Filed under: Electric Cars
About a week ago, a new variant of both the Camry hybrid and the Camry were launched by Toyota. The new Camry hybrid is an elegant and intelligent choice. With respect to the exterior, this hybrid car is large-sized. The chrome surround that runs around its chin and the big air dam is what accentuates the car’s size at the front. Likewise, there is a pronounced chrome tip at the nose. The car’s turning lights are smartly located near the wheel arch. Inside the bumper there are the fog lamps. The new Camry still does not appear to be the most identifiable designs on the road despite the fact that it has a more upmarket outlook compared to the older model.
With respect to the interior, a noticeable feature on the meter is the Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD) that gives an impression of advanced technology. There is ventilation on both the front seats owed to microvents that allow the flow of cool air, as well as back support that eliminates moisture. A new beige shade has been added to the cabin though the car lacks an inbuilt feature for satellite navigation. Toyota ensured that the rear seat is as cozy as possible since the Camry Hybrid would mainly be chauffeur-driven.
In fact, it is an understatement to refer to it as a seat; it should instead be called a sofa since it is possible to recline it by 8 degrees. The windshield sunshade, AC, audio system, and even a power socket can easily be controlled from the rear armrest. The back of the front seats has been fitted with assist grips that enable easy egress and ingress. The rear passenger can slide the front passenger seat as per their convenience at the touch of a button. There are three zones that make up the AC. There are specific temperature controls for the rear passenger, the front passenger and the driver. Toyota has claimed that there is a pollen filter water-coated ion technology in the AC.
With respect to drive, the car produces no sound from a standstill until you gradually reach 40-50 kph because it is exclusively powered by the electric motor. The petrol engine comes to life when the accelerator pedal is floored. When the brakes are pressed as the driver approaches a traffic signal, the batteries are charged following the conversion of the car’s kinetic energy into electric energy by the regenerative braking system. Generally, Toyota’s Camry hybrid is a luxury model with a spacious cabin.
May 22, 2015
According to Jacob Benoit , the head of BMW, electric and hybrid technologies are changing the cars’ design, which has been stagnant for several decades. Benoit said this during an interview concerning the sports car model, i8. BMW’s i8 is one of the nominees for the 2015 car designs of the year award. It is a plug-in car that is powered by both a petrol engine and an electric motor. This plug-in hybrid car has been conceived to be a sports car with high performance. Moreover, the car has been said to emit fewer fuel emissions compared to a small gasoline-fueled car.
Jacob Benoit is BMW’s i8 designer and he mentioned that cars have undergone an evolution into a nearly perfect form after almost a century of development. Following this evolution, manufacturers are finding it challenging to think outside the box and come up with unique models. Cars have come a long way with respect to appearance, quality, performance and safety. A different set of design challenges and aesthetic opportunities have been presented by recent technological advances coupled with new lightweight materials. These opportunities were explored by Jacob and his i team to create the i8 model.
Jacob explained that if there were no good constraints, then there is no good design. He further emphasized on the need for some rules to govern car manufacturing. An interesting aspect concerning hybrid car development is that there has been a slight change in the constraints from those that are applicable to a conventional car. Building a hybrid car differs from manufacturing a conventional car. The difference is in terms of the proportions, which have a direct impact on the car’s design. These differences presented an opportunity to push the design boundaries and create the BMW’s i8.
The BMW i8 is a vehicle that is not only low-sitting, but also incorporates clean, minimal lines and a structure consisting of surfaces that overlap and interlock. The car’s contrasting color scheme emphasizes the interlocking and overlapping. Running from the car’s bonnet is a V-shaped black belt that extends over the car’s roof to the rear section. Lightweight thermoplastic polymers have been used to make out the car’s outer skin. The car’s front clearly signals that it is a BMW brand. An addition to take note of is a blue hue that has been incorporated to the grille as a symbol of the vehicle’s electric capability. Jacob knew that in order to win over a marketplace skeptical of hybrid cars, he had to create visual cues to the i8’s performance.
May 22, 2015
In the past six months, Ford has seen a decline in sales of its greenest cars. This is following a growth in large vehicle sales boosted by cheap gasoline across the United States. Seven hundred workers responsible for building the C-Max and Focus hybrids at Ford’s Wayne, Michigan, plant will be sacked. This is according to Associated Press Reports. The laying off was the first of its kind by the automaker since 2009. Further hints of the uncertainty of standard hybrid cars’ future on the United States market are being felt.
Some of the models produced by the Wayne plant employees include the C-Max hybrid, Focus ST, C-Max Energi, and Focus Electric. The automaker’s most efficient vehicles include C-Max Energi, Focus Electric and the Focus. Despite being termed efficient, U.S. consumers are yet to gain intense interest in them. The sales of C-Max hybrid have gone down by 31 % year-over-year in the first quarter of 2015. Over the same time period there was a 9% drop by the low-volume Focus electric car. While the Ford Focus sales have stagnated, with 2% gains in 2015, Toyota Corolla sales have increased by 17%. Explorer is Ford’s biggest winner with a sales increase of 27% in the year 2015. Similarly, the massive sales total of Ford’s F-150 pickup has improved with a total of 177,312 consumers in 2015. Sales of trucks remain high for United States automakers offering full-size pickups as the construction market continues to become strong. Yet, a problem is created for automakers when gas prices decline as the demand for cars like the C-Max hybrid remains low.
Ford’s Wayne plant situation necessitates a thorough view of the state of standard hybrid cars in the United States market. There was a decline across the board for vehicles ranging from the vaunted Toyota Prius to the Honda Accord Hybrid, according to the sales statistics compiled by Autoblog Green. When the prices of gas do not justify the short-term investment needed to upgrade from a standard gas model, there is little appeal for a more costly hybrid model. On the contrary, superior efficiency at much lower cost is offered by plug-in cars offering pure electric range, regardless of the gas prices’ trend. Studies show that most of the trips last for less than twenty miles and this has provided a cheap market for models such as the C-Max Energi. Compared to late April 2014 prices, gasoline remains over $1.20 cheaper in the United States.
May 16, 2015
In recent years, it has been harder to find electric and hybrid car repair experts just like Mercedes mechanics back in the 1980s. This phenomenon has made green car drivers incur higher repair bills than if they owned a normal gasoline car. The trend is now moving in the other direction, according to CarMD study of repairs in 2014. As more mechanics gain knowledge on handling gas-electric systems and the costs of equipment drops, hybrid repair costs are going down. CarMD is currently compiling its annual Vehicle Health index, which has tracked repair information for four years. A total of 98,000 repairs were sorted through for 2015 so as to give consumers and fleet managers relevant information on gauging the total cost of vehicle ownership. Fortunately, in 2014 most repairs held constant with the most common diagnostic services required in any car on the road being the “check engine sensor.”
As the cost of labor and general parts remained constant, hybrid-car repair costs slightly dropped as common fixes became normal services in more shops and more mechanics learned to handle hybrid car systems. As per the last check, there was only one hybrid car repair ranked among the top ten most expensive fixes. This was contrary the previous year where three hybrid repairs appeared at the top ten ranks. The cost of battery replacement increased by 11 percent, though the price of inverter assembly replacement has for the last five years been plummeting. For 2010, the cost of repair was $7,300; in 2011 it was $4,098, $3,927 in 2013 and $1,357 in 2014. The list of ten costliest repairs was equally important for car owners. The cost of transmission assembly replacement topped the list in 2014, followed by the cost of replacing the engine. Transmission repair was ranked third costliest. The data was a good reminder of the lower cost of ownership associated with electric vehicles.
Coverhound insurance released a report last fall on a study that indicated that it was cheaper to insure electric cars compared to their gasoline counterparts. The major reason given was that the electric drivetrain did not have moving parts or a transmission, which are the two most expensive parts to repair. Most studies have shown that the labor is the main expense incurred in hybrid and electric vehicle repairs. It is therefore essential for car consumers hunting for new cars to take the full ownership cost into consideration. This ranges from operation to available incentives, as well as the repair costs.
May 16, 2015
It is essential to explore the best cars so as to figure out whether now is the best time to purchase a hybrid or electric car. With the Formula E in full effect, the future of driving seems to be geared towards electric cars. While the days of gasoline-fuel powered engines may be numbered, is it really the best time to shift to electric cars? With respect to pure electric cars, the selection is not huge at the moment. However, these cars have a range that is good for daily use. Leading the field is Tesla’s model S whose drive is all-wheel. Other brands known for making pure electric cars at reasonable prices include Ford, Nissan, VW, BMW, and Renault.
When making a decision on whether to go or not to go electric, most people will consider charging times, range, power, and price. Regarding price, the VW e-Gold is the most expensive, followed by BMW’s i3, Kia’s Soul, Nissan’s Leaf and the Renault Zoe. With respect to plug-in hybrids, Toyota Prius tops by having a dual-drive system. The plug-in hybrids have now gained popularity with a majority of drivers choosing the Prius. Over the past few years, the market has further grown with the manufacture of plug-in hybrid cars that allow for home charging. In this way, drivers may see no need to utilize the fuel engines and rather reserve that for driving long distances. A major advantage of plug-in hybrid cars is that their range is extended. Some of the popular plug-in hybrids include Mitsubishi’s PGEV GX3h, Ford’s Titanium Hybrid and Toyota’s Prius Plug-in Hybrid.
With respect to range, the Ford Mondeo Titanium hybrid leads with an impressive range of 967 miles, while BMW’s i3 follows closely with a range of 930 miles. While the Toyota Prius can go up to 700 miles in a single journey, it loses solely on electric with only 15 miles range on charge. Just like pure electrics, the plug-in electric cars offer a charge of up to 80% in 30 minutes. Upgrading a home charger for rapid charging would cost the driver, though doing so would reduce the time needed for full charging to only three hours. It is evident that there is a positive future for electric and hybrid cars. There has been a cropping up of charging infrastructure countrywide. Thanks to fast chargers, it is now possible to drive pure electric cars for long journeys. This means that choosing to buy an electric or hybrid car right now is not as risky as it was some years back.
May 8, 2015
Prior to its launch this summer, General Motors has promoted the superiority of the 2016 Chevrolet Volt. The automaker started by displaying the car’s specifications online, but was skeptical about revealing the price. It is unclear whether General Motors will price this new model effectively. Cost is a rather sensitive issue and this is especially true with GM and its extended-range electric car. Talk has been that the 2016 Volt might retail below $30,000, and this was prior to the December 2010 launch of the original 2011 model. The speculation later proved to be unrealistic, especially when an almost $40,000 sticker price was placed on the compact Chevrolet.
Following the leads of Nissan and other automakers in the year 2014, the price of Volt dropped to just less than $35,000. A major question now is the price tag that will be placed on the 2016 Chevrolet Volt. In an interview, Andrew Farah, the lead Volt engineer did not specify the price of the new Volt. A goal of whittling off $10,000 had been put as per the previous reports. This is however yet to be confirmed. While GM gauges excitement, touts benefits and refines the last details of the 2016 Chevy Volt, the company has been noticeably quiet about the pricing details. A decent starting point of $29,995 has been suggested by the speculators on GM-Volt.com. Some have suggested a low of $27,995 and a fair price of $39,995, as well.
The question of price may be solved between June and July when General Motors will make the official announcement that everyone has been waiting for. The automaker plans to give a price to alternative-energy products as per to what is thought to be worthy. For the 2011 Volt, many people were given a jolt starting price of $40,000. The sales never took off as predicted, combined with politicized backlash and other factors. Therefore, the initial forecast of 45,000 U.S. sales by GM was altered by the end of the year 2011 to fit the supply versus demand.
According to GM, the 2016 Chevy Volt will be a mainstream vehicle. The outgoing lame duck Volt sold a total of 18,805 units in 2014, with 23,094 Volts sold in 2013 while and 23,461 in the year 2012. The automaker claims that this model with have a broader appeal. It will not only market it more cleverly, but also give sufficient support to its dealers. Analysts have projected that about 24,300 Volt units will be sold for the first year.
May 8, 2015
Although the 45th anniversary of Earth Day was marked the other day, so far the hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric carmakers have no reason for celebration. The sales of hybrids such as the Toyota Prius have gone down by 15.6 % for the first quarter of 2015 in comparison to the previous year totals. Sixty-six percent of the United States market for hybrid vehicles is accounted for by the different Toyota Prius models, as well as the Avalon and Camry hybrids. The only hybrid car that showed a slight increase in sales (4.6%) in the first quarter is the Prius V Compact wagon. The worse thing is that the hybrid and electric cars are being traded in at a higher rate as the prices of gasoline remains low. Edmunds claimed that approximately 22 percent of car owners who have chosen to trade in their electric and hybrid cars have bought a novel SUV. This is almost two times the rate seen three years ago (11.9%).
The electric and hybrid car trade-ins that have gone toward the purchase of another alternative fuel car so far are only at 45%. According to Edmunds, the loyalty rates among alternative-fuel car owners for the first time had gone below 50 percent. The story is clearly explained by the math. In October 2012, the average cost of gasoline per gallon was $4.67 and it was projected that it would take five years to recover the price difference between a Camry Hybrid and a gasoline-fueled Camry. The payback period rises to ten years at a national average price of $2.27 per gallon. There is even a greater difference for electric vehicles such as the GM’s Chevy Spark, the Nissan Leaf and Ford Motor’s Ford Focus electric vehicle. For the first three months of 2015, the sales of Nissan Leaf are down 21.2 % year-over-year, while those of Focus electric vehicle are down by about 9 percent. A 31% jump in sales was reported by the Chevy Spark with a total of only 151 units.
Plug-in hybrid cars such as the Ford C-Max Energy and the Chevrolet Volt reported low quarter sales of 1.5% and 48% respectively. The Ford Fusion Energi is the best-selling car in this group with March sales of 837 units. Compared with the first quarter of 2014, the sales have gone down by 15.6%. In the first quarter, GM’s Cadillac ELR plug-in hybrid saw a 73% increase in sales. It sold 311 units compared to 2014’s 180 units.
May 1, 2015
General Motors has just released the full details for the 2016 Chevrolet Volt. These are inclusive of the main equipment, specifications, and upgrades. The car’s price range is the only detail missing. All this information was listed by GM in an ordering guideline of 25 pages that is available online. However, the automaker is currently not accepting orders for the Volt. The 2016 Volt is characterized by two trim levels. The 2LT Hatchback, has been used as the base model and has fewer trim options and colors. The basic Volt is far from meager irrespective of the fact that it does not include perks such as automatic parking assist and wireless charging for devices.
Much of the Volt has been upgraded and Chevrolet decided to make this move so the hatchback could be positioned as a premium vehicle. The standard equipment for the vehicle includes two additional airbags and a Wi-Fi Hotspot. The base model also has a rear vision camera, which is an upgrade on 2015 Volt. A new standard for the 2016 is the Regen on Demand, which allows drivers to have more capacity to control energy regeneration. This is done using a paddle-style switch that is fixed on the car’s steering wheel. There is a new feature on the charging system, which is connected to the vehicle’s GPS to allow smarter charging. The feature will give car owners the freedom of setting their charging preferences solely for charging their vehicles at home. The vehicle would then adjust automatically to the setting chosen when at home on the basis of GPS data. With the new Volt, car owners will charge their cars in public easily and the charging flexibility will be greater.
The upgraded 2LZ trim also has a set of eight Bose speakers for premium sound in addition to wireless charging and automatic parking assist. The comfort package comprises of a heated steering wheel, heated mirrors and heated front seats. The blind zone alert, automatic high beam headlights, forward collision alert and a sensor are other driver assist features that can be added to the upgraded Chevrolet Volt.
According to the specifications sheet, there has been an all round increment increase on the new Volt, with the wheelbase increasing by almost half an inch, the sides increasing by 0.8 inches and the length increasing by 3.3 inches. However, these additional inches do not reflect on the inside to give more passenger space. In terms of weight, the new Volt will be lighter by 243 pounds and have a 3, 543 pounds curb weight.
April 24, 2015
General Motors Company recently made an announcement concerning its new pure electric vehicle that will boast a range of more than 200 miles. The new car will be marketed across the U.S and will be referred to as Bolt EV. According to an emailed statement by the company, the name Bolt EV has quickly been linked to Chevrolet since being unveiled three months ago. Therefore, when the vehicle goes into production, the name will be used. By unveiling the Bolt EV, Chevrolet has shown its commitment and strides towards electrification. The name is also well suited for this electric vehicle that is game-changing and made for attainability rather than exclusivity. Criticisms had been raised with respect to the name being closely related to Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid car by Chevy.
The Bolt concept was first shown by GM at the Detroit’s North American International Auto Show in January and at the Chicago Auto Show a month later. In Chicago, GM made a confirmation of building a five-passenger car in Orion Township at the carmaker’s Orion Assembly plant. According to Michael Albano, Chevrolet spokesman, the final decision to use the name Bolt EV was made by GM about a month ago. In an email, Albano said that the confirmation was reached following consultation with dealers and customers. Most of the customers felt that the name was suitable and its connection to the Volt was viewed positively. Alan Batey, the GM present in North America said in February that the automaker was still debating on whether to or not to go with the name Bolt. He further added that GM may not come up with the decision this year. This is because some people claimed that the name was confusing.
GM and Chevrolet officials have not yet given the exact production date for the vehicle. The only information given is that the vehicle is on “fast track production.” An industry forecasting and analysis firm, LMC Automotive, projects the Bolt to be built later next year and enter the market in 2017. GM produces a high of 20,000 and a low of 30,000 vehicles on an annual basis. The new Bolt will serve as a replacement for the Chevy Spark EV and will have double the range. It has been estimated to cost around 30,000 dollars following a federal tax credit of 7,500 dollars. According to GM, 160-million dollars will be invested in purchasing the equipment and tools needed for manufacturing the future vehicles.
April 24, 2015
Toyota’s Prius has been the leading hybrid vehicle across the globe since 1997. In October last year, Prius’ global sales hit seven million. This year’s New York International Auto show was marked by the release of the new Chevy Malibu Hybrid, which is deemed to be a strong competitor to the Prius. Chevrolet has projected that an EPA of 48 City/45 highway MPG will be delivered by the Malibu. This is a bit close to the standard Prius Hatchback’s 51/48 MPG. The Malibu has adopted the Volt’s Voltec technology, though it has a smaller battery (1.5 kWh) and larger engine (1.8 liter). Although the new Malibu hybrid is incapable of charging using a plug, it has the ability of cruising on electric power alone for a mile up to 55 MPH. The regenerative system of the new hybrid is similar to that of the Volt. The fact that there is shared technology implies that there was little reinvention involved in model development, resulting in an increase in consumer savings. Chevy’s Malibu will be the first car from this automaker to utilize Exhaust-Gas Heat Recovery for warming the engine and cabin, resulting in fasting heating and a fuel economy that is more consistent.
Despite the fact that Chevy’s Malibu will give Toyota’s Prius a run for its money, it is not a Prius clone. The 2015 Malibu hybrid is 15-inches longer compared to the standard Prius Hatchback and more than 8-inches longer compared to Prius V. The 2016 model is longer by a few inches and lighter by about 300 pounds. The size of the 2016 model is comparable to that of Camry Hybrid whose range is at 40/38 MPG. Additionally, the new version has a sharper look compared to the Prius. For those consumers who are not impressed by Toyota’s uniqueness, the Malibu offers comfort and shape familiarity. When it comes to performance, Prius has 98 horsepower, while the new Malibu hybrid gives 182 horsepower. While the Malibu is best suited for sport, the Prius and Volt are tuned for economy. There is a solid lineup of safety and entertainment features in the 2015 Prius, while the new version of Malibu hybrid has improved on that by having a pedestrian alert that is camera enabled, as well as a blind spot monitoring. Another interesting feature of the Malibu Hybrid is Teen Driver System that gives parents the ability for setting an acceptable speed. When the parameters are exceeded, the system will alert parents.
April 18, 2015