Tesla Confirms Model S Plug-in Hybrid Sedan

By dancurranjr On August 26th, 2008

Earlier this month, Tesla confirmed that it has started work on a second model, the followup to the long-awaited electric-powered Roadster. The car, a family-sized four-door sedan previously known as “Whitstar” in rumors now has a name: Model S.

Although Tesla is best known for its work with electric cars, the new Model S will be dramatically different than the vehicle that preceded it. The key differentiator is, new sedan won’t be a pure electric vehicle using battery power alone. Instead, Tesla is opting to make it a plug-in hybrid, which will feature a standard internal combustion engine (most likely gasoline-powered) as a method of recharging its lithium-ion batteries, much like the Chevrolet Volt.

Tesla also confirmed a couple of the Model S’ key specifications, such as that it would have a range of 224 miles, and that it will sell for $60,000. Though Tesla hasn’t confirmed when the car will be produced, it is expected to arrive in late 2010, and will be assembled in the state of California.

California isn’t exactly known for producing automobiles, but Tesla opted to build the Model S in the Golden State due to a tax rebate, which would allow Tesla to obtain a tax exemption when purchasing equipment for building electric vehicles. This is expected to save Tesla millions, and is sure to come in handy for further research and development.

Source: Automobile.com

Chrysler Begins Production of Hybrid SUVs

By dancurranjr On August 26th, 2008

Chrysler LLC’s new Hybrid Electric Vehicles began rolling off the assembly line last week at its Newark, Del. assembly plant.

Chrysler is offering the two-mode hybrid powertrain on both vehicles built at the plant, Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen. Both offer substantially improved MPG over their conventional counterparts.

In order to smoothly add one of the automotive industry’s most advanced technologies into their established build process, cross-functional launch teams conducted highly accurate, cost-effective computer simulation of new assembly processes. Similar efforts were conducted at tooling suppliers.

“The implementation of this new manufacturing process was done intelligently, with both quality and cost in mind,” said Joe Ozdowy, plant manager of Newark Assembly. “I’d like to congratulate and thank the team for their dedication while bringing these important new products to market to help satisfy the changing needs of our Dodge and Chrysler customers.”

“The members of UAW Local 1183 continue to prove that they have the expertise, the experience, the training and the professionalism to successfully accomplish the most demanding and complex work,” said Larry Dixon, President of UAW Local 1183. “This demonstration of excellence is something the men and women of UAW 1183 and UAW 1212 should be proud of.”

The production of early pilot vehicles was done on the plant’s assembly line which helped to root out anomalies early in the pre-production process, helping to ensure a higher quality launch.

Production of vehicles with the hybrid powertrain differs in several ways from production of those with conventional powertrains. New processes were implemented to accommodate HEV production, including a unique powertrain assembly process, and ergonomic-assist systems to aid in new functions, such as HEV battery installation.

There are several unique components associated with HEV production that are installed at the plant, including:

* 300-volt battery
* Two-mode transmission
* Torque power inverter module (TPIM)
* Electric air conditioning
* Auxiliary power module
* High-voltage cables (AC and DC)
* Hydro-electric power steering pump
* Hybrid gate way module
* Cooling module

The patented hybrid-electric drive system was developed at a Troy laboratory in partnership with General Motors, Daimler and BMW. It offers all-electic operations at low speeds and modest loads, and elecric assist plus cylinder deactivation during straight-and-level high-speed cruising. It also uses regenerative braking to use the energy normally dissipated as heat during braking to recharge the vehicle’s battery pack.

Pricing for the full-size 4×4 sport-utility hybrid electric vehicles is nearly $8,000 below the competition introduced earlier this year by GM. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the new 2009 Dodge Durango HEMI(R) Hybrid is $45,340, including $800 for destination. The MSRP for the new 2009 Chrysler Aspen HEMI Hybrid is $45,570, including $800 for destination. Additionally, customers are expected to receive an estimated tax credit of $1,800.

Source: WWJ.com

Hybrid Batteries Spark Waste Fears in Australia

By dancurranjr On August 25th, 2008

Australia has no ability to environmentally dispose of the batteries from the Toyota Camry hybrids whose production has been championed by Kevin Rudd.

Labor in Victoria, where the cars will be built, has conceded a “current hole” in the nation’s recycling policies means there is no capacity to environmentally dispose of the nickel-metal hydride car batteries from the 10,000 hybrid cars to be produced by Toyota every year from the start of 2010.

Victorian Environment Minister Gavin Jennings appeared to concede that the hybrid Camry batteries, which can weigh more than 50kg and cost several thousand dollars, “may ultimately end up within the waste stream”. The admissions prompted Opposition claims that Victoria would be faced with tens of thousands of used hybrid car batteries over the next decade, with no sustainable way of disposing of them.

“The Government is busy basking in the benefits of this policy while leaving the environment to pick up the tab,” said Liberal MP Andrea Coote.

In June, the Prime Minister and Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe announced in Japan that Toyota Australia would produce 10,000 petrol-electric hybrid Camrys a year at its Altona plant in Melbourne from 2010.

Mr Rudd promised Toyota $35million from its new Green Car Innovation Fund, a figure immediately matched by the state Labor Government.

Under questioning in state parliament last week, Mr Jennings said he was happy Ms Coote had “been astute enough to pick up what might be a current hole in the resource efficiency capability of not only Victoria but also the nation”.

Mr Jennings said he welcomed “encouragement to deal with a whole-of-life issue concerning products that may ultimately end up within the waste stream”.

He said the current volume of hybrid Camrys, given that production does not start until 2010, was “very low in terms of the Australian marketplace”.

The state Government would look at ways of tackling the issue.

“I am happy to look at local-based regulation and market mechanisms, but also harmonisation with other jurisdictions across the nation, to try to make sure we have the appropriate investment and regulatory environment, whether that be most appropriate in state or national jurisdictions,” he said.

Ms Coote said the Government was “clearly more focused on collecting accolades than the environmental issues associated with their policy”.

“In the next decade, Victoria will be faced with tens of thousands of dead hybrid car batteries, with no environmentally sustainable way of disposing of them,” she said.

But Mr Jennings said the Opposition criticism showed it was opposed to the production of environmentally friendly cars.

“I want Victoria to lead the way nationally in developing a clear framework for identifying when and what products require recycling at the end of their use, including car batteries, and the most appropriate market or regulatory approach to achieve that,” he said.

According to Sustainability Victoria, rechargeable batteries, including nickel-metal hydride, are collected by a waste disposal company. Australia does not have the technology and services required to recycle these batteries, so they are processed overseas by a French company that “specialises in the recovery of nickel and cadmium to a strict environmental standard”.

The federal Government is considering its response to former Victorian premier Steve Bracks’s review of the automotive industry, handed in earlier this month.

Ford, one of three companies that manufacture cars in Australia, yesterday pressed its case for a delay in tariff reductions in a private meeting at Parliament House between its global chief executive, Alan Mullaly, and Mr Rudd.

Mr Mullaly was invited to make a presentation to Mr Rudd by Industry Minister Kim Carr during his visit to Detroit in June.

“The judgment was it was a good opportunity to visit Australia and to discuss what is being considered in terms of the future policy arrangements applying to the industry and the perspective of a key participant,” Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries chief executive Andrew McKellar said yesterday.

Source: The Australian News

Are Hybrid and Electric Cars Too Quiet?

By dancurranjr On August 25th, 2008

Electric and hybrid vehicles may be good for the environment, but a California lawmaker says they’re bad news for the blind. State Sen. Alan Lowenthal, a Long Beach Democrat, is pushing a bill aimed at ensuring that the vehicles make enough noise to be heard by the blind and visually impaired when they’re about to cross a street.

The state Senate approved the bill Tuesday on a 23-12 vote and sent it to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has not taken a position.

It would establish a committee to study the issue and recommend ways the vehicles could make more noise. The recommendations would be due by 2010.

The state Department of Motor Vehicles says there are 248,000 gas-electric hybrid vehicles and 89,000 all-electric vehicles on the road in California. State traffic officials say they don’t keep statistics on pedestrian accidents involving hybrid or electric vehicles.

Source: San Jose Mercury News

Many Trading in Gas Guzzlers for Better Fuel Efficiency

By dancurranjr On August 24th, 2008

Belinda Lafferty of Monticello has joined the many drivers who are buying smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles because of the high price of gasoline.”I was on this almost two years ago when I got rid of my Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited for a brand new Toyota Yaris-S, which gets about 40 miles per gallon,” she said earlier this week.

“I commute from Monticello to Lafayette five days a week, so this has been a great investment for me. I will never go back.”Lafferty participated in an informal reader survey that asked people if they have bought a more fuel-efficient vehicle or are thinking about buying one.

Going For Groceries!

Going For Groceries!

In June, overall car sales in the United States fell 18.3 percent, according to Autodata Corp. — the worst June in 17 years.However, sales of the smaller, fuel-efficient models were up for GM, Ford, Honda and Toyota. Kia reported a 7.6 percent increase in June, according to Autodata Corp.

Consumer Reports magazine tested and rated smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles in June. The Toyota Prius base hybrid model the magazine’s staff tested led in overall miles per gallon with 44.The U.S. Department of Energy’s fuel efficiency site, www.fueleconomy.gov, rates the Prius hybrid at 48 miles per gallon in the city and 45 miles per gallon on the highway.

Consumer Reports also gave high ratings to models offered by Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, Kia, Mini Cooper and Mazda.Nate Barrett of Twin City Dodge Chrysler said people visit his showroom and start asking about gas mileage first.

“It is on people’s minds,” he said. “Even as gas comes down, people don’t feel it will get significantly lower.”They ask what our best offering is for fuel efficiency and ask about how they can maximize their gas mileage.”He said Chrysler and Dodge offer several cars that get at least 30 mpg on the highway. He said the 2009 models will include two hybrid SUVs — a Dodge Durango and a Chrysler Aspen.

Caterpillar engineer Robert Fultz said he has checked out two hybrids — a Toyota Prius and a Honda Civic. He is seriously considering buying one of them.He drives a full-size Toyota Tundra pickup, and his wife drives a Mazda minivan. They have two children.

“The technology behind the hybrid vehicles is phenomenal, and not many other cars can compete yet,” he said.”It is a real interesting time in the automotive world. People are moving away from the internal combustion engine and getting in tune with electric and hybrid, and fuel cell vehicles.”

David Hucks of Newtown said he recently traded a Ford F150 pickup truck for a Toyota Camry.”I have driven a truck for over 20 years, but no more,” he said.”Now I’m just looking for a junky truck to haul stuff around for my property, but driving a nice truck on a daily basis is in the past.”

Romney resident Butch Corbin said he is not buying a new, smaller car.

However, he is fixing up a 1990 Toyota truck to commute to work, instead of a gas-guzzling minivan. He estimated that he saves about $120 to $140 per month.”When gas hit the highs it did this summer, my old, beat-up, rusty truck started to look pretty good,” he said. “See, it gets much better gas mileage than the minivan — 35 mpg versus 20 mpg.

“Needless to say, the old truck has been cleaned up, new brakes, new shocks, tuned up, and it now gets driven daily, while the minivan goes for a spin once or twice a month.”John Taylor of Oxford said he traded his Z06 Corvette in on a 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt.

“I don’t really want to drive it much myself, but as it gets an average of 29 mpg, it’s great for my daughter. The Z06 did get 30 down the highway, by the way,” he said.Lafayette’s Jimmy and Tish Golmicz said they traded in a 2006 Ford Expedition SUV for a 2008 Escape Hybrid. They said they now get 28 miles per gallon, instead of 12 miles per gallon.

“Although I miss the luxury of the Expedition, I love being able to pass a gas station,” she said.”In May, we also traded in my husband’s (Ford) E-250 work van, and he now drives a Ford Focus. He went from getting 9 mpg to getting 36 mpg.”

Source: JC Online