Archives – October, 2015

Increased Adoption and Overview of Electric and Hybrid Cars

PB141796Recently, the number of legislative policies aimed at curbing detrimental emissions has increased. This is to make sure that there is cleaner air and less environmental damage in future caused by vehicle emissions. Similarly, huge efforts have been directed towards minimizing the dependence on declining oil reserves. These dynamics are a clear indication of a move from automobiles utilizing combustion engines towards utilization of electric and hybrid cars.

Validity of Alternative Fuel Vehicles

Although automobile manufacturers have often doubted the validity of electric and hybrid cars, such cars are now gaining major acceptance worldwide. According to prediction firm Freedonia, an industry analyst, the sales of electric and hybrid vehicles worldwide will double by 2018. Japan is currently the leader with 20% of its yearly car sales being accounted for by electric and hybrid cars. Other top-sellers include North America and Europe. There are different types of hybrid and electric vehicles currently in the market. These include full hybrids, mild hybrids, micro hybrids, electric vehicles, and plug-in hybrids. The wide range available is a clear indication of the importance and huge popularity that hybrids and electric cars have garnered.

Improvements to Vehicle Efficiency

Some of the ways that have been used to address the issue of carbon emissions include the betterment of thermal management and air management systems in combustion engines. This has led to downsizing of engines to a certain degree. The next fundamental step aimed at minimizing carbon dioxide emissions involves increasing the usage of hybridization and electrification. This not only minimizes the engine load, but it also optimizes the efficiency of the combustion engine.

To improve energy efficiency, automobile manufacturers are searching for means through which the engine can be downsized even further to minimize carbon emissions. For a long time, turbos have been fundamental in optimizing the efficiency level of traditional combustion engines. Turbos make use of exhaust gas compressed at high temperatures, which drives a cold side circuit followed by air intake compression for the second combustion cycle. Full hybrids utilize electric motors of 70 and 40kW. The electric motor and the combustion engine work in tandem.

Some well-known full hybrid cars have the capacity of minimizing carbon emissions by as high as 35% in comparison to combustion engine cars. Electric motors need to operate the entire time the car’s engine is operational. This necessitates the use of large-sized, heavy, and costly battery packs to give the voltage needed to run electric motors. For mild hybrids, the electric motor alone cannot propel the vehicle, but serves to provide extra support.



Leave a Comment October 30, 2015

Autopilot Mode for Model S

16_Tesla_Model_SAutomobile manufacturers have been on the move towards producing self-driving vehicles. Tesla Motors has led the way with the recent release of an upgrade for its autopilot software for the Model S sedan lines. These include both the new models, as well as the already purchased ones. With the introduction of the software, Tesla’s Model S cars are the first electric commercial vehicles to have the capacity for autonomous driving. According to Elon Musk, the automobile company’s CEO, turning on the autopilot mode is an intense experience for drivers.

Still Hang on to Your Wheel

It is possible to download the new software into a car overnight, and the current computers and sensors in Model S can support the software. When the need calls for it, autopilot can take over on both parallel parking and on highways. Musk however, advises drivers to take caution when using the autopilot mode. He emphasizes the need for drivers to still hold on to the wheel when using the autopilot mode. This is just in case something goes wrong or the software crashes.

Amazing Features Keep You in Your Lane

When the autopilot mode is activated, a traffic-conscious cruise monitor is essentially turned on and this is responsible for keeping the car in the right lane. The software of this electric vehicle has data that plays the role of observing a perimeter of 16 feet around the vehicle, a camera for detecting the lane, GPS with a high resolution, traffic sign-reading, as well as forward radar. The forward radar has the capability of seeing through rain, fog, dust and snow. When the vehicle’s turn signal is turned on, the autopilot software changes the lanes automatically for drivers. In parallel parking, the vehicle’s sensors do a street sweep to detect or search for open spots. When the spot is found, steering and speed is controlled by Autopark System, which wiggles the car into the identified spot.

Musk made it clear that the version for the autopilot software package is beta. The software may run into trouble or issues when there are missing or unclear markings on the highway lane. This has usually been the case with several freeways in Los Angeles. When such an issue is encountered, the car’s control is taken over by the high-resolution GPS. Musk therefore emphasizes the need to have clear road marker or dense traffic for the autopilot mode to work well. The autopilot software works very well in dense and slow moving traffic. A warning for side collision is also among the improvements made to Model S’s software package.



Leave a Comment October 30, 2015

First Drive Review of 2016’s Chevrolet Volt

2016_Chevrolet_Volt_NAIAS_2015The 2016 Chevrolet Volt is General Motors’ new version that has been trending recently. This car has the capacity of running 53 miles using battery power only, prior to the gasoline engine taking over. The gasoline engine has the ability to go for 420 miles in total. This new Chevy volt is clearly an eco-friendly car that is a lot of fun to drive. Perhaps competitors such as the Toyota Prius have been out-selling the Volt because only a few people truly understand what Chevy Volt can offer them, as well as its true value.

Piece of Art Powertrain

Volt’s powertrain is its primary distinguishing feature and some experts have often referred to it as a piece of art. By definition, the Volt has often been known to be a plug-in hybrid electric car (PHEV). However, Chevrolet has given a distinction to its Volt by terming it as an electric car with an extended range. Contrary to blended PHEVs, the Chevy Volt has the capacity of maintaining the e-zone until the battery charge depletes. Another unique aspect about the Chevy Volt is that it has an electric range of 53 miles, which is more than two times the next closest, 19 miles covered by Ford’s Energi.

Chevy Volt’s 53 miles is the combined range. According to EPA ratings, the car is capable of going for a city range of 57 miles and a highway range of 49 miles all-electric. The car’s efficiency is also high at 52 mpg for the highway, 43 mpg for the city and a combined efficiency of 42 mpg. The 2016’s Chevy Volt is definitely one of the leading cars currently, with the exception of the Cadillac ELR that is Volt-powered. The drive unit was redesigned for 2016’s Chevy Volt. This new car is lighter by 100 pounds and its earth magnets are now smaller by 40%.

Volt’s Inspiration

Some of the design inspirations for the new Chevy Volt are windblown sand and endurance athletes. While the car has maintained some generation one cues, it is evidently swoopy. Although the new Volt has the appearance of a sedan, it is actually a hatchback. The interior was given another facelift with the removal of feedback controls that were replaced with classy, functional buttons and knobs. There is also an 8-inch touchscreen with great resolution, among other functionalities and applications. Finally, Chevy Volt is a hybrid car is that highly effective in terms of saving gas. SAE presented findings of a study, which showed that it outdid other plug-in cars in the market.



Leave a Comment October 23, 2015

Tesla’s Model S is One of the Top-Selling Plug-ins in America

14_Tesla_Model_SIt will be fundamental for Tesla to try hard to attain its annual sale goals, as the automaker’s Model S tops the sales list in the Unites States market. Virtually all best-selling plug-in vehicles except the BMW i3 saw a decline in sales in comparison to the previous year. Tesla’s Model S has been able to up its market by 48.6%. In the United States alone, a total of 17,700 units have been sold since last September. These sales are in comparison to those of Chevy Volt at 9,264 units and Nissan Leaf at 13,630. Tesla’s sales are higher than those of Nissan by 29.9% and 91.9 % higher than those of Chevrolet.

Model S Selling Well Despite Big Price Tag

Model S by Tesla is a luxury performance vehicle whose starting price is $76,000, a price that is two to four times higher than that of standard cars. It would seem that upscale consumers are more attracted to the car compared to down market consumers. While both Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf were launched in late 2010, the launching of Model S took place in June 2012. To maintain this excitement, Tesla introduced novel all-wheel drive models in 2014, as well as this year. Contrary to this, the 2015 products of the primary automakers appear stale. The sales of Chevy Volt have been going down as customers wait the launch of an advanced generation 2016. Leaf sales have also declined as people wait for the launch of a slightly redesigned 2016 model. The sales of BMW i3 have not been affected by the cheap gasoline. In fact, they have been up by 154.3 %, making it the highest increase.

Tesla S Selling Well Globally

Globally, Tesla delivered about 33,151 units through the third quarter. The sales have increased significantly, though the automaker’s goals were 66% higher than those set last year. The company projected to sell a minimum of 50,000 units through the third quarter, which it delivered. For the remaining part of the year, Tesla will need a huge stretch. A total of 16,849 sales are needed in the fourth quarter for the automaker to meets its end-year goal. These sales will be 45.6 % more than those attained in the third quarter. If the company’s sales for the fourth quarter will be comparable to those of the third quarter, approximately 45,000 units will have been sold by the end of the year. These sales will still be higher than those of the previous year. They will also be higher than those of any other plug-in electric vehicles.



Leave a Comment October 23, 2015

Diesel Hybrid Dreams

vw_e-upMost car technology enthusiasts would love to see an increase in the variety of cars taking advantage of hybrid technology. It would be welcome news to have full hybrids, micro hybrids, mild hybrids, plug-in hybrids and even bio-fuel hybrids. In markets such as Europe, where there is a high number of vehicles running on diesel power, there has often been the idea of having a diesel hybrid. This has mostly been seen in car showrooms where such cars are displayed as concept vehicles.

Dreaming of a Diesel Hybrid Passenger Vehicle

According to environmental experts, the vision of having a diesel hybrid in the market will be very welcome. Both sides of the technology are fuel saving. Hybrid cars save fuel while diesel powered vehicles also have lesser fuel demands. A combination of these two technologies will result in a super fuel-saving hybrid car. So far, hybrid diesel technology has been deployed in city transit buses, garbage trucks, military vehicles and delivery trucks over the years. This means that this technology could easily be shifted and used for the manufacture of smaller passenger cars.

Gasoline powered hybrid vehicles are still holding a majority of the market share for hybrid cars in America. There is still the impression that they are the most fuel efficient vehicles in the market. Researchers predict that with adequate marketing and research on consumer trends, diesel hybrid cars will easily capture the majority of the market share.

Diesel Hybrid More Expensive

There have been questions with regard to the cost of this variety of hybrid vehicle. According to manufacturers, the cost of such a car will go up by about $8,000 with the integration of the diesel hybrid technology. Diesel hybrid cars cost relatively more to produce compared than petrol-electric hybrid cars. This has so far proven to be the main hindrance to moving this new technology into the market. The stakeholders expect the market conditions to change in the near future. The diesel hybrid car will definitely become a commodity.

The encouraging thing is that companies such as Toyota have faced this problem in the past. The company was able to take advantage of economies of scale and mass produce hybrid cars at an affordable price. This was the main success factor behind the Prius, the Camry hybrids and the Highlander hybrids. If companies can adopt this strategy, we will have diesel-electric hybrid cars sooner than anticipated.



Leave a Comment October 16, 2015

Comparing Hybrid Cars and Plug in Hybrid Cars


2015_Fusion_Energi_cornerEvery buyer in the market looking to purchase a car is often faced with the dilemma of which car best suits their needs. It is common knowledge that every car has its own advantages and disadvantages. Picking the best vehicle for your needs will definitely mean that you make compromises. You will most likely pick the vehicle that offers the least compromise. For those who would like to make a pick between hybrid cars and the plug-in hybrid cars, here is the ultimate guide for the pros and cons of both.

The Price

Considering the price factor, this seems to weigh in favor of hybrid cars. A good example here would be the Toyota Prius Liftback versus a plug-in hybrid car. The price for the Toyota Prius hybrid car is about $25,000, while the price for the plug-in hybrid alternative is about $32,000. The same goes for the other car models in the market such as the Ford Fusion and the Honda Accord.

Most of the vehicle manufacturers in the market today tend to nicely pack their options together and offer them as a package. This is because most of the things users demand from these vehicle tend to be sticky. This tends to raise prices.

The plug-in hybrids attract a wider range of federal tax credits and a number of state incentives. The benefits for the hybrid vehicle alternatives cannot compare to these.

It is also interesting to note that plug-in hybrid credits are usually dependent on the kilowatt-hours of the battery. The higher the kilowatt hour, the higher the incentives. By logic, it means that the plug-in hybrid players are likely to be getting more incentives compared to their counterparts.

There is now an option for leasing these vehicles that short term users can take advantage of. This option is usually very popular with plug-in hybrid cars. This minimizes the risk on the part of the consumer because you do not have to worry about hidden costs such as depreciation, upkeep, and battery replacements.

Choices Available

With regards to the choices available to the user, there are more hybrid cars in the market compared to the plug-in cars. Car dealers are more familiar with the features of hybrid cars compared to the plug-ins. It is also easier to get repair and maintenance services for hybrid cars.


Leave a Comment October 16, 2015

Hybrid/Electric Car Myths Debunked

imagesDoing a brief online research on hybrid and electric cars gives one the notion that everything about everything has been figured out. This might be the case until a visit is made to a dealership upon which one discovers that everything is not as clear as it appears. Some of the myths that will be mentioned below might have a strong influence on purchasing decision.

One of the myths is that electric cars cannot travel a long distances. While this is the case for pure electric cars, a majority of the popular electric models are plug-in and have a complementary power source, which creates a hybrid car. In some vehicles, this second power source is an additional engine that is gasoline-powered. In other cars, like the Chevrolet Volt, the power source is a gasoline-fueled generator that plays the role of creating backup electricity for powering the engine. Many electric plug-in vehicles can cover up to eighty miles on a single charge. This makes them appropriate for short commuters, as well as for making errands within the city. The range of a plug-in gas-electric is better than that of gasoline-fueled car.

Another myth is that hybrid and electric vehicles cannot accelerate fast. In plug-in hybrid cars, a computer makes a decision on whether the battery alone can function or it needs additional gasoline power. The computer gives what is needed for quick acceleration when the gas pedal is pressed. Actually, engines powered by battery are associated with instant torque. This implies that the acceleration is strong and immediate. Consequently, driving hybrid cars is the same as driving any other car. There is power availability whenever needed. In fact, a major advantage of an electric engine is the capacity to accelerate from stop mode.

Another myth is that battery-powered electric cars need special chargers for them to be plugged in. This is however not true because even the standard 120-volt outlet can be used for charging electric cars. To charge such cars in minimal time, one may install a charging station of 240 volts at homes. However, this is unnecessary. There is also a myth that the cost of charging is also very high. According to Bob Johnson Chevrolet’s consultant, Laurie Flagg, the cost of charging an electric car is almost the same as that of operating a standard air conditioning system for approximately six hours. Another myth is that the high cost of hybrids and electric is not worth it. This is not the case since environmentalist and technological experts have shown that these cars save money, especially on gasoline and exhaust pollutants.


Leave a Comment October 9, 2015

A Review of Porsche’s New Cayenne SE-Hybrid

Cayenne_Hybrid_V8Electricity is one of the primary driving forces for performance vehicle models, including Porsche. The automaker’s 918 Spyder has a combination of both the conventional V8 horsepower, as well as electric motors. This combination has resulted in the creation of one of Porsche’s fastest road cars. The car was also among the winners in Le Mans’ twenty-four hour race. Recently, the automaker introduced the Mission E concept, an SUV that would probably enter the production stage in 2018. This production date has been speculated to be in response to Tesla. Porsche has been pushing for environmental awareness by emphasizing on green cars such as hybrids. Cayenne has been one of the automaker’s best sellers since 2010, though it has recently been outdone by Macan. Macan has in the past been a petrol-electric car model. Currently, it is a plug-in hybrid vehicle that can be recharged from a power point.

The new Cayenne hybrid has a generous kit level including air-conditioning, heated front seats, leather trim, sunroof, and a power tailgate. All these features are what add up to the car’s price tag of $140,800. Other additional features include auto headlights, alloy wheels of 20-inch, and auto wipers. Other touches including instrument clusters, hybrid badges, and brake calipers, and are what differentiate the plug-in hybrid car from its diesel and petrol counterparts. The SE-hybrid also has other optional features such as the activated safety systems. The systems in question include lane departure alert, automated emergency braking and warning for blind spot. Extra cost has also been linked to an entry system that is keyless. However, a spare tire is not available; the space situated beneath the floor is often a reservation for the battery pack.

There are additional features in the instrument cluster for both batteries and electric motors. For instance, the battery has a gauge, as well as a power meter. Most of these features are lime green, a color that is common in Porsche hybrids. Other than the mentioned features, the car’s interior is purely Cayenne, with a familiar range of buttons involved in various functions such as changing the angle of the steering wheel, gearbox settings and controlling the audio settings. Despite the fact that Cayenne is a five-seater, the space left is decent enough. The knee space is good and the head space is acceptable. The luggage capacity of the new car is slightly lower than that of other Cayennes. This is due to a slightly higher sitting floor. The rear and the gear seats still have plenty of room.


Leave a Comment October 9, 2015

Ford’s Plug-in Hybrid and Electric Car Owners Given a Smartwatch Application

2013-Ford-C-MAX-Energi-plug-inOwners or drivers of Focus Electric, Fusion Energy, and C-MAX Energi electric cars can now obtain information concerning their vehicle’s statistics using their wristwatches. Owners of Apple and Android smartwatches who also drive Ford plug-in hybrid or electric vehicles can unlock their car’s doors, check battery charge status, or find their car in case they have forgotten where the car was parked. Locating their car will just be a matter of checking using the newly launched MyFord Mobile application for smartwatches.

Regardless of the fact that the entry of Ford into the plug-in hybrid and electric vehicle market has not been aired as much as that of electric vehicles’ golden child, Tesla Motors, the offerings of Ford are suited to a standard green car driver. Ford is popular among both the middle and lower class vehicle owners. Additionally, the company has an exceptionally large commercial support network and larger service. Even with minimal coverage, Ford has the possibility of reaching a much bigger plug-in hybrid and electric vehicle customer base. Ford has a huge customer base despite the fact that its vehicles do not have the ludicrous modes, as well as brand cachet enjoyed by Tesla owners.

Life is becoming quite convenient for the owner of Ford hybrid and electric cars, particularly with regard to close monitoring of their car, as well as locating the closest charging station. This is because the newly launched smartwatch application will enable drivers to gain access to several vehicle functions just from the wrist. Some of the functions that will be offered by the Ford application include finding out the approximate range of battery charge that is currently used by the car. Through the application, drivers will also get notification when the car’s charge is full. Initiation of the car’s interior preconditioning will also be possible, and this includes remote heating or cooling.

Using the application, the drivers can also access their driving score, which is often in miles/gallon, breaking efficiency, trip miles or the length of time that the car moves in electric mode. The application is able to clearly pinpoint the location of the car, in addition to providing directions back to the car. The electric vehicle charging station that is closest to the vehicle can also be located using the application. The new applications have been designed in such a way that they are well suited to both square and round smartwatch faces. The application targets both new buyers and existing vehicle owners.



Leave a Comment October 2, 2015

Shipping of Apple Electric Car Set for 2019

compact-electric-car-43068The likelihood of production of an electric car by Apple has been increasing over the last few months. According to inside sources, an electric car is currently under production and its shipping date has been scheduled for 2019. Automotive News, one of the most knowledgeable sources regarding the program, has reported that Apple Inc. plans to have an electric car team comprising of 600 employees. The source has also referred to the project has a committed one. However, it is still not clear 2019 is the time when Apple will deliver the electric car to consumers or it is the deadline time for approval of engineer teams.

Apple electric car production has not yet been officially verified by the CEO and other executive representatives. According to Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple Inc., there are a number of things to consider in the production process. He further emphasized the importance of putting their energies into some of the considerations in question. Cook gave out this information during the Late Show interview by Stephen Colbert. Meanwhile, it has been speculated that Apple Inc. is busy and discreetly coming up with an automotive group. Earlier in the year, Apple hired an independent tech specialist, Megan McClain, who used to work at Volkswagen. McClain was hired by Apple to work as an engineer for mechanical design. Last month, the company also hired Jamie Carlson, who previously worked for Tesla as a firmware manager and engineer. Other new Apple employees with automotive skills include a researcher involved in automated driving tasks and an engineer specializing in computer vision software.

A number of meetings that have been held recently seem to be linked to the project by Apple. In May 2014, some Apple officials started deliberating on the use of GoMentum Station. According to the Guardian the station is approximately 2,100 acres situated close to San Francisco and previously served as a naval base. It is now being converted to autonomous vehicles’ testing ground. A confirmation was also given by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), claiming that a meeting was held with officials from Apple last month. The main agenda of the meeting was reviewing the regulations of autonomous vehicles by the DMV. The DMV went on to state that further details concerning the matter in question could not be disclosed. Apple is not the only technological corporation that has shown the possibility of producing an electric car. Google executives have recently geared efforts towards that direction as well.



Leave a Comment October 2, 2015

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