The Truth About Cars » Hybrid http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 29 Sep 2014 19:04:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 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 editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/hybrid/ California Planning EV Charging-Friendly Building Codes For 2015 – 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/california-planning-ev-charging-friendly-building-codes-2015-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/california-planning-ev-charging-friendly-building-codes-2015-2016/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 11:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=921193 Should you one day find yourself heading off to make a new life in California, and you own a plug-in vehicle, your home or apartment will already have the minimum infrastructure needed to install a charging port. The Long Tail Pipe reports the California Building Code is set to receive an update sometime between 2015 […]

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Should you one day find yourself heading off to make a new life in California, and you own a plug-in vehicle, your home or apartment will already have the minimum infrastructure needed to install a charging port.

The Long Tail Pipe reports the California Building Code is set to receive an update sometime between 2015 and 2016, mandating new housing and parking lots must at least have “the conduit and electrical system calculations required to prepare for charging stations.” This would not only knock down installation costs — current installations require extensive work as far as wiring and upgrades are concerned, with a price tag to match — but could help spur greater adoption of electric cars and motorcycles.

Though installation would be made easier with the standards in consideration, charging could still be a pain. In a study b the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development, grid operator California ISO proclaimed the grid could handle the increase in load so long as the ports are limited to 40 amp charging capacity. The fear is that were the amps to be doubled without upgrades to local transformers, the grid could overload.

The trade-off in limiting amps to maintain grid integrity is longer charging times, which could be made longer when longer-range EVs and their 60-plus kWh packs arrive sometime in 2017. The Long Tail Pipe says 40 amp would deliver times of 10 hours or greater to bring the packs to full. Though the study suggests 120-volt charging, the draft building code makes no mention of using that particular method.

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German Government Unveils Bill To Spur ZEV Adoption http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/german-government-unveils-bill-spur-zev-adoption/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/german-government-unveils-bill-spur-zev-adoption/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 11:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=918418 Should you happen to call Germany home and are shopping for a car, the government would like to offer you free parking, tax exemptions for 10 years, and bus-lane privileges if you purchase an EV, FCV or PHEV. Bloomberg reports the bill, known in English as the Electric Mobility Act, would bestow those incentives through […]

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Should you happen to call Germany home and are shopping for a car, the government would like to offer you free parking, tax exemptions for 10 years, and bus-lane privileges if you purchase an EV, FCV or PHEV.

Bloomberg reports the bill, known in English as the Electric Mobility Act, would bestow those incentives through the municipalities on drivers who go green in a move meant to bolster demand for such vehicles. The German government has a goal of 1 million EVs by 2020, both to further prove the nation’s engineering might, and to meet tightening greenhouse gas emission regs.

Getting there will likely become easier over the next few months. According to industry group VDA, 17 electric models from BMW, Smart and Mercedes will enter showrooms by the end of 2014, with 12 more coming out of the factories in 2015.

The Electric Mobility Act will come into force by the spring of 2015.

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Paris 2014: Citroën C4 Cactus Airflow 2L Revealed Prior To Live Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/paris-2014-citroen-c4-cactus-airflow-2l-revealed-prior-live-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/paris-2014-citroen-c4-cactus-airflow-2l-revealed-prior-live-debut/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 13:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=916090 In the 1930s, Chrysler experimented with aerodynamics to deliver a product that could slip through the wind better than the vehicles of the day, bestowing upon the public the Airflow. Alas, not too many people were ready for the future, leaving the concept a commercial failure. Today, Citroën is giving the name and concept a […]

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In the 1930s, Chrysler experimented with aerodynamics to deliver a product that could slip through the wind better than the vehicles of the day, bestowing upon the public the Airflow. Alas, not too many people were ready for the future, leaving the concept a commercial failure.

Today, Citroën is giving the name and concept a second try, with fuel economy and the environment in mind.

Revealed prior to its live debut at the 2014 Paris Auto Show, the C4 Cactus Airflow 2L’s own aero — including shutters for the grill and wheels, air extractors, underbody panels — help the concept deliver a rating of 2 liters — or 2L — per 100 kilometers (0.52 gallons/62 miles) traveled.

Regarding weight, aluminum, high-yield steel and composites contribute to a reduction of 100 kilograms (220 pounds) in comparison to the production C4 Cactus; total weight is 865 kg/1,907 lbs.

Finally, the Airflow 2L’s Hybrid Air drivetrain uses air power from its on-board compressor to move the concept around when the three-pot PureTech engine isn’t burning gasoline, with the ability to use both when necessary.

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IRS Plug-In Vehicle Credit Cap Data Lacking Accuracy, Detail http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/irs-plug-vehicle-credit-cap-data-lacking-accuracy-detail/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/irs-plug-vehicle-credit-cap-data-lacking-accuracy-detail/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 10:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=915098 In 2008, Congress passed a tax bill that would provide a credit of up to $7,500 for customers who purchase plug-in vehicles as a way to encourage adoption of cleaner vehicles. The credit would last in full for the first 200,000 units an automaker sold, then phased out over the course of 12 months. The […]

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A general view of the Internal Revenue Service Building in Washington

In 2008, Congress passed a tax bill that would provide a credit of up to $7,500 for customers who purchase plug-in vehicles as a way to encourage adoption of cleaner vehicles. The credit would last in full for the first 200,000 units an automaker sold, then phased out over the course of 12 months.

The problem? The agency responsible for handling the credit, the Internal Revenue Service, has no clue as to where things stand as far as that cap is concerned, despite every automaker that sells a plug-in model reporting the figures every quarter, as required by law.

AutoblogGreen reports that despite the fact that no automaker has yet to hit the cap, the IRS website meant to help consumers in their decision as to whether or not to purchase a plug-in vehicle is as dysfunctional as the legislative branch that passed the tax credit in the first place.

From the vehicles listed on the site — only six out of 24 vehicles from various manufacturers are listed — to the reported number of vehicles sold not matching up with what the automakers send to the agency per quarter, the IRS is dropping the ball on consumers who might want a plug-in in part because of the credit. This lack of attention to detail could knock new owners upside the head when the credit they thought they were going to receive ends up being less than desired.

When asked why the current situation exists, along with how the IRS receives and interprets its data regarding the credit cap, a representative stated that for a model to be listed on the site, a waiver must be submitted to the agency by the automaker in question. Both Chevrolet and Tesla, however, would beg to differ, as best explained by Tesla representative Liz Jarvis-Shean:

We’re compliant with reporting our quarterly US sales to the IRS and submit this information to the IRS shortly after each quarter’s close. One would assume that if Model S owners were having issues with this, you’d have heard about it.

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California Dominates US Plug-In Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/california-dominates-us-plug-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/california-dominates-us-plug-market/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 12:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=910058 A shock that may come to no one among the B&B, California leads the way in sales of plug-ins with just over 100,000 units sold in the past four years. Bloomberg reports the figures, accounting for 40 percent of the plug-in market, were compiled by the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative from data gathered between […]

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2013 Ford C-MAX Energi Plug-In Hybrid, Exterior, Charging Plug, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

A shock that may come to no one among the B&B, California leads the way in sales of plug-ins with just over 100,000 units sold in the past four years.

Bloomberg reports the figures, accounting for 40 percent of the plug-in market, were compiled by the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative from data gathered between December 2010 and August 2014 by the California Air Resources Board, Hybridcars.com and Baum & Associates. Baum also reported overall U.S. sales checked-in at around 250,000 units over the same period.

Though California has 40 percent of the plug-in market covered — thanks in part to legislation pushing automakers to bring more ZEVs to market — the milestone is a long way from the goal of 1.5 million plug-in vehicles by 2025, let alone the Obama administration’s target of 1 million such units by the end of 2015.

As for the present, Baum & Associates founder Alan Baum — who says 300,000 total units will hit the road by the end of this year — believes California’s stake in the market will likely shrink “as certain mass-market models that were initially sold only in state are introduced more broadly across the country.”

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Cadillac ELR May Not Be Long For This World http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/cadillac-elr-may-long-world/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/cadillac-elr-may-long-world/#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 13:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=899146 Within the next few months, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt will enter showrooms on a new platform, cutting ties to the Delta II platform underpinning both the first-gen Volt and the Cadillac ELR. The move won’t matter ultimately, as the premium PHEV may not be long for this world as it is. AutoGuide reports Cadillac chief […]

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Within the next few months, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt will enter showrooms on a new platform, cutting ties to the Delta II platform underpinning both the first-gen Volt and the Cadillac ELR. The move won’t matter ultimately, as the premium PHEV may not be long for this world as it is.

AutoGuide reports Cadillac chief engineer Dave Leone proclaimed it too early to state whether the ELR will see a second generation or not, proclaiming the brand was in “the business of making money,” and that management would make their decision when the time came to do so.

As of this writing, inventory is at 194 days, consisting of 1,400 unsold units. Meanwhile, only 578 copies of the $75,995 PHEV actually left the showroom through the end of July 2014 through the kindness of discounts and other incentives.

If cut, the ELR would join the Opel Ampera, whose own existence drew to a close after only 332 units were sold through the first five months of this year. This is likely due to the fact that few want to pay the equivalent of $51,000 USD for a Volt with a new face, or, in the case of the ELR, $76,000 for a Volt with a new body.

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2013-14 Honda CR-Z Receives HPD Supercharging Kit http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/2013-14-honda-cr-z-receives-hpd-supercharging-kit/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/2013-14-honda-cr-z-receives-hpd-supercharging-kit/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 11:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=897810 The Honda CR-Z will be gaining much needed firepower under the bonnet thanks to the automaker’s performance division. Autoblog reports Honda Performance Development has introduced an aftermarket supercharger kit good for boosting power from the hybrid’s 1.5-liter four to 197 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque. The HPD kit also comes with an air-to-air intercooler, […]

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The Honda CR-Z will be gaining much needed firepower under the bonnet thanks to the automaker’s performance division.

Autoblog reports Honda Performance Development has introduced an aftermarket supercharger kit good for boosting power from the hybrid’s 1.5-liter four to 197 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque. The HPD kit also comes with an air-to-air intercooler, high-flow fuel injectors, a re-calibrated ECU that complies with CARB AT-PZEV rules, and an air filter.

The kit, priced at $5,495 plus the cost of dealer installation, is meant only for 2013 and 2014 CR-Zs with the six-speed manual funneling power to the front. If installed at a dealership, it also will maintain the vehicle’s 5-year/60,000-mile warranty balance. An optional limited-slip differential and sport clutch are available for $1,375 and $640, as well.

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Ford’s Also Readying A Prius Fighter, But Don’t They Already Have One? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/fords-also-readying-prius-fighter-dont-already-one/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/fords-also-readying-prius-fighter-dont-already-one/#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 17:31:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=897482 Our Ford sources have confirmed a Reuters report that claims Ford is readying a new lineup of dedicated hybrids to take on the Toyota Prius. The new range, set to debut in late 2018, will ride on the next-generation C-platform that underpins the current Ford Escape and Focus. Dubbed “C240″, volume has been pegged at 120,000 […]

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Our Ford sources have confirmed a Reuters report that claims Ford is readying a new lineup of dedicated hybrids to take on the Toyota Prius.

The new range, set to debut in late 2018, will ride on the next-generation C-platform that underpins the current Ford Escape and Focus. Dubbed “C240″, volume has been pegged at 120,000 units annually, with production taking place at the Wayne, Michigan assembly plant.

In addition to a range of bodystyles, both regular hybrid and plug-in versions are set to be offered. Although much talk has been made of the distinct nature of these new vehicles, Ford already offers the C-Max as a hybrid-only vehicle – though the C-Max was originally set to be offered as a gasoline-powered minivan in varying lengths, with 5 or 7 seats.

The C-Max was originally offered with the 1.6L Ecoboost and 2.5L I4 engines, but in between its 2011 debut and its 2012 on sale date, Ford pivoted to a hybrid-only strategy. TTAC sources claim that Ford’s $5.9 billon loan from the government’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program was used to convert the C-Max (and its assembly facilities) into a hybrid-only offering that would ostensibly offer Ford numerous regulatory benefits (in the form of an increased CAFE rating and regulatory credits) as well as a unique marketing edge.

Although look is more akin to the larger Prius V, the C-Max is Ford’s de facto Prius competitor, by nature of its hybrid-only powertrain and odd (for North America) shape and footprint. But sales have been modest, with 35,000 units sold in 2013, and questions regarding its fuel economy figures, coupled with disgruntled owners, have hurt its image. Perhaps Ford is looking to launch a clean sheet Prius competitor backed by a clean-sheet design and marketing effort.

 

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Report: Global Fuel Consumption To Decline 4 Percent By 2035 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/report-global-fuel-consumption-decline-4-percent-2035/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/report-global-fuel-consumption-decline-4-percent-2035/#comments Fri, 08 Aug 2014 10:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=884393 Though peak oil usually refers to when production reaches the highest point it’ll ever see before coasting back down to the same level once experienced in the 1800s, a new report reveals a different oil peak will come in the next few years: the total product consumed worldwide. Autoblog Green says a report from Navigant […]

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Though peak oil usually refers to when production reaches the highest point it’ll ever see before coasting back down to the same level once experienced in the 1800s, a new report reveals a different oil peak will come in the next few years: the total product consumed worldwide.

Autoblog Green says a report from Navigant Research, titled “Transportation Forecast: Global Fuel Consumption,” claims worldwide consumption will begin to fall after 2021, where 367.3 billion gallons of fuel will be used that year. By 2035, the total fuel used then will have fallen 4 percent to 348.1 billion gallons.

The cause of this decline? Not peak oil, but a combination of alternative fuels and environmental concerns related to the use of petroleum, according to analyst Scott Shepherd:

The anticipated effects of climate change are driving international cooperation on mitigation efforts, including reducing oil consumption in the transportation sector. Markets for both vehicles and fuels have gradually begun to respond to these efforts, and alternative fuels -‑ including electricity, natural gas, and biodiesel ‑- are beginning to have an impact on global oil demand.

In addition, Navigant acknowledges improvements to the traditional ICE and vehicles in general in fueling the eventual decline in global fuel consumption.

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Utilities, Automakers Collaborate On Smart PHEV Charging Platform http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/utilities-automakers-collaborate-smart-phev-charging-platform/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/utilities-automakers-collaborate-smart-phev-charging-platform/#comments Fri, 01 Aug 2014 11:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=877810 A combination of one research institute, eight automakers and 15 utilities are working together to create a smart grid charging platform for PHEVs. Autoblog Green reports General Motors, BMW, Honda, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi and Toyota, as well as utilities like Con Edison, Manitoba Hydro and the TVA, are working with the Electric […]

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A combination of one research institute, eight automakers and 15 utilities are working together to create a smart grid charging platform for PHEVs.

Autoblog Green reports General Motors, BMW, Honda, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi and Toyota, as well as utilities like Con Edison, Manitoba Hydro and the TVA, are working with the Electric Power Research Institute to develop a demand charging platform where the PHEV and the utility exchange information that would reduce the former’s charging during peak hours, then boost it back up during off-peak.

In turn, such a system would allow for increased service reliability for all customers “by helping to mitigate the impact of strain on the grid during peak periods and could contribute to curbing greenhouse gas emissions.” Further, utilities would better be able to manage usage without needing to upgrade their infrastructure, with the savings passed on to their customer base.

As for when this project would get off the ground, no timeline was given as of this time.

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Honda Fit EV, Insight Discontinued http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/honda-fit-ev-insight-discontinued/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/honda-fit-ev-insight-discontinued/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 13:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=876985 It’s official: the Honda Fit EV and Insight have been discontinued. Edmunds reports the Insight will cease production later this summer, while inventory will be available at dealerships through the end of 2014. Meanwhile, the Fit EV — of which 1,100 were ever going to be built for the United States market — will remain […]

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It’s official: the Honda Fit EV and Insight have been discontinued.

Edmunds reports the Insight will cease production later this summer, while inventory will be available at dealerships through the end of 2014. Meanwhile, the Fit EV — of which 1,100 were ever going to be built for the United States market — will remain in production until sometime this autumn, with Honda providing customer support through each vehicle’s lease period.

As for the future, representative Sage Marie said the automaker would focus on “a new generation of electromotive technologies,” such as the expanded use of its two-motor hybrid system found in both the Accord Hybrid and Accord Plug-In Hybrid. In addition, a decision will be announced regarding the FCX Clarity, especially with a successor — influenced by the FCEV from last year’s LA Auto Show — waiting in the wings.

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Daimler, BMW Collaborate On Wireless Charging http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/daimler-bmw-collaborate-on-wireless-charging/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/daimler-bmw-collaborate-on-wireless-charging/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 11:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=866826 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/fourth-gen-toyota-prius-to-receive-awd-new-battery-packs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/fourth-gen-toyota-prius-to-receive-awd-new-battery-packs/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 12:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=866362 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mazda2-re-may-appear-soon-but-only-in-select-markets/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mazda2-re-may-appear-soon-but-only-in-select-markets/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 11:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863249 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. Motoring.com.au 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 […]

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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.

Motoring.com.au 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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/alixpartners-2014-may-be-the-peak-of-u-s-auto-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/alixpartners-2014-may-be-the-peak-of-u-s-auto-sales/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 10:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=862905 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, […]

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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” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mitsubishi-u-s-bound-2016-outlander-phev-will-be-completely-different/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mitsubishi-u-s-bound-2016-outlander-phev-will-be-completely-different/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 11:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=862137 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/porsche-developing-ferrari-hunter-with-600hp-flat-eight/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/porsche-developing-ferrari-hunter-with-600hp-flat-eight/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 10:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=862113 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/fourth-generation-toyota-prius-production-delayed-six-months/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/fourth-generation-toyota-prius-production-delayed-six-months/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 10:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=856489 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/ferrari-to-reduce-co2-emissions-20-percent-by-2021-via-hybrids-turbos/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/ferrari-to-reduce-co2-emissions-20-percent-by-2021-via-hybrids-turbos/#comments Wed, 25 Jun 2014 12:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=852201 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/rolls-royce-suv-to-arrive-in-2018/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/rolls-royce-suv-to-arrive-in-2018/#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 12:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=850810 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/2015-acura-ilx-hybrid-leaves-us-market-stays-in-canada/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/2015-acura-ilx-hybrid-leaves-us-market-stays-in-canada/#comments Wed, 18 Jun 2014 10:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=845801 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/vehicle-wireless-charging-market-to-double-yearly-through-2020/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/vehicle-wireless-charging-market-to-double-yearly-through-2020/#comments Tue, 10 Jun 2014 11:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=841506 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/capsule-review-2014-subaru-crosstrek-hybrid/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/capsule-review-2014-subaru-crosstrek-hybrid/#comments Mon, 09 Jun 2014 12:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=835961 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/renault-lg-chem-sign-mou-to-develop-long-range-battery-technology/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/renault-lg-chem-sign-mou-to-develop-long-range-battery-technology/#comments Wed, 28 May 2014 11:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=833473 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/volvo-to-conduct-electric-road-study-with-focus-on-inductive-charging/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/volvo-to-conduct-electric-road-study-with-focus-on-inductive-charging/#comments Wed, 28 May 2014 10:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=833433 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 […]

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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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