Filed under: Electric Cars

The New Plug-in Hybrid Volt Unveiled by GM

'14_Chevrolet_Volt_(MIAS_'14)A new version of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid was unveiled by GM amidst the increase in gas prices and shrinking of the number of people interested in fuel-sipping vehicles. For most of this past year, cheap gas prices have been a big break for not only GM, but its competitors also. Detroit saw major profits increase with pickups and sport utility car sales. Although GM and other big companies are relying of a new technology that will not only satisfy regulators, but also prepare for future sales, consumers have shown a great interest in SUVs.

An independent car consultant in Connecticut, Maryann Keller, has said that with some places selling gasoline below 2 dollar per gallon, consumers may still not be interested. She claims that the Volt is a costly vehicle that fails to deliver a great value for its consumers. However, the Volt model that debuted on Monday at the Auto Show in Detroit can cover up to 50 miles when charged once. This is in comparison with the current version that can only cover 38 miles prior to recharging the battery with the gasoline engine. The car covers an average of 41 mpg if the battery is run down and the driver chooses to use a tank full of gas.

Another model that was introduced by GM at the Detroit Auto Show is the new Chevrolet Bolt EV version, whose price tag is estimated at $30,000 dollars. The car is fully electric and has a range exceeding 200 miles. The model will be put on sale by the year 2017, according to GM. With respect to the profit outlook, the production cost of Volt was cut by about $10,000. In this way, the vehicle would be more profitable. Plug-in hybrid cars such as Volt can go for long distances using electricity owed to the fact that their battery is larger in size compared to that of conventional hybrids. To use less gas and get more electric drive, drivers recharge their cars by plugging them in.

The long-term plans of GM revolve around meeting the future rules and regulations. Short-term plans will entail trying to meet the needs of consumers. The automaker also has plans of making key developments with the Volt, as well as other models. Chevy as a brand has been better known for Camaros and Corvettes that are tire-screeching rather than efficient technology. The Volt has given the Chevy brand a huge boost.


Leave a Comment January 23, 2015

Hybrid Car Sales Higher than Those of All-Electric Cars

volt-concept-620The sales of all-electric cars have been low because of the car’s short range on charge. GM plans to change this by launching a new Chevrolet Bolt that will have a range of 200 miles on one charge. The automaker plans to launch this new model in approximately two years time. In addition to giving details concerning the range, GM reported the car’s price to be estimated to be in the low $30,000. This price will be quite attractive to customers who would not normally consider purchasing an all-electric car for the apprehension of running out of power. When the Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid was introduced in 2007 as a concept car, it was deemed everyone’s electric car. The car had the capacity to cover 38 miles using only battery power. Drivers who had worries of getting stranded could use the gas generator. However, the car’s sales were hampered by is price tag of $40,000.

The Chevrolet Bolt has been said to be mini SUV and its range will be three times that of Chevrolet Volt. Hybrid cars of Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Kia and Chevrolet have continued to report high sales volume. Customers prefer them because they are convenient. The sales of all-electric cars are not as high as those of hybrid cars. Among all the hybrid cars, Toyota modes are leading in sales followed closely by Ford models. The popularity of all-electric cars may be high in big cities since there are many people there that travel for short distances frequently. Additionally, there are more battery charging locations available in the cities.

According to Don Elwell, the director of public relations at Alan Jay Automotive Network Marketing, the demand for all-electric cars has further lowered following the decrease in gas prices. According to a Ford’s salesman, only two all-electric cars have been sold by the dealership. The salesman further noted that hybrid cars sell better than all-electric vehicles. While the mile range of Ford Focus is 70, it may depend on factors like the status of the air conditioner. A study conducted by AAA showed that the driving range of an electric car is affected by temperature extremes. The average range according to the test was found to be 105 miles at a temperature of 75 degrees. When the temperature was constant at 20 degrees, the range went down by 57%. Warm temperatures did not stress the battery range that much, but delivered 69 miles on average.


Leave a Comment January 23, 2015

A Review of Toyota’s 2015 Camry SE Hybrid

'12_Toyota_Camry_Hybrid_(MIAS_'12)In the past two or so decades, Toyota has fallen short of its customer expectations and has therefore not been America’s bestselling car. The Camry is almost at the top of charts with respect to resale value, reliability, practicality, fuel economy, and other metrics considered by buyers. A few people have also praised Toyota’s sedan for the sports-like qualities. To satisfy its customers, Toyota has made major improvements and amendments for its 2015 Camry. The car will be a bit sportier, thanks to a snout that is longer and lower. It will also have a slightly folded and creased hood, and chiseled flanks with a wide stance.

Toyota’s Camry hybrid will now have three levels, the LE, the XLE and the 2015 SE level. Some of the additional features of the new SE include aluminum wheels of 17-inches, mesh grille, a spoiler and a trim that is dark chrome. All the 2015 Camry vehicles’ structure will be stiffened in addition to having spot welds in specific areas like door openings and the cowl. The car’s power steering has also been amended and it will have a traditional feel of a hydraulic system. In an effort to attain a linear pedal response, the new Camry will have a brake booster that is dual-stage.

The new SE Camry is great in terms of responsiveness with features such as a shock valve, suspension bushings and anti-roll bar. In comparison to other Camrys, the new SE has a firmer shape and is more comfortable. There is a quite remote feel for the brake-pedal response. Although it was expected that the SE hybrid would be sportier, it is not quite the case. Test numbers have shown that there, the new model doesn’t have additional liveliness. The stopping distance of the SE Camry is the same as that of the Camry XLE model.

Basically, Camry hybrid models are sportier compared to non-hybrid models, owed to a drivetrain that is more powerful. A primary reason for the high Camry sales is the fuel economy. Despite the alterations made to the SE model such as a wider rubber, the car’s mileage is similar to that of XLE hybrid model. The average mileage for the new model is 31 mpg, which is thriftier compared to the previous Camry by 5 mpg. Some of the major competitors of the SE Camry are Hyundai’s Sonata hybrid, Ford’s Fusion hybrid, and the Optima hybrid by Kia.



Leave a Comment January 16, 2015

Definition and Functionality of Hybrid Cars

512px-Toyota_Prius_V_Hybrid_car_familyThe past few decades have been characterized by major technological advancement. The impact of some of these advancements has been felt in various sectors, including the automobile industry. Earlier on, gasoline-only cars were alone on the roads, but currently more drivers are opting for hybrid cars. The popularity of hybrid cars has also increased with issues such as decreased reserves for fossil fuels and environment concerns coming to light. Automakers are choosing car technologies that are not only fuel economical, but also good in terms of performance. For a many years now, hybrid technology has been promoted and many car manufacturers have embraced the concept. One such company is Toyota, which came up with the Prius. Prius has been a huge success with respect to minimizing environmental pollution.

Following the success of Prius, other automakers such as Honda are also planning to manufacture hybrid cars. A hybrid car is one that has both electric motors and a gasoline engine. For this reason, a hybrid car has a combination of advantages including enhanced fuel economy and increased power. Simply put, a hybrid car has two major sources of power, the battery and fuel. The high cost of hybrid cars is mainly because they are partially powered by batteries.

Hybrid cars have major components including a generator, electric motor and a battery. All the gasoline car components are also present in a hybrid car. A hybrid car’s electric drive is made up of the three components mentioned above. Some of the major benefits that hybrid technology offers a car include fewer emissions and improved fuel economy. The fuel expenses will go down because the hybrid technology offers a vehicle good mileage. In other words, the electric motor powers the car when the gasoline engine is not in use. The gasoline engine would then save more on the electric charge when the vehicle gets to a speed of approximately 30 mph. In this way, the car’s efficiency is elevated.

With regard to the functionality of the power sources, it is essential to keep in mind that the hybrid concept is based on the principle of energy conservation; energy is neither destroyed nor created but rather converted from one form to another. Therefore, when a car accelerates and brakes, it produces kinetic energy which is then stored in a battery to be used when necessary. When a car accelerates strongly and needs additional power, it obtains it from the electric motor as well as the gasoline engine. Although the gasoline engine in hybrid cars is smaller than that of conventional gasoline powered cars, they offer a huge fuel efficiency boost.



Leave a Comment January 16, 2015

Exploring the Potential of the Combination of Electric Vehicles and Solar Power

imagesAccording to the chairman of SolarCity and Tesla Motors, there has always been a huge potential association between electric vehicles and home solar power. In California, the bundling of solar energy and electric vehicles is trending already. This may be a combination that is too good to ignore, considering the fact that there has been a gradual technological advancement over the last couple of years. One of the blog posts from the Washington Post emphasized this issue last week. According to the blog post, Magal Delmas and two other colleagues from the UCLA Environmental Institute are working on a paper that reports on the increasing appeal for solar panels and electric cars. This implies that suburban consumers may soon become accidental environmentalists.

The monthly expenses for a household purchasing an electric car and at the same time owning a solar panel generating enough power for the car and the home might be approximately $89. This is in comparison to $255, a rough paper estimate of a household that runs a regular vehicle and does not own a solar panel. This study is a clear indication that it is possible to achieve such huge saving, thanks to the fact that the installation of solar and purchase of electric vehicles have increased options for zero-down payment. A significant overlap was found in two groups, the rooftop power installers and Tesla buyers. According to the data obtained from the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project in California, rebate applicants with all-electric cars utilizing home solar panels or planning to install the panels, accounted for 45% of the total number of applicants.

The paper further indentified other trends indicating a positive relationship between Tesla Motors’ stock price and shares of many solar firms. In other words, solar panels and electric vehicles are getting cheaper and better with time. There is also a gradual improvement in Tesla’s financing options. Mathew Kahn, a UCLA’s economist and one of Delmas’ co-authors, has written a paper on the increasing “synergistic possibilities” for people who own both technologies. Currently, it is increasingly possible to own both the solar panels and electric vehicles by taking advantage of the great financing packages available. With SolarCity, the money generated from the system can be used to pay for installation of the solar panels. Meanwhile, figures cited in the study have been coined in Clean Technica, and they show that the average prices of solar panels have steadily declined since 1977. In 1977, a solar panel costs around $76.67 per watt and currently, it cost $0.613 at today’s prices.



Leave a Comment January 9, 2015

Why Plug-in Hybrid Electric Cars Should be Termed Electric Cars

LeafCurrently, there are different systems used to name 100% electric cars, electric cars, plug-in hybrid cars and the traditional electric hybrid cars. There are some people who have no idea of what an all-electric car is and how it differs from a plug-in electric. The essential aspect to keep in mind when labeling a vehicle as electric is if it can or it cannot drive on pure electricity when the driver wants to. Additionally, it is necessary for a driver to know how to plug in a vehicle and use electricity for charging it up.

Essentially, this is inclusive of plug-in hybrid cars (electric cars). A perfect analogy made by Bob Wallace and an electric vehicle obsessive reader is that of comparing a plug-in electric car to a bike having training wheels. A bike having training wheels is in the long-run still classified as a bike. The only difference is when it comes to the training wheels. The same case applies to plug-in hybrid electric cars, which are still electric vehicles. It is just that such vehicles have gas tanks and engines with an extendable range to help a driver drive farther.

This however, does not imply that there is no difference between plug-in electric cars and 100% electric vehicles. There are plenty of benefits associated with owning a 100% electric vehicle, and plug-in electric vehicles also have their unique benefits, as well. Although the benefits of 100% electric vehicles outweigh those of plug-in electric vehicles, it is evident that the plug-in electric cars that are currently in the market offer an alternative for people who are less adventurous or those who cannot afford the high-cost of electric cars like the Model S by Tesla.

Another point worth noting, with the hope of promoting 100% electric vehicles is the fact that most people tend to drive less than they actually realize. Pure-electric cars such as the BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf have a range that is pretty high for many drivers with the exception of a few trips annually. The reality is that many drivers can mostly use electric energy to drive since the distances covered are short. Even plug-in electric vehicles are still a good option.

Generally, it has been proven that many people have limited information concerning electric vehicles. Perhaps, “plug-in hybrid electric vehicle” is a too complicated and bulky term for such people. People should be introduced to the topic using simpler concepts and terms. In this way, they will understand that it is possible to drive using pure electric energy and that it is possible to charge a vehicle by merely plugging it in a wall.



Leave a Comment January 9, 2015

A Review of the 2016 C-Class Plug-in by Mercedes

Mercedes-C-Class-plug-in-hybridFollowing the official release of S500 Plug-in, a luxury car that consumes less fuel, Mercedes-Benz has plans of introducing at least nine similar car models by the year 2017. Early next year, the C350e will be the first to debut. The automaker has announced that the C-Class plug-in car’s moniker will be C350e. The “e” signifies the fact that this hybrid car will have the ability to run in pure electric energy or mode. The new car will also be characterized by two unique ways of propulsion, which can be used together or independently to achieve zero emissions and high fuel economy. Theoretically, a driver can drive solely on electric mode in cities with a range of approximately 30 miles.

The model will also have turbocharged cylinders in addition to an electric motor of 80 horsepower. In combination, there will be a total of about 300 horsepower. Spy shots of the new plug-in by Mercedes have shown that the car is at its last stages of development. With respect to its exterior design, there is an additional socket cap positioned at the back right corner. There is also some slight aerodynamic advancement. The advancement in question is that the new model will not have a body kit with an AMF line. The interior part of the new model will be a secret delight to its passengers. This is once they discover that no engine sounds will originate from the new model. The new C-Class plug-in has been said to have one of the best interiors for a luxury car of an entry-level. In terms of quality, the new model has been compared to S-Class’ quality. The interior has been stepped up at least two steps higher than predecessors, thanks to a matte-wood console and aluminum buttons and knobs spreading around the car’s dashboard. The overall size of the new C-Class is also bigger, implying that it has more space for passengers. There will be a luggage compartment in the C350e with a big battery pack located at the back axle’s top.

With respect to price, the C350e should cost as much as the C400. This is regardless of the fact that the power output offered by the two models slightly differs. Therefore, we should expect the C-Class plug-in to cost slightly less than $50,000 in the U.S. Some of the major competitors of the C350e include the BMW 328e, whose fuel consumption is better, though less powerful compared to the C350e. Generally, it seems the future is geared towards plug-in hybrids, with Mercedes-Benz planning to introduce more such models in the coming years.




Leave a Comment January 2, 2015

The Most Reliable Hybrid Cars

Lexus_CT200hLexus and Toyota have for a very long time maintained the reputation of manufacturing cars that are dependable. It is therefore not really surprising that at the top of hybrid car reliability ratings are the Lexus models. Toyota/Lexus managed to sell hybrid cars exceeding seven million across the world, thereby emerging as a leader. Consumer Reports has also emphasized the reliability of Lexus car models. In comparison to a normal car, Lexus model CT200h has been considered to be 73% more reliable. The ES300h on the other hand has been deemed to be 71% more reliable compared to an average vehicle.

Camry Hybrid and the Toyota Prius have also had high reliability ratings, at 66% in comparison to an average car. The big-sized Prius V is at 44% rating. Even the normal, Prius, one of the least reliable hybrid cars by Toyota rates at 9% above average. Collectively, Lexus and Toyota are known to have hybrid vehicles in virtually all market segments. However, other car manufacturers have gradually established their market niche. The Accord hybrid by Honda has been rated above average in terms of its reliability as well. High scores have also been reported for Hyundai’s Sonata hybrid and Subaru’s XV Crosstrek.

Determination of a novel vehicle’s reliability is not rocket science. According to AutoGuide, it is just a matter of making an informed guess. The fact that gas-electric hybrid cars are complex does not necessarily mean that they are susceptible to breakdowns. The Consumer Reports’ team in charge of automotive data has reported that hybrid cars generally have higher reliability ratings compared to gas-powered cars. This is mainly because of the fact that the platform upon which hybrid cars are built has been proven to be reliable. The team has further added that the most reliable hybrid cars are Lexus and Toyota.

Although most hybrid cars are generally reliable compared to gas-powered cars, there are a few of them that have below average ratings. For instance, the C-Max hybrid by Ford has been compared to a new-car average and has been found to fall short by 80%. A similar powertrain is utilized by Ford’s Fusion, whose reliability ratings are also below average. Honda’s Civic hybrid from generation 2006-2011 has been reported to have hybrid battery issues. For this reason, hybrid batteries have been replaced in approximately 30% of the later generations of Civic hybrids. In terms of reliability, the newer models of Civic hybrid have reported a great improvement. Therefore, hybrid car owners prioritizing reliability should go for Lexus and Toyota models, which are the market leaders.


Leave a Comment January 2, 2015

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

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