CVT) from Toyota. These systems are mated to a modified Nissan 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gas engine with a 9.6:1 compression ratio (standard motor set to 9.5:1).

Together the hybrid electric gas engine provides 199 lb-ft (270 Nm) torque and 198 hp (148 kW). The Altima Hybrid is rated at 41 mpg city/ 36 mpg highway (39 mpg combined) along with the 20 gallon fuel tank can give you about 700 miles between fill-ups.

The suspension has been tweeked in the front and rear to support the extra weight due to the enlarged engine and the weight of the battery pack in the rear. The Altima Hybrid comes standard with anti-lock brakes, 4-wheel independent suspension, and anti-lock brakes. Other options include dual-zone climate control.

The air conditioner is powered by the electric motor, allowing the A/C to run even when the gas engine has been turned off. Expect the A/C to drain the battery back causing the gas engine to turn itself back on when needed to recharge the electric motor/generator.

The new Altima Hybrid has been classified as an Advanced Technology-Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (AT-PZEV), which certifies it to meet California emission regulations.

A full hybrid, the Altima Hybrid will run on electric-only mode at low speeds. The gas engine won't kick in until after the initial acceleration. When needed, the electric engine will assist the gas engine at higher speeds. But in this symbiotic relationship, the gas engine (along with the regenerative braking) will recharge the batteries when needed.

The Altima Hybrid has a digital display on the spedometer which indicates when the car is in all electric power. An optional DVD nav system features a display showing the flow of energy.

Pricing has not been set, yet, but buyers should expect to pay a premium of $3,000 to $5,000 over the base Nissan Altima price.

Nissan has decided to sell the hybrid Altima exclusively in the eight states that have adopted California emission standards; California, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, Maine and New Jersey.

Read more about the Nissan Altima unveiling at greencarcongress and autobloggreen (including photo goodness).

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

Hybrid Sales, September 2006

September brought a not unexpected dip in hybrid car sales from August, but sales are still up 21.5% from last year to 23,301 units sold. Toyota was the only company contributing to that increase, with a whopping 43.9% increase in sales from last year due mostly to increased production of the Prius and the recent introduction of the Camry Hybrid. They may have also benefitted from car buyers rushing to take advantage of the federal tax credit which was halved for Toyota at the end of the month. Ford was down 8.7% from last year, while Honda was down 33.0%. Honda is still suffering in comparison to last year because of the decrease in sales of the Accord Hybrid.

Toyota increased sales of its Prius from 8,193 to 10,492 units sold, an increase of 13.5%. The Prius has expanded production now that the Camry Hybrid is being built in the US plant, and is no longer taking production numbers away from the Prius. Highlander Hybrid sales were down 11.8% to 2,347 units sold in September from 2,715 last year. The Lexus RX 400h was also down to 1,687 units, a decrease of 41.9%. Toyota Camry Hybrid sales are still going strong at 4,044 units sold, while the Lexus GS 450h sold 164 units. Which means the Prius and the Camry are still the top two hybrids being sold on the market today.

Ford sold 1,651 Escape Hybrids and Mercury Mariner Hybrids combined. This was an decrease of 8.7% from last year. This is the firs time since January of this year that Ford has had fewer hybrid units sold in comparison to last year.

Honda Hybrids sales have slipped from last year because of the huge decrease in Accord Hybrid sales. Down 83.5% from 2352 units sold last year to 389 units sold this past month, the Accord hybrid has suffered in comparison to other hybrids and its gas counterpart. The electric engine was designed to assist its gas counterpart with extra power, but consumers seem unwilling to pay a premium for a hybrid that isn't that much more powerful than the conventional gas-only Accord.

The Honda Civic Hybrid, on the other hand is up 30.9% to 2,508 units sold in September, making it the third most popular hybrid being sold. The Insight has been retired, and sold only 19 units this past month.

Toyota continues to dominate the hybrid auto marketplace, selling 69.1% of the hybrid cars this year. By selling three of the top four most popular hybrid vehicles (the Highland Hybrid slipped from third to fourth last month, giving way to the Honda Civic Hybrid), Toyota has capitalized on being one of the first to the hybrid market. And unlike Honda, they correctly predicted that hybrid sales would be dominated by the company making the cars US consumers are interested in more fuel efficient, not more powerful. The only concern for Toyota may be the decrease in federal tax credits for their vehicles.

September does mark the first time since February that Toyota hybrid sales have decreased, month to month, but that's not unexpected given the seasonal pattern of cars sales.

Hybrid car sales dropped more than Hybrid SUV sales did from last month. That may be due to the recession in gas prices. Hybrid SUV sales made up 24% of the hybrids sold in September, an increase from last month when they only made up 22%.

The coming months may see some interesting changes, as the Saturn Vue Hybrid comes out. Also, the 2007 Altima Hybrid, just introduced at the Orange County Auto Show will be on the market soon. It also remains to be seen how Toyotas sales will be influenced by the changes to the federal tax credit.

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

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Mercury Mariner wins Motorist's Choice Awards

According to the press release, IntelliChoice.com and AutoPacific created the Motorist's Choice Awards to determine the vehicles that delivered both the highest satisfaction and lowest cost of ownership. The collaboration between the two respected firms, who have each been authorities on the U.S. auto market for the last 20 years, takes selected owner satisfaction data from AutoPacific's surveys of new car and light truck buyers and combines it with IntelliChoice.com's rating methodology to create a new measurement that speaks to both the hearts and minds of car buyers.

Mercury Mariner Hybrid

The Mercury Mariner Hybrid won the small crossover/sports utility class. But it did not win in the SUV/Crossover category. That award went to the Infiniti QX56. Award presentations will be made to each winning manufacturer at the Orange County Auto Show on October 4, 2006.

The top winners in each category were:

Cars/Wagons:Lexus LS430
SUVs/Crossovers:Infiniti QX56
Minivans:Honda Odyssey
Pickup Trucks:Chevrolet Avalanche 1500 (2WD)

This year is the first year for the awards. A full list of winners follows:

729Lexus LS 430Luxury Car
707Audi A6 4.2 QuattroSports Sedan/Wagon
700Toyota AvalonFullsize Car
684Lexus ES 330Near Luxury Car
682Chevrolet CorvetteSports Car
674Lexus SC 430Luxury Convertible
673Honda Accord Sedan V6Midsize Car
656Honda Accord CoupeCompact Car
653MINI Cooper ConvertibleConvertible
647MINI CooperSubcompact Car
637Honda Civic SiBase Sports Car
620Subaru Legacy WagonMidsize/Fullsize Wagon
609Scion xBCompact Wagon
737Infiniti QX56Luxury Sport Utility
704Nissan ArmadaSport Utility
700Lexus RX 330Luxury Crossover
664Nissan MuranoMidsize Crossover
660Toyota 4RunnerIntermediate Sports Utility
638Mercury Mariner HybridSmall Crossover/Sports Utility
625Kia SportageCompact Sports Utility
697Chevrolet Avalanche 1500 2WDFullsize Pickup Truck 2WD 1/2 Ton
695Honda RidgelineCompact Pickup Truck 4WD
694Chevrolet Silverado 2500 Extended Cab 2WDFullsize Pickup Truck 2WD 3/4 Ton
686Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Extended Cab 4WDFullsize Pickup Truck 4WD 1/2 Ton
645Chevrolet Avalanche 2500 4WDFullsize Pickup Truck 4WD 3/4 Ton
638Dodge Ram 3500 Mega Cab 2WDFullsize Pickup Truck 2WD One Ton
638Dodge Ram 3500 Mega Cab 4WDFullsize Pickup Truck 4WD One Ton
617Toyota Tacoma 2WDCompact Pickup Truck 2WD
664Honda OdysseyMinivan

The Motorist's Choice Awards were calculated by combining IntelliChoice.com cost of ownership data with AutoPacific's customer satisfaction survey data.

AutoPacific surveys 45 different vehicle ownership attributes, and of these, 38 product-focused attributes were used. Each of the product attributes generates a score between 5 and 25, allowing a maximum possible score of 950, which is then normalized to 1000. The actual scores range from 495 to 756.

The remaining seven attributes are cost-ownership-focused and addressed by IntelliChoice.com: Depreciation, Financing, Fuel, Insurance, Maintenance, Repairs, and State Fees. IntelliChoice.com rates vehicles based on the vehicles' total ownership cost against the vehicles' total expected cost.

To merge the IntelliChoice.com data with the AutoPacific rating system, IntelliChoice.com ranked each model within the 29 different classes. A conversion formula was then used such that the best model within the IntelliChoice.com analysis received the equivalent score as the best model within the AutoPacific analysis, and the worst model received the equivalent score as the worst model within the AutoPacific analysis. This conversion was done for each class.

The final step was to combine the AutoPacific score with the converted IntelliChoice.com score. This was accomplished by creating a weighting for each class based on the AutoPacific importance scores from the 45 attributes. The average importance score from the product attributes were weighted against the average importance score from the ownership cost attributes. The AutoPacific and IntelliChoice.com scores were combined through multiplying the AutoPacific Score by the product attributes weighting and the IntelliChoice.com score by the ownership cost attributes weighting, and then adding the two scores together.

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

Auto Sales for the month of September

In order of number of sales: GM sales were down 3.1%, Ford was up 4.6%, but both companies are down for the year by 11.3% and 8.6%, respectively.  Toyota sales were up 25%, DaimleryChrysler was down 2.3%, Honda was down 4.1% and Nissan was down 5.6%.  Overall sales were up 2.0% throughout the industry. 

Source: Toyota sales soar 25 percent - Automotive News

Sept.Sept.Pct.9 mos.9 mos.Pct.

Ford Motor Co.***237,369226,9614.6%2,273,9342,488,538-8.6%
General Motors****334,025344,805-3.1%3,139,8813,539,450-11.3%
American Honda†116,226121,163-4.1%1,160,5101,112,9174.3%
Hyundai Group††57,26161,618-7.1%581,257565,5572.8%
Other (estimate)1,745531228.6%6,2614,86628.7%
Numbers in this table are calculated by Automotive News based on actual monthly sales reported by the manufacturers and may differ from numbers reported elsewhere.
Source: Automotive News Data Center
Note: Other includes estimates for Ferrari, Lamborghini and Lotus
*Includes Mini and Rolls-Royce
**Includes Mercedes-Benz
***Includes Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo
****Includes Saab
†Includes Honda Division and Acura
††Includes Hyundai and Kia
†††Includes Nissan Division and Infiniti
‡Includes Toyota Division and Lexus
‡‡Includes VW, Audi and Bentley

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

Automotive Parts

E-Bay Motors


  © Link to Privacy Policy

Back to TOP