Filed under: hybrid cars

Focus Shifting to Used Electric Vehicle Market

2016_tesla_model_s_90d_hatchback_27201717953Since the electric car resurged less than ten years ago, the market for used electric vehicles has been down with the exception of the occasional deal. The main reason for the observed trend is that the market in question is still very small. However, things are changing as the market is becoming significantly more active. This is attributed to the ending of leases. It is therefore, advisable to focus attention in 2017 to the used electric vehicle market. Cars rarely stay on the lot when they are returned after their lease use if over and the car is returned to the dealership. More often than not, such cars are put on wholesale auctions so that other dealerships can acquire them.

Car dealers can access these wholesale inventories, which is a great way of knowing the amount of money paid and the manner in which the market is evolving. Considering the current costs of 2013 electric vehicles, timing is perfect since three-year leases will be ending by now, and it is evident that there is a significant drop in price at the level of wholesale. The selling prices of different used electric vehicles can be obtained from the auction sites. For example, the 2013’s Tesla Model S has a selling price of $31,000. An interesting fact about Tesla and its Model S is that contrary to other car manufacturers, Tesla has direct control of the majority of the second-hand vehicle market for its cars. This control is attributed to the automaker’s direct sales model. This is why it is hard to get the model anywhere else apart from the company. Currently, it is difficult to get a pre-owned certified Model S. To be fair, Tesla sells the model for less than fifty thousand dollars with a new warranty.

Since the real conditions of these cars are not clearly known, it is difficult to state whether the deals are so good. Regardless of this fact, consumers can still opt for a Model S for its affordable cost. Other models include the Fiat 500e, which sells for only $4,000. The starting price of a new Fiat model is about $31,800. These prices are really good for three-year old vehicles that have relatively low mileage. Although the prices have not gone down drastically, there is still a good reason for consumers to keep their eyes on next year’s used car market. The production and delivery of electric vehicles in high volumes started in 2013-2014. Hence, the used electric car supply will be significantly high this year and next year.

Leave a Comment January 6, 2017

Toyota to Share Its Hybrid Technology with Major Competitors

toyota_prius_plug-in_hybrid_-_paris_motor_show_2016_01Toyota has made quite a number of remarkable decisions over the past half year concerning its present, as well as future vehicle technologies. After opposing the battery-electric cars for several years, the automaker has finally made a commitment to launch one by the year 2020. Now, Toyota has made the decision to share its hybrid technology with other automakers. This decision was announced in the last two weeks as a part of the company’s power train strategies. The move by the automaker marks an evident change of course.

Since the launch of the Prius Hybrid in 1997 in Japan, the automaker has been known to fiercely guard and protect its hybrid-electric technology. A few licensing deals have been signed including one with Nissan for an Altima hybrid (2007-2011 models) that have been sold in the United States. Toyota also signed a deal with Mazda for the Mazda 3 compact hybrid that was sold solely in Japan. A notable aspect concerning those deals is that they were not only limited, but also fairly low-volume. According to the description given in a report by Reuters, Toyota has a plan of working with the suppliers at an early stage to allow standardization of components and make it easy for other automakers to utilize its hybrid technology.

The fourth generation of Toyota Prius was launched last year. The car’s drive is considerably better, while its fuel-efficiency is also better compared to the previous versions. Unfortunately, the sales seem to have lagged, probably due to factors such as continued cheap gasoline, a change in consumer preferences, and the model’s extreme styling. Toyota also made a shocking decision in its 2017’s Prius Prime, which is the most recent plug-in hybrid. The latest technology defaults the vehicle to run only in the electric mode when the battery charge is still present. This is contrary to a majority of other plug-in hybrid cars except the Chevrolet Volt.

There has been an increased understanding of the advantages of fully-electric propulsion by Toyota. The strategy of sharing the hybrid technology would be of a long-term nature. Changes will be made to technical standards and parts specifications, with most of them being invisible to buyers. The suppliers of Toyota have been known to produce technology that can only be utilized by Toyota. As the simple battery-electric cars gradually gain market popularity, they have a high likelihood of surpassing the continually low market penetration of hybrid cars. Either way, consumers should get ready for more hybrid cars utilizing the Toyota technology. The company is trying to match up to its competitors including Tesla and General Motors.


Leave a Comment December 30, 2016

Hybrid Cars that Take Less than Three Years to Pay Back


Ford Fusion

While critics have raised questions concerning the higher cost of alternative energy cars compared to conventional cars, there are some hybrid cars that are worth a purchase. Owners of these cars are likely to be paid back in less than three years. The pay back is possible within the three years even in the absence of government subsidies, which are usually available for plug-in vehicles.

Toyota’s 2016 Avalon Hybrid

This hybrid car would pay back in about 2.8 years. The Avalon is one of Toyota’s top range sedans that is likened to a Lexus having Toyota’s badge. It also closely resembles the non-hybrid version of Avalon. It is known for saving fuel. Its powertrain is a 2.5 liter Hybrid Synergy and was coined from the Camry Hybrid. The non-hybrid version’s powertrain has a capacity of 3.5 liters with a range of 24 mpg. Although the non-hybrid model is more powerful, EPA figures indicate that the Avalon hybrid can save up to 540 dollars annually.

Honda’s 2017 Accord Hybrid Touring

Honda was on a hiatus for model year 2016 and then came back with a revised version of the Accord Hybrid. This car is high-tech and gives a range of 48 mpg. Its non-hybrid counterpart has a range of 25 mpg. The power of the Accord hybrid is also greater in comparison to that of a V6. In terms of price, the hybrid costs $1,305 more, but according to the EPA figures, savings for the hybrid car amount to $621 annually.

Ford’s 2016 Fusion Hybrid Titanium

This model was released this year, with the updated model for 2017 available for sale now. The 2016 hybrid model’s cost is only $160 more than the non-hybrid Fusion Titanium. It promises a range of 41 mpg in comparison to the non-hybrid’s 26 mpg. The 2016 Fusion is likely to pay back in less than five months with the approximate annual savings amounting to $456. The updated 2017 Fusion now gives a range of 42 mpg, with its pricing remaining reasonable.

Lincoln’s 2016 MKZ Hybrid

The pricing policy of Ford for its upper scale Fusion becomes better for the MKZ Hybrid of the Lincoln division. The hybrid luxury car has a hybrid engine with a capacity of 2 liters, while the non-hybrid version has a turbocharged engine with a capacity of 2 liters, as well. There is also a V6 with a rating of 21 mpg. The hybrid, which the gas-saver within the family, offers plenty of power with a range of 40 mpg.


Leave a Comment December 16, 2016

Porsche and Audi Vying With Volkswagen over Electric Vehicle Leadership

Audi e-Tron

Audi e-Tron

In-house fighting has ignited rivalry between the premium brands of Volkswagen, Porsche and Audi. Volkswagen is cutting costs following the scandal on diesel emissions cheating. Senior executives responded to Reuters concerning the internal conflict revolving around the manufacture and development of electric cars. The automaker is emerging from the hyped “Dieselgate” scandal. The international racing events analogy, which includes Le Mans 24, was used by Reuters. This analogy describes the rivalry within the automaker that will manufacture its plug-in car models. Volkswagen denied the rumor that the rivalry in question is beyond control in the boardroom.

The battle for resources is cut-throat. Every car manufacturer with the capacity to build engines is now interested in a leadership role. This leadership concerns battery packs, battery-cell and electric-motor expertise. This information was provided by one of the executives of a Volkswagen division that wanted their name to be kept anonymous. Cost cutting will also involve a dramatic reduction of jobs as the automaker faces lawsuits and penalties accrued from the Dieselgate scandal. This could affect all brands including Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, SEAT, and Skoda. The company and its union came to an agreement recently to reduce thirty thousand jobs at VW brand’s core. This will be in place of a commitment so as to avoid forced redundancies.

The ambitious goal by Volkswagen to launch up to thirty new electric car models by the year 2025 will also have impact on labor. Assembling of electric vehicles is less complex compared to conventional combustion engine cars. Additionally, fewer workers will be required to assemble. The issue will be thorny, particularly in an industry that is dominated by workers who have numerous collective wage agreements. Audi, Porsche and VW executives who did not want their names revealed, said the conflict in question was not a new phenomenon. They further added that healthy internal competition is great since it would trigger greater commercial and technical achievements. Based on a reliable source, leadership changes effected in the last year have thrown that off.

The corporate office of Volkswagen dismissed the above comments and denied there being any power struggle. It claimed that the reports were pure speculation with no foundation. Although Audi has in the past been making huge profits, it has been a loser in some internal battles that cropped up in recent years, especially following the development of car components for the Porsche brand. We just have to wait and see which automaker will eventually take the leadership role.


Leave a Comment December 9, 2016

Toyota Starts a New Electric-Vehicle Project

Toyota Prius

Toyota Prius

Toyota Motor Corporation is trying to follow the footsteps of Tesla Motors, Nissan Motor and General Motors in the development of electric cars. Toyota is well-known for the production of hybrid cars that utilize traditional engines, and it has been skeptical of delving into the fully electric car market. Instead, it has been investing in researching on hydrogen fuel-cells. The automaker’s president, Akio Toyoda, who was in charge of branding the luxury division of Lexus, will oversee the newly set-up electric car Department of Business, planning alongside other executives. The push for electric cars follows Toyota’s president’s move to increase autonomous car research.

A one million dollar investment has been made on the project with several employees hired in Silicon Valley. Toyota, which is the largest car maker globally in terms of profit and sales, has substantial financial resources to utilize in future projects. Meanwhile, Volkswagen AG, its primary competitor has settlement costs and fines amounting to billions of dollars in relation to cheating on emissions tests in the United States. Mr. Toyoda, who is the grandson of the automaker’s founder, has plans of manufacturing cars that can drive themselves by the year 2020. However, Toyota has a likelihood of engineering vehicles that require driver engagement in the operation process.

While the pioneering work of Google on autonomous cars has resulted in a great investment in driverless-car research, electric-car research is also making progress. It is essential for automakers to react to the current regulatory and emission pressures that are overshadowing the lack of demand for battery cars such as BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf. Although Toyota has been focusing more on fuel cells, the automaker seemed to be interested in joining the electric car market many years ago. Toyota started by investing in Tesla in 2010 before launching the Model S electric car sedan. Toyota made an agreement with Tesla to purchase batteries from Tesla, a deal which ended following disagreements between Toyota and Elon Musk.

Toyota still has plans of selling thirty thousand fuel-celled cars per year by 2020, which will coincide with Tokyo’s Summer Olympics. But there are some challenges currently faced. For instance, there have been delays in constructing hydrogen refueling stations, especially in California. This has hampered the sales of Mirai’s fuel-cell car. Recently, Toyota announced that it had plans of setting up a unit for building a battery-powered vehicle that will be marketed quickly. This move has come at a time when the Prius hybrid car sales have been declining in the United States.


Leave a Comment December 9, 2016

MINI Unveils a New Countryman at the Auto Show in LA

2017 MINI Clubman

2017 MINI Clubman

The 2017 Countryman is one of the largest vehicles produced by the MINI automaker. This car has improved engines, advanced tech, and a plug-in version. MINI hatch was the first model to be released followed by Clubman. The brand owned by BMW has now released a new MINI Countryman. Since the rebirth of MINI, this model is Countryman’s second-generation. Official pictures were first available for public viewing last month. All three new iterations of the Countryman were debuted at the LA Auto Show, including the new Countryman plug-in hybrid, dubbed the SE ALL4.

The Countryman whose starting price is less than $35,000 is set to reach the UK market in February. The new Countryman was reviewed by Auto Express, which gave details on the new design adopted for the new model.  Auto Express emphasized on the toughness and ruggedness of the new design. According to Nicolas Griebner, the head of product at MINI UK, this car is clearly suited for having an adventure in. Regardless of the fact the Countryman has a new platform; its design can still be recognized as MINI’s. All the Countryman models come equipped with faux leather upholstery, Mini connected infotainment systems, rear parking sensors, rearview camera, sunroof, automatic headlights and Bluetooth.

In comparison to the previous model, the new Countryman model is longer by 200mm and wider by 30mm. Regarding its size, it lies in between Audi’s Q3 and Q2, with both cars being key competitors. Its wheelbase is longer by 75mm to give it a rear legroom that is 50mm more. Additionally, with it’s fold down, sliding rear seats it has 16 cubic feet of cargo space.

Accompanying the extra size is a design emphasizing the elements of a sports utility vehicle. Most of the vehicles have silver roof rails as well as sill plates. Both of these features work with a high shoulder line and sculpted sides to give the car a trendy outlook. Griebner added that the Countryman is by far the most masculine design that MINI has ever produced. The wide grille, pop-out tail-lamps, as well as large-sized LED headlights are features coined from the MINI hatch. The number plate at the rear end has now been shifted to the bootlid. The customization of the Countryman is what distinguishes it from its competitors. It has alloy wheels, contrasting black-colored roof and a unique blue paint available.


Leave a Comment December 2, 2016

Toyota’s 2017 Prius Prime versus Chevrolet’s 2017 Volt

Tech Times

Tech Times

The new Chevy Volt and the Prius Prime are plug-in hybrids with high-volume. They slightly differ in the terms of energy efficiency. The Prius Prime is Toyota’s new plug-in model of the best-selling and most popular hybrid car worldwide. The Chevy Volt, which was officially launched last year and is an improved version of the initial range-extended electric vehicle. Both cars are now major competitors in the ever expanding market for plug-in vehicles and the key question is how they match up.

One of the key similarities between the two is that both are compact cars, five-door hatchbacks. Although they have aerodynamic designs, their executions are very different. Of the two cars, the Prius Prime by Toyota is the newer. From the viewpoint of most onlookers, the Prime is an improved version of the standard Prius hybrid. The Prius plug-in has a front end that is not only new, but also more aggressive. Its taillights are also horizontal and not as vertical as those of the original Prius. Most of the models also have a touch-screen display comparable to that of a tablet. The Chevy Volt, which is currently in its 2nd year, is still a low sleek car with a racy shape and a good-looking interior.

While the Chevy Volt can accommodate five passengers, the Prius is a four-seater. Despite offering a fifth position for a seat, the fifth person in the Volt has to perch on the padded battery hump . Hence, the Volt is best suited for short trips if you’re carrying 5 people. The powertrain of the Prius has an output of 121 horsepower combined with an APA rating of 25 miles. This range should be delivered in most cases. Its battery pack is 8.8 kilowatt per hour and is situated under the load bay and rear seat. With a horsepower of 149 and a range rating of 53 miles, the Volt is clearly quicker compared to the Prius Prime. The ultimate winner on fuel economy is the Prius Prime, however, with a combined rating of 54 mpg in comparison to Chevy Volt’s 42 mpg.

Driving the new Prius feels better compared to its predecessor. It feels more like a normal car and less like a Prius. If there is any battery capacity available, the default mode of the Prime is all-electric. This is contrary to the first Prius plug-in whose electric capability was limited. Since its default is all electric, the driving experience of the Prius Prime is now similar to that of Chevy Volt. There is enough power up to speeds of 75 mph.


Leave a Comment December 2, 2016

Toyota Creates a Sub-Company to Boost Electric Car Production

toyota_coms_single-person_electric_car_10470066394Toyota made an official announcement confirming its plans to set up a sub-company to be responsible for the development of electric cars. This startup is will commence work next month. The new venture isn’t a major reassignment of assets as the team has only four people, with each person drawn from a different Toyota group branch. The automaker believes that this simple manpower should lead to development of fast-selling products. The group will make use of the technical knowledge of the whole Toyota group. According to Akio Toyoda, Toyota’s president, the speed will be embraced by the sub-company in its work approach. Toyota is currently focused on fuel-cell cars but has created this team to focus on electric vehicles. It is following the steps of Mira, since EVs are currently as viable as other mainstream vehicles.

While fuel-cell vehicles have a competitive advantage in terms of fuelling and the range offered, limited hydrogen infrastructure implies that electric cars are still better in terms of the rates of adoption. For instance, the United Kingdom has less than ten hydrogen filling stations. On the contrary, there are thousands of charging points for electric vehicles. Toyota has maintained that it will continue supporting the production of fuel-cell cars alongside electric car development. The official details concerning platforms, timeline or powertrains have not yet been given. However, according to a last week’s report by Nikkei, Toyota plans to produce an electric vehicle with a range of 186 miles by 2020. The report further claimed that the first Toyota EV is likely to borrow Prius’ platform in order to save time and lower development costs.

Toyota has hinted that its next Aygo car could have an electric powertrain. This will be part of the automaker’s swing towards fully electric Toyotas. From 2020, Toyota will be producing new pure electric car models. The current Aygo model is manufactured alongside the Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108 at the same factory. A majority of mechanical components are shared by the three models. By doing so, the manufacturer hopes to generate cash in a market area with extremely tight margins. Johan van Zyl, the CEO and president of the European Toyota branch said that while hybrid cars are being targeted in every market sector, the A-segment may need a different strategy. The automaker has always maintained that powertrain technologies utilized should not necessarily compete with each other. Instead, the automaker focuses on the use of the technology best suited for each application. There is an anticipated evolution of plug-in hybrid, pure electric, fuel-cell and hybrid vehicles. The future will clearly have electric cars as part of the technological spectrum offered by Toyota.


Leave a Comment November 25, 2016

Electric Cars as Finalists in the Green Car Annual Awards

2016-03-01_geneva_motor_show_1067One of the key themes for the award finalists that were announced this week was electrification. Five finalists were confirmed by the Green Car Journal. Four of the models are available as plug-in hybrid versions, while one is a fully-electric car. The nominees for the 2017 model year are the Chevy Bolt, BMW’S 330e, Kia Optima, Toyota Prius Prime and Chrysler Pacifica. The award was officially founded in 2005 and since the,n an increasing list of models has been chosen by its judges’ panel. According to Green Car Journal, this reflects the car’s industry’s increasing efforts to produce new cars with improved environmental impact and higher efficiency.

This year’s finalists are a clear representation of the momentum being experienced by electrification in the vehicle industry. This is according to the journal’s Publisher and Editor, Ron Cogan. Electrification is an important technology for manufacturers regardless of whether they are dealing with plug-in hybrid, hybrid, all-electric or two or more powertrains in combination with traditional gasoline engines. It is essential technology, not only for the present, but also future high-efficiency car models. BMW has been acknowledged for launching the 330e to add to its current plug-in lineup. According to a report by Green Car Journal, the car’s electric motor in combination with a 4-cylinder engine gives a total of a 248 horsepower system output and a torque of 310 pounds-feet.

The Chevy Bolt follows another Chevrolet model that was nominated last year, the second-generation Chevy Volt, which emerged the winner. The Bolt is recognized as the first plug-in hybrid car to have a driving range exceeding 200 miles. It also has technological features to personalize and enhance the driving experience. Fiat Chrysler was nominated and acknowledged for being the first plug-in electric car to enter the market. The first-ever minivan class plug-in hybrid was Chrysler’s Pacifica. The judges acknowledged Chrysler’s efficiency of 80 MPGe and an electric driving range of 30 miles. It’s total driving range is 530 miles.

Kia is in the list owed to the addition of a plug-in hybrid and hybrid systems by adding the 2017 Outlook to its lineup. An electric motor, as well as a 2-liter gas engine is used to power both model variations. The plug-in hybrid’s battery pack is larger than that of the standard hybrid. Toyota is also a finalist, thanks to its efforts in unveiling the new Prius Prime to serve as a replacement for its Prius Plug-in. The range of the 2017 model is double that of the initial plug-in hybrid. The winning model will be known on 17th November.


Leave a Comment November 18, 2016

Why You Should Purchase the 2017 Toyota’s Prius Prime

toyota_prius_iv_-_heckansicht_19-_september_2015_frankfurtThe first shipment of the Toyota Prius Prime is now in the United States on its way to dealers. It is part of the national “soft launch” rollout with the new plug-in having a higher level of competitiveness compared to its predecessor. The 2012-2015 version of Toyota Prius Plug-in was recognized for its battery of 4.4 kWh and EPA-rated range of 11 miles for combined electric and gas power. The sales of this version are in fifteen U.S. states with the pre-subsidy pricing ranging from $30,000 to $40,000.

With the new Prime, the battery size has been doubled to 8.8 kWh, while the electric only range has been increased to 25 miles. The EV-only speed has been increased from 62 to 84 mph. Its electric drive efficiency of 95 MPGe is higher than the old plug-in. The fuel efficiency is also higher in comparison to that of its predecessor. Although the Prime’s speed is almost the same as that of the old plug-in, it clearly handles much better. Additionally, it qualifies for a higher tax credit compared to the previous model. For a new entrant, it is cheaper and economical. Hence, it is aggressive considering the fact that most plug-ins often require a premium, usually offset by incentives such as tax credits.

The 133 MPGe of the Prius Prime is higher than that of every other plug-in hybrid or all-electric car in the United States market. Toyota has also added that its range of 25 miles should serve more than 50% of all the daily traveling needs of all drivers. Having said the above, success isn’t a guarantee, especially at this time when gas is cheap and vehicles are competitive. One of the key competitors is the Toyota Prius Liftback, which is currently the best-selling green vehicle globally. Judging from the specifications sheet, both the Prime and the Liftback have a similar underlying hybrid vehicle of 1.8 liter. Toyota says that in terms of range, the Prime is a clear topper.

Ford’s C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi are other competitors worth mentioning. The Energi is the whiz kid of technology within the Fusion lineup. The C-Max Energi has similar hybrid powertrain of 2 liters. Although, the EPA numbers for 2017 haven’t been give, it’s 2016 rating was 88 MPGe with the hybrid mode rating being 38 mpg. This is in comparison to the Fusion’s 2017 rating of 97 MPGe and a hybrid mode rating of 42 mpg. Despite a stiff competition, the Prius Prime is a worthy choice.


Leave a Comment November 18, 2016

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