The Truth About Cars » Hybrid The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:29:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Hybrid Daimler, BMW Collaborate On Wireless Charging Wed, 16 Jul 2014 11:00:35 +0000 Mercedes S 500 PHEV

Daimler and BMW just announced a collaboration to help speed up development for wireless charging of both EVs and PHEVs, with the former’s Mercedes S500 PHEV as the test subject.

Autoblog Green reports the system in question will use coils in both the vehicle and charging platform, the latter installed in a garage floor or other stationary point. The system will charge an EV or PHEV at a rate of 3.6 kW, with an efficiency rating of 90 percent.

As for the guinea pig, the S500 PHEV will come with 436 horsepower and around 480 lb-ft of torque between its twin-turbo V6 and hybrid powertrain. In turn, the sedan can travel up to 20 miles on electric-only power, and net the chauffeur 84 mpg on the way to and from his employer’s private resort. The S500 PHEV is due in showrooms this September.

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Fourth-Gen Toyota Prius To Receive AWD, New Battery Packs Tue, 15 Jul 2014 12:00:20 +0000 2014 Toyota Prius

Though it may be a while before the fourth-generation Toyota Prius leaves the assembly line, it may be worth the wait as far as batteries and drivetrains are concerned.

Automotive News reports the new hybrid will have two choices for battery power. According to senior managing officer of powertrain development Koei Saga, both a low-cost nickel-metal hydride unit and a larger-capacity lithium ion pack — for longer electric-only range — will help provide power. Though Saga was cagey regarding economy numbers, he claimed that the new packs’ economy would “surprise everyone.”

Meanwhile, the power won’t be directed toward just the front wheels. Saga says there’s a possibility that AWD could be in the cards for the new Prius, which will be underpinned by the company’s Toyota New Global Architecture.

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Mazda2 RE May Appear Soon, But Only In Select Markets Fri, 11 Jul 2014 11:00:16 +0000 Mazda-2-Range-Extender1

The oft-rumored Mazda2 RE PHEV, powered by a range-extending rotary engine, may soon become reality, appearing sometime after the next-gen hatch debuts in showrooms between October and the new year. reports the PHEV won’t be making its global debut with the rest of the new Mazda2 family in August, nor will it likely appear in showrooms where government support is lacking, according to Mazda Australia Managing Director Martin Benders:

The only markets in which you can justify bringing something like that out, to get at least a reasonable amount of volume to justify setting it up as a saleable model, are ones where there’s government support for those types of models.

Benders adds that the current crop of Skyactiv engines do a better job of reducing CO2 emissions and boosting fuel economy than the more expensive PHEV technology, with subsidies and sales quotas hindering the case for hybrids in countries where the support isn’t there. However, Benders doesn’t believe government money should be used to promote the technology, preferring the market to decide what lives and what dies.

As for the new-gen Mazda2, which will take its cue from the Kodo design language found in vehicles like the Mazda3 and Mazda6, power will be supplied by a 1.5-liter naturally aspirated gasoline engine and a matching turbo diesel; the latter will likely not make it to the United States when the new compact arrives next year.

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AlixPartners: 2014 May Be The Peak Of U.S. Auto Sales Thu, 10 Jul 2014 10:00:59 +0000 Toyota Sales Lot

The good news? Automakers are enjoying a sales boom in the United States the likes of which haven’t been seen since the Great Recession brought the hammer down, with June 2014 sales alone surpassing those in July of 2006. Should the boom continue, 2014 will close as the industry’s best year in a long time, with over 16 million vehicles sold when the calendar ticks over to 2015.

The bad news? This year may be the last year U.S. sales ever climb this high.

Autoblog reports a study by AlixPartners suggests sales will peak later this year, then head back down the mountain on the beaten path of rising interest rates — diminishing purchasing power in the process — then veer toward the long trail built upon the Millennials’ alleged preference of Uber and Car2Go over individual ownership.

In the near-term, director Dan Hearsch warns the lines of cheap credit today will dry up over the next two to three years:

The biggest factor would be this credit bubble, and without making an exact projection of when that will happen, that, to use is the window when you’ll see an impact on car sales. The other side of it is cyclical and predictable. … We’re a little more pessimistic because of these other factors.

Further up the path, rising fuel prices will temporarily give hybrids and EVs a boost in sales, but improvements in the ICE and the ongoing issues with EVs — range, higher upfront costs and production of battery packs — will mitigate whatever gains are made unless the technology comes into parity with the ICE.

Finally, AlixPartners expects 80 percent of all vehicles sold in North America by 2017 will be connected vehicles, and advises governments and OEMs to prepare for the day autonomous vehicles take their first outings beyond Google’s research facility, as such vehicles will be key to future sales.

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Mitsubishi: U.S.-Bound 2016 Outlander PHEV “Will Be Completely Different” Wed, 09 Jul 2014 11:00:36 +0000 03-2014-mitsubishi-outlander-fd

Perhaps as a result of what Mitsubishi had learned thus far since the introduction of the Outlander PHEV in Europe, Japan and Australia — as well as a MY 2016 redesign — the United States-bound PHEV “will be completely different,” according to both Mitsubishi Motors North America Executive Vice President Don Swearingen and U.S. PR boss Alex Fedorak.

Autoblog reports the SUV — now set to arrive in November 2015 — will have an interior with materials that look and feel “less value-oriented,” while its battery monitor can look each cell along with the overall pack. It will also likely take its styling cues from the GC-PHEV and XR-PHEV concepts, both debuting at the 2013 Tokyo Auto Show last November.

Meanwhile, the 2015 Outlander Sport may soon possess a 2.4-liter I4 to go with its 2-liter variant as Fedorak and his employer’s dealer network discuss what needs to be done to make the bigger engine a better sell; early results point to stronger highway overtaking ability.

Finally, although Mitsubishi’s long-term goal is to evolve into “an SUV/crossover-type company,” cars will still have a role in the near-term, especially the Mirage compact. Despite most publications giving the Mirage a good thrashing — though our rising superstar managing editor had a different sort of thrashing in mind — Fedorak claims the compact is outselling both the Mazda2 and Toyota Yaris; the latter is ahead of the Mitsubishi by 265 units through the end of June.

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Porsche Developing Ferrari-Hunter With 600HP Flat-Eight Wed, 09 Jul 2014 10:00:16 +0000 Porsche-988-rumors

Feeling outgunned by the Ferrari V8 family, Porsche is working on a suitable hunter that will be armed not with its long-standing flat-six, but with a new flat-eight.

Autocar reports the new vehicle — dubbed the 988 within Stuttgart — is part of a new quartet of Porsches in development, including a turbo-four version of the Boxster and Cayman, and an all-new 911. The 988 is expected to arrive in 2017, and may likely take after the 918 in looks with a long rear deck covering the mid-mounted flat-eight; all four new models will be in place by 2019.

Powering the quartet is a new family of boxers, ranging from the aforementioned 2-liter turbo-four — capable of 280 horsepower — to the 988′s 4-liter quad-turbo-eight, delivering 600 horses and ~400 lb-ft of 458 Italia-killing torque in testing.

Underpinning the quartets will be an all-new architecture that will use different backsides depending on the position of the boxer, shared front structures, and three front axles with optional hybrid/electric AWD such as the system powering the 918.

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Fourth-Generation Toyota Prius Production Delayed Six Months Tue, 01 Jul 2014 10:00:21 +0000 2014 Toyota Prius

Once set for production in the spring of 2015, the fourth generation of Toyota’s Prius will instead enter production beginning in December of said year.

Automotive News Europe reports the delay is due to engineers wanting to massage as much fuel economy as possible, along with adjustments to the chassis and body. The confirmation model of the new hybrid is expected in November 2014, 12 months before production is set to begin; the plug-in variant will follow in October 2016.

Though Toyota declined to clarify the reasons behind the delay, managing officer for product planning Satoshi Ogiso said the new hybrid will serve as a test bed for the automaker’s modular Toyota New Global Architecture and a new hybrid system that will be more compact and lighter than the current system while delivering a thermal efficiency rate above 40 percent. The system will also support a wider range of engines and vehicles beyond the Prius and Camry hybrids.

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Ferrari To Reduce CO2 Emissions 20 Percent By 2021 Via Hybrids, Turbos Wed, 25 Jun 2014 12:00:55 +0000 2015-ferrari-california-t-front-three-quarters

Adding a green stripe upon its rosso corsa paint, Ferrari aims to reduce fleet greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent among its offerings by the time the new decade arrives.

Automotive News Europe reports the Italians are taking a two-pronged approach in tackling CO2 while maintaining the performance for which the brand is known all over. V8-powered models like the new California T (for turbo) will use turbocharging to add power to shrinking engine sizes while knocking out more emissions. The California T’s powertrain delivers 552 horsepower and 250g/km of CO2, a significant improvement over the previous model’s 483 horses and 299g/km from its naturally aspirated V8.

While turbos handle the small stuff, hybridization will be used to boost fuel efficiency and power in V12 models, such as the FF and F12 Berlinetta. The current example — the LaFerrari — nets 963 horsepower and 330g/km of CO2 from its 6.3-liter V12 and 120-kilowatt electric motor combo, besting the Enzo’s 660 horses and 545g/km.

Both approaches are expected to help Ferrari reduce emissions by 2 percent to 3 percent every year, resulting in a 20 percent cumulative reduction by 2021. The automaker already cut CO2 produced by its lineup by 40 percent since 2007, when the average was 435g/km.

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Rolls-Royce SUV To Arrive In 2018 Tue, 24 Jun 2014 12:00:55 +0000 SCA665C50EUX84409

Just like Volkswagen’s Bentley and Audi’s Lamborghini, BMW’s Rolls-Royce is entering the premium SUV game, ready to ferry oil-rich princes and the hardest of Wall Street’s power lords to their appointed rounds.

Autobild reports the premium SUV — currently dubbed the Cullinan, whose namesake comes from the 3,000-carat diamond — will debut in 2018, and will be priced between the Ghost and the Phantom at €275,000 ($340,000 USD).

Power for the aluminum SUV is expected to come from 6.6-liter V12, which may be directed through the all-wheel drive system found in the BMW 7 Series to the wheel/tire combo from the upcoming X7. A PHEV variant of the Cullinan is also in consideration.

As for where the SUV will turn up, the United States and the Middle East are potential markets.

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2015 Acura ILX Hybrid Leaves US Market, Stays In Canada Wed, 18 Jun 2014 10:00:34 +0000 ILX vs Verano 4

Those considering a premium hybrid will have one fewer option in the United States when MY 2015 rolls around: Acura has discontinued sales of the entry-level ILX Hybrid in the land of the free.

Autoblog reports the brand is responding to consumer demand — or lack thereof — in its decision to cut the hybrid model from the rest of the ILX lineup, which now will consist of a 2-liter I4 paired with a five-speed automatic and a 2.4-liter I4 with a six-speed manual. Price of admission for 2015 will be between $27,050 and $29,350, depending on options.

The ILX Hybrid arrived in 2012 as a 2013 model, but only 2,660 copies had left U.S. showrooms between then and May 2014. However, the hybrid will still have a home in Canada, where parent company Honda has vowed to continue sales. The 2014 edition of the ILX Hybrid starts at $35,190 CDN, and is powered by a 1.5-liter I4 with an integrated electric motor, both of which are mated to a CVT.

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Vehicle Wireless Charging Market To Double Yearly Through 2020 Tue, 10 Jun 2014 11:00:29 +0000 Electic_car_wireless_parking_charge_closeup

For owners of PHEVs and EVs like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, the prospect of putting away the cord for wireless induction charging grows with each passing year, doubling per year toward the next decade.

Autoblog Green reports research firm Frost & Sullivan forecasts the wireless market will experience a compound growth of 126.6 percent between 2012 and 2020, resulting in nearly 352,000 units sold around the globe. Usage of the technology is expected to be at 1.2 percent of public and private charging in North America, 2.6 percent of the same in Europe — where adoption will be at its most rapid — while 70 percent of overall wireless charging will likely be in the home.

As for who all is throwing their support behind the technology, the firm says Renault, Nissan, Daimler, Volvo, BMW and Toyota are working on chargers for their upcoming EVs, with an additional 10 automakers entering the testing phase. The current obstacles for greater adoption include charging time, charging rates and production costs.

Finally, Frost & Sullivan expect on-the-road wireless charging will arrive in the next decade while stationary offerings “will be most sought after in the near-term.”

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Capsule Review: 2014 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid Mon, 09 Jun 2014 12:00:32 +0000 green subaru xv crosstrek hybrid

Subarus shine when the sun does not. That reputation has been built on the back of Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive so that in places that freeze, Subarus are everywhere. Given the concerns of the customer base and a corporate commitment to sustainability, a hybrid Subaru seems like an obvious slam dunk. That’s why it’s surprising it took so long to get one, even with some ties to Toyota. The XV Crosstrek is the first Subaru to go hybrid. It’s definitely the Subaru of hybrids.

2014 subaru xv crosstrek hybrid

What that means is that you’ll find a familiar 2.0 liter boxer four and all-wheel drive in the Crosstrek Hybrid. Added to that is a 100.8 volt, 13.5 kW battery pack that tucks .55 kWh of stamina under the cargo area floor. You lose just 1.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the seats, which is a nice trick compared to what happens in some other hybrid-ized cars. The combination of 2.0 liter boxer with compression bumped to 10.8:1 (from the standard 10.5:1) and electric motor makes the hybrid the most powerful Crosstrek there is. Total combined output is 160 hp vs. 148 hp for the gas-only model. More significantly, the total system torque is 163 lb-ft and you’ve got it all at 2,000 rpm. That beats the heck out of making those opposed pistons flail to 4,200 rpm for  the 145 lb-ft of the non-hybrid. The electric motor is cleverly integrated into the AWD system, a move that keeps the center of gravity the same as the gas model and doesn’t cut into passenger space.

The best Subarus are niche Subarus. The rowdy WRX and Crosstrek Hybrid are the gold and silver medalists on the lot. It says something about the Impreza platform’s versatility and quality. I haven’t forgotten the BRZ, it’s just not as good as the other two. The coupe gets a bronze because it’s not as versatile as the other two and still lacks the power it really deserves. Sales have increased every month since January 2014, when Subaru started keeping  track of Crosstrek hybrid sales. The model cracked 1,000 in May, and the total sits at 2,700 so far.

rear view of 2014 subaru xv crosstrek hybrid

The $27,000 price for the the XV Crosstrek Hybrid I drove is close to reasonable. The entry price is $25,995, and with $825 of destination you’ve got the $26,820 bottom line. That’s for a car with cloth seats, no sunroof, and Subaru’s typically half-dismal audio system. If you want the nice stuff like leather and navigation, you’re looking at the $29,295 Hybrid Touring.

The more basic car has got it where it counts, though. It’s not stripped by any means, and the audio head unit easily connects to devices with Bluetooth and streams audio while allowing the steering-wheel audio buttons to control playback. This without stabbing at a touchscreen or dealing with voice prompts. The hands-free isn’t perfect – people I called asked me to repeat a lot of stuff because of audio quality. Three knurled dials give easy control over the HVAC and automatic climate control is standard for the hybrid. The steering column tilts and telescopes, and a rear view camera is also standard. The hatchback layout is useful, with a liftover height that’s easily managed even if you’re shorter, and that’s despite the 8.7” of ground clearance. That’s only 1/10″ shy of an F150 4×4. Other cars this size trading for this price carry more amenities, but none of them are all-wheel drive hybrids.

side view of 2014 subaru xv crosstrek hybrid

Interior materials don’t feel $27K nice, but the design and ergonomics of the Crosstrek cabin present well. Visibility out is what now passes for good, and the controls are all easy to operate. Some, like the shifter, feel a little flimsy (wiggle that silvery piece of trim!), but the Crosstrek Hybrid is not a hard car to use, and that’s a happy thing.

Practical matters aside, this is the best driving Crosstrek, and all the changes made to the Hybrid should be mirrored across the range. The suspension has been retuned, which explains its good wheel control and buttoned-down feel in corners. It works well with the quick electric power steering, which is good on weight and direct feel. Other changes include thicker floor sections and increased sound insulation, both measures that increase the feeling of refinement.

2014 subaru xv crosstrek seats

The Crosstrek Hybrid is unique in that you’re getting all-wheel drive as part of the deal, and the improvement over gas-only Crosstreks is a bump to 29/33 mpg city/highway from 25/33. Pardon me for feeling like that’s a miniscule increase and that the 30 mpg average I observed is what all Crosstreks should be returning already. There are very few other all-wheeler hybrids, and they’re all more expensive. Luxe options like the Lexus RX 400h and Audi Q5 hybrid or the significantly larger Toyota Highlander hybrid aren’t directly comparable. A used second-generation Ford Escape Hybrid (or Mercury Mariner) is likely the closest actual competitor.

The rest of the Crosstrek Hybrid is bang on with the desires of its target customers. The batteries and motor don’t cut into the usefulness of the hatchback layout. There’s a good-sized cargo area behind the rear seats, and since those seats also fold, you’ve got one useful little tadpole on your hands. Moreover, the space inside the Crosstrek is comfortable for four, a bit squeezy for five. The rear seat legroom is probably the biggest sticking point. A quintet of tallies isn’t going to like it very much, but the Crosstrek is great for three or four average grown-ups. It’s even better for one or two smaller-statured folks with a big ol’ dog fogging the windows.

2014 subaru xv crosstrek hybrid cargo area

Another happy thing is the way the electric motor bolsters the 2.0 liter engine’s torque delivery and flattens out bandy feeling you often get from CVTs. The presence of paddle shifters to toggle between fake ratios feels really out of place. That’s money that could have gone into making the door panels padded so your elbow doesn’t fall asleep. At least with torque to go, the Crosstrek doesn’t have to wind up the engine so much to make forward progress. It’s a more relaxed way to get to speed, and it makes for a more refined Subaru. One annoyance, a major one, is the momentary hesitation upon taking off as the system fires the engine. It makes the car feel slow-witted, and it doesn’t build confidence when you’re trying to make a quick move in heavy traffic.

The hybrid system makes distinct shudders when the flame is blown out or fired up. You won’t get very far on electric-only, which generally seems to only operate in traffic jams. Subaru says the hybrid will crawl in an electric-only mode, but I found that the engine fired almost all the time when I wanted to move even a few feet. The Crosstrek hybrid is a few software tweaks away from greatness, but that doesn’t stop it from being good. The chassis feels solid, the steering is well-weighted, and the braking transitions from regen to friction very smoothly.

I was surprised to come away from the Crosstrek Hybrid so impressed with it. I’m not generally a fan of hybrids, and one that’s so obvious about what it’s doing SHOULD have put me off. Instead, it was charming. Clearly, I’m not the only one who’s been taken in by this car’s talents. If only all Crosstreks were this good.

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Renault, LG Chem Sign MOU To Develop Long-Range Battery Technology Wed, 28 May 2014 11:00:52 +0000 Renault LG Signing Ceremony

With most EVs getting around 100 miles on a single charge from their battery packs, such vehicles are more suited for the downtown core than a trip to the mountains. However, Renault and LG Chem are looking toward boosting range toward Tesla-like levels, together.

Autoblog Green reports Renault’s CCO Thierry Bolloré and LG Chem’s battery chief Kwon Young-soo signed a memorandum of understanding to develop battery range technology through the use of the latter company’s high-energy-density batteries. LG makes the batteries for EVs and PHEVs, including the Chevrolet Volt, and will supply packs to 20 automakers in 2015, double the business it does currently.

Meanwhile, Renault may use the results of its joint-venture with LG Chem to improve the range — and therefore, potential sales — of its Twingo and other Z.E. EVs. The Twingo was recently shelved in part to less-than-expected demand for the city car, with no word on when the EV will go back on sale.

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Volvo To Conduct Electric Road Study With Focus On Inductive Charging Wed, 28 May 2014 10:00:23 +0000 Volvo Hyper Bus PHEV

Coming off its study of stationary vehicle wireless charging, Volvo will turn its attention toward on-road charging of its Hyper Bus diesel-electric in a year-long study with partner Swedish Transport Association.

Autoblog reports the two parties will build a 300- to 500-meter section of electrified road that would use inductive charging for the PHEV’s batteries while shuttling passengers back and forth along the way. Currently, the buses use charging stations at either end of the route, delaying further travel until fully charged.

The road will be located in central Gothenburg, and is expected to be the herald for the ElectriCity route between Chalmers and Lindholmen, which will provide more data on charging and electric power for heavy vehicles such as buses for future industrial and political decisions.

The intended result of the study is to prove the viability of electric roads, including their impact on the environment as a piece of a greater puzzle involving sustainable transportation.

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Senate Committee Approves Move To Bar Hybrids From Further Solo HOV Access Thu, 22 May 2014 13:00:24 +0000 Prius Capitol Hill - Picture courtesy

Hybrid owners may soon need a co-pilot and a couple of backseat drivers to use HOV lanes, as the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a six-year highway spending bill with an amendment that would redefine for states what vehicles can and cannot use such lanes for solo driving.

The Detroit News reports Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma sponsored the approved amendment, which would continue to allow EVs, PHEVs, CNG vehicles and hydrogen vehicles to use HOV lanes with a only the driver inside, but would prohibit states from allowing hybrids to use such lanes in new access programs. That said, most states have already ended single-occupant hybrid access.

In the meantime, California — which phased out hybrid access in 2011 — has run out of access permits for PHEVs, hitting its 40,000 cap earlier this year. The state’s legislators have introduced legislation that would boost the total cap to 85,000, with the permits set to expire on New Year’s Day 2019. EV owners will still have solo HOV access, as there is no cap set for those permits.

Speaking of EVs, another amendment in the spending bill would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to “develop a plan and map of a potential national network of electric vehicle corridors and recharging infrastructure” in collaboration with the automotive industry and outside parties according to its sponsor, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

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Toyota Develops New Hybrid Fuel Economy-Boosting Semiconductor Tech Thu, 22 May 2014 11:00:37 +0000 Toyota Hybrid Semiconductors

Looking to wring out more fuel efficiency in its hybrids, Toyota has developed a silicon-carbide wafer semiconductor that could boost efficiency up to 10 percent.

Automotive News reports the semiconductor has already bestowed a 5 percent improvement in test units, with the goal of bringing the new technology to market by 2020. The potential for 10 percent increases in hybrid fuel efficiency occurs due to less energy being lost under regenerative braking, and less energy being used to power the semiconductor in the first place, whose design enables an 80 percent decrease in size from current semiconductors.

The only obstacle to bringing the tech to market is cost, which the automaker says is “an order of magnitude” higher than regular silicon wafers. In addition, silicon carbide is difficult and costly to turn into wafers, being one of the hardest materials found in the world to date.

The new semiconductors are being developed in-house with help from Toyota Central R&D Labs and supplier Denso, and will be applicable in both hybrid and EV vehicles.

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EVs, PHEVs Faring Better Than Hybrids In Fourth-Year Sales Comparison Wed, 21 May 2014 12:00:06 +0000 chevy volt cop car_l

Though it may appear EVs and PHEVs aren’t flying out of showrooms in comparison to Toyota Camrys and Ford F-150s, IHS Automotive says that in comparison to hybrids, the electrified offerings are faring better in their fourth year of sales.

Autoblog Green reports the research group found that in 2013, cumulative sales of the Nissan Leaf reached 100,000, while those of the Chevrolet Volt hit 70,000 in the same four-year period. Meanwhile, the first-generation Toyota Prius only managed 52,000 after four years of accumulated sales. Unlike the Prius when it first arrived, though, EVs and PHEVs have had help from federal and state tax credits, inflating sales more than where they would have been otherwise.

That said, IHS notes the market is still in the early stages of growth, with most EV/PHEV owners still in possession of their first such vehicles. Analyst Ben Scott, however, states 2014 will be the year PHEVs pull ahead of their fully electric siblings thanks to their gasoline-powered range extenders. Scott added that by 2020, the ratio between the two approaches to automotive electrification will be 55:45 in favor of the PHEV.

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Marchionne: Hybrids Will Help Chrysler Group Meet 2025 54.5 MPG Mandate Wed, 14 May 2014 11:00:21 +0000 2015-chrysler-2001

With the 2025 industry-wide fuel economy target of 54.5 mpg a decade away, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne believes “the house will make it” as far as all under the Chrysler Group umbrella are concerned, with a little help from hybridization of a number of models.

Automotive News reports Marchionne believes hybrids will “become a very large component” of the fleet going forward, stating that without them, meeting the mandate would be “impossible” for FCA’s Pentastar offerings.

Part of that plan may come through Chrysler Group’s new nine-speed automatic transmission, which will be used throughout the division’s line of FWD vehicles, starting with the 2014 Jeep Cherokee and 2015 Chrysler 200; the latter, released to dealers earlier this month, provides up to 36 mpg on the highway with the transmission delivering power to the front wheels.

Licensed from ZF Friedrichshafen and manufactured in FCA’s Kokomo, Ind. plant, the nine-speed transmission will see additional production at the formerly idle Tipton County, Ind. transmission factory. The $162 million refurbished plant will employ 850 by 2015, and will produce 800,000 transmissions annually at full capacity.

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Consumers Shun Large SUV, Luxury Hybrids Due To Additional Costs Mon, 12 May 2014 11:00:17 +0000 12EscaladePlatinumReview-88

While hybrids like the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid are doing well among most consumers, luxury and large SUV consumers are thumbing their nose at hybrid offerings aimed at them.

USA Today reports the additional cost of hybridization — which was a sound business case with regards to size considerations and better fuel economy only a few years before — on top of already-high prices has kept potential consumers away from the likes of the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid and Mercedes-Benz S400, both which have been cancelled as a result. Toyota itself has managed to sell only nine units of the Lexus LS600hL last month, making up just 1 percent of the 706 LS models sold overall during the period.

Despite poor sales and scrapped plans among some automakers regarding hybrid offerings in larger vehicles, Infiniti is one of a few staying the course with its QX60 full-size hybrid SUV. According to spokesman Kyle Bazemore, around 10 percent of QX60 owners have opted for the $3,000 hybrid option not only for fuel economy purposes, but for the V6-esque power.

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CA, MD Extend EV/PHEV Credit Programs, Federal Credit Increase May Follow Mon, 05 May 2014 13:00:48 +0000 2014 Honda Fit EV

EV and PHEV owners in California and Maryland will be able to enjoy credits for the foreseeable future for going green, while one representative in Congress wants to up federal tax credits to $10,000.

Autoblog Green reports the success of the California Air Resources Board’s credit program has resulted in a funding expansion of $25 million through the end of the state’s fiscal year in late June. Those seeking rebates on their EV or plug-in purchases will be put on a list, and should receive either their $2,500 EV or $1,500 PHEV credit by the end of September.

Over in Maryland, a provisional bill awaiting Governor Martin O’Malley’s signature will extend the state’s credit program for three years through the end of June 2017. In addition, the maximum credit offered will be increased to $3,000 from $1,000 for PHEV owners.

Finally, U.S. Representative Peter Welch of Vermont is preparing to propose legislation that would boost the federal tax credit from $7,500 to $10,000, which he believes will also make owning an EV more affordable to middle-income consumers. Welch will introduce the legislation upon return to Congress.

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BAIC, Siemens Team Up For Green Joint Venture In Beijing Thu, 24 Apr 2014 13:00:32 +0000 Siemens Audi A4 DTM

Though Siemens won’t be putting their name upon the body of BAIC C70G for a DTM entry anytime soon, the Chinese automaker and German industrial giant will come together for an green vehicle-related joint venture in Beijing.

Automotive News Europe reports the joint venture — Beijing Siemens Automotive E-Drive System Company — will mass produce motors and inverters for hybrid and electric vehicles beginning in 2015, with small-batch and prototype production coming online sometime this year.

Once underway in full, the joint venture will push 100,000 inverters out the door annually, with BAIC being the first recipients of the Sino-German technology. There, the inverters will find a home in the automaker’s S, C and L series vehicles, and projected power output for each model will range from 45 to 200 kW (60 to 268 horsepower).

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Ford C-Max Sales Decline Post-Fuel Economy Revision Wed, 23 Apr 2014 13:30:05 +0000 Ford_C-Max

Sales of the Ford C-Max have down as of late, with lowered fuel economy figures cited as the reason.

Autoblog reports sales of the hybrid from January through march 2014 were 42.5 percent from the previous year as 5,566 — 2,295 of which were sold in March alone — have left the lot.

After a number of lawsuits alleged the C-Max couldn’t meet the initial fuel economy numbers in the real world, Ford lowered the numbers to 40 mpg city, 45 mpg highway and 43 mpg combined, down from the 47 mpg throughout the range originally proclaimed.

Ford Americas chief Joe Hinrichs is aware of the decline in sales, and says his company needs to “reinvest in the product because [the C-Max] is a great car,” while Ford itself believed sales would remain strong despite the controversy surrounding the fuel economy figures.

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2014 Beijing Auto Show: Bentley Mulsanne Hybrid Concept Mon, 21 Apr 2014 17:00:17 +0000 8891934141642831684

While the notion of a hybrid car that features a 6.75 liter internal combustion engine might seem a bit oxymoronic to some, rich folks like to demonstrate their environmental bona fides as much as anyone. With so many supercars like the Porsche 918 or the McLaren P1 featuring hybrid powertrains that combine green cred with mind-boggling amounts of total power and torque, high end hybrids have become the automotive version of eating your cake and having it too. Bentley’s new plug in hybrid concept is based on their Mulsanne flagship and they’re featuring it at the 2014 Beijing auto show. It manages to reduce CO2 output by 70% while increasing power by 25% and has a battery-only range of 31 miles (50 km).


It must be some kind of rule in the automotive world that says that hybrid cars must be visually different from their conventionally powered platform siblings. Bentley does it with copper. On the outside, the character lines, headlamps, radiator shell bezel, badges and brake calipers all get some copper plating and on the inside copper has been applied to the switch bezels, instruments and veneer fascias. Also copper colored is the contrasting baseball style cross-stitching on the Mulliner Driving Specification upholstery, a welcome change from the near-ubiquitous French stitching one finds on leather car upholstery these days.

The latest interior styling trend, quilted leather and what may be the next trend, contrasting cross-stitching.

The latest interior styling trend, quilted leather and what may be the next trend, the contrasting cross-stitching on the armrest.

It’s not entirely clear what the production plans are for the Mulsanne hybrid. Bentley has already announced that its plug in hybrid system will be offered initially in 2017 on the SUV that the company plans to bring to the market in 2016. Since Bentley’s chairman, Dr Wolfgang Schreiber has said that by 2020 at least 90% of Bentley’s production will be available as plug in hybrids, once their first hybrid goes on sale, expect hybrid versions of other Bentleys to follow in rapid order.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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US Energy Department Unveils Four-Year Strategy For Alternative Energy Tue, 15 Apr 2014 11:15:27 +0000 South_Point_Wind_Farm

The U.S. Department of Energy unveiled last week a four-year plan that would advance the goal of energy security by building upon as many alternative sources as possible, further reducing dependence on imported petroleum.

Autoblog Green reports the 27-page plan illustrates the proposed aims of the DOE to double the amount of energy produced by renewables, improve battery technology, usher in advances in biofuels and hydrogen fuel cells, and push further electrification of vehicles.

In addition, the DOE also has strategies ready for testing the nation’s nuclear deterrent for safety, security and overall effectiveness, as well as boosting the tools needed to bring improvements on the nation’s security infrastructure.

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Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Arrives In UK Showrooms Minus Premium Price Fri, 04 Apr 2014 12:04:34 +0000 03-2013-mitsubishi-outlander-phev-paris

Already available throughout Europe, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is now just arriving in United Kingdom showrooms at a post-credit price tag of £28,249 ($47,000 USD).

Autoblog Green reports the plug-in hybrid SUV without the £5,000 credit would start at £33,249 ($55,000 USD), but with the credit, the starting price is around the same level as its diesel-powered sibling, thus allowing UK consumers to pick the SUV they want without worrying too much about affordability.

As for what they will get out of their Outlander PHEV, the hybrid has a range of 32 miles in all-electric at a limited speed of 75 mph, and can tow over 3,000 lbs.

On sale now, the first SUVs will arrive in May, with the PHEV arriving in the United States in 2015, which will share a facelift with its U.S.-based gasoline-powered twin. No word on how the PHEV will be priced in the U.S.

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