Bush Senior Buys a Chevy Volt

Written By Thomas Ponco on Saturday, March 31, 2012 | 8:30 PM

Published March 31, 2012


By Huw Evans


Who would have thought it? Given the flack the Chevy Volt has received at Republican hands over the last few months, former Republican president George H. W. Bush dealt the Volt attackers a serious blow, deciding to purchase one of GM’s extended range electric cars.



The Volt, which has become a symbol of all that’s wrong with the Obama administration according to some conservatives, might finally be getting a break. In addition to Bush Sr.’s purchase of a Volt (for his son Neil), there’s growing sentiment among the right that the car might not be that bad after all.



Fred Barnes, writing in the conservatively inclined Weekly Standard, showed sympathy for the Volt, saying it “is not an Obamamobile,” a view that’s been widely held by many Republicans. In perhaps an even more surprising turn, Fox News, the notorious Volt basher, is also apparently changing it’s tune. Lee Spieckerman, CEO of Spieckerman Media and a conservative himself, said during a recent interview on the network that the “Volt is the quickest and most efficient way to bring American fossil fuels like coal, natural gas and nuclear energy to American automobiles. It is a terrific car, it is the iPhone of the automobiles. I’ve driven it and it’s very impressive.”



Volt sales remain sluggish despite GM introducing a zero percent incentive this month, so this change is probably welcome news, though Spieckerman did say that in order for it to truly be successful in the market, the price of the Volt needs to be reduced by about 20 percent, in order to give it a fighting chance against the likes of machines like the Chevy Cruze.



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Iso Grifo Can Am

V8 / 7.443 cc / 416 PS / Vmax: ~186 mph (300 km/h)

(click images for a larger view)






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Daimler And BYD Launch Denza Brand

Written By Thomas Ponco on Friday, March 30, 2012 | 10:00 PM

Published March 30, 2012


By Bertel Schmitt


We'd said it would happen, and sure enough, Daimler and BYD unveiled their joint EV brand Denza today. They literally just unveiled the brand. The cars will be unveiled at the Beijing Motor Show in the last week of April. They should have kept everything covered and hire some professionals.



The brand unveiling took place at BYD’s headquarters in balmy Shenzhen, on the other side of the Hong Kong border. Carnewschina is miffed that they were not invited to the shindig. What should I say, I am in Shenzhen and nobody told me. I am glad I did not go.



Today, the Chinese counterpart of Denza was unveiled: Tengshi.



Further unveiled was a logo. It looks like a drop of something, kind of strange for an EV.



Finally unveiled was a slogan: “EV the Future.”



The Denza Web site is a low-budget affair that looks like it was put together with Microsoft Word at the last minute.




If Daimler and BYD have paid more than $1,000 for logo, slogan and website, then they wasted money.



Message to Daimler: All this is shockingly pedestrian, and an embarrassment. It does not at all reflect the class and refinement that usually goes into Daimler branding. If the car reflects the haphazard branding, then I don’t want to see it.



I guess the car will look like an old B Class anyway.






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Mitsubishi and Eaton Move Forward with EV Charging Stations in Hawaii

Published March 30, 2012


By Huw Evans


With a limited product portfolio in North America, Mitsubishi has been pushing its new electric vehicle, the i, pretty hard of late.



Recently, the company announced that in the state of Hawaii, it has fostered a partnership with Eaton Corp. to develop a plan for rapid expansion of Level 2 quick charging stations in the Pacific island chain. The move is considered a logical step since the i was first made available to retail customers in Hawaii.



Initially at least, that expansion is centered around Oahu, with one location being installed at the prestigious Ko Olina resort on the western side of the island, and four others due to follow at the Pearlridge and Kahala Malls, located in the metro Honolulu area.



The stations will be installed by Volta Industries, tasked as the official supplier/installer in Hawaii. They are part of a wider plan for the Aloha State to reduce the importation and use of fossil fuels and achieve 70 percent clean energy use by the year 2030.



At present, those driving pure electric vehicles are faced with the same range challenges as their counterparts on the mainland. But, the promoters of the new Mitsubishi-Eaton charging infrastructure plan expect to make EVs viable as a sole means of transportation in Hawaii within the next few years.



Mitsubishi says that the Eaton DC quick charger is able to replenish the Mitsubishi i’s lithium ion battery pack to 80 percent in around 30 minutes, though at a press conference for the car last year, which HybridCars.com attended, Mitsubishi stressed that over reliance on quick charging can significantly shorten the life of the battery pack.



Under normal use, the car’s battery pack is rated to last approximately eight years.






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Studies Show Young Adults Surfing More, Driving Less

Published March 30, 2012


By Jeff Cobb




Studies have found that Internet service providers around the globe are effectively taking would-be young drivers off the road, and business away from departments of transportation.



What on earth are we talking about?



In plain speak, researchers in a number of developed countries – including recently those from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute – have found young adults prefer to surf the Web, rather than cruise in automobiles.



Among U.S. drivers in their 20s, the Michigan researchers found 94 percent had a driver’s license in 1983, but 25 years later in 2008, that figure had decreased to 84 percent in their 20s with licenses.



Researchers also found that in 1983 one-third of all licensed U.S. drivers were under age 30, but today that has diminished to 22 percent of all licensed drivers are under age 30.



Nor is the U.S. an anomaly. A similar phenomenon has been discovered by other researchers in Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Norway and South Korea, reported Automotive News.



These developed nations had the same decrease in young drivers, while seeing an increase in older drivers.



"Countries with higher proportions of Internet users were associated with lower licensure rates among young persons," said the University of Michigan’s head of human factors group, Michael Sivak. And, he said, this is “consistent with the hypothesis that access to virtual contact through electronic means reduces the need for actual contact among young people."



A senior analyst for Detroit-area research firm HIS Automotive, Rebecca Lindland, also noted younger people are less inclined to get a driver’s license, and this is in part reflective of how they – unlike generations before them – interact with their friends.



In short, they have access to a virtual world, and need not opt for the real world which requires traveling to go see people.



"In every other generation, kids had to leave the house to see their friends and now you can do all that online," she said. "A car is no longer required."



Lindland optimistically observed that as young adults age, they may change their habits, but even then how they perceive vehicles will be different from those raised prior to the Internet.



"It's the first time we've seen that and that's why it's a little bit alarming," said Lindland.



Previously industry watchers have noted even those from among the age 19-31 "millennial" generation that do drive are demanding more and more connectivity in their vehicles. One finding said they’d pay up to $2,000 more for a car with connectivity features.



So, even if they do have to leave their computers at home, many younger consumers insist on having at least the same access in their vehicles.



But too much interaction with infotainment, etc., also has safety officials holding annual summits over “ distracted driving.”



Many millennial-aged drivers already have this covered however. Survey respondents have also said they are aware of the dangers of multitasking at the wheel, and have said among the advanced features they want in cars are safety technologies to protect them from themselves and these, they said would also be worth spending extra for.



Lindland observed several other variable have yet to play out regarding other pervasively influential factors such as as future vehicle choices, modes of travel, safety and environmental impact.



At this point, it appears the Internet has effectively shifted the world’s young adults into a fundamentally new sensibility, observers note, and unprecedented changes in transportation will take place as priorities have shifted with the advent of an increasingly connected age.




Automotive News






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Lamborghini Jarama 400 GTS

V12 / 3.929 cc / 365 PS / 300 ft/lb (407 Nm) @ 5.500 / 0 - 62 mph (100 km/h): 6,0 s / Vmax: 162 mph (261 km/h)

(click images for a larger view)












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Nissan Wins Japanese Industry Prize for Hybrid Technology

Published March 30, 2012


By Huw Evans


In Japan, Nissan Motor Co has been awarded the Contribution Prize of the Ichimura Prizes in Industry.



Hosted by the New Technology Development Foundation, the Ichimura Prizes in Industry award is now in its 44th year and is given to domestic individuals or organizations that show outstanding leadership in the field of new technologies.



This year, thanks to its one-motor, two-clutch parallel hybrid system, Nissan was presented with the Contribution Prize, being the only automaker to win such an award so far in 2012.



Although it started out by adapting Toyota’s own patented hybrid technology for use in Nissan gas-electric passenger vehicles, the Yokohama automaker has been making serious strides in the field of hybrid propulsion technology. Its one motor, two-clutch system was first introduced in the Infiniti M Hybrid and Japanese Domestic Market Nissan Fuga. It sports a 3.5-liter, 302 hp V6 gasoline engine and 50-kw electric motor integrated into the car’s automatic (not CVT) transmission and has been designed to combine V8 performance with four-cylinder fuel economy (approximately 24/32 miles per gallon city/highway).



Two clutches, one mounted between the engine’s crankshaft and electric motor; the other in the rear of the transmission, enable the gas engine to “de-couple” under deceleration or when the vehicle is operating in electric mode, while still providing the extra performance when needed.




Because the engine can be disconnected, friction and parasitic loss at low speeds and under braking are minimized, boosting electric motor efficiency and thus fuel economy. Using dual clutches dispenses with the need for a torque converter as found in traditional automatics, further reducing parasitic loss and improving throttle response.



The battery pack employed with the one motor, two-clutch system, sports laminated cells and manganese cathodes, which Nissan says is designed to improve temperature regulation and thus prolong battery life – still a major issue with most hybrids and EVs.



Besides winning the Ichimura Contribution Prize, the one motor, two-clutch system was also awarded the Technological Development Award by the Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan last year. So far in 2012, it has also received the Chairman’s Prize by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Machine Industry, as well as the Medal for New Technology by the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers.



Green Car Congress via Nissan Global






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Could Saab be Revived as a Maker of Electric Vehicles?

Written By Thomas Ponco on Thursday, March 29, 2012 | 6:30 PM

Published March 29, 2012


By Huw Evans


While Saab’s bankruptcy last December is still proving hard to swallow among many in the industry, there’s been no shortage of potential suitors looking to revive the Swedish automaker.



Besides Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Group, which narrowly missed acquiring the automaker and is still in talks with Saab’s receivers, an as yet unnamed Sino-Japanese consortium is now also expressing interest.



However, in this case, there’s a bit of an environmental twist. The consortium in question, which reportedly has very deep pockets, plans to revive Saab as a manufacturer of electric vehicles, since it already has a vested interest in battery technology.



In fact according to an unnamed Swedish source, the consortium is very keen on acquiring Saab assets and has likely already tabled a bid.



As for the viability of electric cars, well, it perhaps isn’t as far out as it might seem. As little as a year ago, Saab was still working on electric vehicle programs and indeed had assembled a fleet of some 70 9-3 e-Power models using 135-kw motors (essentially a more powerful version of the UQM unit found in the 2012 Coda sedan) and Boston Power Swing Cell lithium ion batteries (already available as mass produced items).



So, if it the bid does prove successful, there’s every indication we might indeed see e-Power 9-3s or derivatives become a reality. That said, sources in Sweden still remain skeptical about the commercial viability of EVs in the near term, plus there’s still the issue regarding General Motors’ less than enthusiastic stance of allowing Chinese firms to get their hands on technology it originally licensed to Saab; a major factor why the Swedish automaker went bankrupt to begin with.



just-auto via autoblog green






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2012 Toyota RAV4 EV Will Be Built In Canada

Published March 29, 2012


By Jeff Cobb



RAV4EV


The RAV4 EV will reportedly use J1772 charging interface.




Yesterday Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc. (TMMC) announced it will increase RAV4 production at its Woodstock, Ontario plant with plans also to produce the 2012 RAV4 EV.




Previously Toyota had only said the second-generation electric RAV would be built in North America, but now it has specified the vehicle made in collaboration with Tesla will be made in Canada.




The RAV 4 EV was first shown at the 2010 LA Auto Show. Its range was them estimated at 100 miles and acceleration was said to be equal to the gasoline-powered RAV4, despite a weight penalty of 220 pounds.




Like the Scion iQ, the RAV4 EV does not let its Tesla-made batteries impede interior space and will retain its full 74 cubic feet of cargo room.




Overall plans for Woodstock will see its annual assembly line capacity increased from 150,000 vehicles to 200,000 as part of an $80 million [CAD] initiative to create more jobs while increasing greener, more efficient vehicles.




TMMC Chairman Ray Tanguay said the company is optimistic that the market is coming back and it is grateful for the strong sales of the RAV4 in the North American market.




Further touting the company’s position, Brian Krinock, President of TMMC said the Canadian workers are doing a particularly good job, and implicitly represent a worthwhile investment for more production.




"From the moment TMMC opened the Woodstock plant, Team Members have consistently built quality in to each and every RAV4,” Krinock said. “Our customers recognize and appreciate their skill."




Aside from the Woodstock plant, TMMC has two more in Cambridge, ON, employs approximately 6,500, and manufactures the Corolla, Matrix, RAV4, and the Lexus RX 350 vehicles.




Last year, Toyota noted it would be evaluating 35 RAV4 EV test mules based on Canadian-built RAV4s that also made use of “additional components built in Palo Alto, Calif.”




Now that TMMC has confirmed the production version will be built beginning some time this year at the plant from which the prototypes had also originated, we still await more details regarding production plans and pricing.






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12-passenger 2012 Nissan NV priced from $31,690*

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Renault Twizy 45 Could Be Driven In UK With No License

Published March 29, 2012


By Jeff Cobb


Do you remember when you looked forward to getting a first car? Well times and potential cars have changed, and in the UK one with a potentially low barrier to entry could be this 28-mph max speed EV that may soon be able to be driven by those age 16 and up without a license.



Pictured is a 2013 Renault Twizy 45 which the automaker tentatively plans to introduce to the UK as a possible first vehicle for beginning drivers, and technically, it’s not a car, but rather, a quadricycle.



Pending UK law would allow for license-less driving by 16-year-olds in such vehicles weighing under 772 pounds (350 kilograms) and up to the aforementioned top speed. Relatively low up-front and charging costs have made them at least a strong candidate for consideration, and naturally drivers of all ages could conceivably opt for one.



According to Autocar, Renault UK’s head of EV programme, Andy Heiron said “there are still details to be finalised by the government, and there will be a basic practical and theory test involved.”



The approximately $9,865 (£6200) vehicle looks somewhat more elaborate than a golf cart, and for a first set of wheels it could feel quite liberating and fun – but watch out for those projected UK insurance premiums, which for 16-year-olds could be as high as $6,365 (£4000) – but expected to decrease significantly for older drivers.



Renault is not putting any sales projections on the Twizy 45, and since all details are not in place, it has not definitively been able to say it will begin selling them.



In the U.S., vehicles like this are also known as “neighborhood electric vehicles,” but no matter what the vehicles' anticipated habitat, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety has gone out of its way to warn against them.



Here, they need not pass crash tests like regular passenger cars do, and judging by introductory level UK insurance premiums totaling two-thirds of the selling price, it would appear the Brits do not view them as any safer.



But the idea of starting out with a small, new EV has been floated in recent memory before, notably by Opel’s One Euro Car concept, which also keeps within the 28-mph limit.



What do you think? On the positive side, youngsters are capable of being careful, the vehicle is not fast, arguably more practical than a scooter or motorcycle, and it would be cheap to operate being all electric. Or would it make more sense for beginners to start in a larger, heavier car?



AutoCar via AutoGuide






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Daily dose of sexy brought to you by HRE Wheels, Ferrari 458 Italia [w/video]

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Analyst Downgrades A123 Systems In Light Of Fundraising Challenges

Published March 29, 2012


By Jeff Cobb


After announcing a $55 million recall for Fisker Karma and other supplied batteries, A123 Systems has had a Deutsche Bank analyst cut his recommendation from “buy” for its stock to “hold.”



The New York-based analyst was reported as saying costs to replace all defective battery packs and modules “represents a severe impact” and his confidence in AONE, as the stock is called, is diminished.



"We no longer have enough confidence that AONE can raise sufficient capital (without massive equity dilution) and/or continue to augment their book of future business," Galves wrote. "Recent quality issues may lead to concerns over AONE's ability to manufacture with quality at high volumes, potentially leading to customer defections or at least difficulty in procuring new contracts."



The Massachusetts-based battery maker says the problem was traced to faulty calibration on one of four welding machines at its Livonia, Mich. plant. The problem thus meant misalignment of a component in some cells, Automotive News reports, which could lead to an electrical short, premature failure, or merely decreased performance and battery longevity.



A123 has said it will begin shipping replacement batteries to its customers – including Fisker which experienced a battery failure during a most conspicuous Consumer Reports speed calibration test, and whose whose CEO went on record saying the Karma performed as intended. Within qualified terms, Fisker CEO Tom LaSorda was correct, and the Karma's fault detection system did work as intended, but it has now been determined the battery was defective as first reported.



AONE is trading today at the lowest it has since its September 2009 initial public offering. It closed yesterday at $1.22, and today’s range as of mid-morning is lower still between $1.15-1.21.



This said, the company says its customers – which includes General Motors which intends to use A123 batteries in its 2013 Spark EV – are “supportive,” and their confidence has not been taken away.



"Initial customer response has been supportive as they recognize that we have an enabling and high-quality technology," David Vieau, A123's CEO, said in a statement. "We have demonstrated our ability to strengthen our liquidity through strategic partnerships, and believe we will be successful in fulfilling any necessary funding required to continue the growth of the company."



And fulfilling more funding is something the company will have to do. Vieau vaguely said after the latest $55 million setback, the company will have to readjust its fundraising strategy.



The Deutsche Bank analyst noted that at the end of 2011, A123 had $187 million in cash and faced a cash burn of at least $155 million this year – an estimate made prior to the $55 million setback.



His prediction was that raising an additional $50 million would be “challenging” for A123 due to a variety of market pressures.



In its annual report filed March 12, A123 estimated it may need to borrow as much as $233 million from the U.S. Department of Energy, and it will likely be looking for more funding as it works to replace batteries and repair its reputation.




Automotive News






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Alfa Romeo Giulia 1600 GT

S4 / 1.573 cc / 120 PS / 103 ft/lb (140 Nm) @ 3.000 / Vmax: 112 mph (180 km/h

(click images for a larger view)






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Distracted Driving: A Hot Button Issue

Published March 29, 2012


By Huw Evans


While alternative fuel technologies remain at the forefront of automakers’ minds, arguably an even bigger focus is their obsession for adding more and more features to the inside of our vehicles. The result of this push to meet perceived consumer demand is that the concept of “distracted driving” has almost taken on new meaning.



Whether it’s adding Bluetooth connectivity, smart phone apps, voice command technology, streaming TV, real time traffic updates or local points of interest, there are so many things to take our eyes off the road some are saying it’s a wonder there aren’t more accidents on our streets and highways.



To make matters worse, the relentless march of turning the inside of a vehicle into an extension of the living room or office shows no signs of abating. In fact, the situation has gotten to the point that in 2010, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration observed that some 3,092 road-related fatalities alone were the result of distracted driving or “multitasking” behind the wheel.



Yet while companies such as Intel continue to pour more money and development into auto-based info entertainment systems, in this case, creating a $100 million “connected car fund,” there’s increasing talk on Capitol Hill that says tech companies are putting profits ahead of vehicle occupant safety.



National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman has been a key advocate in the move to reduce distracted driving.



“We’ve got to dispel the myth of multitasking,” she said recently at a distracted driving forum in Washington D.C. “What is the price of our desire to be mobile and connected at the same time?”



Hersman has an ally in current U.S. Transport Secretary Ray LaHood, who’s made distracted driving a top safety priority since he was appointed to the post in 2009. However, the problem that many regulators recognize is that the pace of technology outstrips the ability to enforce laws restricting its use in vehicles, meaning agencies find themselves constantly playing catch up in an effort to curb distracted driving via legal means.



The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued guidelines, albeit voluntary ones for automakers, which require that no task take longer than two seconds and the vehicle must be stationary – with the transmission in park before driver can use navigation screens or access social media feeds.



Yet for those who see things as Hersman does, current federal programs don’t go far enough. Back in December, her board called for a complete ban of cell phone use while driving, including the use of hands free devices.



“If the technology produced focused more on what is safe, than what sells, we’d see highway fatalities go down,” she said.



A spokesperson for Intel, in response to criticism of vehicle info entertainment systems, said that “a significant area of focus for the [$100 million connected car fund] is to accelerate innovation for driver and passenger safety. For example, the fund will invest in startups developing technologies for advanced driver assistance, gesture recognition and sensors,” said Laura Anderson.



Yet, while Intel and indeed automakers such as Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz have been developing systems designed to counter distracted driving (such as active attention-getting feedback steering wheels that nudge the driver), focus group research shows that consumers, especially those in Gen Y, are looking for even greater in-car connectivity. As a result, economic pressures mean that we’re likely to see even greater emphasis on vehicle interior multitasking, at least in the near term.



Not helping matters is the fact that LaHood and his supporters are believed likely to get little support from Congress. If so, the upshot is that unless somebody finds a way to mandate attention-getting spikes in the steering wheel of every car sold in North America, the distracted driving “epidemic,” as it’s been labeled by NHTSA, is likely to remain a contentious issue for some time to come.



Further reading: Automotive News (subscription req'd), MSNBC






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Distracted Driving: A Political Hot Button

Written By Thomas Ponco on Wednesday, March 28, 2012 | 11:00 PM

Published March 29, 2012


By Huw Evans


While alternative fuel technologies remain at the forefront of automakers’ minds, arguably an even bigger focus is their obsession for adding more and more features to the inside of our vehicles. The result of this push to meet perceived consumer demand is that the concept of “distracted driving” has almost taken on new meaning.



Whether it’s adding Bluetooth connectivity, smart phone apps, voice command technology, streaming TV, real time traffic updates or local points of interest, there are so many things to take our eyes off the road some are saying it’s a wonder there aren’t more accidents on our streets and highways.



To make matters worse, the relentless march of turning the inside of a vehicle into an extension of the living room or office shows no signs of abating. In fact, the situation has gotten to the point that in 2010, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration observed that some 3,092 road-related fatalities alone were the result of distracted driving or “multitasking” behind the wheel.



Yet while companies such as Intel continue to pour more money and development into auto-based info entertainment systems, in this case, creating a $100 million “connected car fund,” there’s increasing talk on Capitol Hill that says tech companies are putting profits ahead of vehicle occupant safety.



National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman has been a key advocate in the move to reduce distracted driving.



“We’ve got to dispel the myth of multitasking,” she said recently at a distracted driving forum in Washington D.C. “What is the price of our desire to be mobile and connected at the same time?”



Hersman has an ally in current U.S. Transport Secretary Ray LaHood, who’s made distracted driving a top safety priority since he was appointed to the post in 2009. However, the problem that many regulators recognize is that the pace of technology outstrips the ability to enforce laws restricting its use in vehicles, meaning agencies find themselves constantly playing catch up in an effort to curb distracted driving via legal means.



The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued guidelines, albeit voluntary ones for automakers, which require that no task take longer than two seconds and the vehicle must be stationary – with the transmission in park before driver can use navigation screens or access social media feeds.



Yet for those who see things as Hersman does, current federal programs don’t go far enough. Back in December, her board called for a complete ban of cell phone use while driving, including the use of hands free devices.



“If the technology produced focused more on what is safe, than what sells, we’d see highway fatalities go down,” she said.



A spokesperson for Intel, in response to criticism of vehicle info entertainment systems, said that “a significant area of focus for the [$100 million connected car fund] is to accelerate innovation for driver and passenger safety. For example, the fund will invest in startups developing technologies for advanced driver assistance, gesture recognition and sensors,” said Laura Anderson.



Yet, while Intel and indeed automakers such as Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz have been developing systems designed to counter distracted driving (such as active attention-getting feedback steering wheels that nudge the driver), focus group research shows that consumers, especially those in Gen Y, are looking for even greater in-car connectivity. As a result, economic pressures mean that we’re likely to see even greater emphasis on vehicle interior multitasking, at least in the near term.



Not helping matters is the fact that LaHood and his supporters are believed likely to get little support from Congress. If so, the upshot is that unless somebody finds a way to mandate attention-getting spikes in the steering wheel of every car sold in North America, the distracted driving “epidemic,” as it’s been labeled by NHTSA, is likely to remain a contentious issue for some time to come.



Further reading: Automotive News (subscription req'd), MSNBC






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Toyota UK says <i>Top Gear</i> boys to go on another Hilux adventure [w/video]

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Ford Dedicates 285,000-Square-Foot Facility To Electrified Vehicles

Published March 28, 2012


By Philippe Crowe



FusionEnergiLR1

Ford Fusion Energi.


Ford’s team of more than 1,000 engineers working on hybrid and electrification programs has grown so fast that the company announced today the conversion of its 285,000-square-foot Advanced Engineering Center in Dearborn, Mich., to electrified vehicle development.



In the past five years, Ford has doubled the size of the team working on fuel-saving technologies like EcoBoost turbocharged gasoline engines, hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles globally. Ford also continues to hire for further fuel-saving advancements.



The new jobs are part of Ford’s plans to add more than 12,000 hourly and salaried jobs by 2015 in the United States. The company also has announced it is tripling production capacity of its hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles in the U.S. next year compared with 2011.



Ford’s upcoming Fusion is a good example of how it will offer new powertrains and technology.



The company's 2013 Fusion offerings will include a choice of two EcoBoost four-cylinder engines, a normally aspirated four-cylinder engine, a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid.



As for the 2013 Fusion 1.6-liter EcoBoost, it's rated at a projected 37 mpg highway, which would make it America’s most fuel-efficient non-rechargeable midsize sedan. The 2013 Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid (pictured) aims to become the world’s most fuel-efficient midsize sedan with a projected 100 MPGe rating. The 2013 Fusion Hybrid is expected by Ford to become the world’s most fuel-efficient non-rechargeable midsize sedan with 47 mpg.



Ford's Advanced Engineering Center is located within the company’s Henry and Edsel Ford Research & Engineering Center, the 500-acre technical complex in Dearborn that opened in 1953 and serves as the home for research and engineering efforts.






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Early Subaru BRZ sales running at 4x projections in Japan

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Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid



By Larry E. Hall






On the automotive spectrum, Porsche and Prius are poles apart. For decades, one was the definitive German high-performance sports car brand, renowned for its extreme engineering and screaming flat-six engines. The other is just a dozen years old, the very image of the modern high-mileage hybrid.


Now the spectrum has warped, and the poles are coming closer. The Cayenne S Hybrid is about as far away from the earnest nerdiness of the Prius as any Porsche can get. Porsche had first discussed a hybrid Cayenne in 2005; the first functioning version appeared at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2007 and production vehicles arrived in the fall of 2010 as 2011 models.


The Porsche Cayenne was all new for 2011 and there are no significant changes for the 2012 model year. But it does receive some new features, such as blind spot monitoring, upgraded carpeting for seatbacks and cargo area and body colored wheel arch extensions. Base price for the 2012 Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid is $69,000, a $1,300 increase from last year.

“Sailing on Electricity”



When Porsche puts hybrids on the market, it’s a clear signal that the technology has broken out of the green ghetto. Of course, for Porsche, it tailors its hybrids to the expectations of a sports car buyer. That means adding a 47-horsepower electric motor to a supercharged 333-horsepower V-6 engine that brings total output to 380 ponies and a peak torque of 428 pounds feet at just 1000 rpm.


Porsche joins other manufacturers in the move away from the continuously variable transmission (CVT) employed by most hybrid vehicles. The eight-speed, driver-shiftable automatic transmission is not only a less costly approach, it wrings out the most power from the engine and makes the Cayenne S Hybrid feel like a normal SUV.






The drivetrain is completed with an all-wheel drive system with a self-locking center differential. Biased 58 percent to the rear during normal driving conditions, if one of the wheels starts to loose grip, the differential directs torque to the axle with the most traction.


The hybrid system’s unique feature is a hydraulic clutch between the engine and motor that disengages the engine so it can shut down under light loads. The electric motor then takes up the load until the engine restarts. Porsche engineers call the result “sailing” – for the quiet sensation of speed using only electric power.


As in most hybrids, the electric motor also restarts the engine, and recharges the 288-volt nickel-metal-hydride battery pack fitted into the former spare-tire well. This is a simpler and less costly system than Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive, but it comes with drawbacks, one being that the vehicle can’t use the engine to recharge the batteries while running on electric power at the same time.


Porsche’s hybrid system is tuned to give lots of electric assist at highway speeds. This makes sense, since the large, heavy, tall SUV isn’t an ideal urban car, and may spend less time in city traffic than other hybrids.

Illegal All-Electric Speed!



Porsche says the Cayenne S Hybrid runs up to 1.2 miles in all-electric mode. More remarkably, the company also says it can run on electricity at speeds up to 86 miles per hour – though that’s slightly deceptive, since it means the engine may shut down for a while at speeds that high, leaving the electric motor to propel the car. Still, traveling on battery power at speeds higher than any legal U.S. limit is quite an accomplishment for a 5,000-pound SUV.






As for on-road performance, the company says the hybrid Cayenne posts 0 to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds with both the electric motor and the boosted engine providing power. Top speed is 150 mph. At the same time, fuel economy ratings of 20 in the city and 24 on the highway – while not dramatically high numbers – are a big step up from its gasoline powered brethren, which have city fuel economy in the mid-teens.


For the carbon-conscious hybrid crowd those fuel economy numbers are pathetic, and mentioning 0-to-60 mph times and triple digit speeds is sacrilege. But to Porsche and their customers, the combination of performance, speed and increased fuel economy is just as important as fuel mileage alone is to Toyota Prius buyers.

Panamera Influence



When Porsche redesigned the second-generation Cayenne for 2011, it didn’t stray too far from the original, but far enough to distinguish it from the frumpy sheetmetal of the outgoing model. Visually, this latest edition appears smaller than its predecessor but it is actually a little longer, wider and taller than before.


The Panamera sedan influence is evidenced by a front end that flaunts integrated bi-xenon headlights that flow into raised fenders that sit higher than the sculpted hood and in the rear, taillights that extend into a liftgate that now tips slightly forward. With broader shoulders, tauter lines and more sculpting, the Cayenne is more European sport wagon than boxy sport utility. The only evidence of its green-ness are small hybrid badges adorning the front fenders, that in contrast to large, integrated exhaust tips that speak performance.







Inside, the Panamera imprint is prominent with a high center console that rises up to meet the dashboard center stack like a sport sedan. The instrument cluster is Porsche’s traditional set of five overlapping gauges with a dominant centered tachometer, as in a racecar. The smaller speedometer seems secondary. The S Hybrid instruments differ as they provide hybrid system information.


The interior is an elegant blend of tech and taste; it makes its statement with high quality materials, clean lines and flawless execution. Leather seats, front and rear, are all-day long comfortable. Automobile magazine stated that the hybrid’s cabin “is a wonderful place to spend time.”


That said, the array of controls on the center stack are so flummoxing they appear to require a week of intense focus just to operate the audio system and navigation controls successfully. While Automobile magazine praised the interior, it went on to say, “The only thing that mars the interior is the fact that there are simply too many buttons and switches. I counted: there are 24 buttons and 5 toggle switches on the center console, 15 buttons on the stereo, and 11 on the overhead console.”

Behind The Steering Wheel



Porsche’s 2012 Cayenne S Hybrid is a proficient blend of performance and fuel economy. By the company’s sports car standards it’s a very large, heavy vehicle, but it surprises with its athleticism. That’s due in part to a longer wheelbase – distance between front and rear axles – and a larger track – distance between opposite wheels – than the previous model. Throw in the all-wheel drive set up that enables variable distribution of torque between the rear wheels to enhance cornering dynamics, and the Porsche faithful are satisfied that the sports cars heritage is preserved.






Even the car magazines have recognized that hybrid and performance is no longer an oxymoron. Road and Track said, “Before you proclaim that Porsche has officially sold out to the soccer mom demographic by building not just an SUV, but a hybrid SUV, trust us, this new Cayenne will not leave you yawning” And Motor Trend went so far as to call the Cayenne S Hybrid a GT, “Fast, efficient, and effortlessly capable of crossing continents: That sounds like the classic definition of a Grand Tourer – a GT. Throw in all-road, all-weather capability, and you have a GT well-suited to America’s vast distances, varied roads, and volatile climate. You have the Porsche Cayenne Hybrid.”


When it comes to oomph, Popular Mechanics noted, “There’s plenty of power throughout the rev-range, thanks to the supercharger and the inherent torque of the electric motor.” Automobile magazine was also impressed and stated, “Less than a mile into our drive with the Cayenne S Hybrid, we’re impressed with the powertrain. Why? It’s the hybrid that you’d never know was a hybrid.”

Economics



If your shopping list for a five-passenger hybrid luxury crossover includes performance, then your only choice is the Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid because BMW has discontinued its ActiveHybrid X6. So, fuel economy and performance starts at $69,000. Bear in mind, however, that standard features usually found at this price level such as an auto-dimming rear view mirror, heated front seats and parking sensors are part of option packages on the Cayenne. Check all of the option boxes and the S Hybrid gets close to $80,000.


Does fuel economy trump performance? Then the Lexus RX 450h could be the one. It’s starting price is more than $20,000 less than the Porsche and gas mileage is 10 mpg better in the city, four mpg better on the highway. Of course it comes nowhere close to the Cayenne’s performance cachet.





Is Porsche serious about hybrids or was the Cayenne just a green flag hoisted to improve its image? The automaker has answered that question with the Panamera S Hybrid along with the 911 GT3 R Hybrid racecar that uses flywheel hybrid technology and the upcoming 718 horsepower 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid supercar.


Electrification of vehicles for Porsche is not an option; it’s the road to continued production of fast, fun cars for the street and racetrack.


Prices are Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) at time of publication and do not include destination charges, taxes or licensing.

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Americans Waste 1.9 Billion Gallons of Gas In Traffic

Published March 28, 2012


By Jeff Cobb


Traffic jams and poor road conditions are expensive. How expensive? According to a recent Treasury Department report, roadway congestion costs the country around $100 billion annually, based on time wasted and an estimated 1.9 billion gallons of gasoline burned in idling engines.



Potholes, and chewed up roads are another issue, the report says. Average estimated costs to motorists in some densely packed areas in California, New York and elsewhere range between $400-800 per year for damage done to vehicles traversing these roads that need maintenance.



This report came, not surprisingly, in time for a release of a $109 billion bill supported by the Obama administration to improve the country’s infrastructure, according to USA Today. The bill passed the Senate March 14, and the House Republicans are tied up over a $260 billion bill that would cover a 5-year period.



On Monday the House will vote on a temporary extension of federal funding support to states as various roadway construction projects are started this spring.



Poor road surfaces and too many vehicles crowded together are long-chronicled problems that stand to get worse, the data suggests.



As for a move to “bring existing highways and bridges into a state of good repair," that aspect, says the Treasury Department report, would require $85 billion per year for the next 20 years to do it right.



The report says also that $1 out of $7 of the average income for 90 percent of all Americans goes toward that all-American pastime – no, not baseball, but rather, traveling to and fro.



Indeed, the money spent on transportation from the average annual family budget – $7,600 – is double the out-of-pocket healthcare expenditures.



The Treasury – as it implicitly lays out a case for spending more, but some will say where will the money come from? – observed that the U.S. spends just 2 percent of its gross domestic product on infrastructure, compared to China (9 percent), India (8 percent), and Europe (5 percent).



It might also be observed the U.S. has a substantially higher GDP and has been substantially more built-out than the developing nations of China and India, but even Europe spends two and a half times more.



A switch in the U.S. to mass transit reliance has been on the rise as witnessed by a 70-percent increase in light and heavy rail lines. Over the past 15 years annual transit ridership grew from 8 billion in 1996 to 10.4 billion in 2011.



We’ll note also, green cars are still a fraction of the market as Americans burn 1.9 billion gallons a year in traffic congestion.



However, small car sales have been on the rise, used hybrid prices are now reportedly strong, policymakers and automakers here and abroad are planning for much higher efficiency in the coming decade and beyond.



This and plenty more information begging – or pushing – for a shift in the way we travel is out there. How it all plays out remains to be seen.




USA Today via AutoGuide






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Tuschek Renovatio T500

V8 / 4.163 cc / 450 PS / 316 ft/lb (430 Nm) @ 4.000 - 6.000 / 0 - 62 mph (100 km/h): 3,7 s / Vmax: 193 mph (311 km/h)

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Diesel Transit In Ford’s Stable

Published March 28, 2012


By Philippe Crowe


Ford announced yesterday that its Transit commercial van will come to market with a new clean-diesel engine, on top of the already announced EcoBoost V6. These engines will allow the new Transit to achieve at least 25 percent better fuel economy than current E-Series vans it replaces.



In addition to the new Transit, certain E-Series body styles will continue to be available through most of the decade in North America, even after the U.S.-built Transit goes on sale.



Production of the new Ford Transit cargo and passenger vans will start in Kansas City in 2013. Ford managed to keep the weight down and the new Transit will be at least 300 pounds lighter than the current E-Series.



We will keep you updated as soon as we learn what the specifications of the new diesel engine will be.



In speaking to the Automotive Press Association in Detroit today, Kevin Koswick, director, North American Fleet, Lease and Remarketing Operations for Ford said the company is committed to continuing to provide customers a range of options to reduce their operating costs. He said Ford will offer a lineup of industry-leading fuel-efficient engines and alternative-fuel technologies, including EcoBoost, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery-electric, biodiesel and CNG/LPG.






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Ferrari Looks to Save Fuel While Retaining V12 Engines

Written By Thomas Ponco on Tuesday, March 27, 2012 | 9:30 PM

Published March 28, 2012


By Huw Evans


When Ferrari unveiled its new F12 Berlinetta at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, as witnessed first hand by HybridCars.com, Ferrari’s President Luca di Montezemolo was adamant that its introduction signaled a new era in V12 engined Ferraris.



For diehard Modena fans, the news no doubt comes as a sigh of relief, especially as many luxury and exotic car manufacturers are under pressure to improve fuel economy. More conventional means of doing so include smaller displacement engines with fewer cylinders and relying on forced induction, direct injection and other trickery to maintain power and torque levels.



That said, Ferrari has been working on its own fuel saving measures, namely a Formula 1 derived Kinetic Energy Recovery System; that uses two electric motors to recover and store energy, that’s then released under acceleration, providing additional power when needed. Furthermore, the front-mounted electric motor also powers the vehicle’s accessory drive while the vehicle is operating in electric mode, providing significant fuel savings.



The KERS system is believed to be a major component in Ferrari choosing to retain V12 engines in its lineup and is expected to make its production car debut in a new generation Enzo, with other applications to follow afterwards.



Besides KERS, Ferrari is also looking at other avenues to conserve fuel and emissions from its vehicles, including the re-adoption of V6 engines in street cars, following a planned move to this engine configuration in Formula 1.



“Why not six cylinders?” said Ferrari CEO Amedeo Felisa during a recent interview. “It is far away perhaps, but it is clear perceptions [on cylinders and displacement] have altered, even in the U.S.”



Autocar






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Tuk Tuk Rickshaw Runs on Trash and Animal Waste

Published March 27, 2012


By Jeff Cobb


An innovative electrified hybrid powered by fuel that’s most definitely renewable and sustainable is being developed not by an automotive company, but by the Denver Zoo.



The three-wheeled, 20-year-old rickshaw fueled by animal feces and human trash is itself recycled from its former days as a petrol-powered people mover in Thailand.



Now better known as “tuk tuk,” it is a running prototype for a larger system due for completion this fall, and if successful, the system could change the future of waste management, says the Denver Post.



"This is not just a zoo thing," said the zoo's sustainability manager, Jennifer Hale. "It can be applied on campuses, in communities and many other environments."



Of course the Denver Zoo intends to apply it as well, and Hale said the technology engineers working for it have developed will fuel the Toyota Elephant Passage exhibit, due to open June 1.



"[The tuk tuk] can be a place for us to interact with guests about this great technology," Hale said. "It was a good theme with the elephants."



Plans are to convert about 1.5 million pounds of waste to energy. Said waste will be comprised of animal droppings plus 90 percent of the solid waste (trash) produced by visitors and employees.



The zoo estimates its annual energy consumption will be offset by 20 percent from gasified pellets made from its collected refuse.



The technology is said to be “unique and revolutionary” in that it uses diverse on-site waste, instead of wood chips, for example, which have been similarly used to create fuel.



The zoo figures it will save around $150,000 per year in hauling costs and it all got started eight years ago after some enlightened dumpster diving.



"These guys spent a lot of time in dumpsters figuring out what kind of trash we produce," said zoo spokeswoman Tiffany Barnhart of engineers looking to analyze consumption and waste patterns.



The zoo intends to catalog all its waste that can be gasified, ranging from office products, concessions packaging, and a consistent supply of animal dung – a model of sustainability and renewable energy at its finest!




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About the only thing they can’t convert to fuel are metal, glass and plastic stuff, but those items are often recyclable anyway, and they are thinking this plan just might work.



Tuk tuk, the recycled trash and dung-burning rickshaw was not actually the first creation the zoo's engineers made to run on gasified pellets. Their first prototype was a blender used to mix margaritas for a zoo event.



Before the elephant wing’s grand opening, tuk tuk will be taken to other zoos in Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico before being shown also at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' midyear meeting in Palm Desert, Calif.



Denver Post






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These are the 10 new cars with the highest percentage of female ownership

  • Jaguar Xf

  • Hyundai Sonata

  • Volkswagen Jetta

  • Honda Civic

  • Chevrolet Camaro

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  • Ford Fusion

  • Jeep Grand Cherokee

  • Ford Explorer

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This is what the Toyota GT 86 sounds like with a TRD exhaust

  • Jaguar Xf

  • Hyundai Sonata

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GM Signs MOU for Volt Demo Fleet in China

Published March 27, 2012


By Jeff Cobb


As you’ve heard before, China wants more electric vehicles, and this week General Motors announced it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC) to manage a fleet of Chevy Volts for data collection purposes.



The MOU covers a one-year period in which CATARC will use and evaluate an undisclosed number of Volts to be delivered next month. The aim is to “to help organize workshops and seminars that will build support among decision makers and key stakeholders for vehicle electrification policy in China,” GM said.



CATARC is the most important third-party automotive technology service organization recognized by the Chinese government. It and GM will form a joint working team to evaluate real world performance, charging and infrastructure for the Volt and other electric vehicles to address needs and expectations by Chinese consumers.



“This partnership is strategically important to us,” said CATARC Director Zhao Hang. “The Volt, with its cutting-edge and practical technologies, will provide information to assist us in preparing the Chinese market for future electrified vehicles.”



Data to be gathered will be from fleet user feedback and is aimed at helping Chinese policymakers make more informed new energy decisions.



GM notes that this strategic decision with CATARC is of value to the global automaker as CATARC is “playing a critical role in the development of new energy vehicles.”



According to Ray Bierzynski, GM China executive director of Electrification Strategy, GM’s relationship with CATARC will provide GM access to top opinion leaders and policymakers.



“It is important for us to offer those in key positions to affect policy an opportunity to experience firsthand our variety of electrification solutions for reducing the automotive industry’s dependence on petroleum,” he said.



GM has recently installed charging poles at Tsinghua University, the office of SAE China, a Chevrolet dealership in Beijing as well as GM’s China headquarters in Shanghai. The company also plans to install charging facilities at CATARC’s Tianjin headquarters.



As the world’s largest auto market, in which GM got an early foothold years ago, China is among the first markets outside of the U.S. home market to receive the Chevy Volt.



We have heard nothing definitive about the Volt being produced there, and GM has for now resisted the notion, choosing instead to build less sophisticated electrified vehicles with its joint venture partners.






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Kaiser Frazer &quot;Henry J Coupe&quot; Custom

No technical specification available

(click images for a larger view)









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Shelby previews 1000-HP Super-Stang ahead of New York debut

  • Jaguar Xf

  • Hyundai Sonata

  • Volkswagen Jetta

  • Honda Civic

  • Chevrolet Camaro

  • Toyota Camry

  • Honda Accord

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  • Ford Explorer

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Daimler And BYD Have Chinese Baby, Named Tengshi, Or Dingcheng

Published March 27, 2012


By Bertel Schmitt


Real Chinese brands are losing market share to joint ventures. The Chinese government wants to keep up appearances, and strongly suggests to joint ventures with foreigners that they should start a separate “Chinese” brand. Latest to say “hao” (yes, ok, jawohl) is Daimler. Its joint venture with BYD to make electric cars in China will dispense with making electric Mercedes first and will instead immediately head to second base and launch a Chinese brand.




BYD-Daimler will sell its e-mobiles under the "Denza" name, says Carnewschina. Chinese name and logo are still work in progress, Chinese media shows three logos and two Chinese names: Tengshi or Dingcheng. I’d say Denza is a mishmash of “Benz” (as the Chinese call a Mercedes) with a dash of Daimler. The logos are horrible, look at them at Carnewschina if you dare.



The first car will be standard SOP of these allegedly “Chinese” brands. Foreigners usually foist old designs and toolings on these imitation indigenous brands. Daimler won’t break that custom. According to Carnewschina, Denza’s first car will be an EV based on the old Mercedes-Benz B-class, codenamed "Tiger." Its electric powertrain will come from the BYD e6. The Tiger is expected to show its stripes at the Beijing Auto Show in late April.






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Lotus ramps up partnership with Mansory

  • Jaguar Xf

  • Hyundai Sonata

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Opel Ampera Wins Monte Carlo Rally for EVs and Alternative Propulsion

Written By Thomas Ponco on Monday, March 26, 2012 | 3:30 PM

Published March 26, 2012


By Huw Evans


While GM works at re-building the Chevy Volt’s reputation at home, across the pond in Europe, its cousin the Opel Ampera has added yet another notch to its belt.



Following on from its European Car of the Year accolade and positive sales numbers, the Ampera has also won the 13th annual Monte Carlo Rally for Electric and Alternative Propulsion vehicles.




Piloted by veteran Monte Carlo competitor Bernhard Darniche and co-driver Joseph Lambert, the #12 Team Opel France Ampera, finished first overall in the grueling two-day event, with three other Amperas (out of a total of seven examples fielded in the rally) rounding out the top 10 spots.



Besides running against the clock, the Monte Carlo Rally for Electric Vehicles and Alternative Propulsion focused on fuel economy, with organizers using a ratio based on vehicle weight, CO2 output, fuel energy density and fuel consumption to determine the final scores for each participating vehicle.



Darniche, who won the 1979 Monte Carlo Rally and has set the fastest time on the infamous Col de Turini stage on more than 10 separate occasions, was understandably pleased at the result.



“The sophisticated technology of [the Ampera] was always reliable and enabled our tremendous success,” he said.



Enno Fuchs Opel’s Director of E-Mobility added; “the Ampera’s success in this versatility contest under very challenging conditions proves its impressive balance between durability and fuel efficiency.”



Indeed.






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Anticipation Builds In UK For V60 Plug-In Diesel; US Gas Variant To Follow

Published March 26, 2012


By Huw Evans



VolvoV60PIH

Volvo V60 Plug-in Diesel Hybrid.


While British consumers are eagerly awaiting Volvo’s limited-production V60 Plug-in Diesel Hybrid wagon, in a few years Americans will also get a plug-in gas-electric crossover.



The idea of a diesel hybrid, Volvo recently told us, is not in consideration for America given the market share these vehicles have, but in the UK, the V60 was voted by one green car Web site as its “most exciting green car.”



Actually with 30-percent of the vote, the V60 received double the votes of the next favored Chevy Volt/Vauxhall Ampera which got a second-place finish of 11 percent ahead of the Citroen DS5 and Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid.



So what’s so special about the V60? The all-wheel-drive wagon costs more, but delivers more as well.



The V60 uses a 215 horsepower 2.4-liter D5 four-cylinder diesel engine, teamed with a six-speed transaxle powering the front wheels, plus a 70-horsepower electric motor drives the rear wheels. It can operate in three different modes: pure electric, hybrid and diesel engine only.



The V60 is able travel 32 miles on electric power alone before the diesel engine kicks in similar to the Ampera or Volt (EPA rated at 35 miles range). As for hybrid mode – default upon startup – the electric motor and diesel engine aim to provide the ideal balance of acceleration, fuel economy and low emissions.



In diesel mode, the V60 is said to be capable of accelerating from 0-62 mph in 6.2 seconds, while an “on demand” all-wheel drive system – besides transmitting power to the tires that need it the most depending on road conditions – also enables the electric motor to recharge the battery in AWD mode.



On paper, it sounds like the V60 PIH has a lot going for it; a solution for those that want the carrying capacity of a wagon in a car with decent performance. At the same time it stands to minimize fuel consumption and emissions, without the compromises associated with most hybrids and pure electric cars (namely adequate highway fuel consumption and limited range).



Although the V60 Plug-In Hybrid is a European proposition only, with just 1,000 cars slated to be produced before the end of the year, Volvo says it plans to ramp up production in 2013-14.



And, the good news – or consolation, depending on your preferences – is the U.S. will be getting its own derivative, the X60 Plug-In Hybrid.



In an effort to cater to North American tastes, this machine, which was previewed as a concept at the Detroit auto show earlier this year, is a crossover rather than pure station wagon.



It sports a 280-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct injected gasoline engine in lieu of the 2.4 diesel and Volvo says it will deliver around 35 miles range in pure electric mode, and will sprint from 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds. This will make it one of the best performing PIHVs on the market.



Fuel economy ratings are pitched at 105 miles per gallon equivalent and 50 mpg once the battery is exhausted. Unlike the European version, the XC60 – which is destined for China besides North America – sports an eight-speed automatic transaxle.



But alas, when we will get it is in question. Volvo has not confirmed an introduction date, but estimates place an official launch next year at the earliest; likely as a 2014 model.



Given that, these days, Volvo has a much lower profile stateside than it does in countries like the UK (as well as a smaller product portfolio), it’ll be interesting to see if the XC60 Plug-In Hybrid proves to be as anticipated as its Euro market counterpart, especially once pricing is announced. In the UK, the V60 PIH is expected to retail for around £50,000 ($79,100).



fleetnews.co.uk






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Plymouth Business Coupe Custom (1948)

V8 / 5.801 cc

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