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.
Toyota pulled back the covers today at its Hybrid World Tour event in Michigan, giving a small glimpse of advanced fuel-saving technologies currently in development.
We’ve got to laugh a little at the German automaker for deciding to intentionally offer less-than-optimal fuel efficiency in the Q5s headed to North America. Their 2.0-liter TDI is actually more efficient than the hybrid powertrain that will be available stateside.
To keep people from flocking to the most efficient bird in the roost, Audi decided to slip the same 3.0-liter diesel from the Q7 into the smaller Q5, branding it as a more performance-oriented option.
You can see in the photos that the Q5 is getting Audi’s S-line treatment like the new A4 and A6. We’re also told that the compact SUV will come with the latest multimedia interface, including Audi connect and Google Maps.
GALLERY: 2013 Audi Q5 spy photos
Efficiency is important these days. The government is cracking down on gas guzzlers and imposing strict regulations that force automakers into saving more fuel than ever before.
That’s why it might come as a surprise that Audi of America is opting not to offer their most efficient diesel engine in the upcoming 2013 Q5. That’s right, the German luxury brand sees fit to package the same diesel 3.0-liter V6 that they currently offer American consumers in the Q7.
Why, you might ask? The answer is simple, though less than logical. Audi is afraid of selling a 2.0 turbo diesel Q5 because it gets better milage than the hybrid-electric powertrain they are offering in the same vehicle.
In other words, the diesel engine is too efficient for the discerning U.S. palette. Now, there may be some merit to the theory, considering diesel fuel is more expensive than gasoline. People can be quick to judge at the pump and diesels still carry a somewhat sordid name among American consumers, even today.
On the other hand Hybrids evoke green imagery and environmentally friendly thoughts, which is even funnier when you realize that Europeans have been driving diesels to save fuel for decades.
Regardless of the reasoning, Audi is doing a good job of pandering to consumer egos, saying they chose to offer a more performance oriented diesel and an efficient hybrid.
Speaking of performance-oriented diesels, the company will also be offering Americans the same engine in the A8 later this year. The same logic that spoiled the chances for a 2.0-liter diesel Q5 is also keeping the hybrid A8 out of reach.
“Our current A8 with the 4.2L gasoline V-8 gets the same fuel economy as hybrids from BMW, Lexus and Mercedes” due to its emphasis on weight-saving aluminum construction, Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen said to Ward’s Auto. “Imagine now what happens when you put a diesel in the car. You have all the driveability and driving enjoyment with even better fuel economy.”
In fact, 41% of Q7 and 55% of A3 sales in the U.S. were diesel models, though the fact that Audi still ships from Germany probably restricted supply, so it makes sense that they would be rolling more models out with the oil-burning option.
GALLERY: Audi Q5 Hybrid
[Source: Wards Auto]
Pump up your tires and pump up your tank, there’s a new kind of fuel in town thanks to the Dearman Engine Company.
Well, that’s not totally true. The fuel is actually air in liquid form, so it isn’t actually new, but the London-based company that formed just under a year ago has managed to develop an engine that runs on it.
The system works by storing air at -256 degrees Fahrenheit in a tank before pumping it into a cylinder with what Dearman calls a heat exchange fluid. Once inside the chamber, the liquid air rapidly expands to propel the piston in the same fashion as a traditional internal combustion engine. The coolest part is that the system’s exhaust only emits air.
Tech stories about revolutionary new systems aren’t all that rare and they usually end by essentially saying “it’s really cool, but don’t expect it to ever be mainstream” and while that’s probably still the case here, Dearman is quick to point out that their motor relies solely on existing materials.
Truth be told, the air is actually just an energy catalyst. That means automotive applications would require a secondary power source to keep the tank chilled. It also seems that liquid air used as fuel would slowly disappear from cars that sat for a long time.
The system is currently being tested for real-world feasibility, but if it proves to be a workable system we speculate that it could play into a new gasoline or electric hybrid drivetrain somewhere in the future. If it ever happens, you could be “gassing up” with an air compressor while you check tire pressure. Watch the video after the jump to learn more.
Mitsubishi has achieved decent amounts of success with the i-MiEV electric car in its home land, and also in Europe, where this model is also sold badged as a Peugeot iOn.
Next month, the i-MiEV will be going on sale in America (called simply the “i” in our market), which will no doubt increase sales numbers of this innovative commuter car.
Not ones to rest on their laurels, Mitsubishi has announced an ambitious plan to electrify themselves, by producing eight electric-vehicles by 2016. These will include plug-in hybrids and full electric vehicles.
Part of this new plan is to produce small SUV’s and light trucks which will attract farmers, contractors, and others who use light trucks as part of their work.
Mitsubishi is well under way with this new project, and expects to put its electric truck on sale globally by April 2013. It’s not clear if the light truck will be part of Mitsubishi’s North American line-up, but its other electric vehicles will be available here.
Mitsubishi hopes to sell 42,000 electric vehicles in 2012, double the number it moved this fiscal year. The American market is a crucial part of Mitsubishi’s goals. The “i” car as mentioned before will go on sale soon with a starting price of $29,125, minus the Government rebates.
[Source: Automotive News]
Mazda spoke about new gasoline engines during a recent presentation, and also touched on the possibility of offering a clever new diesel engine to our market, but they didn’t mention anything about hybrids.
But just because they didn’t say anything, doesn’t mean they aren’t working on one. According to some spy photo’s circulating the web, it is working on a hybrid version of the Mazda6. However, rather than spend huge amounts of money on developing their own bespoke hybrid system, Mazda has signed a licensing agreement with Toyota over the use of its hybrid tech.
The Mazda6 hybrid test mule confirms its Toyota roots as the gear-lever in these prototypes have been lifted out of the Prius. Mazda says that while the technology is borrowed, the tuning will be all Mazda’s own, so the drive feel will be unique to them.
Will the hybrid model have an affect on Mazda’s plans to launch diesel models in North America? We hope not.
[Source: Car and Driver]
Earlier this year, Land Rover introduced three hybrid-electric concept vehicles at the Geneva Motor Show, and now Land Rover is looking to put them to the test.
The RAC Future Car Challenge is an annual event that showcases technology that we might see in production cars in years to come. Think of it as a motor show that doesn’t stand still.
Land Rover is keen to show that its plug-in diesel-hybrid concepts actually work, and has entered them in this years challenge.
The Range_e is based on a Range Rover Sport TDV6. While the concept retains the production vehicles 245-hp, 3.0-liter, V6 engine, it also gains a 69KW electric motor, which runs on a 14.2KW/h lithium-ion battery pack. This vehicle can be charged using a 240V household plug, and can propel this heavy 4×4 vehicle upto 20-miles on battery power alone.
The challenge will be held on November 5th, in London and will cover a 60-mile route. The target of this challenge is to see who can use the least amount of energy to cover the route in the 2 hour, 45 minute minimum to 3 hour 30 minute maximum time.
This Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) is planned to go into production in 2013 for the Japanese market, and rumors suggest it will be on sale in North America also, albeit at a later date.
The Swift PHEV has a range of 19-miles on just electric power, but also has a 660cc range extender motor. So it won’t be fast, but it should be economical to run.
Suzuki is also looking to attract customers with its price, which is rumored to be at $25,000 when it goes on sale.
So for those looking for a city commuter, this might just be the car they are looking for.
[Source: Nikkei via Left Lane News]
General Motors Announces that the Upcoming Chevrolet Volt Will use Battery Packs Made in the U.S.A.
After a press conference the day before where every new, exciting and award winning GM vehicle was paraded before the media, the General’s second North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) press conference featured a sparse stage populated only by the upcoming Checy Volt and GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner.
Wagoner announced that the battery packs that will be used in the company’s upcoming plug-in hybrid Volt will be manufactured in the United States. The 31,000 sq.-ft. facility (roughly the size of GM’s display at the Detroit Auto Show) will be built in Michigan in 2009 with output of the battery packs in 2010.
The lithium-ion battery cells for the Volt will be provided by LG Chem and LG Chem’s subsidiary, Compact Power Inc., (based in Troy, MI) will build the battery packs until that facility is operational.
The production facility is, however, just the beginning of GM’s commitment to hybrid-electric power, which to date is a commitment of over $1 billion. General Motors will work with the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering to develop a battery lab to develop new battery designs.
The Chevy Volt and the Voltec hybrid-electric system (which can power the car for 40 miles on zer0-emissions electric power before switching over to a conventional hybrid system) will begin production in late 2010 to go on sale in 2011.