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William Maley

Mini News: MINI Announces A Hybrid Option for 2017 Countryman

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MINI is getting ready to introduce its first hybrid vehicle with the upcoming second-generation Countryman crossover. In a statement released yesterday, MINI said the model would use an internal-combustion engine to power the front wheels and an electric motor to power the rear wheels. This also gives the model an all-wheel drive setup. Many believe the Countryman Hybrid would use the powertrain found in the 225xe Active Tourer - a 1.5L turbocharged three-cylinder and an electric motor delivering a total output of 224 horsepower and 284 pound-feet of torque. A 7.7 kWh battery pack provides an electric-only range of 25 miles and can be fully recharged in 3 hours and 15 minutes. 

In terms of looks, the Countryman Hybrid will look mostly the same as the standard model aside from an additional cap on the front fender for a charging port. The Countryman Hybrid will go on sale sometime next year.

Source: MINI 
Press Release is on Page 2


Charging ahead – The MINI goes electric.

  • Head of MINI brand management Sebastian Mackensen and Head of MINI series management Peter Wolf preview the first plug-in hybrid model by the British premium brand.

Munich. Hallmark MINI driving fun combined with zero tailpipe emissions. With the introduction of the first plug-in hybrid model by the British premium brand, this will soon be a reality. The series development process for this car has almost been completed. It features a combustion engine and an electric motor enabling purely electric propulsion for the first time in a MINI. This marks the beginning of a new phase for MINI, and offers a glimpse into a future that is charged with excitement for MINI customers and those drivers yet to experience the thrill of a hybrid.

Head of MINI brand management Sebastian Mackensen and Head of MINI series management Peter Wolf offer insight into this new near-series test vehicle, and explain how it retains go-kart feeling in the true spirit of a MINI during a test drive of this model.

“With this model we want to convince MINI customers of the benefits of hybrid drive”, says Mackensen, “and impress everyone who already has hybrid driving experience with MINI’s unique go-kart driving feel.” The key to achieving this lies in intelligent energy management which is used to control how the combustion engine and electric motor operate together. For this reason, the first MINI plug-in hybrid model is not solely focused on efficiency, but uncompromising in pursuit of driving fun.

At first glance, you wouldn’t recognise the test car as a hybrid model. And that’s not because of the camouflage foil used. The charging socket for the high-voltage battery is discreetly integrated in the left Side Scuttle. Everything also looks familiar in the cockpit. The start/stop button in the centre of the dashboard glows yellow instead of red. As usual,  you simply press the button to start the car – this vehicle, however, remains silent as the hybrid model always starts in electric mode. The rpm counter in the instrument cluster on the steering column has been replaced with a power display. Keeping a close eye on this display is particularly worthwhile for the first few kilometres as it informs the driver about the electric motor’s power reserves before the combustion engine fires up. When exactly the combustion engine starts varies depending upon on the vehicle’s speed and the intensity with which the driver operate the accelerator pedal.

“After a short time, the driver gets a feel for this”, promises Wolf. And this new driving experience promises a lot of driving fun. The hybrid MINI makes full use of the electric motor’s entire torque, which is available right from standstill, allowing for catapult-like acceleration. Even after leaving the slower pace of the city, this vehicle maintains its zero-tailpipe emissions at motorway speeds. The high-voltage battery under the rear seats provides power for long-lasting electric driving. AUTO eDRIVE standard mode permits speeds of up to 80 km/h, whilst in MAX eDRIVE mode speeds of up to 125 km/h are possible. For Mackensen this is a question of character: “In a hybrid MINI model, driving electrically must also be an exhilarating experience. This means that entirely electric driving is not limited to speeds of 30 or 40 km/h, but to speeds well beyond city traffic pace."

Testing the vehicle himself, Mackensen puts the car through its paces and demonstrates that you need to step on the accelerator peddle very firmly indeed to activate the second power source. Then things really start happening. With the combined output of both drives, the first MINI hybrid vehicle demonstrates unparalleled acceleration performance when compared with its combustion-only siblings.

However, MINI’s go-kart driving characteristics consists of more than just fast acceleration. Above all, this hybrid MINI has to prove how precisely it handles when taking bends on the most exciting, twisting roads. This is where MINI’s plug-in hybrid concept plays its next trump card. “As far as the chassis and suspension are concerned, nothing changes from the conventionally driven model variants”, says Wolf, “and the set-up benefits a lot from the hybrid concept”. Thanks to the eDrive components, which are positioned very low down at the rear, the car’s centre of gravity is lowered and the weight is evenly balanced between the front and rear axle – ideal for achieving an even higher level of legendary MINI agility.

The Hybrid concept provides yet another benefit: the electric motor transmits its power to the rear wheels, the combustion engine to the front wheels. Since the intelligent energy management is linked to the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), traction and drive stability are optimised via the drive system. “As soon as there is any risk of drive slip, the second drive unit is activated to provide additional traction when starting off or ensuring a high level of steering precision when cornering”, explains Wolf.

Intelligent energy management offers a further opportunity for both power sources to work together effectively. Driving on the motorway, Mackensen activates a third mode with the eDrive toggle switch: SAVE BATTERY. In this mode, the combustion engine powers the car whilst at the same time, the high voltage battery can retain charge at a constant level or indeed increase charge via a generator. Extended driving in SAVE BATTERY mode enables enough power generation for purely electric driving later.

After driving in SAVE BATTERY mode, the MINI drives back into town in silence at the end of the test drive. The status display in the cockpit reminds the driver to recharge the battery via wallbox or power socket. Refuelling is not necessary yet because the MINI plug-in hybrid model merely took a small sip from the fuel tank. Yet another new dimension of MINIMALISM.


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      Remarks by Takahiro Hachigo, President & CEO, Honda Motor Co., Ltd. May 8, 2019
      Honda has been working on two top-priority management challenges in the midst of abrupt changes in the global business environment surrounding the automobile industry: to strengthen the structure of our automobile business and to further increase the speed of business transformation for future generations.
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      Strengthening automobile business structure 
      Ever since I became the president of the company, I have been conveying the message that we will make Honda strong by creating strong products and also by strengthening our inter-regional coordination and collaboration. We put special emphasis on the strengthening of our global models, which have been the source of Honda's core competence, and also the enhancement of our regional models.
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      Honda will continue taking on new challenges while being driven by strong passion, so that we can continue to be a company that society wants to exist even in 2050 after Honda becomes more than 100 years old. 
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    • By William Maley
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      Honda is also planning to have two-thirds of their global lineup electrified by 2030. Furthermore, it wants 100 percent of its European lineup to be electrifed by 2025. To do this, Honda is readying a new electric city car known as the e, along with deploying their two-motor i-MMD hybrid setup to all of their models in Europe. In the U.S. Honda is planning to launch more hybrid models, and increase their electric car lineup with some help from General Motors.
      “In North America, we will jointly develop battery components with General Motors and introduce highly-competitive battery EVs in the market,” said Hachigo.

      Press Release is on Page 2
      Summary of Honda CEO Speech on Automobile Business Direction
      Remarks by Takahiro Hachigo, President & CEO, Honda Motor Co., Ltd. May 8, 2019
      Honda has been working on two top-priority management challenges in the midst of abrupt changes in the global business environment surrounding the automobile industry: to strengthen the structure of our automobile business and to further increase the speed of business transformation for future generations.
      So, today, I would like to introduce some initiatives we are taking for our automobile business, especially how we are strengthening the structure of our automobile business, the direction we are taking with electrification, as well as some progress we have made to date.
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      Ever since I became the president of the company, I have been conveying the message that we will make Honda strong by creating strong products and also by strengthening our inter-regional coordination and collaboration. We put special emphasis on the strengthening of our global models, which have been the source of Honda's core competence, and also the enhancement of our regional models.
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      In China, the third plant of Dongfeng Honda became newly operational, and this put us in a position where we can definitely accommodate market demand in China. We believe that this progress we made paved the way for the optimization of our global production capacity.
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      In addition to the expansion of the lineup of products equipped with the 2-motor hybrid system, we also will expand the application of the 2-motor hybrid system on a global basis. With that, by 2022, we are expecting to reduce the cost of the 2-motor hybrid system by 25% compared to the cost of this system in 2018.
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      In North America, we will jointly develop battery components with General Motors and introduce highly-competitive battery EVs in the market.   
      In China, in order to keep up with the fast speed of electrification, we have already begun introducing battery EV models developed together with our local joint venture companies in China. While envisioning the introduction of battery EV models from the Honda brand, we will continue utilizing local resources in China and introduce more battery EV models in a timely manner to fulfill local market needs in China.
      In Europe and Japan, we will introduce the Honda e, a new battery EV model, which was recently introduced as a prototype at the Geneva Motor Show.
      To summarize, Honda will popularize and improve the business feasibility of electrified vehicles by focusing on hybrid vehicles and battery EVs.
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      In order to ensure the solid implementation of these initiatives I just introduced for our automobile business, we renewed our operational structure as of April. The aims of this structural change are to establish an organization which brings all regional operations together to strongly facilitate inter-regional coordination and collaboration and to increase the speed of our business operations by enabling prompt decisions and prompt execution.
      Today, I introduced our initiatives to strengthen our automobile business structure and the direction of our electrification. Under the new organizational structure, we will realize our goals with a keen sense of speed. 
      Closing
      As we stated in our 2030 Vision, Honda is striving to grow through the pursuit of quality so that we can fulfill our vision to "Serve people worldwide with the joy of expanding their life's potential."
      Honda will continue taking on new challenges while being driven by strong passion, so that we can continue to be a company that society wants to exist even in 2050 after Honda becomes more than 100 years old. 
      *1 S-E-D-B: Sales, Engineering (Manufacturing), Development (R&D), Buying (Purchasing)
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      View full article
    • By Drew Dowdell
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      Both hybrid models feature 4 EV modes that allow the driver to adjust drive settings to the most suitable for conditions and needs.
      Auto EV mode - the vehicle decides whether to run on gasoline or electric power. EV Now Mode - the vehicle operates on all-electric drive. EV Later Mode - the vehicle operates on gasoline power to conserve electric miles for later EV Charge Mode - the vehicle operates on gasoline and recharges the battery for later EV only mode. Helping on the efficiency front, Ford designers made the most aerodynamic Escape ever.  They made a more sloped roofline and strake, an efficient underbody, and an optimized liftgate spoiler. Overall, the 2020 Escape is 200lbs lighter than its predecessor.  The new Escape is longer, lower, and wider than the outgoing model. The two ecoboost engines boast a range of 400 miles per tank, while the standard hybrid with FWD aims for a range of 550 miles. 
      Inside, Ford engineers optimized space to increase headroom and cargo capacity.  With the second row in the fully forward position, the rear cargo area can accommodate 4 golf bags or a full size dog crate. 
      On the safety front, the Escape comes with Ford Co-Pilot 360 standard.  Other technologies like Adaptive Cruise and Lane-Centering are available.  Passengers are entertained via an 8-inch touch screen standard on SE and above. The gauge cluster is a 12.3 inch all digital system that uses 3D animated graphic to indicate drive mode. 
      The 2020 Ford Escape will reach dealers in the fall with the Plug-in Hybrid variant due in Spring 2020. 
      We will have more of the 2020 Ford Escape from the New York Auto Show on April 17th.
       
       

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