- Alfa Romeo
- Aston Martin
- Land Rover
When it was first introduced 15 years ago, even many at Toyota had little faith in the pug nosed Prius. But now the automaker can unequivocally state that it’s no longer a niche product, with sales numbers for the first quarter of 2012 ranking the gasoline-electric hybrid as the world’s third best selling car.
Rounding off the first quarter of 2012, April brought some interesting sales stories. GM and Ford were both down a few points, Chrysler was up a whopping 20 percent and Toyota seemed to be on the mend compared to last year, but who would have guessed the Prius Plug-In would be a big winner?
Ford recently announced the EPA fuel efficiency rating for its electric Focus model. Since it doesn’t burn any gasoline, the number isn’t in miles per gallon (MPG), but was given as miles per gallon gasoline equivalent, or MPGe. A new term to the automotive lexicon, it’s worth exploring exactly what MPGe means and how an MPGe rating is determined, especially as the number of electric cars and plug-in electric hybrids on the roads continues to increase.
Price, looks and size… these are the few factors that used to decide what vehicle you’d park in your driveway. Looking for a cheap and small car? A Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic will do. Need something bigger, perhaps a mid-size Hyundai Sonata or an SUV. Things used to be pretty easy.
With increasingly high gas prices and an overall movement towards green, fuel efficient vehicles, fuel economy has become more important. In fact, for many price, looks and size are now completely trumped by fuel economy.
“Buyers just look at the MPG on the sticker,” says IHS Automotive Analyst Devin Lindsay commenting that car buyers are now completely mesmerized by the EPA sticker label.
Take a look at the Toyota Prius, for example. It’s not terribly big, is fairly expensive, and looks… well… weird. But that didn’t stop three million of them from being sold, all thanks to a hybrid gas-electric engine that provides excellent fuel economy.
The Prius isn’t the only option for someone looking for a fuel efficient car, however; especially those in search of a more engaging driving experience. If you want to cut down on trips to the pump, and still drive a fun, powerful, good looking car, your best bet might just be in a diesel powered vehicle. That does mean you’ll almost certainly have to drive German, although a flood of new diesel-powered vehicles are about to hit our shore.
Self-driving cars aren’t new, but if electric vehicles’ slow adoption rates among U.S. consumers are any measure of new technology acceptance then autonomous cars can’t be close at hand, or can they?
According to a speech given by Larry Burns, former General Motors research and development head, we can expect such technology by 2020. Unless you’ve been ignoring auto news, that sentence might seem strange. We already have cars that drive themselves, even to Taco Bell drive-through windows, courtesy of Google.
What’s the real benefit to autonomous cars? To be able to eat your Taco Bell Cheesy Gordita Crunch while it drives you to your destination of course.
In all seriousness, Google’s self-driving car just did its biggest and best promotional video yet. The autonomous Toyota Prius shuttled around Steve Mahan, a legally blind man, through a day of errands.
Google’s self-driving Prius has completed over 200,000 miles of computer-led travel and one of their favorite moments was a carefully programmed route for Steve Mahan to show off the benefits of autonomous vehicles. While this was mostly a technical experiment in Google’s eyes, we believe it opens up the rest of the world’s eyes on just how beneficial the technology could be if safety standards could be met.
Without ever touching the pedals or steering wheel, the legally blind Steve Mahan got to enjoy some Taco Bell drive-through and was able to pick up his dry cleaning, something he wouldn’t have been able to do on his own having lost 95 percent of his vision. Steve Mahan was also labeled as self-driving car user #0000000001 by Google.
According to the end of the video, it was created with the assistance of the Morgan Hill Police Department and the Santa Clara Valley Blind Center in San Jose, California.
While its a good thing for the blind, the world had better be careful. If this goes too far, steering might be considered exercise.
Check out the video of Steve Mahan driven around after the break.
The Toyota Prius GT300 race car debuted at the 2012 Tokyo Auto Salon, looking ready to compete in the 2012 Super GT season. But things didn’t go as planned when the team took to testing its race car out at Okayama Circuit prior to the season opener.
We’re sure all the Toyota haters out there would find this the perfect time to make fun of the Prius for catching fire, but let’s keep in mind this is a complete race car and can hardly compare to what we see on the streets. So don’t expect any Chevrolet Volt comparisons from us, especially since it’s already been revealed that the cause of the fire was from a faulty fuel line rather than any issues in the vehicle’s hybrid system.
Thankfully it appears that much of the damage is cosmetic and the driver was unharmed when leaked fuel caught onto the exhaust, igniting the fire. The team is confident that they’ll have their Prius race car ready to roll at the season opener in Okayama.
Watch the video of the Toyota Prius GT300 race car on fire after the break.
[Source: Hanzo Autobuzz]