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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.
Ford has announced it expects its upcoming C-Max Hybrid multi-activity vehicle to achieve an average fuel economy rating of over 42 mpg, exceeding the rating of the recently released Toyota Prius v. In addition, the C-Max Energie electric vehicle will top the Prius plug-in hybrid’s electric only mode rating of 87-mpge (miles per gallon equivalent).
Both models will use a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine mated to Ford’s next-gen hybrid system. Ford also claims the plug-in model will be able to achieve a total range of over 500 miles, while it, along with the Focus Electric, will get a new version of the MyFord Touch system, designed to work with electric vehicles and integrate the MyFord Mobile app.
These two C-Max variants join the Focus Electric, expanding Ford’s 40-mpg range, which already includes special Fiesta and Focus models. Ford has also said it will add three more 40-mpg or more rated models in the near future, resulting in a lineup where one third of vehicles offered can be had with a 40-mpg version.
GALLERY: Ford C-Max Hybrid
GALLERY: Ford C-Max Energi
Later this month Mitsubishi will officially unveil its PX-MiEV II concept at the Tokyo Motor Show. The second version of plug-in hybrid crossover, it’s one that points directly towards a production model in the near future.
Using a plug-in hybrid system with a lithium-ion battery pack and a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, the unique hybrid system allows for gasoline to power the front wheels with electricity powering the rear wheels. Mated to Mitsu’s S-AWC (Super-All Wheel Control) setup, the automaker not only claims excellent vehicle control and dynamics, but promises that acceleration matches that of a 3.0-liter V6.
On startup the gasoline engine comes on automatically with a Battery Charge Mode acting as a generator for the electric motor. By pushing a button on the dash, a Battery Drive Mode allows for engages just electric power and shuts off the gasoline engine
The concept allows for 31 miles of emissions free travel and Mitsubishi is targeting a 140 mpg rating – although that number is based on the Japanese cycle and isn’t really relevant. What is important is that Mitsubishi claims a total driving range of 500 miles.
Toyota‘s leadership in the hybrid car category has reflected extremely highly on its perception as a “green” automaker. And for good reason, with two-thirds of all hybrids currently on the road being Toyota brand products. Much of that success can be given to the Prius, with more models sold than all other hybrids combined, totaling 52 percent of all registered hybrids.
The numbers grow further in Toyota’s favor if you take into account all Toyota brand vehicles. Adding in Lexus sales, Toyota Group models makes up 73 percent of all registered hybrids.
Next to Toyota’s 66.4 percent share of the hybrid market, Honda ranks a distant second with 15.7 percent. Totaling 288,906 units, much of Honda’s success has been with its Civic Hybrid with just shy of 200,000 units sold.
Broken down by brand, Lexus ranks third with 6.4 percent of the market, although if you include those vehicles in the larger Toyota number, then Ford comes in third with 6.3 percent.
According to data compiled by Polk Automotive, at the bottom of the list are Kia, with just one registered hybrid, Hyundai with four and Infiniti with 12. (Note: the data is as of April 2011 and since then these three automakers have all begun selling hybrids in more significant volumes).
With Toyota’s hybrid sales comprised of just the Prius, Camry Hybrid and Highlander Hybrid the Big T is looking to continue stay on top in the hybrid segment, launching the Prius v this year and Prius Plug-in Hybrid next year, followed by the Prius c. An all-new Camry Hybrid is also expected to double Toyota’s annual sales volumes in that segment.
Toyota is also on the verge of a milestone in the U.S. market with 959,794 Prius models currently registered.
GALLERY: 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid
Hit the jump for a full breakdown of hybrid model sales Continue Reading…
While the Toyota Prius has long been the automotive ambassador of the green movement, Pike Research conducted a Cost of Driving test to find out whether the all new 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in can trump the Chevrolet Volt. According to its findings, by first establishing the price for every gallon of gas at $3.50 and every kilowatt-hour for 11 cents for the test, the Volt earned a more economic and cost effective result than a Prius Plug-in for trips under 70 miles.
For the first 15 miles of the graph, the lines are not visible because both vehicles will be capable running full electric. By 30 miles, the Volt’s cost for every mile gets significantly more expensive until it eventually crosses over Prius’ costs at 70 miles of driving.
Of course, if pricing parameters on gas and electricity were to change, then a different result would surface. All in all, customers should consider their driving routines day to day. When trips taken are no longer than 70 miles, as is often the case in urban regions where electric vehicles are popular, then a Volt proves to be more appealing.
GALLERY: Toyota Prius Plug-in & Chevrolet Volt
[Source: Autoblog Green]
Fisker Automotive has finally been given EPA certification and as a result can start officially selling cars. The U.S.-based builder of luxurious yet green vehicles has received a 52 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) rating for its Karma sedan.
With a 32 mile electric-only range, the Karma’s gasoline only rating is a less impressive 20-mpg. To put this into perspective, the Chevy Volt gets a 93 MPGe rating with a 37-mpg rating on gas only, whereas the Prius Plug-in Hybrid is 87-MPGe rating with a high 49-mpg on gas only.
It’s important to point out, however, that the Karma is also a stunning looking luxury sedan that’s capable of accelerating to 60 mph in just 5.9 seconds.
“We are delighted to have EPA certification and fuel economy ratings that verify the Karma’s remarkable green credentials.” said Henrik Fisker, CEO and co-founder of Fisker Automotive.
“As with all electric vehicles, range varies greatly on the conditions of the road and how you drive the car. We firmly believe that most owners will get up to 50 miles of driving range on a single charge and will use our electric-only mode most of the time they drive the car, thereby running on zero emissions. Overall, we are very pleased with the results of EPA’s tests. The Karma is a groundbreaking product with a unique powertrain.”
GALLERY: Fisker Karma
Volkswagen has revealed some more plans about the second generation Phaeton flagship. For one thing, it’ll be built off a new architecture being developed by Audi with extensive use of aluminum employed in the car’s body construction.
The platform, called VW631 will also result in a Phaeton with better weight distribution than the old and likely the provision for four and six-cylinder engines as well as the option of a plug-in hybrid drivetrain, so no V8s, V10s or W12s second time around.
Given how the original Phaeton spectacularly tanked in the marketplace, it begs the question, why should VW think about building another one? Well, sources inside the company say the next generation car will be far more contemporary in terms of styling and interior detailing and besides being considerably lighter and more efficient, less expensive too. Current estimates put pricing of the new model, when it does go on sale around 2015, between Audi’s A6 and A8 models. And although there hasn’t been any official confirmation yet, it’s probable the new Phaeton will make it stateside.
That said, priced between the A6 and A8 or not, it’ll still be one expensive people’s car and the question is, given that the US and European economies aren’t likely to have improved much by then, can the company from Wolfsburg really make it work this time out? It’ll be interesting to see.
[Source: Car Magazine]
At $32,760, Prius Plug-in provides more standard features like heated front seats, Entune, LED daytime running lights, an enhance keyless entry system as well as a remote start air conditioner, letting the car’s interior cool off even when the car is off. For $40,285, customers can opt for the Prius Plug-in advanced trim, featuring GPS navigation, a better speaker system, radar-guided cruise control, and much more.
With a 15 mile electric range, the Prius PHEV gets an impressive 87 MPGe rating, with a 49-mpg rating once operating as a conventional hybrid. A recharge cycle is said to take fro 2.5 to 3.0 hours using a conventional household outlet or 1.5 hours with a special charger.
At nearly $10,000 less than the Chevrolet Volt, the Prius PHEV is also expected to receive federal tax credits to make it an even more enticing buy.
GALLERY: Toyota Prius PHEV
Making their world premiere at the Frankfurt Auto Show, the BMW i3 and i8 may just be concepts, but point to a major push by the German automaker into the realm of electrified vehicles. In fact, BMW is so serious that its working towards an entire range of “i” branded alternative vehicles, sporting both electric and hybrid-electric powertrains.
As a full-electric car, BMW obviously has high hopes for the i3, naming it in line with its much-loved and best-selling 3 Series. Making 170-hp and 184 lb-ft of torque it can hit 60 mph in roughly 8 seconds and on to a top speed of 100 mph, making it functional for more than just city driving. With a unique regeneration system similar to that found on the MINI-E, even just laying off the throttle acts as a brake. Recharging the car’s batteries takes just one hour for an 80 percent charge.
The i3 is also BMW’s fist foray into the world of carbon fiber platforms, using a carbon fiber reinforced plastic chassis to keep weight to a somewhat reasonable 2,755 lbs.
More exciting, both to look at and to drive (we imagine) is the i8. A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, it makes use of a modified version of the i3′s electric motor mated to the front wheels, while a turbocharged 3-cylinder engine delivers 223-hp to the rear axle. While that might not sound like a lot for a car that looks this impressive, BMW claims a 0-60 time of roughly 5 seconds.
With an onboard battery pack, the i8 has a zero-emissions range of 22 miles and BMW claims a 78-mpg rating.
Headed to production, look for the biggest changes to happen not with the powertrains, but with the interior and exterior styling. Those looking to park an electric BMW in their driveway won’t have to wait too long either, with the i3 set to go on sale in 2013, while the i8 will arrive a year later.
GALLERY: BMW i3, i8 Concepts
Watch video of the i3 and i8 concepts from their Frankfurt debut after the jump:
After years of hype (and delays), Fisker finally delivered its first shipment of production models to customers this Summer. The next obvious step would be a concept, followed by several more years of teasers and production hickups. Not so, says CEO Henrik Fisker, unveiling the new Surf model at the Frankfurt Auto Show today.
A five-door shooting brake design, the Surf is intended to bring the Karma’s plug-in hybrid drivetrain to a more functional (yet still very luxurious) segment. Built alongside the Karma on the production line the Surf uses the same platform and engine as its sedan counterpart and will go on sale mid 2012 said Fisker during the press conference.
So if you’re in the market for a 402-hp hybrid that can travel emissions free for up to 50 miles, plus you’ve got kids and a dog, Fisker has your wagon.
GALLERY: Fisker Surf
With a lead-up almost as log as the Chevrolet Volt’s, the production version of the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) will debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in just over a month’s time.
Using a more powerful and smaller lithium-ion battery, the Prius PHEV is expected to have an electric-only range of around 10 miles, at which point it will operate like a conventional Prius, using either gas, electric power or a combination of both to move the vehicle.
The car is expected to achieve a 128.4 mpg rating, although that’s on the European test cycle. U.S. EPA numbers are expected to differ significantly.
The Prius PHEV will set as the new flagship model in Toyota’s Prius lineup, with the conventional Prius continuing on, plus the addition of the new Prius v, as well as the upcoming Prius c.