MINI Unveils a New Countryman at the Auto Show in LA

2017 MINI Clubman

2017 MINI Clubman

The 2017 Countryman is one of the largest vehicles produced by the MINI automaker. This car has improved engines, advanced tech, and a plug-in version. MINI hatch was the first model to be released followed by Clubman. The brand owned by BMW has now released a new MINI Countryman. Since the rebirth of MINI, this model is Countryman’s second-generation. Official pictures were first available for public viewing last month. All three new iterations of the Countryman were debuted at the LA Auto Show, including the new Countryman plug-in hybrid, dubbed the SE ALL4.

The Countryman whose starting price is less than $35,000 is set to reach the UK market in February. The new Countryman was reviewed by Auto Express, which gave details on the new design adopted for the new model.  Auto Express emphasized on the toughness and ruggedness of the new design. According to Nicolas Griebner, the head of product at MINI UK, this car is clearly suited for having an adventure in. Regardless of the fact the Countryman has a new platform; its design can still be recognized as MINI’s. All the Countryman models come equipped with faux leather upholstery, Mini connected infotainment systems, rear parking sensors, rearview camera, sunroof, automatic headlights and Bluetooth.

In comparison to the previous model, the new Countryman model is longer by 200mm and wider by 30mm. Regarding its size, it lies in between Audi’s Q3 and Q2, with both cars being key competitors. Its wheelbase is longer by 75mm to give it a rear legroom that is 50mm more. Additionally, with it’s fold down, sliding rear seats it has 16 cubic feet of cargo space.

Accompanying the extra size is a design emphasizing the elements of a sports utility vehicle. Most of the vehicles have silver roof rails as well as sill plates. Both of these features work with a high shoulder line and sculpted sides to give the car a trendy outlook. Griebner added that the Countryman is by far the most masculine design that MINI has ever produced. The wide grille, pop-out tail-lamps, as well as large-sized LED headlights are features coined from the MINI hatch. The number plate at the rear end has now been shifted to the bootlid. The customization of the Countryman is what distinguishes it from its competitors. It has alloy wheels, contrasting black-colored roof and a unique blue paint available.

 

Leave a Comment December 2, 2016

Toyota’s 2017 Prius Prime versus Chevrolet’s 2017 Volt

Tech Times

Tech Times

The new Chevy Volt and the Prius Prime are plug-in hybrids with high-volume. They slightly differ in the terms of energy efficiency. The Prius Prime is Toyota’s new plug-in model of the best-selling and most popular hybrid car worldwide. The Chevy Volt, which was officially launched last year and is an improved version of the initial range-extended electric vehicle. Both cars are now major competitors in the ever expanding market for plug-in vehicles and the key question is how they match up.

One of the key similarities between the two is that both are compact cars, five-door hatchbacks. Although they have aerodynamic designs, their executions are very different. Of the two cars, the Prius Prime by Toyota is the newer. From the viewpoint of most onlookers, the Prime is an improved version of the standard Prius hybrid. The Prius plug-in has a front end that is not only new, but also more aggressive. Its taillights are also horizontal and not as vertical as those of the original Prius. Most of the models also have a touch-screen display comparable to that of a tablet. The Chevy Volt, which is currently in its 2nd year, is still a low sleek car with a racy shape and a good-looking interior.

While the Chevy Volt can accommodate five passengers, the Prius is a four-seater. Despite offering a fifth position for a seat, the fifth person in the Volt has to perch on the padded battery hump . Hence, the Volt is best suited for short trips if you’re carrying 5 people. The powertrain of the Prius has an output of 121 horsepower combined with an APA rating of 25 miles. This range should be delivered in most cases. Its battery pack is 8.8 kilowatt per hour and is situated under the load bay and rear seat. With a horsepower of 149 and a range rating of 53 miles, the Volt is clearly quicker compared to the Prius Prime. The ultimate winner on fuel economy is the Prius Prime, however, with a combined rating of 54 mpg in comparison to Chevy Volt’s 42 mpg.

Driving the new Prius feels better compared to its predecessor. It feels more like a normal car and less like a Prius. If there is any battery capacity available, the default mode of the Prime is all-electric. This is contrary to the first Prius plug-in whose electric capability was limited. Since its default is all electric, the driving experience of the Prius Prime is now similar to that of Chevy Volt. There is enough power up to speeds of 75 mph.

 

Leave a Comment December 2, 2016

Motor Trend Awards Chevrolet Bolt the Car of the Year Title

chevrolet_bolt_concept_front_naias_2015Despite the fact that there are a few weeks remaining before Chevrolet Bolt enters dealerships, Motor Trend announced that it was the ultimate winner for the Vehicle of the Year Award. This is the first time a fully electric car has won the prestigious award. The ceremony marked the beginning of the yearly LA Auto Show held in Los Angeles. The award was received by the Electric Vehicle Chief of General Motors, Pam Fletcher, and Alan Batey, the North American Toyota president. Other finalists acknowledged during the 2017 awards include Cadillac CT6, Audi A4, Jaguar XE, Genesis G90, Chrysler Pacifica, Tesla’s Model S 60/75, Volvo S90 and Porsche 91.

Motor Trend recognized the Bolt because of a number of features offered by the model. One of the key aspects is the car’s EPA rating that has been confirmed to be 238 miles/charge. This is close to triple the range offered by the majority of pure electric cars currently on the market, with the exception of Tesla’s Model X and Model S. These two models have longer ranges, however, Model 3, which isn’t set to hit the market for a year, and will be considerably more expensive than the Bolt. The Bolt was also recognized because of its low retail price, considering its good range. Its base price is $37,495 excluding a federal tax credit of $7,500, as well as the numerous state incentives available, bringing the drive off cost to an affordable $30,000 or less.

Even if the Bolt did not have a battery propulsion system giving a long range, it would still be a great contender for the award. This is according to the jury of Motor Trend, which claims that this world-class small vehicle offers quietness, smoothness, and an electric motor that offers an instant-on torque. The ride is not only sporty and firm, but the road noise transmitted is well damped.

In other categories of the award, the new model of Mercedes-Benz, GLC, was named as the sports utility vehicle of the year. The winning truck per Motor Trend was the newly revamped Ford’s Super Duty.  Motor Trend has also acknowledged plug-in car winners in the past, with Tesla’s Model S taking the vehicle of the year trophy three years ago (2013). The top honor was given to Chevrolet Volt in the year 2011.

Similar awards to be held in North America named the Bolt as one of the three finalists. Trophies for the award in question will be given in January. An award organized by Green Car Journal named 2017 Bolt Green Car of the Year. Hence, Chevy Bolt is clearly a new winning entrant.

 

Leave a Comment November 25, 2016

Toyota Creates a Sub-Company to Boost Electric Car Production

toyota_coms_single-person_electric_car_10470066394Toyota made an official announcement confirming its plans to set up a sub-company to be responsible for the development of electric cars. This startup is will commence work next month. The new venture isn’t a major reassignment of assets as the team has only four people, with each person drawn from a different Toyota group branch. The automaker believes that this simple manpower should lead to development of fast-selling products. The group will make use of the technical knowledge of the whole Toyota group. According to Akio Toyoda, Toyota’s president, the speed will be embraced by the sub-company in its work approach. Toyota is currently focused on fuel-cell cars but has created this team to focus on electric vehicles. It is following the steps of Mira, since EVs are currently as viable as other mainstream vehicles.

While fuel-cell vehicles have a competitive advantage in terms of fuelling and the range offered, limited hydrogen infrastructure implies that electric cars are still better in terms of the rates of adoption. For instance, the United Kingdom has less than ten hydrogen filling stations. On the contrary, there are thousands of charging points for electric vehicles. Toyota has maintained that it will continue supporting the production of fuel-cell cars alongside electric car development. The official details concerning platforms, timeline or powertrains have not yet been given. However, according to a last week’s report by Nikkei, Toyota plans to produce an electric vehicle with a range of 186 miles by 2020. The report further claimed that the first Toyota EV is likely to borrow Prius’ platform in order to save time and lower development costs.

Toyota has hinted that its next Aygo car could have an electric powertrain. This will be part of the automaker’s swing towards fully electric Toyotas. From 2020, Toyota will be producing new pure electric car models. The current Aygo model is manufactured alongside the Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108 at the same factory. A majority of mechanical components are shared by the three models. By doing so, the manufacturer hopes to generate cash in a market area with extremely tight margins. Johan van Zyl, the CEO and president of the European Toyota branch said that while hybrid cars are being targeted in every market sector, the A-segment may need a different strategy. The automaker has always maintained that powertrain technologies utilized should not necessarily compete with each other. Instead, the automaker focuses on the use of the technology best suited for each application. There is an anticipated evolution of plug-in hybrid, pure electric, fuel-cell and hybrid vehicles. The future will clearly have electric cars as part of the technological spectrum offered by Toyota.

 

Leave a Comment November 25, 2016

Electric Cars as Finalists in the Green Car Annual Awards

2016-03-01_geneva_motor_show_1067One of the key themes for the award finalists that were announced this week was electrification. Five finalists were confirmed by the Green Car Journal. Four of the models are available as plug-in hybrid versions, while one is a fully-electric car. The nominees for the 2017 model year are the Chevy Bolt, BMW’S 330e, Kia Optima, Toyota Prius Prime and Chrysler Pacifica. The award was officially founded in 2005 and since the,n an increasing list of models has been chosen by its judges’ panel. According to Green Car Journal, this reflects the car’s industry’s increasing efforts to produce new cars with improved environmental impact and higher efficiency.

This year’s finalists are a clear representation of the momentum being experienced by electrification in the vehicle industry. This is according to the journal’s Publisher and Editor, Ron Cogan. Electrification is an important technology for manufacturers regardless of whether they are dealing with plug-in hybrid, hybrid, all-electric or two or more powertrains in combination with traditional gasoline engines. It is essential technology, not only for the present, but also future high-efficiency car models. BMW has been acknowledged for launching the 330e to add to its current plug-in lineup. According to a report by Green Car Journal, the car’s electric motor in combination with a 4-cylinder engine gives a total of a 248 horsepower system output and a torque of 310 pounds-feet.

The Chevy Bolt follows another Chevrolet model that was nominated last year, the second-generation Chevy Volt, which emerged the winner. The Bolt is recognized as the first plug-in hybrid car to have a driving range exceeding 200 miles. It also has technological features to personalize and enhance the driving experience. Fiat Chrysler was nominated and acknowledged for being the first plug-in electric car to enter the market. The first-ever minivan class plug-in hybrid was Chrysler’s Pacifica. The judges acknowledged Chrysler’s efficiency of 80 MPGe and an electric driving range of 30 miles. It’s total driving range is 530 miles.

Kia is in the list owed to the addition of a plug-in hybrid and hybrid systems by adding the 2017 Outlook to its lineup. An electric motor, as well as a 2-liter gas engine is used to power both model variations. The plug-in hybrid’s battery pack is larger than that of the standard hybrid. Toyota is also a finalist, thanks to its efforts in unveiling the new Prius Prime to serve as a replacement for its Prius Plug-in. The range of the 2017 model is double that of the initial plug-in hybrid. The winning model will be known on 17th November.

 

Leave a Comment November 18, 2016

Why You Should Purchase the 2017 Toyota’s Prius Prime

toyota_prius_iv_-_heckansicht_19-_september_2015_frankfurtThe first shipment of the Toyota Prius Prime is now in the United States on its way to dealers. It is part of the national “soft launch” rollout with the new plug-in having a higher level of competitiveness compared to its predecessor. The 2012-2015 version of Toyota Prius Plug-in was recognized for its battery of 4.4 kWh and EPA-rated range of 11 miles for combined electric and gas power. The sales of this version are in fifteen U.S. states with the pre-subsidy pricing ranging from $30,000 to $40,000.

With the new Prime, the battery size has been doubled to 8.8 kWh, while the electric only range has been increased to 25 miles. The EV-only speed has been increased from 62 to 84 mph. Its electric drive efficiency of 95 MPGe is higher than the old plug-in. The fuel efficiency is also higher in comparison to that of its predecessor. Although the Prime’s speed is almost the same as that of the old plug-in, it clearly handles much better. Additionally, it qualifies for a higher tax credit compared to the previous model. For a new entrant, it is cheaper and economical. Hence, it is aggressive considering the fact that most plug-ins often require a premium, usually offset by incentives such as tax credits.

The 133 MPGe of the Prius Prime is higher than that of every other plug-in hybrid or all-electric car in the United States market. Toyota has also added that its range of 25 miles should serve more than 50% of all the daily traveling needs of all drivers. Having said the above, success isn’t a guarantee, especially at this time when gas is cheap and vehicles are competitive. One of the key competitors is the Toyota Prius Liftback, which is currently the best-selling green vehicle globally. Judging from the specifications sheet, both the Prime and the Liftback have a similar underlying hybrid vehicle of 1.8 liter. Toyota says that in terms of range, the Prime is a clear topper.

Ford’s C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi are other competitors worth mentioning. The Energi is the whiz kid of technology within the Fusion lineup. The C-Max Energi has similar hybrid powertrain of 2 liters. Although, the EPA numbers for 2017 haven’t been give, it’s 2016 rating was 88 MPGe with the hybrid mode rating being 38 mpg. This is in comparison to the Fusion’s 2017 rating of 97 MPGe and a hybrid mode rating of 42 mpg. Despite a stiff competition, the Prius Prime is a worthy choice.

 

Leave a Comment November 18, 2016

BMW Surpasses the 100,000 Number of Electric Vehicles Sold Globally

6365eabff973f28c61df204535a9f8adxSince the November 2013 launch, more than a hundred thousand plug-in hybrid and fully electric cars have been sold by BMW globally. This information was obtained from a press release put out by the company. In terms of the breakdown, more than half of the total units sold were accounted for by the BMW i3. This means that this model tops in the list of the most successful electric vehicles in the segment of premium compacts. Among the electrified sports vehicles, the leading model is BMW i8 plug-in hybrid car with at least 10,000 units sold since its launch two years ago.

In the last three years, other plug-in cars exceeding 30,000 have been bought by customers across the world. This category comprises of five models of BMW plug-in. BMW currently groups them under the iPerformance level of the automaker. This is a clear reflection of what is termed “a successful wide transfer of i technology of BMW.” Among the leading sellers in the class of electrified cars other than the i8 and the i3 is BMW’s X5 plug-in. Information from the HybridCar’s Dashboard indicate that about 406 X5 plug-in units were sold in the United States in October, surpassing the 196 units of i8 sold and 422 i3 units.

The spearhead with regards to innovation is the BMW I, which plans to continue the opening up of groundbreaking technologies in the future. This is according to Harald Kruger, BMW AG’s Board of Management Chairman. In terms of electric drivetrains, the automaker has managed to initiate the technology transfer in question. The next innovation to be addressed is automatic driving, with the automaker set to launch BMW Inext.

Other models expected in the near future include Mini Countryman, a plug-in hybrid car planned for 2017. A new BMW i8 sports vehicle variant that will have a plug-in hybrid drive is expected to be launched in 2018. This model will be a BMW i8 Roadstar with an open-top. The iNEXT is highly likely to be revealed at the beginning of 2020. There has been speculation that a BMW i5 electrified sports utility vehicle will be produced in 2021.

BMW Group is deemed as one of the pioneers of sustainable mobility following the establishment of its i brand as well as the development of a different car architecture. It uses the eDrive technology to produce electric power. For this reason, the automaker has attracted new customers, with more than eighty percent i3 globally being new to BMW.

 

Leave a Comment November 11, 2016

A Review of Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

maxresdefaultThe hybrid range of Toyota can be likened to a bird variety because there is a particular one that is seen everywhere. The common hybrid in question is the Prius, which for some reason makes the less common ones more interesting. The RAV4 is an exciting hybrid crossover, which has a sporty relative, the C-HR that isn’t available in the US yet. From the first glance, it is quite hard to identify the attractive features of this car, considering its more aggressive and boxier styling. Initial drive tests indicate that the RAV4 is generally a nice car. For the progressives, the hybrid cars now offer more than just a good image, especially the new ones.

The RAV4 is attractive, pearlised and high-riding with fancy details to spark the interest of admirers. This vehicle proves that you can have all-wheel drive, have a lot of power, and still be energy efficient.  It has impressive acceleration that can be felt by even the users of the sleek Toyota Prius. There is a serious-minded dash with a slight demerit being the descriptive graphics that are quite distracting. All the Toyota models have the start-stop system with the option of using either your tank or battery for maintenance of efficiency and performance. There are little green arrows indicating optimum speeds of efficiency while red arrows pointing the opposite direction would be present at higher speeds. Some people might find keeping track of the arrows to be too compelling. However, having such arrows can be a great thing since you’ll get to save energy while at the same time ensuring that nobody gets hurt.

Some might notice that the brakes are slightly wimpy and may fail to notice a nudge, however all models have emergency braking in case you get distracted. A noteworthy feature is a hatch closer with a push-button for the 70 cubic feet of cargo space. Regardless of the few challenges, driving a RAV4 hybrid is a fun experience. The model feels more costly that it actually is. This doesn’t mean that it gives an over the top extravagant feeling. The total output of the combined system is close to 200 bhp and it clearly shows. It is quite pleasurable to overtake, cruise and do anything on a motorway. Its highest speed is not dramatic. Although its emissions are not stunningly low, it clearly has a sustainable future. The car’s top speed is about 112 mph while the combined consumption of fuel is 55.4 mpg. Carbon dioxide emissions are at 188 grams per kilometer while its Eco rating is 7 out of 10.

 

Leave a Comment November 11, 2016

2016’s Best Hybrid Cars

hyundai_ioniq_03Hybrid cars fall into three categories, conventional, range-extender and the plug-in hybrids. Conventional hybrid cars are easy to drive since they operate just like normal cars. These cars mostly use a combustion engine. The range-extender hybrid cars use an electric drive with small engines used for battery charging. Plug-in hybrids fall in between the two classes. Although these cars need to be charged, drivers can opt to use either the diesel engine or all-electric mode when the batteries are low. For short commutes, it’s possible to last for quite a while without the use of petrol. Some of the best hybrid cars according to critics’ recommendations are mentioned below.

Toyota Prius

Toyota’s Prius is currently in its 4th generation and it is still among the highly established mass-production hybrids. The newest model has a design that is more eye-catching and flamboyant in comparison to its predecessors. Additionally, it has a new battery and motor technology that enhances its efficiency. Buyers are exempted from congestion and tax charges.

Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in

This plug-in hybrid electric car is popular because of its quiet style of driving coupled with a high sports utility car driving position. According to Auto Express, this vehicle is sensible for people interested in comfort, space, as well as reduced company-vehicle tax bills. It utilizes a petrol engine of 2 liters combined with dual-electric motors and a generator. Mitsubishi has claimed that its Outlander will have 148 mpg fuel economy and 44g/km carbon dioxide emissions.

BMW’S i3 Range Extender

This is a small-sized and fashionable electric vehicle that may come with a double-cylinder petrol engine to become a range extender. Instead of playing the role of propulsion, the small-sized engine’s is only used for charging the batteries, which then powers the electric drivetrain. Its retail price is reasonable since it qualifies for full government grants.

Hyundai Ioniq

It is among the most recent hybrid cars to enter the market. It also marks Hyundai’s initial effort to manufacture a car utilizing battery technology. It also becomes the very first vehicle with a chance of being a plug-in hybrid, fully-electric or having a conventional hybrid powertrain. Its major competitor is the Prius with a competitive advantage in terms of price. Auto Express has noted that it is more comfortable to drive the Ioniq in comparison to the Prius because it has a proper gearbox. From the perspectives of refinement and comfort, coupled with a roomy trunk and sufficient passenger space, the Ioniq is clearly a spacious and comfortable family vehicle.

 

Leave a Comment November 4, 2016

Honda Set to Increase its Green Car Sales

217 Honda Clarity sedan

2017 Honda Clarity sedan

Honda has announced that it is now ready to increase its hybrid car sales and achieve at least two-thirds of the United States volume by 2030. Takahiro Hachigo, the automaker’s CEO said that he wants Acura and Honda to account for more than 60 percent of green cars sold in the United States in the next 14 years. Such green cars include plug-ins, traditional hybrids, electric vehicles, and fuel cell cars. This percentage translates to at least a million electrified cars sold by Honda Motor Company on an annual basis. The figure is based on the carmaker’s current volume.

Achieving this goal will be a major leap considering the fact that it has only sold 1,329 hybrids in the United States in this year’s first half. Honda is well known for outshining Toyota in introducing the first hybrid car to the United States, the Insight in 1999. The company currently has only four electric car models. These are Acura RLX sedan, Honda Accord Hybrid, the Acura NSX sports vehicle, as well as the last batch of its CRZ-hybrid that is set for discontinuation. The low sales volume has forced Honda to discontinue the production of Insight, CR-Z and Civic hybrids. Honda recently introduced the Fit electric vehicle and Accord plug-in hybrid to the United States market. A new hybrid crossover, the Acura MDX hybrid is set to be released soon. According to a report by Automotive News, the electric push by Honda will be initiated by 2017’s Honda Accord Hybrid car whose photos were recently released.

While Honda’s 2030 global vision has been made clear, the automaker believes that the United States will play a fundamental role in making it a reality. The CEO said that penetration into the United States market should be more than the world’s two-thirds. For the United States, plug-ins will also be deployed as core vehicles, as well as electrified technology. Hence, the ratio will be higher compared to other parts of the world. Plug-in hybrids will be introduced as part of meeting the set emission standards. The United States rollout starts with a plug-in sedan planned to arrive next year. Honda’s CEO further added that the sedan will be one of the trio of the Clarity line of green vehicles. The other two are a fully-electric and fuel-cell sedan Clarity. By the end of 2020, a Civic hybrid and probably a CR-V hybrid crossover may be produced. We just have to wait and see whether Honda will achieve its goal.

Leave a Comment November 4, 2016

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