The Truth About Cars » hybrid car 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 16:58:35 +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 car http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com First Drive Review: 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrd (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/first-drive-review-2014-acura-rlx-sport-hybrd-with-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/first-drive-review-2014-acura-rlx-sport-hybrd-with-video/#comments Fri, 13 Dec 2013 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=675970 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Exterior

It wasn’t that long ago I had an Acura RLX for a week. If you recall that review, I came away liking the car but found little joy in the price tag. Despite wearing a fantastic stitched leather interior, there was just no way I could justify the $10,000 premium over the AWD turbocharged competition from Lincoln, Volvo and others. Can a new dual clutch transmission and three electric motors turn the RLX from being a good car with the wrong price tag to a value proposition?

Click here to view the embedded video.

Because of the RLX’s FWD drivetrain, I was forced to view the RLX with an eye towards the Volvo S80, Lincoln MKS and the Lexus ES. With the Sport Hybrid model, Acura has done two things to take the RLX out of that pool and dive into another: AWD and a hybrid system. On paper a 377 horsepower hybrid system should put the RLX head to head with the Lexus GS 350, Infiniti M35h, and BMW AciveHybrid 5.

On the outside, the RLX cuts an elegant and restrained pose. Although the cars Acura allowed us to drive at a regional event were pre-produciton, fit and finish was excellent. Lincoln has certainly made strides in recent years, but there is a difference in build quality between the MKS and the RLX that didn’t go unnoticed. Acura attempts to further distinguish the RLX from the other near-luxury brands by going aluminum intensive with the hood, quarter panels and all four doors courtesy of Alcoa. I find the RLX unquestionably attractive but the overall form fails to beat the Cadillac CTS or BMW 5-Series in my book. I place the RLX’s exterior form a tie with the Infiniti M and a hair behind the Lexus GS, especially if the GS is wearing that funky F-Sport nose.

2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Interior

Interior

While German interiors continue to be somewhat spartan and cold, the RLX feels open and inviting. Stitched dash and door panels elevate the cabin well above what you will find in a Lexus ES Hybrid or Lincoln MKS. The same is true for the rear of the cabin. Constructed out of the same high quality materials as the front, this is a definite departure from the hard plastics found in the ES and MKS. Most of my day was spent in an RLX with a grey and ivory motif that played to my personal tastes. On the down side, Acura continues to woo luxury shoppers with obviously fake looking faux-wood. This decision is doubly perplexing, as the new MDX is available in Canada with real wood trim, but not in America. Why don’t they offer it in America on either car?

Front seat comfort is among the best in the luxury set, beating the Mercedes E350, Lexus GS 450h and Infiniti M35h that I drove that day, but falling short of the million-way BMW M-Sport seats. Because the RLX rides on a transverse engine platform, there is an inherent space efficiency and the direct beneficiary is the rear cabin where you’ll find 2-3 inches more rear leg room than any of the other hybrids. I had hoped the Sport Hybrid design would allow a low “hump” since there isn’t a driveshaft going rearward, but unfortunately Acura decided to use this space for hybrid drivetrain components. It’s probably just as well, since the middle seat is considerably higher than the outboard rear seats making it impossible for a six-foot passenger to ride in the middle. Thanks to lithium-ion batteries(rather than the nickel-based packs Toyota and Lexus use), the RLX maintains a decently sized trunk capable of swallowing four golf bags.

For reasons unknown, Acura decided to use the Sport Hybrid to re-invent the shifter control. I know that everyone else is doing this, but Acura’s 4-button arrangement strikes me as one of the most unusual. Instead of a flat button bank ala-Lincoln, Acura uses a bank that is designed to have some meaning. Park is a button, Drive is a differently shaped button, Neutral is yet another shape of button and Reverse is a button on its side that you push toward the rear of the vehicle. While that sounds logical, it was far from elegant when we had to make several four-point turns in San Francisco. Anyone else prefer a regular old console shifter?

2014 RLX Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Acura

Infotainment, Gadgets and Pricing

Like the regular RLX, the Sport Hybrid combines a 7-inch haptic feedback touchscreen with an 8-inch display only screen set higher in the dash. The engineers say the concept is as follows: the lower touchscreen handles the audio, freeing the upper screen for navigation and other tasks. My opinion of the system has improved since I first encountered it on the MDX but I still think the casserole needs more time in the oven. You can change tracks and albums using the touchscreen but changing playlists or genres requires you to use the rotary/joystick lower in the dash to control the 8-inch screen. In my mind this sort of kills the dual-screen sales proposition. On the positive side the system is very responsive and the graphics are all high-resolution and attractive. iDrive is still my favorite in the mid-size luxury segment, but AcuraLink ties with MMI in second.

Base Sport Hybrid models get a speaker bump from the gas-only RLX’s 10-speaker sound system to the mid-range Acura ELS system. As you would assume, the Sport Hybrid model is well equipped versus the gasoline model and all models come with navigation, tri-zone GPS-linked climate control and keyless go. Keeping things simple there is only one option, the “Advance package” (no, Advance is not a typo), which adds Krell speakers, ventilated front seats, sunshades and seat warmers for the rear passengers, front parking sensors, power folding mirrors, radar cruise control, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, a pre-collision warning system and electric front seat belt tensioners.

2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Drivetrain, Picture Courtesy of Acura

Drivetrain

Now for what makes the RLX a Sport Hybrid. First up, we a direct-injection 3.5L V6 producing 310 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of twist that now sports start/stop technology. This engine is mated to a brand-new 7-speed transaxle developed specifically for the RLX. The new transaxle is a hybrid of sorts (and I’m not talking about the motors yet) blending a 2-speed planetary gearset with a 6-speed dual-clutch robotic manual transmission. The two technologies allow the entire unit to be as compact as possible. First gear is obtained by setting the dual clutch gearbox to 5th gear and the planetary gearset to low while “second” through “seventh” use DCT gears 1-6 in order with the planetary set to high. I found this solution particularly interesting because it would, in theory, allow Acura to obtain more than 7 ratios from the same unit with some software programming. 12-speed anyone? After the transmission is the first (and largest) motor/generator, rated for 47 horsepower/109 lb-ft. Thanks to the dual-clutch transmission, the engine can be decoupled from the drivetrain, making this different from Honda’s IMA system where the engine is always spinning.

Linked by a high-voltage electrical system is a rear mounted two-motor drive unit. The single inboard housing incorporates twin 36 horsepower /54 lb-ft motors and a clutch pack. The clutch pack is used to connect the motors together when the system needs to deliver equal power to each rear wheel. Combined with the lithium-ion battery pack in the trunk (the same one used in the Accord Hybrid), you get 377 total horsepower and 377 lb-ft of combined torque. Until you reach approximately 75 MPH at which point you have around 310 horsepower because the rear motors gradually disengage and completely disconnect over 80 MPH. The whole shebang is good for 28/32/30 MPG (City/Highway/Combined).

2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Exterior-006

Drive

Why bother with two motors in the rear? Torque vectoring. The dual rear motor arrangement separates Acrua’s system from the e-AWD systems in the Lexus RX 400h and Highlander Hybrid, or the mechanical systems in the Infiniti Q50 Hybrid or Lexus LS 600hL. Although it produces about the same amount of power as Toyota’s rear hybrid motor and likely weighs more, splitting things in two allows it to vector torque all the time, power on or off. Say what? Yep, you read that correctly, this is the first production system that torque vectors when your foot isn’t on the gas. Think of it like a canoe. If you’re moving forward and you plant an oar in the water, the canoe will rotate around that axis. Instead of oars, the RLX uses motors.

Let’s get one thing out of the way right now – this isn’t a replacement in my mind for Acura’s mechanical SH-AWD system. The mechanical AWD system uses an overdrive module to make the rear wheels almost a full percent faster than the front wheels causing the vehicle to behave like a RWD biased vehicle. In that setup, the front wheels are being “pushed” by the rears and the result is steering feel that is very much like a RWD sedan when under power. When the power was off in the old RL, the car would plow into the bushes like a front-heavy Audi. The RLX Sport Hybrid is completely different.

2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Exterior-007

Under full acceleration, the rear motors in the RLX contribute 72 ponies while the engine serves up 310 to the front wheels. The numerical imbalance between that total and the 377 “system horsepower” is consumed in the power curve of the motors and engine and the use of the front motor to draw a little power off to send to the rear. This means that while the old RL could effectively shuttle the majority of the power to the rear wheels, the RLX hybrid is at best an 80/20 split (front/rear). As a result, flooring the RLX from a stop elicits one-wheel peel, a vague hint of wheel hop and a smidge of torque steer. Once the road starts to bend, the hybrid system starts to shine. By not only accelerating the outside rear wheel in a corner but essentially braking the inside one (and using the energy to power the outside wheel), the RLX cuts a near perfect line in the corners. Point the RLX somewhere, and the car responds crisply and instantly. And without much feel.

The downside to the rear wheels contributing so much to the RLX’s direction changes is that the steering is next to lifeless. The analogy that kept coming to mind was a video game. The RLX changes direction more readily and easily than a front heavy sedan should, yet there is little feedback about the process. When the power is off, things stay the same, with the RLX dutifully following the line you have charted in a way the FWD RLX or the old RL never could.

Acura was confident enough in the RLX to provide a GS 450h for us to play with and the difference was enlightening. The GS is less engaging from a drivetrain perspective thanks to the “eCVT” planetary hybrid system, something the RLX’s dual-clutch box excels at, but the well-balanced GS platform is by far the driver’s car on the road. The Lexus feels less artificial, more nimble, and more connected to the driver. The RLX is not far behind in terms of raw numbers, and is faster off the line, but the RLX feels less connected and more artificial in the process. It is also important to note that the RLX is the only AWD hybrid in this class since the Infiniti Q50 hybrid is Acura TL sized and the Lexus LS 600hL is considerably larger and more expensive. That feature alone makes the RLX attractive to anyone living in areas where winter traction is a consideration.

2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Exterior-002

The 2014 RLX Sport Hybrid is an amazing bundle of technology. Combining a dual clutch transmission, a torque vectoring AWD system and three hybrid motors, the RLX is the gadget lover’s dream car. As a technology geek, the system is an intriguing solution to two problems plaguing near luxury brands like Acura, Volvo and Lincoln: How do we make our FWD platforms compete with RWD competitors, and how do we put a green foot forward. In doing so the RLX Hybrid may have also solved the value proposition I complained about with the FWD model. According to Acura”s thinly veiled charts, we can expect the RLX to be priced the same as the Lexus GS 450h which is $5,000 more than the M35h and about $1,000 less than BMW’s ActiveHybrid 5.

Factoring in the AWD system’s $2,000-$2,500 value and standard features on the RLX and the value proposition gets better. At the high end, the “Advance” package is likely to represent a $10,000 discount vs a similarly configured Lexus or BMW. The RLX Sport Hybrid has caused me to look at the RLX in a different light. Instead of thinking the FWD RLX should be $10,000 cheaper, I now think it is irrelevant. The Sport Hybrid has what it takes to compete with the Lexus and Infiniti hybrids head on and the value proposition to tempt potential BMW shoppers, but that turns the front-drive base model into a potential image liability. I’ll reserve my final judgment until we can get our hands on one for more than a few hours, but until then, it appears Acura has crafted a compelling hybrid system that should be on any snow-belt shopper’s list and may provide enough value to sway RWD luxury hybrid shoppers. Stay tuned for more pricing information in the Spring.

 

Acura provided the vehicle at a regional launch event and one night’s stay at a hotel.

 

2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Exterior-001 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Exterior 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Trunk 2014 RLX Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Acura 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Drivetrain, Picture Courtesy of Acura 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Exterior-002 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Exterior-003 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Exterior-004 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Exterior-005 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Exterior-006 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Interior 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Exterior-007 ]]>
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Green Vehicles Getting Little Traction In China http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/green-vehicles-getting-little-traction-in-china/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/green-vehicles-getting-little-traction-in-china/#comments Thu, 18 Apr 2013 12:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=485286

Despite strong pushes from the government and auto makers, hybrid and plug-in cars aren’t gaining much ground in China. A report by La Tribune pegs registrations for these vehicles at a mere 0.17 percent of all registrations in Q1 2013.

Of the 4.42 million vehicles registered in that period, there were just 4,033 hybrids, 2,874 pure EVs and 301 plug-in hybrids among the ranks. By comparison, 1.8 percent of registrations in France for that same period were made up of the aforementioned vehicles (though a precise breakdown was not available). Buyers in China can receive rebates of $9655 USD for a pure EV, $8068 for a plug-in hybrid and $481 for a regular hybrid. Evidently, it’s not enough to sway consumer tastes towards green cars.

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Fisker Atlantic Delayed Until 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/fisker-atlantic-delayed-until-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/fisker-atlantic-delayed-until-2015/#comments Wed, 17 Oct 2012 12:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=463943

A presentation held Monday saw Fisker announce a delay for their smaller sedan, dubbed the Atlantic. The Atlantic will hit the market in late 2014 or 2015.

The beleagured automaker needs the $55,000 Atlantic to generate cashflow and provide underpinings for future offerings. Fisker execs have also discussed sharing their technology with other OEMs. Readers of TTAC are have been familiar with Fisker’s foibles for some time. The timing of the announcement, combined with A123′s bankruptcy, is an ominious sign.

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Coming Soon: Not Your Father’s Third Wife’s Lexus SC430 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/coming-soon-not-your-fathers-third-wifes-lexus-sc430/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/coming-soon-not-your-fathers-third-wifes-lexus-sc430/#comments Mon, 16 Jul 2012 13:24:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=452913

Back in November at the launch of the Lexus GS, a product planner who shall remain nameless turned the tables on me; when I started asking him questions about future products, like the possibility of a Lexus GS-F, he began to grill me about competitive product.

One car that seemed to have captured his interest was the Audi S5. We spoke about how beautiful it was and how even if it wasn’t as fast or dynamic as a BMW M3, it still managed to capture the attention of enthusiasts and the general public. I asked him point-blank whether Lexus was going in this direction, but he only said that the absence of the SC430 left a void in the Lexus lineup.

The SC430, of course, was better at carrying golf clubs and tall lattes than doing any kind of real driving. The new coupe will apparently resemble the LF-LC concept coupe revealed earlier this year, and use a 2+2 seating configuration with a hybrid powertrain. According to a report by Automotive News, pricing and positioning would be closer to the Porsche 911 Turbo and Aston Martin Vantage – a potentially tough feat for the brand, given that it’s never sought such lofty heights before (notwithstanding the LFA).

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Toyota Camry Hybrid vs. Volkswagen Passat TDI: Which Would You Buy? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/toyota-camry-hybrid-vs-volkswagen-passat-tdi-which-would-you-buy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/toyota-camry-hybrid-vs-volkswagen-passat-tdi-which-would-you-buy/#comments Mon, 02 Jul 2012 13:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=450864

Hybrid or diesel? For peak fuel economy in a $30,000 midsize sedan you need one or the other. The Toyota Camry is the most efficient of the five available hybrids (until the 2013 Ford Fusion arrives). If you live in Europe, the diesel world is your oyster. In North America, you have one option for an oil-burning mid-size sedan, the Volkswagen Passat. Which would you pick?

Neither sedan’s design would have blazed any trails even a decade ago. But the Passat’s styling, both inside and out, is cleaner and more harmonious. Toyota’s designers can’t seem to step back far enough from the trees to envision a forest. The Camry Hybrid XLE’s interior, with some materials a little better and others a little worse than those in the Passat TDI SEL Premium, has too much going on stylistically. The upper doors halfheartedly attempt to flow into the instrument panel, while lacking the latter’s stitching. The “stitching” molded into the center stack trim is similarly counterproductive, as it actually cheapens the interior. Of course, many people (including the one I’m married to) don’t notice such things. Though both cars have seats trimmed in faux suede, and the Passat additionally includes faux timber, they’ll likely find the ambiance warmer inside the Camry.

Both interiors have been designed to maximize perceived room with fairly flat door panels that meet the instrument panel at a right angle. The previous-generation Camry’s interior, with curvier panels, feels much tighter. Both cars have broad, supportive front seats that provide little in the way of lateral support, though the Passat’s cushions are firmer and the Camry’s headrests jut forward to an uncomfortable degree. There’s plenty of room for adults in the back of the Camry. The Passat, with another inch of combined legroom that somehow seems like three inches, invites limo comparisons…until you notice that, unlike in the Toyota, there are no rear air vents.

Then there’s cargo hauling. Both cars are offered only as sedans. By working in shifts to compact the Camry’s hybrid bits, Toyota engineers bumped trunk volume 2.5 cubic feet, to 13.1. A worthwhile increase, but still not close to the Passat’s 15.9. Both trunks can be expanded by folding the rear seat, but you only have a mail slot on the right side in the Camry.

Though the new Camry Hybrid is more firmly suspended than the previous one, and the Americanized Passat is softer than the typical German sedan, the two cars haven’t met in the middle. The Camry remains a considerably softer, cushier, quieter car, with some float and bobble through rough curves, while the Passat provides more nuanced feedback (through the seat of the pants much more than the electrically assisted steering) and has more tightly controlled body motions. Your ears will only report that the VW is a diesel at idle, and then only if you’re paying attention. The additional noise inside its cabin mostly comes from the wind and the road.

Unlike some smaller fuel sippers, both cars have more than enough power for scooting about the ‘burbs or popping onto the freeway. Both feel torquey at low-to-moderate engine speeds, the Camry because of the assist provided by its electric motor, the Passat because it’s a diesel. With far more peak horsepower, 200 vs. 140, the Camry Hybrid’s powertrain can get you to sixty sooner. But it’s not a joy to wind out, so this advantage isn’t large in the real world. If you have a lead foot, neither car is your best bet.

The EPA MPG numbers—43 city, 39 highway for the Camry and 30 city, 40 highway for the Passat—rightly suggest that the two cars excel in different types of driving. But the EPA shortchanges both cars. Judging from its trip computer (which I initially doubted, but owners report similar numbers), the Passat TDI can manage high 30s in suburban driving and low 50s on the highway without too much effort. In straight highway driving, the Camry cannot match it, checking in around 45. A hybrid’s additional fuel efficiency is derived from its ability to recoup energy while decelerating. If there’s no deceleration, the hybrid powertrain not only provides no benefit but, through its additional mass, actually becomes a disadvantage. Off the highway the tables are turned. The more stops per mile, the better the Camry becomes, especially if you factor in the higher cost per gallon of diesel.

It also helps if one does not drive the Camry “normally.” My wife managed 38 miles-per-gallon in the Camry Hybrid, about the same as I observed in the Passat TDI when driving with the flow of traffic. But when I was behind the wheel, the trip computer regularly reported averages in the low 50s and as high as 63 on my standard suburban route. The hybrid’s operation makes a very casual driving style feel “right,” and I personally enjoy the experience. But many people simply don’t want to drive with a light enough foot to achieve these numbers. For them, the TDI is the better way to go, as its efficiency varies much less with driving style.

Load both cars up, and the Camry stickers for a couple grand more, $35,330 vs. $33,090. But, based on the car price comparison tool, the Toyota includes about $900 in additional features, cutting the difference to $1,300. Also note that Toyota dealers enjoy wider margins. Compare invoices, and the VW has only a $554 advantage before adjusting for feature differences, and a $300 disadvantage afterwards. Since invoice prices often better reflect what people actually pay, price isn’t likely to be the deciding factor between these two cars.

Consumers are likely to decide between the two based on styling, ride, handling, amenities, driving conditions, driving style, and the reputation of each brand. After a rough start, the 2012 Passat has improved so that it’s not far from the average in TrueDelta’s car reliability survey, but it’s very early. If you had to choose between the two, which would you buy?

Camry Hybrid provided with fuel and insurance by Toyota.

Passat TDI provided by Dan Kelley, Suburban VW in Farmington Hills, MI, 248-741-7903

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data.

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April Plug-In Car Sales: Toyota Prius Wins, Chevrolet Volt Takes Second, Nissan Leaf Third http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/april-plug-in-car-sales-toyota-prius-wins-chevrolet-volt-takes-second-nissan-leaf-third/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/april-plug-in-car-sales-toyota-prius-wins-chevrolet-volt-takes-second-nissan-leaf-third/#comments Thu, 03 May 2012 13:07:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=442768

It was a good month for the Toyota Prius Plug-In, with the newest plug-in car outselling the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf in April.

Pent-up demand and the desire to outdo your neighbors in Marin County likely had something to do with the Prius Plug-In’s 1,654 units sold in April. How long will the demand last? We’ll have to wait a while to see how it all shakes out.

Chevrolet Volt sales were down from March’s record of 2,289 sales, but with 1,462, the Volt still had one of its better months so far. Indeed, the biggest loser in April, 2012 was the Nissan Leaf. With just 370 sold, the Leaf was down year-over-year (with 573 sold in April 2011) and way off of its best month ever (1,708 sold in June, 2011).

Prius and Leaf inventory data was unavailable via Automotive News, but the Volt had a 61 day supply as of April 1, down from 154 on March 1st.

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Opel Ampera Gets 7,000 Pre-Orders In Europe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/opel-ampera-gets-7000-pre-orders-in-europe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/opel-ampera-gets-7000-pre-orders-in-europe/#comments Fri, 23 Mar 2012 13:54:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=436200

Opel has taken 7,000 pre-orders for the Ampera (aka the Chevrolet Volt), and looks to be on their way to meeting their 10,000 unit goal for 2012.

Hot on the heels of being named European Car of the Year, Opel is experiencing strong demand for the car. Poor demand for the Chevrolet Volt, the Ampera’s twin, meant that GM shut down production of the car for 5 weeks. In a continent where $10/gallon gas is just arriving and driving distances are generally shorter than in North America, the Ampera is a more attractive proposition, despite its premium sticker price.

Opel is reporting that many Ampera sales are conquests from premium brands like BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz, not surprising given the Ampera’s premium price tag. In England (where it will be sold as a Vauxhall), the Ampera is also exempt from vehicle taxes and the infamous London Congestion Charge that prohibits drivers from entering the downtown core of London during peak times.

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Geneva 2012: Mitsubishi Outlander Gets Plug-In Variant, 31 Mile EV Range http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/geneva-2012-mitsubishi-outlander-gets-plug-in-variant-31-mile-ev-range/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/geneva-2012-mitsubishi-outlander-gets-plug-in-variant-31-mile-ev-range/#comments Wed, 07 Mar 2012 17:33:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=434286

The Mitsubishi Outlander, a vehicle nobody cared about, is now sort of interesting, thanks to the addition of a Plug-in Hybrid system that is also compatible with the vehicle’s 4WD system.

With an EV range of 31 miles, the Outlander can run in Pure EV mode (only the front and rear electric motors), Series EV mode (where the gasoline engine assists the twin electric motors, which play a primary role in powering the car) and Parallel EV mode (where both systems work in tandem – this mode is used for higher speeds like freeway driving). There’s also a Battery Charge Mode, which, obviously, allows the battery to charge via the gasoline motors.

An on-sale date and pricing haven’t been announced, but the Outlander’s all-electric 4WD system and plug-in hybrid drivetrain look interesting. Mitsubishi’s precarious history and financial situation means that we’ll have to see it on dealer lots to believe it.

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Bob Lutz Pens Chevrolet Volt Defence In Forbes http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/bob-lutz-pens-chevrolet-volt-defence-in-forbes/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/bob-lutz-pens-chevrolet-volt-defence-in-forbes/#comments Tue, 31 Jan 2012 22:39:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=428860

Bob Lutz took Fox News and other media outlets to task in his latest blog for Forbes, titled “Chevy Volt and the Wrong-Headed Right”, with Lutz taking shots at Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh.

Lutz’s article lists a number of facts regarding the crash tests and data on vehicle fires. But Lutz does claim that the Volt is

 ”…the most technologically advanced car on the planet, was conceived by me and my team well before any federal bailout of GM…”

Whatever you think of the Volt, the damage done by the fire stories is undeniable. While charging a Volt in public this past December, a passerby made a remark warning me to steer clear because “those things catch fire”. The story has undoubtedly permeated the public conscience, regardless or whether it’s legitimate or just hype.

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White House Denies Delaying Chevrolet Volt Fire Announcement http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/white-house-denies-delaying-chevrolet-volt-fire-announcement/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/white-house-denies-delaying-chevrolet-volt-fire-announcement/#comments Mon, 16 Jan 2012 17:18:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=426566

Obama! Socialism! Taxes! Jesus! Faith! Guns! Now that you’re paying attention, it’s time for our regularly scheduled programming. A Detroit News article claims that NHTSA is denying any interference on the part of the White House with respect to the Chevrolet Volt fires that resulted from government crash test procedures.

News of the fires only came to light in November, despite the fires occurring in June. NHTSA head David Strickland claims that the White House wasn’t informed until September. A letter sent to three Republican congressmen states that

“shortly thereafter informed the Executive Office of the President regarding the June fire and NHTSA’s test plans to determine if the fire indicated that there is a risk of post-crash fires in Chevrolet Volts. No one from the Executive Office of the President requested or in any way suggested that NHTSA delay public release of information related to the Volt fire,” 

GM previously announced a fix for the Volt’s battery pack and leaky coolant, which is said to have caused the fires. GM has yet to restart production of the Volt since the line went idle in December, and won’t be able to apply the new safety measures to the Volt until some time in February of this year.

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