Archives – September, 2015

Luxury Automakers Turn to Electric Cars

2015_Tesla_Model_S_85_hatchback_(20536923125)The number of luxury electric vehicles has been increasing over the last few years. There have been reports that Volkswagen’s Porsche and Daimler’s Mercedes will join BMW and Tesla in the segment of luxury electric cars. There are currently three electric car models by Mercedes, joining Unites States-based Tesla in the luxury electric car industry. Tesla achieved immense success with creation of a definitive electric automobile. Additionally, Tesla has been a primary competitor to Audi and Porsche in terms of sales. This has been the case even in nations like Switzerland and Germany, where there is no subsidizing of electric vehicles. Therefore, launching e-tron Quattro and Mission E in 2018 will be attempts by Audi and Porsche respectively, to maintain existing customers via competition with Tesla’s offers.

Luxury automakers have come to the realization that a superior driving experience is offered by electric vehicles as long as the people’s needs are being met adequately. On full charge, novel luxury electric cars can cover a minimum of 400 kilometers. Industry experts have said that the Model S by Tesla already outsells Audi A8 and Porsche Panamera. It is expected that the model in question will outperform plug-in hybrid cars, implying that some manufacturers may cease producing hybrid electric cars.

This year, Tesla Model S has been the top-selling electric car in Canada, having sold 1,132 cars since January. These sales are almost double those of Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf combined. On an international basis, Nissan Leaf is the best seller. Immense benefits to Tesla are realized from subsidies. Electric car subsidies in the Unites States have notably aided in driving the newly-launched electric vehicle programs. Battery-only electric vehicles receive a total of $ 7,500 in federal tax credits. This is in addition to a possibility of other subsidies from the state. California, which makes up almost 50% of the national electric car sales, has around $2,500 electric car rebates available. That subsidy increases to $4,000 for low-income customers. The rebate for high-income Californians was eliminated two months ago.

The automakers have always been the major parties benefiting from the subsidies. These automakers are given a minimum number of plug-in hybrid and electric cars that they have to sell. Tax credits will be beneficial in helping the automakers sell electric cars while at the same time cutting the costs of production. Consequently, they can have a competitive advantage over gasoline-fueled cars. The mere fact that the superiority of electric cars is higher than that of gasoline cars implies that without subsidies, the sales will slow down, but not stop.



Leave a Comment September 25, 2015

C-HR Concept by Toyota as a New SUV Hybrid

imagesThe launch of the C-HR concept by Toyota in Frankfurt feels or seems repetitive because it actually is. C-HR Concept’s second rendition was displayed by Toyota earlier this week. The first concept debuted in the year 2014 at the auto show in Paris. The original presentation was accompanied by the public’s feedback on the changes that needed to be made. Designers opted to actualize the changes in question, resulting in the compact crossover that was revealed in Frankfurt. Toyota also made the announcement that there had been a confirmation of C-HR’s production.

Toyota Motor’s Executive Vice President, Karl Schlicht, admitted that the automaker is quite late in the segment in question. Toyota’s thoughts concerning the SUV hybrid category were also discussed. Mr. Schlicht said that the segment is expanding with RAV4 being a hybrid now. The C-HR will also be added to the lineup. Toyota wants to shed light on the SUV hybrid category and let people know that C-HR has a huge potential, particularly the hybrid model. Schlicht further added that Toyota’s commitment to producing more hybrid cars remains strong. The automaker plans to go hybrid across all ranges. Currently, it has claimed to be a hybrid leader in Europe where approximately 200,000 hybrid cars are sold per annum. Since the invention of hybrid cars, more than one million cars have been sold. On a global basis, about eight million hybrids have been sold. Hence, Toyota leads the pack with respect to future mobility.

Some of the changes that have been made to the new C-HR concept include an alteration of its Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform. Additionally, the powertrain has also been improved. The next generation of the C-HR concept’s powertrain is a combination of electric motors that are highly compact and battery technology that is state-of-the-art. This combination offers an increased power density. In comparison to the current hybrid versions, the new C-HR concept is not only lighter in weight, but it is also more efficient and more compact. The powertrain produced under TNGA program has also been refined. Driving will even be more intuitive and easier with the response being smooth, immediate and natural. The compact crossover in question may also be accompanied by additional updates, per the information given by Toyota. Information on the expected release data has not yet been disclosed. However, Schlicht noted that the general specifications and details of the new C-HR will be revealed at the Geneva International Motor Show that will take place next spring.



Leave a Comment September 25, 2015

Lexus’ 2016 RX 450h Now Bigger and More Powerful

Lexus_RX_450h_(III)_–_Frontansicht,_18._März_2012,_WuppertalLexus had released details concerning its new 2016 model of the RX 450h, a hybrid car that will have more space and horsepower. The automaker is currently in the series’ fourth generation. It has been six years since the hybrid model in question was launched. The RX 450h for 2016 will have a power boost, as well as a bigger interior and better handling. The combined power rating for this new version is 308 horsepower, which is up from 295 horsepower for the previous year. This is hugely accounted for by a new V6 engine with a capacity of 3.5 liters. The current engine has a compression ratio that is higher than that of the previous one. The 2016 version’s Atkinson-cycle engine’s horsepower increased to 259 from 245 at six thousand rpm. There is also an increase in torque to 247 from 234 pounds-feet.

The standard RX’s drive is front wheel and the hybrid version had front wheels powered by an electric motor of 165 horsepower. An upgrade to all-wheel drive adds 67 horsepower to the rear wheels. The new hybrid car’s battery is still the same; made of nickel metal with 37-kilowatt energy. However, the battery pack is shorter than the previous pack by one inch.

According to Lexus, this novel set up is one of the most advanced changes to the drive system of Lexus Hybrid. The automaker also made it clear that there have been enhancement and reengineering of the primary components, as well as the control system. This has been done so as to deliver better fuel economy, excellence performance, as well as low emissions. Such enhancements are deemed to satisfy even the most demanding driving enthusiast.

In terms of the car’s exterior, RX 450h has been altered in several ways. The length of the new car has increased by 4.7 inches, while all the sides have been increased by half an inch. There has also been a rise in ground clearance to 8.2 inches. The additional inches not only give extra room to passengers, but they have also increased the total car’s weight by 88 pounds. The current weight of the new RX 450h is approximately 4,740 pounds. Other novel features that have been listed by Lexus include a hybrid system that is lighter and efficient, enhanced control and performance due to pre-loaded differential, high energy efficiency, thanks to the evolution of the power control unit’s design and motor cooling by a transmission oil cooler. Generally, the new car has sharper dynamics and is more powerful.



Leave a Comment September 18, 2015

Dramatic Makeover for Toyota’s 2016 Prius Hybrid

imgresBeing green has not been easy, but in the past few years it has become extremely difficult. Few people are purchasing hybrid cars, considering the dropping prices of fuel and increasing demand for SUVs. The green car consumers’ segment dropped by 18% in 2015, regardless of having a 4% increase in the number of new car buyers. Toyota Prius, which has attained much success actually did better compared to most hybrid and electric cars. This year, the Prius is down by 17% compared to Lexus CT, which also went down and Ford-C-Max dropped by 23%. The interest of shoppers in green cars has gradually dropped according to AT Kelly Blue Book.

Perhaps the launch of the new Toyota Prius will change the situation. Earlier this week, Toyota unveiled its new hybrid car in Las Vegas. The new Prius has a number of upgrades ranging from enhanced driving dynamics to great fuel efficiency. In terms of size, the new Prius’ body is larger, with a novel exterior design. The new look represents a dramatic change in the car since its 2nd generation model’s debut in 2003. Despite the change in physical looks, the car is clearly a Toyota Prius. The change is probably an advantage because the sales made by Toyota are 15,000 to 20,000 units per month, even with low volumes in the previous year. These sales are much higher compared to those of Volkswagen Jetta, Subaru Impreza, Mazda 3 and Kia Soul. This confirms an ongoing customer interest in the Prius regardless of America’s surging interest in SUVs and the low gas prices.

Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) has been utilized by 2016’s Prius’ new look. Some of the benefits derived from this technology include a lowered gravity center, double rear suspension, both necessary for giving the car better handling and riding characteristics. Toyota has claimed that the new Prius will have a 10% increase in fuel efficiency. The advanced technology of Toyota Safety Sense will also be featured in the new Toyota Prius. This will include lane departure alert, radar cruise monitor, pre-collision system to detect pedestrians and automated high beams. The safety pedigree of the new Prius will further be enhanced by exterior lighting utilizing LED technology.

It has also been confirmed that the new Prius has improved seat comfort, especially with respect to lateral support. This is in combination to upgraded visibility and control placement. At the dash’s center is the gauge, whose display is now brighter with full color. Considering these improvement, the new Prius may turn out to be one of the best-selling vehicles countrywide.


Leave a Comment September 18, 2015

First Drive for Chevy’s 2016 Volt

2016_Chevrolet_Volt_NAIAS_2015The launch of 2016’s Chevy Volt is just around the corner. While the new Volt will have the virtues of its predecessor, it has managed to address some of the vehicle’s vices. One of the aspects addressed is the range, whereby the new Chevrolet Volt will have a higher electric range of 53 miles. It will also have a higher fuel efficiency of 42 mpg, thanks to an engine that has range-extending capability. It is also worth noting that the new Volt is faster, smoother, quieter, and has a better physical outlook. Hence, current Volt owners should consider it an upgrade. The 2016 Volt is a an electric car that is not only fantastic, but also gives a total range exceeding 400 miles for one out of ten trips that the car can make solely on battery power.

What analysts are worried about is the ability of General Motors to give a clear description of the Volt. This entails the ability of GM to explain why Volt needs to be considered a better alternative to other plug-in cars. The automaker also needs to explain how the 2016 Volt combines the advantages of an all-electric drive and the security offered by range-extending engine in times of need. There was inconsistency with respect to the sale and marketing of Volt’s first generation. This marketing was primarily based on mileage and was sporadic. GM needs to come up with thoughtful, smart, effective and memorable marketing if it intends to keep the sales of 2016’s Volt at the top. One media outlet that played a fundamental role in driving the sales of the 2016 Volts that were produced earlier this year is Green Car Reports. The media outlet dedicated two days to researching two different Chevy Volts and comparing them to the 2015 models.

The new 2016 Volt has expounded on the positive aspects of the previous version, though Chevrolet executives have said that the car’s design was chosen according to the preferences of Volt owners. There are some minor details such as a compartment housing a charging cord. This means that when owners need to recharge their plug-in car on the road, they do not need to unpack the luggage or cargo carried. The new Chevrolet Volt has a crisper, more aggressive and more angular design, contrary to a slab-sided look of the previous Volt. The color of the Volt released for specification purposes is a metallic blue.


Leave a Comment September 11, 2015

Toyota’s 2016 Prius Specification Questions

Marché_Saint-Quentin_à_Paris_le_17_juillet_2015_-_16The presentation of Toyota’s 2016 Prius is expected to take place in Las Vegas next week. However, it is quite unclear whether the actual specs were revealed this summer. In July, some pictures were posted from an automotive website in Taiwan, claiming that they were representative images of Prius PHEV and the 2016 Prius. However, the PHEV will not be revealed next week. Although the authenticity of the images was questionable, their circulation around the United State was fast. This circulation was picked by other minor and major automotive sites. According to the specs noted in the Taiwanese site, the new Prius has an increased range of about 94 mpg.

The report indicated that the new Prius has a higher efficiency compared to the previous versions. This may be accounted for by several improvements made to the powertrain architecture. It has a 4-cylinder gasoline engine of approximately 105 horsepower with a capacity of 1.8 liters. There is also a water pump that functions in retuning the Atkinson cycle. To help in increasing fuel efficiency, there is an exhaust system for heat recovery, which also reduces the time it takes for the engine to warm up. The car’s electric motor has 90 horsepower with a lithium-ion battery, though the specifications have not been given. The horsepower of the total system has been reported to be more than that of the current model. It has been estimated to be about 145-150, compared to 134 horsepower for the 2015 Prius.

The dimensions of the 2016 Prius are larger compared to the current models’ dimensions (4480 x 1745 x 1490mm). With respect to styling, the 2016 Prius had cues that are almost the same as those of Mirai FCV, as well as the current Prius Liftback. According to the CEO of Toyota North America, the 2016 Prius is better and more dynamic compared to the current model. It has also been reported that the goal of the design was to have a higher sporting appeal. In terms of curb weight, the 2016 Prius is weighs less than the 2015 Prius. The accuracy of the mentioned specifications will be revealed next week. From a reliable source, it has been reported that Prius information will be dribbled out by Toyota in the fall. Such ceremonies are usually done on a single evening and then attendees fly or drive home afterwards. What is unclear is the extent or amount of info that will be revealed to the media. Unfortunately, no media drive has been scheduled by Toyota.


Leave a Comment September 11, 2015

The New Electric Vehicle by Audi to Compete with Tesla’s Model X

Standaufnahme    Farbe: Misanorot    Verbrauchsangaben Audi A3 Sportback e-tron:Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert in l/100 km: 1,5; CO2-Emission kombiniert in g/km: 35

The variety of electric cars available to consumers had been expanding as manufacturers continue launching new models. This week, Audi announced that its concept, the e-Tron Quattro car, a sport SUV that is all-electric, will be among the cars to debut in Frankfurt’s 2015 International Motor Show. The show in question is set to open September 17. The range of the car on full charge is expected to exceed 500 kilometers, which is equivalent to 310 miles. Audi states that 2018 as the year the vehicle is set to enter the production stage. The Quattro’s battery cells will be from Samsung SDI and LG Chem.

The driving range of Quattro will almost be the same as that of electric vehicles manufactured by Tesla. There is also an electric vehicle by GM, the Chevrolet Volt, with a range is about 200 miles. The shipment for Model X by Tesla is anticipated to start in the next coming weeks. It has been reported that there are already 20,000 pre-orders from people who paid $5,000 as a reserve fee. It was originally expected that the X model would be shipped in 2012. To increase the practicality of all-electric cars, it is critical for them to gain high driving ranges when charged. To cover 15,600 miles annually, it would be necessary to charge the car once a week and go for 300-mile range. For the car to cover 24,000 miles per annum, it would necessitate charging the car at an interval of every 4-5 days.

Audi utilizes 3 electric motors; two motors are situated in the car’s rear end, while one electric motor is situated at the car’s front axle. The car also makes use of mobile elements of aerodynamics and an underbody that is closed so that there is improvement of airflow and reduction of drag. This in turn helps in extension of the car’s range. Consumers have mixed feelings on the overall short range associated with electric vehicles. Drivers have raised concerns that they could get stuck at a strange place without a means of charging their cars. The success of sales will ultimately be affected by charging stations’ availability.

IHS Automotive, an analyst firm, has predicted that the market for electric vehicles chargers will rapidly grow across the globe. The market will rise to $12.7 million in the year 2020, from 1 million in the year 2014. Audi further added that chargers are important for long-term success of electric cars, even with an increase in driving ranges.


Leave a Comment September 4, 2015

The Safest Hybrid Cars for 2016

2016 Lincoln MKZ hybrid

2016 Lincoln MKZ hybrid

Most consumers would prioritize fuel economy when shopping or purchasing a hybrid car. However, consumers interested in a complete package consider the car’s performance, as well as its safety. Hence, they would go for a hybrid sedan that is not only economical, but also with top safety qualifications and performance that is solid. It is senseless to overlook those aspects, considering the fact that there is a wide range of hybrid car models set to mark their market entry in 2016. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has already given a 5-star rating to about six hybrid car models.

One of the models is Lincoln’s MKZ hybrid. This hybrid car model is priced at approximately, $35,190, a range that is similar to that of its gasoline counterpart. This would make the purchasing decision much easier for consumers whose top priority is fuel economy. The car’s range is 41 mpg in the city. The car also has top safety specifications with a five-star rating for crash tests and 4-star rating for rollover and side tests.

Hyundai’s Sonata hybrid is yet another model that has been deemed to be one of the safest. Hyundai’s 2016 Sonata hybrid has a plug-in counterpart, as well as a gasoline counterpart that is priced at $26,000. The car’s range on highway driving is 44 mpg and 40 mpg in the city. Side crash and frontal tests had a rating of five stars, while rollover test had a four-star rating. Some of the safety recommendations given by the NHTSA include the addition of features warning on forward collision, as well as lane departure.

Volkswagen’s Jetta hybrid is has also been rated at the top in terms of safety. This hybrid car is priced at $31,120, a price that is higher than that of its diesel counterpart ($21,640) and standard model ($17,325). The highway range for Jetta hybrid is 48 mpg and drivers can access 150 horsepower. The rollover and frontal tests received five stars, while side-crash received a perfect 5-star rating.

Ford’s Fusion hybrid and Fusion Energy are also worth noting. For 2016, both of these cars were given a five-star rating with respect to their safety. The range of the standard hybrid in the city is 44 mpg, while that of the plug-in is 95 mpg.

Kia’s Optima hybrid is yet another safe model. The 2016 Optima model has been awarded a five-star rating in all 3 crash tests. Finally, there is Toyota’s Camry hybrid, which was awarded 5 stars for side crash testing and 4-stars for rollover and frontal tests.


Leave a Comment September 4, 2015

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