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Acura Introduces New Sport-Hybrid Performance System for RLX Flagship

Hybrid mileage, V-8 performance, sports car handling, Acura claims.

by on Nov.20, 2013

The 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD.

Acura’s flagship RLX sedan is about to gain a new level of sophistication – as well as improved performance and fuel economy – with the debut of the new Sport Hybrid SH-AWD drive system at the LA Auto Show.

The 2014 Acura RLX becomes the first Honda product line to use the new three-motor hybrid system, an even more advanced version of which will be used to power the next-generation Acura NSX supercar. While the gas-electric system is expected to improve fuel economy compared to a conventional gasoline engine, Acura’s new SH-AWD technology also promises to boost both performance and handling by being able to direct power to both the front and rear axles of the 2014 RLX.

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The new version of the RLX will debut the latest of three new hybrid drivetrains developed by Honda to replace its original Integrated Motor Assist, or IMA system.  Each is targeted at a particular segment of the market, from the low-cost single-motor system in the Honda Civic to the new twin-motor drive of the 2014 Honda Accord to the new 3-motor hybrid that will be focused on the Acura brand.

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Acura Hoping Hybrid Version Can Charge Up Sluggish Sales of ILX Model

2014 remake of ILX Hybrid to start just under $30,000.

by on Oct.16, 2013

The 2014 Acura ILX Hybrid's new single-motor gas-electric drivetrain delivers up to 38 mpg Combined.

The new Acura ILX Hybrid has charged into dealer showrooms.  The question is whether anyone will notice.

Aimed at entry-luxury buyers, the ILX seems to have missed out on what has generally become the fastest-growing segment in the high-line market. But with increasing interest in “green” technology among the younger buyers fueling that growth, Acura is hoping the ILX will finally plug in.

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The new hybrid model will carry a relatively modest $2,000 price premium over a comparable, gas-powered Acura ILX, at a base MSRP of $29,795. Equipped with the Tech Package – which includes such nicety as satellite radio, navigation with real-time traffic, and an upgraded audio system — the price jumps to $35,495. Both figures include $895 in destination charges.

Even the base model will carry such upscale touches as keyless entry, push-button start, a moonroof, alloy wheels, Bluetooth, Pandora radio and an Active Noise Cancellation system. But the EPA Combined rating of 38 mpg is expected to be an equally important selling point.

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Mercedes Planning S-Class Plug-in

“Greenest” S-Class model to debut at Frankfurt Motor Show.

by on Jul.09, 2013

Mercedes will bring the new S-Class Plug-in Hybrid to showrooms during the second half of 2014.

The all-new 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is still not in showrooms but the German maker is already working up new versions of the flagship sedan that will include not only a stretch model but also what is being billed as the “greenest” S-Class ever, a new plug-in hybrid that is set to make its official debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

The extended-range model will join an expanded range of new clean, high-mileage S-Class offerings, including diesel, conventional hybrid power and Mercedes’ first diesel-electric model, the S300 BlueTec Hybrid.

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While the maker has yet to reveal specific details, it’s expected the new Mercedes S500 Plug-in Hybrid will use a powertrain similar to that in the Vision S500 Plug-in Hybrid concept.  That would mean something on the order of 15 to 20 miles using battery power alone but, according to a report by the British Autocar, something in the range of 78 mpg using the European combined driving cycle.

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Lexus To Unveil New “Flagship” at “Invitation-Only” Event

Next-gen LS to offer more passionate styling, hybrid, sport and long-wheelbase variants.

by on Jul.09, 2012

Expect to see some key elements of the newest Lexus GS carry over into the 5th-generation LS - notably including the "spindle grille."

Toyota President Akio Toyoda has been promising to put more “passion” into his company’s products – providing a hint of this new direction with offerings as varied as the new Toyota Avalon, Scion FR-S and the 2012 Lexus GS.  But the real test will come when, late this month, the maker’s luxury division lifts the covers off an all-new version of its flagship LS line.

A terse news advisory from Lexus reveals Lexus will unveil the fifth generation of that flagship sedan at an “invitation-only” event taking place in San Francisco on July 30th.

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The release notes that the next-gen Lexus LS will be offered in standard and long-wheelbase versions, with an updated version of the LS 600h hybrid and an all-new LS 460 F Sport on tap, as well.  Beyond that, it’s a matter of wait-and-see but some insight can be glimmered from recent moves the marque has been making.

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Bye-Bye Lexus HS250h, We Hardly Knew Ye – nor Cared

Lexus hybrid quietly slips into oblivion.

by on May.17, 2012

Oh, they're not building it anymore?

You might not have noticed.  Indeed, it seems pretty much everyone but the folks on the assembly line missed the fact that the Lexus HS250h went out of production back in January.

And no surprise.  Even at its launch in mid-2009 normally upbeat U.S. officials for the Toyota luxury brand were already making apologies for what was billed as the first dedicated Lexus hybrid.  It was cramped and slow, with a strangely laid-out interior that hardly supported the marketing claim that it was a high-mileage luxury car.

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Consumers all but ignored the Lexus HS250h, sales plunging to a marginal 2,864 last year, down a whopping 73% from 2010’s already anemic numbers.

Lexus allowed the HS to go gently into the automotive equivalent of that good, dark night and its departure might not have been noticed had it not been for a question posed by Inside Line.

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Former Chrysler CEO LaSorda Joins Fisker

Joined by long-time Ford marketing exec Richard Beattie.

by on Dec.15, 2011

Tom LaSorda, (right), with former Chrysler boss Bob Nardelli, at a United Way event.

While there are plenty of skeptics still waiting for start-up Fisker Automotive to prove it has staying power the California-based plug-in hybrid manufacturer is winning over some well-known names like former Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda.

The Canadian-born executive, who left Chrysler before its 2009 bankruptcy, will join Fisker as the maker’s new vice chairman and chairman of its Strategy Council. He will be joined by Richard Beattie, a long-time Ford senior executive who will now become Fisker’s new Chief Commercial Officer, overseeing marketing sales and customer service.

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The fledgling automaker recently launched three versions of its plug-in hybrid sports coupe, including the Fisker Karma.  The maker this week announced that it is raising the price of the sleek battery vehicle to $102,000, nearly 30% more than it originally projected.  The high-end EcoChic version, meanwhile, will jump to $116,000.

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First Look: BMW Active 5 Hybrid

German maker goes green for Tokyo.

by on Nov.30, 2011

BMW Board Member Ian Robertson introduces the new Active 5 hybrid.

Japanese automakers are virtually tripping over one another to show the public who’s the greenest manufacturer of them all.  Now, BMW is entering the fray.  The German marque, one of the few foreign brands to still have a presence at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show, is giving the first public showing to the all-new BMW Active 5 Hybrid.

Bringing a hybrid into the Japanese market isn’t easy, acknowledged BMW Board Member Ian Robertson.  It is, after all, “the land that has made hybrid cars so well-known.”

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Nonetheless, the Bavarian marque is betting that it can gain traction with the new BMW Active 5 which, it proclaimed during a media preview, “is the world’s most powerful and efficient hybrid in its segment.”

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Infiniti Developing Plug-In Hybrid

Will follow launch of Luxury Brand’s First EV.

by on Nov.28, 2011

Infiniti offers a hint of the plug-in hybrid it is developing.

Having confirmed plans to add its first battery-electric vehicle for 2014, Infiniti has now revealed its goal of launching a new plug-in hybrid, as well.

The luxury brands second battery car, which it describes as a “range-extending electric sports car,” will make its debut at the Geneva Motor Show next March.

It will enter a rapidly expanding segment for battery-based luxury vehicles.  General Motors’ Cadillac division is preparing a high-line version of the Chevrolet Volt, to be dubbed the Cadillac ELR, while BMW is readying both the plug-in i8 and battery-electric i3 models for a new sub-brand focusing exclusively on green powertrain technology.

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The two teaser shots released by Infiniti – the luxury arm of Nissan Motor Co. – suggest the plug-in will be inspired by the 2-seat Nissan ESFLOW concept vehicle.  While Infiniti isn’t offering any specifics the ESFLOW was a pure battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, with a stated range of 150 miles and sports car performance that Nissan estimated would yield 0 to 60 times in less than 5 seconds.

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Daimler Promises More Electric Vehicles

Maker readying plug-in S-Class, battery supercar and more, says Zetsche.

by on Apr.13, 2011

Who says battery power can't be fun? The Mercedes SLS E-Cell is one of the big debuts at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show.

The battery-powered version of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG supercar will reach dealers in 2013.

Mercedes-Benz plans to introduce a plug-in hybrid version of S-Class by mid-decade and launch an electric version of the SLS AMG “gull wing,” Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsch told shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting in Berlin.

“We now manufacture four fully electric models, which is more than any other automaker worldwide,” said Zetsche, citing production of the Smart electric drive, the A-Class E-Cell, the small Vito Van E-Cell and the B-Class F-Cell.

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“Three of these models – the Smart, the A-Class and the Vito –rely solely on a battery-electric drive system” said Zetsche. “Our experience has been so positive that we will soon be introducing additional models,” he said.

Among the models under development is a plug-in hybrid version of the next-generation S-Class, Zetsche revealed, “in other words a ‘partially electric’ vehicle whose battery can be recharged from a normal power source,” he said.

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First Look: 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

Claiming mileage crown in U.S. luxury market.

by on Mar.31, 2010

Lincoln's first hybrid is also being billed as the most fuel-efficient luxury car in North America.

Looking to build its position among high-mileage makers, Ford Motor Co. has been rolling out a variety of green products, and the latest entry into its line-up promises to give its high-line Lincoln brand bragging rights as the most fuel-efficient luxury car in America.

The marque’s first gas-electric model, the 2011 Lincoln MKZ, promises to deliver 41 miles per gallon in the EPA’s City cycle, a full 6 mpg more than its closest competitor, the Lexus HS250h.  The Lincoln also can operate in battery-only mode at speeds up to 47 miles per hour, compared with 25 mph for the Lexus in EV mode.

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“Lincoln’s hallmarks are design, technology and comfort. Now, Lincoln also delivers the best fuel efficiency of any luxury sedan in America,” Mark Fields, Ford’s president of The Americas, declared in a press release.

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