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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Hybrid / Green

Petit Le Mans 2010; Audi, Peugeot, Hybrids, Oh My!

On: Thu, Sep 30, 2010 at 4:33PM | By: John Welch

Petit Le Mans 2010; Audi, Peugeot, Hybrids, Oh My! test 1-1

It's been a while since we covered America's most entertaining road racing association, probably because it has been a while since the American Le Mans Series has raced. The Autoshopper was there in March for the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, and though we can't make it to Braselton, we will cover every heart-stopping minute of the 2010 Petit Le Mans. To ramp up excitement for the event we have here a primer for the slightly uninitiated, a short guide to the new cars, new teams, and of course, the fearsome diesel monsters that will be murdering the Road Atlanta tarmac on Saturday. 

Two practice sessions down, two more scheduled for today. Venture inside the post for a break down of the new teams, and the time sheets from this morning.

Infiniti Details Its First Electric Vehicle

On: Wed, Sep 29, 2010 at 4:10PM | By: Chris Weiss

Infiniti Details Its First Electric Vehicle  test 1-1

The Nissan Leaf is due to arrive in showrooms beginning later this year. With this launch on the horizon, Infiniti, Nissan's premium brand, provided some details of its first electric vehicle, which will be introduced in 2013. If you like the 100-mile, no-emissions specs of the Leaf, but want a sportier exterior or more plush interior, it will be only a few years. 

As would be expected, the Infiniti EV will be based on the Nissan Leaf platform, bringing a premium trim to Nissan's growing EV family. With launch over two years away, details are scant, but Infiniti described the car as "a stylish, high performance five-seat luxury vehicle with zero emissions technology." Of course, we probably could have written that description without any input from Infiniti whatsoever, so we'll have to wait until development is further underway for any meaty details.

As to what the car will look like, Infiniti released the blurred-out sketch above on its Facebook page last Friday, giving the world a very vague idea. The car clearly departs from the frumpy front-end of the Leaf, boosting visuals with a more styled nose and slit headlights. The cabin is significantly more slung-back than the Leaf, and the Infiniti is markedly more sporty and stylish than its Nissan predecessor. Of course, that's just a sketch, so we'll have to wait a while to see how dramatic the departure is in the final iteration.

The Leaf is Gone: Nissan "Sells" Out Its First-Year Allotment

On: Mon, Sep 27, 2010 at 4:37PM | By: Chris Weiss

The Leaf is Gone: Nissan "Sells" Out Its First-Year Allotment test 1-1

Nissan announced today that it has reserved its entire 2010 U.S. goal of 20,000 Leaf electric vehicles. In other words, it's closing the reservation books until 2011, three months ahead of its intended schedule.

Of course, Nissan's numbers are to be taken with a grain of salt. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn actually told the press that the Leaf sold out all the way back in May. Then suddenly there were four months worth of unfilled reservations. And before today, things seemed to be plodding along for Nissan and it wasn't clear if it would even reach its 20,000 goal by year-end. So the fact that it suddenly reserved all its Leafs (Leaves?) three months ahead of the first delivery in December seems a little too convenient. But only the company knows for sure.

On the other hand, since Nissan actually shut down its reservation system, it would appear that it's content with the Leafs that it's reserved. Nissan will reopen the books next year after current reservations are processed and deliveries to launch markets are well underway.

Nissan released some information about its initial Leaf sales back in late July. At the time it had reserved about 17,000 cars, and said that 30 percent of those were blue and 26 percent were silver. Three-quarters of the reserved Leaf models were of the SL trim.

Toyota's Prius Hybrid Technology to be Utilized in Future Lotus Elite Hybrid Model

On: Mon, Sep 27, 2010 at 9:41AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Toyota's Prius Hybrid Technology to be Utilized in Future Lotus Elite Hybrid Model test 1-1

Lotus Automotive is jumping on the green car band wagon as the company consults with Toyota to purchase the Japanese automaker’s proprietary hybrid powertrain for use in a new Lotus hybrid vehicle.

Toyota Motor Company has been pushing to sell its hybrid powertrain on a large scale to other automakers in hopes of keeping the price of the hybrid components down. Lotus plans to use the gasoline/electric hybrid powertrain as an option for its 5.0 liter V-8 Lotus Elite that the company plans to launch in 2014, according to a Lotus official spokesperson. The British sports car company will launch the Elite as a concept car at this year’s Paris auto show. The hybrid Lotus will “feature a hybrid gearbox with integrated electric motors and a kinetic energy recovery system that recoups heat energy during braking to recharge the battery,” according to Automotive News.com

“We are working with Toyota on powertrain solutions for our future cars, and this is part of the development but it is not an existing system,” a Lotus official said. Toyota stated that the company “welcomes such deals because we would like to see environmental technologies adopted and used as widely as possible.”


Toyota Announces New Pricing for 2011 Prius, Highlander, and F.J. Cruiser

On: Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 1:16PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

2011 Toyota Highlander test 2

Toyota has recently announced the introduction of the new 2011 Highlander and Highlander Hybrid mid-size SUV, as well as a change in the price for the Prius mid-size hatchback, Venza crossover, and the FJ Cruiser mid-size SUV.  The new 2011 Highlander models will be available for retail sale this month. The 2011 Venza will arrive at dealers early next month, followed by the 2011 Prius, and then the new 2011 FJ Cruiser in late November.

The Highlander gets upgrades to standard equipment such as a standard 50/50-split third-row with rear climate control, improving both cargo flexibiliy, and passenger comfort. A new Tech Audio package includes a USB port, integrated satellite radio, and Bluetooth hands-free phone and streaming audio. In addition to featuring the Star Safety System, which is standard on all Toyota models, the 2011 Highlander will receive standard Smart Stop Technology, Toyota’s brake override system. The 2011 Highlander model will also receive a refreshed interior and exterior including an all new hood, fenders, and front fascia.

The sticker price for Highlander will start at $27,390 for the base model, 4-cylinder, 2-WD model; the SE V6 2-WD will be $33,150, and the V-6 Limited 4WD model will be $36,345. The list price for Highlander Hybrid will range from $37,290 for the base model to $42,945.
Toyota’s best selling Prius hybrid vehicle will also get a price increase with a new list price of between $23,050 for the Prius Two model to $28,320 for the Prius Five model, which is an increase of 0.9% to 1.1%.

Toyota’s 2011 new generation Venza crossover will be equipped with Smart Stop Technology, the list price will range from $26,475 for the four-cylinder FWD model, to $29,750 for the V6 AWD, an increase of $200, or 0.7 to 0.8 percent.

Update: New Chinese Policy May Force Automakers to Share Technology; Dingell Outraged!

On: Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 9:44AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Update: New Chinese Policy May Force Automakers to Share Technology; Dingell Outraged!  test 1-1

The latest automotive news related to the Chinese government’s intention to gain information from other automakers for its advantage in the renewable energy market is not a topic for discussion in the U.S. House of Representatives.

United States Representative John Dingell, D-Mich., has made a statement that he felt “outraged” about the government in China for attempting to put pressure on automakers around the world to reveal technology blueprints for electric vehicles in exchange for the privilege of selling cars to China’s booming automotive market.

Dingell stated that China’s imposed arrangement would “violate the sanctity of the intellectual property laws we hold so dear in the United States.” Dingell said in a recent e-mail statement that “the step would violate Chinese obligations as a World Trade Organization member.”

Chevy To Reincarnate Used Volt Batteries For The Power Grid

On: Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 4:57PM | By: Chris Weiss

Chevy To Reincarnate Used Volt Batteries For The Power Grid test 1-1

The Chevy Volt is scheduled to go on sale in November of this year, and with an estimated 10 years of battery life it will be a while before used lithium-ions start showing up at battery recycling centers around the country. Chevy is already beginning to prepare for this inevitable event, however, looking to identify possible future uses for the Volt batteries. Toward this end, the automaker announced a partnership with Swiss power grid company ABB Group.

The two companies will work on a pilot program designed to research different purposes that used 16 kW batteries from Volts can serve in the greater energy landscape. According to GM's press release, even after the batteries require replacement within the Volt, they can continue to be used for storage.

"The Volt’s battery will have significant capacity to store electrical energy, even after its automotive life," said Micky Bly, GM Executive Director of Electrical Systems, Hybrids, Electric Vehicles and Batteries. "That’s why we’re joining forces with ABB to find ways to enable the Volt batteries to provide environmental benefits that stretch far beyond the highway."

Peugeot Unveils Revolutionary Electric Concept: EX1

On: Wed, Sep 22, 2010 at 3:07PM | By: Chris Weiss

Peugeot Unveils Revolutionary Electric Concept: EX1 test 1-1

With cars like the Porsche 918 Spyder Hybrid and Fisker Karma coming to market over the next couple years, hybrids and electrics promise to become more than just practical, utilitarian tools; they'll soon be as fun, good looking and sporty as the greater gasoline market. Maybe more so, if Peugeot has anything to say about it. The French automaker recently pulled cloth off its EX1 concept, a four-wheel-drive electric vehicle that promises to break EV acceleration records right and left.

The dramatic EX1 features a tear-drop-shaped body that is wider in front than in back, helping to limit resistance and improve performance. A quick look, and the EX1 appears to be a motorcycle or go kart tucked away in a car's front end. It's crafted from a carbon honeycomb monocoque chassis and weighs just 2,200 pounds at the curb.

Each axle houses a 170-hp electric motor, giving the car a total output of 340 horses and 177 lb-ft. With its light, slippery profile, the EX1 promises to offer a 0 to 62 mph time that ducks under the 3-second mark. Peugeot hasn't quite reached that goal, but it has sped up to 161 mph in the EV.

Another interesting element of the EX1 is that it uses a motorcycle-like swing-arm to suspend both rear wheels. The front wheels get their spring from double wishbone suspension. The seats are integrated into the doors, which open in reverse.

Saab Shows Its First Electric Vehicle Prototype

On: Mon, Sep 20, 2010 at 3:03PM | By: Chris Weiss

Saab Shows Its First Electric Vehicle Prototype  test 1-1

A short eight months ago, Saab was on the brink of extinction. GM didn't want it. The greater auto market wasn't exactly rolling in dough and financing deals to take it off of GM's hands. And proposed bids were falling through like finely shaved sawdust in a large collander. In fact, Saab straits were so dire that GM even began to wind the company down.

Then an unlikely hero emerged and swept Saab from the arms of the reaper. Spyker, a Dutch company known for aero-inspired supercars, succeeded in its bid to take Saab off of GM's hands. Usually, it's an established, mainstream brand name buying up an exotic supercar brand, but in this case it was the reverse.

Now that production on Saab 9-5 models is underway, and life is back to normal in Trollhattan, Saab is ready to look toward the future. The company announced an electric vehicle that it's calling "‘the first practical family estate with all-electric propulsion."

Toyota Launches Eco Sensitive Smart Village

On: Mon, Sep 20, 2010 at 9:03AM | By: Chris Weiss

Toyota Launches Eco Sensitive Smart Village test 1-1

Last Thursday, Toyota took a lead in demonstrating how green vehicles and renewable energy can work together to cut environmental impact. The company launched a tiny 'smart' village in Rokkasho, Japan to test and demonstrate how consumers can use renewable energy and green vehicles toward cutting their carbon footprint.

One of the biggest knocks against hybrids and electric vehicles is that electricity still runs largely on fossil fuels. While the end user feels better about pumping electricity and not gas into his car, that electricity is still polluting the environment. In other words, EVs and hybrids are simply masking the problem not solving it. That argument seems to get a whole lot of use by status-quo lovers that want to look more forward-thinking and informed than they really are. As if the notion never occurred to anyone else.

Ford to EcoBoost Its Entire Line

On: Fri, Sep 17, 2010 at 4:39PM | By: Chris Weiss

Ford to EcoBoost Its Entire Line  test 1-1

In an effort to revamp its image and sales, Ford has been expanding EcoBoost options across its line over the past year, most recently with the addition of the 2.0-liter V4 Ecoboost in the all-new 2011 Explorer. According to a Detroit News report, this will be a part of Ford's greater strategy to offer EcoBoost options in all of its vehicles over the coming years.