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  1. When Toyota introduced the Prius C back in 2012, it served two purposes. It was the entry-level model for then growing Prius family (Prius, Prius Plug-In, and Prius V). Plus, it was part of a small group of vehicles that could achieve almost 50 mpg if driven efficiently. But Toyota really hasn’t made any changes to the Prius C since it was launched, only making minor changes to the feature set for the past few years. Meanwhile, the rest of the Prius lineup has undergone significant changes with models either being dropped (Prius V) or being redesigned (Prius). For 2018, Toyota has decided to take the Prius C out of its deep freeze and make some changes. But is that enough considering larger hybrid models return higher fuel economy figures, and are slightly more expensive? The answer is no. Toyota has given the Prius C a much needed exterior update with a revised front end (new hood shape and slimmer grille), crossover-esq design touches (black wheel arches, faux skid plates, and a set of roof rails), and a set of 15-inch alloy wheels. The Prius C is one of the few Toyota models that come in a number of vibrant colors like the Tangerine Orange on this tester. It did make it look like a giant Jack-O-Lantern, but it also gave this small model some personality. The Prius C’s interior design is a bit odd. While it lacks some of the craziness found in the standard Prius (see the Storm Trooper inspired center console and stack), there are some decisions that left me scratching my head. For example, there is a storage shelf behind the steering wheel. I not sure what you can put in there aside from spare change or snacks to eat while on the move. Almost all of the materials used in the Prius C are hard plastics. Usually, I would be giving this pass considering it is a subcompact vehicle and this one of the sacrifices needed to meet the low price. But this particular Prius C has an as-tested price of $26,479. For that price, I do wish Toyota had stuck some soft-touch material to ease some of the pain on the wallet. The manual adjustments weren’t the smoothest and it took me a few days to find a position that didn’t have me constantly fidgeting around. This is disappointing considering the seat itself is nice to sit on with soft padding and decent support for long trips. In the back seat, headroom is surprisingly good due to the tall height of the roof. Like other subcompacts, the Prius C’s rear legroom is on the tight side. All Prius Cs come with a 6.1-inch touchscreen with Toyota’s Entune infotainment system. Higher end models like my Four tester come with navigation. The screen is a bit on the small side, which makes it hard to hit some of the touchscreen buttons. At least the screen is easy to read and bright. One slight disappointment is the slowness of the system. Compared to other hybrid vehicles, Entune is a few ticks slower when going through the various screens. The Prius C’s hybrid powertrain is comprised of a 1.5L Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder, 45 kW electric motor, Nickel-Metal Hydride battery pack, and a CVT. Total output is rated at 99 horsepower. If your driving takes place mostly in urban areas, then the Prius C is a fine car. At speeds under 45 mph, the powertrain gets the vehicle moving a decent clip. But there is a fair amount of buzzing coming from the engine and CVT. On rural roads and highways, the limited performance of hybrid powertrain makes itself known as the model records a 0-60 mph of over 12 seconds. Passing is best done when there are no vehicles appearing in your eyesight. EPA fuel economy figures for the Prius C are 48 City/43 Highway/46 Combined. The figures are disappointing when you consider the likes of the Toyota Prius and Hyundai Ioniq return higher figures - 54/50/52 for the Prius and 55/54/55 in the Ioniq. My average for the Prius C was 49.6 mpg, very disappointing when compared to the 60 mpg in the Prius and 62 mpg in the Ioniq Blue I have reviewed previously. The reason for the poor fuel economy showing in the Prius C comes down Toyota not making any changes to the powertrain since its launch in 2012. Handling in the Prius C is quite surprising with excellent body control and feeling quite nimble around the corners. The low-rolling resistance tires will complain if you decide to push it. Where the Prius C shines is in an urban area where the compact size and tight turning radius make it easy to navigate tight spots. Ride quality is about average with most bumps being smoothed over. One item to be aware of is the abundance of road and wind noise. Be prepared to crank the radio up to drown out most of the road noise. We come now to the Prius C’s big problem. The base C One begins at $20,630. My Four tester begins at $24,965, which already makes it a tough sell when you consider that the larger Prius Two is only $280 less and returns higher fuel economy figures. With a couple of options and destination, the as-tested price came to $26,479. Again, you can get into larger Prius or the Hyundai Ioniq that not only offer better fuel economy figures but more features for a similar price. Gallery: 2018 Toyota Prius C Four Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Prius C, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Toyota Model: Prius C Trim: Four Engine: Hybrid Synergy Drive: 1.5L DOHC 16-Valve VVT-i, Electric Motor, Sealed Nickel-Metal Hydride Battery Pack Driveline: eCVT, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 73 @ 4,800 (Gas); 60 @ 0 (Electric) Torque @ RPM: 82 @ 4,000 (Gas); 125 @ 0 (Electric) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 48/43/46 Curb Weight: 2,530 lbs Location of Manufacture: Isawa, Iwate, Japan Base Price: $24,965 As Tested Price: $26,479 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge) Options: Special Color - $395.00 Carpet Floor Mats/Cargo Mat - $224.00
  2. When one automaker comes up with an interesting idea, usually others will follow. See German crossover 'coupes' as an example. With Ford working on a hybrid version of the Mustang, it doesn't come as a surprise that Chevrolet is looking into this as well. Back in August, a poster on the Camaro6 forum got a screenshot with a survey asking Camaro owners which powertrain they would consider if they bought a new sports car. Respondents were given the four choices listed below, or None of the Above: 4 Cylinder, 2.7L, Turbo engine, 310 HP, 25 mpg combined, 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds - $0 4 Cylinder, 2.0L, Hybrid Turbo engine, 365 HP (total system power), 30 mpg combined, 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds - $4,000 8 Cylinder, 6.2L, 455 HP, 20 mpg combined, 0-60 mph in 4.0 seconds - $4,000 8 Cylinder, 6.2L, Hybrid engine, 545 HP (total system power), 24 mpg combined, 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds - $8,000 There are few things to take note of, No V6 option is listed among the choices The turbo 2.7L is likely the same found in the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. Also, the 310 horsepower output is the same as Ford's 2.3L EcoBoost. The turbocharged 2.0L hybrid sees a one second drop in 0-60 mph time when compared to the standard 2.0L. Plus, the combined figure rises 5 to 7 mpg - depending on the transmission. The V8 hybrid setup only sees a 0.3-second decrease in the 0-60 mph run, but an increase of 4 mpgs. We need to note that the results of this survey might not result in a hybrid Camaro. "We routinely survey our customers across all of our vehicles on potential future technologies or features, but that doesn’t mean we are going to institute them,” a GM spokesman told Motor Authority. But it is clear that GM is watching Ford closely with the hybrid Mustang. Who knows, maybe the next-generation Camaro will offer some sort of hybrid power? Source: Camaro6, Motor Authority
  3. Last week, we brought you news that Bentley is planning to catch up on the electrification trend that a number of other automakers are ahead on. We now have some possible details as to some of their plans. The next-generation Flying Spur, due out towards the end of the year could be the second Bentley model to be offered with a hybrid powertrain. "Obviously Bentayga is our highest volume car so that’s the first one we have to hybridise. The next volume car is probably going to be the saloon car, so if you wanted a second car just for compliance, then that would normally be the next selection," said Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark to Autocar. Hallmark said "possibly" when asked if said sedan could be the Flying Spur. He said a decision would come in the next six months. Then there is the successor to the Mulsanne. Autocar has learned that Bentley is debating whether or not they will do "a like-for-like replacement" to the current Mulsanne or something else. One possibility is to make the replacement a pure electric vehicle as a forward-looking flagship model. This could happen if next-generation battery technology arrives before the end of the Mulsanne's production run - expected in the early 2020s. Source: Autocar, 2
  4. Can any automaker out-do the Toyota Prius? Some have tried and ultimately have failed in one way or another. But the latest challenger, the Hyundai Ioniq, appears to be a formidable opponent. On paper, the Ioniq boasts higher fuel economy figures than the Prius. It also features a design that will not scare people away. We spent a week in the midlevel SEL to find out if the Prius needs to watch its back. The Ioniq’s design appears to be heavily influenced by the second and third-generation Prius. This is shown in the overall profile and rear tailgate design. The front end comes with a large hexagonal grille, raked projector headlights, and deep cuts in the bumpers enclosing a set of LEDs. The only downside to the Ioniq’s design is the plastic rectangle around the Hyundai emblem on the front. It looks out of place, but that houses the radar system needed for the automatic braking and adaptive cruise control systems. “It seems quite normal,” will be thought of many when they come inside the Ioniq. There is no futuristic design, joystick controller for the transmission, or endless acres of white plastic trim. This is an interior you might expect to find in the Elantra compact sedan. Material quality is similar to what you’ll find in a Toyota Prius - a mix of hard and soft plastics. The control layout is simple and is within easy reach for those sitting up front. The SEL comes with cloth upholstery and a power driver’s seat. Finding a comfortable position isn’t too hard with the power adjustments and a tilt-telescoping steering wheel. But the Ioniq’s front seats do falter on long trips. I found myself squirming around the seat after driving the vehicle for an hour. The back comes up slightly short in terms of head and legroom for taller passengers. For example, I’m 5’9” and my head was touching the headliner. A 7-inch infotainment system featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration is standard on all Ioniqs. A larger 8-inch system with navigation is only available on the top-line Limited trim. Hyundai offers one of the better infotainment systems with an easy-to-understand interface, quick performance, and having physical shortcut buttons to various functions. The only thing I wished Hyundai would do is making the 8-inch screen standard. This would make it easier to read the information at a quick glance. Hyundai employs a 1.6L Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder engine, a 32 kW electric motor, and a Lithium-ion Polymer battery for the Ioniq’s hybrid powertrain. Total output is rated at 139 horsepower, 18 more than in the Prius. Around town, the Ioniq is noticeably faster than the Prius. I had no problems with keeping up with the flow of traffic. Sport mode does sharpen acceleration, but it will eat into fuel economy. Like the Prius, the Ioniq does struggle with getting up to speed on the freeway. The six-speed dual-clutch automatic didn’t exhibit the hesitation to drop down a gear or the clunky gear changes that I experienced in the Kia Niro. It delivered smooth and quick shifts. The EPA rates the 2017 Ioniq SEL at 55 City/54 Highway/55 Combined - better the 54/50/52 for the Prius. My average for the week was a disappointing 45 mpg. Some of this can be explained by the extremely cold temps that hit the Detroit-area only a couple days into my loan. This caused the gas engine to run constantly to keep the vehicle warm. Like the Prius, the Ioniq is surprisingly fun to drive. There is little body roll and the vehicle quickly transitions from one turn to another. Steering has decent weight when turning, but is devoid of feel, something common in the class. The Ioniq comes up slightly short in terms of ride quality. On rough roads, the Ioniq lets in more bumps than the Prius. There is also a fair amount of tire roar that comes inside when driving on the freeway. Pricing is a strong point for the Ioniq. The midlevel SEL trim begins at $23,950. With the optional tech package (adds adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning) and floor mats, the as-tested price comes to $25,910. Taking into account what you get for the price, the Ioniq continues Hyundai’s reputation of delivering a lot of car for the money. As my time with the Ioniq was coming to a close, I found myself stumped between choosing the Ioniq and Prius. The Ioniq has the less outlandish design, better performance, higher fuel economy figures (on paper), and value. But the Prius can hold its own as it has a better balance between ride and handling, slightly larger back seat, and impressive real-world fuel economy figures. Plus, the Prius name holds a lot more recognition than the Ioniq. Despite the positives, the Ioniq finds itself between a rock and hard place. Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Ioniq, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Hyundai Model: Ioniq Trim: SEL Engine: 1.6L GDI Atkinson Cycle Four-Cylinder, Electric Motor Driveline: Six-Speed Dual-Clutch Transmission, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 104 @ 5,700 (Gas), 43 @ 0 (Electric), 139 (Combined) Torque @ RPM: 109 @ 4,000 (Gas), 125 @ 0 (Electric) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 55/54/55 Curb Weight: 3,031 lbs Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, South Korea Base Price: $23,950 As Tested Price: $25,910 (Includes $835.00 Destination Charge) Options: Tech Package - $1,000.00 Carpeted Floor Mats - $125.00
  5. Following a few months after the debut of the refreshed Sonata, Hyundai used the Chicago Auto Show to debut the 2018 Sonata Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid. Like the gas counterpart, the hybrid models feature new front and rear end styling, revised wheel designs (16 and 17-inches), and LED headlights. The interior is mostly the same as the standard model aside from a different instrument cluster and additional screens pertaining to hybrid system for the infotainment system. Qi wireless charging for smartphones is available as an option. Under the hoods of the Sonata Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid is a 2.0L direct-injected four-cylinder producing 154 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque. This is matched with an electric motor in the six-speed automatic transmission - 35kW for the hybrid and 50 kW for the plug-in. Total output stands at 193 horsepower for the hybrid and 202 hp for the plug-in. The Hybrid features a 1.76 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack, while the Plug-In boasts a larger 9.8 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack. Hyundai says the Sonata Hybrid SE is estimated to return 39 City/45 Highway/42 Combined and have a total range of more than 650 miles - about the length from Detroit to Chicago and back. The Plug-In has an estimated electric-only range of 27 miles and is able to be recharged in less than 3 hours when plugged into a level 2 charger. The Sonata Hybrid arrives sometime in the first quarter and the Plug-In will follow in the second quarter. Source: Hyundai Press Release is on Page 2 Hyundai Reveals 2018 Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid Models at Chicago Auto Show Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid models receive extensive exterior redesign New instrument panel center stack, steering and infotainment features wheel New available safety features include Automatic Emergency Braking and Lane Keep Assist Steering and suspension refined for improved ride and handling CHICAGO, Feb. 8, 2018 – Hyundai today unveiled its redesigned 2018 Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid models at the Chicago Auto Show, the largest in the U.S. 2018 Sonata Hybrid/Plug-in Hybrid Highlights New front/rear fascia design, grille, hood, front fenders, rear deck lid, headlights/taillights New 16-inch and 17-inch eco-spoke wheel designs New LED headlights with cornering Dynamic Bending Light (DBL) function New instrument panel center stack, steering wheel and available heated steering wheel New, stiffer front anti-roll bar and recalibrated steering assistance feel New, more rigid rear-trailing-arm design with retuned bushings for responsiveness Standard Blind-spot detection with Rear Cross-traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist Newly available Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) and Lane Keep Assist New, upgraded audio/video navigation system with new Bird’s Eye View map perspective New HERE HD Traffic (Real-time Traffic Service – non-paid subscription) Qi wireless phone charging on navigation-equipped models New rear USB charging port New three-year complimentary Blue Link Connected Car, Remote and Guidance on Blue Link-equipped models (Guidance requires navigation) Repackaged standard and available content for outstanding customer value The new Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid feature a comprehensive exterior and interior redesign, safety, suspension and new and improved infotainment and connectivity features. The 2018 Hybrid and Plug-in will be produced in Asan, Korea, with Hybrid availability in the first quarter of 2018 and Plug-in availability in the second quarter of 2018. “Our new 2018 Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in models add appeal in every area, from exterior to interior design, handling, steering, ride comfort, safety and infotainment,” said Mike O’Brien, vice president of Product, Corporate and Digital Planning at Hyundai Motor America. “When combined with Hyundai’s outstanding value and efficiency, the new Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in are sure to attract even more eco-focused buyers.” The new Sonata exterior design conveys a new appearance from every vantage point, including new wheel designs. On the inside, a new instrument panel center stack, steering wheel, available audio/video navigation system, wireless phone charging and rear USB charge port further enhance the interior experience. HYBRID POWERTRAIN The heart of the 2018 Sonata Hybrid is a 2.0-liter Nu GDI four-cylinder engine coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission that houses a powerful 38 kW electric motor and clutch where the torque converter would normally be found. Sonata Hybrid’s Transmission-Mounted Electrical Device (TMED) delivers the same responsive, engaging driving characteristics Sonata owners expect while improving fuel economy through the use of a larger electric motor. This innovative transmission uses an electric oil pump, which helps improve efficiency. It is possible for Sonata Hybrid to operate solely on electric power at speeds up to 75 mph by decoupling the gasoline engine from the rest of the drivetrain. Sonata Hybrid’s Nu engine produces 154 horsepower and 140 lb. ft. of torque. The electric motor produces 38 kW (51 horsepower) and 151 lb. ft. of torque. Hybrid system net power is 193 horsepower at 6,000 rpm. Sonata Hybrid SE has preliminary internal estimates of 39 mpg in the city, 45 mpg on the highway and 42 mpg combined. The Sonata Hybrid’s total range is estimated at more than 650 miles under typical driving conditions. The lithium-ion polymer battery pack capacity is 1.76 kWh and the battery pack fits under the trunk floor, which allows for a flat trunk floor as well as available 60/40 split-folding rear seats. Sonata Hybrid offers 13.3 cu. ft. of cargo volume, thanks to the compact battery pack dimensions and efficient design. Locating the battery pack beneath the trunk floor helps improve cargo volume and total interior volume with 106.1 cu. ft., the most in its segment. PLUG-IN HYBRID POWERTRAIN Although the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid is very technologically advanced, it drives similarly to the regular Sonata Hybrid, but with the additional benefit of extended all-electric range. A 9.8 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack, more than five times larger than the Sonata Hybrid’s battery, gives the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid an EPA-estimated all-electric range of up to 27 miles, and it can recharge in less than three hours with a level-two charger. It offers the best of both worlds by providing the power delivery of a hybrid gasoline engine, perfect for long trips, with the additional benefit of environmentally-friendly all-electric range for commuting. As a result, many consumers will be able to complete their daily commute without using a single drop of fuel, and total estimated range is an impressive 590 miles. The Sonata Plug-in Hybrid uses a six-speed automatic transmission with Hyundai’s Transmission-Mounted Electrical Device (TMED), a 50 kW electric motor, in place of a torque converter. The 50 kW electric motor is 32 percent more powerful than the motor used in Sonata Hybrid and allows EV operation at higher engine load and speed. A 2.0-liter Nu four-cylinder GDI engine coupled with the electric motor allows the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid to operate just like the Sonata Hybrid once the onboard battery charge is depleted. The Sonata Plug-in Nu engine produces 154 horsepower and 140 lb. ft. of torque and the total system output is 202 horsepower at 6,000 rpm. SAFETY FEATURES 2018 Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in come standard with seven airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag. Electronic Stability Control, Vehicle Stability Management, Traction Control, ABS and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System with individual tire pressure display and a rearview camera are also standard. LED headlamps are optional and LED taillights and DRLs are standard. Hyundai engineers implemented many active safety technologies for the Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in to assist drivers and help prevent accidents. No longer reserved for luxury cars, advanced safety technologies, such as Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross Traffic Alert is standard. Available advanced safety features include Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist and Automatic High Beam Assist. The Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in advanced Blind Spot Detection system is designed to alert drivers of an approaching vehicle in the next lane if the turn signal is activated. Drivers are first alerted of a vehicle in the blind spot by warning lights in the side mirrors. When the turn signal is activated, the Lane Change Assist system determines the closing speed of any vehicle in the adjacent lane to determine if the lane change is safe. If the system determines the vehicle in the other lane is closing too quickly, it sounds an audible alarm to warn the driver that the lane change is unsafe. The Lane Keep Assist uses a forward-facing camera to recognize lane markers. If the system detects the vehicle is headed outside the lane markers, a warning on the instrument cluster illuminates and an audible sound alerts the driver. Rear Cross-traffic Alert (RCTA) is another standard feature that uses advanced technologies from the Blind Spot Detection system. RCTA scans the areas to each side of the Sonata when drivers are backing out of parking spaces. If the system detects another vehicle is approaching from the side, the Sonata driver is given an audible alert. This system is another tool that helps Sonata drivers benefit from active safety technologies. CONVENIENCE FEATURES The Sonata Hybrid delivers the convenience technology one would expect in a luxury vehicle in an incredibly efficient mid-size hybrid sedan. Hyundai’s Hands-free Smart Trunk is available as well as an electronic parking brake with automatic vehicle hold, an Integrated Memory System for driver’s seat and side mirrors, segment-exclusive rear window sunshades, ventilated front seats, power front seats with adjustable driver lumbar support and Smart Cruise Control featuring stop/start capability. MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in offer an eight-inch color touchscreen navigation system with Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto® smartphone integration, iPod®/USB and auxiliary inputs, SiriusXM® satellite radio and Bluetooth® phone connectivity with phonebook transfer and voice-recognition. Available upgrades include a nine-speaker Infinity premium audio system with subwoofer and external Infinity® amplifier. The available eight-inch navigation system offers a map and music split-screen display and the ability to record SiriusXM presets one to six. For 2018, this navigation system also adds Bird’s Eye View map perspective capability. Switching to a preset station in the middle of your favorite song won’t be an annoyance any longer; simply rewind up to 22 minutes to listen to the full song or catch up on sports broadcasts. SiriusXM Travel Link® provides access to traffic information, sports scores, weather, stock prices, fuel prices and local movie times. AERODYNAMICS Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in use the same functional design cues to improve the drag coefficient to an industry-leading 0.24 Cd. NEXT-GENERATION BLUE LINK® CONNECTED CAR SYSTEM Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in Blue Link-equipped models include three years of complimentary Blue Link services, with enhanced safety, diagnostic, remote and voice navigation services. Blue Link brings connectivity directly into the car with technologies like Remote Start with Climate Control, Remote Door Lock/Unlock, Car Finder, Enhanced Roadside Assistance, and Stolen Vehicle Recovery. Blue Link features can be accessed via buttons on the rearview mirror, the MyHyundai.com web portal, the MyHyundai with Blue Link smartphone app, the Amazon® Alexa Blue Link skill, and the Blue Link Google Assistant app. Some features can also be controlled via Android Wear™ and Apple Watch™ smartwatch apps. The latest release of the Blue Link smartphone app includes: Widgets for easy access to remote features Ability to send Point-of-Interest data to vehicle navigation system (if so equipped) Access to Blue Link notification settings More details on specific Blue Link-equipped vehicles available at www.hyundaibluelink.com. MYHYUNDAI with BLUE LINK® APP Owners can manage and monitor the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid remotely via the Blue Link smartphone app. With the app, owners can access real-time data from their Sonata Plug-in and perform specific commands like starting the engine and locking doors. Plus, users can search for points of interest using Google with voice or text and have the directions when they start their Sonata Plug-in. For Sonata Plug-in owners who will charge at their residence, one of the most useful features of the app is the ability to manage their Plug-in charging schedule. Owners are given vehicle charging options that they can select while in the car, but users can also manage them remotely via their smartphone. Immediate charge is the simplest option, as charging begins as soon as the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid is plugged-in. A distinctive instrument cluster provides Sonata Plug-in Hybrid drivers with additional information about the vehicle’s functions. A charge indicator is located on top of the dashboard to make it easy to see the state of charge from outside the vehicle. Individuals that have different electric rates at off-peak times may want to schedule the charge to reduce cost as well as reduce peak demand on the electricity grid. Users can do that with the new app based on time and date. For example, charging could be set to start at 10 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays on a weekly basis. Connected Car Services: Remote Start with Climate Control and defroster Remote Lock/Unlock Vehicle Diagnostics/status Stolen Vehicle Recovery Car Finder Connected Plug-in Hybrid Charge Management Services: Start or stop charging Set-up charging schedule with days of the week and time Current battery level with real-time electric and fuel range Real-time fuel range Plug status (in/out) Charge status Time left until fully charged SONATA PLUG-IN AVAILABILITY AND TAX CREDITS The Sonata Plug-in Hybrid will be distributed in California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont, but customers in any of the other states can custom order the vehicle at their local Hyundai dealer. Sonata Plug-in Hybrid buyers are currently eligible for a $4,919 federal tax credit. These tax credits reduce the amount of federal tax the purchaser is liable for, making them much more valuable+ than tax deductions. In addition, the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid is eligible for HOV-lane access in certain states.
  6. Genesis is working on a new sports car that will be utilizing a plug-in hybrid powertrain. This information comes to us via Australian outlet Wheels who spoke with two senior executives from Hyundai at the Consumer Electronics Show. “We are definitely doing it. I’m actually reviewing the project next week, after CES. I can’t tell you much more about it, but we are definitely doing it. We are not going autonomous for all of our cars!" said Hyundai design vice-president Luc Donckerwolke. Hyundai's vice-chairman of research and development, Woong-chul Yang acknowledged the project, saying the coupe would be a two-seater, feature some sort of electrification, and be under the watchful eye of the N performance division. “We are very much interested in it and as far as I’m concerned I’d love to promote that [a sportscar]. That’s something our brand needs at this time. The people working at N will be working on that, but how we put it in the N or maybe above N … it’s pretty high performance. It’s serious,” said Yang. “We cannot say it will just be hybrid,” he said “but we will use electric motors and batteries to make it more performance. Some areas we cannot just overcome by putting a big ICE [internal combustion engine], we like to minimise as much as possible the ICE and use the best application of electric motors. That means not only efficiency but also performance can be very much optimised using both powertrains. Certainly we will put some electric powerplant in there.” Right now, the project is still in the design stage and it will likely be years before the coupe sees the light of day. Source: Wheels
  7. Updated: 3:10 pm est with additional pictures Honda released a teaser image today, ahead of the 2018 North American International Auto Show, of a prototype of the forthcoming Honda Insight. This will mark the third time Honda uses the Insight name. The original Insight was the first hybrid offered in the US. A small two-seater, the Insight never caught hold. The second time around, Honda went for a Prius-shaped compact hatchback and the CR-Z sporty hatchback hybrid, still customers stayed away. The new teaser image reveals little, beyond the new Insight's shape. The prototype shares a profile now more closely related to the Civic sedan, though perhaps a bit more swoopy in the rear. The new Insight will be a five passenger sedan positioned above the Civic in the lineup. We expect the Insight to be powered by the same hybrid system as the larger Accord Hybrid. The Honda Insight Prototype will be revealed on January 15th. Click here to follow all 2018 Detroit Auto Show News. Click here to follow Honda News.
  8. The idea of Porsche doing a 911 hybrid has come and gone, and it seems to be coming once again. Bloomberg has learned from sources at Porsche that they are considering a hybrid powertrain for their iconic sports car once again. If given the green light, it would appear a few years after the launch of the next-generation 911 (due sometime next year) and possibly offer up to 40 miles of electric-only range. A problem that engineers are working on is trying to cut down battery weight the handling characteristics the vehicle is known for. It should be noted the Porsche has been going back and forth on this idea since 2014. Back in May, Porsche's head of development for the 718 and 911 said plans for 911 plug-in hybrid were canceled last year due to weight concerns and not being able to make much a profit as they would with a standard 911. Source: Bloomberg
  9. When the next-generation Subaru WRX STI arrives sometime in 2020 or so, it will not have the turbocharged 2.5L boxer-four engine. Speaking with Dutch automotive site AutoRAI, Subaru Europe's General Manager of sales and marketing manager David Dello Stritto said the current engine would not be able to meet upcoming emission standards. "CO2 emissions are becoming increasingly important and the current 2.5-liter four-cylinder turbo boxer engine simply can not continue to be used in the future. We do not say goodbye to the WRX STI, the car belongs to Subaru, but there will be a period where we will temporarily not run WRX STI," explained Dello Stritto. We've previously heard that Subaru is considering using a hybrid power for the next WRX and WRX STI. When asked by AutoRAI about this, Dello Stritto said it was "something we have to investigate." "Subaru is awaiting what the market developments are, and sets the concept for that." Source: AutoRAI
  10. Lamborghini has been hesitant to move on from their naturally aspirated V10 and V12 engines to hybrid powertrains for their sports cars. “When they come to Lamborghini, they are asking for the power and performance of our naturally aspirated engines,” he said. “That’s why we have already decided that the next-generation V12 will stay naturally aspirated and it is one reason why the [Aventador] remains unique,” said Lamborghini's Commercial boss Federico Foschini a few months back to Autocar. But Lamborghini is working on a hybrid powertrain for the successor to the Huracán. “The [next] Huracán – that car will need hybridisation. Hybridisation is the answer, not [full] electric,” said Lamborghini boss Stefano Domenicali. Unlike the Urus, which will be the company's first plug-in hybrid vehicle, the Huracán's replacement brings a set of challenges. Packing a heavy hybrid powertrain into an SUV is no problem. Doing the same for a sports car is a big no-no. “It’s easier in our first plug-in hybrid, the Urus, because the ambition of the car in terms of packaging and weight is not so difficult. But this is one mission. It’s not the Lamborghini super-sports car mission," said Maurizio Reggiani, Lamborghini's R&D head. Reggiani added that current battery technology is not feasible for current supercars. “The issue today is the storage of energy. If I go to a track, I need to run all the laps that I want. But today, the problem is that if you go, you are only able to run one and a half laps [flat out].” Lamborghini's sister brand, Porsche has been investigating the use of lighter solid-state batteries which could solve this issues talked about by Reggiani. Lamborghini is also working with other industry experts to see if a solution can be figured out. The Huracán's replacement is due out in 2022. Source: Autocar
  11. It was just a few months ago that Volvo announced their in-house performance arm, Polestar would be spun off to become a standalone brand. It would focus on building high-performance electric vehicles, though as we reported in the rumorpile back in the summer, their first model would be a plug-in hybrid coupe. That rumor was right on the money as the brand unveiled the Polestar 1 at an event in Shanghai. The Polestar 1 looks to be the production model of the Volvo Concept Coupe shown a few years back. The front end is very reminiscent of recent Volvo models with a concave grille and Thor's Hammer headlights. The rear end echoes the Concept Coupe with C-Shaped taillights and short trunk lid. With an overall length of 177.2-inches, the Polestar 1 is about six inches shorter than the BMW 4-Series Coupe. Inside the coupe, it is again like Volvo's 90 Series models with a large touchscreen, steering wheel, and even the crystal gearshift. With all of this similarity to other Volvo models, you can't help but wonder if there is anything original to the Polestar 1. The brand says 50 percent of the coupe's parts are specific to the P1. It begins with the body where the majority of panels are made out of carbon fiber, saving 506 pounds, The hybrid powertrain is comprised of a 2.0L Drive-E engine driving the front axle and two electric motors on the rear axle. Total output is rated at 600 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque. Polestar says when the 1 is put into its 'Pure' mode (EV mode), it can travel up to 93 miles. Quick note, when the Polestar 1 is in pure mode, the electric motors offer a total output of 218 horsepower. A 34-kWh provides the electric juice. No information was given on 0-60 mph, top speed, or recharging time. The suspension features the Öhlins’ Continuously Controlled Electronic Suspension (CESi). This system monitors the road and driver inputs, adjust damping within 2 milliseconds to deliver optimal handling. CESi also allows for driver-selected modes, though details on this are being kept under wraps. Bringing the Polestar 1 to a stop are a set of Akebono brakes with six-piston calipers and large 15.7-inch discs. “The Polestar 1 is a Performance Electric Hybrid, but with the longest pure electric range of any hybrid car in the world, we consider it an electric car with support from an internal combustion engine. All future cars from Polestar will be Electric Performance Vehicles but the Polestar 1 bridges today’s technology with the future, offering the perfect drivetrain for a Grand Touring Coupé that's likely to be used over longer distances as well as shorter, faster, enjoyable journeys,” said Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath. Polestar 1 will be built a new assembly plant in Chengdu, China that will be finished in mid-2018. Production of the coupe will follow a year later. Polestar plans on build 500 1s every year that you can through a new online-only ordering process. You cannot buy one outright however. A buyer will have to choose either a two or three-year subscription. But that subscription includes insurance and maintence. The order books for the Polestar 1 are open right now. Polestar also announced two forthcoming models called the 2 and 3. Both models will be full electric vehicles. Polestar 2 will be a midsize sedan that will compete with the Tesla Model 3, and the Polestar 3 will be an SUV. Production of the Polestar 2 will begin towards the end of 2019. No date was given as to when production of the Polestar 3 would start. Source: Polestar Press Release is on Page 2 Polestar unveils its first car – the Polestar 1 – and reveals its vision to be the new electric performance brand Polestar, Volvo Car Group’s performance brand, has today revealed its future as a new standalone electric performance brand. Polestar has confirmed the company’s first three models, a new purpose-built production facility in China and a new,customer-focussed route to market with all-inclusive subscription-based services that will set a new industry benchmark for performance car buyers. The company’s first car, Polestar 1, will start production in mid-2019. As an Electric Performance Hybrid, the car can travel up to 150km on pure electric power alone - the longest full electric range of any hybrid car on the market. In combination with its four-cylinder Volvo Drive-E engine, the Polestar 1 delivers 600hp and 1,000Nm of torque, placing the car firmly within the performance car segment. Polestar will act as a technology spearhead for the Volvo Car Group, bringing new technology and performance attributes to market. At the same time, Polestar will benefit from technological and engineering synergies within Volvo Cars and significant economies of scale as a result. These synergies will allow Polestar to accelerate the design, development and building of its electrified performance cars. Thomas Ingenlath, Chief Executive Officer of Polestar said; “Polestar 1 is the first car to carry the Polestar on the bonnet. A beautiful GT with amazing technology packed into it - a great start for our new Polestar brand. All future cars from Polestar will feature a fully electric drivetrain, delivering on our brand vision of being the new standalone electric performance brand". Pure, Progressive, Performance - a portfolio of Polestar models The first car from Polestar, named Polestar 1, will form a halo for the future Polestar brand. The Polestar 1 is a two-door, 2+2 seater Grand Tourer Coupé with an ‘Electric Performance Hybrid’ drivetrain. A maximum of 500 cars per year will be built. All cars will be offered on a subscription basis, with customers benefitting from the convenience of a single, all-inclusive payment that can be topped up by additional on-demand services if required. Showcasing Polestar’s technology spearhead role, the Polestar 1 is based upon Volvo’s Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA) but approximately 50% is new and bespoke, created by Polestar’s engineers. Polestar 1 measures 4.5m in length compared with the 5.15m of the S90. This involved removing 320mm from the wheelbase and another 200mm in the rear to create the car’s powerful, sporty proportions. A further example of the technology spearhead role is an all-new double electric motor system driving both rear wheels, connected together by planetary gears. Producing 218hp, plus the support of an Integrated Starter Generator, the Polestar 1 in Pure mode, is a rear wheel drive Electric performance car with up to 150km of range. This distance ensures that many customers will only ever use the car in full electric mode. For those needing increased range, or wanting to exploit the full performance attributes of the Polestar 1, the double electric rear motors combine with a Volvo Drive-E two-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, powering the front wheels. In Power mode, the Polestar 1 delivers a total of 600hp and 1,000Nm of torque. Thomas Ingenlath, Chief Executive Officer of Polestar, continued; “The Polestar 1 is a Performance Electric Hybrid, but with the longest pure electric range of any hybrid car in the world, we consider it an electric car with support from an internal combustion engine. All future cars from Polestar will be Electric Performance Vehicles but the Polestar 1 bridges today’s technology with the future, offering the perfect drivetrain for a Grand Touring Coupé that's likely to be used over longer distances as well as shorter, faster, enjoyable journeys”. When the driver enters the first corner in their Polestar 1, the car further differentiates itself from its electric car competitors. This is what Polestar defines as Progressive Performance. Polestar’s experience of fitting Öhlins suspension to all its previous performance road cars has been harnessed, with Polestar 1 fitted with a state-of-the-art chassis, including the all-new Öhlins Continuously Controlled Electronic Suspension (CESi) - the world’s first car to be fitted with this advanced chassis technology. Each Öhlins shock absorber is fitted with a new electronic valve, installed for the first time on any road car in conjunction with Öhlins shock absorbers. The valve constantly monitors the driver inputs and road surface conditions, reacting in two milliseconds, to immediately change the ride characteristics to the prevailing demands. For the first time on an Öhlins suspension, the driver can also make changes to the suspension settings within the car, constantly able to tailor the chassis damping and ride quality to their own requirements. Complementing the suspension technology is a powerful braking system to provide the driver with total confidence in all driving situations. Manufactured by Akebono, the 6-piston brake callipers and 400-millimetre discs provide maximum stopping capability. Weight distribution of 48F:52R also ensures the car delivers class-leading handling. The Polestar 1 also brings other new technologies to the market for the Group. Thanks to the double electric rear axle’s planetary gears, torque vectoring features for the first time, separating the power from each of the electric rear motors to drive the car through corners, rather than convention traction control systems that brake the inner rear wheel, slowing the car in bends. As another first for the Group, the major body parts of the Polestar 1 are made from carbon fibre. This lightweight material, more commonly found in supercars, gives the car three significant advantages. Firstly a substantial body weight reduction of 230kg by building in lighter Carbon Fibre. Secondly, an increase in torsional stiffness of 45%, from 22Nmm-2 to 32Nmm-2. And additionally, a lower centre of gravity. Reducing the weight of the upper body panels by using lightweight Carbon Fibre lowers the centre of gravity for the Polestar 1 and results in better handling, performance and drivability on an open and flowing road. “Most electric cars are fast - that’s a product of the attributes of an electric motor. However, for Polestar, performance is far more holistic than just straight-line speed. It’s about acceleration, of course, but it’s also about cornering, braking, suspension control, chassis feedback and steering feel. This is what Polestar calls Progressive Performance,” said Thomas Ingenlath. Polestar 2 and Polestar 3 to follow. All future Polestar cars will feature a fully electric powertrain. Polestar 2 will start production later in 2019 and will be the first battery electric vehicle (BEV) from the Volvo Car Group. Polestar 2 will be a mid-sized fully-electric car that will join the competition around the Tesla Model 3. Polestar 2 is currently in the engineering phase and will start production before the end of 2019, delivering higher volumes than Polestar 1. Polestar 3 is in the finishing stages of design and will be a larger SUV-style BEV, creating a modern expression of electric performance and driving dynamics, and sitting between Polestar 1 and Polestar 2 in terms of volume and pricing. “Being part of the Volvo Car Group enables Polestar to design, develop and engineer our cars using the processes of a well-established car company but at the same time, enables us to experiment with new technology in lower volume cars outside the mainstream segments. This pace of development means as we announce the future of the company, we can also already confirm that a portfolio of three Polestar cars will be on sale within the next four year timescale,” continued Thomas Ingenlath. A contemporary approach for modern performance customers. Polestar brings a fresh approach to taking vehicles to market, removing all the hassle and allowing the customer to focus on what’s important: the driving experience. At the heart of the Polestar customer offer is a monthly subscription payment. This all-inclusive, no deposit, flat monthly payment ensures that the customer need never concern themselves with the inconvenience or cost of depreciation, insurance and maintenance and all Polestars will be offered on this basis. The subscription also includes pick-up and delivery servicing where Polestar contacts the customer to arrange a convenient time for scheduled maintenance. It will also consists of a number of car rental days and access to a range of concierge services. Polestar also recognises that its customers can’t always plan their future motoring requirements. For this reason, Polestar on-demand services are available. Simply ordered online or through a Polestar app and added to the one monthly invoice, further reducing the “hassle” traditionally associated with car usage. As an example, a customer needs the short-term use of a roof box for a forthcoming skiing holiday. At a time and location specified by the owner, Polestar will supply, fit and subsequently remove the roof box, just adding a small incremental usage charge to their monthly invoice. Polestar offers extended concierge services, tailored to the requirements of the most demanding customers. Included is services such as the extended use of a larger Volvo car domestically and internationally for when the driver needs additional load capacity during long family holidays, for example. Other features include the ability to book a car wash and valet at a time and location convenient to the customer. Polestar’s own Phone-as-Key technology is the main enabler of its concierge services. Using an easy-to-use app on Apple or Android devices, the driver can gain access to the car without using a key if required. More importantly, the app allows the owner to virtually pass a key to a third-party concierge or driver to facilitate the collection of the car to re-charge it, service it and more, without the owner ever leaving their home or office. The subscription will be for a fixed term of two or three years. At the end of the contract, the customer simply returns the car, or Polestar collects it and delivers their next Polestar experience. Polestar will then refurbish the vehicle and prepare it for a secondary subscription as a high-quality pre-owned Polestar car. “Our vision is that the Polestar subscription model and services that we will offer will define the Polestar brand as much as our cars will. Services that exceed the needs, desires and expectations of the premium performance car customer are at the heart of Polestar, removing the inconvenience of ownership and allowing customers to purely concentrate on the pleasure of driving a Polestar car,” said Jonathan Goodman, Chief Operating Officer of Polestar. Access Polestar wherever, whenever and however. Polestar makes the entire user experience as convenient and effortless as possible, catering to the customer’s desired choice of interaction channel (digital or physical). All features, from test drives, subscription offers and on demand services are ordered online. The customer never needs to visit a Polestar environment if they don’t want to. Polestar also recognises that as a new entrant into the electrified automotive segment, customers still want to physically engage with the brand. The digital approach will therefore be complemented by the creation of a network of stand-alone retail Spaces around the world. These Spaces will be staffed by Product experts who can assist in demonstrating and explaining the Polestar car’s content and carrying out test drives should the customer wish to do so. Polestar facilities will not be located within an existing Volvo retailer showroom. The target date for the opening of the first Polestar Space is Q1-2019, followed by a ramp up as volumes grow. Polestar’s customers will have the confidence of knowing all aftersales servicing work will be carried out by selected Volvo retailers, giving the Polestar customer the peace of mind that their car will be looked after by a fully trained and professional network, but without the need for the customer to ever visit the Volvo retailer thanks to pick up and delivery servicing The order books for the new Polestar 1 open on 17 October 2017, with Polestar able to take expressions of interest from prospective customers immediately. Polestar Production Centre Polestar cars will be built in China. To facilitate this, Volvo Cars has formed a joint venture with two companies within its parent company, Zhejiang Geely Holding. This JV is capitalised with 5B RMB (640M Euro) of equity to support Polestar’s development. Polestar remains a subsidiary of Volvo Car Group and will be fully consolidated into Volvo Car Group. The new Polestar 1 will be built in a state-of-the-art, purpose-built Polestar Production Centre in Chengdu, China. Currently under construction and due for completion in mid-2018, the new Polestar Production Centre has been carefully created together with international award-winning architects, Snöhetta from Norway. The new Polestar Production Centre will also house one of the first Polestar Spaces, with a customer test track constructed within the campus to enable potential customers to evaluate the car to extremes not possible on public roads. When complete, the new Polestar Production Centre will be the most environmentally-responsible car factory in China, and one of the most efficient in the world, with a target of Gold status in the globally-recognised LEED ratings (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). “Our new Polestar Production Centre is no ordinary car factory,” said Jonathan Goodman, Chief Operating Officer of Polestar. “It is designed for the low volume production of Polestar 1 but is also being designed to cater for the larger volumes of the future. The Production Centre has also been designed to act as a strong representation of our brand as well as a state-of-the-art production facility”.
  12. The electrification future that is coming will help automakers with meeting upcoming emission targets. But it also means that enthusiasts may be left in the dark for having something fun to drive. Toyota's GR HV Sports concept sounds like on paper that the electrified future might not be so bad. The GR HV Sports concept looks to be a heavily modified 86 coupe with a new front that is said to be inspired from the TS050 Hybrid LMP1 race car, removable targa top, and altered rear end with the new taillights and diffuser. The interior looks like your standard 86 aside from a new digital instrument cluster and an interesting transmission arrangement. The center stack comes with a row of buttons that engages the various gears (park, reverse, drive, etc). A special M button enables the use of the shifter to give the impression of a six-speed manual. Toyota isn't saying much about the GR HV Sports concept's mechanicals aside from it having a hybrid system of some sort and the battery pack being placed where the back seat would be. We'll hopefully learn more details when it debuts at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month. Source: Toyota Press Release is on Page 2 Toyota to Unveil GR HV SPORTS concept at Tokyo Motor Show 2017 Presenting a new way of enjoying cars Toyota City, Japan, October 6, 2017―Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) is set to unveil the GR HV SPORTS concept car at its worldwide premiere at the 45th Tokyo Motor Show 2017, taking place from October 25 through November 5 at Tokyo Big Sight. The GR HV SPORTS concept represents a new way to enjoy cars by integrating the thrill of a sports car with the environmental friendliness of an eco-car. Main Features The design is reminiscent of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing's TS050 Hybrid racing car that competes in the World Endurance Championship (WEC). Features a targa top that was also used for Toyota's legendary convertible sports cars, the Toyota Sports 800 (a.k.a. Yotahachi) and the Supra Powered by THS-R (Toyota Hybrid System-Racing) that is infused with hybrid technology refined by the TS050 Hybrid Design While completely embodying functionality as a genuine sports car, the GR HV SPORTS concept features LED headlights, aluminum wheels, and a rear diffuser similar to the TS050 Hybrid. The design evokes Toyota's bond with motor sports. The matte black body color expresses power and aggressiveness. Interior A selection switch to choose the automatic gear position is located in the center cluster to achieve a racing car-like ambience. The push button ignition switch is playfully located on the shift knob. Enjoyment of control Drivers can delight in the performance of THS-R in a genuine sports car while experiencing a sense of freedom thanks to the targa top. Switching to manual mode is possible with the single press of a button, and 6-speed manual-style driving with H-pattern shifting can be enjoyed (the car is an automatic). The hybrid battery is mounted near the center of the vehicle. Installing the heavy battery in the center contributes to improved performance as a sports car.
  13. Land Rover will be offering plug-in hybrid variants of Range Rover and Range Rover Sport next spring. This news comes from Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth at the Frankfurt Motor Show last week. The models will pair JLR's 2.0L four-cylinder Ingenium gas engine with an electric motor. EV range is said to be about 30 miles when the battery is charged - although the range could be based on the European cycle. No power ratings were given for hybrid system. More details on the plug-in hybrid models will be announced next month. Land Rover has sold a hybrid version of the Range Rover for a few years in Europe, but it uses a diesel engine. Source: Motoring, Motor Trend
  14. The Kia Niro is the Korean automaker’s first dedicated hybrid vehicle. But if you look at any of marketing materials, you will notice that ‘hybrid’ doesn’t appear anywhere. Take for example this line from a TV ad: “We call this the Kia Niro, but that’s only because ‘breakthrough, game-changing crossover that gets over 40 miles per gallon combined and is really fun to drive’ just wouldn’t fit on the back.” It is a smart move by Kia as more people are buying crossovers like they’re going out of style and it reflects in the sales. In July, Kia moved 2,763 Niros. The Hyundai Ioniq, its sister model only moved 1,252 units. This left us wondering; how does the Niro stack not only as a hybrid vehicle but also as a crossover? We got to spend a week in the midlevel EX to find out. We couldn’t decide if the Niro was more wagon or crossover in terms of the overall design. For the former, the Niro has the two-box design you see on a wagon - separate spaces for the engine and passengers/cargo. The body features smooth, rounded lines that not only gives more credence to the wagon idea but also helps with aerodynamics - the Niro has a drag coefficient of 0.29. For the latter, there is a fair amount of lower body cladding to give the illusion of a taller ride height. Other crossover cues include a faux rear skid plate and roof rails. No matter which side of the argument you come down on, you’ll most likely agree that the Niro looks quite conventional for a hybrid vehicle. The Niro’s interior is very straightforward and normal for a hybrid model. It looks like any other Kia vehicle we have driven with a fair amount of high-quality plastics, the simple control arrangement of the center stack, and a clear set of gauges. The seats were upholstered in cloth and leather and felt nice to sit on for short trips. Longer trips revealed the seats to be lacking in support. Rear seat passengers will like the decent amount of head and legroom on offer. Being a clean sheet design and not taking an existing vehicle to hybridize means Kia was able to maximize the cargo area. Open the rear tailgate you’re greeted with a flat floor, not a raised floor like competitors. Space measures out to 19.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 54.5 cubic feet when folded. This puts the Niro towards the top of the class when compared to other subcompact crossovers. Only the Honda HR-V offers a more spacious cargo area - 24.3 and 58.8 when equipped with FWD. Most Niros get a 7-inch touchscreen with Kia’s UVO infotainment system. The top-line Touring comes with an 8-inch screen and navigation. Kia’s UVO system is beginning to show its age as competitors begin to introduce updated interfaces and brighter screens, but it is still one of easiest systems to use. A logical layout for the interface, quick performance, and physical shortcut buttons keep it at the top of our favorite infotainment systems' list. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard across the board. We found the Apple CarPlay integration to be seamless with the system quickly finding our iPhone 7 Plus and bringing up the CarPlay interface. Power comes from a hybrid system comprised of a 1.6L GDI four-cylinder (104 horsepower and 109 pound-feet) and electric motor (43 hp and 125 lb-ft). Total output stands at 139 hp and 195 lb-ft. This is paired with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission and front-wheel drive. Before you ask, Kia isn’t planning on offering all-wheel drive on the Niro for the time being. The Niro feels slightly quicker than the Prius in around-town driving thanks to the higher torque figure from the electric motor. Stay light on the throttle and the Niro can get up to 40 mph on just electric power alone. But the Niro begins to show some weakness at higher speeds as it takes a long time to reach them. This makes merging or passing a somewhat tricky proposition. Kia also needs to do some more work on smoothing out some of hybrid system’s rough edges. At various times, there was a delay from us putting our foot on the accelerator pedal to the powertrain responding. We also noticed surges and pulsation from the powertrain at low-speeds. Kia and sister brand, Hyundai have stood out by not equipping their hybrid vehicles with CVTs. Instead, they tend to go for either an automatic or in the case of the Niro, a dual-clutch transmission. The upside to this is that the Niro feels like a normal vehicle as it doesn’t have the loud droning from the CVT during hard acceleration. But the dual-clutch does introduce some other headaches. Gear changes are noticeable and at times as the transmission seems hesitant to go down a gear when you need to get up and go. Most Niro models will have EPA figures of 51 City/46 Highway/49 Combined. We saw an average of 51.2 mpg in mostly city driving. The base FE returns figures of 49/52/50 and the top-line Touring comes in at 46/40/43. This mostly comes down to weight and various features fitted to each model. For example, the Touring is the only model to come with 18-inch wheels. The Niro is a bit of mixed bag in terms of ride and handling. On smooth and slightly bumpy roads, the Niro does a good job of soaking up bumps. This changes when driven on a rough road as passengers will be bouncing around somewhat. Going through a corner, the Niro exhibits a fair amount of body roll, making you think twice about having some fun. Steering is not particularly quick but does exhibit a nice amount of weight when turning. Wind and road noise is quite noticeable on the highway, but quiets down somewhat when driven in an urban area. Judging the Kia Niro depends on how to look at it. As a crossover, the Niro scores quite well as it offers plenty of space and the tall ride height many buyers are looking for. The lack of all-wheel drive might make it a tough sell. From the hybrid perspective, the Niro begins to lose some ground. It offers slightly better performance than the Prius around town, but struggles when getting up to highway speeds. There also the need for the hybrid system and dual-clutch automatic to go back in the workshop for the various rough edges to be smoothed over. Kia made a wise move by designing the Niro as a crossover and it is paying off. It offers the plus points of the Prius without the exuberant design. But the Niro has some issues that Kia needs to address ASAP or it may lose out on this golden opportunity the model currently has. Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Niro, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Kia Model: Niro Trim: EX Engine: 1.6L DOHC GDI Atkinson Cycle Four-Cylinder, Electric Motor Driveline: Six-Speed Dual-Clutch Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 104 @ 5,700 (1.6L), 43 @ 0 (Electric), 139 (Total Output) Torque @ RPM: 109 @ 4,000 (1.6L), 125 @ 0 (Electric), 195 (Total Output) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 51/46/49 Curb Weight: 3,161 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hwaseong, South Korea Base Price: $25,700 As Tested Price: $28,895 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge) Options: Sunroof & Advanced Technology Package - $2,300.00
  15. Chevrolet’s previous attempts at building a hybrid version of the Malibu are less than stellar. Their first attempt in the late-2000s was not well received due to mediocre performance and fuel economy figures that fell way behind the pack. The second attempt was the last-generation Malibu Eco. Chevrolet hoped to draw people in with a lower price and slightly better fuel economy figures due to the mild-hybrid system. But once again, it would prove to be a flop as the performance was meh and fuel wasn’t that noticeably better from the regular four-cylinder model. Chevrolet isn’t one to give up though. When the next-generation Malibu was revealed a couple of years ago, they announced a hybrid variant would be available. But this one was going to be different as the model would feature ideas and tech from the Volt. We spent over a week in a 2017 Malibu Hybrid to find out if Chevrolet has repeated the same mistakes as before or if they have learned from them. The Malibu Hybrid powertrain is made up of a 1.8L DOHC four-cylinder paired up to the Volt’s electric drive unit - comprised of two electric motors. Power for the electric motors comes from an 80-cell, 1.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Total output is rated at 182 horsepower. This powertrain is quite surprising. The Malibu Hybrid leaves a stop effortlessly and quickly thanks to the instantaneous power available from the electric motors. If you keep a light throttle, you can get up to 55 mph on just electric power alone. If you need to make a pass or get up to speed somewhat quickly, the gas engine kicks on and delivers the extra shove. It needs to be noted that the gas engine will make a fair amount of noise when you have your foot to the floor. Otherwise, the engine is muted for the daily grind. Transitions between electric and hybrid power is mostly smooth thanks to the gear-free transmission and a number of clutches from the Volt. There were a few times during our testing that we felt the gas engine kick on, but this mostly happened at times where we needed the extra power. Fuel economy is rated at 49 City/43 Highway/46 Combined by the EPA. We saw an average of 45 MPG on a 50/50 mix of city and highway driving. Brakes are the key weak point on most hybrid vehicles as they tend to feel very grabby due to the regenerative system. The Malibu Hybrid may have the best brakes we have ever driven on a hybrid vehicle. They feel linear and have the bite of a normal braking system. Thank the Volt for lending its braking system. Despite being a few hundred pounds heavier than the last Malibu we drove, the Hybrid retains the balanced ride and handling characteristics we liked so much. The suspension keeps the vehicle composed over some of the roughest roads on offer in Detroit. On a winding road, the Malibu feels agile and stable. Some will be disappointed by the lack of feel offered by the steering, but most buyers won’t notice this. Unlike most hybrid midsize sedans, the Malibu Hybrid doesn’t scream about it. Looking at it from all angles, you would find it to look like the standard Malibu. Only the ‘H’ badge on the trunk reveals its true identity. One of the issues we had on the last Malibu was material choices. For the price, the fabric covering for the dash and a large amount of hard plastics felt like a huge misstep and put the Malibu way behind the pack. The Hybrid does show some improvements if you order the Leather package that replaces the fabric covering for leather on the dash. It not only makes the Malibu look more premium, it also feels much nicer. Now Chevrolet needs to work on adding more soft-touch materials around the dash, door panels, and center console to make the Malibu truly stand out. Trunk space is slightly smaller in the Hybrid - 11.6 cubic feet vs. 15.8 - due to the battery pack. There is a trunk pass-through, albeit a small slot. It's better than nothing. The Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid carries the most expensive base price of any midsize hybrid sedan of $27,875. But you do get a decent amount of equipment such as dual-zone climate control, push-button start, keyless entry, backup camera, automatic headlights, power driver’s seat, and a 7-inch touchscreen. Our tester came fully loaded with three packages - Leather, Driver Confidence, and Convenience & Technology - to bring the as-tested price to $32,730 with destination. For the money, it is quite the value. Disclaimer: Chevrolet Provided the Malibu Hybrid, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2017 Make: Chevrolet Model: Malibu Trim: Hybrid Engine: 1.8L DOHC VVT Four-Cylinder with Direct Injection, Two Electric Motors Driveline: Two-Motor Drive, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 122 @ 5,000 (Gas), 182 Total Torque @ RPM: 130 @ 4,750 (Gas), 277 @ 0 (Electric) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 49/43/46 Curb Weight: 3,366 lbs Location of Manufacture: Kansas City, Kansas Base Price: $27,875 As Tested Price: $32,730 (Includes $875.00 Destination Charge and $745.00 Leather Package Discount) Options: Leather Package - $2,140.00 Driver Confidence Package - $1,195.00 Convenience & Technology Package - $895.00 8-Inch MyLink System with Navigation - $495.00
  16. Volvo stunned the world last Wednesday when they announced beginning in 2019, they would begin to phase out gas only vehicles and replacing them with hybrid and electric models. The company claims this strategy heralds "a new chapter in automotive history". This move is an about-face for the Swedish automaker. Previously, the company said electric vehicles didn't make a great business case. But there is more to this decision than meets the eye. Automotive News reports that a key reason for Volvo's electrification plans comes down to the increasing regulation on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in three key markets; Europe, China, and U.S. Tim Urquhart, principal analyst at IHS Markit tells AN that Volvo would struggle to meet the tougher targets on their larger vehicle without some sort of electrification. "They've looked at the targets, and thought, we need to take serious action." Another reason comes in part from the fallout of the Volkswagen diesel emission scandal. Automakers in Europe were using diesel engines as they produced 15 to 20 percent less CO2 emissions. But the backlash against diesel after the scandal has caused buyers to look elsewhere. In Germany for example, sales of diesel vehicles dropped to 39 percent in June - this figure was almost 50 percent the same time last year. "Diesel was their main weapon of choice to hit these regulations. Now they have to come up with a plan B," said Matthias Schmidt, automotive market analyst for AID. According to data from AID, 83 percent Volvo's 2016 sales in Europe were comprised of diesels. This is high when compared to BMW (73 percent), Mercedes-Benz (73 percent), and Audi (68 percent). Only Land Rover (96 percent) and Jaguar (84 percent) were higher. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  17. There could be some competition for the Chrysler Pacifica Plug-In Hybrid. Speaking with Wards Auto, Honda's lead r&d engineer Tom Sladek hinted that Odyssey minivan could be getting a hybrid powertrain. “The electrification initiative is definitely coming, but on which products and which timing is not 100% clear yet,” said Sladek. “We just released the hybrid (Acura) MDX so that powertrain could be considered in the future, although we can’t comment on particular plans.” That line gives us some idea that Honda is looking at possibly using this powertrain in other vehicles. Why the Odyssey? The main reason is that both vehicles utilize the same platform - known as 2SL according to Wards. The MDX Sport Hybrid uses a 3.0L V6 and three electric motors (one in the transmission and two for the rear wheels) to produce a combined output of 321 horsepower. While the MDX emphasizes performance with its hybrid powertrain, the Odyssey will likely focus more on fuel economy. Honda has set a goal of having two-thirds of its global sales to be electrified by 2030. Source: Wards Auto
  18. At the Shanghai auto show, Honda introduced a hybrid version of the CR-V crossover. Not many details were released about it aside from it featuring the company's Sport Hybrid i-MMD two-motor hybrid system and would go on sale in China in the second half of this year. This got a few outlets wondering if Honda might bring the CR-V hybrid to the U.S. as the automaker has said they plan on electrify core models. Green Car Reports reached out Honda's U.S. office to ask about this and here is Honda responded, "We have already announced our intent to electrify core volume models, including light trucks. CR-V will logically be a part of that, and we'll announce timing for the U.S. at a later date." In other words, we're are planning to sell CR-V hybrid in the U.S. When it does arrive, it will face off between the Nissan Rogue Hybrid and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. Source: Green Car Reports
  19. Ford has introduced another member of their police interceptor fleet with the Police Responder Hybrid Sedan (catchy name). The automaker claims this is pursuit-rated hybrid police car. Based on the Fusion Hybrid sedan, Ford has done a bit of work to make it ready for the various hardships that police vehicles go through - prolong periods of idling, stop-and-go driving, traveling at high speed over long distances, and driving over obstacles. Under the hood is an Atkinson-cycle, 2.0L four-cylinder paired with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery. The powertrain has been calibrated to allow the vehicle to run in battery-only mode up to 60 mph and provide maximum performance when needed. The Police Responder Hybrid Sedan will also get a combined 38 mpg, which is more than double the combined figure for the Police Interceptor sedan. Ford estimates police forces will save $3,900 in fuel costs per year (assuming gas prices hang around $2.50 per gallon). The Police Responder Hybrid Sedan will be making their debuts in Los Angeles and New York (we're guessing they have placed some orders for the model). Ford says the order books will open this spring, with deliveries following next summer. Source: Ford Press Release is on Page 2 FORD CONTINUES DRIVE TO BE GLOBAL ELECTRIC VEHICLE LEADER, REVEALS INDUSTRY'S FIRST PURSUIT-RATED HYBRID POLICE CAR Ford investing $4.5 billion and introducing 13 new electric vehicles globally in the next five years, including F-150 Hybrid, Mustang Hybrid, Transit Custom plug-in hybrid, self-driving hybrid, and fully electric small SUV with projected EPA-estimated range of at least 300 miles Ford reveals industry’s first pursuit-rated hybrid police car in New York and Los Angeles – all-new Police Responder Hybrid Sedan will potentially save customers thousands in fuel costs 50 percent of U.S. millennials say they are interested in buying an electric car; Ford predicts auto industry will offer customers more hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fully electric vehicles than gasoline-powered vehicles within the next 15 years LOS ANGELES and NEW YORK, April 10, 2017 – Ford continues its drive to be a global electric vehicle leader – today revealing the second of 13 new electrified vehicles the company plans to introduce in the next five years. The industry’s first pursuit-rated hybrid police car, the all-new Ford Police Responder Hybrid Sedan, is part of a $4.5 billion Ford investment to make electric vehicles that give customers greater capability, productivity and performance – plus better fuel economy. The plans are part of Ford’s expansion to be an auto and a mobility company, including leading in electric and self-driving vehicles, and new mobility solutions. “Electrifying our next generation of vehicles is core to our unwavering commitment to sustainability,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford president, The Americas. “By being a leader in electrified vehicles, we remain committed to delivering cars, trucks and SUVs that are better not only for our customers, but for the environment and society as well.” The all-new Ford Police Responder Hybrid Sedan – making its debut in Los Angeles and New York – is the industry’s first pursuit-rated hybrid police car. In addition, Ford is delivering: Another new hybrid police vehicle for North America All-new fully electric small SUV, coming by 2020, engineered to deliver an EPA-estimated range of at least 300 miles, to be sold in North America, Europe and Asia. Actual range will vary. Final EPA numbers not yet available. Hybrid-powered self-driving vehicle designed for commercial mobility services, starting in North America in 2021 Hybrid version of best-selling F-150 pickup, available by 2020, and sold in North America and the Middle East. F-150 Hybrid will offer powerful towing and payload capacity, and will operate as a mobile generator tough enough to power a job site Hybrid version of iconic Mustang that will deliver V8 power and even more low-end torque. Mustang Hybrid debuts in 2020 in North America, to start Transit Custom plug-in hybrid available in 2019 in Europe, engineered to help reduce operating costs in even the most congested streets Growing global demand As growing urban populations are overwhelming transportation systems and compromising air quality, first-time car buyers – including 50 percent of U.S. millennials – say they are interested in purchasing an electric car, according to a poll conducted by the Consumer Federation of America. Ford is at the forefront of driving electric vehicle technology and improving costs on batteries and motors for hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fully electric vehicles. As the company focuses on vehicles that deliver improved performance – such as the F-150 Hybrid with powerful towing and payload capacity plus the ability to operate as an on-board generator – Ford expects sales of hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fully electric vehicles to dramatically increase during the next decade. In fact, Ford predicts the auto industry will offer customers more hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fully electric vehicles than gasoline-powered vehicles within the next 15 years. Ford partners with cities Ford sells the most police vehicles in the United States, with 63 percent market share. The company has been partnering with cities on custom law enforcement vehicles since the days of the Model T. The Police Responder Hybrid Sedan will help cities decrease emissions and offers the potential for significant fuel savings, both while driving and while idling. While driving, Ford’s patented hybrid technology is projected to provide EPA-estimated combined gas mileage of 38 miles per gallon – more than twice that of today’s Police Interceptor with 3.7-liter V6 with EPA-estimated 18 mpg combined. Actual mileage will vary. Final EPA-estimated ratings are not yet available. While idling, the Police Responder Hybrid Sedan’s lithium-ion battery helps power the high electrical loads of a police vehicle, reducing engine run time and saving an estimated 0.27 gallons of fuel per hour. Police Responder Hybrid Sedan customers could see nearly $3,900 a year in potential fuel savings per vehicle relative to the Police Interceptor, if a police vehicle is driven 20,000 miles per year, runs two shifts per day, 365 days per year, idles 4.9 hours per 8-hour shift, and is fueled at an average gas price of $2.50/gallon. The Ford Police Responder online fuel calculator enables customers to determine how much they may potentially save. The new vehicle will be the first hybrid sedan with full pursuit capabilities. That means the car is certified by police agencies to be tough enough to handle police pursuits for longer periods at different speeds and over obstacles such as curbs and flooded intersections. The Police Responder Hybrid Sedan uses an efficient Atkinson-cycle 2.0-liter engine with an electric motor fed by an advanced lithium-ion battery. The hybrid is calibrated for law enforcement’s unique duty cycle and will run in battery-only mode up to 60 mph. The car automatically switches to maximum performance – with the engine and battery working at peak acceleration levels – when needed. “Our mission to create safe and healthy communities in Los Angeles is achieved through sustainable approaches in community policing, and that includes embracing new technologies,” said Charlie Beck, Los Angeles Police Department Chief. “Patrol vehicles are a police officer’s office, and we expect them to not only be economically and environmentally efficient, but also an effective tool for fighting crime in major metropolitan areas.” The Police Responder Hybrid Sedan can be ordered this spring and will be delivered to police departments nationwide next summer. This year, Ford also is testing a fleet of 20 Transit Connect hybrid taxi and van prototypes in demanding traffic conditions in New York and several other major U.S. cities.
  20. Jeep is planning to offer a hybrid version of the next Wrangler, but it will be some time before it comes to fruition. Speaking with Auto Express, Jeep head Mike Manley said there are plans to offer some sort hybridisation, "We have continued our studies on hybridisation for the Wrangler, and it’s a balance for us. Obviously there are loads of different hybrid technologies, from mild to 48v through to full battery-electric," said Manley. But don't expect Jeep to do a full-EV version of the next Wrangler. “For the Wrangler you need to strike the right balance; we don’t want to do something that will leave you stranded on a hillside. So for me, full battery EV is not a great fit. But hybridisation works well with the brand because of the attributes that come with electric motors – not just the torque, but also the control.” If we were to take a guess what the hybrid powertrain could look like, we're thinking a turbo-four paired up with an electric motor. We would expect to see a hybrid Wrangler sometime after 2020. Source: Auto Express
  21. Earlier this month, Ford CEO Mark Fields dropped some big bombshells concerning the company. One of those was a hybrid version of the F-150 for 2020. A spy photographer has given us our first look at what Ford has in mind for this. The F-150 mule caught in pictures only has the front covered up. But it appears the truck is a plug-hybrid. This conclusion is due to flaps that aren't hidden so well. One of these likely has the door hiding the socket to plug in the truck. The photographer who took the photos reports the mule had a slightly narrow front track and sounded like it had a four-cylinder under the hood. Motor1 isn't sure about this considering Mark Fields said the model "will offer powerful towing and payload capacity and operate as a mobile generator.” Achieving this with a four-cylinder could be tough unless Ford is planning to have a big battery pack and electric motors to do it. Over at Trucks.com, they think the F-150 plug-in hybrid could use the 2.3L EcoBoost four-cylinder found in the Mustang as it delivers 310 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque - giving it the necessary power to pull off Field's claim. Source: Motor1, Trucks.com
  22. Even though it was launched a week ago, there is already about possible powertrains for the Kia Stinger. Spencer Cho, Kia’s overseas product marketing boss told Car and Driver that Stinger would benefit from the electrification options developed for the Optima, despite the different powertrain layouts - Optima uses a transverse layout, while the Stinger uses a longitudinal layout. “We can utilize the currently available hybrid, plug-in-hybrid, and EV technology” for the Stinger’s benefit, said Cho. While there are no immediate plans to do an electric Stinger, Cho said they could develop one very quickly. The development team behind the Stinger have considered this possibility and looked into ways to perform this change. One idea was to use transmission tunnel for battery storage. “We don’t have any EV in the plan yet, but we have the capability to bring EVs in the near future if the demand is there, based on market reception. The global EV market is still small, but it is getting bigger and bigger due to CAFE in the U.S. and European emissions standards,” said Cho. I have full confidence in our engineers and if we need the EV Stinger to come to light, our engineers can come up with ideas for putting the batteries into this vehicle.” Source: Car and Driver Pic Credit: NewspressUSA
  23. While the big story for Honda at the Detroit Auto show was the 2018 Odyssey minivan, there was another announcement that was left as a footnote. For 2018, Honda will introduce a new dedicated hybrid model. This is part of Honda’s overall electrification strategy, where it plans half of its new vehicle reveals within the next years will have some sort of electric-drive technology. By 2030, the automaker hopes two-thirds of their vehicle sales from electrified vehicles. Not many details were released on the new hybrid model except that it would be “two-motor hybrid system.” Honda also announced that the two-motor hybrid system would appear on its light-truck lineup. Possible candidates include the CR-V, Odyssey, and Pilot. Source: Honda Press Release is on Page 2 Honda Adds All-New Dedicated Hybrid Model to Growing Electrified Lineup Jan 9, 2017 - DETROIT New hybrid model will be made in America and launch in 2018 Two-motor hybrid system to be applied to light truck lineup More than half of all new models launching in next two years will be electrified vehicles Honda today announced a new dedicated hybrid model that will be made in America and launch nationwide in 2018, as part of the Honda Electrification Initiative, which will expand the company's portfolio of electrified vehicles. Honda also announced it will expand the use of its innovative two-motor hybrid powertrain from passenger cars to its light truck lineup in the future. "Half of the all-new models Honda will launch in the United States in the coming two years will be electrified vehicles," said Takahiro Hachigo, President & CEO of Honda Motor Co., Ltd. "In the long term, electrified vehicles are key to the future of carbon-free mobility." Honda set a global target for two-thirds of all sales to come from electrified models by 2030 and to halve its total company CO2 emissions from 2000 levels by 2050. The new, dedicated hybrid vehicle will utilize Honda's innovative two-motor hybrid system, which is currently deployed in the 49 mpg Accord Hybrid, the most fuel-efficient midsize sedan in America. The new model will be produced at an existing plant in the United States. Additional details on the vehicle and its manufacturing will be announced closer to launch. In December 2016, Honda began the launch of its new Clarity series of electrified vehicles, starting with the Clarity Fuel Cell. The Clarity Fuel Cell is available through select California Honda dealers and boasts the highest range of any zero-emissions vehicle in America with its 366-mile EPA range rating.1 This year, Honda will launch the Clarity Electric and the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid, as the two remaining models in its Clarity series of premium midsize electrified vehicles.
  24. Ferrari has been able to be exempt from certain regulations concerning emissions and fuel economy since they sell less than 10,000 vehicles per year. But the Italian sports car builder is getting close to that amount as they have commited to ship 8,000 vehicles this year and raise that to 9,000 by 2019. What do you do in this case? Begin to add hybrid bits to your vehicles. Reuters reports that Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne announced during a conference call with investors that all of their vehicles sold from 2019 will have some sort of hybrid tech. This would allow Ferrari to grow and sell more vehicles. "Although I neither commit to this nor do I give any sort of certification of it being our objective, it is possible that the (annual sales) number could be well in excess of 10,000 cars in 2025," said Marchionne. Marchionne also mentioned that the company would undergo a "fundamental shift" in the way it manufacturers its cars. This would include building models with a focus on luxury. Source: Reuters
  25. 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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