Hybrids Prove Their Value at Pump

By dancurranjr On May 29th, 2009

2010mercury-milanCall it competitive fuel efficiency.

For Chantal Dupasquier and her boyfriend, driving their new Honda Civic has become a sport of a sort. The Winnipeg couple bought the hybrid last November and, since then, they’ve been competing to see who can squeeze the most kilometres out of a litre of gasoline.

“We’ll tease each other if we get the mileage up and then we’ll encourage each other when the mileage goes down,” says Dupasquier.

“I’ll come home and I’ll be like, ‘I got the mileage down by .2!'”

While others are downsizing or turning to alternative fuels to lessen their impact on the environment, Dupasquier, 27, says they chose a hybrid for several reasons: They were looking to downsize from two vehicles, and the Civic had the safety features they wanted.

Plus the price point — less than $30,000 after the Manitoba government’s rebate — was right.

“It’s actually been a really great conversation starter, and it’s definitely great at the pump. We’re extending our gas trips by weeks,” says Dupasquier.

Hybrid vehicles use a gasoline-electric powertrain, incorporating batteries charged directly by the gas engine or by regenerative braking. By automatically shutting off the gas engine in certain driving conditions, hybrids reduce the emissions that contribute to climate change and achieve unmatched fuel-consumption rates, says Bryon Stremler, manager of Toyota Canada Inc.’s government and regulatory affairs department.

The percentage of registered female hybrid buyers is still low compared to men. According to Toyota statistics, 65 per cent of Prius buyers are male, while 81 per cent of registered Camry Hybrid owners are men.

Dupasquier says she already sees the savings. The hybrid cost $400 more than a conventional Civic after the Manitoba government’s $2,000 rebate but in six months of driving, the couple has saved almost that amount in gas.

Toyota’s Stremler says a hybrid Camry costs about $6,000 more than its conventional four-cylinder, gas-powered counterpart but, depending on what province you live in, a combination of government rebates can help shave off most of that amount.

B.C., Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba offer up to $2,000 back for the purchase of a hybrid, while P.E.I. offers the highest rebate at $3,000. Combined with the federal government’s incentive, a maximum $2,000 rebate, that’s up to $5,000 off for drivers buying or leasing a fuel-efficient vehicle.

More importantly, says Stremler, over the car’s lifetime, the hybrid will use 30 per cent less fuel — 5.7 litres per 100 kilometres driven versus 8.3 L/100 km for the Camry four-cylinder.

Hybrids aren’t the only option for those hoping to cut back on how much they pay at the pump. Smaller vehicles can also achieve respectable fuel efficiencies. The 1.5 -litre, four-cylinder Toyota Yaris is eligible for a rebate under the federal program and was rated the most fuel-efficient sub-compact under the 2007 EnerGuide award program.

SOURCE: Vancouver Sun

Honda May Release Sporty Hybrid as Replacement for S2000

By dancurranjr On May 28th, 2009

honda-crzHonda has quietly entered the hybrid market by slowly adding additional models to their lineup of cars.  From the Insight, to the Civic, to the defunct Accord hybrid, they have covered most of the car segments.  Missing is a sporty hybrid.  They are set to release their CRZ Hybrid within a year, a replacement for the long gone CRX.  But what about those who want something even sportier.

Honda is considering providing an answer.  With the S2000 Roadster departing us as Honda has chosen to nix the model, they may consider a hybrid replacement.  According to a Japan’s Best Car Magazine, Honda could release a vehicle they currently refer to as the FF-S2000.  They believe it will be powered by a 3.5liter V6 and carry all-wheel drive capability.  Apparently, Honda is considering using a KERS system that recaptures kinetic energy through the flywheel and the system could be in place with or without the company’s IMA hybrid system.

Little else is known about Honda’s sporty hybrid at this point.  We will continue to update you if we hear anything else.  Some think hybrids are all about economy, but Honda may be trying to prove that you can have performance and great gas mileage in one package.

SOURCE: All Cars Electric

Sales Tax Exemption for Hybrids Ends Soon

By dancurranjr On May 28th, 2009

irsThe states sales tax exemption for most hybrid cars will end in a few months.

The sales tax exemption for cars with highway mileage of at least 40 miles per gallon took effect Jan. 1, but was repealed during this year’s legislative session. The exemption ends Aug. 1.

Hybrid vehicles will still be exempt from the separate 0.3 percent motor vehicle sales tax until Jan. 1, 2011. New cars that run on fuels such as natural gas, propane, hydrogen or electricity will continue to be exempt from all sales taxes through Dec. 31, 2010.

GM’s New Engine To Make Its Hybrids and Plug-Ins Even More Efficient

By dancurranjr On May 28th, 2009

gmGM announced its development of a new, more efficient internal combustion engine that will eventually be used to power its lineup of hybrid and extended-range plug-in vehicles.

In the homogenous charge compression ignition engine (HCCI), the air and fuel mixture is compressed to ignite rather than using a spark. When combined with other advanced technologies, the HCCI engine provides up to 15 percent better fuel economy, according to GM.

Its fuel savings are achieved from reduced pumping losses, burning fuel faster at lower temperatures and reducing the heat energy lost during the combustion process.

This advancement is significant because it approaches the efficiency of a diesel but doesn’t require the more expensive exhaust system required to meet California’s and other “clean state” emissions standards. In other words, GM now has an engine that provides the fuel efficiency of a diesel but can be sold in all 50 states.

It will also play a key role in GM’s ability to provide even better fuel economy in its fleet of hybrid and extended-range vehicles, which still require a diesel or gasoline engine to operate.

“We’re working on a range of technologies, including vehicles powered by fuel cells, but in the mean time, we still need the internal combustion engine,” says Susan Garavaglia, spokesperson for GM.

“We’re not fully set up for plug-in electric vehicles or fuel cell vehicles. Until we get the infrastructure in place, we have to have a variety of solutions available. There will be some cities that can accommodate these new technologies, but for the rest of the public, we don’t want to leave them stranded,” she explained.

Further testing is still needed to ensure its stability in a range of operating climates, such as extreme temperatures and thinner air. Although she wouldn’t disclose a firm date for competitive reasons, Garavaglia said it should be in production vehicles in “sooner than 10 years.”


Obama Gives Plug for His Ford Hybrid

By dancurranjr On May 27th, 2009

obama-edisonPresident Barack Obama may be the only investor willing and able to keep General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC alive, but his biggest endorsement at today’s announcement on fuel economy went to Ford Motor Co.

At the end of a Rose Garden ceremony unveiling new mileage standards, Obama stepped back from the podium, then threw in an impromptu plug for his hybrid Escape sport utility vehicle.

“By the way, I just want to mention, I think I still have my Ford parked in Chicago,” Obama said. “It’s a Ford hybrid, it runs great, you guys should take a look.”

Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally, standing next to the president, pumped his fists in the air as the crowd laughed.

As he turned to leave again — perhaps realizing there were executives from nine other automakers standing behind him, including GM and Chrysler — Obama threw in one more aside.

“But there are also some outstanding hybrids and energy-independent cars represented up here, so I didn’t want to just advertise for one,” he said.

Chrysler Chief Executive Bob Nardelli and GM Chief Executive Fritz Henderson ducked out of the White House after the ceremony. Henderson headed back to the Treasury Department next door for meetings with Obama’s auto industry task force, which will decide in the coming days whether to push GM into bankruptcy.