Honda’s Next Generation Hybrid PHEV Concept Unveiled

By dancurranjr On November 30th, 2010

Honda’s next-generation hybrid features a two-motor system that continuously moves through three different modes to maximize driving efficiency: all-electric, gasoline-electric and a unique, engine direct-drive mode.

The plug-in hybrid also uses regenerative braking to charge the battery.

It is compatible with daily driving habits, allowing for short, frequent trips in all-electric mode, while providing long-distance driving capability when needed.

In all-electric mode, the vehicle uses a 6kWh lithium-ion battery and a powerful 120 kW electric motor. The all-electric mode achieves a range of approximately 10-15 miles in city driving and a top speed of 62 mph.

Fully recharging the battery will take 2 to 2.5 hours using a 120-volt outlet and 1 to 1.5 hours using a 240-volt outlet.

The vehicle can also run in a gasoline-electric hybrid mode, the platform features a fuel-efficient 2.0-liter, i-VTEC® inline 4-cylinder, Atkinson cycle engine, paired with an electric Continuously Variable Transmission (E-CVT). An onboard generator adds to the battery powering the electric motor.

For more efficient high-speed cruising, the vehicle can engage in a direct-drive mode, in which only the engine drives the front wheels.

BMW Ends Rumor, Confirms Production of Efficient Dynamics Plug-In Hybrid Concept

By dancurranjr On November 30th, 2010

It’s been pretty clear that BMW’s EfficienctDynamics concept was going to eventually result in some sort of production vehicle, but today BMW confirmed at least one variant, a diesel plug-in hybrid that will hit 60 in just 4.8 seconds while achieving 63 mpg.

Sure, this hybrid will be a toy only for the rich kids, but there are some pretty interesting developments in this plug-in hybrid that could eventually reach beyond the caviar crowd. For instance, the 1.5-liter, turbo-diesel three-cylinder engine could help spark a trend in downsized engine production, as the engine is already slated for use in other upcoming BMW vehicles. Combined with two electric motors, the EfficientDynamics production vehicle will provide 328 horsepower and offer a top speed of 150 mph.

More interesting, however, is the carbon fiber body of this coupe. As with the upcoming Megacity plug-in vehicle, carbon fiber is becoming a critical complimentary technology for BMW’s plug-in vehicles. If carbon fiber costs could be reduced and mainstreamed, the impact upon the auto industry would be massive, even revolutionary if also harnessed into battery power.

Anyway, the production version of the EfficientDynamics plug-in hybrid is expected to undergo some cosmetic changes, and AutoWeek is reporting that even a gasoline-engined version is possible for the US market. For now, however, the diesel version offers 30 miles of EV range, with the diesel engine extending range up to another 370 miles.

Expect the EfficientDynamics production plug-in vehicle to hit dealerships in October of 2013, with a price in the $150,000 range.

Firefighters Get Crash Course on Hybrid Rescues

By dancurranjr On November 30th, 2010

Hybrid-electric vehicles are showing up more often on the nation’s roads. And, in case of a crash, emergency workers first on the scene could face a new type of hazard.

When a firefighter uses the “Jaws of Life,” a car can be opened up like a tin can. Because hybrid cars have high voltage cables running through them, that could be dangerous for first responders at a crash scene.

An instructor at Mott Community Colleges automotive technology department is teaching firefighters how to safely handle those situations.

“The battery cable’s coming in from the side,” explained Matt Roda. “This is the stuff you don’t want to touch.”

Roda showed several Mid-Michigan firefighters how to disconnect the electric system on a Chevy Tahoe Hybrid.

“There’s one system for GM and a different system for Honda,” said one firefighter. “That’s where our worry is. We’re looking at things that are different with every single vehicle.”

They all have disconnects, but the location is going to be the issue. A hybrid can have as much as 300 volts of power. If a firefighter should cut the wrong cable, the result could be severe burns or even death.

By giving firefighters a primer on hybrid technology, Roda hopes to prevent injuries to firefighters and crash victims.

“These cars are safe,” Roda said. “They can extract occupants without putting themselves or occupants in danger with just a few precautions.”

Firefighters taking the class agree.

“We need to know how to disconnect the battery and make the patient safe and also our firefighters safe out there,” said Mt. Morris Assistant Fire Chief Damon Tobia.

It’s believed no firefighter has ever received an electric shock while rescuing a victim from a hybrid crash. Everyone wants to keep that record going.

Cost & CO2 Calculator Helps Choose Electric, Diesel or Hybrid Car

By dancurranjr On November 30th, 2010

As the Environmental Protection Agency struggles with how to accurately label passenger vehicles for fuel economy and greenhouse-gas emissions, a new online cost and CO2 emissions calculator launched today to help fill the void.

“Electrics, hybrids, plug-ins, all these alternative powertrain cars are a hot topic these days, but there’s not a good way to look at the bottom line of what it costs to own one of these,” said Jon Lal, founder of, a frugal-living website that offers tools to help consumers save money, including its new calculator.

The calculator allows consumers to first determine which type of alternative-drivetrain vehicle best suits their driving needs based on what state they live in, how many city and highway miles they drive, how many road trips they take each year (and at what distance) and fuel costs in their state, whether it be electricity, gas or diesel.

Using its database of 64 vehicles (four electric, eight diesel, 13 hybrid and 39 popular gas-powered cars) the calculator then allows users to make side-by-side comparisons using EPA miles-per-gallon data, manufacturers’ suggested retail prices and other factors.

Electric car operating costs are translated into an mpg equivalent, or MPGe, using individual states’ electricity costs as calculated by the U.S. Department of Energy. Electric cars’ upstream carbon dioxide emissions are also calculated using DOE data on the electricity source for each state.

According to, Washington, Idaho, Kentucky, West Virginia and Arkansas are the states with the lowest electricity rates, making electric cars most economical on a cost-per-mile basis. Vermont, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and New Hampshire are the best states in terms of electric cars’ lowest upstream CO2 emissions per kilowatt-hour.

The top two states for electric cars’ lowest operating costs and greenhouse-gas emissions: Idaho and Washington.

California ranks sixth in lowest CO2 emissions, at 0.3 tons per kilowatt-hour (versus 0.001 for Vermont). The state ranks 45th in terms of electricity cost at 15.5 cents per kilowatt-hour (versus 8.3 cents for Washington).


Toyota To Launch 11 New Hybrid Models

By dancurranjr On November 30th, 2010

The world’s top automaker Toyota Motor plans to launch 11 new hybrid models by the end of 2012, the company said Thursday, as the race to build more environmentally friendly vehicles heats up.

The planned vehicles, consisting of all-new and redesigned models, will expand Toyota’s hybrid-engine range — which runs on gasoline and electricity — at a time when rivals such as Nissan are developing all-electric vehicles.

The automaker is eyeing annual sales of more than 50,000 units for a Prius-based plug-in hybrid to be launched by early 2012 in Japan, the United States and Europe, with a price tag of around 3 million yen (36,045 dollars).

It is also planning to launch an all-electric vehicle based on its current iQ minicar, which will be introduced in Japan and Europe, with a China launch also under consideration.

Toyota’s rivals have moved to embrace the nascent electric vehicle market, with Nissan soon to launch its all-electric Leaf, which produces no tailpipe emissions — a car which has become the fulcrum of Nissan’s green ambitions.

But Toyota has so far only dipped its toes into the all-electric market, with its president Akio Toyoda last week offering a cautious outlook, citing as a major obstacle the creation of a convenient recharging system.

His comments came as Toyota showcased its “RAV4 EV” concept vehicle that is on display at the Los Angeles Auto Show in the US this month.

The all-electric version of Toyota’s RAV4 sports utility vehicle was developed with Tesla Motors, the US electric vehicle firm in which Toyota owns a 50-million-dollar stake.

The new plans come as the automaker works to rebuild an image plagued by safety recalls in the past year over unintended acceleration, engine, steering and brake problems. The recalls affected around 12 million vehicles in total.

Toyota added Thursday that it intends to introduce a fuel-cell powered sedan-type car around 2015 in the US, Europe and Japan. It is aiming for a price tag of under 10 million yen.

It is also ramping up efforts to develop next generation batteries that outperform current lithium-ion models.