Will the SX4 Be India’s First Affordable Hybrid Car?

By dancurranjr On December 16th, 2010

Back in October we showed you the two green cars from Maruti Suzuki – the SX4 Hybrid and EECO charge. Both cars were not meant for commercial purposes and were being used for the display and demonstration during the Common Wealth Games. But it is not impossible to believe that MSIL is not considering both these cars for a commercial launch.

The SX4 Hybrid is something that generated a lot of interest, even when it was displayed at the 2010 Auto Expo. This car is powered by the 1.2 liter K Series engine (from the Maruti Ritz) as compared to the 1.6 liter engine on the normal SX4. It also gets a 50 KW electric motor that gets its juice from a 2.35 Kwh Lithium-Ion battery.

This car has a parallel hybrid system (like the Honda Civic Hybrid), though a plug-in version will be an attractive feature for India. The car features regenerative braking system in which braking power of the car is converted to electricity (kinetic energy into electric energy) and stored in the Lithium-Ion batteries which the electric motors can then use to propel the car over longer distances.

The car has a 5 speed Automated transmission. It also has a dual clutch system that features one clutch between the engine and the electric motor, and one between the electric motor and transmission.

The battery is located in the boot and the cooling system is also independent for the battery along with its electric compressor.

The car will initially use the power of the engine to start from standstill, but if you press the throttle very mildly, it will only use the electric motor. Above 40 kph, the petrol motor will smoothly take over, propelling the car forward.

When you step off from the pedal, the engine power will be sent to charge the battery. Also in case of quick acceleration, both the engine and the battery work together. So it can convert from a series to parallel hybrid or vice versa anytime.

The transmission too can be used in either of the two ways- fully auto mode or in +/- manual mode.

With all these changes made to the SX4 Hybrid it is 25 % more fuel efficient than a regular SX4. Also, it does not lose out on power. Combined output from the Hybrid version is 125 BHP as compared to 103 BHP of the regular SX4. The suspension remains the same and the top speed of the Hybrid SX4 is 160 kph.

It is quite an impressive car and with the government incentives kicking in for greener cars, we can sense that Maruti for sure, is going to launch this car sooner or later. But will the unforgiving Indian sedan buyer overlook the extra procuring cost and an occupied boot for a car that’s silent, needs lesser stops for fuel, and does a whole lot of good to the environment and air quality?

SOURCE: Indians AutoBlog

Russian Billionaire Bets on Hybrid Car Company

By dancurranjr On December 16th, 2010

Mikhail D. Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire who bought the New Jersey Nets basketball team, introduced another pet project Monday: a Russian-designed hybrid electric car.

It is called the Yo, for the Russian letter “e,” and can run on gasoline or natural gas. Its backers say it is far more than a state-of-the-art Lada, the boxy and ubiquitous people’s car of the former Soviet Union that is the butt of jokes. The Yo, they claim, taps a number of Russian engineering breakthroughs that had not formerly been commercialized.

The designers claim that at about 67 miles a gallon, or 3.5 liters per 100 kilometers, the Yo will achieve better fuel economy than the Toyota Prius, in part because it is lighter. They claim that, like other hybrids, the Yo will have a range far beyond that of a pure plug-in electrical car, like the Nissan Leaf.


Proton Exora Hybrid Electric Due in 2012

By dancurranjr On December 6th, 2010

Around 30 to 50 cars will undergo a second round of prototype testing in January 2011, following successful trials in Britain in September.

The vehicle – the Proton Exora Range Extended Electric Vehicle – is being developed in collaboration with Lotus, LG, and British partner Fraser-Nash Research.

The hybrid-electric Exora has a 400cc petrol engine that powers a generator, which then recharges the batteries. Due to the its small capacity, the car can never be driven solely by the engine.

Able to be recharged from a standard home power socket, Proton says the electric Exora has a range of 1000km with a full tank and a full charge, and is capable of reaching a top speed of 140km/h.

Standing in the way of the green Proton’s success is the lack of recharging infrastructure in Malaysia and the batteries’ high cost and slow recharge rates, although the Malaysian Government is planning to build 10 charging stations around Putrajaya to supplement the prototype testing.

Proton is desperate to turn around its recent sales slide in its domestic market, where its share has slipped from more than 67 percent around five years ago to below 30 percent today.

SOURCE: CarAdvice

Fiat & Chrysler Ditch Hybrid Cars in Favor of Natural Gas

By dancurranjr On December 5th, 2010

In the search for the next green car many automakers have pinned their hopes on hybrid technology. The combination of a gasoline engine and battery pack system has had the attention of car buyers with hybrids like Toyota’s Prius to Chevy’s new Volt. Fiat, however, is betting on natural gas to help them grab a part of the green car market in the US.

Fiat’s beef with hybrid cars is all about money. Instead of sinking a lot of cash into developing new technology like batteries, why not use their knowledge of cars powered by natural gas to crack the US market? After all, the US is the world’s largest producer of natural gas, the fuel is pretty cheap to produce, and it is cleaner than regular gasoline.

The Italian automaker has a long history of using liquefied natural gas (LNG) or compressed natural gas (CNG) to power their cars. Fiat has locked up 80% of the consumer based market in Europe by promoting the technology through flex-fuel type cars that operate via natural gas as well as gasoline.

While Fiat has hinted about adding natural gas engines to Chrysler’s current lineup, it seems that their latest move may be targeting the commercial market. 55% Of natural gas based light commercial vehicles in Europe are Fiats, a number that includes everyday transport vehicles like delivery vans or postal trucks. Instead of relying on the 1,300 natural gas stations in the US, these fleets could be managed through a single fueling point at a regional hub or central office.

LNG or CNG engines aren’t as dirt cheap as their gasoline cousins but they are still cheaper than the average hybrid motor. There’s only a $3,000 difference between the cost of a gasoline based car when compared to one powered by natural gas. Fiat estimates that the additional cost for a hybrid car is about $8,000.

Fiat and Chrysler don’t have solid plans yet to bring natural gas cars and trucks to the US, but they will soon join the natural gas vehicles association in Washington D.C. The duo may only be in the planning stages but they’ve hit on an important change in consumers; MPG is the new MPH. Corporations and everyday consumers are more concerned with the intrinsic value of their car rather than how fast it travels. Until there’s a strong infrastructure for EV’s, car buyers and fleet managers will be looking for affordable options rather than dealing with high gas prices.

SOURCE: TaintedGreen

Porsche Wants To Build The 918 Hybrid Supercar

By dancurranjr On March 11th, 2010

We, like just about everyone else in the automotive world, were blown away when Porsche took the wraps off the 918 Spyder hybrid supercar. The wizards in Stuttgart built the plug-in hybrid on the QT and kept it super-secret until rolling it out in Geneva, where it almost literally stopped the show.

Now it seems Porsche is actually going to build it.

According to England’s Autocar magazine, the Porsche are intent on building a production version of the 918 Spyder, and offering it for sale to anyone with deep enough pockets. The way Porsche sees it, going green(er) doesn’t have to mean sacrificing performance, which is why it stuffed the sexy all-wheel-drive roadster with a 500-horsepower V8 and two electric motors putting down a combined 281 horsepower.

“The 918 Spyder provides the answer to whether there can be high-performance cars in the future. Many have said they are finished. This car shows they are not,” Porsche boss Michael Macht told Autocar. “There is no one inside Porsche who doesn’t want to build the 918. The response has been marvelous; we will ask buyers to sign letters of intent.”

So you could say step right up and get in line now. If you think Porsche really will build the 918. We’re not suggesting it shouldn’t; we most definitely think it should and we’d be first in line for test drives (Feel free to call us, Mr. Macht). But we’ve been led down this path before. Every gearhead has. How often has an automaker dazzled us with a wonderful show car we’ve fallen madly in love with only to have our hopes dashed. The Lamborghini Estoque hybrid comes to mind.

Yet there’s the big man at Porsche himself saying the 918 will come to pass. So why are we reluctant to jump up and down in glee? Because of this quote from Autocar:

Insiders say the production 918 is likely to go on sale within five years. However, like all Porsches, it will need to make money, despite its ‘halo’ status within the firm’s range.

“It will need to make money.” That is the greatest get-out-of-jail-free card in the auto biz. Of course the 918 “will need to make money.” Have you seen Porsche’s books lately? Germany’s government has, and let’s just say that Porsche doesn’t have bushels of Euros to throw around at the moment.

Porsche is going to build the 918? We hope it’s true, but we’ll believe it when we see one in a dealership.