Archives – December, 2014

A Review of the 2015 Camry Hybrid by Toyota

toyotaToyota is clearly aware of the weaknesses and strengths of its current Camry hybrid car. The automaker knows that there is intense competition and for this reason, it decided to make some extensive revisions to the 2015 Camry model. These revisions have been marked by a complete makeover to the previous model excluding the engines. A major advantage of Toyota’s Camry model is the fact that it has been the best-selling car in America for more than ten years. One of the major weaknesses of this model is that its excitement is temporary. As much as it meets the driving needs, its excitement wears off as other better alternatives are sought.

Although Camry is competent, competitors are continually coming up with better options. This is the main reason why Toyota chose to refresh its model by replacing most of Camry car parts. A trend that has persisted with Toyota is that of adding the cool factor to its best-selling models. Sometime next year, the company will make improvements to its key hybrid car version, the Prius, which will be transformed to a fun and sporty car. By doing so, Toyota will prove that entertainment and economy are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

The refreshed Camry’s almost two thousand novel parts are inclusive of new metal sheets in different parts excluding the roof, a chassis that is slightly stiffer, and an interior that is more upscale, trims that are sport-oriented and a widened track. Generally, the new Camry is still very efficient and at the same time almost fun and sporty. The design gap that was experienced by the previous version will be bridged by the new version of Camry. Some of the major competitors in question include the Accord hybrid by Honda, Fusion hybrid by Ford and Sonata hybrid by Hyundai, which will be released next year. The sales of Camry hybrid have slightly surpassed those of Sonata, Kia Optima and Honda hybrid.

The 2015 version of Camry is refined and more contemporary. Toyota’s aim was to up classiness and the manners factor rather than making a sporty sedan. The new outlook is even more aggressive and sharper. The non-hybrid realm has sportier cars such as the Mazda 6. However, when it comes to hybrid cars, the Fusion hybrid by Ford is sharp, though it has existed for a number of years. For those interested in function and economy, Honda’s Accord is a car of choice. The 2015 Camry hybrid with the longer length is much better. It has a less conservative and more purposeful face.

 

Leave a Comment December 26, 2014

A Review of NSX Hybrid Car by Acura

Acura_NSX_Concept_HybridAcura is finally ready to make a debut of its new hybrid supercar, NSX. The automaker plans to make the debut early next year in Detroit’s North American International Auto Show. Meanwhile, novel details concerning the car’s design have been revealed in teaser photos. The raspy sound produced by the engine has been previewed in a brief video. Amendments have been made to the 2012 concept car’s front end whose grille now blends into the hood. The hood’s top part has two visible vents. Slim headlights have LED elements that are the same as those of recent Acura cars.

The overall look of the new car is almost similar to Acura’s 2012 NSX Concept, which debuted in 2012’s auto show in Detroit. The NSX hybrid is wedge-shaped, which reminds us of the Audi R8 and Ferrari 458. To give room to the engine located just after the rear wheels, the new car’s cabin has a forward slant. A key feature of the new version of Acura’s NSX is a hybrid power unit with three motors, including twin turbochargers. These details were given by Acura with no additional details regarding the setup. The powertrain hybrid-electric version adopted by the new NSX is the same as that of RLX hybrid. RLX has a V-6 engine that powers front wheels. The rear wheels are powered by two electric motors. The output totals to 377 horsepower.

NSX’s engine is positioned at the back, necessitating a reversal of the system. This means that the electric motors will power the front wheels while the rear wheels will be powered by the V-6 engine. Some speculations claim that the new NSX will be able to produce horsepower exceeding 500. However, considering the history of Acura’s sport cars, and those of Honda, its parent automaker, it is unlikely that the yet to be released NSX will surpass other existing supercars. Acura has continually created good performing cars with enough power for efficient acceleration.

The new NSX will appeal to its customers for its efficiency. An overview of what to expect can be derived from the sport hybrid by RLX, which has a range of about 30 mpg. In terms of weight, NSX will weigh less than RLX. This feature will be useful in offsetting the additional thirst of the car’s powerful engine. The new NSX by Acura will closely compete with BMW’s i8, whose range is 28 mpg. The model year of the new NSX, as well as the pricing details, have not yet been released by Acura.

 

Leave a Comment December 26, 2014

Hybrid Cars versus Hydrogen Cars

imagesHydrogen cars have recently made a market entry and many may wonder whether they are better than hybrid cars. With respect to minimizing the emission of greenhouse gas, hybrid cars are still better in doing so. Additionally, hybrid cars cost less compared to hydrogen fueled vehicles. Hydrogen cars have at last emerged following several years of investigation and demonstrations. These cars utilize electric motors and generate electricity from hydrogen, which is a by-product of a chemical process that occurs within the fuel cell. Fuel costs are much lower now, thanks to engineers and researchers. In the past few years, the price has been reduced by as much as ninety-five percent. This, coupled with the need to abide by the regulations laws of California, is an indication that the market is finally embracing the technology.

Toyota has plans of launching Mirai, a hydrogen car in Japan before the end of this month. The company will do the same in the United States early next year. Other automakers such as Honda, GM and many more have also announced of their plans to manufacture hydrogen cars. Automakers have claimed that the new hydrogen car models are environmental-friendly. For instance, Hyundai’s advertisement of its new car shows that there is no carbon dioxide emission. Toyota on the other hand advertises that the hydrogen cars it manufactures emit water vapor and not greenhouse gases. It is however, essential to keep in mind that such ads can be deceptive.

While water vapor is indeed the only substance that is emitted by hydrogen cars, the hydrogen gas used to operate the cars is generated through a reaction that results in emission of considerable greenhouse gas. Eventually, hydrogen cars could get much cheaper and cleaner, thanks to emerging technologies. For instance, renewable electricity sources could be used for powering an electrolyzer to release hydrogen by splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen atoms. The major setback however, is that the process would still cost more in comparison to using natural gas to generate hydrogen. In the long term, catalysts that absorb solar energy and use it in splitting water may be engineered. If this is achieved, it will be much cheaper and simpler to generate hydrogen.

Hydrogen cars have a key advantage over hybrid cars in that, recharging them is easier and faster. For instance, it would only take 10 minutes to fully charge a tank for the Hyundai hydrogen car. Tesla’s electric car, on the other hand, known for having one of the fastest chargers would still take approximately 20 minutes.

 

 

 

Leave a Comment December 19, 2014

2016’s Audi Q7 Plug-in Hybrid Model Goes Diesel

Audi_Q7_1Audi has plans of electrifying its brand new plug-in hybrid version of Q7 next year. The new version in question will not be characterized by a gasoline-fueled engine, but instead by a diesel engine. Several countries across the globe are beginning to warm up to the idea of manufacturing plug-in hybrid cars. A similar trend has been evident in European automakers, which have benefited from a fuel economy that has shown bias towards plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles. SUVs of a plug-in hybrid version are even the preferred choice every time the prices of gas start to rise. Fortunately, for the new plug-in hybrid model, Audi is not concerned about the costs of gasoline. The company plans to go against the norm and give the new Q7 model a powerful engine in combination with power generated from the battery.

Audi’s plan for its new hybrid car were first announced in July 2014, but now it has been confirmed that this 2016 version is set to debut in January, 2015. Although the numbers given are still not official, it is expected that the diesel-powered plug-in hybrid electric version will give a combination of fuel economy and a range of 100 miles per gallon. This is as per the standard European scale. The range of the new Q7 e-tron is expected to exceed 800 miles. Audi is set to promote the new car in the entire continent. Audi will sell its Q7 with the traditional gas, as well as diesel burning engines. The weight savings have been projected to be at least 660 pounds in comparison to the previous version, hence, all models will evidently benefit from this.

The brand new Q7 e-tron is set to debut during the January’s auto show in Detroit. Volvo V60 was Europe’s first diesel-electric hybrid car; hence, the Q7 e-tron will be the second. With respect to the SUV front that is pluggable, Q7 e-tron is expected to be a direct competitor of the Volvo’s XC90 T8, BMW’s X5 model and the Cayenne S e-Hybrid by Porsche. Audi has further stated that its new Q7 will have a pure electric range of that exceeds 30 miles. This is in contrast to BMW’s X5, which claims a pure electric range of approximately 20 miles.

The United States Audi Q7 newest version is said to rise since this will be a worldwide model. The Q7 e-tron has a combination of economy, refinement, performance and range, which is likely to convince even the Americans who tend to shy away from diesel.

 

 

Leave a Comment December 19, 2014

Winter Survival Guide for a Hybrid Car Owner

imagesIt has always been said that a little bit of preparation and diligence can work wonders for the future. Therefore, it is necessary to prepare you hybrid car for the hardships of winter. One of the activities that a hybrid car owner should remember to do during winter is to block the hybrid car’s front intake grille. This will not cause overheating because colder air rushes into the engine bay as the vehicle moves forward. By blocking the grille, a hybrid car driver can offset the unavoidable fuel economy loss during cold months. The gas engine temperature range of 60 to 90 degrees is required for optimal performance on the Prius and Civic hybrid. When temperatures drop to below freezing, a longer time is required for the engine to attain optimal range. Therefore, blocking the front grille is beneficial in achieving optimal performance of a hybrid car during winter.

Another important aspect is for hybrid car owners to make use of an engine block heater, which is a valuable accessory that hybrid car owners should consider purchasing, especially if they live in areas where temperatures reach below freezing. Most heaters comprise of a small heating element inserted into a special port. The heating element functions by heating up the car’s engine coolant and thereby keeping the whole engine block at a temperature that is much higher compared to ambient temperature. When operated at a household voltage of 110V, most engine block heaters give a power rating of about 400 watts. It is vital for the block heater to be plugged in when the car is parked. This will allow the engine to attain the required operational temperature within a short time, hence, lowering vehicle emissions and benefiting fuel economy. Other additional benefits of using an engine block heater in colder climates include reducing the need to perform warm-up idling and reduce wear and tear on engine components.

The tires should also be taken care of during winter. For great fuel economy during the cold months, the tire’s pressures should be kept high. This is mainly because the internal air pressure effect on the tire is reduced in colder temperatures, which makes them run flatter. You certainly do not want to neglect air pressure in the colder months since a flatter running tire induces more friction on the road surface. To maintain proper air pressure, it is essential to use a good digital tire pressure gauge on a regular basis. Additionally, installing and using a direct form of a Tpms system is also helpful. These are just a few things that a hybrid car owner should take note of during winter months to help keep their vehicle in top running condition.

 

Leave a Comment December 12, 2014

Netherlands Reports Constantly High Electric and Hybrid Car Sales

512px-Mitsubishi_Electric_CarOf the total number of car sales in Netherlands in the first three quarters of 2014, hybrid or electric cars accounted for 4.3%. The number was even higher in the last quarter of 2013; 15%. According to Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, who published the report, the high electric car sales in Netherlands are mainly as a result of fiscal measures. Electric vehicles are not manufactured in Netherlands. For this reason Roland Berger made a comparison between the Dutch sales figures and figures of primary electric vehicle manufacturing nations such as France, Germany, U.S., Japan, Italy South Korea and China. Of the mentioned countries, France sold the highest percentage of hybrid and electric cars.

Netherlands sold 14,282 electric and hybrid cars in the last quarter of 2013. The Mitsubishi Outlander was the best-selling car, with sales totaling 8,039. Japan is the major manufacturer of most hybrid and electric cars sold in Netherlands. Other popular brands are the Nissan Leaf and the Toyota Prius. The biggest producers of electric and hybrid cars worldwide are the United States and Japan. The biggest car battery manufacturer is Japan with a 60% share. Netherlands has set a goal of having 200,000 electric and hybrid cars on the road by the year 2020. Currently, there are 70,000 such cars, which accounts for about 1% of the total.

The fiscal advantages of hybrid and electric cars in the Netherlands were reduced after 1st January 2014. This resulted in still healthy, but slower sales. Roland Berger has stated that the Netherlands has an attractive electric and hybrid cars’ market, thanks to the “e-mobility,” which has in the past few years being strongly supported by lawmakers. Since 2013, the number of charging stations for plug-in hybrid and electric cars has doubled.

Last week, Fastned, a leading provider of fast-charging electric cars in the Netherlands made an announcement that the European Union had donated €2 million subsidy to aid in building 94 plug-in charging stations in the Netherlands and Germany. The stations will be an addition to the already existing 155 locations within four countries. Currently, Fastned has 18 active fast charging stations along Netherlands’ highways. The company has been adding a new station on a weekly basis.

Judging from the situation in the Netherlands, it can be presumed that electric and hybrid car sales are likely to increase in the near future. These cars are gradually gaining popularity and will soon replace the conventional gasoline-fueled cars.

 

 

Leave a Comment December 12, 2014

Winterization of Your Hybrid Car’s Exterior

carProvision of extra protection for your hybrid car during winter is necessary for maintaining not only the paint, but also the glass and the wheels. The effects of ice and snow, as well as the scrapping involved when removing them is rough on your car. Here are some of the products and procedures that can be helpful to your hybrid car in wintertime.

With respect to paint, it is essential to use a quality sealant or wax in combination with appropriate maintenance. This will increase the longevity of the paint even through the cold months. A paint sealant should be your best bet for winter paint protection since it has a tendency to not only last long, but it also needs few reapplications. Paints with acrylic-based formulas are the most preferable. For those who opt to balance gloss and durability, such paint options are also available. They give a long-lasting protection and a finish that is attractive and high gloss. Coating is the ultimate means of protecting your paint through the cold months.

Just like paint, it is vital to protect the wheels and tires of your hybrid car in wintertime. A protective wax for the wheels should be used to prevent adhesion of brake dust. To maintain a high level of protection, regular reapplications are needed. The best protection possible for your hybrid car wheels can be provided by a product such as a nano-based ceramic glass coating. This coating will not only keep the wheels clean, but also protected. Additionally, it can last a noticeably long time. Application of the coating is straightforward and simple. Tire protection is achieved in two ways. The first way is by making sure that the rubber is kept supple in very cold temperatures so that it does not crack. The second way is making sure to properly inflate your hybrid car tires.

The windshield and wipers are other exterior parts that need to be protected during winter months. The windshield should be kept frost-free and clean. A high-quality wash additive needs to be added to the windshield washer fluid to protect it from freezing. A quality ice scraper is also a necessity for every driver in snow-prone areas. The scraper should have the ability to remove all types of snow, frost and ice from windows and the windshield. Finally, it is advisable to consider purchasing a car cover if you have to park your hybrid vehicle outside during the cold months. The cover should protect your car against impact and moisture.

 

Leave a Comment December 5, 2014

Some Gift Ideas for Hybrid Vehicle Drivers

imagesAs Christmas is around the corner, most people are searching for gift ideas. Others have done most of the gift shopping and are waiting for the last-minute rush. Well, if you need to buy a present for yourself or one of your favorite hybrid-car drivers, here are some ideas for you.

One of the gift ideas is a t-shirt such as the Keep Calm and Drive On t-shirt whose price ranges from $20. This is especially appropriate for hybrid car drivers with a sense of humor. The t-shirt can also be gifted in combination with an Internet meme. Wearing such a t-shirt is a good way for hybrid car drivers to let the world know that they have no worries concerning their combustible battery pack. It is also a fun way for a driver to tell the world how to drive safely and avoid careless accidents.

Another gift idea to consider this Christmas is an automotive computer like those from ScanGauge that go for around $125. This gift is especially recommended for hybrid car drivers with an obsession of keeping track on the range at which their cars can move. The gauge works as a 3-in-1 automotive computer once it is plugged into the on-board diagnostic port on all hybrid cars made in the last fifteen or so years. It offers a diagnostic scan tool, multifunction trip computer, as well as various digital gauges. This computer can also display maximum, average and trip fuel economy instantaneously. All these are displayed in three significant digits. This means that it is more accurate compared to other built-in computers. In addition to offering calculation features, this gauge can help drivers to get better mileage per gallon.

Another gift idea worth mentioning is the engine block heater, which sells for around $60. It is well known that short trips, particularly in wintertime cause additional strain to a vehicle engine, which wears the engine and reduces gas mileage. The engine block heater is usually used during cold conditions because it helps in keeping the engine block, as well as the engine oil warm. The heaters are also useful in preventing the engines from freezing and facilitating cold-starting. Additionally, they help in reducing the time required to warm-up the engine, minimize emissions and improve fuel efficiency. Every hybrid vehicle produced over the past decade has a specific black heater that drivers should invest in or buy as a gift this holiday season. These are just a few of the great hybrid car accessories available for yourself or your favorite hybrid driver.

 

Leave a Comment December 5, 2014


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