Five days ago we released the first part of the 2013 Accord review. It’s not how we normally do things, but in order to get our hands on the second best-selling mid-size sedan in America we had to agree to keep you all in suspense. If you want to know about the new Accord’s drivetrain, interior and infotainment systems, click on over to part one and then head back here when you’re done. I promise we’ll wait for you.
Redesigning the second best-selling midsize sedan in America is no easy task. It’s also one that doesn’t happen very often for fear of getting it wrong. Still, even with all the bad press the new Civic received, sales have been booming. By all appearances this has not made Honda sit on their hands however when it came to the new Accord. Honda invited us to Santa Barbara to sample the all-new, smaller, 9th generation Honda Accord. This is a bold launch event with not just a new engine and transmission under the hood, but an all new hybrid technology on offer as well. If you want to know how it drives, or how much it costs, our Honda overlords have decreed our lips must be sealed until the 10th at 6AM Eastern. Set yourself a reminder then click-through the jump for part one.
Public beta tests are common in the computer world where a group of fanatics pound your beta to death and help you find the problems. In the automotive world this activity is not only rare, it runs contrary to the cash spent on dressing future cars in swirly vinyl. The Prius plug-in is different. Toyota built 600 demonstrators and sent them to large corporations, Zipcar fleets and, of course the press. Even TTAC was allowed to drive one for a week. What does that have to do with the final product? And how does it stack up against the Volt, Plug-in Fusion and the 2013 Accord Plug-in? Let’s find out.
In the ramp-up to the launch of the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf, a great debate seized the engineering community: was Nissan opening itself to problems by not including a active thermal management system for the Leaf’s battery pack, or was Chevrolet’s liquid-cooled approach simply adding unnecessary complexity? Well, thus far, the verdict seems to be in Nissan’s favor. Though Leaf has been troubled by some dissatisfaction with its real-world range, the Volt has endurd the first technical semi-scandal of the plug-in era, when federal regulators found that ruptured coolant lines could cause fires. Now the liquid-cooled approach is hitting its second challenge, as Fisker’s battery supplier A123 Systems is warning in a letter [PDF] that
some of the battery packs we produce for Fisker Automotive could have a potential safety issue relating to the battery cooling system.
The Chevy Volt’s best news in ages broke yesterday when GreenCarReports, er, reported that the Fisker Karma had received EPA approval at 32 miles of EV range, and 20 MPG (combined) thereafter. Moreover, the MPGE (the “e” is for “equivalent”) rating of 52 on electric power is nearly half the Volt’s 94 MPGE rating, suggesting that the Karma is not the most efficient car even in EV mode. And, at nearly 5,600 lbs (per evo.co.uk), you don’t have to look far to find out why. But if you ask Fisker, the problem isn’t the car… the problem is those darn EPA numbers, which you should probably just ignore anyway. After all, nobody drives less efficiently than their car’s EPA numbers, right? (Read More…)
In an era of increasingly-globalized automobiles, the “market-to-market adjustments” which modify a global vehicle to “local tastes” are becoming an interesting source of insight into a company’s perspective. And Chevrolet Europe boss Wayne Brannon revealed one of the more significant adjustments in recent memory (because nobody reads the press releases), when he told Automotive News [sub]‘s Dave Guilford
I just switch it into extended range mode, and I drive on fuel until I get there. When I drive in the little villages and towns, I drive in electric mode.
The reason it was important here is we have cities — like London — where you don’t have to pay a congestion charge if you’re running purely on battery. You save the battery for when you need it.
Gosh, that’s an interesting idea. It would certainly help clear up some of the confusion in the marketplace about why the Chevy Volt is the way it is. Imagine the tagline: “Gas or electric? You decide.” So, how about it, GM? Will that feature come to the US?
The main tool for the government’s crusade to get one million plug-in cars on the road by 2015 is the “Qualified Plug-In Electric Vehicle Tax Credit,” a credit that returns between $2,500 and $7,500 to purchasers of a qualifying vehicle. To qualify for the minimum $2,500 credit, a vehicle must have a traction battery with a minimum of four kW/h, and the credit adds an additional $417 in credits for every kW/h above the minimum. Why? Well, you might think that it’s because the DOE has done its research and determined that larger battery packs deliver more social benefits… at least until the 16kW/h limit (the exact size of the Chevy Volt’s battery), where the credit tops out at $7,500. But according to new research by Carnegie Mellon’s Jeremy Michalek, that basic assumption doesn’t appear to be true at all. In fact, his latest paper argues that the government would actually be better off subsidizing smaller, not larger, battery packs.
With the environment taking an ever-larger place in automotive advertising, it’s interesting to note that Fisker’s latest brochure puts green in its place: behind sexy. Of course these sultry images [via BusinessInsider] aren’t free from environmental overtones, featuring taglines like “designed to get you hot, not the planet,” but it’s clear that Fisker is more heavily relying on the most traditional tool in the advertising playbook. Why? For one thing, even though Fisker is delivering Karmas, the EPA has not yet certified its efficiency rating… so we don’t even know how environmentally friendly it is yet. For another the Karma’s main rival, Tesla’s forthcoming Model S, is pure electric and therefore more appealing to wealthy environmentalists. Finally, unlike environmental messaging, sex doesn’t remind people that Fisker was the beneficiary of over half a billion dollars in government loans. Plus, sex is still, well, sexy. The more things change, the more they stay the same…
Truth seeking is difficult considering the controversy, misinformation and flat-out lies surrounding the Chevrolet Volt. But this is a product with set attributes, some are better or worse than our collective expectations. The performance reminds me of live music: everyone has an opinion as to how much it rocked. And the Chevrolet Volt is Jimi Hendrix on wheels: an American likely to influence popular culture for decades after leaving the limelight. But more importantly, like the influences of jazz and blues in Jimi’s work, the Volt combines Detroit’s future with memorable elements of the past. It’s true. (Read More…)
Three times now, GM has planned to build a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of its Theta-platform crossovers, once with the Saturn Vue, once with the Buick “Vuick” and now, according to Reuters
General Motors Co has canceled plans to develop a plug-in hybrid vehicle based on the current Cadillac SRX crossover platform, deciding the project was not financially viable, three people with direct knowledge of the project said.
While two of the sources said the plans could still be revived on a future platform, they and two others familiar with the matter said engineers involved had been reassigned to other projects.
A number of plug-in hopeful firms have been testing their future products in fleets, keeping a close eye on the data coming back as they prepare for their consumer launches or wider availability. One such vehicle, Toyota’s plug-in Prius has been testing for some time now, and while the results of US and European testing hasn’t been publicized yet, Wards Auto reports that the company has disclosed the results of Japanese testing with some interesting conclusions. With BYD and Chevrolet releasing data from their own plug-in testing, we should have the basis for some interesting insights. Hit the jump for more on the lessons learned and the data gleaned from this testing of next-gen drivetrains.
It’s not every day that an automotive blogger gets to drive the future of transportation, a radical rethinking of how we interact with our private transport, and yet that’s exactly what I recently did. And no, I’m not talking about the Prius Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV)… that’s just a Prius with some larger batteries and re-worked software. No, what makes our time with this particular Prius noteworthy is that it isn’t technically private transport. Welcome to the future: the public plug-in hybrid (PPHEV).
By gobbling up EVs, GE certainly helps to jump-start the industry, but they also gobble up future tax credits that consumers would have gotten, unless GE opts to forego the EV tax credit. Which would be bad business.
Yup, GE’s huge EV buy will be good for GE… but it won’t be so great for the 25,000 Americans whose tax credit will slurped up in the process. After all, the credit expires after a manufacturer sells 200k qualifying vehicles, so every credit GE uses brings GM and Nissan that much closer to the day they have to ask consumers to pay full price for their pricey EVs. No wonder GM is already pushing for an extension of the credit past 200k units.
Technology Review reports on Levant Power’s “GenShock” technology, which generates electricity by converting the kinetic energy of suspension travel into electricity. And electricity generation isn’t the whole story: the entire suspension is an actively-controlled, dynamic system that improves performance as well as efficiency in a turnkey package.
Levant has developed a modified piston head that includes parts that spin as it moves through the oil, turning a small generator housed within the shock absorber. To improve vehicle handling, the power controller uses information from accelerometers and other sensors to change the resistance from the generators, which stiffens or softens the suspension. For example, if the sensors detect the car starting a turn, the power controller can increase the resistance from the shock absorbers on the outer wheels, improving cornering, says David Diamond, the vice president of business development at Levant.