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Posts Tagged ‘hybrid-electric vehicles’

EV Sales Hampered More by Price than Range Anxiety

Survey shows buyers wants vehicles below $25,000.

by on Dec.02, 2013

EVs like the Chevrolet Volt, pictured with GM CEO Dan Akerson, have eased buyers' concerns about the range of EVs. However, they're still too expensive.

All of the efforts by manufacturers to make electric vehicles more popular seem to be working; however, there is one issue that they haven’t resolved that may be keeping EV sales from taking off: price.

EVs and all their variants – hybrids, plug-in hybrids, etc. – are still too expensive, in spite of potential savings on fuel.

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Navigant Research, a consulting firm located in Boulder, Colo., surveyed nearly 1,100 people to determine how they feel about new vehicle prices and electric vehicles. The company found that 71% want their next vehicle to cost less than $25,000, while 41% are looking below $20K. (more…)

Despite Fires, Range Issues EV Sales Continue to Rise

Year-to-date sales have blown past all of 2012 results.

by on Oct.24, 2013

BMW is already considering increasing production levels on its new i3. Global electric vehicles sales are up significantly this year.

Despite the concerns including range anxiety and battery fires, sales of both plug in hybrids and battery electric vehicles have increased significantly.

The Union of Concerned Scientists, a major promoter of electric vehicles, said sales of plug-in electric vehicles (EVs), including both plug-in hybrids and battery electrics, are up significantly compared with last year. More than 59,000 EVs were sold in the United States by the end of August — already surpassing EV sales for all of 2012.

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In addition, sales in California, where major manufacturers such as General Motors, Chrysler, Daimler AG and Honda, have focused their attention sales are more than double the rate of last year, representing 29% of U.S. plug-in vehicles sales. California is the one state with tough regulations that require carmakers to offer zero-emission EV’s as part of their fleet. (more…)

Top 10 Misconceptions About Fuel Economy

What you know about getting better mileage may be wrong.

by on May.13, 2010

Upgrade to premium and get better mileage? Nope? You're just throwing your money away, says the EPA.

Downsize to a small car, change your air filter every few months, let your cold car warm up before driving off, use premium fuel and aftermarket additives.

These are just some of ways not to improve your fuel economy. Conventional wisdom is often wrong, says the Environmental Protection Agency, which is tasked with tracking and regulating vehicle mileage under the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE standards.

Even some of the most knowledgeable enthusiasts and experts may get it wrong when it comes to taking the right steps to improve mileage.  In some cases, that’s because of changing technology, the EPA reports on fueleconomy.gov.

In the era of the carburetor, a dirty air filter had a direct and immediate impact on mileage, but “Modern computer-controlled, fuel-injected engines regulate the air-fuel mixture so well that a dirty air filter does not decrease fuel economy—although it can still affect performance,” the EPA notes.

You may also get a surprise when you check the mileage numbers for manual transmissions.  Traditionally, sticks did better than automatics, but the latest automatics are lighter and more efficient, with lock-up torque converters that reduce losses, especially at highway speeds.  The 2011 Ford Mustang V6 is a notable exampe, rated at 31 mpg Highway with the automatic gearbox, 29 mpg with the manual.

Even downsizing is no guarantee of better.  Mustang’s numbers are actually better than a number of smaller cars, and with hybrid or diesel powertrains, some midsize models are outperforming subcompacts.

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Here are the Top 10 Misconceptions About Fuel Economy, according to the EPA:

1. You have to drive a small car to get good fuel economy.

2. Manual transmissions always get better fuel economy than automatics.

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Indiana Aiming to Be EV Central

Why Think thought Indiana was the right site.

by on Apr.07, 2010

Think-ing of you. The Norwegian maker will open an Indiana assembly plant next year.

When the Norwegian electric vehicle maker, Think, started looking for a site to build a U.S. assembly plant, it was deluged by offers from states and communities lined up coast-to-coast.  In the end, it chose the Northern Indiana town of Elkhart for the plant, which will begin rolling out a version of the Think City two-seater next year.

These days, any deal that can deliver jobs and investments is likely to be greeted with gusto – and the offer of government assistance, and the Think project was no exception.  In the end, state and local officials cobbled together a package of assistance worth $43 million for the battery car maker.

That certainly didn’t hurt, admits Think CEO Richard Canny, not for a long-struggling company that had just emerged, a few months earlier, from bankruptcy proection.  But even with what he describes as a “competitive” package of incentives, the executive says that wasn’t the clincher when it came to choosing Elkhart.  “You don’t choose a location just based on incentives,” Canny explains.

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What sold Think was the fact that Elkhart had a pool of experienced labor – workers who were more than happy to get a good-paying job considering that the region’s traditional manufacturing base, the recreational vehicle, or RV, industry, has all but collapsed – along with an existing battery car infrastructure.

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GM Investing $246 Million in Electric Motor Plant

Motors new “core competency” as battery cars gain momentum.

by on Jan.26, 2010

Simple, perhaps, but an electric motor, like this disassembled one, could be critical to winning in tomorrow's battery car market.

With battery technology likely to play an increasing role in the auto industry, General Motors will invest $246 million to set up a plant producing the motors needed to run tomorrow’s electric vehicles, the company plans to announce at this week’s Washington Auto Show.

GM would be the first domestic automaker to produce its own hybrid electric motors, and one of relatively few worldwide.

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Final details, such as the location of the plant, won’t be announced until later this week, but GM officials say that motors must become a “core competency” for the company, much like internal combustion engines are today.  (more…)

First Look: Volvo C30 Battery Car

Volvo testing compact battery-electric commuter car.

by on Jan.07, 2010

Volvo's battery-electric C30 will begin fleet testing this year, but no date has been set for retail sales.

At first glance, you might not pay much attention to the seemingly familiar Volvo C30 as it rolls by.  But the unexpected absence of sound should be a clue that something is not quite as familiar as it first might seem.

That’s because the Swedish import’s conventional gasoline engine has been replaced by a small electric drivetrain.  The C30 battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, is, for now, just one of a small fleet of prototypes, but if the until now secret development program pans out, it could bring Volvo’s entry into the small but fast-growing battery commuter car segment.

“The Volvo C30 is the first model we will try out with electric power,” explains Lennart Stegland, Director of Volvo Cars Special Vehicles.  “This car’s excellent properties in city traffic and its relatively low weight make it particularly suitable, since electric cars are primarily expected to be used in and around cities and for daily commuting,”

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While the automaker isn’t revealing all the details, yet, it appears the C30 BEV will use about 24 kWh of lithium-ion batteries, enough to give it a range of about 150 kilometers, or 94 miles, per charge.  The relatively light and compact C30 should be able to accelerate from 0 to 100 kmh (0 to 62.5 mph) in “less than 11 seconds,” according to a corporate news release.  Top speed is limited to 130 kmh (about 81 mph).

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Another Toyota Hybrid Due at NAIAS

Expanding the lineup with a post Prius offering?

by on Dec.15, 2009

No details, just a teaser shot of another dedicated hybrid?

No details yet, just a teaser shot of another dedicated hybrid?

Toyota Motor Sales, USA will stage the world debut of a new “dedicated” hybrid concept vehicle during the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The vehicle will be revealed during a news conference held on Monday, January 11.

No other details were released, leading to speculation that Toyota’s phenomenal success with hybrids in general and with the third generation Prius makes room for a second freestanding hybrid, one not built off an existing platform and model series.

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Worldwide Sales of Toyota Hybrids Top 2 Million

What started in '97 as a niche is now a formidable business.

by on Sep.28, 2009

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Next Prius is a plug-in hybrid design, although Toyota remains leery of lithium ion batteries.

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) has steadily expanded its line-up of hybrid-electric vehicles, or HEVs, since launching the first version in Japan, the “Coaster Hybrid EV,” during August of 1997. The Prius followed  that December in Japan, and sales of the mass-produced Prius models began in North America, Europe and elsewhere in 2000.

Executives at other Japanese companies, as well as U.S. and European automakers, scoffed at what was a technological triumph. Only Honda was seriously pursuing this emissions cutting and fuel economy-increasing technology during that period.

Today, virtually all other makers are scrambling to catch up with the innovation, while also trying to protect their investments in older technologies at a time when regulations are making it increasingly expensive, perhaps prohibitive to pursue both paths at once. Add in the ongoing negative  effects of the Global Great Recession, with its concomitant collapse of vehicle sales — especially in what were the most profitable big truck and SUV segments, and the collapse of the  luxury segments — and you have a potential radical recasting of the global automotive order.

I am reminded of the lead of Tale of Two Cities with fat kings and queens on long established thrones thinking things were pretty much settled forever. Some older automotive companies and their royalty are now in a similar position.

Worse, if you are a competitor, Toyota promises to eventually offer hybrid technology in virtually every product in its line-up. A clear challenge to the established monarchies. And this challenge doesn’t stop there. As TheDetroitBureau.com first reported last month, senior American officials at Toyota have been seeking to broaden the use of the Prius name, essentially creating a hybrid-based brand-within-a-brand. It could therefore become the strongest  global name in automotive  history.

Yes, there are caveats here aplenty.

The first is Toyota’s own weakened financial position, which has and will slow down its expansion of hybrids. Iits operating income has drastically declined in all  sectors: Toyota Motor Corporation finished fiscal 2009 with a huge $7.7 billion loss during the fourth quarter of the traditional Japanese year, which ended March 31. The fourth quarter loss left the Japanese auto giant with a decidedly non-traditional full-year loss of $4.4 billion, the largest in the company’s 71-year history. Net revenues dropped 22%.  Toyota also released guidance that it expects another loss ¥550 billion or nearly $6 billion for the coming year. The company, used to never-ending expansion, is having extreme difficulties managing a forced contraction.

However, virtually all other automakers are having the similar problems. And they don’t have the experience in  hybrid technology, so catching up will be hard — and complicated by the  experience,  intellectual property rights and the patents Toyota holds. And here, Toyota’s record of hybrid design progression and sales expansion is formidable.

What happened after the  initial Prius revolution, that caught automotive royalty eating cake, is a tale of a changed world. Toyota’s  next big step was  the second-generation Prius in 2003 and the expanded use of its hybrid system to minivans, SUVs and rear-wheel-drive sedans. As a result on May 31, 2007, the global cumulative sales of TMC’s hybrid vehicles topped 1 million.

This year, TMC continued to expand its hybrid vehicle lineup, launching the Lexus  RX450h in April, the third-generation Prius in May and the Lexus HS250h—the first dedicated Lexus hybrid model—in July.

No Lithium!

No Lithium!

All three vehicles are well received, although the Great Recession has drastically decreased the planning volumes. Nonetheless, they are expected to contribute to the ongoing popularization of hybrid vehicles.

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First Look: Volkswagen L1 Ultra-Mileage Concept

From here to eternity on a gallon of gas?

by on Sep.15, 2009

The hyper-efficient Volkswagen L1 can go about 100 miles on a liter of gas - more than 200 miles per gallon.

The hyper-efficient Volkswagen L1 gets 100 miles on a liter of gas - more than 200 miles per gallon.

Imagine driving from New York to Los Angeles on a tank of gas.

Volkswagen’s bullet-like L1 concept vehicle could come close to pulling that off.  What a senior VW official calls, “a technology driver,” has accomplished the seemingly impossible: going 100 kilometers (62.5 miles) on a single liter of petrol.  If you’d prefer to avoid the math, that works out to more than 236 miles per gallon.

The goal of the L1 was to serve as “a spearhead of technical innovation,” according to Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, the German maker’s technology director, testing out “visionary concepts” that might one day find a role in more conventional vehicles.

Your Hyper-Efficient News Source!

Your Hyper-Efficient News Source!

“The question we asked ourselves,” said Hackenberg, “is whether we would be able to design a 1-liter car (a vehicle using just 1 liter of fuel to go 100 km) that is also affordable.”

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Lotus E-REVving With Extended-Range Electric

Technology to debut at 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show.

by on Sep.08, 2009

Lotus will show off a high-tech powertrain, rather than a new model, at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, an extended-range electric vehicle package.

Lotus will show off a high-tech powertrain, rather than a new model, at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, an extended-range electric vehicle package.

While most automakers will be shining the spotlight on their latest sheet metal, Lotus Engineering will put the focus on the iron and aluminum underneath during its news conference at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, next week.

The company, the consulting and engineering arm of Lotus Cars, has provided us with this sneak peek at its new Range-Extended engine, a serial hybrid system similar to what will debut inside the Chevrolet Volt, in November 2010.

The concept would permit a manufacturer using the EREV (for Extended-Range Electric Vehicle) technology to blend what are arguably the best assets of an electric vehicle and a more conventional hybrid-electric; an EREV, like Volt, can initially be driven solely on electric power and then, when its batteries run down, the system switches to a small internal combustion engine.

Power Up!

Power Up!

As with Volt, the Lotus EREV uses its aluminum, 3-cylinder, 1.2-liter gas engine solely as a generator.  When it fires up, it can send current to the system’s 47 horsepower electric motor, or it can be used to recharge the battery pack.

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