Auto Tax Credits For Eco-Friendly Hybrid Cars

By dancurranjr On May 25th, 2009

irsAuto tax incentives for Hybrid cars and electric vehicles are being phased out later in 2009. However, there could be new tax credits for these eco-friendly cars. The whole purpose of these tax deductions is to reduce the amount of carbon emissions, which provide cleaner air quality.

The tax incentives started with the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which replaces the clean-fuel burning deduction with a tax credit. A tax credit is subtracted directly from the total amount of federal tax owed, thus reducing or even eliminating the taxpayer’s tax obligation. The tax credit for hybrid vehicles applies to electric vehicles purchased or placed in service on or after January 1, 2006.

The credit is only available to the original purchaser of a new qualifying vehicle. If a qualifying vehicle is leased to a consumer, the leasing company may claim the credit. The Hybrid vehicle must also have a drive train powered by both an internal combustion engine and a rechargeable battery.

This is a list of some of the models, which qualify, including the amount for the tax credit:

  • Chrysler Aspen Hybrid – $2,200
  • Dodge Durango Hybrid – $2,200
  • Ford Escape Hybrid 2WD – $3,000
  • Ford Escape Hybrid 4WD – $1,950
  • Mazda Tribute Hybrid 2WD – $3,000
  • Mazda Tribute Hybrid 4WD – $1,950
  • Mercury Mariner Hybrid 2WD – $3,000
  • Mercury Mariner Hybrid 4WD – $1,950
  • Nissan Altima Hybrid – $2,350

This is not a complete list and there might be another wave of tax credits for all-electric vehicles. Most automakers, including Ford, General Motors, Honda, and Toyota are already building new prototypes. These prototypes will enter the market in late 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Critics of the Energy Policy Act and the recent tax credits say the government should do more to help convert gasoline powered automobiles to Hybrid and electric solutions. For example, the government is already phasing out the tax credits during the economic recession. The critics feel that the tax credits should be extended for at least another 24 months.

The tax credits started with a $7,500 deduction which actually helped the new Hybrids gain respect and awareness. However, consumers can still save fuel costs as most of the new Hybrids can travel up to 50 miles without using a single drop of gasoline. As gas prices rise, drivers can switch the vehicle from gas to electric power for shorter travel rides.

GM: Hybrid Drive A Good Fit For Pickups

By dancurranjr On March 17th, 2009

gmIn today’s falling market for full-size pickups, towing capability is more important than ever, General Motors Corp. believes. And that, it says, is one reason for its recent four point gain in market share, to 42 percent, in the segment.

According to AutoTech Daily, GM figures more buyers will embrace the new hybrid-electric versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra currently being launched by the company. The new pickups are fitted with the same two-mode hybrid system — teamed with a 6.0-liter V-8 engine — offered on the 2008-model Chevy Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade hybrids.

GM says the two-mode powertrain,which has four fixed gears as well as a planetary gear that combinesthe output of the gasoline and two electric motors, is a good fit for the pickups. The additional gear ratios improve towing capacity — 6,100 pounds for two-wheel-drive versions of the Chevy/GMC pickups — including in all-electric mode at speeds up to 30 mph. Although towing capacity is down significantly from the traditionally powered counterparts (9,700 lbs for a 2wd extended cab truck), GM says its system provides more oomph than Ford and Toyota’s hybrid trucks, which top out at 3,500 and 1,000 pounds, respectively.

Refinements also have been made to other parts of the pickups to better complement the hybrid system and optimize fuel economy, which is listed at 21 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway in the two-wheel-drive model, up 40 percent in the city and 25 percent overall compared
to gasoline-only models.

The 300-volt nickel-metal hydride battery drives the 42-volt electric steering unit through a DC-to-DC converter. In addition to recharging the battery, regenerative braking helps extend the life of the regular brake linings.

The 2010 pickups also get low-rolling-resistance tires. A new exhaust system is tuned specifically for the V-8’s cylinder deactivation
system — which cuts cylinders under partial-load operation.

A new hydraulic shock mount on the cab helps reduce vibration. The feature also will be included in GM’s non-hybrid pickups. In the hybrid models, the system is teamed with a new low-noise electric cooling fan for the battery pack.

Despite the benefits, GM expects fewer than 15 percent of its full-size pickup buyers to opt for the hybrid system. This compares to a 25 percent take rate for the Escalade hybrid, which GM says is one of the highest rates for a hybrid drive in vehicles that offer it as an option. The hybrid versions of the Tahoe/Yukon account for about 15 percent of Chevy/GMC full-size SUV sales.

The two-mode hybrid system was developed in partnership with DaimlerChrysler and BMW. Chrysler briefly offered the system in the Durango and Aspen before killing both vehicles in the face of the company’s economic woes. BMW will launch its version in the new X6 crossover later this year. GM also plans to offer the system in the Saturn Vue, although the program has been delayed and is somewhat questionable considering the future of Saturn itself is in jeopardy.

SOURCE: WWJ News Radio

Review Of Review Of Chrysler’s First hybrid – The Aspen

By dancurranjr On March 8th, 2009

chrysler-aspenWhen Chrysler decided to hedge its fuel consumption bets and spruce up its green act by grafting two-mode hybrid technology to the big HEMI-powered vehicles in its family tree, it made a lot of sense.

What’s the point in making already-efficient vehicles even more miserly when they could get to the root of the problem and give the big boys a better feeding pattern?

Now, having spent some time climbing around a full-size Aspen Hybrid SUV, I can see they weren’t going out on a limb with that strategy.

There’s no denying a 5.7-litre HEMI V8 ingests fuel at a prodigious rate, but add the hybrid system and its appetite for regular gasoline decreases noticeably and you go a lot farther before you have to feed that 102-litre tank.

The technology in Chrysler’s first hybrid vehicle marries a two-mode hybrid system with the HEMI’s Multi-displacement System to give a Transport Canada city/highway consumption estimate of 10.5/9.2 L/100 km.

Aspen from Chrysler Canada didn’t live up to that estimate, it was appreciably better than what I have been able to obtain with other HEMI-powered vehicles that didn’t have hybrid help.

Capable of towing 6,000 lb., the Aspen system uses an electrically variable transmission and two different modes of operation (hence the two-mode tag). The low-and high-speed electric continuously variable transmission (ECVT) modes also incorporate four fixed-gear ratios for high efficiency and power handling. The system can use electric motors for acceleration, improving economy or for regenerative braking.

The first mode, at low speed with light loads, the vehicle can operate in electric power only, engine power only or any combination of the two. The second mode is used primarily at highway speeds. In addition to electric assist, it provides full power from the 5.7-L V8 when passing, climbing steep grades or pulling a trailer.

The driver gets some incentive to drive economically with a gauge that tells you when you’re operating in the economy” range or when you’re in full-gulp territory. I find myself trying to wring out the best possible gauge position to see how low a readout I can get from the average-consumption readout on the driver info system.

Despite holding myself to less-abrupt getaways from stoplights, and more sedate acceleration, the best figure I could achieve from the on-board computer was an average of 11.7 L/100 km combined. Even at that, it’s a whole lot better than you’d get with just the HEMI providing the propulsion for such a big vehicle.

The hybrid comes in Limited trim only, which means it’s a premium vehicle with all the trimmings.

Outside, there are chrome touches on body mouldings, door handles and side mirrors as well as 18-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels. It’s a good-looking vehicle – for a full size SUV -with pleasant proportions.

The interior of the Aspen, with tasteful use of wood accents, includes nesting for eight, but I don’t think people in the centre are going to be happy with their perches. It’s fine for six in three rows of two. The second row seating is a 40/20/40 arrangement while the third row is a 60/40 split bench. All fold down, together or separately, to create a large, efficient cargo space.

Amenities include power everything, leather seating including heat for the front buckets; UConnect GPS navigation system; electronic vehicle information centre; HomeLink transceiver, front and rear LED lamps; power adjustable pedals, park assist, rear backup camera – the list goes on. And it’s all standard.

The only options available are a power sunroof and DVD rear entertainment system. Performance add-ons include heavy duty cooling (with auxiliary oil and power steering cooler), trailer-tow group and heavy-duty service group (included with the trailer tow package). The test vehicle also added 7 and 4-pin wiring harness and Class IV hitch receiver.

The whole Limited package makes the Aspen a pleasant place in which to spend time on the highway.

Driver visibility through the big glass area is excellent and, despite its size, the Aspen demands little effort before responding to steering inputs. On-demand all-wheel-drive maintains traction when the going gets sloppy.

The suspension soaks up road imperfections, giving a smooth, well-modulated ride.

While you can induce a throaty growl from the HEMI, the powertrain goes about its regular business with a minimum of fuss.

Considering you’re pushing a great big brick through the air, wind noise is surprisingly mellow -like a breeze blowing through a stand of . . . well . . . aspens.

SOURCE: Canoe.Ca

2009 Chrysler Aspen Hybrid: The Best Vehicle You Didn’t Know About.

By dancurranjr On February 19th, 2009

2009-aspen-gaugeAutomotive manufacturer marketing teams are funny things. So often neglecting some of the most interesting vehicles in their own lineup (see: the Saturn Sky) in favour of more staid, regular performers, they toil away convincing you to buy a vehicle that you’re probably already well aware of, while relative unknowns go gently into that good night that is showroom failure and eventual cancellation. The Chrysler Aspen Hybrid is one such vehicle. In fact, one could say that the Aspen Hybrid may just be the best vehicle you don’t know about.

Having only recently stepped out of the impressive GMC Yukon Hybrid, I was eager to see how Chrysler’s competitor would stack up. Having been blown away by the effectiveness of the GM 2-Mode system in its seamless operation and reduction in fuel consumption, the Aspen promised a wholly different experience from the first flick of the wrist. While the GMC surged to life with the hearty throb of its 6.0L V8, the Aspen did absolutely nothing. The familiar flicker of a multitude of trouble lights resetting themselves was the Aspen’s response to the startup procedure, before a glowing “Ready” appeared in the gauge cluster, signifying the vehicle’s status.  Selecting drive with the column-mounted shifter, the Aspen rolled out of the parking lot with nothing more than the high-pitched whine of electric motors straining against the laws of physics.

chrysler-aspenHowever, once motivated beyond parking lot speeds, the Chrysler’s hybrid system operated with much of the same seamless, unnoticeable precision of the recently tested GMC Yukon Hybrid. Igniting the 5.7L Hemi when conditions required was done with nearly identical smoothness, and the transmission’s ability to shift like a traditional automatic under load and hold the engine at a static speed like a CVT under lighter loads seemed very familiar; familiar enough to prompt further investigation. And surely enough, there it was, in clear and precise size 12 Arial typeface among Chrysler’s 2009 Aspen press package: “Offered in the Chrysler Aspen for the first time is Chrysler’s advanced, state-of-the-art two-mode full hybrid system, developed in partnership with General Motors, Mercedes-Benz and The BMW Group.” And while Chrysler’s system is obviously slightly tweaked for use in the Aspen, there’s far more similarities than there are differences between the two. Accelerating moderately up to highway speed elicits the same CVT-style engine operation that sees the Hemi sit at a single engine speed while the Aspen seemingly speeds up around it. Mat the throttle, and the engine kicks down and shifts like any other automatic-equipped vehicle. However, the Aspen’s 2-mode system seems to be slightly more aggressive in its electric operation; opting to shut off the engine sooner when rolling up to a stop. Likewise, the Aspen’s throttle lacks the immediate response of the Yukon’s, and the multi-displacement-equipped (which is in and of itself very similiar to GM’s own cylinder deactivation technology seen in the Yukon Hybrid) 5.7L Hemi feels lazier than the quick 6.0L V8 in the GM. However, the trade off for that lazier nature is superior fuel economy, and the Aspen returned fuel mileage figures that were generally a tick or two below the Yukon’s. However, staying committed to the throttle pedal rewards with deceptive acceleration from any speed. With a combined output of 385 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque, it gathers speed like a freight train so long as you keep the pedal depressed.

Sadly, it shares a certain freight-train like quality when you stomp on the brake pedal too. With soft suspension that deserves kudos for delivering a Cadillac-like magic carpet of a ride, the entire vehicle throws itself forward, and struggles to cease forward movement. Furthermore, utilizing the obligatory regenerative braking system that hybrid’s demand, the Aspen hybrid’s brake pedal is a spongy, rubbery mess. Granted, pedal effort increases in a linear fashion, but it always feels like something, somewhere between your right foot and the substantial calipers at all four corners, is bending.

However, that brake pedal may well be the only fly in this ointment. Inside, the Aspen boasts best-in-class interior room, and all three rows offer proper, adult-sized seating. With easy-to-use tumbling seats in the second row, your’s truly managed to slide my 6’1” frame into the third row without any painful contortions. Loaded down with seven occupants for a lengthy trip out of town, not a complaint was heard from any of the seating positions, and the large, expansive windows in each seating position garnered many compliments from those enjoying the passing scenery. Equipped with quite comfortable couch-like seats that boast classy suede inserts, the Aspen’s interior is the most luxurious in Chrysler’s stable, with faux wood inserts on everything from the console to the steering wheel that put the GMC’s to shame. Likewise, the Chrysler’s use of white LED interior lighting gives it a decidedly Lexus-like ambience inside. In most ways equal to the luxury of Cadillac’s Escalade, the Aspen’s cabin is a much more friendly, airy, less busy place to be as the driver is faced with bright gauges, and far less buttons than in the Cadillac.

In fact, if the Aspen’s exterior only had the distinctly American panache of its biggest competitor, it would probably very quickly overcome its “the best vehicle you don’t know about” status. But the best is yet to come: carrying a base MSRP of just $46,120, the Aspen Hybrid undercuts its Cadillac competitor by a staggering $48,175. Costing less than half as much, yet offering up exactly the same hybrid technology and similar levels of luxury, there really isn’t much of a comparison between the two. Even putting the Aspen up against the more affordable Tahoe and Yukon hybrids seems a moot point when such discordance in price exists. And yet, with more power, more interior room, and greater practicality than nearly all its competitors, I think it’s safe to say that Chrysler’s best-kept secret is out!

Source: The Car Guide

Chrysler Begins Production of Hybrid SUVs

By dancurranjr On August 26th, 2008

Chrysler LLC’s new Hybrid Electric Vehicles began rolling off the assembly line last week at its Newark, Del. assembly plant.

Chrysler is offering the two-mode hybrid powertrain on both vehicles built at the plant, Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen. Both offer substantially improved MPG over their conventional counterparts.

In order to smoothly add one of the automotive industry’s most advanced technologies into their established build process, cross-functional launch teams conducted highly accurate, cost-effective computer simulation of new assembly processes. Similar efforts were conducted at tooling suppliers.

“The implementation of this new manufacturing process was done intelligently, with both quality and cost in mind,” said Joe Ozdowy, plant manager of Newark Assembly. “I’d like to congratulate and thank the team for their dedication while bringing these important new products to market to help satisfy the changing needs of our Dodge and Chrysler customers.”

“The members of UAW Local 1183 continue to prove that they have the expertise, the experience, the training and the professionalism to successfully accomplish the most demanding and complex work,” said Larry Dixon, President of UAW Local 1183. “This demonstration of excellence is something the men and women of UAW 1183 and UAW 1212 should be proud of.”

The production of early pilot vehicles was done on the plant’s assembly line which helped to root out anomalies early in the pre-production process, helping to ensure a higher quality launch.

Production of vehicles with the hybrid powertrain differs in several ways from production of those with conventional powertrains. New processes were implemented to accommodate HEV production, including a unique powertrain assembly process, and ergonomic-assist systems to aid in new functions, such as HEV battery installation.

There are several unique components associated with HEV production that are installed at the plant, including:

* 300-volt battery
* Two-mode transmission
* Torque power inverter module (TPIM)
* Electric air conditioning
* Auxiliary power module
* High-voltage cables (AC and DC)
* Hydro-electric power steering pump
* Hybrid gate way module
* Cooling module

The patented hybrid-electric drive system was developed at a Troy laboratory in partnership with General Motors, Daimler and BMW. It offers all-electic operations at low speeds and modest loads, and elecric assist plus cylinder deactivation during straight-and-level high-speed cruising. It also uses regenerative braking to use the energy normally dissipated as heat during braking to recharge the vehicle’s battery pack.

Pricing for the full-size 4×4 sport-utility hybrid electric vehicles is nearly $8,000 below the competition introduced earlier this year by GM. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the new 2009 Dodge Durango HEMI(R) Hybrid is $45,340, including $800 for destination. The MSRP for the new 2009 Chrysler Aspen HEMI Hybrid is $45,570, including $800 for destination. Additionally, customers are expected to receive an estimated tax credit of $1,800.