Filed under: Electric Cars
Efforts to develop natural-gas powered cars are being phased out by Honda, which plans to now focus on the production of electric and hybrid cars. A next generation, double motor hybrid system is being developed by the automaker, and the system will be featured in a novel Accord Hybrid set to be launched by 2018. Honda will also release a fuel-cell vehicle with an all-new design next year. This information was given by the Executive President of American Honda Motor Co., John Mendel, at a conference held earlier this week. Mendel added that also in the works are a new battery-electric, a new plug-in hybrid car and a three-motor hybrid system. He however, failed to give further details concerning the developments in question.
Mendel said that an extensive new generation of electrified vehicles expected to yield significant sales, are under development. The battery-electric car, fuel-cell vehicles, as well as plug-in hybrids will become Honda’s mainstream, volume pillar. The automaker will cease the sale of natural-gas powered models of the Civic Hybrid and Civic this year. This move comes after Honda withdrew the sale of Accord Plug-in Hybrids in the United States. The Civic Hybrid will be dropped partly because the company plans to redesign the 2016 Civic to have a range of more than 40 mpg. Honda has tried to commercialize natural-gas vehicles since 1998, but a great barrier has been the lack of a fueling infrastructure. Mendel said that the infrastructure just wasn’t as convenient as petrol even though it was improved. About 16,000 natural-gas vehicles were sold by the company, mostly to commercial and taxi fleets.
The combined United States light-vehicle sales of Acura and Honda brands as of 2015 are likely to reach a high record. The previous combined best with sales of 1.55 million was recorded in 2007. In 2014, the sales totaled to 1.54 million. The Honda brand U.S. sales through May increased to 547,044 vehicles, a 0.6 % increase. The total sales of Acura increased by 7.2%, and totaled to 71,560 vehicles. The uni-body platform of the new generation Honda Ridgeline will be the same as that of the Odyssey minivan and Pilot Crossover. Similarly, it will have a V-6 engine with a 3.5–liter capacity and an automatic transmission of nine-speeds. The Ridgeline pickup that it set to arrive next year will have a truck look that will be more traditional.
June 26, 2015
Pundits started writing obituaries for green cars as gas prices fell this year. It was said that electric and hybrid vehicles would not save enough money on fuel to cater for the high up-front prices with $2-a-gallon gas. However, that is actually not the case. The personal finance of green cars is better than skeptics believe, even with today’s gas prices. May’s U.S. auto-sales reports serve as the latest evidence. According to this report, green cars’ sales for the month went up by 24% and a 10-year-high annual rate of 17.8 million was the reported overall vehicle sales. It is evident that the movement for green cars is still moving forward.
Buying a hybrid car is one of the most financially important decisions that a person can make. A basic flaw suffered by articles and studies arguing otherwise is that of making assumptions concerning the way people budget. It is up to automakers to fix much of the remainder of the shift by further lowering the prices of hybrids, especially with respect to getting leasing deals that are more aggressive. If you analyze the way most people buy cars, you will find that hybrids do save money, and right way. It is the manufacturers’ fault when such cars do not save money and a thrifty shopper has the option of checking elsewhere.
This basic question is mentioned in an April study of first quarter sales by Edmunds.com. In the study, the average savings from hybrids are compared to the price difference between hybrids and their gas-powered counterparts and goes further to divide the savings per month to the higher price. The study’s conclusion is that for a Toyota Camry Hybrid, the payback period can be as long as ten years in comparison to a conventional hybrid that cannot last for that long. To buy electric and hybrid vehicles, people do not make an extra down payment. Normally, about 85 percent of novel cars purchased are financed and the additional money is directed to the payment. Taking this into consideration, you will find that hybrid car drivers actually save money on gas.
Some automakers such as Hyundai are making the smart move of paying attention to market cues. There is about $ 1,400 price spread, which has helped in preserving the savings per month. With such a spread, a driver buying gas at $2.50 per gallon, there is a less than $25 extra payment and about $30 gas savings.
June 26, 2015
Hybrid and electric cars are among the best cars that drivers need to take a look at when deciding on a car to buy, given their impressive mileage and fuel-efficiency. One of the best electric cars is the BMW i3, which has been said to be a game-changer model. The BMW i3 is not only appealing, but it is also an electric car that is highly drivable. In terms of performance, the car is exemplary and performs just the way it was meant to perform. A real insight into what the future will be is shown by the fact that this electric car has a zero-emissions motor. Hence, it is a great way of minimizing environmental pollution.
Another model worth mentioning is the Vauxhall Ampera, which is similar to the Chevrolet Volt. The Ampera has a suitably futuristic outlook and an 85 bhp power. The petrol engine has a capacity of 1.4 liters and this is coupled with an electric motor of 148 bhp. The theoretical fuel economy provided by this car is around 235 mpg and 27 g/km carbon dioxide emissions. Hence, driving and running the Ampera is easy and cheap respectively.
Another model that is in the top five is Mitsubishi’s Outlander plug-in electric vehicle. The Outlander PHEV, the world’s first plug-in hybrid SUV, has reported high sales, not only in the United States, but also in the UK. The headline figures of 148 mpg and 44g/km are the main attraction for buyers. Additionally, at the car’s disposal is a combined 204 bhp. The car’s price is also reasonable, considering its great mileage and efficiency. The refined Outlander PHEV is popular among drivers covering large mileages regularly.
The BMW i8 also make it to the list of the top five best hybrid and electric cars. This is a hybrid SUV that is fun to drive. Powered by a three-cylinder engine, the i8 is a real sports car. It also has an electric motor, which gives a total of 231 bhp enabling a time of 4.4-second 0-62 mph.
Finally, it is also worth to mention Tesla’s Model S, which is a groundbreaking vehicle. Model S is all-electric saloon car with highly innovative battery technology. This car can attain a range of 220-250 miles and is fitted with an all-electric powertrain and rear-wheel drive. If its 3-4 second 0-62 mph sprint time is not tested, the car can even go up to a range of 300 miles. Having mentioned the five cars, it is clearly evident that hybrid and electric cars are the best and are gradually gaining popularity.
June 19, 2015
Hybrids and plug-in hybrids were considered to be ugly mutts, until the gorgeous Tesla Model S came along. Toyota also came up with its Prius hybrid with the main aim of promoting environmental consciousness. Currently, several automakers have followed suit and launched different hybrid and plug-in hybrid models. Among the new breeds are the Hyundai Sonata hybrid and plug-in hybrid models. Barely distinguishable from their conventionally powered counterparts, Hyundai Sonata plug-in hybrid and many other hybrid cars are attractive, lush midsize cars. The key features distinguishing these cars from their conventional gasoline-powered counterparts include some additional badging, charging ports and other minor changes.
One of the key benefits of owning the Hyundai Sonata hybrid or plug-in hybrid is that their gas mileage is impressive. It has been projected that the hybrid alone will have a city rate of 40 mpg, a highway rate of 44 mpg and an overall rate of 42 mpg. If these estimates are true, these car’s mileage will be ten percent better compared to previous Hyundai’s Sonata hybrid and almost similar to that of Prius’ second generation. No ratings have been given yet for the new 2016 Sonata hybrid. However, Hyundai has said that the car is expected to have approximately 93 MPGe. With respect to the power plant, the new plug-in hybrid will have a horsepower of 145 and a four-cylinder engine holding 2 liters, in addition to an electric motor of 38 kilowatt. The car’s top speed at electric-only mode will be about 75 mph coupled with a transmission of six-speed.
With respect to the battery, the car comes with a beefier lithium-polymer battery, with peppier electric motors. The capacity will be 13% more compared to the previous version. To create additional space in the boot, it tucks under the trunk floor. This also allows for folding down of the rear seats for cargo. In terms of aerodynamics, the car is even more slippery in the wind owed to changing the design of the front and back of Sonata. The drag coefficient is 0.24, which makes Sonata similar to Tesla’s all-electric Model S. It is clear that the Sonata hybrid will have quite a number of improvements. The plug-in version will be Hyundai’s first of the kind for the automaker and they have said that initial sales will be made only in Oregon and California, then later on in New York, as well as other East Coast states. The ability of the car to run 24 miles on electric power only is its chief attraction.
June 19, 2015
The charge is fading for most hybrid and electric cars regardless of the fact that Tesla Motors still has a buzz. Hybrid and electric cars are in less demand with gasoline costs still well below a year earlier. Though there has been a rebound of pump prices from the July to January plunge, a May poll by financial firm Stifel showed that only about 3% of consumers would choose to purchase an electric car. This was less than the 45 %figure that was reported in February. Meanwhile, consumers who would go for hybrids were 24% in comparison to 31% that was reported in February.
There is a different range for hybrid loyalty, with results showing that those who traded electric and hybrid vehicles for a new SUV made up 22%. Edmund.com, an auto site, conducted a survey and presented the mentioned results. Three years ago, the percentage of the number of people trading hybrid and electric vehicles for an SUV was at 11.9%. About 45% of consumers who opted to trade in electric or hybrid cars bought a different alternative-fuel car. In 2012, more than 60% traded in their electric and hybrid cars for alternative-fuel cars. Automakers have been cranking out electric and hybrid cars to meet government emission and fuel-efficiency mandates despite the high costs of their alt-vehicle programs. They are also doing so as not to lag behind in case of technological advancement.
The market share for electric and hybrid cars from January through May was just at 2.8% in comparison to 3.5% market share that was reported last year. The peak year of 2013 saw a 3.7% market share. These figures were presented by the industry analysis director at Edmunds.com, Jessica Caldwell. According to Jessica, there was this belief that plug-in and electric cars might experience hockey-stick-like growth once they came into the market and people got used to the infrastructure and technology. However, this has not been the experience, as the sales of hybrid cars are falling and going in reverse.
In North America, 2, 400 units of the pricey Tesla electric Model S were sold in May. This figure was given by a sales analysis of plug-in cars by InsdeEVs.com. The monthly Tally of Tesla is usually unavailable and it is expected that the second quarter sales figures will be available in July. There were 2, 104 units sold by the electric Nissan Leaf, while 1,618 units were sold by GM’s Chevrolet Volt and 727 units were sold by Toyota for the Prius PHV.
June 12, 2015
Nissan may be getting ready to debut a 30-kwh battery this fall before revealing its all-new second generation Leaf a year from now. The current 24-kwh, 84-mile EPA rated Leaf that was officially launched in December 2010, and refreshed for 2013, is the best cumulative seller globally and the best selling plug-in car in the United States. However, Nissan sales have slumped a bit as other electric vehicles in its class have been taking a share. The rumors that have been circulating this past week on MyNissanLeaf forum and reported by InsideEVs concerning the 2016′s Nissan Leaf range having not yet been officially confirmed by the Japanese automaker.
According to the Editor of InsideEVs, Jay Cole, the report came out two weeks ago and during this time he has been in communication with Nissan. He said however, that the automaker has not commented on the report. The only on-the-record comment said by Brain Brockman, Nissan’s Senior Manager of Communications, was that the company had not yet made any public announcement about the 2016 Nissan Leaf. Cole himself has shown immense support for the Leaf and has also raised his concerns on further hurting Leaf sales once a Superior Leaf is launched. The term that is usually used is sales cannibalization, something that is now being experienced by Chevrolet following the launch of the 2016 Chevrolet Volt. The release of the new Chevy Volt has led to the lowering of the 2015 Chevy Volt sales. Some of the would-be Leaf buyers have taken a pause, because of the prospect of the new 50-mile extended-range Volt. The simple psychological basis is that the sales of the present car may not increase when buyers hear that the newest product around the corner substantially outdoes the present one. Considering the fact that Nissan finished an 18-month record streak early this year, the question of sales and reports on the new Leaf becomes a dilemma.
As of now, the InsiderEVs claims that two Nissan dealers have confessed to seeing information concerning the 2016 Nissan leaf with the S Model base. They said that the model will retain the 24 kwh, while a 30kwh will be given to the SL and SV trims. Although the EPA range is not yet out, it has reasonably been estimated to be between 105 and 110 miles range. The car itself may be out by 2017′s second quarter. It may have a toned down mainstream appearance and even new colors. It thus seems that there is quite solid information concerning the 2016 Nissan Leaf.
June 5, 2015
According to Toyota, its 2016 Prius engine that delivers up to 40% thermal efficiency will be the most efficient yet. The automaker made this announcement during the Annual Spring Congress for Japan’s Society of Automotive Engineers that was held last week, while giving additional details concerning the engine. The company said that improvement of the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) limit from 21 to 28 percent is what will improve the engine’s efficiency. Following this boost, the 2016 Prius hybrid car’s engine will become a leader in terms of efficiency. This is in comparison to the previous two generations whose thermal efficiency was at 37 %. The current third generation has a 1.8-liter engine with an efficiency of 38.5%. Last year Toyota made clear of its intention to upgrade the fuel efficiency of its next generation of Prius by 15%. It therefore seems that Toyota has achieved its goal with the 2016 Prius.
Although a 40% thermal efficiency is a significant increase, Toyota had originally hoped for more. Toyota’s Koichi Nakata in 2011 said that the automaker’s hope was to reach a thermal efficiency of 45% for its hybrid cars. Some of the ways in which Toyota managed to achieve an additional 1.5% thermal efficiency as explained by Nikkei Technology Online include straightening the intake port, recirculating more exhaust gases and redesigning the shape of the piston. The heat capacity increases when the EGR limit and hence, the amount of cooled exhaust gas being circulated is increased. This in turn lowers the gas temperature in the cylinder. This prevents knocking and the cooling loss may reduce by up to 8% in comparison to the existing model. Toyota will increase combustion speed in order to increase the EGR limit. It is important to disturb airflow inside the cylinder to realize the high speed combustion. The tumble ratio, which is the ratio between the swirl flow in the piston movement direction and then in the axial direction, was increased by the company to 2.8 from 0.8. This method can easily disturb the airflow near the top dead center for the piston.
The tumble ratio is increased by straightening the lower side of the suction port to make the airflow a perpendicular vortex. According to estimates made by Toyota, the mean turbulent velocity of the gas inside a cylinder, in the compression stroke with a 2,000 rpm engine speed, can be increased to 3.4 m/s from 2.5 m/s. Additionally, the piston’s top face shape was changed by Toyota to allow easy disturbance of the airflow inside the cylinder.
June 5, 2015
Some of the improvements that were seen on the track before showing up in hybrid cars include better suspensions, disc brakes, aerodynamic spoilers, automatic transmissions, multi-valve engines, and tuned exhaust. According to two McGill research engineers, the hybrid technology that combines both gasoline and electric power has greatly gone from the street to the track. Since last year, cars have been using hybrid power units including powerful electric motors run from electricity-generating systems and high-performance gasoline engines. The two McGill engineers, Kieran Humphries and Diego Mascarella have shown great fascination in the current Formula 1 power units’ complex systems.
It is essential to keep in mind the goal and purpose of a hybrid car parked in the driveway differs from that of a formula 1 car on track racing. With a Prius, a driver’s goal is energy arbitrage and energy optimization. This means that sometimes the car can run on an electric motor and other times a combination of both the engine and electric motor. This gives either discharge battery or charging scenarios. The main goal here is lowering the fuel consumption. With a formula 1 car, the torque performance is what one is looking for. This performance is what enables a driver to overtake another car. It is very different in the Prius, since a driver does not necessarily need to overtake another car, but rather to ensure that the engine is operating at an efficient range. Basically, electric motors complement engines and thus ensure that they are operating at optimal efficiency points.
Humphries noted that cramming the biggest charge of fuel/air mixture into the C-6 engines’ combustion chambers is the main objective of the turbocharged F-1 engines. The Prius on the other hand runs an Atkinson cycle using the 98-horsepower engine, which gives better fuel efficiency by lowering compression. Another key difference is that there is a parallel architecture for the F-1 car with the electric motor attached to the engine while the Prius has its electric motor connected in a power-split configuration to the gear box.
The electric motor in an F-1 car can never run on its own. The car runs on either the engine plus more electric power or on the engine alone. An electric motor alone scenario never occurs. An advantage of formula-1 Cars is their energy recovery mode that allows electricity to be generated and stored when needed. Although the Prius is known for its regenerative braking, the F-1 car has the potential to recover different energy in various complex ways.
May 30, 2015
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