Archives – June, 2014

Tesla Model S Best Hybrid Car According to AAA

01-2012-tesla-model-s-fd-1347336745The Automobile Association of America (AAA) recently released the annual Green Car Guide for motor vehicle enthusiasts. The guide is a detailed 140-page document that gives an insight into what it means to be green, how to shop for green cars, what green cars are available in the market and even how to be a greener driver. It is therefore safe to say that the AAA is a trusted source when it comes to matters of green cars. AA A has established itself over time as the most credible and accurate source of information in the green car industry. The guide also takes an in-depth analysis of over 83 different types of green vehicles in the market. These usually range from high mileage gasoline vehicles to hybrid vehicles. According to the AAA, the most efficient green car in the market is the Tesla Model S.

There are two major baselines that are used to rank these vehicles to determine their level of “greenness.” These include the emissions of the vehicle together with the fuel economy of the car. In both categories, the Tesla was graded 10 out of 10. This is despite the vehicle having a battery capacity of 85-kWh. Other categories used in the evaluation of these vehicles include braking, visibility, ride quality, acceleration, interior size, luggage capacity, crash worthiness, slalom handling, interior noise, ease of entry and exit, and turning circle. It is interesting to note that the Tesla scored over 7 out of 10 points in all of the categories except the last four. This means that the rankings do not exclusively look at the greenest car, but the most all rounded car in the market. This is exactly what most consumers in the market are often looking for.

On top of the tests carried out to determine the greenest cars, the AAA also caries out research on the cost per point for the cars. According to the evaluations recorded by the AAA, the highest rank went to the gasoline powered Chevrolet Spark, which had one liter at $229 per point. It is disappointing to note that the Tesla was among the bottom five in this category with a value of $953 per point. This means that the best green car also come at a price to the consumer.

There are other evaluations out in the market also used to determine the best green cars. Other bodies such as the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) also release similar rankings regularly.

 

Leave a Comment June 30, 2014

Improvements on the e-NV200 Electric Van

leafIt is no doubt that the highest selling electric car in the market is currently the Nissan Leaf. This has been attributed to a number of factors; most importantly cost being one of them. The Nissan Leaf has managed to reduce its cost of acquisition by eliminating the active cooling system for its lithium-ion battery pack, which significantly reduces the cost of manufacture. The new design Nissan to be rolled into the market has a slightly different design than the conventional Leaf. This is because it makes use of the electric air conditioning of the vehicle to route cold air through the battery management system of the van when the management system of the car detects that it needs to do so. This bespoke cooling pack will be used during quick charging, which usually produces a lot of heat as the battery is recharged within a short time.

The system is also expected to increase the lifespan of the battery by wafting warm air over it. This helps in keeping the battery at the best operating temperature, which reduces discharging. This new battery design will be most helpful to taxis that are often on the road for up to 10 hours in a day and have to endure fast DC charging up to four times a daily.

The vehicle heating, ventilating and air-conditioning system has been used by other companies in the market in the design of their hybrid vehicles. Some of the top companies that have already tried out this technology include BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. It is interesting to note that this technology does stand in contrast with the design approach used in Leaf. The Leaf approach uses only passive conditioning, which means that the battery sheds heat by simply releasing it to the atmosphere.

There is some resistance to this technology from a small vocal group of Nissan Leaf owners in the hot climate areas such as Phoenix, Arizona where temperatures often reach as much as 160 F. These consumers are complaining that their batteries are losing their capacity quicker than expected. This has forced Nissan to rethink the chemical composition of their lithium-ion cell batteries to be able to tolerate higher temperatures. The rolling out of the thermally managed battery back with the e-NV200 has been seen by many as the solution to the problems that have been experienced thus far. The upgrade is expected to be applied on the larger pack sizes of batteries because these are the ones expected to be spending more time on the road. This means more utilization of their potential.

 

Leave a Comment June 30, 2014

Toyota Discovers Improved MPG in Hybrid PCU

priusOver the years, Toyota has been carrying out research on how the fuel efficiency of their cars can be improved. This is evident from the fact that Toyota was the first company in the world to roll out a popular hybrid car into the market. This was the Toyota Prius, which has since revolutionized the automobile industry. Toyota has now hit another milestone in their continued efforts to bring more fuel-efficient vehicles into the market. Toyota has discovered a way to electronically produce as much as 10 % more precious MPGs in its hybrid vehicles. Toyota has now announced that it will start the development of the new silicon carbide semiconductor for use in the power control units of their hybrid cars. The testing of this technology is expected to be kicked off in Japan by 2015.

The theory behind the use of the silicon carbide semiconductor is that it offers significantly lower electrical resistance. This results in great improvements in the efficiency of passing current between the electric motor and the battery. Silicon also loses less power after shutting down and is able to operate at a relatively higher frequency. When compared to the current silicone-only version in use in hybrid cars, the silicon carbide semiconductor has about a tenth less power loss. The tests done so far also indicate that there is a 5% improvement in the fuel economy in the test vehicles using the different semiconductors.

The carbide wafers also allow for a smaller power module, capacitor and coil. This makes it possible to have the entire PCU to be reduced by almost 80%. This is a very welcome move because this helps reduce the overall load of the vehicle, which contributes to the improved fuel economy that will be provided by the vehicle. This sure is breakthrough technology by Toyota and most consumers can’t wait to have their hands on this new invention. The improved fuel economy is also going to be very welcome for the environmentally conscious consumers and environmental activists.

The world however, still has to wait before they can have their first carbide technology on the roads and start experiencing the impact generated by this new technology. Toyota currently expects to start the use of the silicon carbide technology by 2020. By this time, there will have been significant improvements in the other key efficiency factors such as the aerodynamics and engine technology. This will bring significant additions to the efficiency of the hybrid vehicles. The future of the hybrid technology does seem to be bright.

 

Leave a Comment June 26, 2014

New Iranian Law Could Boost Hybrid Cars

IranIran is planning to make changes to their trade law, which is likely to have a positive impact on the sale of hybrid and hybrid powered motor vehicles. Import tariffs will no longer be imposed on EVs and hybrid cars that have an engine capacity of less than 2.5 litters. According to one of the members of the Iranian Parliament, Ali Alilou, the government has plans of completely eliminating car import tariffs within the next two years. Alilou is also of the opinion that the government should reduce its funding for the auto industry in the country because these companies largely manufacture diesel-powered vehicles that are not very friendly to the environment.

Iran, has over the past few years been making efforts to improve the air quality in the country by encouraging the development of hybrid cars. Some of the hybrid cars that have so far been introduced in the country include the Khodro Runna plug-in hybrid car. The Industrial Development and Renovation Organization of Iran have provided funds for a national hybrid car project. This project is meant to spearhead research and development of new and efficient hybrid cars in the country. The motor vehicle industry in Iran makes up about 10% of the gross domestic product in the country. This shows how significant this industry is to the whole economy. The auto industry is only second to the oil industry.

The removal of the tariffs is expected to increase competition, which is likely to lead to increase the quality of vehicles produced. The quality of motor vehicles in the country has greatly declined over the years. This has mostly been pointed to the low quality of vehicles produced by the domestic automakers such as Iran Khodro, Saipa, and Pars Khodro.

However, there have been concerns that the move to lower the import tariffs could do more harm to the Iranian economy than good. This is because the industry could be trampled by the more established international competitors. Most of the automakers are currently against the move to lower the import tariffs and are even asking for the government to provide some bailout because has almost $4 billion in debt.

There is a lot of uncertainty in the motor vehicle industry in Iran. Reducing or completely eliminating the import duties in hybrid vehicles could provide some clue of how the economy will react. It is important to note that the reduction is not for all the vehicles so this could be a pilot project. Moreover, hybrid cars will come with the additional benefit of reduced environmental pollution.

 

 

 

 

Leave a Comment June 26, 2014

Hybrid and Diesel Statistics

dieselSales records indicate that there was a big improvement in the sales revenues for diesel hybrid cars in the market. According to recent statistics, there are now over 7-million diesel passenger vehicles, while hybrid cars are about 2.8 million on the United States roads. There was an increase of about 410,000 in diesel-powered cars last year. Hybrid cars sales increased by about 531,000 within the same period. The research also showed that between the years 2010 and 2013, there was an increase of 30% in diesel car registration. Registration of hybrid cars also increased by 64.5% within the same period. These numbers are clearly remarkable considering that there has been a market growth of only 3.7%. A close study of these statistics reveals the states that have the highest sales in diesel and hybrid car sales.

Texas has the highest number of diesel passenger motor vehicles at about 837,000. Of these, about 747,000 are pickups. The percentage of diesel car drivers in Wyoming account for about 10.8%. North Dakota records the fastest growth rate of registrations. The cities that have recorded an increase in the percentage of diesel and SUV car registration include the following: Illinois, California, Arizona and North Dakota. Other cities that also showed some increase in the number of diesel powered cars included the following: Delaware, Texas, Wyoming, Mississippi, Idaho, and Arkansas. From these statistics, the Directors at Diesel Technologies are optimistic that the company could take up as much as 10% of the share of the market by 2020.

In terms of hybrid cars, California has the highest number of hybrid cars (698,000) followed by Texas, which has about 153,000 hybrid cars. Florida comes in third with about 150,000 hybrid cars. These statistics closely mimic the statistics produced for the diesel-powered cars in the country. The rest of the top ten states with the highest hybrid car sales include New York, Washington, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Illinois, Virginia, and Massachusetts.

The highest growth in the registration of hybrid cars was in the states of Georgia, Oklahoma, and Michigan, which experience growths of 54.3%, 47.4%, and 35.7% respectively. The other states that witnessed a significant growth in the registration of hybrid cars include the following: Illinois, South Carolina, Missouri, Arizona, Alabama, California, and Hawaii.

From these statistics, companies can start planning their marketing strategies to reach markets that have not been captured. The stronghold states can also represent regions where further improvements and innovation can be expanded.

 

Leave a Comment June 17, 2014

Ford Reduces Gas Mileage on Six of its Models

2013-ford-fusion-hybrid_100420534_lFord recently released the news that it had reduced the reported fuel mileage on six of its 2013 and 2014 models. This is likely to come as a disappointment for most of their consumers because of the ever increasing cost of fuel and deteriorating economy. Even worse is that three of these models to be affected are hybrid car models. The three hybrid cars are cars from the Ford and Lincoln models. Two of the cars are the Ford plug-in hybrid cars and the last in the group is the Ford Fiesta, which is a new model rolled onto the market in 2014. The company intends to send goodwill checks of between $125 and $1,050 to the owners and lessees of the vehicles that were affected by the wrong ratings. This is to compensate them for the increased fuel that they will be consuming as a result of the lower ratings actually provided by the car.

The mistake in the ratings was caused by an error in the lab test measurements of the total road load horsepower. This is a test done to determine the emissions and fuel economy of new vehicles. Ford also made an error in the determination of the aerodynamic drag in the modelling of the virtual wind tunnel testing of the cars. Ford has since accepted that they made these mistakes and are taking the appropriate steps to compensate the parties that will be adversely affected by these errors.

The company says that it identified that errors had been made during one of its internal testing and validation procedures in March. The company then went ahead and informed the Environmental Protection Agency about its findings. The company then collaborated with the EPA to confirm the existence of these errors and develop the new lowered ratings for the affected cars.

The revisions also had a significant effect on the two plug-in-hybrid models manufactured by Ford. These energy efficient models saw the efficiency ratings reduced. A further disappointing fact is that their electric efficiency ratings were also reduced in the revisions. The following are the plug in hybrids that were affected:

The 2014, 201 3 Ford C-Ma plug-in-hybrid SE, SEL, saw its ratings reduced to 24 mpg combined from 40 mpg combined.

The 2013, 2014 Ford Fusion Hybrid S, SE, saw its ratings lowered from 47 mpg to 42 mpg combined.

The 2013, 2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid car saw its ratings drop from 45 mpg to 38 mpg.

The positive from all this is the fact that Ford is taking responsibility for the errors and compensating the affected parties.

 

Leave a Comment June 17, 2014

High End Hybrids: The Best of Both Worlds

Tesla-Model-S-2_jp_2648435cLuxury Hybrids Offer Efficiency with a Large Dash of Luxury

Luxury Hybrids appear at first to be an automotive oxymoron; how can a desire to be eco-friendly be married to a love of high-end opulence? Apparently, this “shotgun” marriage has been accomplished by many of the high-end car manufacturers. Companies such as Porsche, Mercedes Benz, Tesla, BMW, Audi, and Lincoln have developed and produced vehicles that are not only fuel-efficient, but highly attractive, far outdistancing their economic equivalents in both affluence and price. They are both capable and definitely cool. Indeed, tighter government mpg regulations (54.5 by 2025) and emissions standards are pressuring even the most luxurious car manufacturers to devise models that are more efficient. This movement towards fuel economy has not reduced the high-end consumers’ penchant for human comfort and sophistication.

The Latest High End Hybrids

The Lincoln MXZ offers a superior suspension package, along with an amazing noise control system and leather interiors that epitomize the Lincoln level of sumptuousness. Buyers focus on the mpg savings and not the questionable natural materials used.

The Lexus GS 450h, a distant cousin to Toyota’s Prius, was 16% of total Toyota sales in 2013; this proves that luxury and global awareness can coexist. The 19-speaker stereo system, 10 -position power seats, and sunroof are all indications of the level of comfort available in high-end hybrids. To protect this amazing interior from intense sun exposure, shields can be deployed.

Perhaps the most intriguing luxury hybrid is the Tesla Model s, with its unique power train and teched-out interior. According to US News and World Report, this is the #1 Hybrid for Luxury; and at $89,000 beginning sticker, one of the more expensive. Its 60 kW battery pack is phenomenal, its handling outstanding, its 17” touch-screen display daunting. It is also purely electric, making it one of the most environmentally friendly luxury sedans.

The Mercedes Benz E400 offers both the luxury of its fellow German-inspired vehicles and the highest mpg of all the designated luxury hybrids.

The Cadillac Escalade hybrid is a mammoth vehicle, capable of boat towing and carrying eight passengers; its 20 mpg may not be especially impressive, but its interior of gleaming wood and soft leather certainly is.

Of all the luxury hybrid lines, the one that combines true indulgence, speed, and fuel awareness is Porsche. The Porsche Panamera, a sharp sport sedan, offers a 333 horsepower, V6 engine and an eye-catching exterior. The interior can be customized further, with leather steering wheels and stereo enhancements. The Cayenne e is a hybrid also, a plug-in SUV with a sleek look and eco-friendly performance. The king of them all, the Porsche 918 S Spyder, with a price tag in the high 6 figures, certainly makes the case that wealthy car buyers do indeed want to save the planet, but without sacrificing luxury in the process.

 

 

Leave a Comment June 7, 2014

The Latest Kia Hybrid Mid-size Sedan

PLUM3GThe 2014 Kia Optima is a good-looking, smoother big brother to the 2011 Kia hybrid. It is sensible, but stylish, eco-friendly, but spacious. It has greatly improved performance and a more impressive outward appearance. Described as a 5-seat, front-wheel drive sedan, the 2014 model offers a 2.4 liter, 4-cylinder gas engine, which transitions from the electric component much smoother than in the past, and boasts a 6-speed transmission. The powerful 47 kW lithium polymer battery and the equally robust Hybrid Starter Generator are impressive improvements.

The 2014 Optima Hybrid offers a new and improved aerodynamic design for the front and rear and technological improvements including a new design of the wheels (now 16” or 17”alloy), and a novel grille and LED lighting. These additional improvements should only increase its sale-ability over its forerunner, which was placed in the “Top 11 Most Fuel-Efficient Sedans for 2013” by Edmunds.com. Its eye appeal is much enhanced. The new wheels, along with the additional vents in the side bumpers, should greatly reduce drag.

Offered with both an LX and EX trim package, the 2014 Optima Hybrid features improved performance aspects as well; the LX model offers an EPA estimated 36 mpg city, 40 mpg highway and 38 mpg combined; the EX model delivers an EPA estimated 35/39/37mpg.

Options and Interior

The interior of the Optima Hybrid is surprisingly high end and roomy, with quality components and materials throughout. There is ample headroom for even the tallest of drivers, with leg room and seat configurations allowing for maximum comfort. The comfortable seats, both in the front and rear, are both heated and cooled, a welcome addition for drivers both north and south. There is the option for soft Napa leather also. Likewise, the heated steering wheel is a nice touch. The 8-inch infotainment screen bespeaks a new level of quality and comfort not usually found in a mid-size vehicle. This contributes to the overall cockpit look. The dual climate controls, Sirius satellite radio, and push button start all add to the comfort and convenience of the passengers and the overall “classy’ impression of the Kia Hybrid for 2014.Proud owners of this latest model may want to invest in protective side moldings, which will minimize the damage of door on door dings and scrapes. Likewise, some owners may want to add side window deflectors to the restyled exterior, to reduce the wind noise to a minimum and to allow fresh airflow.

Other Accessories available:

Racks

Visors

Windshield covers

 

Leave a Comment June 7, 2014

The Innovation of Wireless Charging

800px-Electic_car_wireless_parking_charge_closeupThe hybrid vehicle industry is very much interested and encouraging the technology being developed and tested by Toyota, Volvo, Audi and technology companies: namely the capability of recharging EV vehicles on wireless charging platforms without the need for any wires or connectors. For sure, this wireless battery charging system would make recharging more convenient and accessible. Currently, charging an EV/PHEV involves plugging in to a charge box with cables or connectors, which can be clumsy and, especially in inclement weather, inconvenient. Plus, when in use, charging equipment is susceptible to the elements and vandalism. The technology underlying this concept is not far-fetched; various brands of cellphones already incorporate this concept when using generic charging pads, with no need for charger wires.

Wireless Charging for EV/PHEV

Toyota’s new wireless battery-charging system for plug-in hybrids or pure-electric cars uses magnetic-resonance technology, transmitting electricity by magnetic resonance between a coil positioned on the ground under the car and a receiving coil built into the underside of the vehicle.

Wireless recharging would eliminate the physical cords and connections currently needed to recharge these hybrids. It could also solve the problem of different charging stations for the different makes of vehicles.

Tests of this new technology are not being conducted in R&D labs, but with actual modified Priuses in Japan. Actual owners will evaluate the technology’s performance in reliability, misalignment issues, and quality of charging. After this year long test, Toyota plans to incorporate wireless charging in existing plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Volvo and Audi are also developing wireless charging systems for their hybrids as well, but the difference is the size of the various makes of cars elevates consumers’ concerns that these wireless platforms may not be capable of accommodating more than one make of car. Juiced Hybrid offers numerous accessories and conversions for both Audi and Volvo, and will certainly keep abreast of these research developments.

All of the hybrid, EV auto makers will have to develop car-mounted wireless charging coils that are compatible with the ground-mounted wireless chargers on the in-ground pads.

Qualcomm, a leading wireless technology provider, has also introduced a wireless charging system that they advertise as a superior charging method that will eliminate the plug-in cord used in most electric hybrids today.

The infrastructure of these systems is quite simple: the plate with a coil and an inverter (AC/AC converter) is positioned on a parking spot and connected to the power grid. Alternating magnetic fields on the infrastructure side produces an alternating current across to the secondary coil, built into the vehicle. Charging automatically ends when the battery is fully charged. The wireless charging is as timely as charging with a cable and is not affected by rain or snow. Since the alternating fields are only generated when a car is over the plate, there is no danger for humans or animals.

 

Leave a Comment June 3, 2014

Hybrids Have Become Popular With All Age Groups

800px-2011_Chevrolet_Volt_NRMA_croppedThe number of hybrids available has grown steadily over the past 5 years, with every major car manufacture now offering several models, or, at least, developing prototypes for the near future. The growing number of buyers of the Toyota Prius has been joined by those choosing the Honda Insight, the Ford Fusion, the Volkswagen Touareg, and the Kia Optima, just to name a few. Sales of hybrids were up 40% last year, with competitive pricing and reliability greatly influencing buyers. Hybrids are the attractive, acceptable alternatives to gas powered cars and more and more car buyers are choosing hybrids. In fact, the Toyota Prius out sold all types of vehicles in California, hybrid or conventional, in 2013.

Various Age Groups Buy Hybrids for Numerous Reasons

Hybrids are attracting buyers from every age group and every economic level, for a variety of reasons. Obviously, younger car buyers (25-35) are purchasing hybrids for their eco-friendly impact. These consumers are keenly sensitive to the pollution and global-warming effects conventional cars produce. Their main motives are personal convictions and environmental concerns. They are willing to put their hard earned dollars where their personal principles dictate.

Older hybrid buyers, however, have somewhat different reasons for their purchases. According to several recent studies on consumer trends, the older generations (Baby Boomers especially) are purchasing hybrids for their “image” impact, as well as their environmental contributions. They view these cars as personal statements, expressing to external observers the owner’s concern for the world’s wellbeing and commitment to safeguarding the future of the planet. Over half of a group of 60+ buyers listed “image” as their main motive for purchasing a hybrid according to Popular Mechanics magazine. These older buyers recognize the quality of the technology, but also value the impact ownership can convey.

This consumer segment’s buying power is huge, influencing design and model variety. They have expressed their preferences for roomier, more predictably designed vehicles. So too, their ability to customize these vehicles is exceptional. They will purchase customized mats, steering wheels, seat covers, tinting, and upgraded suspension systems and winterizing features; they have the income and the incentives to make these hybrids their very own. There is also a loyalty factor influencing these older buyers; they have been owners of models from the major car manufactures (Toyota and Ford for example) for years and are willing to buy the new hybrids because of brand loyalty in many cases. These buyers accept the hybrids ability to help the planet, but also recognize its ability to enhance their status and prestige in the community.

 

Leave a Comment June 3, 2014


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