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Last year, the Obama Administration heavily backed Detroit’s automakers with a big helping of government funding. The bail-out money that was partly provided to General Motors and Chrysler, was for these companies to develop and sell hybrids, plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles. The end result was the hardly amazing Chevrolet Volt.
However, the Obama administration still wants to help the electric and hybrid car industry, and their latest move to help move such products is to cut funding for clean-diesel and fuel-cell technology.
So while $80-million was budgeted for clean-diesel development in 2010, for 2011 that budget is cut down to zero. Congress had originally promised $500-million over 5-years for this project. Similar cuts have been made towards the development of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.
The money that is being cut from clean-diesel and fuel-cell vehicles will now go to plug-in hybrid vehicles. Under the new plan, the $7500 tax break will be given to the customer at the dealership, not when taxes are claimed at the end of the year.
So while this might be great news for anyone who is looking to buy a plug-in hybrid vehicle, this will have an effect on manufacturers who had invested in other technologies. Essentially, those who manufacture clean-diesel or hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles will see marketing their vehicles in North America pointless.
An estimated 14,000 taxpayers claimed $37 million in tax credits meant for buyers of plug-in or electric vehicles, while attempting to pass of vehicles like the Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Camaro and “golf cart” as worthy of the credit.
Among the most ignominous offenders were 88 prisoners and IRS employees who attempted to claim the credits. With an estimated $7,500 credit per vehicle, the program is intended to add an incentive to buyers considering the Nissan Leaf or Chevrolet Volt. The IRS said that $130 million of the $163 million given out was legitimate. On the other hand, some claimants listed their vehicle as merely “bicycle”, “taxi” or “golf cart”.
In light of the attempted fraud, the IRS will enact new regulations for trying to claim the credit, including supplying the Vehicle Identification Number on their tax forms, and selecting the vehicle information from a specific list on electronic filing forms.
[Source: The Detroit News]
As Nissan strives to sell the Leaf electric car at an affordable price point, the company is expressing concerns that the current subsidies offered by governments to encourage EV adoption will expire after three years, hurting sales and pushing the cost of electric vehicles back into unattainable territory.
“My assumption is that they won’t be cut off but they might be pared back,” Nissan Vice-President Simon Thomas said. “There’s no obligation for governments to extend those programs beyond the definitive agreement — and in some countries we don’t have a definitive agreement.”
Nissan is struggling to keep the Leaf below 30,000 euros. The car will make its debut in Portugal and the Netherlands this December, because the two countries offer a 5,000 euro credit for electric vehicles. However, the company said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that the cars would turn a profit, likely around the third year of production.
[Source: Business Week]
When it comes to hybrid and eco-friendly technology, it looks like blue is the new green. Both Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz have chosen the color blue to represent their environmentally friendly vehicles with their respective Blue Drive and Blue Efficiency brands. Hyundai’s latest hybrid concept, the Blue-Will, is a look into the future of eco-friendly vehicles.
First introduced at the Seoul Auto Show in April, the Blue-Will made an appearance at the Hyundai exhibit at the Frankfurt Auto Show.
Concept cars usually include features that are way out there and will likely never see production. In the Blue-Will, this would include features like the LED screen under the front grille (which seems a bit strange when an internal graphic display promotes fuel saving driving habits).
Some of the Blue-Will’s features may be worth another look however. Touch screen drive selection may not appeal to those who like the feel of a stick, but with the Blue-Will’s continuously variable transmission, the only choices you’ll have are drive, reverse, neutral and park. Touch screen HVAC and entertainment controls seem like a natural evolution however, judging by the popularity of products like the iPhone.
The Blue-Will is powered by a 152hp GDI 1.6l engine and a 100 kW motor in a proprietary parallel hybrid system. Hyundai says this parallel hybrid architecture will be the base for the company’s future hybrid models, starting with the next generation Sonata in the U.S.
Another interesting innovation is a thermal generator in the exhaust manifold that converts heat into electrical energy. Hyundai says this energy will be used to power auxiliary systems, which, we assume, include the LED screen above the front bumper.
The Blue-Will is a plug-in hybrid, and designers have placed the power port at the front of the car behind the pop-out Hyundai insignia on the front grille. The lithium ion polymer battery is located under the rear seat however, so more conventional location for the power port may make more a sense.
Overall, the Hyundai Blue-Wire is an interesting concept, but with some of the choices the designers made might make you wonder what that concept is.
Gallery: Hyundai Blue-Will Concept
Plug-in Hybrid Karma S will do 50 miles on a charge and make 408hp
After unveiling the luxury plug-in hybrid Karma Concept at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit last year, Fisker is set to show another concept as well as the production version of the Karma.
The production Karma S, has been developed with Quantum Technologies and boasts a plug-in Hybrid system that allows drivers to drive 50 miles on a single charge. Once the battery power runs out, the gasoline engine will kick in and the car will operate like a conventional hybrid.
Because of this innovative system, Fisker says that owners who drive less than 50 miles per day will achieve a yearly average fuel economy of 100 mpg.
The Karma will be powered by a GM-sourced 2.4-liter Ecotec engine that has been updated with direct injection technology. The engine alone makes 260hp and when combined with the two electric motors will make 408hp. Fisker claims this is enough for a 0-60 mph time of 5.8 seconds. Top speed is rated at a respectable 125 mph.
The stunning looking (both inside and out) Karma S will be priced at $87,900. The first deliveries are scheduled for November 2009 and apparently models are sold out until mid-2010.
Impressively, Fisker has arranged for the Karma S to be produced at the Valmet Automotive plant, a state-of-the-art facility where the Porsche Boxster and Cayman are manufactured.
Fisker Karma S:
Official release after the break: