By on February 4, 2010

Car enthusiasts are an odd bunch. They don’t understand why people buy “bland-mobiles” like Toyotas & Hondas, they can’t see why anyone would choose an automatic gearbox over a manuals, and they still can’t figure out why all cars aren’t RWD. For them, the smell of burning petrol (or oil, if you’re in Europe) combined with smouldering rubber, is somewhere between, a freshly baked apple pie and cooked bacon in the spectrum of heavenly smells. Well, there’s one other thing that car enthusiasts may have to combine with those smells, the hum of an electric motor… and it might just mean the end of their sweeping disdain for anything with the word “hybrid” in its name.

Auto Express hints that Ford could replace their old Focus RS with a new Focus RS…with a hybrid powertrain! (Cue dramatic music). The new RS will have a 2.0 EcoBoost direct injection turbo and an electric motor. The EcoBoost engine will power the front wheels while the electric motor will give power to the rear wheels, effectively making the RS all wheel drive. The total output of this new RS will be 300bhp, 0 – 60mph will be 5 seconds with a top speed of 155mph. Excited? You will be.

Other automakers are bringing hybrid powertrains to their cars and I don’t mean their subcompacts. Insideline reports that rumours are floating that Nissan’s next generation of GT-R will come with a hybrid option. Wired.com reports that Jaguar are getting in on the act by building a hybrid which uses a gas turbine to power the electric motor. What Car? reports that even Ferrari are going to showcase their own hybrid technology at the Geneva Auto Show as they move to cut average CO2 emissions. They’re even debuting the technology on a V12-powered 599 GTB so the extra weight of the electric motor is less noticeable.

So to all those boyracers who’d rather eat their neoprene seats than drive a hybrid (with all the cultural baggage the name implies), are you telling me none of these reports excite you just a little bit?

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

44 Comments on “Wild Arse Rumour Of The Day: Someday Enthusiasts Will Have To Stop Bashing Hybrids...”


  • avatar
    turbobeetle

    An ICE with the additional complexity of a turbo system AND a hybrid system all while our #1 automaker is having issues with gas pedals and brake pedals.

    YIKES!

    • 0 avatar
      jet_silver

      Done in one. Hybrid = kludge.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Parallel hybrids are kludgey.. Serial hybrids are more of a ‘transitional’ design, until battery energy density matches or exceeds that of gasoline.

      Best serial hybrid would have a standardized formfactor for the ICE extender genset, so you could choose which sort of fuel you want to use for a particular application or, eventually, replace it entirely with capacitors/batteries or remove it for weight if you have a true ‘city’ car or batteries finally match or exceed standard range and have high-speed high-voltage rechargeability (perhaps via superconducting ‘filling stations’ with capacitor-driven ‘underground tanks’).

  • avatar

    I certainly understand why people like my brother and sister-in-law drive slushboxes, and why they buy blandmobiles (but leave my Honda out of that category!), and I can’t stand the smell of smoldering rubber. Given the twin specters of peak oil and global climate disruption, the more people drive efficient cars–whatever the power trains–the better. I’ve driven a Prion a couple of times (an 08) and I was suitably impressed, but very glad to get back into my ’99 Accord 5-speed. I prefer to take my internal combustion straight, like my bourbon (and I prefer the Honda’s driving dynamics as well).

    I don’t know that the hybrid is necessarily the best path to greater efficiency though. If all this hybridization is happening because it is so during the present decade, fine, but otherwise I would like to see more diversity of efficient power plants, and may the best of them win.

  • avatar
    Facebook User

    What hybrid design is that in the picture? It’s basically what Honda did 10 years ago with the 1st gen Insight? Except the electric motor was on the engine side of the clutch as part of the flywheel, not on the trans side of the clutch.

  • avatar
    Areitu

    For some reason, some car enthusiasts resist any kind of significant or paradigm-breaking technology–especially if it gets mentioned in the same sentenance as “green” or “hybrid.” Things like dual-clutch gearboxes and hybrid drives. Nobody rips on F1 cars for having “automatic” gearboxes and regenerative braking with electric boost.

    • 0 avatar
      TexasAg03

      Actually, lots of people rip on F1 cars for having “automatic” gearboxes.

    • 0 avatar
      sfenders

      Yeah, I can see some justification putting hybrids and dual-clutch transmissions in the same category: Interesting ideas with some promise, with existing implementations that are so far too expensive and complicated to be worth the cost, for the small benefit they give over the existing alternatives. But they both have a reasonable chance to improve to the point where they’re ubiquitous.

      Speaking of F1, KERS also seems to go in that category. If recapturing that energy from braking was such an advantage, you might have expected a car so-equipped to win more often.

    • 0 avatar
      James2

      @sfenders

      KERS may have helped, if the underlying car was any good. The two cars that consistently raced with KERS, Ferrari and McLaren, both suffered aerodynamically compared to the Brawn and Red Bull cars. And, the way the damn thing was regulated, it was good only for short bursts of speed, six seconds max. It took the braking system a lot longer to recharge the system. Of course the engineers could have improved on every aspect of KERS –size, weight, power output, recharge times– but typical of Max Mosley’s brain farts, this was not allowed.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Hybrids. Now I realize why I started riding motorcycles 35 years ago.

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    I think Ford’s concept is brilliant, although I wonder how much weight this will add…

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Q: “…are you telling me none of these reports excite you just a little bit?”

    A: No, none of them.

    I can’t get past the hypercomplexity of a hybrid, the long payback period, the volumetric loss of seating/luggage to accomodate the goodies, and the dubious “green-ness” of hybrids being tossed into everything from Yukons to Ferraris and Lamborghinis.

    I’d prefer a new Focus RS to have real AWD and 300 HP from a gas engine.

  • avatar
    sfenders

    Wait… you mean to imply that there’s actually a reason why not all cars are manual and RWD? I always assumed it was some kind of conspiracy to denigrate automobiles.

    The most interesting news report on hybrids I’ve seen was this one.

    An F1-style flywheel-based KERS way of recovering and using energy from braking which would be light-weight and not depend on any batteries. That does sound good.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      The problem with flywheel systems (as I understand it) is that once you store enough energy in the flywheel to be useful it becomes hairy to design a safe containment system to protect bystanders in the event of a catastrophic failure of the flywheel (as might happen in an accident or after years of use). You need sufficient mass in the flywheel for meaningful storage, and if the flywheel deconstructs under load the shrapnel would be pretty lethal. Plus, you still have much of the same complexity as current hybrids.

  • avatar
    dswilly

    My main reason’s for driving manuals are A. I’m old school B. they last forever and all modern Auto’s seem to be on borrowed time after 80k with very expensive repair costs. I also like carburetors.

  • avatar
    Demetri

    I don’t have any problems with electric power; I love the idea of driving an all electric car. It’s just the hybrid part that I think sucks. Give me straight internal combustion or straight electric, but not an overly complex and computer controlled combination of both.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    As someone who couldn’t give a rats ass about efficiency and “the common good” I don’t forsee myself ever owning a hybrid UNTIL they outperform their gasoline counterparts. (This article leads me to believe they’re getting closer.)

    I wonder how greenies will feel about SUVs when these powerful hybrid engines allow for Suburban sized vehicles with Cobalt XFE sized fuel efficiency. Something tells me they’ll still find a reason to bitch about them.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      Like the SUV owners’ attitudes about having the biggest honkin’ vehicle on the road as a means of guaranteeing that they’ll come out of an accident literally on top? Regardless of whose fault it was? Or the fact that I can’t see thru/around SUVs in traffic in my normal sized vehicle? Stuff like that?

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      You realize that not giving a rat’s ass about the common good makes you a living, breathing sociopath, right?

      I realize it’s become an acceptable attitude, as we all act like we’re too cool to care about everyone else, but there really isn’t much difference between not caring about everyone else and killing them, especially when your self-centered actions can easily result in deaths and misery.

      When did it become uncool to care about others? It seems like many of the justifying selfish people like to reminisce about bygone eras when they had their freedom – but most people in the ’50s damn well cared about their community and their neighbors.

      I’m not saying we should always act on everyone else’s behalf or drive hybrids, but seriously not giving a crap about anyone means no one should give a crap about you. If they didn’t, you wouldn’t be alive long…

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    I don’t think enthusiasts are whole-heartedly against Hybrids. Personally I may have railed against the Prius since day one, but thats because it is the ‘Anti-Car’ – ie, it doesn’t drive like a car should and it was marketed to the Greenster – EnviroMentals crowd who bought them in droves and then marched around looking smug, sniffing each others farts, and telling everyone driving anything else less fuel efficient that they were evil doers.
    You also have to take a look at that new Honda ‘sport’ Hybrid which gives worse MPG and performance than a standard car – Pointless.
    If a car manufacturer produces a car that drives and accelerates really well and uses Hybrid technology then ‘Hooray’. If they’re going to produce something half arsed to satisfy the eco-twunts then ‘yah boo sucks’.

  • avatar
    Bruce from DC

    I believe the Lexus GAS 450H, which combines a 300 hp V-6 with two electric motors does the 0-60 thing in about 5 seconds, which is pretty screaming quick. Also, because the two electromotors hit peak torque instantly, the perceived quickness, especially once the vehicle is already moving, is even greater.

    Despite that, the throttle jockeys who have reviewed it including for TTAc, have been less than impressed overall.

    Of course, the price for all this (not counting the $$$) is a 7 cu. ft. trunk, which is less than some subcompacts. So, don’t plan on taking some long trips with lots of luggage and people in the back seat.

    Still I might be tempted to check out a used one.

  • avatar
    Christy Garwood

    Cammy, the part about a gas turbine engine in a car intrigues me. It powers the electric motor and can run on biofuel. It reminds me of the hydroplane boat races I used to watch on the Ohio River because the engines were Allsion Gas Turbines, a division of General Motors, where I started my tenure with GM.

    I would love to drive a car that sounded like a jet!

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    The upcoming Peugeot Diesel/hybrid system is similar to what Cammy describes for the Focus. FWD ICE, RWD electric. Regeneration to the rear, really strong power to all four wheels during acceleration, FWD for cruising.

    Distribution of power by electronics, not through a transfer box or whatnot. There is a weight penalty to this kind of a hybrid. But weight is mainly an issue for urban fuel economy, which is exactly the realm of a hybrid. The main penalty is cost, but Peugeot is going for a modular system they can use on several car lines.

    The Jaguar system being developed by Lotus is a series hybrid, similar in concept to the Chevy Volt: electric-first (for daily driving), range-extended (for lengthy trips). The good thing about this: rich people are willing to pay the price to get a green image.

  • avatar
    folkdancer

    I love the ideas. Who knows what works best until we build and try them.

    It is easy to say:
    This will weigh too much.
    This will be too light.
    This will be too complex.
    This will be too easy to drive.
    This won’t carry as much.
    This won’t be able to run over other vehicles.
    This won’t make enough noise.
    This won’t support OPEC.
    Our electric grid/hydrogen production/bio-fuels/solar panels/wind farms/hot volcanic water aren’t ready.

    The car companies are aware of the challenges, are facing them , and conquering them (if they don’t their competitors will). They don’t have time to hold the hands of the scared.

    How big is your community? Is it just you, our country, or the whole world?

  • avatar
    carnick

    dswilly, I’m with you.

    Obviously, anyone who reads and especially takes the time to post here on TTAC is a car enthusiast. By definition, that takes us a couple of standard deviations from the mainstream car buyer (like my wife and most of my friends) for whom a car is strictly an appliance, something to get them from from point A to point B. So, my, and all of our, comments are probably not representative of “most” people. But, that’s why we’re here.

    My biggest dislike for most hybrids, and most new cars in general, is the absence of a manual transmission. I fully acknowledge that modern automatic transmissions, whether “paddle boxes” or “semi-automatic”, being computer controlled, are usually more “efficient” than the shift-it-yourself variety. They get better gas mileage and are probably faster.

    But I don’t care. I like the direct, visceral connection of a manual. I like being in full control of what gear the transmission is in, even if a computer can do a “better” job than I can. I like being able to pick the rpm, hp, and torque output myself, for what feels good to me, and not what is most “efficient” according to some souless algorithm. I like the extra skill and finesse that a clutch requires. Taking that away just takes away most of the fun of driving a car for me. Even if I could afford it, I don’t think I would really want a modern Ferrari with it’s silly computer-game “paddle” shifters. I want the drivetrain of a car directly connected to me, to feel the driving experience and be a part of it, not just a semi-removed passenger.

    Like Mazda’s motto for the Miata, “jinba ittai”, ‘horse and rider as one’… I don’t think you can truly have it with an automatic. Which, with the exception of the old Insight and the new CRZ (but a whole lot of other issues with that one…), you can’t have with most hybrids.

    That said, I also like simple engineering solutions, because they tend to be a) the most reliable, and b) the easiest to fix. There is nothing simple about a hybrid system. To me, it is a Rube Goldberg-ian overly complex way of getting more mileage out of a given amount of fuel that could be more simply accomplished with elegant engineering. Like, a turbo diesel engine, or even just a high-efficiency, direct-injection, turbo gas engine. With a hybrid, there’s just too much stuff to go wrong and break, and impossible to work on yourself.

    I guess it’s a generational thing. I’m old school too, and it seems far more people of my generation were into cars than teenagers today. When I was in high school and college, that’s all we talked about or did with our time – cars (and occasionally some schoolwork). We lived it, and loved it. Today, it all seems to be about electronic gadgets, texting, twittering, facebooking, the latest “downloads”. I’ll take a high-revving engine with a manual transmission on a twisting road any day of the week.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Amen. Can we have this carved on stone tablets?

    • 0 avatar
      guyincognito

      “I like the direct, visceral connection of a manual. I like being in full control of what gear the transmission is in, even if a computer can do a “better” job than I can. I like being able to pick the rpm, hp, and torque output myself, for what feels good to me, and not what is most “efficient” according to some souless algorithm. I like the extra skill and finesse that a clutch requires. Taking that away just takes away most of the fun of driving a car for me. Even if I could afford it, I don’t think I would really want a modern Ferrari with it’s silly computer-game “paddle” shifters. I want the drivetrain of a car directly connected to me, to feel the driving experience and be a part of it, not just a semi-removed passenger.”

      Amen + 1

      @ Syke,

      I’m only half Jew, but isn’t that what God said to Moses?

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      My sentiments exactly! I completely fail to see the point of a “sports car” with a paddle shift transmission, even if it is quicker around a racetrack. I could not care less.

      As to modern automatics being more efficient than manuals, I call BS. Sure, you can program the electronics such that they do better on the very artificial EPA tests, but real world drivability suffers. A manual in the hands of a sympathetic driver will always do better in the real world, and clutches are sure cheaper than autotragic tranny rebuilds!

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    Ok, generalizations are never accurate when applied to individuals (but they are fun!). Still, I would say that none of these reports excite me. By no means am I opposed to new technology or electric vehicles. I even helped design and race a solar powered car from D.C. to Orlando. But all of these future hybrids seem bound to sacrifice weight and handling for their hybrid systems. I only want advanced technology that makes the driving experience more pure. I think electric cars may one day get there, but its still a ways off and I have serious doubts if a hybrid will ever accomplish that feat.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    I love manuals, the smell of burnt rubber and gas, and I’m really looking forward to having an electric sports car one day with all the torque available at 0mph.

  • avatar
    Darth Lefty

    Just another up-sell

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    I love driving a stick, but still think I made a good decision with the Prius.

    I’ve got 90,000 miles on my car without any of these problems. I’d trust my Prius a lot farther than any Government Motors car.

    Besides, when Ray LaHood goes after Toyota, I have to wonder if maybe he, being employed by the same government who owns two car companies, has a little bit of a conflict of interest.

    Good article, Cammy. You made me hungry for bacon!

  • avatar

    I like what Carnick said, especially this:

    But I don’t care. I like the direct, visceral connection of a manual. I like being in full control of what gear the transmission is in, even if a computer can do a “better” job than I can. I like being able to pick the rpm, hp, and torque output myself, for what feels good to me, and not what is most “efficient” according to some souless algorithm. I like the extra skill and finesse that a clutch requires. Taking that away just takes away most of the fun of driving a car for me. Even if I could afford it, I don’t think I would really want a modern Ferrari with it’s silly computer-game “paddle” shifters. I want the drivetrain of a car directly connected to me, to feel the driving experience and be a part of it, not just a semi-removed passenger.

  • avatar
    Patrickj

    To me, the fact that hybrids piss people off is the best reason to own one.

    My predominately highway driving where they offer minimal advantage is the best reason not to.

  • avatar

    Meanwhile, I just got 55 MPG on my last fill-up. No fancy electronic gizmos or complicated drivetrains. No bank of batteries. Just some refined vegetable oil, a small-displacement Diesel engine, and a manual transmission.

    You CAN have it both ways.

  • avatar
    rnc

    Why is it not possible to run a var. turbo to a generator to power an electric motor in tandem with a small ICE? It seems that it would provide the benefits (actually capturing and reusing the wasted energy of ICE’s to power the vehicle) without the cost of batteries.

    Is there a reason this isn’t being tried or has it been tried and not worked?

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      A similar concept was used on the big Curtiss-Wright engines of the 1950′s Constellation and DC-7 long range airliners. It wasn’t electric, but “Power Recovery Turbines” captured wasted exhaust energy and geared it directly back to the crankshaft. The much greater efficiency made it possible for non-stop San Francisco to Stockholm flights, for example.

      Its not clear to me why this technology would not transfer from one style of gasoline burning piston engine to another. After all, hemispherical combustion chambers, turbocharging and direct injection were originally used in aircraft engines and eventually made it to automobiles.

  • avatar
    pauldun170

    No stick no clutch no buy.

  • avatar
    Styles79

    Interesting about the RS. Nissan has a similar system in their small cars in Japan. 4WD versions of Tiida (Versa), Wingroad and March all have a similar system, with an electric motor powering a conventional diff etc. I can only assume that they decided that the electrical system would take up less space (certainly in the cabin with no prop shaft) and weigh less than a conventional arrangement.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India