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Found 18 results

  1. Green Auto Sales Up Gotta love it when you can find stories of research that shows the growth of the GREEN AUTO movement. Autoblog just posted their review of the September numbers and I just love this section from the story: "GM once again was buoyed by demand for the Chevrolet Bolt EV, which resulted in 2,632 units sold. That more than offset the 28 percent decline in Chevy Volt extended-range plug-in sales. Overall, GM green-car sales jumped 56 percent from a year earlier." So the highlight numbers are as follows: Hybrids / Plug-ins up 8% from a year earlier at 44,000 units. Plug-in sales were robust advancing 18% from a year ago at 14,500 units. Ford saw a 24% increase in Green Auto Sales over last year. Honda saw a 89% increase in Green Auto Sales over last year. BMW saw a 3% increase in i auto sales Toyota saw a 3% decline Nissan saw a 20% decline as people held off for Leaf 2.0 First 9 months of 2017 saw 354,000 units sold or 8.6% increase in sales over last year. 122,000 units or 31% of that was Plug-ins.
  2. Automakers have been trying different technologies and ideas in an effort to boost fuel economy and reduce emissions. On paper, the new technologies do make a difference. But in the real world, it is a completely different matter. Emissions Analytics, an independent U.K.-based company has been investigating what technologies actually make a difference in reducing emissions and fuel consumption. For the past four years, the company has tested over 500 vehicles in the U.S. since 2013 in real-world driving situations. Globally, it has tested over 1,000 vehicles. Next month, the company will be releasing a study showing which of those technologies help and hurt. "You can only decide if you have the right information. The EPA sticker is — I would say — good up to a point, but we can give a lot more information," said Nick Molden, Emissions Analytics' founder and CEO. Their data shows that over four years of testing in the U.S., there is "no actual improvement in overall fuel economy and no decrease in CO2 emissions," despite new technologies and complex powertrains. EA's data also revealed that downsized turbo engines show huge discrepancies between the EPA's findings and the real world. In the lab, the engines aren't put under stress and can produce high fuel economy figures. But it is a different story out in the real world when the turbos are engaged to keep up with traffic and becomes less efficient than a non-turbocharged engine. "Downsizing is a good thing up to a point. You go past a certain inflection point and actually you can find that the real-world mpg will actually get worse if you go too small," said Molden. "As soon as you start going below 2 liters, that's where we start seeing the gaps open up between EPA sticker and real world." The study did deliver some good news for hybrids. EA found traditional hybrid vehicle provided high fuel economy figures and reduced emissions. Other technologies such as multispeed transmissions, adding lightness, and picking the right tires provide a meaningful impact. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required) View full article
  3. Automakers have been trying different technologies and ideas in an effort to boost fuel economy and reduce emissions. On paper, the new technologies do make a difference. But in the real world, it is a completely different matter. Emissions Analytics, an independent U.K.-based company has been investigating what technologies actually make a difference in reducing emissions and fuel consumption. For the past four years, the company has tested over 500 vehicles in the U.S. since 2013 in real-world driving situations. Globally, it has tested over 1,000 vehicles. Next month, the company will be releasing a study showing which of those technologies help and hurt. "You can only decide if you have the right information. The EPA sticker is — I would say — good up to a point, but we can give a lot more information," said Nick Molden, Emissions Analytics' founder and CEO. Their data shows that over four years of testing in the U.S., there is "no actual improvement in overall fuel economy and no decrease in CO2 emissions," despite new technologies and complex powertrains. EA's data also revealed that downsized turbo engines show huge discrepancies between the EPA's findings and the real world. In the lab, the engines aren't put under stress and can produce high fuel economy figures. But it is a different story out in the real world when the turbos are engaged to keep up with traffic and becomes less efficient than a non-turbocharged engine. "Downsizing is a good thing up to a point. You go past a certain inflection point and actually you can find that the real-world mpg will actually get worse if you go too small," said Molden. "As soon as you start going below 2 liters, that's where we start seeing the gaps open up between EPA sticker and real world." The study did deliver some good news for hybrids. EA found traditional hybrid vehicle provided high fuel economy figures and reduced emissions. Other technologies such as multispeed transmissions, adding lightness, and picking the right tires provide a meaningful impact. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  4. Toyota's European division wants to show there is another side to hybrid vehicles than fuel economy. Speaking with Automotive News Europe, Toyota Europe boss Johan van Zyl says they are planning to launch a lineup of hybrid vehicles that will boast more performance and be fun to drive. “One will provide the traditional benefits of efficiency and fuel economy, like in the current offer. The second will build on this, adding more power and a more dynamic driving character,” said van Zyl. Toyota previewed this with the C-HR Hy-Power concept this week at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The concept features a gloss black finish on various trim pieces, ‘Burning Orange’ finish on the front pillars, and the interior finished in black and orange. Oddly, Toyota doesn't provide any figures on the “higher powered” hybrid powertrain used in this concept. More details on the high-performance hybrids will be revealed 'early next-year' van Zyl explained. Hybrids currently make up 40 percent of Toyota's sales in Europe, with Western Europe being close to 50 percent. Source: Automotive News Europe (Subscription Required)
  5. Toyota's European division wants to show there is another side to hybrid vehicles than fuel economy. Speaking with Automotive News Europe, Toyota Europe boss Johan van Zyl says they are planning to launch a lineup of hybrid vehicles that will boast more performance and be fun to drive. “One will provide the traditional benefits of efficiency and fuel economy, like in the current offer. The second will build on this, adding more power and a more dynamic driving character,” said van Zyl. Toyota previewed this with the C-HR Hy-Power concept this week at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The concept features a gloss black finish on various trim pieces, ‘Burning Orange’ finish on the front pillars, and the interior finished in black and orange. Oddly, Toyota doesn't provide any figures on the “higher powered” hybrid powertrain used in this concept. More details on the high-performance hybrids will be revealed 'early next-year' van Zyl explained. Hybrids currently make up 40 percent of Toyota's sales in Europe, with Western Europe being close to 50 percent. Source: Automotive News Europe (Subscription Required) View full article
  6. It was about a month ago that we reported on the rumor of Ferrari working on an SUV, a complete 180 from Ferrari Chairman (and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO) Sergio Marchionne's “you have to shoot me first” answer when asked about this last year. That rumor has been revealed to be true. During a conference call reporting second-quarter earnings, Marchionne confirmed that the Italian sports car builder is considering an expansion into utility vehicles and possibly reinvent the segment. "It will probably happen but it will happen in Ferrari’s style,” said Marchionne. "That space is too big and too inviting and we have a lot of our customers who will be more than willing to drive a Ferrari-branded vehicle that has that king of utilitarian objective." Marchionne also reiterated the “you have to shoot me first” comment is if Ferrari comes up with something similar to the models from Bentley or Porsche. Bloomberg learned from sources earlier in the week about Ferrari considering adding an SUV to their lineup in an effort to double profits by 2022. The model would be targeted at customers in Asia, particularly those in China. This could add an extra 2,000 sales for the company. But this could bring up a big problem for Ferrari. Currently, Ferrari produces under 10,000 vehicles a year to avoid various emission regulations. By possibly adding an SUV, Ferrari would now have to meet them. According to sources, Ferrari is planning on introducing more hybrid models beginning in 2019 to meet the various regulations. Next year, Marchionne will be presenting his final five-year business plan for FCA and their various brands. We'll likely find out then if Ferrari is going forward on the utility vehicle. Source: Bloomberg, (2)
  7. It was about a month ago that we reported on the rumor of Ferrari working on an SUV, a complete 180 from Ferrari Chairman (and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO) Sergio Marchionne's “you have to shoot me first” answer when asked about this last year. That rumor has been revealed to be true. During a conference call reporting second-quarter earnings, Marchionne confirmed that the Italian sports car builder is considering an expansion into utility vehicles and possibly reinvent the segment. "It will probably happen but it will happen in Ferrari’s style,” said Marchionne. "That space is too big and too inviting and we have a lot of our customers who will be more than willing to drive a Ferrari-branded vehicle that has that king of utilitarian objective." Marchionne also reiterated the “you have to shoot me first” comment is if Ferrari comes up with something similar to the models from Bentley or Porsche. Bloomberg learned from sources earlier in the week about Ferrari considering adding an SUV to their lineup in an effort to double profits by 2022. The model would be targeted at customers in Asia, particularly those in China. This could add an extra 2,000 sales for the company. But this could bring up a big problem for Ferrari. Currently, Ferrari produces under 10,000 vehicles a year to avoid various emission regulations. By possibly adding an SUV, Ferrari would now have to meet them. According to sources, Ferrari is planning on introducing more hybrid models beginning in 2019 to meet the various regulations. Next year, Marchionne will be presenting his final five-year business plan for FCA and their various brands. We'll likely find out then if Ferrari is going forward on the utility vehicle. Source: Bloomberg, (2) View full article
  8. Rolls-Royce isn't planning to do a hybrid powertrain for any of their models anytime soon. Speaking with Autocar, CEO Torsten Müller-Otvös said customers would not accept the “compromise” of hybrid technology. “The Rolls-Royce brand is not, in a way, a game-changer when it comes to revolutionary technology. Our customers are doing so for reasons of utmost luxury, so there can be no imperfections. Compromises when it comes to technology, or operating our products, are unacceptable. People are more interested in highly reliably substance than to be a test field for new technology.” Instead, Rolls will focus on electric powertrains. “Electrification is the way forward – and there will be no in between steps for us like hybridisation. It is the propulsion system for the future, make no error. There is a time - nobody can predict when - when there will be no combustion engines. That will take a long, long time, but it will happen,” said Müller-Otvös. But don't expect it to come anytime soon. Müller-Otvös said the automaker would launch an electric powertrain when the technology has fully developed. Source: Autocar
  9. Rolls-Royce isn't planning to do a hybrid powertrain for any of their models anytime soon. Speaking with Autocar, CEO Torsten Müller-Otvös said customers would not accept the “compromise” of hybrid technology. “The Rolls-Royce brand is not, in a way, a game-changer when it comes to revolutionary technology. Our customers are doing so for reasons of utmost luxury, so there can be no imperfections. Compromises when it comes to technology, or operating our products, are unacceptable. People are more interested in highly reliably substance than to be a test field for new technology.” Instead, Rolls will focus on electric powertrains. “Electrification is the way forward – and there will be no in between steps for us like hybridisation. It is the propulsion system for the future, make no error. There is a time - nobody can predict when - when there will be no combustion engines. That will take a long, long time, but it will happen,” said Müller-Otvös. But don't expect it to come anytime soon. Müller-Otvös said the automaker would launch an electric powertrain when the technology has fully developed. Source: Autocar View full article
  10. Next in the wrap-up in 2014 vehicle reviews, I take look at green vehicles. In this case they all happen to be the hybrid variety. 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring The second time is the charm? That’s the hope for Honda with the 2014 Accord Hybrid. The previous incarnation of the hybridized Accord was a sporty model that really didn’t see any improvement in fuel economy. This in turn caused it to be a flop.Honda went back to drawing board and have introduced an Accord Hybrid that promises best-in-class fuel economy. Can it right the wrong of the previous model? The Accord Hybrid looks for the most part like your standard Accord sedan with a two bar grille, large greenhouse, and a short rear end. The differences are mostly cosmetic as certain chrome pieces and the headlights have a blue tint. Theres also a set of hybrid badges on the front fenders, and a set of seventeen-inch wheels. Inside is the same story as the exterior, with the only real changes for the Accord Hybrid are a new instrument cluster to display information about the hybrid system and a EV button to put the vehicle into a fully electric mode. Getting inside, you find a nice selection of quality materials and loads of space for front and rear passengers.My Touring tester came with Honda’s dual-screen infotainment system which features an eight-inch screen sitting on top of the dash and a smaller touchscreen to change stations/tracks or whatever audio input. There’s also a set of buttons and a knob sitting right above the transmission tunnel to take you to different parts of the system. As I wrote in my first drive of the Accord Hybrid in 2013, the system is a bit of a mess. The touchscreen is slow to respond when you’re trying to change stations or switch from the radio to the USB input. Also, reaching for the controls towards the bottom is quite a reach. Honda really needs to go back to the drawing board with their infotainment system. The Accord Hybrid features Honda’s newest hybrid system called Sport Hybrid intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) system. This system is comprised of, 2.0L DOHC i-VTEC four-cylinder Atkinson-Cycle engine producing 141 horsepower and 122 pound-feet of torque Two 124 kW electric motors - One acting as a propulsion motor, one acting as a generator 1.3 kWh Lithium-Ion battery Electronic Continuously Variable Transmission (E-CVT) Power Control Unit Impressive to say in the least. It’s even better when the system is engaged. The Accord Hybrid never felt lacking in power as the electric motor and 2.0L engine worked together to provide enough thrust for whatever situation I found myself in. More impressive was the seemless transition from electric only to hybrid power. There was no sign of the change over unless I was watching the gauge cluster. Fuel economy is rated at 50 City/45 Highway/47 Combined. I got close to those numbers with an average of 42 MPG for the week. I think I could have matched or even surpassed those numbers if given another week with the Accord Hybrid.On the ride and handling front, the Accord Hybrid is very similar to the standard Accord. The suspension is able to cope with bumps and imperfections with no problem at all. On the curves, the Accord Hybrid is a joy as it keeps you grounded and provides little body roll. Steering has good heft and feel. Wind noise is kept to a decent level, but road noise is very apparent. I would put some of the blame on the low-rolling resistance tires. The Accord Hybrid puts Honda in a good position within the midsize hybrid sedan class with an impressive powertrain layout placed in the well-regarded package that is the Accord. Its going to take something big to knock off the Accord Hybrid as the best in class. Disclaimer: Honda Provided the Accord Hybrid, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Honda Model: Accord Hybrid Trim: Touring Engine: Sport Hybrid intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: Gas Engine - 141 @ 6200, Electric Motor - 166 @ 3857-8000 Torque @ RPM: Gas Engine - 122 @ 3500-6000, Electric Motor - 226 @ 0-3857 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 50/45/47 Curb Weight: 3,602 lbs Location of Manufacture: Marysville, Ohio Base Price: $34,905 As Tested Price: $35,695 (Includes $795.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A Next: 2014 Toyota Prius Plug-In Advance There are some cars that your’s truly finds impressive and would gladly buy, but knows that he wouldn’t recommend it because of some issue. That’s the case with the 2014 Toyota Prius Plug-In, a model that somehow I liked after spending a week in it, but has a key problem that makes it hard to recommend. The Prius Plug-In looks for the most part like the standard Prius. The only differences between the two is Plug-In Hybrid badging on the front fenders, new wheels, and a additional fuel filler door on the passenger side where the charging port lives (more on that in a moment). As for the interior, my tester came fully loaded with such items as leatherette, infotainment system with a JBL audio system, and heads-up display. Nice items for the most part, but I should warn that the leatherette feels very synthetic and nasty. I would go with the cloth. On the plus side, the Prius Plug-In does feature a lot of room for your passengers and cargo.Under the hood, you’ll find the almost the same Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain as in the the standard Prius. A 1.8L Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder paired up to a 60 kW electric motor delivering a total output of 134 horsepower. The difference is in the batteries. While the standard Prius has a Nickel-Metal Hydride battery, the Plug-In gets a Lithium-Ion battery. The new battery allows the Prius Plug-In to travel up to 11 Miles on electric power alone. During my week, I found myself using the EV mode a lot as it provided decent power to get around town and was very quiet. On the range front, I was able to get around 10 to 12 miles per charge. As for the charging port I mentioned earlier, that allows the Prius Plug-In to charge in 1.5 hours when plugged into a 240V charger or 3 hours when plugged into a 120V outlet). For other situations such as the freeway, I left the vehicle in the hybrid mode. This highlights a couple problems with the Prius. First it takes a few seconds longer for it to get up to speed. Second is the amount the noise that comes up when you decide that more power is needed. It sounded like a weed-whacker was being thrashed under the hood. As for fuel economy, I got around 51 MPG for the week. On the ride and handling front, the Prius Plug-In is much the same as the standard Prius; providing a comfortable, albeit noisy ride. So while I liked the Prius Plug-In, there is a big problem; price. A base Prius Plug-In will set you back $29,990 which seems somewhat reasonable. My tester which was the Advance model and came to an as-tested price of $38,907 with options. No that is not a misprint. Now the Prius Plug-In does qualify for a few tax incentives which helps offset the price somewhat. But for around the same money, you could get into a Chevrolet Volt. You do lose some practicality, but gain more in EV range.So the Prius Plug-In is a vehicle I like, but the pricetag makes it one I would pass on.' Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Prius Plug-In, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Toyota Model: Prius Plug-In Trim: Advance Engine: Hybrid Synergy Drive (1.8L DOHC 16-valve VVT-i four-cylinder, 60 kW Electric Motor) Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: Gas Engine - 98 @ 5,200, Electric Motor - 80 @ N/A, Total Output - 134 Torque @ RPM: 105 @ 4,000, Electric Motor - 153 @ 0 Fuel Economy: 95 MPGe, 50 MPG Curb Weight: 3,216 lbs Location of Manufacture: Tsutsumi, Japan Base Price: $34,905 As Tested Price: $38,907 (Includes $810.00 Destination Charge) Options: Technology Package - $2,610 Illuminated Door Sill - $279.00 Carpeted Floor Mats & Trunk Mat - $225.00 Cargo Net - $49.00 First Aid Kit - $29.00 Next: 2014 Lexus CT 200h F-Sport The Lexus CT 200h F-Sport is an intriguing idea. A luxury compact hatchback that is fuel efficient and sporty. So while the idea seems ok in theory, how does it work in the real world? The CT 200h in my eyes happens to be black sheep in Lexus family mostly because of how it looks. A five-door hatchback with a long front end and a new spindle grille which you either love or hate it. Around back is a flat rear tailgate which I think makes the CT a bit ungainly to look at. A set of seventeen-inch alloy wheels and F-Sport badging on the front fenders which come as part of the F-Sport package finish off the look. Inside is a nicely trimmed interior with supportive leather seats and handsome trim. The layout of dashboard is easy to understand and controls are in easy reach for the driver and passenger. The optional Lexus Inform infotainment system has been updated to look a bit fresher and improve user experience. However, the Lexus Remote Touch controller makes using the system a frustrating experience as it seems to be really sensitive. On the plus side, the CT 200h is spacious for back seat passengers and cargo.Power comes from Lexus Hybrid Drive which pairs a 1.8L four-cylinder and 60 kW electric motor to produce a total output of 134 horsepower. This is paired up to a CVT. Now most reviews of the CT 200h say its painfully slow, but I care to disagree. Despite a curb weight of 3,130 pounds, I found the powertrain to be adequate as it took a few ticks longer for the CT to get up to speed than other comparable models. I should warn that if you decide to slam the pedal to floor, the engine and CVT will make a horrific noise that will make you think twice of doing that. As for fuel economy, the EPA rates the 2014 CT 200h at 43 City/40 Highway/42 Combined. I saw an average of 39 MPG. Now this particular CT 200h was equipped with the F-Sport package which adds a sport tuned suspension and that’s about it. Compared to other Lexus models equipped with F-Sport package, I felt the CT F-Sport was somewhat lacking as the suspension was the only real mechanical change to it. Maybe there was some limitations to it being a hybrid, but I think there is room for improvement. The revised suspension means there is a noticeable difference in how the CT handles. Body roll and lean is decreased somewhat when compared to the standard CT. Steering is decent with good weight, but those hoping for an improvement in feel will be disappointed. For day to day driving, the CT 200h F-Sport is a bit more stiff than the standard CT, but not to the point where you’ll be crying uncle.So for the most part, the CT 200h F-Sport succeeds in its mission of providing a fun to drive luxury hatchback that is also ok on fuel. I would like to like to see Lexus do some more with the F-Sport package such as adding more sport goodies to the drivetrain and suspension. Maybe that’s in store for the next-generation. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the CT 200h, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Lexus Model: CT 200h Trim: F-Sport Engine: Lexus Hybrid Drive(1.8L DOHC 16-valve VVT-i four-cylinder, 60 kW Electric Motor) Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: Gas Engine - 98 @ 5,200, Electric Motor - 80 @ N/A, Total Output - 134 Torque @ RPM: 105 @ 4,000, Electric Motor - 153 @ 0 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 43/40/42 Curb Weight: 3,130 lbs Location of Manufacture: Miyawaka, Fukuoka, Japan Base Price: $32,050 As Tested Price: $39,030 (Includes $910.00 Destination Charge) Options: Navigation System - $3,490 F-Sport w/NuLuxe Interior - $1,180 F-Sport Premium Package - $900.00 Intuitive Park Assist - $500.00
  11. Next in the wrap-up in 2014 vehicle reviews, I take look at green vehicles. In this case they all happen to be the hybrid variety. 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring The second time is the charm? That’s the hope for Honda with the 2014 Accord Hybrid. The previous incarnation of the hybridized Accord was a sporty model that really didn’t see any improvement in fuel economy. This in turn caused it to be a flop.Honda went back to drawing board and have introduced an Accord Hybrid that promises best-in-class fuel economy. Can it right the wrong of the previous model? The Accord Hybrid looks for the most part like your standard Accord sedan with a two bar grille, large greenhouse, and a short rear end. The differences are mostly cosmetic as certain chrome pieces and the headlights have a blue tint. Theres also a set of hybrid badges on the front fenders, and a set of seventeen-inch wheels. Inside is the same story as the exterior, with the only real changes for the Accord Hybrid are a new instrument cluster to display information about the hybrid system and a EV button to put the vehicle into a fully electric mode. Getting inside, you find a nice selection of quality materials and loads of space for front and rear passengers.My Touring tester came with Honda’s dual-screen infotainment system which features an eight-inch screen sitting on top of the dash and a smaller touchscreen to change stations/tracks or whatever audio input. There’s also a set of buttons and a knob sitting right above the transmission tunnel to take you to different parts of the system. As I wrote in my first drive of the Accord Hybrid in 2013, the system is a bit of a mess. The touchscreen is slow to respond when you’re trying to change stations or switch from the radio to the USB input. Also, reaching for the controls towards the bottom is quite a reach. Honda really needs to go back to the drawing board with their infotainment system. The Accord Hybrid features Honda’s newest hybrid system called Sport Hybrid intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) system. This system is comprised of, 2.0L DOHC i-VTEC four-cylinder Atkinson-Cycle engine producing 141 horsepower and 122 pound-feet of torque Two 124 kW electric motors - One acting as a propulsion motor, one acting as a generator 1.3 kWh Lithium-Ion battery Electronic Continuously Variable Transmission (E-CVT) Power Control Unit Impressive to say in the least. It’s even better when the system is engaged. The Accord Hybrid never felt lacking in power as the electric motor and 2.0L engine worked together to provide enough thrust for whatever situation I found myself in. More impressive was the seemless transition from electric only to hybrid power. There was no sign of the change over unless I was watching the gauge cluster. Fuel economy is rated at 50 City/45 Highway/47 Combined. I got close to those numbers with an average of 42 MPG for the week. I think I could have matched or even surpassed those numbers if given another week with the Accord Hybrid.On the ride and handling front, the Accord Hybrid is very similar to the standard Accord. The suspension is able to cope with bumps and imperfections with no problem at all. On the curves, the Accord Hybrid is a joy as it keeps you grounded and provides little body roll. Steering has good heft and feel. Wind noise is kept to a decent level, but road noise is very apparent. I would put some of the blame on the low-rolling resistance tires. The Accord Hybrid puts Honda in a good position within the midsize hybrid sedan class with an impressive powertrain layout placed in the well-regarded package that is the Accord. Its going to take something big to knock off the Accord Hybrid as the best in class. Disclaimer: Honda Provided the Accord Hybrid, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Honda Model: Accord Hybrid Trim: Touring Engine: Sport Hybrid intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: Gas Engine - 141 @ 6200, Electric Motor - 166 @ 3857-8000 Torque @ RPM: Gas Engine - 122 @ 3500-6000, Electric Motor - 226 @ 0-3857 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 50/45/47 Curb Weight: 3,602 lbs Location of Manufacture: Marysville, Ohio Base Price: $34,905 As Tested Price: $35,695 (Includes $795.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A Next: 2014 Toyota Prius Plug-In Advance There are some cars that your’s truly finds impressive and would gladly buy, but knows that he wouldn’t recommend it because of some issue. That’s the case with the 2014 Toyota Prius Plug-In, a model that somehow I liked after spending a week in it, but has a key problem that makes it hard to recommend. The Prius Plug-In looks for the most part like the standard Prius. The only differences between the two is Plug-In Hybrid badging on the front fenders, new wheels, and a additional fuel filler door on the passenger side where the charging port lives (more on that in a moment). As for the interior, my tester came fully loaded with such items as leatherette, infotainment system with a JBL audio system, and heads-up display. Nice items for the most part, but I should warn that the leatherette feels very synthetic and nasty. I would go with the cloth. On the plus side, the Prius Plug-In does feature a lot of room for your passengers and cargo.Under the hood, you’ll find the almost the same Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain as in the the standard Prius. A 1.8L Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder paired up to a 60 kW electric motor delivering a total output of 134 horsepower. The difference is in the batteries. While the standard Prius has a Nickel-Metal Hydride battery, the Plug-In gets a Lithium-Ion battery. The new battery allows the Prius Plug-In to travel up to 11 Miles on electric power alone. During my week, I found myself using the EV mode a lot as it provided decent power to get around town and was very quiet. On the range front, I was able to get around 10 to 12 miles per charge. As for the charging port I mentioned earlier, that allows the Prius Plug-In to charge in 1.5 hours when plugged into a 240V charger or 3 hours when plugged into a 120V outlet). For other situations such as the freeway, I left the vehicle in the hybrid mode. This highlights a couple problems with the Prius. First it takes a few seconds longer for it to get up to speed. Second is the amount the noise that comes up when you decide that more power is needed. It sounded like a weed-whacker was being thrashed under the hood. As for fuel economy, I got around 51 MPG for the week. On the ride and handling front, the Prius Plug-In is much the same as the standard Prius; providing a comfortable, albeit noisy ride. So while I liked the Prius Plug-In, there is a big problem; price. A base Prius Plug-In will set you back $29,990 which seems somewhat reasonable. My tester which was the Advance model and came to an as-tested price of $38,907 with options. No that is not a misprint. Now the Prius Plug-In does qualify for a few tax incentives which helps offset the price somewhat. But for around the same money, you could get into a Chevrolet Volt. You do lose some practicality, but gain more in EV range.So the Prius Plug-In is a vehicle I like, but the pricetag makes it one I would pass on.' Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Prius Plug-In, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Toyota Model: Prius Plug-In Trim: Advance Engine: Hybrid Synergy Drive (1.8L DOHC 16-valve VVT-i four-cylinder, 60 kW Electric Motor) Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: Gas Engine - 98 @ 5,200, Electric Motor - 80 @ N/A, Total Output - 134 Torque @ RPM: 105 @ 4,000, Electric Motor - 153 @ 0 Fuel Economy: 95 MPGe, 50 MPG Curb Weight: 3,216 lbs Location of Manufacture: Tsutsumi, Japan Base Price: $34,905 As Tested Price: $38,907 (Includes $810.00 Destination Charge) Options: Technology Package - $2,610 Illuminated Door Sill - $279.00 Carpeted Floor Mats & Trunk Mat - $225.00 Cargo Net - $49.00 First Aid Kit - $29.00 Next: 2014 Lexus CT 200h F-Sport The Lexus CT 200h F-Sport is an intriguing idea. A luxury compact hatchback that is fuel efficient and sporty. So while the idea seems ok in theory, how does it work in the real world? The CT 200h in my eyes happens to be black sheep in Lexus family mostly because of how it looks. A five-door hatchback with a long front end and a new spindle grille which you either love or hate it. Around back is a flat rear tailgate which I think makes the CT a bit ungainly to look at. A set of seventeen-inch alloy wheels and F-Sport badging on the front fenders which come as part of the F-Sport package finish off the look. Inside is a nicely trimmed interior with supportive leather seats and handsome trim. The layout of dashboard is easy to understand and controls are in easy reach for the driver and passenger. The optional Lexus Inform infotainment system has been updated to look a bit fresher and improve user experience. However, the Lexus Remote Touch controller makes using the system a frustrating experience as it seems to be really sensitive. On the plus side, the CT 200h is spacious for back seat passengers and cargo.Power comes from Lexus Hybrid Drive which pairs a 1.8L four-cylinder and 60 kW electric motor to produce a total output of 134 horsepower. This is paired up to a CVT. Now most reviews of the CT 200h say its painfully slow, but I care to disagree. Despite a curb weight of 3,130 pounds, I found the powertrain to be adequate as it took a few ticks longer for the CT to get up to speed than other comparable models. I should warn that if you decide to slam the pedal to floor, the engine and CVT will make a horrific noise that will make you think twice of doing that. As for fuel economy, the EPA rates the 2014 CT 200h at 43 City/40 Highway/42 Combined. I saw an average of 39 MPG. Now this particular CT 200h was equipped with the F-Sport package which adds a sport tuned suspension and that’s about it. Compared to other Lexus models equipped with F-Sport package, I felt the CT F-Sport was somewhat lacking as the suspension was the only real mechanical change to it. Maybe there was some limitations to it being a hybrid, but I think there is room for improvement. The revised suspension means there is a noticeable difference in how the CT handles. Body roll and lean is decreased somewhat when compared to the standard CT. Steering is decent with good weight, but those hoping for an improvement in feel will be disappointed. For day to day driving, the CT 200h F-Sport is a bit more stiff than the standard CT, but not to the point where you’ll be crying uncle.So for the most part, the CT 200h F-Sport succeeds in its mission of providing a fun to drive luxury hatchback that is also ok on fuel. I would like to like to see Lexus do some more with the F-Sport package such as adding more sport goodies to the drivetrain and suspension. Maybe that’s in store for the next-generation. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the CT 200h, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2014 Make: Lexus Model: CT 200h Trim: F-Sport Engine: Lexus Hybrid Drive(1.8L DOHC 16-valve VVT-i four-cylinder, 60 kW Electric Motor) Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT Horsepower @ RPM: Gas Engine - 98 @ 5,200, Electric Motor - 80 @ N/A, Total Output - 134 Torque @ RPM: 105 @ 4,000, Electric Motor - 153 @ 0 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 43/40/42 Curb Weight: 3,130 lbs Location of Manufacture: Miyawaka, Fukuoka, Japan Base Price: $32,050 As Tested Price: $39,030 (Includes $910.00 Destination Charge) Options: Navigation System - $3,490 F-Sport w/NuLuxe Interior - $1,180 F-Sport Premium Package - $900.00 Intuitive Park Assist - $500.00 View full article
  12. One of the biggest critics of hybrid vehicles happens to be Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. But even he realizes that with upcoming fuel economy regulations, hybrids will have to play a key role in achieving this. “The house will make it” to the 2025 model year fuel economy targets, Marchionne said to the press today. “Hybrids become a very large component of that fleet. You can’t get it without the hybrids. It’s impossible.” Last year, Chrysler was ranked last among large automakers in the U.S. for fuel economy. Marchionne said the company is on track to meet the long-term fuel economy requirements by using such items as diesels and nine-speed automatic transmissions. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required) William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  13. One of the biggest critics of hybrid vehicles happens to be Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. But even he realizes that with upcoming fuel economy regulations, hybrids will have to play a key role in achieving this. “The house will make it” to the 2025 model year fuel economy targets, Marchionne said to the press today. “Hybrids become a very large component of that fleet. You can’t get it without the hybrids. It’s impossible.” Last year, Chrysler was ranked last among large automakers in the U.S. for fuel economy. Marchionne said the company is on track to meet the long-term fuel economy requirements by using such items as diesels and nine-speed automatic transmissions. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required) William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  14. Perceptions and Concerns about Diesel, Electric, Hybrids and Plug-in Hybrids. G. David Felt Alternative Energy writer for www.CheersandGears.com In todays auto industry, it is becoming more and more an issue of cost and long life that people will consider moving to new technology. Yes we all have a friend, family member or know of someone that jumps on every new gadget that comes along. Yet, what would it take to have a person change from their traditional petrol auto to a Diesel, Electric, Hybrids or Plug-in Hybrids? Here is just some of what was found by this survey: Shoppers top motivators for moving to they types of autos: Better Fuel Economy 70% Gas savings 56% Cleaner Emissions 37% Greener Environment 28% Federal Tax Credit 24% Price Premium consideration: Willing to pay for Diesel 53% Willing to pay for Hybrids 51% Willing to pay for EVs 41% Willing to pay for Plug-in Hybrids 39% Cost and Perceptions against buying Diesel: Fuel Expense 55% Too Expensive to purchase 45% Noise 32% Environmental destruction 29% Obstacles and reasons against purchasing for Hybrids and Plug-ins Too expensive to purchase Plug-in Hybrid 71% Too expensive to purchase Hybrid 66% Too expensive to purchase EVs 60% High Cost of Maintenance Plug-in & EVs 58% High cost of Maintenance Hybrids 55% Battery Life / Range EVs 67% Battery Life / Range Plug-in Hybrids 64% Battery Life / Range hybrids 52% 59% said EVs would need to get over 150 miles per charge. 56% said Plug-in hybrids would have to get over 80 miles per charge. 40% for Plug-in and 31% for EVs said they would not buy as they do not want to plug in. Toyota was First, followed by Honda and then Ford for who the top 3 alternative energy car companies. For a full review, go to: Source AutoTrader.com http://press.autotrader.com/2013-11-14-AutoTrader-com-Survey-Reveals-Shopper-Perceptions-And-Concerns-Regarding-Diesel-Hybrid-Electric-And-Plug-in-Hybrid-Vehicles
  15. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com July 12, 2013 Mazda has been know to be a bit different than other automakers. Case in point is their SKYACTIV Technologies inative. Instead of following most automakers with hybrids and electric vehicles, Mazda is extracting as much efficiency as they can from standard gas and diesel engines, and doing some very clever enginnering. In fact Mazda says for the time being, they are going to pass on hybrids and electrics. "While downsizing can be an effective method for reducing emissions, adding an electric boost often merely offsets the loss in power from reduced displacement. We want to make sure our engines are optimally designed, to make better effect of the benefits of combined battery power," said a Mazda R&D Spokesperson to AOL Cars UK. As for electrics? "We've created a full EV version of the Mazda2, which we showcased mainly to prove wrong those who said we couldn't do it. In fact creating an electric car isn't that difficult, but in terms of customer appeal and uptake, we don't foresee the time being right before 2020," said Peter Allibon, sales director of Mazda UK. Source: AOL Cars UK William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  16. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com July 12, 2013 Mazda has been know to be a bit different than other automakers. Case in point is their SKYACTIV Technologies inative. Instead of following most automakers with hybrids and electric vehicles, Mazda is extracting as much efficiency as they can from standard gas and diesel engines, and doing some very clever enginnering. In fact Mazda says for the time being, they are going to pass on hybrids and electrics. "While downsizing can be an effective method for reducing emissions, adding an electric boost often merely offsets the loss in power from reduced displacement. We want to make sure our engines are optimally designed, to make better effect of the benefits of combined battery power," said a Mazda R&D Spokesperson to AOL Cars UK. As for electrics? "We've created a full EV version of the Mazda2, which we showcased mainly to prove wrong those who said we couldn't do it. In fact creating an electric car isn't that difficult, but in terms of customer appeal and uptake, we don't foresee the time being right before 2020," said Peter Allibon, sales director of Mazda UK. Source: AOL Cars UK William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  17. By William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com January 17, 2013 Automobile magazine had a chance to talk with Nissan's executive vice president, Andy Palmer at the Detroit Auto Show. Palmer gave some details about what is coming down the pipe within the next few years. Starting with the Nissan Resonance concept, Palmer says the concept is "close" to what the next-generation Murano will look like. “It’s a true expression of what we believe the next, third-generation Murano should look like. We need to wow and awe again,” Palmer said. One Murano model that won't be returning for the next generation is the CrossCabriolet. “It was an experiment. It was an expression of our ability to express ourselves, it was a designer’s expression of what you can do. Successful or not, I think it’s very memorable, so it didn’t do us any harm,” said Palmer. The Resonance concept also has certain design elements like the deep-V front grille and “floating” roof treatment, will be used on other Nissans to improve the family resemblance. “If you look at the industry, you have the corporate grille, right?” he says. “But you don’t see a lot of expression on side views… [A common look] should go right the way through the exterior and the interior." Palmer says the Resonance concept's hybrid powertrain (2.5L inline-four, two clutches, a continuously variable transmission, and an electric motor) will be used in the Altima, Pathfinder, and next-gen Murano. Palmer didn't give an date as to when the vehicles will debut, only saying they would arrive within the next couple of years. Palmer also said the company will out more hybrid vehicles. “We’ll launch 15 Nissan hybrids by 2016.” Don't expect Nissan to go hybrid crazy. Palmer says Nissan is “agnostic” about hybrids, but is “fanatical” about full-electrics like the Leaf. Source: Automobile Magazine William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster. View full article
  18. By William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com January 17, 2013 Automobile magazine had a chance to talk with Nissan's executive vice president, Andy Palmer at the Detroit Auto Show. Palmer gave some details about what is coming down the pipe within the next few years. Starting with the Nissan Resonance concept, Palmer says the concept is "close" to what the next-generation Murano will look like. “It’s a true expression of what we believe the next, third-generation Murano should look like. We need to wow and awe again,” Palmer said. One Murano model that won't be returning for the next generation is the CrossCabriolet. “It was an experiment. It was an expression of our ability to express ourselves, it was a designer’s expression of what you can do. Successful or not, I think it’s very memorable, so it didn’t do us any harm,” said Palmer. The Resonance concept also has certain design elements like the deep-V front grille and “floating” roof treatment, will be used on other Nissans to improve the family resemblance. “If you look at the industry, you have the corporate grille, right?” he says. “But you don’t see a lot of expression on side views… [A common look] should go right the way through the exterior and the interior." Palmer says the Resonance concept's hybrid powertrain (2.5L inline-four, two clutches, a continuously variable transmission, and an electric motor) will be used in the Altima, Pathfinder, and next-gen Murano. Palmer didn't give an date as to when the vehicles will debut, only saying they would arrive within the next couple of years. Palmer also said the company will out more hybrid vehicles. “We’ll launch 15 Nissan hybrids by 2016.” Don't expect Nissan to go hybrid crazy. Palmer says Nissan is “agnostic” about hybrids, but is “fanatical” about full-electrics like the Leaf. Source: Automobile Magazine William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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