2004-2007 Toyota Prius Hybrid Electric Water Pumps Recalled

By dancurranjr On November 30th, 2010

Toyota plans to notify 2004-2007 Prius hybrid owners in early December of a Limited Service Campaign (LSC) to replace the hybrid electric water pump, according to dealer documents reviewed by Consumer Reports.

There is a risk that air in the pump bearing could cause pump actuation to be slow, raising the coolant temperature and tripping a Check Engine light (Code: P0A93 with information code 346). This pump cools the hybrid system, not the engine.

Should the hybrid components get too hot, the Prius will enter a fail-safe mode to prevent damage, reducing power.

The work will take about 1.2 hours and be performed by Toyota dealerships at no charge. There are approximately 378,000 Prius hybrids in the United States impacted by this action.

This program will be offered until November 30, 2013.

If your Check Engine light is illuminated, have the code checked and vehicle serviced appropriately to avoid potential problems.

For more information, owners may contact Toyota at: 1-800-331-4331.

One in Five Honda Sales In Japan Will Be Hybrids by 2011

By dancurranjr On November 30th, 2010

Honda plans for hybrids to account for about 23 percent of its Japanese sales in fiscal year 2011, according to a report from Japan’s Nikkei over the weekend. The new target represents an increase to nearly 150,000 annual domestic hybrid sales—supported by the introduction of a new hybrid gas-electric wagon, based on the Honda Fit, and the company’s first hybrid minivan.

Honda debuted its new two-motor hybrid system for mid-size cars, at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Honda appears determined to reclaim its leading position on hybrids by introducing these new models—and developing a full range of electric-drive technology including full hybrids, plug-in hybrids and pure electric cars. At the recent 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show, the company announced its intentions to produce an all-electric Fit, as well as a two-motor hybrid system with plug-in capability, both by 2012.

Honda’s current hybrid system, known as Integrated Motor Assist (IMA), is considered a mild hybrid with limited capability to directly power the wheels. Most analysts believe Honda’s reliance on IMA has limited its ability to fully enter the market for competitive hybrids and electric cars. Honda’s new technology and models, and its aggressive sales targets for Japan, reveal a more comprehensive vehicle electrification strategy. “We have an IMA system for our smaller cars, the Insight, the CR-Z, and the Civic [Hybrid], and this new [plug-in] platform, which we’ll be able to utilize on larger vehicles,” said William Walton, manager of product planning at Honda.

In February, Reuters reported that Honda is developing a hybrid system suitable for larger cars such as the Odyssey minivan the Pilot sports utility vehicle. At that time, Tomohiko Kawanabe, Honda’s chief operating officer for automobile research and development, said, “We’ve left the research stage and entered the field of development.” He said these vehicles could hit the U.S. market around 2013.
Honda Freed minivan

Honda will introduce a hybrid version of its Freed small minivan in Japan in late 2011. While there’s no sign that the Freed hybrid or Honda Fit Hybrid are coming to the U.S., the company is expanding its hybrid technology for greater compatibility with larger vehicles.

Honda launched the Fit Hybrid in Japan last month—at a price below all other available hybrids—but it’s uncertain if it will be sold in the United States. A wagon version of the Fit Hybrid, roughly 20 inches longer than the standard Fit platform, will be launched in March 2011. Later in the year, Honda plans to introduce a hybrid version of the Freed small minivan. At that point, Honda will have five hybrids on the market in Japan. The company is expecting to discontinue domestic sales of the Civic Hybrid.

Honda Goes Back to the Future

The new Honda two-motor system opens the possibility for full hybrids (with or without a plug), but so far Honda is only talking in general terms about a mid-size plug-in hybrid and the Fit EV. “Plug-in hybrid technology is a bridge technology leading us to ultimately CO2-free vehicles,” Walton said. The Honda two-motor system continuously shifts between three different modes to maximize efficiency: all-electric, gasoline-electric and a “engine direct-drive mode,” in which only the engine drives the wheels during high-speed driving.

The plug-in hybrid uses a 6 kWh lithium-ion battery, a 120 kW electric motor, and a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine with a Continuously Variable Transmission (E-CVT). The all-electric mode achieves a range of approximately 10-15 miles in city driving and a top all-electric speed of 62 miles per hour. 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.

Japanese subsidies for fuel-efficient cars, as well as high gas prices, have invigorated domestic hybrid sales and have helped make the Toyota Prius the top-selling car in Japan for nearly two years. In 2009, hybrid sales in Japan surpassed the United States to become the largest hybrid market in the world—despite Japan selling about one-third as many total vehicles per year.

Source: Hybrid Cars

Study Says Interest in Hybrid and Electric Vehicles Rising

By dancurranjr On November 29th, 2010

A new survey by Consumer Reports, the American monthly published by Consumers Union, has found that despite recent reports of a decline in sales of hybrid and electric vehicles, interest in them is actually on the rise.

According to the magazine, 39 percent of 1,713 new car buyers polled by Consumer Reports’ National Research Centre said they are considering purchasing either a hybrid or an electric vehicle, with the majority of those shoppers — 60 percent — considering a standard hybrid.

By comparison, only 14 percent of new car buyers said they are currently considering diesel-powered cars. Of those, the vast majority — 57 percent — said they would use bio-diesel fuel.

The survey also found that 16 percent are interested in a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle while 14 percent are interested in an electric car.

Still, 94 percent find green cars in general lacking in some way, citing a high purchase price, inadequate energy infrastructure, and limited driving range as chief concerns.

Among the survey respondents, men strongly favour plug-in hybrids and electric cars while women see greater appeal in regular hybrids.

Overall, 63 percent expect to get a significant increase in fuel economy, regardless of the type of vehicle they buy. Only 67 percent said they are considering a traditional gasoline engine in their next new-car purchase, which may reflect a growing optimism regarding the availability of competitive green cars.

In addition to hybrids and electric cars, a significant number of consumers also said they would consider other alternative fuels:

• 35 percent said they would consider a flexible-fuel vehicle, one that can run on either gasoline or E85, which is a mixture of 85 percent renewable ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

• 19 percent said they would consider natural gas or propane—a fuel resource that is abundant in North America. Currently, there are very few vehicles equipped to run on natural gas and the infrastructure is limited.

• 16 percent would consider a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle. This, despite that fact that only a tiny number of fuel-cell cars are being leased to customers in selected regions, and no automakers have announced imminent plans to mass produce such cars.

Of those surveyed consumers believed electric cars to be the “greenest” vehicles, while the number one reason given for switching to a green car wasn’t environmental concerns, but reducing dependence on foreign oil, with a 26 percent response rate compared to 21 percent.

SOURCE: Renewable Energy Magazine

Neil Young’s Hybrid Car Set Warehouse Aflame

By dancurranjr On November 29th, 2010

Neil Young’s plans to convert his beloved 1959 Lincoln Continental from a gas-guzzler into a fuel-efficient hybrid have gone up in smoke, along with roughly $850,000 in his possessions, reports the Associated Press.

According to officials, the LincVolt, which underwent a much-publicized makeover — there was a Web site, Lincvolt.com, and a four-part film series — caught on fire and triggered a blaze that spread throughout the San Francisco Bay area warehouse where the songwriter had been storing valuables and memorabilia.

Fire crews were able to save about 70 percent of the goods, but the car was damaged.