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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Hybrid / Green

Honda Will Launch Electric Plug-in for 2013

On: Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 10:52AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Honda Will Launch Electric Plug-in for 2013 test 1-1

Just like many other automakers, Honda has seen its share of problems in the past year, but according to a recent Reuters report, the company will introduce both a plug-in hybrid and an electric car for the 2013 model year as part of Honda’s restructure plan to create more competitive pricing and fuel economy at the same time.

The electric car will be offered in the U.S. market at first, with competitors such as the 2011 Nissan Leaf. Then by 2013, Honda plans to have at least five hybrids on the market.

Currently Honda offers several hybrid models, the 2010 Civic Hybrid sedan and the Insight dedicated hybrid hatchback. The 2011 CR-Z hybrid two-seater sports car will arrive in the summer of 2010. A fourth model will be a hybrid version of the Fit subcompact, but no details have  been announced yet regarding the fifth hybrid model that Honda plans to launch.

Honda is taking into consideration plans to manufacture the Insight in one of its U.S. plants to reduce costs so it can lower the price in order to be more competitive in the market place.

Tesla and Toyota Announce Electric RAV4 for 2012

On: Sun, Jul 18, 2010 at 11:38AM | By: Chris Weiss

Tesla and Toyota Announce Electric RAV4 for 2012  test 1-1

In May, Tesla and Toyota announced a partnership toward the production of electric vehicles. As part of the deal, Toyota invested $50 million in Tesla, and Tesla took the reins of Toyota's former NUMMI plant in California. Rumors have indicated that the first fruits of their labor would be an electric version of Toyota's RAV4, and today the companies announced that a deal has been signed toward that end. Tesla has provided Toyota with a prototype and the companies are currently in the process of testing and improving the design.

The electrified RAV4 will be built on the traditional RAV4 platform, but fitted with a Tesla electric drivetrain. Tesla uses a 3-phase AC induction motor and 56 kWh in its Roadster. The motor puts out 288 hp and 295 lb-ft, which is enough to drive the Lotus-based Roadster to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. The companies did not announce specifics of the electric RAV4's drivetrain, but Tesla is currently working on delivering a prototype fleet to Toyota for advanced evaluation and testing.

The electric RAV4 is tentatively scheduled for a 2012 production schedule in the United States.Tesla representatives indicated that the RAV4s may join the Model S sedan for production at the NUMMI plant. The companies are investigating other possible markets for sale around the world.

The RAV4 was said to be an obvious choice due to its size and flexibility. The model was actually made an electric vehicle by Toyota itself more than a decade ago. The RAV4 EV was sold between 1997 to 2003, and close to 1,500 models made it to U.S. roadways. More than half of them are still in service, including ones owned by notable celebrities like Tom Hanks. The original electric RAV4 featured a 27 kWh nickel-metal-hydride battery pack that delivered a range of 100 miles per charge and top speed around 78 mph. Sales of the vehicle were disappointing at the time, but Toyota was able to funnel some of the technology into future vehicles like the Prius.

GM Completes Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Concept Car

On: Sat, Jul 17, 2010 at 9:29PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

GM Completes Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Concept Car  test 1-1

As green technology continues to grow and evolve there is much controversy about potential negative effects of natural gas on the environment; natural gas may be even worse for the planet than coal. In fact, using natural gas rather than diesel in vehicles could actually increase climate change, according to Robert Howarth, professor of ecology and environmental biology at Cornell University. "You're aggravating global warming more if you switch," he says.

Although preliminary studies may suggest that natural gas could contribute far more to global warming than previously thought, it looks as though Congress may be asking for support of a bill that would replace diesel with natural gas in heavy vehicles. General Motors is on board.

Natural gas is available in abundance, and can offer a solution to the U.S. dependence on foreign oil. With the future of green technology possibly moving in the direction of natural gas, General Motors has announced the finalization of the all new Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)-powered van named the Chevrolet “Express,” as well as a full-size van called the “Savana” for GM’s fleet consumers to have the option of a CNG fuel system.  

GM announced that in May that it would be the first and only automaker to offer a natural gas-powered commercial van. “Our focus from the beginning has been to offer fleet customers a simple ‘check the box’ approach with our CNG Chevrolet Express and Savana vans,” said Brian Small, general manager, GM Fleet and Commercial Operations. “Our robust production process is a key enabler and certainly separates us from any competitive offering.”

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

On: Fri, Jul 16, 2010 at 4:02PM | By: John Welch

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly test 1-1

I was skeptical at first. I saw the name "Dallara" and, like most of the sheep watching the Izod IndyCar Series 2012 announcement, I was immediately put off to the point of nausea. A day or two has passed, and I have let the idea of "Lego Cars" roll around in my tiny brain for several evenings. My opinion has changed, somewhat, and I would be glad to lay it out for you. In case you don't have any clue what I'm talking about, we will cover the new IndyCar rules in depth inside the post.

Where are all the disasters? Is it just me or has the auto-doom media train slowed down a little bit? This really isn't a bad thing; the fewer recalls the better. It just makes finding actual "news" a little tougher. Good? Bad? I'm not sure . .  discuss amongst yourselves . . .

Hybrid wheel designs are stuck in the 20th century. Supposedly they have to be manufactured using aluminum, and supposedly aluminum has to be blocky and chunky and downright eye-offending in order to support the weight of an automobile. Usually, a rather diminutive automobile. Bull-honky; we explore awful hybrid rims and some decent designs, inside the post.


Chevy To Back The Volt Battery With 100,000-Mile Warranty

On: Thu, Jul 15, 2010 at 11:32AM | By: Chris Weiss

Volt Battery Plant Manager  Marisol McCormick assembles the first Volt batt test 2

If you are a little hesitant to buy into hybrid or electric vehicle market because of the unproven nature of the technology behind these vehicles, GM has just made your decision a little lighter. The automaker announced today that it will extend an industry-leading 8-year/100,000-mile warranty to the lithium-ion battery used in the Volt. Not only does GM stress that this is the longest, most robust battery warranty to be offered on any electric vehicle, it states that the warranty is transferable, at no cost, when the Volt is sold. The newly announced battery warranty is also better than the 5-year/100,000-mile warranty Chevy offers on its gasoline engines.

GM's new warranty covers not only all battery components—numbering 161 in total—but also extends to the thermal management system, which is used to warm or cool the battery depending upon outside weather conditions, the charging system, and the electric drive components. It should deliver extra consumer confidence in the integrity of the new electric drivetrain being used within the Volt.

While the new warranty delivers extra protection, GM is confident that its battery offers the on-road performance needed to stand up to daily driving. The battery has been developed to hold up under extreme temperatures, rough terrain, and other rigors of everyday use. According to GM's own numbers, testers have put one million miles and four million hours into testing every aspect of the batteries including short circuiting, corrosion, water submersion, and extreme temperature shifts.

White House Touting Green Vehicle Technology This Week

On: Wed, Jul 14, 2010 at 5:27PM | By: Chris Weiss

President Obama test 2

This week should prove to be a pivotal time for the green vehicle market, with a variety of high-profile public events and announcements taking place around the United States. President Obama and administration officials are making their way around the country to promote electric vehicle technologies. The officials will be visiting electric component plants in the east and midwest to attend grand openings and grant award events. At the same time,  the world's second richest man—Bill Gates—announced that he will invest in EcoMotors, a Michigan-based engine manufacturer that is committed to making more efficient engines.

Thursday, the Department of Energy will release a new report about the impact of governement grants on electric vehicle development. Among other things, the report will demonstrate how costs of developing batteries for electric vehicles will lower from $33,000 today to $16,000 by the end of 2013 and to $10,000 by the end of 2015.

Also on Thursday, a host of officials will be bolstering public attention to the administration's work in promoting the future of electric vehicles. President Obama will be in Holland, Michigan for the opening of the $303 million Compact Power lithium-ion battery plant, which received $151 million of federal money. The plant will employ 450 workers by 2013. On the same day, Ed Montgomery, executive director of the White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers, will be at GM's White Marsh, Maryland plant in recognition of a $105 million grant for electric drivetrain development, and Secretary of Labor Hillary Solis will be promoting a $49 million grant to battery manufacturer Celgard in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Porsche 918 Spyder Hybrid To Start At 500,000 Euros

On: Mon, Jul 12, 2010 at 4:08PM | By: Chris Weiss

Porsche 918 Spyder Hybrid To Start At 500,000 Euros test 1-1

Today, the world has gotten a glimpse at what the future market of ultra-performance hybrid supercars will look like. In short, it's not cheap. While Porsche has yet to officially confirm the 918 Spyder Hybrid for production, a pair of loose-lipped, anonymous sources familiar with Porsche's plans indicate that Stuttgart has already received more than enough letters of interest to seriously consider production. The same sources indicate that Porsche plans on introducing the car at a price of €500,000 (app. $630,000). This figure represents Porsche's most expensive model ever, beating out the €453,000 Carrera GT.

Today's news comes from a Bloomberg report which states that Porsche has received 2,000 letters of interest for the 918 Spyder Hybrid. Shortly after Porsche wowed the auto world when it introduced the 918 concept at the Geneva Motor Show this past winter, Porsche CEO Michael Macht indicated that the company was excited about the possibility of seeing the model through to production. At the time, word was that Porsche wanted to get 1,000 sales pledges from buyers before proceeding with plans. While letters of interest are less serious and binding than actual pledges, the number shows that there is plenty of interest in the model.  Porsche has not committed one way or the other, but is expected to announce its intentions later this year.

Toyota Announces Plans to Work on EV Prototype with Tesla

On: Mon, Jul 12, 2010 at 9:51AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Tesla Model S test 2

Tesla, a relatively new company without much of a track record, and the number one green car auto manufacturer in the world, and Toyota have formed a partnership that has been somewhat baffling to many.

Tesla Motors recently held their IPO and Toyota Motors purchased $50 million in stock as the two automakers plan to partner in the making of electric vehicles at the Nummi Plant that was recently closed in Freemont, California.

Since initial trading on June 29th, Tesla shares have dropped and are trading slightly below their initial public offering price of $17.

During a recent interview the president of Toyota Corporation; Akio Toyoda, announced that his company has begun the process of building the first prototype electric vehicle that has a Tesla battery pack.

This year, Tesla launched an all-electric Model S Sedan that travels 300 miles on a single charge, sells for $57,000, and reportedly has enough power to accelerate from 0-60 mph in less than 4 seconds.

Ford Van Pooling Commuters

On: Fri, Jul 9, 2010 at 10:18AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford Van Pooling Commuters test 1-1

Van Pool Services Inc. (VPSI) is a private company originally started by Chrysler to serve the transportation needs of individuals who wanted to save on fuel expense as far back as the 70s. The company was started in my stomping grounds—Minneapolis, Minnesota—and the fleet of vans providing a cheap alternative to the daily commute was so successful that the company expanded to serve cities around the nation, and is still around today.

The California Department of Transportation selected VPSI to operate the very first statewide vanpool program, only instead of using Chryslers, the fleet is comprised mostly (70% of the 5000 vehicle nationwide fleet) of Ford E-Series vans, which can achieve a whopping 150 passenger-miles per gallon each day as commuter vehicles.

According to Ford Media.com, annually, the fleet "eliminates more than 14 million commuter trips, saves more than $73 million in fuel, and reduces CO2 emissions by 259,000 tons."

Ford reports that the E-Series has been the country’s number one full-sized van for over 30 years. These top selling vehicles now transport over 40,000 commuters in the U.S. each day, with an average savings of $5,000 per year per commuter, compared with the cost of driving to work alone.

“We believe we have the most ecological Ford vehicles on the road,” said Steve Pederson, VP of Fleet Management at VPSI. Pederson was responsible for estimating the 150 passenger miles per gallon figure by "multiplying the 15 mpg achieved by Ford E-Series vans by 10 passengers. Some VPSI Ford commuter vanpools seat as many as fifteen passengers, which would result in even more impressive results," stated Pederson.

Texas and New York Included in Early Launch For the Volt

On: Wed, Jul 7, 2010 at 10:35AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Texas and New York Included in Early Launch For the Volt test 1-1

The Chevy Volt will soon be upon us.  Chevrolet plans to launch the new electric car in select markets across the county, but there are a few select markets that will have access to Volt much earlier than the fall 2010 scheduled date.

GM has made the decision to include extra markets for the Volt due to the extensive interest that has been shown in the electric hybrid.  “We can add markets as diverse as Texas and New York because the Chevrolet Volt can handle both urban commuting and longer trips, in Austin summers and Manhattan winters,” Whitacre said. “The Volt can be your primary vehicle, giving you the freedom to drive gas-free without the stress of planning every trip around the battery’s charge level.”

Daimler AG to Test New Electric Car Fleet in US

On: Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 12:06PM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

Electric Smart Car  test 2

Daimler AG – the gargantuan German automaker – is looking to go ‘green’ this year with the announcement of the launch of their newest electric vehicle innovation: Smart USA. The manufacturer of these newer mini electric cars is owned by Daimler, and is being spurred forwards by the company in attempts to capture potential US holdings of the ever-growing and expanding consumer demand for efficient and green electric cars in the US. Similar to the late 90s, when GM released the first electric car in the US, dubbed the EV1 (or Electrical Vehicle One), these newer Smart Cars will only be available for leases to businesses, as the company does not plan on selling them at dealerships right away.

The Wall Street Journal report really offers some perspective on what the German carmaker is hoping to accomplish by leasing these new test fleets in the US. “Smart will lease a fleet of 250 electric cars to businesses, organizations and select people, in Portland, Ore.; San Jose, Calif.; Indianapolis; Orlando, Fla.; and the Washington, D.C.-Boston corridor. A similar effort was started last year in Europe and will spread to Asia next year for a total test fleet of 1,500, Smart said in a statement.”

As to the range and efficiency, as well as the leasing terms, of these newer electric cars by Daimler, the Wall Street Journal report said that, “The car would be leased for four years at $599 a month and would be under warranty during the full period. It would have a projected range of 82 miles and would be limited to 62.5 miles per hour.”

The move by Daimler to start making electric cars in the US is tantamount to growing competition in all sectors with rival automakers, according to the Wall Street Journal report. “Smart also is joining a growing group of auto makers betting on electric vehicles. Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. is the most ambitious, with plans to sell as many as 150,000 electric cars in the U.S. in 2013, but Toyota Motor Corp. , General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC all have announced electric cars due out in the next few years.”

The president of Smart USA, Jill Lajdziak, stated in an interview with the newspaper that, “Certainly, for growth of the brand, this is a milestone. The mere perception in the marketplace of Smart is of an environmentally friendly vehicle.”