AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
While Chevrolet is readying a diesel version of their Cruze compact in 2013, an interesting tidbit of information leaked out regarding another gas-saving variant of the Cruze – a plug-in hybrid model.
Australia’s GoAuto reports that the Cruze will be a traditional plug-in hybrid, where the engine and hybrid system work in tandem, rather than the Volt, which is described as an electric vehicle with a range-extending gasoline engine. “Plug-in Cruze doesn’t make Volt redundant at all. Plug-in Cruze would have a different powertrain. Plug-in hybrids use both the engine and motor all the time,” said Jim Frederico, who is in charge of General Motors’ small electric vehicle program. “The plug-in Cruze has a place and it will be a hybrid.”
GM is testing an all-electric Cruze in South Korea currently, but so far it remains an experimental vehicle. A Cruze plug-in could debut as early as 2014, given the car’s strong sales and the introduction of the diesel version in 2013 (which a plug-in version would likely overshadow).
Specific timetables and other details were not announced, but Toyota is believed to be pursuing the deal to help offset the increased cost of importing Japanese-built hybrids due to a rising yen. Toyota would likely end up sharing its vaunted hybrid technology with BMW in return.
Toyota and Ford recently signed a similar agreement regarding hybrid SUVs, while BMW and PSA (parent company of Peugeot and Citroen) signed one for hybrid subcompacts.
The BMW 5-Series ActiveHybrid will make its debut at this December’s Tokyo Auto Show, featuring BMW’s familiar twin-turbo I6 engine and an electric motor that will produce a total output of 340 horsepower. Backed by an 8-speed automatic, the car will be able to operate in pure electric mode up to 37 mph.
The ActiveHybrid’s 55 horsepower electric motor will be powered by a trunk mounted lithium-ion battery pack, and also allow the driver to coast with the gasoline engine shut off. A boost function will also enable rapid acceleration, though BMW did not elaborate on its exact nature. An energy management system is said to work in concert with the car’s GPS unit to adjust for road conditions.
BMW also markets hybrid versions of the 7-series and X6. A 3-Series Hybrid will bow in 2012, while the i3 and i8 electric cars will debut in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
This may look like a BMW 7-Series sedan with some oddball rims, but our spy photographers report that the vehicle in question is actually a prototype for a new BMW i sedan, based on a couple key points.
For starters, there are apparently electric motors mounted in the wheel hubs, which would suggest a new kind of electric propulsion system previously unseen on a BMW. Furthermore, the front and rear fenders look like they’ve been radically altered to fit the vehicle, which further suggests some alien technology lurking underneath the sheetmetal.
If we had to guess, we’d say that BMW is preparing something to bring the fight to the Tesla Model S and Fisker Karma, but there’s very little information to go on at this time.
GALLERY: BMW i Large Sedan
The Chevrolet Volt will be able to qualify for California’s High Occupancy Vehicle lanes in 2012, after General Motors announced the availability of a Low Emissions Package for their hybird-electric car.
With traffic congestion in California a major annoyance for motorists, the ability to use the HOV lane – via one of the state’s 40,000 permits – will be a boon to Volt drivers. Motorists are normally barred from the HOV lane unless a vehicle has two or more passengers, but the sticker allows for single occupancy vehicles to be exempted.
A revised emission control system and catalytic converter help the Volt achieve Low Emissions status. Volt buyers in California will also be eligible for a total of $9,500 in state and federal tax credits.
Toyota will add another vehicle to the Prius lineup shortly, with the upcoming Prius c subcompact. Intended to be the entry point into the Prius range, the Prius c will supposedly get over 50 mpg in the city.
Technology will also be at the forefront of the Prius c, which comes with an integrated app suite for use with websites like Bing, MovieTickets.com, Pandora and OpenTable, along with Bluetooth integration and a host of safety features.
Expect the Prius c to be about the size of a Toyota Yaris, but positioned as a more premium product. Performance details have not been announced, aside from the obvious use of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive hybrid system mated to a 1.5L 4-cylinder engine. The Prius c will get its official unveiling at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show in January.
Gallery: Toyota Prius c
A fire involving a Chevrolet Volt that had undergone government crash testing has led to authorities investigating the possibility of requiring emergency responders to drain the batteries of electric and hybrid vehicles following a collision.
A Volt that underwent a 20 mph side-impact crash test caught on fire several weeks later, causing the Volt as well as surrounding vehicles to catch fire. The crash test was said to have punctured the vehicle’s lithium-ion battery pack. General Motors said that the fire occurred because the battery had not been drained following the crash, though NHTSA officials said that ”we don’t see the risk of electric vehicles as being any greater than that for a gasoline vehicle.”
200,000 car fires are said to occur in the United States annually, but the issue regarding a battery puncture has led NHTSA and GM to investigate the matter closely, despite both insisting that the vehicle is as safe as any other conventional car. GM currently dispatches a team to drain the battery of any Volt that crashes, and is hoping to make the necessary tools available to dealers in the coming year.
[Source: Detroit Free Press]
A Chevrolet Volt that went through crash-testing at a NHTSA facility in Wisconsin caught on fire three weeks after the test, prompting action from U.S. regulators.
While the investigation hasn’t been made public, sources told Bloomberg that the fire was severe enough to damage surrounding vehicles. An incident also occurred at a private home in North Carolina, where a Volt caught on fire while charging in a garage.
While NHTSA denied that the Volt posed any extra safety risk, sources say that U.S. regulators have since approached OEMs planning to sell electric vehicles regarding the safety of their batteries.
A new continuously-variable transmission, a supercharged 2.5L four-cylinder engine and an front-drive hybrid system should all arrive on the new Nissan Altima for 2013, helping Nissan stay competitive in an increasingly tough segment.
The hybrid drivetrain will be similar to that used on the Infiniti M Hybrid, but adapted for front-wheel drive vehicles. The new hybrid system will work in concert with the new CVT gearbox, which is expected to bring a 10 percent fuel economy boost to any vehicle, regardless of whether it’s equipped with a hybrid system or not.
Finally, Nissan’s venerable 2.5L 4-cylinder engine will get a supercharger, though power figures were not released.
[Source: Automotive News]
Although our German isn’t too great, Auto Motor und Sport, the automotive publication of record in Germany, is reporting that the Hyundai i30, also known as the Elantra Touring, will get a plug-in hybrid version in 2013.
Hyundai has hinted at a competitor to the Toyota Prius before, and the i30, designed with the ultra-competitive European market in mind, is a stylish product that attracted attention from Volkswagen’s CEO at a recent car show due to its outstanding build quality. Such a product would be a great platform for a plug-in hybrid, which would serve as a halo for Hyundai’s “green” image.
Although Hyundai has previously stressed that hybrids and electric cars wouldn’t play a major part in its portfolio, hybrids are an undeniable image booster and plug-in hybrids are exempt from congestion charges in major urban centers like London. With this in mind, Hyundai would be wise to bring a product like an i30 plug-in to market, and hopefully the Korean company will decide to bring it to North America as well.
[Source: Auto Motor und Sport]
2012 is going to be a big year for Ferrari, with two major product launches at the upper-end of the Italian supercar manufacturer’s model range. Ferrari will be bringing out replacements for its now defunct Enzo supercar and its 599GTB grand tourer.
The Enzo successor will have carbon fiber construction and a midship V12, as well as a hybrid system. Ferrari CEO Amadeo Felisa confirmed that the system would be in place, and also have benefits beyond performance, with an eye to increased efficiency as well.
Felisa also noted that the next 599 will be a more extreme car than the current version, and make over 700 horsepower. The current 599GTO (above) makes 661 horsepower, so squeezing more out of the front mounted V12 is certainly within the realm of possibility.
[Source: Car and Driver]
Following in the footsteps of the Aston Martin Cygnet, Lotus will introduce their own City Car, apparently dubbed the Ethos, in late 2013.
First unveiled at the 2010 Paris Auto Show, the Ethos will be powered by a hybrid powertrain or possibly a fully electric system like the Nissan Leaf. The concept used a 1.2L three-cylinder engine with a hybrid system that allowed for 37 miles of electric driving and a total range of 310 miles. Pricing is said to be set at $45,000.
GALLERY: Lotus Ethos Concept
[Source: DuPont Registry]
Ford‘s designs have come a long way over the last decade, with practically their entire lineup looking sharp and attractive – but the Ford Evos Concept has just managed to move the bar substantially higher.
Revealed at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Evos looks like something that would have a V12 under the hood, but it actually packs the same 4-cylinder/plug-in hybrid powertrain as the C-Max minivan. Ford says that the powertrain can be hooked into “cloud computing” technologies that can tell the electric motor system when to increase or decrease energy flow based on changing conditions – a novel idea sure to give privacy advocates a good fright.
The Evos may never see production, but we’re happy that this is supposedly a sign of things to come for Ford’s styling. If only we could throw the Focus ST motor and drivetrain in there.
Gallery: Ford Evos Concept
We’re sure there are legions of fans excited to hear that the 2013 Lexus GS450h will bow at September’s Frankfurt Auto Show – maybe not.
Either way, the GS450h should be an important product for Lexus, as both the originator of the luxury hybrid segment, and a critical new introduction in a market that is fast becoming saturated with hybrids.
No technical details have been announced, but we can expect a 3.5L V6 with an electric motor system, similar to the current GS450h. Stay tuned to AutoGuide for live coverage of the Frankfurt Auto Show starting September 13th.
With the Vatican looking to expand their use of green technology, the next generation Popemobile is reportedly set to employ hybrid technology, although His Holiness would reportedly prefer a fully electric vehicle powered by solar panels.
The new Popemobile will be based off the next-generation Mercedes ML-Class, and used a hybrid system with a 10kw electric motor and a gasoline V6 engine good for a 60 horsepower boost. The same powertrain, fitted in an S-Class prototype, is good for 18.5 miles of purely electric driving, and considering the standard range and speeds of the Popemobile, it should be more than adequate for papal duties.
[Source: New York Times]
Less than a day after releasing their GRMN Sport Hybrid Concept, Toyota has announced specs for their sporty new concept, the first vehicle we’ve seen from the brand since the MR2 sports car bowed out earlier in the decade.
Using a 3.5-liter Type 2GR-FXE V6 engine that produces 249 horsepower, the front-mounted electric motor adds another 50 horsepower for a total of 299 horsepower. Torque figures weren’t announced, but curb weight is said to be 3300lbs or less. While the GRMN is no featherweight, the power-to-weight ratio is roughly equivalent to a BMW 135i, which is certainly no slouch.
The GRMN will make its debut at this weekend’s 24 Hours of Nurburgring race, and will also appear at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
GALLERY: Toyota GRMN Sport Hybrid
Fisker Automotive is looking to hire 120 workers at its newly refurbished Delaware plant as the company gears up for its second electric vehicle, a sedan code-named Project Nina.
Although the Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid has still not gone on sale, Fisker is looking to hire assembly line workers as well as engineering staff and electro-mechanical technicians. A further 80 workers will be hired in 2012. Fisker acquired the Wilmington, Delaware plant from General Motors.
“This is an exciting time for Fisker. As we bring the Fisker Karma sedan to market and start delivering to customers, we are simultaneously starting to employ a world-class American workforce to build world-class American electric vehicles with extended range (EVer) in a re-commissioned American plant,” said Fisker COO Bernard Koehler.
The 2012 Chevrolet Volt will now be available in all 50 states, priced at $39,995, including an $850 destination charge. The price reduction comes as in-dash navigation is now offered as part of an option package rather than standard. Some customers will qualify for a $7,500 tax credit, bringing the effective price to $32,495.
The Volt, with all available options, including a backup camera, navigation system, premium paint and wheels, will cost $46,265. New standard equipment includes standard keyless proximity locking, Onstar turn-by-turn navigation, Bluetooth integration and new alloy wheels. Chevrolet has sold 2,184 Volts through May of 2011.
Volvo CEO Stefan Jacoby announced that the Volvo V60 plug-in hybrid will come to the U.S. by 2014, with one major difference. While the European market V60 will use a diesel-electric hybrid system, the United States will get a gasoline-powered variant.
Jacoby said that the V60 has a target U.S. launch date of 2013 or 2014, since more engineering of the gasoline powertrain will be carried out in advance of the launch. The V60 joins the limited production all-electric C30, and an electric car with a hydrogen fuel-cell range extender in the near future.
[Source: Motor Authority]
Ford will sell its C-Max minivan as a hybrid model only, in an effort to further compete with hybrid offerings like the Toyota Prius V, Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf, which are all offered in 5-door bodystyles.
The C-Max will come only in a 5-seater configuration, with hybrid and plug-in hybrid variations offered. Ford originally planned to offer the car with both a gasoline engine and seven seats. Ford is looking to triple production of electric vehicles and hybrids to more than 100,000 models by 2013.
“Whether people want a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid or full battery electric vehicle, we have a family of vehicles for them to consider, providing a range of options to best meet their needs and support their driving habits and lifestyles,” said Jim Farley, Ford’s group vice president of marketing, sales and service.
Despite the ease with which Ford could produce a three-row or gasoline-only version of the C-Max, the move is likely a result of Ford’s desire to brand the C-Max as a “green” vehicle by way of its hybrid-only powertrain, in the same way that the Toyota Prius is synonymous with the term.
[Source: Automotive News]
Hyundai will apparently launch a competitor to the Toyota Prius in 2013, but the new hybrid Hyundai will be a plug-in hybrid vehicle from the get-go, unlike its Japanese rival, which is slowly rolling out its own plug-in variant.
While the news came from an anonymous source within Hyundai, the Korean automaker is making a strong push in the hybrid segment, as rising gas prices and the launch of the Sonata Hybrid sedan have put Hyundai in an excellent position. Hyundai is also buoyed by Toyota’s hamstrung hybrid lineup, which has seen production difficulties due to Japan’s March 11th earthquake. Hyundai is projecting annual sales of 18,000 units for the Sonata Hybrid in South Korea.
Toyota has already racked up 25,000 pre-orders for its Prius V wagon, (sold as the Prius Alpha in Japan), a figure that works out to more than eight times its original sales target of 3,000 units per month.
The Prius V is the first of many planned iterations of the Prius model range, with a smaller model planned next. Production of the Prius V was delayed due to the earthquake in Japan, which disrupted battery component production and other critical parts. In Japan and Europe, Toyota will sell both five and seven passenger variants, while North American models will only be available with five seats.
Tax credits for hybrid cars sold in Japan are set to expire in April 2012, and fears that vehicles may not be available on time are undoubtedly prompting some of the pre-order rush.
Documents filed with the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission revealed that Fisker, maker of the Karma hybrid sports car, is raising an additional $100 million in funding in advance of the company’s first customer deliveries.
While the investors have not been identified, the money comes in addition to Fisker’s $190 million in financing secured already. The Karma has entered production at Valmet’s Finnish plant. The Karma is expected to go on sale later this year, with an initial run of 3,000 cars before entering full production.
[Source: Automotive News]
The upcoming Toyota Prius V, a pseudo-minivan version of Toyota’s wildly popular Prius hybrid, may be delayed for up to a year because of battery shortages resulting from the March 11th earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Toyota initially planned to launch the vehicle in April, but the resulting supply chain issues have thrown their plans into turmoil. Toyota claimed that the battery shortage was an issue even before the earthquake, but the resulting disruption means that production levels will not reach normal levels for a number of months.
The new battery is a lithium-ion model, which is more compact, and available on the seven-seater Prius V, which will not be coming to North America. Toyota is said to be capable of producing 1,000 cars equipped with this battery, compared to 2,000 per month with the standard nickel-metal hydride unit. But Toyota is hoping to sell 2,000 examples of the Prius V in North America each month, a figure that will have to be adjusted in light of the current situation.
[Source: The Detroit News]