By on July 10, 2017

electrify-america-ev-charging-station, Electrify America

Practically every major manufacturer is touting electric cars as the future of automobiles. There’s good reason to believe them.

With few exceptions, automakers are aggressively pushing toward battery driven vehicles to meet ever more stringent regulatory demands. Several brands plan on fleet-wide electrification within a few years and a handful already snub internal combustion engines entirely. But there may be a massive problem on the horizon ready to handicap the greener future many of us were prepared to embrace.

Volkswagen, a company that has been promoting its own electric revolution in the wake of its diesel emission fiasco, is anticipating a serious lithium-ion battery shortage by 2025. Based on targets of achieving 25 percent of Volkswagen’s total volume from electric vehicles in 10 years, Ulrich Eichhorn, VW’s head of research and development, dramatically increased projections made 13 months ago.

Previous estimates from the company had the number set at 150 gigawatt-hours of electricity.

“We will need more than 200 gigawatt-hours,” Eichhorn stated on June 30th during a presentation at Volkswagen’s proving grounds north of Wolfsburg.

(Read More…)

By on July 5, 2017

2018 Volvo XC60, Image: Volvo Cars

Volvo has been pushing “non-traditional” powertrains for a while. The company, encouraged heavily by its Chinese owner, has already begun moving toward limiting engine options in the very near future while focusing heavily on electrification. In 2014, the brand said all of its cars would be offered with a plug-in hybrid variant to supplement purely gas-powered models. Now it’s taking things further, setting a definitive timeline for the shift and stating that every new model after 2019 will be a hybrid or purely battery-driven vehicle.

“This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car,” Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson explained in an official statement on Wednesday. “Volvo Cars has stated that it plans to have sold a total of 1 million electrified cars by 2025. When we said it we meant it. This is how we are going to do it.”  (Read More…)

By on February 17, 2012

 


GM’s track record has been less than stellar. First we had the Saturn Vue Green Line, a very “mild” hybrid that paled next to competitors like the Ford Escape. Next came the extraordinarily expensive 2-mode hybrid system used in GM’s pickup trucks and full-sized SUVs, which cost far too much and delivered far too little. Finally, we have the Volt – ’nuff said. No wonder GM’s latest hybrid endeavor has come to market with little fanfare, no “hybrid” logos on the vehicle and no hybrid branding from GM. Can we honestly call the 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist a hybrid?

(Read More…)

By on November 15, 2010

According to a GM press release, the 2012 model-year version of the Buick LaCrosse is dragging a skeleton out of the GM marketing closet: the mild hybrid. But don’t you dare use the “m” word… it’s the eAssist.

Mated to a 2.4L Ecotec direct injection four-cylinder engine and next-generation six-speed automatic transmission, the eAssist system uses power stored in the battery to provide needed electrical boost in various driving scenarios, optimizing engine and transmission operation. An advanced 115V lithium-ion battery and latest-generation 15-kW motor-generator unit help increase fuel economy through:

  • Regenerative braking, which provides up to 15 kW of electricity to charge the battery
  • Providing up to 11 kW (15 hp) of electric power assistance during acceleration
  • Automatic engine shut-off when the vehicle is stopped
  • Aggressive fuel cut-off during deceleration down to zero vehicle speed, enabled by the torque smoothing provided by the motor-generator unit
  • Intelligent charge/discharge of the high-voltage battery.

But most importantly:

While the eAssist system shares the same basic belt-alternator-starter configuration of previous BAS designs, it delivers more than three times the power and is much more capable than the previous-generation BAS system.

Buick says this will be the standard powertrain option for the LaCrosse starting in 2012, and along with aero and tire tweaks will loft the model’s mileage to (shout it) 37 MPG highway and (whisper it) 25 city. The price: 65 lbs and a $2k-$3k sticker increase to “about $30,000”.  The Lacrosse has sold well this year (by recent Buick standards… 52k sales year-to-date), and the LaCrosse’s average transaction price is reportedly sitting at $32k… but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a gamble. The question now: will GM also drop a two-mode hybrid in the LaCrosse as threatened?

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