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.
As global demand for hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles continues to grow, the demand for lithium is also growing exponentially.
Electric cars are still a tough sell with consumers, but plug-in hybrids are starting to get more bites as people warm to the idea of the highly-efficient cars.
On September 23, 2012, owners of plug-in hybrid and all electric vehicles are invited to particiapate in National Plug-In Day, meant to celebrate and spread awareness about environmentally friendly vehicles.
Given how a number of states have been following California’s lead in recent years, including the likes of Maryland, New Jersey and New York, there’s a distinct possibility we could see the expansion of zealous zero emissions requirements.
Recently, the California Air Resources Board approved a measure that requires some 15.4 percent of all vehicles sold in the Golden State to be Zero emissions compliant by 2025 (in other words be plug-in hybrids, pure EVs or fuel-cell machines).
California’s zero emissions mandate was first introduced in 1990, though in recent years, the standards have been significantly tightened. For automakers, the issue presents a bit of a dilema, especially if other states choose to follow California’s ruling.
As it stands, buyers haven’t exactly warmed up to the idea of plug-in hybrids or pure EVs, despite the media hype they generate. Currently, sales represent just 0.1 percent of the entire US vehicle market.
Consequently, there are concerns within the auto industry that given the sluggish demand, sales of zero emissions vehicles won’t grow fast enough to meet the mandated targets, meaning that automakers could risk facing hefty fines. Bailey Wood, director of legislative affairs for the National Automobile Dealer’s Association, believes the requirements could result in a very tough market for dealers to do business, because it would require stocking more models that aren’t popular with buyers. “Already, dealers have to accept less popular vehicles to get the ones they want,” he stated. “With the [zero-emission vehicle] mandate, it will be even worse.”
That said, David Clegern, speaking on behalf of CARB, says that the new ZEV regulations were conceived with flexibility in mind, meaning that should an automaker struggle to hit the required sales targets for such vehicles in one state, it has the option of shipping them to another without incurring penalties. In addition, those manufacturers that exceed federal rules can earn credits which they can apply to state regulations, with sales of gasoline-electric hybrids being eligible for such credits, at least initially.
However, with sales of even gas-electric hybrids currently remaining flat (at around 3 percent of all US vehicle demand) and fuel cell cars and trucks still showing little sign of becoming available within the next few years, meeting these tough ZEV targets is going to prove challenging at best.
[Source: Automotive News]
As brands go, Chrysler isn’t much for making hybrids and EVs, but that’s changing. The automaker just announced that it delivered four plug-in hybrid Town & Country mini vans to the city of Auburn Hills, Mich. as a two-year demonstration project.
Chrysler says it’s pouring $15.8 million into the project, which will be supplemented by another $10 million from the Department of Energy but only 25 vehicles will be built, which means each unit is a million-dollar car.
It may have been rumored as a rebadged Nissan Leaf, but Infiniti’s new electric car concept is unique, luxurious and innovative.
Unveiled today at the New York International Auto Show the Infiniti LE Concept is referred to as a “production intent” vehicle says Infiniti of the Americas Vice President Ben Poore, with plans to have a model in dealerships in two years.
Infiniti doesn’t say exactly what LE stands for, and while “Luxury Electric” comes to mind, so does the brand’s ownership by French automaker Renault.
“Infiniti believes the future of luxury is sustainable luxury and we intend to continue taking a leadership role, building on the foundation set by our advanced Infiniti M Hybrid and high-mpg Infiniti JX luxury crossover,” says Poore. As a result, the Le Concept offers a premium interior, stylish exterior, a powerful motor and some impressive new technology.
Originally code named Project Nina, Fisker Automotive unveiled its newest model on the eve of the 2012 NY Auto Show. Now called the Atlantic, it may be a concept car, but according to company co-founder Henrik Fisker it’s 90 of what the production car will be.
Fisker didn’t provide a timeline on when it hopes the car will make it to market and based on the numerous delays the brand’s first car, the Karma, took to launch, it could still be a while. Few exact details are know about the car, but at its reveal Henrik Fisker did provide some insight, as well as plenty of info on exactly just what its main competitors will be.
GALLERY: Fisker Atlantic Concept
For more on the Atlantic, watch the video below:
No powertrain details are yet available, with the current Panamera S Hybrid making 380 hp from a combination of an electric motor and a supercharged V6 engine. Porsche claims a 0-60 time of 5.7 seconds with a price of $95,000.
In addition, a similar plug-in hybrid powertrain is expected to be fitted to Audi’s Q7 SUV, and a version for the Cayenne is then also likely.
Volkswagen AG, which owns Audi and 49.9 percent of Porsche, is also planning plug-in hybrid versions of the European version of the VW Passat as well as the Audi A3.
Speaking with Automotive News, VW electric drive boss Rudolf Krebs commented that, “We are really convinced that the future of hybrids won’t be pure hybrids, but the plug-in hybrids.” Rather than relying primarily on an electric engine for power, like, say, the Toyota Prius, VW’s strategy will be to put the focus on the electric drive system with a gasoline engine used to deliver extra range.
Infiniti has announced that its upcoming plug-in hybrid sports car concept will be called the Emerge-E.
Using a gasoline range-extended to add power and range to an electric powertrain, this will be the first such system used in an Infiniti product. The “advanced sports car concept” will also be the first Infiniti to use a mid-engine powertrain configuration.
Few details are yet known about the brand’s new flagship performance vehicle but Infiniti is promising a zero emissions mode as well as “vivid performance.”
Watch the latest video teaser for the Emerge-E below:
It’s a look into the future says Toyota. Unveiled last week at the Detroit Auto Show, the NS4 plug-in hybrid concept was built to showcase a new plug-in hybrid model Toyota is planning that will sit separate from the Prius in its lineup. The car will get a next-generation hybrid drivetrain and also features several safety technologies that Toyota will add to its cars in the near future.
To find out more about the Toyota NS4 plug-in hybrid, watch our fist look video below.
GALLERY: Toyota NS4 Plug-in Hybrid Concept
Setting a new industry benchmark, Ford will unveil its new Fusion and Fusion Hybrid today at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. What might just be the best looking mid-size sedan on offer, Ford’s hybrid model also offers class-leading fuel economy with an incredible 47-mpg city and 44-mpg highway rating. Those numbers best the current industry leading Camry by 4 mpg city and 5 mpg highway.
Helping achieve that number is a smaller 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack, delivering 185 hp – a number that is down about 15 hp from the competition. Helping raise the car’s highway mileage is the fact that it can now operate on pure electric power at speeds of up to 62 mph, compared to 47 mph on the previous model.
If not even those numbers impress you then Ford has one more card to play, the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid. The car is projected to achieve a 100 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) rating. That number is actually 8 mpge ahead of the Volt and 13 ahead of the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid. What Ford has not released, however, is how far the car’s electric range is.
Taking a page from the Hyundai-Kia playbook, Ford admits that while the last Fusion was a smart choice for rational car buyers, it was hardly emotional. That has all changed with this latest model that is, simply put, one handsome sedam. Ford also promises a vastly improved and more spacious interior, with the obvious additions of SYNC and the latest version of the MyFord Touch telematics system.
GALLERY: 2013 Ford Fusion
We’ve already been given the scoop on Volvo‘s upcoming V60 Plug-in Hybrid, however, given the nature of that vehicle, it was hardly surprising that Europe was most definitely its target audience.
Considering that North American (and Chinese) buyers clearly have a strong preference for gasoline engined vehicles over diesels, as well as SUVs over wagons, Volvo has now announced that it will build an XC60 Plug-in Hybrid with a petrol engine for these markets, which will make its world debut at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit .
The news is particularly welcomed by US dealers, providing a much needed boost in the shape of a green “halo” vehicle, at a time when much of Volvo’s vehicle lineup is essentially marking time and (apart from volume sellers like the XC60 and S60) significantly new models are still a ways off.
The XC60 gas/electric Plug-in Hybrid will sport an electric motor producing 70 hp, along with a four-cylinder gasoline engine, resulting in a total power output of 350 hp. According to Volvo, this version will be able to travel a distance of up to 35 miles on electricity alone as well as delivering some 50 miles per gallon in Hybrid mode.
It also uses an innovative electric AWD system, with the gasoline engine powering the front wheels, while electric power can be fed to the rear wheels when accelerating or in low grip situations.
“A plug-in hybrid is the ideal eco-car for today’s conditions,” declared Volvo President and CEO Stefan Jacoby. “It gives a large proportion of motorists sufficient range on electricity for their daily commute. More than half of U.S. drivers cover less than 30 miles a day. With its three driving modes, the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept also offers the owner a conventional model’s interior space, safety, performance and long range. It gives the driver uncompromising flexibility to cover every type of motoring need.”
Although deliveries of the European diesel/electric V60 Plug-In Hybrid are scheduled to begin late this year, so far there’s been no word on US availability of the XC60 Plug-In Hybrid, though it’s likely cars will be on dealer lots sometime during 2013.
GALLERY: Volvo XC60 Plug-in Hybrid
The Big three do some things really, really well: like building pickup trucks that turn construction guys giddy. While each company has had their fair share of foibles over the past decade they’ve managed to stay more-or-less true to themselves.
Many members of the truck community would probably snort at the idea of marrying hybrid technology with their go-to workhorse, but Chrysler isn’t convinced it’s such a bad idea. So far they have distributed a total of more than 100 test vehicles throughout U.S. cities with the intent to gather market research.
“Cities have been carefully selected to help the Chrysler Group LLC collect a wide range of data,” said Abdullah Bazzi, senior manager of Chrysler’s advanced hybrid vehicle project.
Chrysler maintains that this is strictly a test program for now with no plans for production versions of the trucks in the future, but the trucks will driven over the next three years to evaluate several factors that the company will use.
They plan to test charging performance, real-world performance, city drive cycles and fuel economy. Just because there’s hybrid technology on board, don’t assume these trucks are packing less of a punch. They have the option to run in four or two-wheel drive to save fuel but you’ll find a plenty-potent 5.7-liter Hemi under the hood.
The project, funded both by Chrysler and the Department of Energy, is also developing a similar fleet of 25 PHEV Town & Country minivans.