Audi Announces Plans for Q5 Hybrid Crossover

By dancurranjr On January 12th, 2010

The automotive show circuit is in full swing and many new concepts and production models are being unveiled around the world. Several of the new concepts and unveilings are hybrid or electric vehicles designed for better fuel economy.

Toyota recently unveiled the concept for a new subcompact hybrid vehicle selling for less than the Prius and promising better fuel economy. The new subcompact is expected to hit showroom floors in 2012 with production set to start in late 2011. Audi has also confirmed its first hybrid vehicle is coming to market in the first part of 2011.

The hybrid is the Q5 and the vehicle is a 4-door “crossover” SUV. The hybrid is expected to debut officially at the 2010 L.A. Auto Show and then hit dealers in early 2011. Audi isn’t offering much detail on the Q5 other than to say the vehicle is coming.

Autoblog figures that the Q5 will use components from the hybrid versions of the VW Touareg and Porsche Cayenne. The vehicle is expected to use a lithium-ion battery pack.

Along with the official Q5 announcement, Audi also announced that it plans to expand its line from 34 vehicles to 42 by 2015. Among the notable new models coming in 2010 are the A1, A7, an all-new A8, and a convertible version of the R8 called the R8 Spyder.

SOURCE: Daily Tech

Lexus HS 250h “Luxury Hybrid” Wins Five Stars For Safety

By dancurranjr On January 11th, 2010

The Lexus 2010 HS 250h hybrid–i.e., “the world’s first dedicated luxury hybrid”–has a new claim to fame: it’s been awarded five out of five stars by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for safety.

The New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), a consumer information program created by NHTSA, rates vehicles to determine crash and rollover safety, gathering info through controlled crash and rollover tests. Lexus says the body structure of the HS 250h plays a key role in its fundamental safety characteristics, citing high tension steel components located in the body structure, doors and other key areas to help absorb and distribute energy in the event of a crash.

The Lexus HS 250h’s five star rating takes into account both the front impact for the driver and front passenger positions as well as side impact for the driver and left rear passenger positions.

Of course, if you’re interested in actual gas mileage, the Lexus HS 250h only gets 35 mpg in the city, opposed to the Prius’ 48–but that’s still 80 percent better than ”the average near luxury [?] car,” according to Lexus.

SOURCE: Earth Techling

Volvo C30 Electric Car

By dancurranjr On January 10th, 2010

Volvo has now released more details of the all-electric C30 concept car it will launch at next week’s 2010 Detroit Auto Show. We covered early details a couple of weeks ago; here’s the rest of the story on the little electric hatchback with no tailpipe.

The electric C30 concept car will let the Swedish automaker assess the viability of a limited-range all-electric vehicle, and how it’s used under real-world driving conditions.

Volvo expects to release 50 of the cars to consumers around the world, starting late this year. Its plan follows the pattern used by BMW for its Mini E, which it plans to replicate with the ActiveE concept, an electric model of the 1-Series sedan it will show in Detroit as well.

90-mile range

Volvo quotes an eight-hour recharging time for its 24-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, assuming standard European 230-Volt power. (That time could double using U.S. 110-Volt current; U.S. drivers will likely have to install a 240-Volt circuit, like those used for electric stoves and clothes driers.)

The pack is located in the tunnel between the seats and in the space formerly occupied by the gasoline tank. It powers an electric motor under the hood that drives the front wheels, just as on the standard 2010 Volvo C30.

Volvo quotes acceleration of “less than 11 seconds” from 0 to 62 mph. Top speed is limited to roughly 80 mph, and the range is approximately 90 miles–a distance that fewer than 10 percent of vehicles in Europe and the U.S. travel each day.

Plug-in hybrids to be “main track”

Lennart Stegland, Director of Volvo Cars Special Vehicles, says, the company expects electric cars “primarily to be used in and around cities and for daily commuting.”

Volvo also plans to introduce diesel and hybrid models that will be sold starting in 2012, although likely in small numbers at first. But it calls plug-in hybrids its “main electrification track” rather than battery electric vehicles.

From its point of view, plug-in hybrids offer long range and good environmental performance, but lower battery cost. The pack in the plug-in hybrid, says Volvo, will be just 12 kilowatt-hours.

SOURCE: Green Car Reports

Toyota Plans Smaller, Cheaper Hybrid

By dancurranjr On January 3rd, 2010

Toyota will introduce a new hybrid next month that is smaller and more affordable than the Prius, reports the Detroit News. The hybrid-only subcompact is expected to go into production in 2011 and be in US showrooms by early 2012.

Toyota, which will offer a peek Jan. 11 at the North American International Auto Show, expects it to be a big seller. Prius currently rules the market: With a starting price of $22,400, about 417,000 had been sold through October.

“It’ll be interesting to see what they name it,” said an analyst at “The Prius name has such cachet in the marketplace.”

Diesel Hybrids Deliver Big Savings to UPS

By dancurranjr On January 2nd, 2010

Score one for diesel hybrids.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory got its hands on six hybrid vans that United Parcel Service is using, and after testing them nine ways from Sunday found diesel-electric technology improved fuel economy more than 28 percent. What’s more, it cost significantly less per mile to operate while delivering the same reliability and performance as conventional diesel vans.

The federal eggheads spent a year analyzing fuel economy, maintenance and vehicle performance data for six first-generation hybrid UPS vans developed by Eaton Corp. It’s no surprise a delivery service would be eager to give diesel-electric tech a try — UPS must spend money by the truckload on fuel — and the NREL joined UPS in putting the trucks through their paces in Phoenix.

So why’d they team up for the research?

Because the Eaton parallel hybrid system was developed in part under a $7.5 million, 33-month contract from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Heavy-Hybrid Propulsion System program. The feds like the technology because it increases fuel economy and reduces emissions, and they wanted to see what we got for the money.

“Having provided funding for the development of the Eaton hybrid system, DOE was eager to participate in testing the system in a commercial fleet,” Lee Slezak, manager of the advanced heavy-hybrid program, said in a statement. “Our goal is to help develop more efficient vehicle technologies and then document their on-road performance.”

The feds compared six diesel-hybrid vans to six diesel vans. According to the lab’s report, the hybrids delivered 28.9 percent better fuel economy, averaging 13.1 mpg to the diesels’ 10.2 mpg. Maintenance costs were about the same, but the diesels showed slightly better reliability — a factor the researchers chalk up to “troubleshooting and recalibration issues” associated with prototype components.

The hybrids were driven 15 percent fewer miles per day, which the feds attribute to the fact the diesel-electrics were assigned to urban routes where they made more stops per mile and spent more time at low speeds or idling. Overall, the hybrids delivered a 15 percent improvement in total cost per mile.

UPS is, as you’d expect, quite pleased with the results.

“NREL’s report on the performance of our hybrid delivery vehicles is helping make this type of energy-efficient vehicle a standard in the industry,” said Robert Hall, the company’s director of maintenance and engineering. He’s hoping the findings speed up market acceptance of the technology.

Eaton supplied the hybrid propulsion systems for the vans, which were manufactured by Freightliner. The system uses an Eaton automated transmission with an integrated motor-generator and lithium-ion batteries. The electric bits are mated to a four-cylinder Mercedes-Benz diesel engine — the same one used in the conventional vans.

UPS must like what it sees, because the delivery company just ordered another 200 Eaton hybrid vans.