Gas-powered vehicles will remain dominant on the road in 2040 according to a report by the U.S. Energy Information Agency.
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Fuel economy and environmental concerns are pushing 31 percent of new car shoppers to consider diesel-powered cars, a survey recently found.
Top 10 Automotive Stories of 2012
With a heavy heart the staff of AutoGuide.com say goodbye to 2012, along with its triumphs and tragedies. We await the New Year with open arms, and welcome its promise of a better world.
According to the Chinese zodiac, 2012 was a year of the dragon, and it proved to be the stuff of legend, but thankfully it wasn’t a fire-breather. The Mayans were flat-out wrong; their doomsday prophecy was about as accurate as Bernie Madoff’s promise of a sound investment opportunity.
Still, the year brought other significant stories. Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland discovered a subatomic particle consistent with the legendary Higgs boson. Astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon, passed away, and in a brutal political battle Barack Obama won a second term as president of the United States.
Of course the automotive industry made its share of headlines throughout the year. Here’s a rundown of the Top 10 stories from the past 12 months.
A whole slew of new diesel-powered cars have been announced for the U.S. recently, and to help them gain mainstream acceptance, six German automotive companies are teaming up to start the “Clean Diesel. Clearly Better,” campaign, which hopes to educate Americans on diesel technology.
Volkswagen will look to bring to market high-performance diesel models under the newly formed R performance division. In an interview with Autoblog, Ulrich Riestenpatt gt. Richter, the man in charge or Vee-Dub R has confirmed as much, telling the outlet that, “The future is diesel and all-wheel-drive.”
And while he didn’t say as much, that means we can more than likely look forward to a diesel Golf R. The notion isn’t as far from reality as it sounds either, with VW already offering a GTD model in Europe – essentially a sporty diesel with extra power and handling capabilities, inspired by the GTI.
In addition Richter says an R version of any model is possible. Does that mean we’ll see a Jetta R, Passat R or Tiguan R? Perhaps. It most certainly is a strong indication that the Beetle R is coming soon.
GALLERY: Volkswagen Golf R
For European automakers, diesels may rule the road back at home, but they’ve had a challenge convincing North American consumers to adopt the gasoline alternative. And if that’s considered an uphill battle, selling diesel cars in Japan, the land of the hybrid, is a virtual Mount Everest. To date, BMW has never offered a diesel model in Japan, but that will all change at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show.
As a part of BMW’s Tokyo debut lineup will be the X5 xDrive35d BluePerformance with an AdBlue exhaust treatment system so it meets the world’s strictest emissions standards.
Much of the rest of BMW’s Tokyo lineup will focus on its new turbocharged 4-cylinder engines and hybrids with the BMW stand housing the new BMW 1 Series and X1 xDrive20i. In the hybrid camp will be the 7 Series ActiveHybrid as well as the new ActiveHybrid 5 – a 335-hp twin-turbo six-cylinder hybrid.
GALLERY: BMW Tokyo Motor Show Preview
Recognized each year at the LA Auto Show, the finalists for the 2012 Green Car of the Year award have been released, spanning the gamut of possible alternative fuel vehicles. The nominee include the Ford Focus Electric, the 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas, the Mitsubishi i, the Toyota Prius v and the 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI.
While fully electric models like the Fusion Electric and Mitsubishi i are obvious choices, the list goes on to include the Prius v hybrid, the Passat TDI diesel and even the natural gas powered Civic.
“This year’s Green Car of the Year finalists underscore that there is no single solution to our transportation challenges,” said Ron Cogan, publisher of Green Car Journal and editor of GreenCar.com. “Here we have five exceptional answers to the question of how we’re going to increase efficiencies, reduce tailpipe and CO2 emissions, and decrease petroleum use. These nominees deserve to be recognized for their unique approaches in providing consumers diverse choices as cars intelligently evolve toward a more environmentally-compatible motoring future.”
Along with staff from the Green Car Journal, this year’s judging panel for the 2012 Green Car of the Year award includes Carl Pope, Sierra Club chairman; Frances Beinecke, Natural Resources Defense Council president; as well as Jay Leno and Carroll Shelby.
Chevrolet’s decision to offer a diesel-powered Cruze compact in the U.S. is a sign that GM is testing the waters to see how American’s react to the gasoline alternative. Chrysler, says company CEO Sergio Marchionne, has much more ambitious goals for the often-criticized fuel.
Starting with the 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Chrysler Group will re-introduce diesel models to the U.S. The big Jeep will be followed by a diesel powertrain option for most of the company’s large vehicles.
Chrysler predicts that compared to global diesel sales that made up 8 percent of total production in 2009, the American automaker will increase that number to 14 percent by 2014.
In addition, Marchionne admits he has little choice but to also offer hybrids in the near future. Skeptical of the technology, its cost to produce and its ability to sell in significant volumes, Marchionne says new tough fuel economy standards, that will rise from a 35.5-mpg CAFE average in 2016 to a 54.5-mpg rating in 2015, are forcing his hand. “I have no other way of getting to 2025 numbers than by going to hybrids,” he said.
The first of these hybrids set to arrive is believed to be the Chrysler 300 Hybrid, which is rumored to launch in 2013.
[Source: AutoNews via CNET]
It’s happening again. Last year, Mercedes-Benz had to issue a recall on its diesel models over a leaking fuel-filter, and now they have to address this issue all over again.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), certain 2011 and 2012 Mercedes BlueTec diesel may have a possible fuel leak, which can actually lead to fires.
2011 E-class, 2012 S-class, plus 2011 GL-class, ML-class and R-class models are affected by the recall. In total, 6872 vehicles are affected.
If you believe you might have a faulty Benz, you can either contact the NHTSA at 1-888-327-4236 (reference recall campaign number 11V496000) or Mercedes-Benz at 1-800-367-6372.
Chevrolet will begin selling a diesel version of its new Cruze compact sedan starting in 2012. Currently the car is available with two gasoline engines, but according to GMInsideNews, sources at the Lordstown, Ohio plant that builds the car are confirming the diesel model will arrive for the 2013 model year, with sales starting some time in 2012.
The Australian version of the Cruze (which is sold under the Holden brand) uses a 2.0-liter diesel engine making 147-hp and 235 lb-ft of torque, delivering a combined 34-mpg rating. It is not yet clear, however, if that same engine will be offered here.
Back in September GM first announced it would sell a diesel on U.S. soil, marking the first time since the 1980s that a diesel powered passenger car would be offered in GM’s lineup. At that time there was speculation that the Buick Regal would receive the diesel engine as it’s European counterpart, the Opel Insignia is already offered with a choice of several diesel powerplants including a twin-turbo 2.0-liter CDTi Ecotec motor making 190-hp and 300 ft-lbs of torque.
Get more Cruze news and info at CruzeTalk.com
Land Rover will unveil the next step in its mission to become a ‘greener’ automaker at the Geneva Auto Show in just a few weeks time. Set to take the stand alongside the new 3-door and 5-door Evoque models is the Range_e Range Rover Sport.
Powered by a turbo-diesel V6 engine, mated to a plug-in hybrid setup, the Range_e can travel up to 20 miles on pure electric power and reach a total distance of 690 miles.
While an excellent solution to fuel economy and environmental concerns, hybrid diesels are prohibitively expensive for most automakers. That rule may not, however, apply to Land Rover, as many customers purchase the vehicles particularly because of their exclusivity and price.
Still just a concept at this point, Land Rover may make a production announcement for the hybrid diesel SUV in Geneva, with previous reports suggesting it would see production in 2013.
Mazda has long been rumored to be planning to offer diesel-powered vehicles in North America and an official announcement is expected at the New York Auto Show in April.
With relatively low fuel economy across its fleet, Mazda no longer has access to Ford’s more advanced hybrid powertrains. The company is working with Toyota to bring a hybrid model to market, but needs a stop-gap to help bolster its CAFE rating.
Diesels will do the trick, especially with Mazda’s new Sky-D diesel powertrain that is expected to deliver as much as 43-mpg.
What isn’t yet clear is what vehicles Mazda will offer the diesel engine in, and while the CX-9 and Mazda3 are candidates, the CX-7 is the most likely at this point.
Volkswagen‘s 261-mpg XL1 concept car is headed to production, easily besting fuel economy claims by cars like the Chevrolet Volt. Unveiled this week at the Qatar Motor Show, the vehicle is actually billed as a prototype and not a concept, with Volkswagen commenting in an official press release that this latest rendition of its 1 Liter car (a vehicle that can travel 100km on one liter of diesel), puts the project one step closer to production.
In an interview with Automobilwoche, VW execs confirmed plans to build a small production volume of the car (about 100 models), with initial sales in Germany, then in the U.S. and China.
Previous to this news, Volkswagen claimed that at the introduction of the L1 Concept (the XL1′s predecessor) at the Frankfurt Show in 2009 that a vehicle based on that concept would see production in 2013.
The XL1 uses plug-in diesel hybrid powertrain, with a 2-cylinder TDI motor with 48-hp, mated to a 27-hp electric motor and using a 7-speed dual clutch gearbox. Volkswagen says that due to the plug-in hybrid setup, the power contained in the lithium-ion battery pack can propel the car 35 km (roughly 22 miles) emissions free.
GALLERY: Volkswagen LX1 Prototype
Volvo will strive to be the first to market with a diesel plug-in hybrid, debuting a near production ready V60 wagon at the Geneva Auto Show in March. The V6 Plug-in Hybrid will get a claimed 1.9 l/100 km says Volvo, which translates to an incredible 124-mpg.
Combining a 5-cylinder turbodiesel with 215-hp and 325 lb ft of torque with an electric motor, the gas engine will power the front wheels while the car will also include Volvo’s new ERAD (Electric Rear Axle Drive), to enable AWD with a 70-hp motor powering the rear wheels. A lithium-ion battery pack will be used to store energy and the car will use a 6-speed automatic transmission. In addition, it will be able to travel 50 km (31 miles) on pure electric power.
“This second-generation hybrid is the perfect choice for the uncompromising buyer who wants a superbly carbon dioxide-lean car packed with driving pleasure,” says Stefan Jacoby, President and CEO of Volvo Cars. “In order to get true car enthusiasts to think green, you have to offer them the opportunity to drive with low carbon dioxide emissions without taking away the adrenaline rush that promotes genuine driving pleasure. The V60 Plug-in Hybrid has all the traditional properties of a genuine sports wagon. What we’ve done is to spice it up with spearhead technology.”
See AutoGuide’s complete 2011 Geneva Auto Show Preview here.
Jetta TDI owners, your Audi has arrived. Audi is looking to significantly expand its diesel engine offerings to include all high-volume models, which is certain to include the A4. Currently Audi only offers diesel versions of its low volume A3 and the large Q7 SUV.
In an interview with Automotive News, Audi of America president Johan de Nysschen commented that the company expects to increase sales of diesel models to represent 20 percent of annual sales in the U.S. by 2015. This will mark a significant increase from the 5.5 percent that diesels currently represent.
According to de Nysschen, Audi dealers are seeing significant demand for the diesel models and so the automaker intends to respond in order to grow sales. In addition, the increased sale of diesels will help Audi meet increasingly strict emissions regulations set to take effect in 2016.
[Source: AutomotiveNews via LeftLaneNews]
In a bid to meet the 2016 35-mpg CAFE regulations, automakers are doing whatever they can to improve fuel economy and diesels are an excellent short-term way to achieve that goal. Volvo already offers numerous diesel options in Europe and the decision to launch a diesel model on this side of the Atlantic makes smart business sense as the engines are relatively inexpensive to bring over, much cheaper to produce than hybrids and have known fuel economy benefits. (Increasingly strict emissions standards will, however, make it difficult to diesels in North America).
Volvo is keeping quiet on what model could get the diesel option, instead stating that it will depend on market demands. That being the case, and based on Volkswagen’s success with the TDI Sportwagen, we have to think a diesel would best be fitted to the V60 wagon – although it isn’t slated to be sold here. Other likely models to adopt diesel technology include the entry-level C30 as well as the higher-volume S60, not to mention several of the crossovers and SUVs.
Volvo’s powertrain strategy is also set to include both electric and hybrid-electric models.
[Source: Car & Driver]
We’re perhaps starting to wonder if the Mahindra TR20 and TR40 diesel powered pickups will actually ever make it to U.S. shores. Recently it was reported that the trucks had completed all the necessary testing to meet Federal requirements including those set out by the Environmental Protection Agency. However, according to a statement from Pawan Goenka, Mahindra’s President of Automotive Operations, the U.S. launch has been postponed – from Spring until December 2010.
Initially Mahindra planned to launch the TR Stateside in Spring ’09; then it was pushed back to December ’09. Here were are a year later and seemingly little progress is being made; which must be making things increasingly frustrating for John Perez at Global Vehicles, the authorized importer of Mahindra trucks to the U.S. Perez has already stated that communication between GV USA and the Mahindra mothership has been sporadic at best.
According to Goenka, Mahindra aims to acquire between 5-7 percent of the small truck market in the U.S., but increasingly, even that is looking like a pipe dream. Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that small trucks built outside the United States and sold here are subject to a 25 percent tariff (known colloquially as the “chicken tax’). Not surprisingly, Mahindra is keen to seek a partner to locally assemble the 2.2-liter, diesel engined two and four-door trucks. Yet, thanks to yet further delays and mixed signals from India, such a scenario, let along selling the trucks here in sufficient numbers, is looking more and more unlikely.
Indian vehicle manufacturer Mahindra, has reportedly completed testing to ensure it’s compact, diesel powered pickup will meet US Federal emissions requirements. The vehicles will be available in regular and crew-cab configuration, are expected to be priced at around $22,000 and will boast a 1.3 ton payload capacity. But while smog testing might have been completed, according to Mahindra’s stateside distributor, Global Vehicles USA, the company has yet to settle on an official on-sale date.
Being exclusively powered by Mahindra’s own 2.2-liter diesel four-cylinder engine, the trucks have to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s, Tier 2 Bin 5 regulations for emissions, which are the toughest in the world and a primary reason why so many automakers have a very hard time selling diesels here. However, now that those requirements are believed to have been met in testing, EPA certification of the Mahindra pickup will likely be granted within 60 days. However, GV USA Chief Executive Officer, John Perez, is apparently frustrated at the lack of information he’s receiving from Mahindra in India. “It’s a battle to get anything from them. It’s not that they don’t have the information, it’s the culture – they don’t like to make announcements.”
And while that might be par for the course in India, if Mahindra is to have a fighting chance in the world’s most competitive vehicle market, it needs a targeted and focused strategy. Simply waiting until the trucks show up on these shores could cost the company a significant number of initial sales as potential customers sit on the fence or look elsewhere. And to make matters worse, without the initial sales and marketing buzz, if the trucks aren’t well received when they finally arrive here, the company will likely face a sizeable uphill battle to win over buyers – one that could potentially jeopardize it’s long term future in the US.
[Source: Automotive News]
Volkswagen will offer its new mid-size sedan with both gasoline and diesel engines says VW North America boss Stefan Jacoby. In doing so VW will be the only automaker in North America to offer a mid-size diesel sedan, competing against the likes of the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion. The popularity of hybrid mid-size sedans has grown and if VW decides to offer the same TDI motor that powers both the Golf and Jetta then we should expect hybrid-rivaling fuel economy numbers with the Jetta TDI achieving 29/40 mpg (city/highway).
The new mid-size sedan is expected to be larger and less expensive to help it compete with other mid-size sedans and while part of the cost is expected to be the result of a less-premium interior compared to VW’s current mid-size offering (the Passat), much of the cost savings will also made from building the car in the U.S. at the company’s Chattanooga, Tennessee plant. The new mid-size sedan from Volkswagen is set to go on sale next year.
In other VW news, during the same press conference Jacoby waffled on earlier reports that the Golf R was destined for U.S. shores, saying the decision was, “still up in the air.” The main reason the car might not be offered in the U.S. is the poor dollar-to-Euro exchange rate right now. The Golf R, currently on sale in Europe, uses a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine to makes 265-hp and 258 ft-lbs of torque, combined with VW’s 4MOTION AWD setup to deliver a 0-62 mph time of just 5.5 seconds! We’ve speculated in the past that despite those reports to the contrary, the Golf R is unlikely to find its way to the U.S. due to how much it would cost here.
As for the Audi brand, the high-performance S5 model will continue to be offered with a V8 for 2011, rather than the supercharged 3.0-liter V6 currently being used in the A6 3.0T and S4.
Hyundai unveiled its i-Flow concept vehicle, calling it a preview for a future D-Segment contender. According to Hyundai, we may see the i-Flow’s styling and technology in a 2011 production model. Would it be too much to expect it in the 2011 Euro-spec Sonata?
The seventh of a series of concepts from the Russelsheim design studio, the i-Flow extends upon Hyundai’s “fluidic sculpture” philosophy. The outside offers a futuristic look while inside, the i-Flow has an alien, Hyundai calls it “bionic”, feel.
Under the futuristic shell, the i-Flow is Hyundai’s first diesel hybrid powertrain. At the i-Flow’s heart is the U2 1.7L two-stage turbo engine combined with a lithium-ion powered motor. No horsepower or torque figures were provided, but Hyundai says the i-Flow gets 78.4 mpg.
Like the Blue Will concept unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show, the i-Flow recycles exhaust heat, capturing the energy and using it to power auxiliary systems.
The i-Flow also uses a thermal engine encapsulation technology which helps the engine reach optimum operating temperature quicker by retaining heat when the engine is idle. According to Hyundai, the i-Flow’s engine will stay above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) for up to 14 hours, much longer than a non-insulated engine’s time of three hours. Hyundai estimates this will cut 5% of emissions in the summer and up to 9% in the winter.
Gallery: Hyundai i-Flow concept
Concept foreshadows future European replacement for the Sonata
Hyundai has just revealed the first photo that shows its new i-Flow concept in full. The concept car is set to be revealed at next week’s Geneva Auto Show and is a look ahead at the future of the Sonata in Europe. With a new Sonata having just been launched in North America and Korea, Hyundai has decided to shy away from the global vehicle approach and instead create a new Europe-specific Sonata replacement that is likely to be both more premium and more expensive.
With a hybrid version of the new Sonata set to debut this year in North America, Hyundai’s i-Flow concept looks ahead at a possible hybrid diesel for Europe. The i-Flow is powered by a 1.7-liter 4-cylinder turbo-diesel and Hyundai’s Blue-drive hybrid system, as well as a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Hyundai boasts that this engine, combined with a ultra-low drag coefficient of just 0.25 cd helps the concept achieve 78.4 mpg (U.S.).
In addition to this concept, Hyundai will show off low emissions and increased range “blue” versions of it’s i10, i20, i30 and ix35 (Tucson) models. A fuel cell Tucson will also be on display.
GALLERY: Hyundai i-Flow Concept
Official release after the jump:
Land Rover is currently developing a diesel hybrid version of its Range Rover Sport model with a targeted sales date in 2012. A small fleet of five vehicles is expected to be road-ready and testing next year.
Currently Range Rover has an excellent luxury and off-road image, but a terrible reputation when it comes to miles per gallon and emissions. Land Rover says this new hybrid Range Rover should emit just 100g/km of CO2, which is far less than the only other hybrid in this segment, the Lexus RX450 at 148 g/km of CO2.
The diesel engine used would be the same 3.0-liter unit used in the current Range Rover Sport diesel model, that makes roughly 245-hp and 443 ft-lbs of torque. It would be mated to a 25kW electric motor and would be a full hybrid setup capable of running on either gasoline, electric power or a combination of both. It will also have an electric-only range of 20 miles.
No estimates of fuel-economy were given, but the current diesel RR Sport averages 30.7 mpg (in the European cycle), so we expect at least a 5 mpg improvement on that.
The high-tech ERAD electric rear axle that that is expected in the LRX model will not be a part of this hybrid package. As for the LRX, it will debut in 2011 and mark a fresh new start for Land Rover as it begins an up-hill battle to re-brand itself as an environmentally responsible automaker.
Japanese automaker says diesel cars already testing in North America
Mazda is examining whether or not to bring diesel powered cars to North America. Seita Kanai, the company’s R&D boss, recently told Automotive News that diesel Mazdas are already being tested in the U.S.
With certain emissions regulations standing in the way, the biggest holdup that Mazda faces is if it can make a concrete business case for the cars. “As an engineer, ideally I would want to introduce diesels, but I am not sure if it makes a business case,” said Kanai, commenting that the company would need to sell as many as 10,000 units to reach profitability. With strict emission regulations on the way, however, loss-making diesels may be a clever way for the automaker to meet CAFE standards and avoid government penalties.
Roughly a year ago Mazda announced that instead of going the hybrid route it was going to look into diesels while improving the efficiency of its gasoline powered vehicles. This week the company displayed several of those new technologies and recently announced it would begin looking into hybrid technology.
One of the engines featured in Tokyo was a new 2.2-liter turbo diesel motor that is expected to deliver a 50 percent fuel-economy improvement over the current engine, which gets 31.4 mpg (average) in the CX-7 diesel (pictured above).
With Mazda’s hybrid program still in its infancy, diesels may be used in the interim. If Mazda were to start selling diesels in North America they would be the only Japanese automaker to do so. Currently Volkswagen (a long time proponent of diesels) is expanding its diesel offerings in North America with considerable success.
Even if the diesel plan does go ahead, it is not clear if Mazda intends to sell diesel versions of its SUVs or if it would follow in VW’s footsteps and offer fuel-miser versions of cars like the Mazda3 or the upcoming Mazda2.
[Source: Automotive News via LeftLaneNews]