Filed under: New Products for Hybrids

Volkswagen to Produce Electric Cars by 2020 in North America

IAA_2013_Volkswagen_e-Golf_(9834814356)The reputation of Volkswagen has been compromised in the last few months. As an attempt to redeem itself, the automaker has announced its plan to produce electric vehicles by the year 2020 in North America. The newly appointed Volkswagen AG’s U.S. head of operations, Hinrich Woebcken officially confirmed that the automaker’s Chattanooga, Tennessee-based plant, as well as a Mexico-based facility may be utilized for production purposes. Although Woebcken didn’t give in-depth details, he confirmed that the car manufacturer plans to build multiple models.

From a political point of view, it would be wise to use the factory at Chattanooga considering the fact that Unites States regulators have been pushing for the manufacture of more electric cars. Woebcken said to the Wall Street Journal that they all believed that United States, particularly its urban mobility is likely to shift to electric and hybrid cars from petrol engines. A heavy investment has been made to enable the shift in question, and this is inclusive of the planned production in the North American region.

The intent of Volkswagen to produce electric cars is not really news. Prior to the scandal of Dieselgate, the automaker already had plans for introducing twenty plug-in hybrids and all-electric car by 2020. The automaker claimed that the planned vehicles would be dubbed “smartphones on wheels.” The announcement was then followed by CEO Matthias Muller’s notice last month that the company planned to launch at least thirty fully electric new cars by the year 2025. Currently, there are only three battery-electric vehicles offered by Volkswagen. These cars are Audi’s R8 e-tron, e-Golf and VW e-Up. Introducing thirty different models within a time span of ten years would seem a virtually impossible challenge for the automaker.

Efforts to minimize greenhouse gas emissions should begin with increasing the efficiency of transportation. Electric vehicles have overwhelming advantages over gasoline cars. Therefore the move by Volkswagen to increase electric car production will result in significant savings in terms of costs and environment. The use of all-electric power to drive short distances plays a significant role in reducing gasoline consumption. Electric vehicles don’t utilize gasoline whatsoever and they also release zero emissions when renewable sources of energy are used for recharging.

Whatever the actual figure is, producing electric cars on the mentioned Atlantic side of America will play a vital role in clearing the air for Volkswagen to progress. It would also be a great addition to the e-Golf, Volkswagen’s only electric car currently sold in the United States.


Leave a Comment July 29, 2016

A First Drive Review of 2017’s Honda Accord Hybrid

Honda_ACCORD_(CU1&CR6)_frontAfter its debut in 2014 to 2015 followed by a year 2016, dealers will get a revamped Accord Hybrid in 2017. The major competitors of this Honda model include Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Malibu and Hyundai Sonata. Despite this strong competition, Honda still manages to remain at the top in terms of horsepower and EPA mpg. It also matches up to its competitors with respect to key specifications in areas such as ride, comfort, interior space, and acceleration. Considering its positioning as quite a range topper, Honda’s Accord hybrid hasn’t managed to outdo Ford’s Fusion Hybrid when it comes to the main market share.

The 2017 version, which has a highway range of 47 mpg, a city range of 49 mpg, and a combined range of 48 mpg is slightly more efficient compared to 2015’s version. The latter version had a rating of 45 mpg highway, 49 mpg city and a combined range of 50 mpg. It is also expected that the new version will have a launch time of as low as 7 seconds for the 0 to 60 mph. According to Honda’s executives, the production of this model in the U.S market will be doubled to about 30,000 in 2017 from approximately 14,000 cars in 2015.

Several changes have been made to the new model to increase its efficiency. For instance, a new design had been given to the front suspension in order to balance the control and bump compliance. To further enhance a sure-footed feeling, the new model has revamped power steering assistance. This makes it easy make corners through meandering hills with minimal roll.

The new Accord hybrid has several similarities with the conventional model in the main specifications. It is large enough to accommodate four passengers including their luggage comfortably. Even five passengers can still fit in the car reasonably. To mark the car’s electric heritage, there are light blue tints at the front part a hybrid label and rear lamps. Only minor alterations have been made to the car’s interior display monitors.

Regarding its feature content and accessories, base Accord is quite similar to the Accord EX trim, a non-hybrid counterpart. All hybrid Accords have a sensing package comprising of radar-based features such as Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Active Control Cruise, Collision Mitigation Braking, and Forward Collision Breaking. Honda’s Accord hybrid tops the chart with its high EPA Mileage accounted for by a powertrain that uses a clutch, double electric motor, and a fixed gear rather than the traditional Continuously Variable Transmission or multi-speed between the wheels and the engine.


Leave a Comment July 22, 2016

Chevrolet’s 2016 Malibu Hybrid

640px-Chevrolet_Malibu_Hybrid_DCBuyers are shifting from sedans to crossovers, a move that has dropped the market’s car share from 50 to 43 percent within only three years. If the cost of standard gasoline increases to more than $3.60 per gallon, these defectors may again settle for a family sedan that is more fuel-efficient. General Motors used its sharpest engineering tools and brightest minds to slice off close to three hundred pounds from its Malibu. This car falls in the mid-sized category with respect to space for cargo and passengers. For the hybrid model, four cubic feet of trunk space is sacrificed to create room for the battery pack and an intact interior compartment.

The Malibu hybrid will have a retail price of $28,645, with its interior having diamond-pattern upholstery. To add to modern assists and safety alerts, there is a Driver Confidence package worth $1195 as well as Technology and Convenience package costing $895. There’s a center display screen of 7.0-inch and some electric frills like 110-volt current outlet and wireless charging pad. Chipping in a red paint job of $395 dollars coupled with the sticker raises to the retail price to a reasonable $31,130.

Learning from lessons acquired, Malibu hybrid has some components similar to those of the Chevrolet Volt. General Motors incorporates a Voltec drive, a nut combining two electric generators, two clutches, a power inverter, hydraulic control system, planetary gearsets, and hydraulic control system. All these components are confined within aluminum housing. The horsepower of this hybrid car has a capacity of 1.8 liters. Although it is primarily composed of cast iron, there are modern features like variable valve timing, direct injection, as well as roller cam followers to increase the engine’s efficiency.

Driving the Malibu hybrid is a great experience. It shifts through four different hybrid modes and doesn’t use a drone or ruckus. Its execution is exemplary, giving it a feel of a third or even fourth generation drivetrain. It is quite difficult to figure out whether it is the electric motors or engine giving a large portion of propulsion torque. The fully electric range doesn’t exceed five miles using a Hitachi battery pack of 1.5-kWh. Regenerative braking can be increased by changing the transmission lever to L2 from L1 though the difference is hardly noticeable. During the shift to friction-based deceleration from electric braking, the change is insignificant. Basically, the key mission of the Malibu hybrid is fuel efficiency. Its 35 mpg still outcompeted most of the mid-sized hybrids tested.


Leave a Comment July 8, 2016

Going Electric All the Way with the BMW i8 Hybrid Plug-In

BMW_i8_hybridThe first division at BMW is striving hard to create a sports car i8 model that can act as a secret prototype and remain powered by a battery. This is a move that is anticipated to result in increased efficiency such that the earlier coupe model can transition from being a plug-in hybrid into a fully electric car in the future. Autocar, which is one of the leading British publications when it comes to matters of automobiles, affirms that the i8 electric model is being placed under scrutiny where the division of its fiber structure that it made from carbon can be used in developing an i8 model that is superior when it comes to fuelling. Further, the improvement of the BMW i8 model is also expected to include a center tunnel that is wider than normal.

This means that the resulting structure can have the potential of enabling the replacement of fuel tanks that contain hydrogen gas. Moreover, this space can also be beneficial as it can provide additional room for batteries running the car. This concept has been born out of the fact that the space within the center tunnel that is now wider can allow more batteries to be placed as opposed to the gas tanks. This idea has also been supported by experts working for the BMW Company as well. It is through this same automobile transformation that the new i8 prototype can be powered using alternate means where the batteries replace the contemporary use of gas. Through this approach, the BMW i8 model can become fully electric since the batteries can be charged at any moment. This in turn increases the horsepower where the usual value of 268hp can be raised to almost 357hp.

The upgrading of the BMW i8 prototype can also be enhanced by placing the batteries at strategic points such that the internal speed of the vehicle also reaches an all-time high. The fact that the BMW car model is known to have engines that have a combustion ability that is high, means that elevating them to become fully electric can also add value to its efficiency and performance. The testing of this improved BMW i8 prototype is currently going on in Germany along some of the well-known streets in Munich. The results are meant to evaluate the level of e-safety based on the reinforcements that have already been made. These changes to the powertrain are speculated to result in an automobile whose horsepower will be boosted significantly.


Leave a Comment June 30, 2016

Excellent Choices in Plug-in Hybrid or Electric Cars

Candy_Red_Tesla_Model_3_trimmed_2Have you finally decided to switch from a gasoline-powered to a plug-in hybrid or electric car? Over the past few years, green cars have seen an increase in popularity as more people are realizing their numerous benefits. Each model year, car manufacturers have been increasing their offerings of cost-friendly and fun electric and plug-in hybrid cars. While buyers are clearly interested in the new vehicles, the new fuel efficacy regulations set under the leadership of President Obama have had a major impact in the industry. The rules have given automakers a basis for stepping up the production of less consumptive cars that can compete in cost with conventional gasoline-powered vehicles.

Additionally, consumers can save almost $8,000 in tax incentives, and probably a much higher figure from their state. The availability of such incentives has substantially lowered the costs involved in purchasing a plug-in hybrid or electric car. It means that it is extremely easy to opt out of gasoline and go for an electric car. A perfect case is Ford’s revamped C-Max Energi, a popular plug-in hybrid car with a range of about 500 miles and a 19-mile range when driving in a fully electric mode. This car’s retail price doesn’t exceed $28,000.

Not to be left behind, GM’s Chevrolet is also releasing several plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles that will be sold to consumers at reasonable prices. Chevy’s Spark electric has a range exceeding eighty miles per charge and its retail price is $19,000 dollars. The enthusiasts of the Chevrolet brand interested in a ride with more torque and engine power can settle for the Volt with a gasoline driving range of approximately 380 miles and 38 miles on all-electric driving. Its price tag has been estimated to not exceed $27,000.

Meanwhile, German car manufacturers continue to showcase their creativity in the electric vehicle sphere. The fully electric BMW i3 electric vehicle shoots from 0 to 60 within seven seconds, despite its not-so-attractive look. The fully electric i3 version retails for approximately $35,000 and its range is 81 miles per charge. However, owners have the option of adding a small-sized back up engine for an extra cost of $4,000, which would transform the car to a plug-in hybrid and give it a range of 150 miles. Let’s not forget Tesla’s Model 3 that is yet to be launched next year with its impressive range of 215 miles.

Hence, plug-in hybrid and electric cars are the future cars that should be embraced widely.


Leave a Comment May 27, 2016

The Anticipated Hyundai’s i30 Among the New Range of Hybrids

20160317_Hyundai_Ioniq_1Hyundai plans to make use of a hybrid technology utilized in its new Ioniq in other models in a span of four years. The i30 hatchback has been set to be launched in the year 2017 and Hyundai has claimed that this new generation car will benefit from the electrical powertrains of Ioniq. Other models within this range will also get plug-in hybrid and hybrid models as the carmaker struggles to meet the new emission regulations formulated.

The Ioniq was officially revealed during the Geneva Motor Show that was held in March. The Ioniq set a new trend by having three types of electric powertrains within a single body shell. They will include a hybrid, electric version, and a plug-in version. The new entrant will strongly compete with the Toyota Prius and the Nissan Leaf in terms of range. The Ioniq will most likely steal the sales from Nissan’s Leaf that has a range of 107 miles on a full charge, whereas the Ioniq EV has an estimated 155 mile range.

The three models of Ioniq, as well as it’s the automaker’s hydrogen powered SUV still haven’t managed to meet the average carbon dioxide emission targets set. By the year 2021, all cars will have to meet the 95g/km emission standard. This is one of the key reasons why Hyundai is planning to release new models based on its new hybrid technology.

Additionally, the novel hybrid technology by Hyundai will be offered to more mainstream car models to meet the needs of different customers. One such example is the Toyota Prius, which has a repackaged hybrid powertrain in the form of a modernized Auris Hybrid. According to an interview with Auto Express, Product Marketing Manager at Hyundai, Dennis Elsweier, emphasized the need to have an appropriate powertrain for its car line-up for 2020 to 2021. He further added that with the Ioniq, there are three different electrified powertrains while with the ix35, there is the use of fuel-cell technology. This presents a toolbox that can be used as a reference for future developments.

Beyond the target of 2021, there is a possibility of Hyundai adding a hydrogen fuel-celled technology that was utilized in IX35 to Ioniq to give a 4th powertrain. The carmaker’s future developments will depend on customer acceptance and infrastructure growth. Elsweier said that the infrastructure is vital when looking at fuel-cell technology. A similar technology is applicable to electric cars. Currently, infrastructure is a limiting factor, though we can still consider the customer perspective or the benefits to get from using fuel-cell technology on a wide scale basis. Based on the information, it is clear that Hyundai is on its way to broadening its hybrid car range.


Leave a Comment May 27, 2016

Audi’s Plan to Introduce New Electric Cars Every Year

512px-Audi_e-tronAudi has made it clear that it plans to introduce a type of new electrified car each year, and this will start a few years from now. Rupert Stadler, the automaker’s CEO stated that beginning in the year 2018, the company will introduce a different electrified vehicle every year. He said this during an Annual General Meeting of Audi that was held at its Ingolstadt, Germany, headquarters. Aside from minimizing its average carbon output by its fleet, Audi’s plan could be in reaction to the scandal of diesel emissions that revolved around the Volkswagen Group as well as other car manufacturers.

The American president of the automaker, Scott Keogh had previously stated to Autoblog that at least one in every four models of Audi cars will be an electric one by the year 2025. This plan needs to begin with the highly anticipated pure electric car crossover whose basis should be the concept of E-Tron Quattro. This concept was shown for the first time at the 2015’s Frankfurt Motor Show. According to Audi’s expectations, the crossover’s range would be approximately 310 miles, which is a substantially high range in comparison to other models by the automaker.

With the information currently available, it is not yet clear what market niche or classes are to be targeted by the planned electric vehicles. Also, there is no official information on whether the said cars will be pure electric, hybrids, extended-range electric or plug-in hybrid cars. There is a high possibility that these new electric cars will be a blend of the mentioned types. They will most likely differ in terms of class and price to suit the variable market or consumers. This means that there will be something for everyone, both middle and high-price customers.

On a similar note, the major competitor of Audi, BMW, is employing the same strategy. Just like Audi, this automaker has announced its plan to introduce at least one electric car each year beginning in the year 2018. The anticipated iNext electric car is expected to be officially launched in 2021, with a promise of having a semi-autonomous driving mode. BMW has also made predictions that by 2025, it will have a fleet of fully autonomous cars.

Additionally, Audi made an announcement stating that its next A8 flagship is expected to officially debut this coming year. The A8 is expected to have the provision of autonomous driving at high speeds of up to thirty-seven miles per hour. All we can do now is to wait and see whether these two automakers will keep their promises.


Leave a Comment May 20, 2016

Lexus Celebrates One Million Hybrid Car Sales Globally

Lexus_LC_500h_unveiled_at_Geneva_Motor_Show_2016_(IMG_2858)Lexus made an announcement that more than one million hybrid cars have been sold since the launch of the first luxury hybrid car in the world, the RX 400h in 2005. This news is quite welcome considering the current world that focuses of eco-friendly based living, giving humans a lot to smile about. The news also gives a glimpse of the future. Lately, the sales of electric and hybrid cars have been steadily increasing. More people are realizing the benefits that these green cars can offer in terms of efficiency and saving fuel.

As of the culmination of the previous month, Lexus made approximately one million and six hundred sales of hybrid cars within a time span of 11 years. To mark this milestone, Lexus delivered a brand new NX 300h to one of its loyal customers in Milan, Italy. This shows yet another automaker using events like hybrid sales to sell and promote their cars and products. This is a good venture since the future is heading towards hybridization and electrification of cars.

Lexus stated that its core car technology is the hybrid system, which has proven to aid in reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. At the same time the technology gives users an amazing and enjoyable driving experience. The carmaker’s 2050 environment goals are extremely ambitious and for the goals to be achieved, the popularity of hybrids globally will play a huge role. Currently, there are 10 hybrid models manufactured by Lexus, with the automaker promising to produce more. Lexus International President, Tokuo Fukuichi said that he was pleased that more than a million customers across the globe trusted and put their faith in the carmaker’s hybrid line-up.

The lucky customer who was gifted by the automaker said that it was his first Lexus car. He had gone in to purchase and ended up the millionth buyer, so he received the car as a gift in commemoration of the event. He had chosen the brand because of the high value associated with it. He noted that upon seeing the novel NX 300h Lexus, its design captured him. He was also enthusiastic about the car’s hybrid technology. Earlier this year, the latest hybrid model by Lexus, LC 500h, was launched. This new car has the hybrid technology of a new generation of performance and this system is referred to as Multi Stage System. This system expounds on hybrid advantages through the delivery of more acceleration, greater power, higher efficiency and traction. The car will officially enter the market in the spring of next year. There is no other luxury car manufacturer that matches up to the breadth and depth of Lexus in terms of efficiency and refined cars.


Leave a Comment April 22, 2016

Comparing the Toyota Prius Prime and Hyundai’s Ioniq Plug-in

Hyundai_Ioniq_01For a long time, Toyota has been the world’s top-selling gas-electric vehicle. This may no longer be the case when Hyundai’s Ioniq is launched in the United States later in the year. The new release will compete against the standard Prius hybrid and the recently launched Prime plug-in. The Ioniq will be the first car in the world to have a third battery electric powertrain. There are a number of similarities and contrasts between the Prime and Ioniq.

In terms of design, a major similarity is that the cars have hatchbacks, front-wheel and aerodynamics. The Ioniq can accommodate five passengers just like the previous Prius plug-in as well as the current Prius. The Toyota Prime on the other hand can only accommodate four passengers, which saves weight. Both cars will have a similar coefficient of drag, which has been estimated at 0.24. The interior space will be similar for both with slight variations here and there. Toyota Prius has a design emulating that of the base Prius, while the Ioniq has been thought to be easier on eyes.

Regarding the powertrain, both vehicles are plug-in hybrid cars with a system based on ultra-efficient Atkinson cycle. While the GDI unit of Hyundai is 1.6 liters, Toyota’s unit is 1.8 liters. The thermal efficiency of both cars is approximately 40%, and this is an accomplishment set by Toyota three years ago. Neither manufacturer has given a specific EPA number, though Toyota said that the Prime could have a figure similar to that of its non-plug-in counterpart. The Prime could have around 52 mpg, while Ioniq could have around 56 mpg. The EPA will most likely exceed 51 mpg for both vehicles.

Another comparison is with respect to electric range following the doubling of the traction battery by Toyota to offer a capacity of 8.8 kWh compared to Hyundai’s 8.9 kWh. The miles projected by Toyota before the ultimate EPA certifications are a 22 miles range. Hyundai’s projected range is between 25 and 29 miles. Assuming the miles presented are to be trusted, it is clear that Hyundai has a better EV range compared to Toyota. In terms of performance, both cars have promised to offer an amazing experience. This is considering Toyota’s New Global Architecture, as well as the independent suspension. Hyundai has also promised to enhance Ioniq’s performance through its novel dedicated platform. Given the information above, Hyundai is clearly a big competitor for Toyota Prius Prime.


Leave a Comment April 22, 2016

Toyota Unleashes its Prius Prime Plug-in Car at New York’s Auto Show

Toyota_Prius_HybridThree new vehicles were unveiled by Toyota during New York’s Auto show that was held earlier this month. One of the key highlights was the new Prius Prime hybrid plug-in, which is the automaker’s first new Prius since 2014. The other two cars that were unveiled are the 86 sports vehicle and an upgraded model of Toyota’s Highlander SUV. The new Highlander version has a new engine, more aggressive grille and a novel transmission. Although the Highlander has a high likelihood of outselling the Prius Prime, the show’s highlight was still the plug-in Prius’ return.

All Electric Range of 22 Miles

The release of Prime plug-in is a clear indication that Toyota is committed to adding to its lineup of Prius hybrids even at this time when the prices of gas is still low. The automaker has projected that the Prius Prime’s mileage will be higher when compared to its previous plug-in cars. It will have at least 120 more miles per gallon in comparison to the other plug-in hybrids. This is equivalent to about 26 percent increase from its predecessor. According to Toyota, the new Prius Prime will have the capacity to cover up to 22 miles when fully charged before switching to the gasoline engine. On a fully electric mode, the car can go for speeds of 84 mph.

An electric range of 22 miles means that more than half of the American population can drive to work then back home without having to rely on gasoline. For the people who are able to charge their cars at work, the figure increases to 80 percent. Those who commute longer miles can depend on a hybrid system deemed to be the most fuel efficient in the auto industry. The Prius Prime will run on a battery pack of 8.8 kilowatts when in electric mode. Additionally, it will feature Toyota’s drive system based on a dual-motor generator. Such a system utilizes both the generator and electric motor as the driving force.

A major question is whether the unveiled Prius Prime will turn out to be a fan favorite. Later this year, Chevrolet plans to put its Bolt electric vehicle on sale. The new Bolt will have a battery with a capacity of 60 kilowatts and a projected mileage of 200 MPGe per a single charge. Its price tag after the addition of tax credits will be 30,000 dollars. Other notable competitors of the Prius Prime are the siblings of Ford Energi, the Fusion and C-max, which will have an electric range of 19 miles.





Leave a Comment March 31, 2016

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