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. Wed, 23 Apr 2014 11:48:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 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 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/ 2014 Beijing Auto Show: Bentley Mulsanne Hybrid Concept http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/2014-beijing-auto-show-bentley-mulsanne-hybrid-concept/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/2014-beijing-auto-show-bentley-mulsanne-hybrid-concept/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 17:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=805786 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).

5632313531344709219

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

5632313531344709219 16242313641846871934 19823184541600546060 19655687381324206867 17705852541203245116 10657373791993077090 8891934141642831684 6313359921073721850 1499295293789948379 1106880479678015436 849563250931885291 ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/2014-beijing-auto-show-bentley-mulsanne-hybrid-concept/feed/ 17
US Energy Department Unveils Four-Year Strategy For Alternative Energy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/us-energy-department-unveils-four-year-strategy-plan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/us-energy-department-unveils-four-year-strategy-plan/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 11:15:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=798026 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.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/us-energy-department-unveils-four-year-strategy-plan/feed/ 267
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Arrives In UK Showrooms Minus Premium Price http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/mitsubishi-outlander-phev-arrives-in-uk-showrooms-minus-premium-price/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/mitsubishi-outlander-phev-arrives-in-uk-showrooms-minus-premium-price/#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 12:04:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=787553 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.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/mitsubishi-outlander-phev-arrives-in-uk-showrooms-minus-premium-price/feed/ 29
Volvo Drive-E Modular Engines Lay Foundation For Future Hybrids http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/volvo-drive-e-modular-engines-lay-foundation-for-future-hybrids/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/volvo-drive-e-modular-engines-lay-foundation-for-future-hybrids/#comments Fri, 21 Mar 2014 12:01:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=776865 volvo-drive-e-engine000-1

Beginning with the 2015 model year, Volvo’s S60, V60 and XC60 will come with the automaker’s new Drive-E Volvo Engine Architecture family of small three- and four-pot gasoline and diesel engines, laying the foundation for PHEVs down the road.

Autoblog Green reports the VEA engines now making their way into 2015 models include a turbo/super-four gasoline monster pumping 302 horsepower, a 240-horsepower turbo-four, and a twin-turbo-four diesel good for 178 horses. All three displace 2 liters under the bonnet, and are mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission designed to Drive-E’s goal of enhancing fuel efficiency.

By MY 2017, Volvo will introduce an additional pair of 2-liter turbocharged gasoline engines and a trinity of 2-liter turbodiesels, all organized in two clusters of four split between performance and economy. The economical gasoline engines are expected to range between 148 and 186 horsepower, while the diesels will move 118 to 147 horses.

The VEA family came about in 2007 during Volvo’s time with Ford, where the automaker’s engineers used Ford engines to build upon their own ideas, only to realize a better way by making the business case for building their own engines so as to not disturb Ford’s manufacturing processes.

However, when the case was presented to CEO Alan Mullaly, Mullaly directed the Swedes to future owner Geely, as Ford was in the process of selling Volvo to the Chinese automaker at the time. The VEA project became a key part of the sale to Geely in 2010, receiving a huge push to the tune of $11 billion, shared with Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture set to underpin future vehicles.

Speaking of the future, the engines were designed with PHEVs in mind, and thus include necessary components that could be easily connected to an electric motor system fitted either with the engine — thanks to the latter’s compact size — or in the rear of the vehicle. At present, the VEA Drive-E family offers stop-start technology, brake regeneration, CVVT and more.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/volvo-drive-e-modular-engines-lay-foundation-for-future-hybrids/feed/ 22
Fewer Than 4,000 Green Calif. HOV Stickers Remain http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/less-than-4000-green-calif-hov-stickers-remain/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/less-than-4000-green-calif-hov-stickers-remain/#comments Thu, 20 Mar 2014 12:56:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=776521 2012-Chevrolet-Volt-HOV-052_610x407

For potential California PHEV owners, time may soon run out to obtain the Green Clean Air Vehicle Sticker issued by the California Environmental Protection Agency for HOV lane use, as only 3,770 of the 40,000 stickers remain available.

Inside EVs reports a huge spike in applications for the green stickers since the start of 2013, with 12,000 issued last year, and 8,000 more since January. This is in contrast to 2012, when around 500 stickers per month were issued in the first seven months of the year.

The stickers, meant for AT PZEVs such as the Toyota Prius and Chevrolet Volt, will likely be gone by the time BMW brings the i3 extended-range model to the United States this summer, and in spite of the automaker’s best efforts, only the pure-electric i3 will be eligible for the White Clean Air Vehicle Sticker issued to as many approved EVs, fuel-cell- and CNG-powered vehicles — like the Tesla Model S, Ram 2500 and Honda FCX Clarity — as can be registered.

Both green and white HOV stickers are set to expire New Year’s Day 2019, extended from the same date in 2015.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/less-than-4000-green-calif-hov-stickers-remain/feed/ 58
Uchiyamada: Hybrids Soon Reaching 20 Percent Of Global Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/uchiyamada-hybrids-soon-reaching-20-percent-of-global-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/uchiyamada-hybrids-soon-reaching-20-percent-of-global-sales/#comments Tue, 11 Mar 2014 15:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=769666 2014 Toyota Prius v

The father of the Prius and Toyota chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada foresees hybrid sales climbing from 13 percent of global sales today to 20 percent in the near future.

Automotive News Europe reports that while hybrids make up a good part of sales in the United States and Japan, they are currently a niche market in Europe in the face of equal- or better-performing diesels with lower price tags. However, Uchiyamada believes so strongly in his forecast that he didn’t factor plug-in hybrids in to his forecast, nor give a separate outlook for plug-ins.

Speaking of plug-in hybrids, Uchiyamada believes the key to success lies in higher volumes, especially among suppliers:

Suppliers need higher volumes to slash costs of components specific to plug-in models, including batteries that should be bigger and more capable than the ones used in traditional hybrids.

Regarding the Prius, Uchiyamada said the project — known as Project G21 — was a challenge, beginning with the proposal that the future Prius would net “one and a half times better fuel economy than anything that had existed before,” only to be told by top management to double the proposed number. Then, after a successful debut at the 1995 Tokyo Auto Show, he and his team spent 49 days trying to get the proto-Prius to move, finally doing so near the end of that year, “but only for 500 meters.”

Today, with 25 hybrids between Toyota and its premium brand Lexus, as well as a global total of over 6 million hybrids sold, Uchiyamada may have aged out of the title bestowed unto him regarding the Prius:

Maybe I am the grandfather by now.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/uchiyamada-hybrids-soon-reaching-20-percent-of-global-sales/feed/ 25
Volvo, Geely Aiming For BMW, Mercedes With A-Segment Lineup http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/volvo-geely-aiming-for-bmw-mercedes-with-a-segment-lineup/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/volvo-geely-aiming-for-bmw-mercedes-with-a-segment-lineup/#comments Fri, 07 Mar 2014 17:52:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=767329 2015 Volvo V60 T5 Sport Wagon Exterior-005

Volvo, with parent company Geely, is developing a lineup of premium A-segment vehicles aimed at the BMW 1 Series and Mercedes A-Class.

Edmunds reports the upcoming lineup will include a five-door crossover, a sedan and a hatchback, and will also offer the opportunity for Geely to sell their wares in the United States while offering a similar lineup in its home market.

Under the bonnet will be a range of engines driving either the front or all four wheels, including gasoline, diesel and their respective hybrid pairings, all based upon Volvo’s current four-cylinder engine family.

The A-segment joint venture will be based upon the upcoming Compact Modular Architecture developed in their China Euro Vehicle Technology research and development center, with the first cars due in 2017 at the earliest.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/volvo-geely-aiming-for-bmw-mercedes-with-a-segment-lineup/feed/ 15
Mitsubishi Publishing Real-World MPG Sign Of Openness With Customers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/mitsubishi-publishing-real-world-mpg-sign-of-openness-with-customers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/mitsubishi-publishing-real-world-mpg-sign-of-openness-with-customers/#comments Thu, 06 Mar 2014 14:30:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=766201 outlander-phev-snow

In a sign of openness toward its customers, Mitsubishi will begin publishing real-world MPG figures for their entire lineup, beginning with the Outlander PHEV.

Auto Express reports Mitsubishi UK marketing director Lance Bradley stated the plug-in SUV was chosen because his customers, expecting the 148-mpg claimed in official tests, found the vehicle returned 90 mpg instead:

It’s crazy that people think that’s bad, but it’s all relative to the official figure. We’d like to do a graph, maybe just a figure, starting with the PHEV but then rolling it out to other cars. It would come from customer information.

The move comes as the automaker plans to have an PHEV variant for every one of their models within five years’ time. With more buyers reporting what their vehicle averages in fuel economy, future owners could compare the official test results with those found in real-world driving.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/mitsubishi-publishing-real-world-mpg-sign-of-openness-with-customers/feed/ 50
Porsche 919 Hybrid LeMans Racer Goes After The Two Thirds of Gasoline’s Energy That’s Wasted As Heat http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/porsche-919-hybrid-lemans-racer-goes-after-the-two-thirds-of-gasolines-energy-thats-wasted-as-heat/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/porsche-919-hybrid-lemans-racer-goes-after-the-two-thirds-of-gasolines-energy-thats-wasted-as-heat/#comments Tue, 04 Mar 2014 19:19:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=763457 2014 Porsche Motorsport- Porsche 919 Hybrid- Angle

The problem with battery electric and fuel cell cars is gasoline. Petrol is genuinely a superior fuel, at least in terms of energy. It has so much energy per gallon, 116,000 btu/gal, that we can use it in an engine whose theoretical maximum efficiency is only 37%. That means that with all the gizmos a modern gasoline powered internal combustion engine has that increase fuel economy, still two thirds or more of the energy in the fuel is being turned into unusable heat, not motive force.

 

Even with all that waste it still is a more practical powerplant than using batteries or other alternatives. It’s long occurred to me that in addition to improving the efficiency of the engine itself, recovering energy from that waste heat might be a productive way of improving the overall efficiency of the car. Porsche is returning to international endurance sports car racing this year with the 919 that they plan on racing at LeMans, and as part of its hybrid system it incorporates a device that in fact generates electricity from the heat in the exhaust, recovering energy from what would normally be waste heat.

Porsche isn’t the first car company to look into recovering waste heat. In 2005 BMW announced their “TurboSteamer” test bed concept that they said gave 10-15% improvements in fuel economy and power. The TurboSteamer integrated a series of sophisticated (and probably very expensive) heat exchangers into the exhaust and cooling systems to power a two stage Rankin cycle engine that assisted the internal combustion engine. A second generation TurboSteamer was announced in 2011. By then BMW had succeeded in miniaturizing the components enough to fit in the standard packaging of a 5 Series sedan.

2014 Porsche Motorsport- Porsche 919 Hybrid- Technical Drawing- Engine

One difference between turbochargers and superchargers is that superchargers are mechanically driven by the engine while turbos’ turbines are driven by the pressure and heat energy in the waste gases that are the product of combustion. For that reason, turbocharged engines have greater thermal efficiency than normally aspirated motors. The Porsche 919′s hybrid drive puts a new spin on recovering energy from exhaust gases with turbine devices. The 919′s V4 engine does have a conventional exhaust driven turbocharger, but it has another exhaust driven device that’s part of the race car’s hybrid drive. The 919 is a through-the-road 4WD hybrid. In other words, it has gasoline power driving the rear axle and electric power that can power the front axle on demand. The batteries for the electric motor are charged by two different systems. One is Porsche’s “conventional” KERS-like system that’s used in the 918 Spyder supercar which is essentially a regenerative braking setup. Porsche’s describes the other source of electrons as “a system that recovers thermal energy from exhaust gases via an electric generator driven by the exhaust gas stream.”

2014 Porsche Motorsport- Porsche 919 Hybrid- Technical Drawing- Hybrid System

What that sounds like is that instead of driving an impeller that pressurizes the fuel/air charge, as a conventional turbocharger does, Porsche’s ”fundamentally new” device is an exhaust gas driven turbine that spins a generator. In a sense it’s a reversed setup for an electrically driven supercharger. Instead of a belt drive running off the engine, an electrically driven supercharger uses an electric motor to pressurize the induction. Porsche apparently did the equivalent of flipping one of those around and mounting it on the exhaust system.

We’ll probably seem more efforts, for both racing and road cars, to turn that 63% or more of the energy that’s currently waste heat into usable power. Turbocharging guru Gale Banks, who knows a thing or two about using waste heat energy, recently said on The Smoking Tire’s podcast that he was hopeful that engine waste heat could be recovered by large scale Peltier devices. Peltier devices are what heat and cool your drink in heated and cooled cupholders. They’re very interesting electronic heat exchangers. If you apply DC voltage, one side will heat relative to ambient temperature and the other side will cool. Reverse the polarity and hot and cold change sides. Fortunately, like piezoelectric devices, the entire process is reversible. If you make one side of a Peltier device hot and the other side cold, it will start generating electricity, something called the Seebeck effect. The term Thermo Electric Generator, or TEG, has been coined for devices that use the thermoelectric effect to make power.

Banks hope may actually see the light of day. Purdue professor Xianfan Xu is indeed heading a research team that is developing large scale Peltier devices designed to work with the temperature differentials one finds in a typical car engine and exhaust. BMW is also working on TEGs in addition to their work on the TurboSteamer concept.

Porsche isn’t saying just how many kilowatts their exhaust driven generator puts out, but it’s safe to assume that the power it harvests is worth the weight it adds to the race car or it wouldn’t be there. Race cars may use technologies that are not yet economically practical, but the engineers who design and build them aren’t going to use something that is a net energy loss.

Source: Porsche

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

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/porsche-919-hybrid-lemans-racer-goes-after-the-two-thirds-of-gasolines-energy-thats-wasted-as-heat/feed/ 61
Plus ça Charge: 1916 Woods Dual Power, An Early Gas/Electric Hybrid of Surprising Sophistication http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/plus-ca-charge-1916-woods-dual-power-an-early-gaselectric-hybrid-of-surprising-sophistication/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/plus-ca-charge-1916-woods-dual-power-an-early-gaselectric-hybrid-of-surprising-sophistication/#comments Sat, 22 Feb 2014 17:10:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=743553 IMG_0002

Full photo gallery here.

Reading Alex Dykes’ review of the 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid, I was reminded of something by Alex’s description of the Accord’s drivetrain layout. Unlike the Toyota and Ford parallel hybrid systems (similar in function but arrived at independently), or the Chevy Volt’s Voltec drivetrain (a different spin, no pun intended, on the same basic idea that allows the Volt to operate mostly in pure electric or serial hybrid modes), which all connect electric motors and a gasoline engine to a planetary gearset, the Accord now uses an inline serial/parallel hybrid system, a concept that actually goes back a century to the Woods Dual Power automobile.

Directly connected to the engine’s output shaft of the 2014 Accord Hybrid is a motor/generator whose own output shaft is in turn connected to an electronically controlled clutch. Behind the clutch is another electric motor that drives the wheels without the use of a transmission. At low to moderate speeds, when it’s not operating on battery power alone, the Accord operates as a straight serial hybrid, like a diesel-electric locomotive. The engine drives the generator, which powers the second electric motor and there is no physical connection between the engine and the driven wheels. At higher speeds, the clutch engages and the combustion engine and motor/generator start contributing mechanical power to the system via the armature shaft of the primary drive motor. The new Accord Hybrid’s drivetrain layout reminded me of a car built almost a century ago, the 1916 Woods Dual Power. I sent Alex a link to a post I’d written about the Woods car last year for Hemmings, and when he agreed that the systems were similar I thought I’d share a description of the Woods hybrid with our readers here at TTAC. In the year or so since that was published I’ve learned more about the Woods company’s history, so this is a good opportunity to update that information.

planview

Clinton Edgar Woods, it could be said, wrote the book on electric cars, literally. Okay, so he published it in 1900 and there wasn’t as much to write about then as there is more than a 110 years later, but Woods was indeed an electric vehicle pioneer. The MIT graduate started his first electric car company, American Electric, in 1896, which two years later merged with the Indiana Bicycle company to become Waverly, a company that produced electric automobiles until 1916. In 1897, Woods started a new company under his own name in Chicago, producing five models of electric cars but the company was not profitable. A group of financiers including Chicago’s Samuel Insull, who founded Commonwealth Edison, and New Yorker August Belmont, along with a syndicate of Canadian Standard Oil investors, staged a takeover of Woods’ company to use as a vehicle to challenge the taxicab monopoly of the Electric Vehicle Company. They bought Woods’ patents and recapitalized the company at a value of $10 million, calling it the Woods Motor Vehicle Company, keeping Clinton Woods on as a consulting engineer.

1906 WOODS Elec b4

Later advertising would claim that they were the first company to sell an electric automobile. Perhaps the oil interests were hedging their energy bets but in any case they were hoping to be able to use Woods’ expertise. However, after a 1901 reorganization Woods left the firm, apparently to become a car dealer.

1903 WOODS Elec Cat p 23

Over the course of about two decades, the company would go on to sell about 13,500 passenger and commercial vehicles, including electric cars, gasoline powered cars and gasoline/electric hybrids. Long before the federal government encouraged the development of EVs, Woods was selling electric trucks to the U.S. Postal Service and the U.S. Army Signal Corps.

1903 WOODS Elec Cat p 24

That production figure would probably make Woods Motor one of the most successful electric car companies before the modern era. The last car they sold, the Woods Dual Power, may not have been a commercial success but it was a remarkably sophisticated machine whose features are echoed in many modern hybrids besides the obvious similarities in layout with the latest Accord Hybrid.

1910 WOODS Elec 7 p 18

By 1915, two developments sounded the death knell for the early EV industry. First, in 1912 Cadillac introduced Charles Kettering’s electric self starter, making it possible for large numbers of women (who didn’t have the upper body strength to hand crankstart a car) to drive. Women drivers were an important, perhaps primary, market for the early electric car industry. Secondly, Henry Ford moved production of the Model T to his new Highland Park plant and in 1913 started using a moving assembly line, producing over 300,000 cars that year, significantly driving down the manufacturing cost and retail price of gasoline powered automobiles. Compared to Ford, the growing General Motors, and Studebaker, makers of electric cars and trucks were boutique manufacturers, they simply couldn’t compete with volume manufacturing.

Woods had made electric cars and they had made gasoline cars. To stay in business the company decided to make a car that used both power sources. While a technically clever idea with some marketing potential, a small volume car company making a novel car that involved the cost of both an electric drivetrain and a gasoline engine just as Mssrs. Ford and Durant were making conventional automobiles even cheaper may not have been the best strategic business move, but had they not gone with the hybrid you wouldn’t be reading this, then, would you?

The drivetrain of the 1916 Woods Dual Power was the brainchild of another inventor named Roland S. Fend. Though there are differences, the Woods production cars were based on a patent of Fend’s that was assigned to the company. Fend was an acknowledged expert on EVs in his day, also consulting for early EV maker Baker, Rauch & Lang

dualpowerdrivetrain

Advertised as “a self-charging, non-stalling, two-power car with unlimited mileage [range], adequate speed, and greatest economy,” the Dual Power was said to have the advantages of both gas and electric power, with the disadvantages of neither. It was faster than most other electric cars, it was easier to operate than gasoline cars, it had no clutch or gear selectors, and it didn’t necessarily need a charging station. The Dual Power even had a great logo, though in an age when some still called automobiles horseless carriages, it surprisingly used a team of two identical horses to represent the two different power sources. It’s a fantastic period logo, but it’s still a little odd.

woodsdualpowerlogo

The concept behind the Dual Power hybrid was that gasoline powered cars, in order to have reserve power for passing or hill climbing, had to be equipped with engines that are bigger and more powerful than needed in regular driving. Electric cars needed to carry around heavy extra batteries for reserve power. Fend’s idea was that the combination of a less powerful gasoline engine and an electric drive with a smaller motor and fewer batteries would be a greater whole than the sum of its parts. Each power source could propel the car at low to moderate speeds, while they could be combined when more power was needed.

The Dual Power has a 14 horsepower, 68.7 cubic inch L-head four cylinder engine supplied by Continental. It was connected to a compound-wound electric motor. Woods Motor called it a dynamotor, what we would call a motor/generator. DC compound motors have both series and parallel (also known as shunt) windings, providing adequate starting torque while still allowing accurate speed control. It was made by General Electric and rated at 48 volts at 60 amps (~6 horsepower). The electric motor was connected to the output shaft of the engine with an electromagnetic clutch manufactured by Cutler-Hammer. A battery pack made of purpose built lead acid cells supplied by Exide was rated at 115 amp-hours at a five hour discharge rate. It was about half of the size and weight of the battery packs used by conventional EVs then. The output shaft of the electric motor was connected to a driveshaft running to the back axle. While Fend’s patent shows gearboxes in the power chain before and after the electric motor, the Woods Dual Power had no transmission. The layout in Fend’s patent with gearing before and after the electric motor is similar to GM’s recently aborted 2-Mode hybrid. It also didn’t have an Entz magnetic transmission, as used in the Owens Magnetic car from the same era, even though Wikipedia says it did. That error may be attributable to the fact that the Owens Magnetic is better known than the Woods Dual Power because well known car collector Jay Leno owns an Owens Magnetic.

2579442558_5d24d52959_b

There are three and a half Woods Dual Powers known to exist. The half car, coincidentally is a Woods body mounted to the chassis of another early alternative energy vehicle, a Stanley Steamer (though in the early days, electricity and gasoline were actually alternatives to steam engines). One complete Woods car, the subject of a preservation project, is owned by a Los Angeles county museum and is on loan, displayed at the Petersen Museum. Another, said to be restored and in operating condition, is owned by the  Louwman Museum in the Netherlands. The Woods Dual Power photographed here is in the collection of the Henry Ford Museum, in original, unrestored condition, with just 11,085 miles on the odometer, though the car is not currently operational.

When it was operational, how did the Woods Dual Power work? With the clutch engaged, the combustion engine would drive the car, with torque passing directly through he electric motor’s armature shaft. With the clutch disengaged and the engine not running, the electric motor powers the car.  That much was clear.

patents

Finding out exactly how the Woods Dual Power worked, though, was a bit of a task. To begin with, with only three existing Woods powertrains, it’s not like you can find an expert on the marque at any big car show. It’s not a 1969 Camaro, or even an Isetta. Fortunately, I was able to find a sales brochure (PDF), a period guide to automotive electrical equipment for car enthusiasts, and some old trade journals that explained how the Dual Power worked and how it was operated.

Matt Anderson, the transportation curator of the Ford Museum, graciously gave me access to their car, a 1916 Woods Dual Power Model 44, for these photos. It has simple controls: a steering wheel mounted with long and short control levers, one for each of the powerplants, a brake pedal on the floorboard, and a backup pedal below where the driver sits. The dashboard contains a Stewart Warner “magnetic type” speedometer/odometer/trip meter along with a combination ammeter and charge indicator.

To operate the Dual Power, first an ignition switch on the steering column is turned on. The sources say that it’s a locking switch though the example at the Henry Ford Museum doesn’t use a key. That switch closes electrical connections in both the combustion engine’s ignition circuit and part of the circuit for the main solenoid that’s between the traction batteries and the electric motor. For safety, all high-voltage switching was done with solenoids. The longer of the two levers on the steering wheel is moved forward. That completes the main solenoid circuit, allowing electricity to power the motor, getting the car moving. Moving the lever farther forward changes the position on a shunt field control rheostat near the motor under the floorboard and as the field resistance on the motor changes, the speed increases. Moving the lever back towards its idle position decreases speed.

Once the Woods Dual Power was moving, the gasoline engine could be engaged at any time. Electric drive was generally used up to about 15 MPH. If more power was needed, just moving the shorter lever on the steering wheel to a forward position would start up the gasoline engine. That lever controlled the throttle on the carburetor. Also, moving it off the stop activated a circuit that engaged the magnetic clutch between the engine and the motor. Electricity to activate the clutch was provided either by the battery or by the motor/generator when the car was running on gasoline power.

Since the ignition circuit on the Dual Power is activated when the car is first switched on, with the relatively powerful electric traction motor already rapidly spinning, the engine on the Woods Dual Power was claimed to fire up immediately as soon as the clutch was engaged, faster than with the much weaker electric starters on conventional cars of the day. I suppose this feature would be comparable in some ways to a modern stop-start system, starting the engine when needed and shutting it off when the car was standing still. The company also claimed that the Dual Power could not be stalled. Whenever the combustion engine was driving the car, the electric motor was already spinning at engine speed even if it wasn’t energized. If the engine started to stall, power could be sent to the electric motor to assist the engine by just moving the control lever forward.

The best selling electric cars then were made by Detroit Electric and had a top speed of 20 miles per hour. With both control levers all the way forward, the Woods Dual Power had a top speed of 35 MPH, a significant improvement.

Once the car was moving forward, the gasoline engine had enough power and torque to keep it going at moderate speeds and the control lever for the electric part of the hybrid could be adjusted so that the electric motor was no longer driving the car. In those conditions, the “dynamotor” was generating more current than it was drawing, so the Woods Dual Power could theoretically recharge its own batteries while it traveled. In that aspect, the Woods Dual Power is like the extended range Chevy Volt.

phantom

Once the gasoline engine was running, the electrical system could be charged or discharged “at will” at any speed between 10 MPH and about 30 MPH, or at least that’s what the company claimed. Keeping the batteries moderately charged by the gasoline engine also extended battery life by preventing the gassing and sulphating caused by overcharging or fully depleting the charge. One could say that this was an early version of battery conditioning, an important feature of most modern electric vehicles.

Another feature of modern EVs that the Dual Power had was regenerative braking, what the company called “dynamic braking”. To slow the car, the driver would return the electric control lever to its original position, allowing the motor/generator to generate electricity and slow the car as the motor was spun by the car’s forward motion. If engine braking was needed or desired, the driver throttled back the engine with its control lever but kept the clutch engaged, then returned the engine control to it’s stop, disengaging the clutch and shutting off the engine as the car came to a full stop.

Regenerative braking was advertised as working above 6 miles per hour. To come to a complete stop the car’s mechanical brakes were activated with a foot pedal. An interesting safety feature of the car was that if the driver didn’t want to use the hand controls to slow the car, or more importantly if they didn’t have time, the brake pedal could be used by itself instead. In addition to activating the mechanical brakes, the floor pedal also closed the gasoline throttle, disengaged the clutch, and returned the field control rheostat to its minimum position, initiating regenerative braking. According to one source, the foot pedal could also be used to control the speed of the motor when operating on electricity. As with other early electric cars, advertising for the Woods Dual Power emphasized how women would find it easy to operate.

Since there was no transmission, to go backwards, the polarity of the power to the direct current electric motor was flipped so the motor spun backwards. There was also an interlock device that would not allow the operation of the reverse pedal unless the brake pedal was fully depressed. Stepping on the reversing pedal also disengages the magnetic clutch, allowing the gasoline engine to continue to run while the Dual Power is reversing.

1916 WOODS Elec 8 31 p 364

In a recent post I asked, if General Motors’ 2-Mode hybrid system for pickups and SUVs worked so well at saving fuel, how did it fail at the market, discontinued in the next product cycle? Well, just like the 2-Mode vehicles, the Woods Dual Power was relatively expensive, $2,650 in 1916 dollars. While much cheaper than the $9,000 Owens Magnetic, in 1916 you could buy almost four Ford Model Ts for the price of one Woods Dual Power. The Woods hybrid returned gas mileage that would be remarkable today, a reported 48 MPG, but economy generally has never been a big selling point with people who can afford expensive cars.

Another reason why it didn’t succeed was that the Dual Power was not as smooth, nor as reliable as advertised. For the 1917 model year, there was some reengineering in response to customer dissatisfaction, including using a larger, 95 cubic inch engine from Continental. Though faster than other electrics, the Dual Power could easily be overtaken by the far less expensive Model T, which could cruise at 40 mph, 45 if the driver was brave or stupid.

Maybe an even bigger engine or a more powerful electric drive would have made the Woods Dual Power more competitive with conventional cars. Being superior to electric cars at a time when the first generation of EVs were already in decline as the technology of gasoline engines improved and the cost of gasoline powered cars declined was not good enough. Though they planned to make between 650 and 750 Dual Power cars a year, a fraction of that number was made and Woods Motor Vehicle Company went out of business two years after introducing the hybrid.

1916 WOODS Elec 8 31 p 365

Still, the Woods Dual Power had features associated with modern hybrids and extended range hybrids like regenerative braking, stop-start, charging on the fly, and battery conditioning. It was an elegant, well thought out design whose simple operating controls belied the complexity of the electrical components, solenoids and mechanical linkages that actually operated and coordinated the machinery, gas and electric. While it may not have been superior to the conventional automobiles of the era, the Woods Dual Power’s hybrid drive system in fact did work. That Woods Motor Vehicle Co. was able to get it to do so 100 years ago, using solenoids and mechanical linkages rather than digital computer controls, was an impressive technical achievement and worthy of inclusion in a world class car museum like The Henry Ford. In that recent post about another hybrid system, the 2-Mode transmission now abandoned by its inventor, General Motors, and GM’s partners in developing the technology, Daimler, Chrysler and BMW, I said that you never know, sometime in the next century the 2-Mode system might return on passenger vehicles (the Allison truck and bus transmission the 2-Mode is based upon has been a commercial success). Perhaps 100 years from now, someone will introduce some kind of transportation device and an older person will ask a similar question as I did, “Doesn’t that operate a lot like the Accord hybrid?” and someone even older will chime in, “Or the Woods Dual Power.”

In the 1980s, General Motors tried saving fuel through cylinder deactivation. It was a pretty high tech thing and and befitting as such, GM introduced it on a Cadillac engine called the V8-6-4. Today, cylinder deactivation is commonplace across the industry and it works pretty much seamlessly. Back then, control and actuation devices weren’t so good. Cadillac buyers ended up with rather rough running engines, something that badly damaged the brand for decades, though the V8-6-4 was available for just one model year. Old ideas are indeed sometimes a bit early for their times and worth a second look when materials science and technology improve.

I’d be intrigued what would happen if someone made a modern replica of the Dual Power drivetrain. The Accord Hybrid is similar, no doubt, but it also includes a second electric motor that normally operates as a generator. The Woods car has only one motor/generator. It would be interesting to see how something directly analogous to the Woods Dual Power would work. Maybe use one of the turbocharged 3 cylinder liter motors that are proliferating in the automotive world, connected via a clutch to something smaller than the traction motor in the Tesla Model S, with a correspondingly smaller and lighter lithium-ion battery pack. Control it with a computer just like modern hybrids are controlled so you just have to step on the gas and brake pedals, not fiddle with steering wheel mounted controls, and so the batteries are maintained in a healthy state of charge without the driver’s attention needed. It might not be as quick as a Model S, but I bet it could move a compact or midsize car around safely in traffic, maybe even smartly. It would be interesting to see how it would stack up in terms of fuel and electricity consumption and range with modern hybrid designs.

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

1916 WOODS Elec 8 31 p 364 1916 WOODS Elec 8 31 p 365 1903 WOODS Elec Cat p 23 1903 WOODS Elec Cat p 24 1903 WOODS Elec Cat p 27 1906 WOODS Elec b4 1910 WOODS Elec 7 p 18 woodsdualpowerlogo 2579442558_5d24d52959_b diagram dualpowerdrivetrain electric_vehicle_advertising_1900s IMG_0002 IMG_0007 IMG_0010 IMG_0011 IMG_0015_l IMG_0017 IMG_0018-1-_r IMG_0019_l IMG_0026 IMG_0027 IMG_0028 IMG_0029 IMG_0030 IMG_0032 patents phantom planview woods1910

 

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/plus-ca-charge-1916-woods-dual-power-an-early-gaselectric-hybrid-of-surprising-sophistication/feed/ 32
Cadillac Reports 43% Of Dealers Will Not Sell ELR http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/cadillac-reports-43-of-dealers-will-not-sell-elr/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/cadillac-reports-43-of-dealers-will-not-sell-elr/#comments Thu, 20 Feb 2014 12:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=748921 2014_cadillac_elr_f34_ns_21314_600
A niche vehicle is one that serves a very specific set of buyers with a vehicle that’s defined by a specialized and uncommon or unique role; and is often knowingly sold in low numbers to satisfy that dedicated group. Sometimes it’s to test a market: The Miata created its own niche in the 1990′s, and became a role model for modern product, like the S2000 and BRZ/FRS. Other are more esoteric niches, like the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet. Sometimes, niche cars bring buyers to a brand that they would not have thought about before.

Currently, one of our most popular niches is the hybrid segment, dominated by the Toyota Prius. Chevrolet threw their hat into the ring, inadvertently, with the Volt. Though primarily an electric car, it does run the gas engine as a series hybrid with engine lockup if needed for maximum efficiency. The sales have been mediocre, pushing just over 23,000 units in 2013. The Prius? It sold over 145,000 units in the same time period..

Is it any wonder, then, why 43% of Cadillac’s dealers aren’t willing to take the up-market, $75,000 (before $7,500 Federal tax credit) Cadillac ELR? It’s a niche of a niche. And it’s an expensive one for dealers to take a risk on. 

 

Edmunds reports that 410 out of Calliac’s 940 dealers will not take delivery of the new ELR, an fairly astonishing 43%. With fuel prices relatively low and a high sticker price, there appears to be little demand for the ELR, and dealers are keen on it. Jim Vurpillat, Cadillac’s global marketing director, told Edmunds in an interview that dealers “might look at (ELR) and say, ‘Ok, if I sell one of these, I got to have service charging stations, special training, a sales area. I have to buy special tools… If they don’t think they will sell more than one or two units a year, they would do the numbers, and it is probably not worth it.”

The cost for the training, additional tools, and other EV equipment can total $15,000 according to Edmunds. It’s just too costly of a chance for many Cadillac dealers to take. Most sales are expected to be in California, Dallas, Miami, and New York City, says Vurpillat. In Austin, Texas, our single Cadillac dealership has had one in stock.

But, at which point do we look at this as no longer chasing a niche, but falling into failure? Is it nearly half of your dealer network saying “no, thank you”?

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/cadillac-reports-43-of-dealers-will-not-sell-elr/feed/ 68
Delaware Bankruptcy Judge Approves Sale Of Fisker Automotive to China’s Wanxiang http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/delaware-bankruptcy-judge-approves-sale-of-fisker-automotive-to-chinas-wanxiang/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/delaware-bankruptcy-judge-approves-sale-of-fisker-automotive-to-chinas-wanxiang/#comments Tue, 18 Feb 2014 17:50:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=745993 800px-Fisker_Karma_2
Last week, Rueters reported that Wanxiang, a Chinese parts supplier, had won the bankruptcy auction for Fisker Automotive. The bid was valued around $149.2 million. The deal comes to close after a bidding war between Wanxiang and Hybrid LLC — a group who includes Richard Li, a Fisker investor and Hong Kong billionaire. In November, Fisker asked for Hybrid Technology LLC to purchase the bankrupt company for $25 million, but creditors objected the deal in November and brought Wanxiang into the case in December.

Today Delaware, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross approved of the sale to Wanxiang. He stated that the auction “shows that a fair process is a good thing.”

The sale came after a 19 round biding war between Wanxiang and Hybrid Technology LLC, and includes the shuttered General Motors assembly plant that Fisker purchased in 2010. Bloomberg reports, “[the] offer includes $126.2 million in cash, plus equity and $8 million in assumed liabilities.”

Wanxiang also bought A123 Systems Inc. last year after its bankruptcy for $256.6 million. A123 produced the Fisker batteries, which Henrick Fisker attributed to the failure of Fisker after A123 went through bankruptcy in October of 2012, and exiting in March of 2013.

 

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/delaware-bankruptcy-judge-approves-sale-of-fisker-automotive-to-chinas-wanxiang/feed/ 19
2015 Chevy Silverado HD Goes Green With CNG http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/2015-chevy-silverado-hd-goes-green-with-cng/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/2015-chevy-silverado-hd-goes-green-with-cng/#comments Fri, 07 Feb 2014 15:03:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=736329 2015 Silverado 2500HD Bi-Fuel

In the ongoing battle in Green Valley below Truck Mountain, Chevrolet has unleashed a CNG conversion kit for both 2500 and 3500 variants of the 2015 Silverado HD.

The kit allows the Silverado HD to run either compressed natural gas or gasoline at the flick of a switch, with the 6-liter V8 under the bonnet pumping out 301 horsepower and 333 lb-ft torque on CNG, or 360 horses and 380 lb-ft on gasoline. Range is expected to reach 650 miles through the use of both fuels, while towing capacity remains at 13,000 pounds.

For operators of work-duty Silveradoes, the CNG conversion would save $2,000 annually on fuel costs for a truck that does 26,000 miles using CNG 75 percent of the time, due mainly to the lower per gallon cost of CNG over a gallon of gasoline.

The kit — made for use in single-wheel setups only — is available now on 2500HD double cab and crew cab models, while 2500HD single cab and all 3500HD styles will be available in July.

2015 Silverado 2500HD Bi-Fuel 2015 Silverado 2500HD Bi-Fuel ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/2015-chevy-silverado-hd-goes-green-with-cng/feed/ 27
Early ELR Adopters Receive Free Charging Stations http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/early-elr-adopters-receive-free-charging-stations/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/early-elr-adopters-receive-free-charging-stations/#comments Wed, 29 Jan 2014 18:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=726882 2014 Cadillac ELR

If you should become one of the early adopters who purchase a Cadillac ELR soon, the brand has announced that they will throw in a free charging station as a gift for paying $75,000 over the next 36 to 72 months for the luxury plug-in hybrid.

Normally, the 240-volt charging station would be installed at an owner’s home starting at $1,000, with financing available for installations between $1,000 and $3,499 spread over 24 months at 0 percent and $0 down, and 2.99 percent over 84 months with $0 down for installations above $3,500. The price range is determined after Bosch Certified Contractors look over factors affecting installation, including age of the home, location of installation, permits et al.

On top of the incentive, ELR owners will also acquire the services of their own ELR Concierge Representative, who will help their owner with information on battery care, home charging, service scheduling and other concerns regarding their purchase.

No word on when Cadillac will cease offering free stations, though the $699/month lease incentive for well-qualified consumers currently on offer will end on January 31 of this year.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/early-elr-adopters-receive-free-charging-stations/feed/ 54
2014 Cadillac ELR to Lease for $699 a Month http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/2014-cadillac-elr-to-lease-for-699-a-month/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/2014-cadillac-elr-to-lease-for-699-a-month/#comments Wed, 22 Jan 2014 12:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=704690 2014-Cadillac-ELR. Photo courtesy AutoGuide.com

If you thought the $75,000 price of admission for ownership of the 2014 Cadillac ELR was too high, the luxury automaker may have another option for your consideration: A lease contract of $699/month with a few stipulations.

In order to lease the luxury plug-in hybrid — based upon the $34,000 Chevrolet Volt — you’ll need to either own or lease a GM product screwed together from 1999 forward. Next, you’ll need around $5,000 at signing for a lease that will last just 39 months. Then, you’ll have to deal with the usual tax-title-license-dealer fee-optional equipment gauntlet, plus whatever price the dealer sets for the whole thing.

Finally, whip out your magnifying glass and reading glasses: The fine print states that price of the ELR has an MSRP of $76,000, and that you can only drive a total of 32,500 miles before paying 25 cents per additional mile; if you were to average 13,476 miles/year — the national average, as it turns out — the additional 11,297 miles would total $2,824.25 over the limit.

If interested, you have until the end of January 2014 to sign the papers.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/2014-cadillac-elr-to-lease-for-699-a-month/feed/ 55
Expert: 54.5 MPG CAFE Mark Reachable With Few Plug-Ins http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/expert-54-5-mpg-cafe-mark-reachable-with-few-plug-ins/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/expert-54-5-mpg-cafe-mark-reachable-with-few-plug-ins/#comments Tue, 21 Jan 2014 13:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=703954 2013 Ford C-MAX Energi Plug-In Hybrid, Exterior, Charging Plug, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

For automakers worried about meeting the 54.5 mpg CAFE mark by 2025, Johnson Controls — the ones who predicted the end of the steering wheel by 2025 — assured them that the target could be met, and without the need to turn everything into a plug-in or full EV.

Johnson Controls own Brian Kessler, who heads the company’s battery division, claims that a combination of turbocharging, stop-start systems, direct injection and other bleeding-edge fuel economy technology could be leveraged to meet this target. He then added that no automaker necessarily needs to go the route of Tesla, Nissan or Toyota to meet the CAFE target, implicitly endorsing the Environmental Protection Agency’s approach to fuel economy regulations over that of the California Air Resource Board’s mandate of electric batteries or fuel cells for zero-emission vehicles.

While most manufacturers have had mixed results with plug-in hybrids and other EVs, they’ve had better luck upgrading the internal combustion engine to meet the challenge before them. Downsized and turbocharged powertrains, like Ford’s EcoBoost engine lineup, were cited as a cost effective solution. 80 percent of the Blue Oval’s line of vehicles can be optioned with an EcoBoost engine, spreading the cost of development throughout the line. Of course, downsized turbo engines are notorious for delivering big numbers on government fuel economy tests, while falling short of real world fuel economy expectations.

 

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/expert-54-5-mpg-cafe-mark-reachable-with-few-plug-ins/feed/ 43
BYD Coming to America in 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/byd-coming-to-america-in-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/byd-coming-to-america-in-2015/#comments Tue, 07 Jan 2014 05:41:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=693713 BYD Qin

Backed by Warren Buffet and his investment company Berkshire Hathaway, Inc.,Automotive News is reporting that Chinese automaker BYD plans to deliver four models to the United States in late 2015.

This move comes after BYD founder and chair Wang Chauanfu spent the past three years reorganizing his company, cutting the number of dealerships under the automaker’s banner while narrowing losses with their solar business with help from state incentives.

In turn, investors rewarded the changes with a 63 percent surge in the share price — currently holding around $5 USD — though nowhere near the peak of $11 BYD saw in October 2008; Berkshire Hathaway paid around $1 per share for 9.9 percent ownership of the company back in that year.

Though BYD has yet to bring over any of their cars to the U.S., they will begin manufacturing of their K9 electric bus in March at its factory in Lancaster, Calif.; a plan to sell the e6 electric hatchback by the end of 2010 was postponed.

Leading the charge will be the Qin (pronounced Chin) plug-in hybrid, which already arrived in local market showrooms last month. The $31,400 (before state subsidies) sedan books it from nil to 60 in under 6 seconds, and possesses a 43-mile range in electric-only travel.

That said, the Qin, along with its electric brethren, may be a better sell in Los Angeles than in Beijing, as high prices, safety concerns, and a lack of supporting infrastructure have held back China’s goal of 5 million alternative-energy vehicles by 2020.

However, the state government unveiled a new program last September which is supposed to alleviate the issue through heavy promotion of new-energy vehicles in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou using subsidies through 2015, which should help BYD in local adoption of their plug-in and EV offerings.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/byd-coming-to-america-in-2015/feed/ 89
New Face of 2015 Ford Focus Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/new-face-of-2015-ford-focus-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/new-face-of-2015-ford-focus-revealed/#comments Mon, 06 Jan 2014 15:07:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=693449 2015 Ford Focus

Three years ago, Ford unveiled the third-generation Focus to the excitement of American enthusiasts who thought the second-generation model lacked “zazz,” to say the least. Come 2015, the Focus will have a new face, and that’s only the beginning.

Debuting at the Geneva Auto Show in March, the 2015 Focus not only has a new, more Aston-Martinesque mouth — bringing it in line with the Fiesta and Fusion — but also a reshaped hood, front spoiler, and rear bumper. Inside, the “mobile phone”-inspired morass of buttons on the current model will soon be replaced by a more sensible, conventional layout featuring updated climate controls.

For the big gun of the collection, the Focus ST is expected to have more aggressive bodywork than the rest of the Focus lineup, along with improvements to the suspension and steering for sharper handling.

Under the hood, however, engine options will be carried-over into the 2015 model year, ranging from the 1-liter EcoBoost pumping out a minimum of 98 horsepower at the low-end, to the 247-horsepower 2-liter monster under the ST. Russian, Chinese and Brazilian markets will see 1.5-liter gasoline and diesel compliance engines as part of their engine choices.

Green enthusiasts will be pleased to know that plug-in variant (in the vein of the C-Max Energi) is in the offing; thus, expect a similar total output of 192 horsepower from its combined electric/gasoline power with 20 miles of electric-only travel. The all-electric Focus will still be available, as well.

The price of admission should more or less hold for 2015, so expect to pay anywhere from around $17,000 to $35,000 depending on model of choice

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/new-face-of-2015-ford-focus-revealed/feed/ 62
Ford Goes Solar For 2014 CES http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/ford-goes-solar-for-2014-ces/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/ford-goes-solar-for-2014-ces/#comments Fri, 03 Jan 2014 22:32:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=692258 C-MAXSolarEnergi_01_HR

Potential owners of plug-in hybrids seeking for a way to recharge their green machine without the need for an outlet may soon rely upon the sun for power, all thanks to Ford’s debut of their C-Max Solar Energi Concept at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Monday.

The C-Max Solar Energi Concept can be plugged into a power source when convenient, but for times when outlets aren’t readily available, an off-vehicle concentrator utilizing a Fresnel lens (usually found in lighthouses) aids in drawing in and magnifying the power of the sun upon the concept’s roof-mounted solar panels. According to Ford, the power collected could be enough to cover 75 percent of any trips the owner may take, each day providing the equivalent of four hours’ worth of charging.

As far as performance is concerned, the Solar Energi is on par with the C-Max Energi currently in showrooms, which pulls in the equivalent of 108 MPGe in the city/92 MPGe on the highway. Fully charged, the concept is expected to share its sister’s range of 620 miles, 21 miles electric-only.

The project is a collaboration between the Blue Oval, San Jose, Calif.-based SunPower, and the Georgia Institute of Technology, all three of whom will begin real-world testing to determine production feasibility after the annual electronics show.

C-MAXSolarEnergi_03_HR C-MAXSolarEnergi_06_HR C-MAXSolarEnergi_07_HR C-MAXSolarEnergi_08_HR C-MAXSolarEnergi_09_HR C-MAXSolarEnergi_11_HR C-MAXSolarEnergi_12_HR C-MAXSolarEnergi_01_HR ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/ford-goes-solar-for-2014-ces/feed/ 28
Gasoline Power To Dominate U.S. Highways Through 2040 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/gasoline-power-to-dominate-u-s-highways-through-2040/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/gasoline-power-to-dominate-u-s-highways-through-2040/#comments Fri, 20 Dec 2013 13:30:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=684682 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

The green warriors who hoped EVs and hybrids would be the dominate force on the highways of America may need to wait a bit longer: the United States Department of Energy predicts gasoline will be the fuel of a generation until at least 2040.

In fact, the DOE’s Energy Information Administration states in a report issued earlier this week that 78 percent of all vehicles on the road in 2040 will still burn fossil fuels, though more efficiently; the EIA predicts an average of 37.2 mpg at that point in time. While 42 percent of all vehicles will use some form of advanced fuel-saving technology, plug-in hybrids and full EVs will each account for only 1 percent of sales.

As for the pump, the EIA believes a gallon of gas will rise to the equivalent of $3.90, with diesel tagged for $4.73. The agency also predicts 30 percent increase in miles traveled from 2012 through 2040, and overall fuel consumption in the nation’s transportation sector to fall by 4 percent.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/gasoline-power-to-dominate-u-s-highways-through-2040/feed/ 48
Toyota to Debut Supra Concept at 2014 Detroit Auto Show http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/toyota-to-debut-supra-concept-at-2014-detroit-auto-show/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/toyota-to-debut-supra-concept-at-2014-detroit-auto-show/#comments Thu, 19 Dec 2013 10:30:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=683370 1993_JZA80_Toyota_Supra_SZ

The last time Toyota debuted a concept thought to be the return of the Supra — the FT-HS, to be exact — the end result was a three-pack of boxer-powered, rear-driven madness with a low price point. Could Toyota’s latest upcoming concept for the 2014 Detroit Auto Show finally be the one?

According to insiders within Toyota, the rear-driven supercar concept was conceived in the automaker’s California-based CLATY design studio. Alas, no images have been leaked to the automotive press so far, nor word of what might be under the bonnet beyond rumor of a hybrid drivetrain made for high performance. Said drivetrain could also be the first product from the partnership struck between Toyota and BMW earlier this year to share car-building and hybrid tech for their respective entrants into the sports car game.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/toyota-to-debut-supra-concept-at-2014-detroit-auto-show/feed/ 27
Porsche 919 Hybrid LeMans Racer to Feature 4 Cylinder Turbo, Batteries http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/porsche-919-hybrid-lemans-racer-to-feature-4-cylinder-turbo-batteries/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/porsche-919-hybrid-lemans-racer-to-feature-4-cylinder-turbo-batteries/#comments Mon, 16 Dec 2013 11:30:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=680938 Porsche-Le-Mans-2014-LMP1-919-9R9-Technik-Details-tL

It’s been 16 years since Porsche competed at the top level of endurance racing at LeMans and it’s been 37 years since a factory Porsche in the LeMans race was powered by a four cylinder engine. Porsche returns to the la sarthe circuit this year with a factory LeMans prototype team, campaigning a car that features a four pot engine, only this time their race car will have something no Porsche car has had at LeMans before. That four cylinder engine will be augmented with a hybrid powertrain. So far Audi and Toyota have raced hybrid prototypes at LeMans. The new Porsche race car will be called the 919, a nod to the hybrid 918 production supercar and to the legendary 917 that gave the company its first overall victory at LeMans in 1970.

“The vehicle name 919 hybrid follows on from the tradition of the Le Mans-winning 917, but it is also with a view to the 918 Spyder, and acknowledges the company’s embarkation into the hybrid future,” Porsche R&D boss Wolfgang Hatz said in a statement. “Maximum efficiency in energy consumption is the directive of the new WEC regulations for the works-entered class 1 prototypes–and that is also the direction for the automobile future.”

Full details haven’t been released but earlier the company revealed that the 919′s drivetrain includes a four cylinder direct injected gasoline engine and two different energy recovery systems. That energy is stored in a battery that powers an electric motor on the front axle.

Audi’s two-time LeMans winning hybrid R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 car uses a six cylinder turbo diesel for the combustion side of the hybrid equation and a F1 style KERS system that stores power in a flywheel that is used for an electric motor, again on the front axle. The Toyota TS030 LMP1 car uses a V8 and stores energy in a supercapacitor that powers an electric motor that helps drive the rear wheels.

Porsche completed their 2013 test program with the new car with their new endurance driver, Mark Webber, behind the wheels at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve near Portimão, Portugal. Webber, who is technically still under contract to the Red Bull Racing Formula 1 team, got clearance from his soon to be former F1 team to participate in the testing. It was the first time Webber has been in the car and he said,  ”My first day in this fascinating project was an intense experience for me. I would like to thank Red Bull Racing for giving me the chance to join the project so early. This is a major and important step for us all. It allows me to integrate with the team quicker and to contribute to further developing the LMP1 race car. We have a long way to go and it involves a lot of hard work. I have no misconceptions about this.” Fritz Enzinger, who heads Porsche’s LMP1 team, thanked Red Bull, “I’m delighted to have Mark in the team so early. Red Bull Racing has helped us considerably in allowing this!”

Enzinger is pleased with the progress of the new race car: “Between the roll-out of the completely new car in June and now we have made significant progress. Every single kilometre was important, providing us with new data that brought the development forward. The whole team has worked extremely hard and I would like to express my sincere thanks for this. Our efforts will continue unabated in 2014. Until the start of the season at Silverstone mid-April there is still a lot to do.”

Wolfgang Hatz,  who heads R&D for Porsche AG, added, “We always knew it wasn’t going to be easy to return to top endurance racing after 16 years. Hence, our efforts in developing a competitive Porsche LMP1 race car are immense. Up to this point, our engineers in Weissach, the drivers, and the entire team have performed impressively. We are finding new approaches in the development, implementation and application of leading edge efficiency technologies. This also leads to further improvements of the entire hybrid technology in our production cars. Ultimately, our customers will benefit the most.”

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/porsche-919-hybrid-lemans-racer-to-feature-4-cylinder-turbo-batteries/feed/ 14
A Last Exit For the Honda Insight May Soon Appear http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/a-last-exit-for-the-honda-insight-may-soon-appear/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/a-last-exit-for-the-honda-insight-may-soon-appear/#comments Fri, 06 Dec 2013 15:31:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=672802 2014 Honda Insight

If you were ever interested in the second coming of the Honda Insight, now may be the time to pull the trigger on that lease, for there may not be a 2015 model in the showroom come next year.

Two signs point to a last exit for the hybrid: the lack of activity surrounding the marketing of a 2015 Insight, and the fact that the hybrid has become more and more redundant in Honda’s own lineup. Though the former could simply mean the Insight is going through a significant update that would merit such a delay, the latter speaks volumes about its bleak future.

In short, the Civic Hybrid is running circles around the Prius-shaped hybrid in the eco-friendly sales race — though the former costs nearly $25,000 to start over the Insight’s $19,000 base price — while the upcoming Fit Hybrid sedan may end up pulling potential owners towards its own offerings for the same price of admission as the Insight.

For their part, Honda can neither confirm nor deny the Insight’s last ride into the electric sunset. That said, the hybrid has already departed from Canadian showrooms, leaving the smaller CR-Z as the only analogue to the first generation and current Insight models.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/a-last-exit-for-the-honda-insight-may-soon-appear/feed/ 33
EVs Too Pricey For Most Consumers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/evs-too-pricey-for-most-consumers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/evs-too-pricey-for-most-consumers/#comments Mon, 02 Dec 2013 13:20:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=668634 2012 Nissan Leaf, Exterior, side 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Based upon a survey of 1,084 conducted by Boulder, Colo. firm Navigant Research, it would appear most won’t be in the market for EVs anytime soon due to the price of admission being too rich for their blood… for any EV.

According the survey, 71 percent plan to spend less than $25,000 on their next car with 43 percent of the 71 aiming for under $20,000; thus, the only EV or plug-in available within their range (after price cuts and credits) is the 2013 Nissan Leaf at $22,150.

Aside from price, familiarity is another obstacle for EV and plug-in adoption rates. The most familiar to the masses? The Chevrolet Volt, though only 6 percent are intimately familiar with the $26,685 (after credits) plug-in. However, the survey said that 67 percent of consumers loved the idea of hybrids, while 61 percent also loved the idea of EVs.

Finally, 40 percent of the populace sampled would be interested in charging stations in the vein of Tesla’s Supercharger, so long as they paid next to nothing (if at all) for the privilege; only 16 percent surveyed would pay more than $2 for a 15-minute recharge.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/evs-too-pricey-for-most-consumers/feed/ 25
Los Angeles 2013: 2014 Acura RLX Debuts New Hybrid Powertrain http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/los-angeles-2013-2014-acura-rlx-debuts-new-hybrid-powertrain/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/los-angeles-2013-2014-acura-rlx-debuts-new-hybrid-powertrain/#comments Thu, 21 Nov 2013 03:33:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=658426 2014 Acura RLX SH-AWD 01

Though fans of the NSX may need to wait until 2015 to throw down the hammer with Tony Stark and Thor, most Acura consumers will get a chance to utilize the automaker’s new SH-AWD hybrid powertrain anchoring the 2014 RLX Sport Hybrid to the road.

Debuting at this year’s LA Auto Show, the RLX Sport Hybrid is the first to use the new technology, which delivers power to the front wheels through conventional means while power to the rear comes from a trio of electric motors. Two motors individually drive their respective wheels while the third boosts torque already found up front, eliminating the need for a driveshaft and rear differential. Power is regenerated to all three rear motors through braking.

Speaking of power, the trinity’s 67 horsepower augments the main 3.5-liter direct-injected V6′s 310 ponies for a total of 377 on all corners. Honda won’t quite say how quickly their RLX will get to 60, though they say it’s comparable to similar cars with V8 firepower. On the other hand, they expect the hybrid powertrain will pull 28 mpg in the city and 32 on the highway for a combined score of 30 mpg.

Directing the power up front is a seven-speed dual clutch transmission with its own electric motor — controlled via an electronic gear selector that swaps the traditional stick for a set of buttons — that will match revs while downshifting in automatic mode, while manual mode shifting is done through paddle shifters.

Finally, a HUD display monitors and informs the driver of what the RLX’s many systems are doing at a moment’s glance, along with speed and direction. Expect to see the RLX Sport Hybrid in showrooms in spring of 2014.

2014 Acura RLX SH-AWD 01 2014 Acura RLX SH-AWD 02 2014 Acura RLX SH-AWD 03 2014 Acura RLX SH-AWD 04 ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/los-angeles-2013-2014-acura-rlx-debuts-new-hybrid-powertrain/feed/ 9