Nissan Plans To Start Selling Electric Car in Seattle Next Year

By dancurranjr On April 29th, 2009

nissan-sdge-san-diegoSeattle will be one of the first cities where Nissan sells a new electric car, and the city will help make the vehicles viable here, officials from the city and auto maker said Tuesday.

The new plug-in vehicle will be able to exceed highway speed limits, go 100 miles on a charge and recharge in four to eight hours using a 220-volt line, similar to those for clothes dryers, said Mark Perry, director of product planning for Nissan North America.

It will seat five, be similar in size to Nissan’s Versa and Sentra and be affordable to a typical family, he said. “We think the market is ready. We think the consumers are ready.”

In an agreement between Nissan and the city of Seattle, the automaker says it intends to sell the cars in the Seattle area and work with government and other organizations and companies on a plan to promote the cars and creation of a network of charging facilities.

Seattle says it intends to help develop the charging network; consider incentives for buying and using the cars, and creating charging stations; consider regulatory changes to support the cars, such as streamlined permitting for installing charging outlets; and consider leasing or buying the cars for its fleet.

Electric cars are part of the electrification of the city’s transit system — along with trackless trolleys, streetcars and light rail — helping lessen dependence on foreign oil and reduce pollution, Mayor Greg Nickels said. “Our transportation system today is about 98 and a half percent based on burning fossil fuels.”

Gregg Small, executive director of environmental nonprofit Climate Solutions, said electric cars could be a big part of achieving energy independence and addressing climate change, if done in conjunction with energy conservation.

“If we do things the wrong way, that’s going to mean building more power plants, more dirty coal plants,” he said.

Nissan plans to roll out the car in 12 to 15 markets next year, Perry said. He said company officials chose Seattle because the population is “at the forefront of really living its environmental ethos” and because the city runs on clean hydroelectric power.

The company will concentrate on getting charging facilities in homes and workplaces, because that’s where cars are most of the time, and 98 percent of trips are within the car’s 100-mile range, Perry said.

It will also look at other places, such as garages, gyms, movie theaters and museums, to ease consumer concerns about running out of juice, he said. “These public charging stations are really the pill to solve the disease we call range anxiety.”

The stations will have a standardized outlet that will accommodate other companies’ plug-in cars, Nickels said. “We would welcome any other manufacturers of this kind of technology to come here, and we would expect that infrastructure to work for any of the manufacturers.”

Perry would not say just what the car would cost or how many the company planned to offer in Seattle next year, other than: “It’s going to be way more than two.”

The city has not committed to buying plug-in cars, although it is modifying some hybrid Toyota Priuses to be plug-ins, Nickels said. “We will take a look at the products and see how they meet our business needs.”

Dan Davids, president of Plug In America, drove his plug-in Toyota RAV4 to Tuesday’s news conference and lauded Nissan’s announcement.

“Hats off to Nissan. They are doing it right,” he said. “By committing to all-electric, it shows their confidence that the technology is ready.”

Davids said his family meets its need for longer trips by also owning a hybrid Prius.

“I realize not everybody has two cars in their household, but a lot of America does,” he said, adding that other options included renting a car when needed or using a flex-car program.

SOURCE: Seattle PI

Pricing for 2010 Lexus RX Hybrid Announced

By dancurranjr On April 28th, 2009

2010-lexus-rx-450hToyota announced pricing today for two of its luxury division’s most highly anticipated vehicles, the redesigned 2010 Lexus RX hybrid and the all-new 2010 Lexus IS Convertible.

Surprising news for the RX hybrid is that the all-new 2010 model will actually start at a lower price than the 2008 model (Toyota skipped the 2009 model year for the RX hybrid).  A front-wheel drive 2010 Lexus RX 450h costs $42,535 (all prices include destination fees), a decrease of $420 compared with the last-gen model.  The all-wheel drive version of the 2010 RX 450h adds a $1590 premium.  Both versions are significantly more expensive than their non-hybrid brethren, which check in at $37,675 (front-wheel drive) and $39,075 (all-wheel drive), respectively.

Both RX hybrid models come standard with an updated version of Lexus’ Hybrid Drive system, which features a 3.5-liter Atkinson-cycle V-6 and lighter electric motors than last year’s models.  Lexus claims the RX 450h’s powertrain offers performance “similar to V-8” engines, with “better combined fuel economy than the average four-cylinder midsize sedan.”  The EPA estimates 32 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway for fwd models, with two fewer miles-per-gallon in the city for all-wheel drive models.

Available options for the RX include hard disc drive navigation with voice recognition and a remote touch controller, auxiliary USB inputs, Bluetooth capability, a rear seat entertainment system with two high-definition seven-inch displays mounted in the front seatbacks and a heads-up display.

The 2010 Lexus IS convertible will come in two flavors, the IS 250C and the IS 350C.  Both models feature a three-panel roof made of lightweight aluminum that opens in 20 seconds.  The powertrains from the IS sedans are carried over here: for the IS 250C, a 2.5-liter 204-hp V-6 with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic, and a 3.5-liter 306-hp V-6 with a six-speed automatic for the IS 350C.

The IS 250C will cost $39,365 with a manual transmission or $40,535 with an automatic transmission, and the IS 350C will cost $44,815.  For comparison, a rear-wheel drive 2009 IS 250 with a manual transmission is priced at $32,180.

Toyota says all the body panels of the IS were “designed to blend seamlessly with the new three-panel folding roof” except the hood, which is carried over from the sedan.  Lexus puts the drag coefficient of the convertible at 0.29, versus 0.27 for the sedan.  The convertible also gets new taillights, and a convenient one-touch automatic ingress-egress to access the rear seats.

The best news yet: we won’t have to wait long for either Lexus.  The IS convertible will go on sale at the end of May, and the RX hybrid will follow not long after.

SOURCE: Automobile

Bill Will Study How to Make Hybrids Safe for the Blind

By dancurranjr On April 26th, 2009

blindSenators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) have introduced a bill that will require the Department of Transportation to conduct a study about how to protect the blind from silent vehicles — like hybrids are when running on electricity, before the engine kicks in.

As hybrid and electric cars become more prevalent, there will be more cars on the road with electric drivetrains that make no sound at certain times, like when coming to a stop at a light or while sitting idle. This can be very dangerous for the blind, who rely on engine noise to judge the distance, speed and whereabouts of cars as they navigate roads and crosswalks.

The co-authors of the bill point out that silent cars like hybrids — and presumably future fully electric-powered cars — can also be a danger to people with perfectly good eyesight, such as bicyclists and small children.

It’s also fair to point out that safety advocates have been talking about this issue for a while. The National Federation for the Blind applauded the bill, known as the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2009. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood will be tasked with funding and conducting the study.

SOURCE: Kicking Tires

Hybrid Car Tax Credit Information

By dancurranjr On April 26th, 2009

irsThe Ford Motor Company has reached a milestone when it comes to hybrids, and that milestone could affect your decision if you plan on going down that road.

Ford has now sold more than 60,000 hybrids.

In fact, the company has sold 66,157. That means you can no longer claim the full tax credit that you used to be able to claim on a vehicle like that.

In fact, you can now only claim half the amount, and there’s a limit on that too. You have to buy the vehicle before September 30th.

After that, you can just claim 25 percent of the full credit, and starting April 1,2010, you can claim nothing.

So, the sooner you act on this, the bigger tax credit you’ll get.

I’ve posted below a list from the Ford Motor Company, estimating how much a tax credit you can get. This is the full amount, so you’ll have to deduct a percentage, depending on when you plan to buy.

  • 2005, 2006, 2007 Ford Escape 2WD, $2,600;
  • 2008, 2009 Ford Escape 2WD, $3,000;
  • 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 Ford Escape 4WD, $1,950;
  • 2008 Ford Escape 4WD, $2,200;
  • 2010 Ford Fusion, $3,400;
  • 2008, 2009 Mercury Mariner 2WD, $3,000;
  • 2006, 2007, 2009 Mercury Mariner 4WD, $1,950;
  • 2008 Mercury Mariner 4WD, $2,200;
  • 2010 Mercury Milan, $3,400

Source: WRDW

Ford to Speed up Development of Hybrids, Electric Vehicles

By dancurranjr On April 26th, 2009

ford-escape-hybridFord Motor Co. has decided to speed up the development of lithium-ion battery systems for a new generation of hybrids and electric vehicles, according to a report by Detroit News yesterday.

Susan Cischke, Ford group vice president in charge of sustainability, was quoted as saying that the company is strongly positioned to accelerate its electric vehicle strategy this year.

Susan said the company is working with battery suppliers and university researchers and it expects to begin building hybrids and electric vehicles next year.

Ford expects lithium-ion batteries to be 5 percent more energy efficient than the nickel-metal hydride cells it uses today, and says these batteries will cost about 30 percent less to manufacture.

SOURCE: PhilStar