Category: Hybrid

By on July 8, 2019

ZF Friedrichshafen has agreed to supply Fiat Chrysler with its second-largest order to date. While top honors belong to BMW, FCA will be using the same eight-speed automatic transmissions sourced for the Bavarian-based applications. “Optimized for electrification” as per ZF’s press announcement, the gearboxes are designed for longitudinally mounted engines ⁠— including those utilizing hybrid systems.  Read More >

By on January 19, 2019

Are the 66,716 Americans who helped take the venerable Dodge Challenger to a new sales record in 2018 just Luddites, rebelling against a rising tide of electrification and autonomy? Maybe, but the era of a Challenger line powered solely by gasoline is drawing to a close.

Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley addressed the muscle car’s future at this week’s Detroit auto show, admitting that, at some point, the Challenger needs to grow greener. That means venturing into the unsexy world of electrification — an unthinkable act for some American muscle purists. Read More >

By on January 4, 2019

Image: Ford

After rocking the same design with only minor alterations since 2011, Ford will soon debut an all-new Explorer. Arriving this year as a 2020 model, the model adopts the modular CD6 platform shared with Lincoln’s Aviator, making the new version of the venerable SUV rear-drive biased once again. New powerplants are also on the way.

Before we lay eyes on the new ute, however, Ford wants to show us, once again, the Explorer’s law enforcement brother: the Police Interceptor Utility, which the company first revealed under the cloak of darkness last June. We now have light. A wildly common sight on North American roads, the new version of the copped-up Explorer is all about nabbing bad guys … and saving departments money. The vehicle you see here arrives with a standard hybrid drivetrain. Read More >

By on January 4, 2019

“I thought the sun rose in your eyes, and the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave … to the dark … and the endless skies, my love,” sang Roberta Flack in the heady and decadent early ’70s. Suffice it to say this writer didn’t feel the earth move in his hand upon gazing at the Infiniti QX Inspiration, not did his heart tremble like a captive bird.

The QX Inspiration, like the Q Inspiration concept of 2018, heralds Infiniti’s electric — or at least electrified — future, and it’s a future without a face. Read More >

By on December 21, 2018

2017 Chevrolet Volt - Image: Chevrolet

The vehicle they provide batteries for has less than three months to live, and this week brought news to 50 workers at General Motors’ Brownstown Battery plant that their positions are even more short-lived. In a filing with the state of Michigan, GM said it will cut 37 hourly and 13 salaried workers at the Detroit-area facility, adding an extra dollop of job losses to the mass culling announced late last month.

If the idea of owning a plug-in hybrid with real electric range tickles your fancy, your time’s running out fast. Read More >

By on December 18, 2018

2019 Toyota Prius AWD-e - Image: Toyota

As America’s new vehicle market shifts to vehicles with four driven wheels, greater ride height, and dog-friendly tailgates, it seems more than sensible for the Toyota Prius to take part in some community outreach.

The Prius, America’s 10th-best-selling car just a decade ago, can keep doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. Or, the Prius can make a significant change – via available “independent electric, magnet-less rear motor” – to offer all-wheel drive, one of the feature sets that’s drawing car buyers away from cars.

And that’s exactly what Toyota has done for the otherwise refreshed 2019 Prius (reviewed last week by our own Matt Posky). In a manner of speaking, Toyota expects big things from the Prius AWD-e: 25 percent of Prius customers, to be precise.

But one-fourth of all Prius volume is not what it used to be. In fact, it’s a far cry from what it used to be. A mere fraction of what it used to be. One-quarter of all Prius volume will make the Prius AWD-e barely more common than the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. Read More >

By on December 14, 2018

While an inarguable success for Toyota, the Prius lost considerable clout through some odd styling decisions, a market trending toward crossovers, and smug owners who put a sour taste in everyone else’s mouth. I was never really a fan of the model, but I appreciated what it offered — outstanding economy, sufficient utility, and rather good comfort (especially in the current generation) for a reasonable price.

Hoping to reach new customers living in the snowbelt and restore some of its lost groove, Toyota has updated the Prius and will begin offering the model with all-wheel drive. Well, I say “all-wheel drive,” but things are a little more complicated than that.

The 2019 Prius AWD-e utilizes a small, magnetless motor to drive the rear wheels, while keeping the aft axle completely independent from the existing 1.8-liter hybrid system and its own pair of motor/generators. Fortunately, I had an opportunity to explore the new system in the wintry wilds of Wisconsin to see if it’s any good.

Read More >

By on December 3, 2018

For two decades, the name “Prius” was all a committed Toyota buyer needed to know when searching for a compact hybrid vehicle. Soon, there’ll be two options, not counting the plug-in Prius Prime.

The automaker’s decision to offer a hybrid version of the still strong-selling Corolla was not made to usher its famed hybrid model into the shadows; rather, there’s two key reasons for it. Sure, the Corolla nameplate carries an enviable reputation and boatloads of name recognition, but Toyota’s also willing to admit that the Prius’ attributes just weren’t resonating with a certain segment of the American public.  Read More >

By on December 3, 2018

2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid engine close-up

Despite long, grinding years of adulthood, the word “synergy” still reminds this author of the character on the excruciatingly 1980s cartoon Jem and the Holograms, which his older sister would commandeer the TV set for on various mornings. To Toyota, the word is the centerpiece of Hybrid Synergy Drive — the name applied to its hybrid drivetrains since the dawn of the gas-electric era.

Times change and, just as hoop earrings are no longer rad, the word “hybrid” has evolved to mean any one of a confusingly long list of gas-electric propulsion systems. Studies show that a great many consumers are still mystified about hybrids.

Hybrid Synergy Drive needs a makeover. Read More >

By on November 15, 2018

2017 Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Culver City - Image: Cadillac

As one hat joins the wardrobe, another leaves the closet for a trip to the goodwill store. Cadillac’s flagship CT6 appeared at dealers in early 2016 with a range of powerplants in tow, most notably a plug-in hybrid promising 31 miles of gas-free driving. Big, traditional, American luxury sedans needn’t be dinosaurs, Cadillac said of the lightweighted plug-in.

Well, an asteroid just fell on a new, green Detroit. Read More >

By on November 9, 2018

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Press Launch

While the brand name inspires more than a few snorts of derision and jokes in North America, Mitsubishi, now backed by the mighty Renault-Nissan Alliance, carries greater clout overseas. The automaker’s Outlander PHEV outsells all other plug-in hybrids in the UK, and global sales of the brand’s vehicles are on the upswing.

Being a part of the alliance means Mitsu will soon have its hands on new architecture, but the brand claims it isn’t about to go all snobby with a line of dedicated electric car models. Sure, there’ll be EVs in the future, but they won’t be standalone models. The automaker claims the technology it’s most known for — plug-in hybrid powertrains — remains the best bet for most consumers, and that’s why it plans to focus mainly on PHEV.

Also, you really won’t need an EV if you buy the next-generation Outlander PHEV, claims Mitsubishi strategy boss Vincent Cobee. Read More >

By on October 31, 2018

Image: Hyundai

Imagine a parked vehicle that slowly sucks dino juice from vast, underground deposits through its tires. That’s essentially what Hyundai Motor Group wants to do with its vehicles, the only difference being the energy source and the direction it’s coming from.

Despite being talked about for years, solar roofs on automobiles haven’t seen widespread adoption. Cost, practicality, and rollover safety concerns mean the largest user of the technology is the Japanese and European-market Toyota Prius Prime. Now, Hyundai wants to go solar in a big way, starting next year.

The automaker wants buyers to know that solar roofs aren’t useless for regular, gas-swilling vehicles, either. Read More >

By on October 19, 2018

Image: Ford/YouTube

Ford Motor Company dropped its first Bryan Cranston-filled “Built Ford Proud” commercial today, offering the Breaking Bad alumnus an opportunity to cast aspersions at the company’s rivals, including industry startups. It’s filled with Ted Talk-bashing, futurespeak-trashing bravado linked together with a thread of get ‘er done, implying that talk is cheap, and real progress takes hard work.

You can count on Ford to build the future — that’s the message here.

Halfway through the ad, a 1960s Mustang blasting through a desert landscape morphs into a contemporary model, then morphs again into something else. But what is it? Read More >

By on October 12, 2018

The European new car market is in a period of extreme flux. Once-dominant diesels are on the way out thanks to new regulations, looming bans, and cancelled tax incentives, with electrified vehicles poised to take over the high-MPG role.

But not everything’s rosy in the clean, green market on the other side of the Atlantic. A new, more accurate way of measuring fuel economy went into effect last month, and governments — as well as automakers — suddenly realized certain vehicles weren’t as clean as initially thought. Looking to buy a plug-in hybrid in the UK? Say goodbye to that juicy government incentive. Read More >

By on October 11, 2018

2018 Niro Plug-In Hybrid, Image: Kia Motors

Kia will be recalling 27,000 Niro hybrids sold within the United States due a potential defect in its wiring relay that could potentially send the rear seats up in smoke. According to filings with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Kia reported a few warranty claims involving burn or heat damage to the rear seats. There was also at least one customer complaint alleging that the rear seat actually caught fire.

Affected units are said to come from the 2017 and 2018 model years. The main relay located beneath the rear seats is believed to have poor connections between its contacts on some vehicles. This results in increased electrical resistance and heat. In a worst-case scenario, a fire is totally possible.  Read More >

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