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Archive for the ‘Hybrids’ Category

Honda Kicks Off Production of Two New Models

Honda Insight, Acura RDX heading to dealers shortly.

by on May.16, 2018

Acura RDX production is underway at Honda's plant in Ohio.

Honda is celebrating the start of production of two new vehicle this the all-new 2019 Honda Insight in Greensburg, Indiana, and the 2019 Acura RDX at its plant in East Liberty, Ohio.

The 2019 Acura RDX is described as the first in a new generation of Acura products built around Acura’s “Precision Crafted Performance” brand direction. The new RDX was a clean-sheet, top-to-bottom redesign of Acura’s perennial top-selling five-passenger luxury SUV, brought to life through new capital investment of $54 million in new technologies and processes at the East Liberty Auto Plant.

Product News!

“This new RDX defines the future of Acura, and our Ohio team did an incredible job preparing this first in a new generation of Acura vehicles for our customers,” said Jim Hefner, plant manager at the East Liberty Auto Plant. (more…)

Subaru’s Crosstrek Will Become its First Plug-In Hybrid

Japanese maker's first PHEV will use modified Toyota driveline.

by on May.14, 2018

For 2019, Subaru will add a plug-in version of the Crosstrek likely to deliver over 20 miles per charge.

Little Subaru is about to get a helping hand from Japan’s biggest automaker, Toyota lending out its Prius Prime driveline for the smaller manufacturer’s first-ever plug-in hybrid.

Subaru has been teasing us with electrified concepts for quite a few years, mostly through its palindromic Viziv concept series. Now, finally, we’ll be getting the real think with the launch of the 2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid.

We Keep You Plugged In!

“The new Crosstrek Hybrid maintains all the capability of the traditional Subaru Crosstrek with increased fuel efficiency,” the automaker revealed in a terse statement. “It can be driven as a normal Hybrid, using both gas and electric power and eliminating range anxiety, or driven on pure electric drive for local commuting.”

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Toyota Earnings Jump, Despite Rising U.S. Incentives

Record R&D spending could hurt operating profit.

by on May.09, 2018

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda is not only pushing for automotive sales growth, but leading the company into the emerging mobility sector.

Toyota saw earnings jump 21% between January and March, the final quarter of its fiscal year, despite having to sharply ramp up incentives in a slowing U.S. automotive market.

The automaker reported a profit of 480.8 billion yen, or $4.4 billion, up from 398 billion yen the year before. Toyota’s sales also rose 2% to 7.58 trillion yen, or $69 billion. For the full fiscal year, it earned 2.49 trillion yen, or $23 billion, a 36% increase, with sales rising 6%, to 29.38 trillion yen, or $268 billion.

Beyond the Numbers!

The strong performance helped highlight the cost-cutting efforts initiated by CEO and President Akio Toyoda, the grandson of Toyota’s founder declaring, “We’ve become a leaner, trimmer company … and in the past year we’ve developed our remaining fat into muscle, so that we’re in a strong position to be more competitive.”

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Toyota Investing $1 Billion into Canadian Facilities

Move will add 450 new jobs, automaker says.

by on May.08, 2018

Toyota is investing $1 billion into the plant in Canada that produces the company's top-selling RAV4.

Toyota Motor Corp. is planning to beef up its manufacturing footprint in Canada with a $1 billion investment its three assembly plants in Woodstock and Cambridge, Ontario, which are dedicated to building two of the Japanese automaker’s most popular vehicles in North America, the Toyota RAV4 and Lexus RX 350.

The investment will be used to retool the company’s Ontario operations to build vehicles using Toyota’s New Global Architecture, which will make dramatic improvements in the performance and competitiveness of the vehicle, as well as how it is engineered, Toyota officials said.

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It will also support the pursuit of future production for Ontario as well as research and development, and new automation technology in the paint and plastics shop. The investment represents a reversal of fortune for Canada’s auto industry, which has lost ground production in Mexico has steadily expanded. (more…)

Production Version of Kia Niro EV Breaks Cover

Timing of U.S. launch unclear.

by on May.04, 2018

The long-range version of the Kia Niro EV will get 236 miles out of a 64 kWh battery pack.

We got a first look at the concept version of Kia’s all-electric Niro model during the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year. The Korean carmaker has now pulled the wraps off the production model during the Fifth International Electric Vehicle Expo in Seoul.

A quick glance suggests the version that will be rolling into showrooms is a bit more conservative than the CES show car, with relatively conventional lights and bumpers. Perhaps the biggest difference between the Niro EV and earlier versions of the crossover can be seen in the textured, albeit solid, grille – which actually bears more than a passing likeness to the snout on the all-electric Hyundai Kona that debuted at the New York International Auto Show barely a month ago.

Product News!

Kia is being sparse when it comes to offering details about the Niro EV, though it did indicate the battery-electric vehicle will be offered with a choice of two different batteries – at least in some markets – the more powerful, 64 kWh pack will provide enough energy to travel an estimated 236 miles between charges, the 39.2 kWh pack reducing range to around 149 miles.

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GM Getting the Weight Out with 3D Printing

Technology could mean lighter, strong vehicles, but challenges remain.

by on May.03, 2018

The technology could reduce the weight of a future Chevy Bolt - and simplify assembly.

Since the earliest days of the auto industry, manufacturers have stamped, forged, cast and molded most of the parts that go into their products, but the search for lighter cars and trucks is forcing them to search for alternative approaches.

Working with the software company Autodesk, General Motors is exploring the potential of using additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, and may introduce the technology on one of the more than 20 new battery-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles it plans to bring to market over the next five years. And it isn’t alone. Niche manufacturers, such as Swedish hypercar company Koenigsegg, as well as major manufacturers BMW and Ford, are also exploring ways to utilize 3D printing.

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Tech Talk!

“This disruptive technology provides tremendous advancements in how we can design and develop components for our future vehicles to make them lighter and more efficient, said GM Vice President Ken Kelzer, head of the automaker’s Global Vehicle Components and Subsystems.

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Musk Looks Beyond Model 3 Problems, But Creates Some Headaches in the Process

CEO talks future product, factories – but still sends stock plunging.

by on May.03, 2018

Forget those earnings numbers. Tesla CEO Elon Musk was far more interested in talking about future products, the next-gen Roadster shown here.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is not one to suffer fools – or critics – lightly, as he proved during a 75-minute teleconference call following the release of the automaker’s first-quarter earnings report on Wednesday evening.

The South African-born executive attempted to put a positive spin on what was Tesla’s worst-ever quarterly deficit, promising future earnings while also revealing plans for new factories, new products and a new, fully hands-free version of the Autopilot system. But Musk also offered a harsh assessment of some of the reporters on the earnings call, while repeatedly cutting off analysts looking for long-term financial projections that he dismissed as “boring.”

Tesla News!

“These questions are so dry, they’re killing me,” he interjected before dismissing one analyst’s questions. Musk later shifted his disdain to reporters, at one point suggesting that by questioning the safety of Tesla’s current, semi-autonomous version of Autopilot, reporters might convince drivers to turn it off “and then die.”

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EPA Reportedly Wants 25% Cut in Fuel Economy

Revised Trump plan would freeze CAFE at 2020 level.

by on Apr.30, 2018

The EPA's mileage rollback is coming just as gas prices start to surge. Critics warn automakers of a backlash if the numbers reach previous highs.

The EPA and NHTSA are expected to propose cutting the current federal fuel economy mandate by nearly 25% while also revoking the State of California’s ability to set its own tougher standards.

Embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has repeatedly signaled a desire to roll back the rules set under the Obama Administration that current target a fuel economy average of 54.5 mpg by 2025. Reports based on sources at the environmental agency indicate that would drop to 41.7 mpg, the figure that the phase-in of the Obama rules would have reached by 2020. There would be no further increase, under the proposal, until 2026.

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That has triggered an outcry from consumer and environmental groups, but an even more controversial piece of the EPA draft memo would forbid California from taking steps on its own to effectively neuter the rollback. Under current law the state can set tougher tailpipe rules than the EPA and other states can adopt California’s guideline, something that could effectively require automakers to stick with the current CAFE rules.

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Lexus Betting Big on All-New ES

Gen-7 sedan expected to remain key model in luxury line-up.

by on Apr.25, 2018

The seventh-generation 2019 Lexus ES.

For those who haven’t been watching, the 2019 Lexus line-up won’t have much in common with the model mix of just five years ago. Where sedans once dominated the brand’s product portfolio, crossovers like the new UX and NX, as well as the long-popular RX, have overwhelmed traditional Lexus sedans such as the LS and GS.

So, it might come as a surprise to see the big deal Lexus is making over the launch of the all-new 2019 ES sedan, going so far as to stage simultaneous previews in both Los Angeles and the Beijing Motor Show.

Global News!

“We’re acutely aware there’s a robust SUV market in the U.S., and Lexus is playing a part in that,” said Cooper Ericksen, the brand’s U.S. marketing chief, said during the L.A. ES unveiling. “We understand the importance of SUVs, but we also understand the importance of great sedans.”

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2019 Lexus ES Sedan Breaks Cover in Beijing

Point-counterpoint, as Lexus adds F Sport, as well as hybrid versions.

by on Apr.24, 2018

Lexus aimed to put more "passion" into the design and performance of the 2019 ES.

After a series of fan dance teases, Lexus has finally pulled the wraps off its seventh-generation in a dual presentation at the Beijing Motor Show and near its old U.S. corporate headquarters in Los Angeles.

One of the first models ever introduced by the Japanese automaker, the ES has long been known for its comfort, reliability and value, though it has also helped Lexus earn a reputation for plain vanilla design and performance. The luxury arm of Toyota Motor Corp. is determined not to let that happen again.

News Now!

“The ES has always been an elegant luxury sedan,” said Yasuo Kojino, the 2019 model’s chief designer. “For this generation, we have added daring design elements that challenge the traditional expectations of buyers.”

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