2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Base Price Announced

By dancurranjr On December 21st, 2010

Hyundai this week announced a price of $25,795 for the base-level 2011 Sonata Hybrid, with the premium package going for $30,795. That means the Sonata Hybrid will beat the Ford Fusion Hybrid ($28,240) and the Toyota Camry Hybrid ($26,575) on price. It already has an edge on fuel efficiency, aerodynamics, light weight, and enjoyable driving.

Fuel economy for the Sonata and Fusion Hybrids are nearly identical, but with highway and city numbers swapped. The Sonata Hybrid offers 36 in the city and 40 on the highway, while the Fusion Hybrid is rated at 41/36. The Toyota Camry Hybrid falls behind at 33/34.

Hyundai believes that its use of a six-speed automatic transmission gives the Sonata Hybrid an edge on driving enjoyment. “There’s nothing specifically synergistic between a CVT (continuously variable transmission) and a hybrid,” said John Krafcik, president and CEO of Hyundai USA, who rode with us during a recent drive of the Sonata Hybrid. Krafcik’s complaint about CVTs is the “non-linearity” between pedal input from the driver, and the sound you hear. On the other hand, with the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Krafcik believes that “you get back exactly what you expect based on what your foot is doing.”

Based on our driving experience, and now the announcement of a compelling price, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid raises the bar for hybrids in a mid-size model aimed for the heart of the mainstream market. It’s the first hybrid for Hyundai (which on a winning streak) and it’s the first affordable hybrid model to use lithium ion batteries. While not as exciting as the first mainstream electric cars being delivered to consumers this week, it offers the promise of hybrid technology being incorporated into the most popular models on the road, and therefore having a major impact on reducing fuel consumption.

The Sonata Hybrid hits dealerships in January. Unfortunately, that’s right after the expected $1,300 hybrid tax incentive will have already expired.

SOURCE: HybridCars.com

Lincoln MKZ Hybrid Lands Top Product Design Award From Global Green USA

By dancurranjr On December 8th, 2010

The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid – the most fuel-efficient luxury sedan in North America – adds another distinction to its list of attributes as a winner of Global Green USA’s award for design innovation.

Global Green USA honored the newest Lincoln at its 11th Annual Sustainable Design Awards in New York on Monday night. Kelly Rutherford, an actress best known for her role in the popular TV series “Gossip Girl,” presented the honor to Sue Cischke, Ford Motor Company’s (NYSE: F) group vice president for Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering.

“The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid offers a real choice for consumers. Its superior fuel economy reflects the kind of environmental responsibility our society demands, yet this luxury sedan delivers all the comforts customers really want,” said Cischke. “This vehicle is another important part of our plans to help make fuel economy and greener driving affordable for millions of people – including luxury buyers.”

Since the first Lincoln MKZ Hybrid was delivered to a former Toyota Prius customer in San Francisco in October, sales of the car have outperformed the Lincoln team’s expectations. In fact, since September, the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid has helped the brand double its overall MKZ sedan segment share.

The identical pricing strategy for MKZ Hybrid and gas engine-powered MKZ models has allowed Lincoln to present customers with the opportunity to make a lifestyle choice based on their vehicle needs – without compromising on strong fuel economy performance.

The gas engine-powered MKZ sedan delivers 18 mpg, while the MKZ Hybrid – Lincoln’s first hybrid – is the most fuel-efficient midsize luxury sedan in America. This car delivers 41 mpg fuel economy in the city, topping its only near competitor – the 2010 Lexus HS 250h – by 6 mpg.

“The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid represents a significant achievement by a car company to create the first hybrid luxury vehicle to get more than 40 mpg in the city,” said Global Green President Matt Petersen. “We are so pleased to recognize the vehicle’s environmental benefits, as well as Lincoln’s commitment to make the vehicle accessible to more of the public by offering the car at price parity with its conventional gas only version – the first hybrid vehicle to be sold this way.”

The award marks only the second time a green vehicle has been honored by Global Green USA for environmental leadership. Global Green USA’s Annual Sustainable Design Awards were inspired by former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev and recognize specific advancements in industry, building, media, organization and public policy.

More in store: A star is rising

Lincoln has seven all-new or significantly refreshed vehicles on the way in the next four years, all promising refined, modern design, the most fuel-efficient premium powertrains and industry-leading technology creating a unique driver experience both in the cabin and on the road.

Future Lincolns are building from a strong base. Along with the MKZ midsize sedan and MKZ Hybrid, Lincoln also features its flagship MKS large sedan, significantly upgraded 2011 MKX crossover and MKT seven-passenger crossover.

SOURCE: PR Newswire

Insight Into Honda’s Hybrid Future

By dancurranjr On December 6th, 2010

Honda reckons many motorists are put off hybrid cars because they view them as expensive and elitist. So it’s aiming to change that attitude with its new Insight, as Rob Maetzig reports.

It’s now been more than 10 years since Honda launched its first petrol-electric hybrid car to the world.

That car was called Insight, and it was a swoopy-looking little two-door car that achieved incredibly low fuel consumption. It never was made available for sale in this country, although Honda New Zealand did import one for evaluation and promotional purposes.

The aim behind that original Honda hybrid was clear: To avoid waste. Engineers reasoned that if energy generated from braking and deceleration could be harnessed and stored in a battery pack, it could then be used to power an electric motor that would supplement the performance of the car’s petrol engine.

That led to development of what is known as a parallel hybrid system, in which the petrol engine is the main source of power and torque, and is assisted sometimes by the electric motor.

Honda called its system Integrated Motor Assist (IMA), and it comprised a low-friction 1.3-litre engine as the primary power source, an ultra-thin electric motor, and a lightweight and compact battery pack, all mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission.
Ad Feedback

This basic setup hasn’t changed much over the intervening 10 years, but it has been vastly improved as it been progressively introduced to other Honda vehicles, including the Civic hybrid we get in New Zealand.

Now another Honda hybrid has arrived – and appropriately it is called Insight. It’s an impressive new five-door hatchback that uses a modified version of the 1.3-litre engine from the Civic, and features a fifth-generation IMA system that is 24 per cent more compact than the fourth- generation version currently in the Civic.

Some real improvements have been made with this new IMA. The electric motor is now much thinner than before – 35.7mm compared to 61.5mm on the Civic – which helps make the entire system more compact and light.

Big improvements have also been made to the battery pack, which is 19 per cent smaller and 28 per cent lighter, which allows it to be stored under the floor of the Insight’s boot.

End result of all of this is a new hatchback that in every sense is just that – a hatchback. The compactness of the latest- generation IMA means so little storage space is required that the rear cargo room is 408 litres with all the seats in use, which is more than most other hatchbacks including the Toyota Corolla, and there is normal leg and headroom throughout.

Even the hybrid system works in a normal and unobtrusive way. On its own, the engine produces 65 kilowatts of power and 121 newton metres of torque, and when combined with the IMA this increases to 72 kW and 167 Nm.

All this is allowing Honda to market the new Insight not so much as a hybrid but as a hatchback, albeit one that has the technology to cost 40 per cent less to run than a conventional hatch.

Insight also carries a conventional price – which, Honda New Zealand claims, makes it the most affordable high-technology car on the market.

The base model S retails for $35,600 and more upmarket E for $38,800, which is not only almost lineball with conventional hatchbacks of a similar size, but way cheaper than the other hybrids currently on the market here, particularly the $42,000 Civic and the $48,500-$62,000 Toyota Prius.

This is all part of a grand plan by Honda, which discovered during recent overseas research that most motorists considered hybrids to be too expensive, and many others considered them to be elitist status symbols rather than efficient, cleaner modes of transport.

So the company set about changing that, embarking on a big effort to bring the price of the Insight down to much more acceptable levels.

It did it by using a large amount of existing componentry. For example the suspension, brakes and steering are pinched from the Honda Jazz. The engine compartment is also from the Jazz, and the engine and IMA system are modified versions of what is already aboard the Civic.

At a conference for New Zealand media in Queensland last week, special guest Yasunari Seki, the Insight’s project leader, said the aim of the development project was to reduce the size, complexity and price of components and systems in a big effort to drive the Insight’s final retail price downwards.

“Our engineers have shown great tenacity and skill in reducing the cost of the IMA system, which has allowed us to reduce the build costs of Insight,” he said.

Insight has been on the New Zealand new car scene for some weeks now, with potential customers taking the 40 demonstrators based at various dealerships for test drives. Interest has been such that as at last Thursday’s media conference 175 orders had been taken, and HNZ boss Graeme Seymour is confident things will settle to down to an average of more than 30 sales a month.

It’s an attractive car that looks more new-age than most other hatchbacks, with bodyshell lines that are reminiscent of the futuristic FX Clarity hydrogen- powered car that is now sold by Honda in some parts of the world.

But it’s pretty conventional all the same. The only real indications that the Insight is a hybrid are various features that are designed to “coach” the person behind the wheel to drive economically.

The primary such feature is a speedometer that glows green when the car is economically sipping petrol, and changes to blue when it is not.

It is a simple method of telling the driver how things are going, and far less intrusive than many of the other economy-encouraging systems aboard this car, including one that electronically grows leaves on trees during thousands of kilometres of being driven carefully, and rewards the driver by electronically presenting him or her with a trophy icon.

Research by Honda showed that different driving styles can cause variances in fuel economy by as much as 20 per cent. But the IMA aboard the Insight is capable of immediately getting back half of that via an ECON button that, when pushed, does such things as optimises gear ratios, engine revs and output by 4 per cent, controls air air conditioning and even keeps an eye on the cruise control, all in the interests of using less fuel.

Honda says the remaining half can be dealt to by subtly encouraging encouraging drivers to use more fuel-efficient driving techniques – and that’s what the coaching system is all about.

I recently drove an Insight more than 1800 kilometres during the AA Energywise Rally from Auckland to Wellington and back, and last week’s media event included a drive programme of another 250 km inland from the Gold Coast.

Both times I quickly discovered that rather than being anal about things and using every little guide to fuel economy available in this Insight, it was easier to simply hit the ECON button, keep the speedo colour green as much as possible, and take it from there.

Both times this allowed me to achieve an average fuel economy of 4.7 litres per 100 kilometres. In Aussie I also tried things out with the ECON off and the speedo coloured blue as often as possible – and the economy figure went out to 5.9 L/100 km.

And even that’s pretty good for a new Honda that to all intents and purposes is a conventional five- door hatch with excellent interior room and sound performance. The difference is that it will also reward careful driving but not severely punish the lead-footed stuff.

SOURCE: Stuff.co.nz

Car Charging Group, Inc. Installs Electric Vehicle Charging Station at Icon Parking Systems in Manhattan

By dancurranjr On December 5th, 2010

Car Charging Group, Inc. today announced that EV Charging Services are now available at Icon Mercury Parking LLC, located at 350 West 50th Street, New York, NY in Manhattan’s Worldwide Plaza. This is the first installation following an agreement signed in August with Icon Parking Systems, the premier provider of parking services in Manhattan.

The EV charging services available for use now include a ChargePoint(R) Networked Charging Station, which is manufactured by Coulomb Technologies. The charging station has dual outputs that deliver energy simultaneously: a 7.2 kW output delivering Level II (208/240 VAC @ 30 A) charging via the standard SAE J1772(TM) connector and fixed 18-foot cable, and a 2 kW output delivering Level I (120 VAC @ 16 A) charging via a standard NEMA 5-20 receptacle protected behind a locking door. Car Charging provides EV charging stations at no charge to property owners/managers while retaining ownership, thus allowing drivers access to convenient locations and partners to realize a percentage of the charging revenue generated.

The ChargePoint(R) Network is open to all drivers of plug-in vehicles and all manufacturers of plug-in vehicle charging stations. ChargePoint Network’s unique features include:

  • The ability for a station owner to set fees for use of their stations (including free charging)
  • The ability for drivers to access stations without a subscription via contactless credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, AMEX, and Discover)
  • 24/7/365 telephone driver support via a toll free number on all charging stations
  • Smart Grid ready with built in Utility Grade Capable Metering, Time of Use (TOU) pricing and Demand Response (DR) control
  • Multiple Smart Phone applications (iPhone and Blackberry) to findunoccupied stations and navigate to them
  • The lowest operating cost possible due to real-time operational monitoring, alerts, diagnosis, and control of millions of stations

More than 20 different electric vehicles are planned to go on sale in the U.S. in the next three years and the U.S. government has backed $5 billion in investments for battery technology and consumer incentives to kick-start the market. The Chevrolet Volt, made by GM, and the Nissan LEAF are due to arrive in showrooms in the U.S. in the next few months.

Icon Parking Systems operates more than 200 parking facilities in Manhattan. Many of Icon’s locations are in the City’s busiest and most vibrant commercial neighborhoods, others can be found near famous New York City landmarks, and many are in residential areas throughout the City.

SOURCE: MarketWatch

Mercedes Confirms Plan for Diesel-Hybrid E-Class

By dancurranjr On March 19th, 2009

2010-mercedes-benz-e-classMercedes-Benz has confirmed that a diesel-hybrid version of the upcoming E-Class is in the cards.

The new gas-engine E-Class will arrive this summer, while the new-generation E 350 BlueTec diesel is slated to come to Canada next March.

Joachim Lindau, head of overall vehicle testing at Mercedes-Benz AG, confirmed the hybrid plans at a press preview earlier this month for the 2010 E-Class, which will have the same 3.5-litre V-6 and 5.5-litre V-8 engines as the current model.

The upcoming diesel engine will be a new design that uses urea injection and a more potent exhaust emissions system; the AdBlue exhaust-scrubbing additive will need to be replenished at every oil change. No AdBlue fluid change, no squeaky-clean emissions — if the driver ignores warnings of low AdBlue levels, the car is programmed not to start.

That’s true of all Benz diesels with the latest BlueTec clean-diesel system. It was the only way Mercedes-Benz could assure American legislators that BlueTec drivers would continue to replenish the system, keeping emissions clean even as the vehicles age.

The new E350 3.0-litre V-6 BlueTec will offer 210 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque, or about the same power as the current E320 diesel, which is rated at 9.0 L/100 km city and a miserly 6.1 on the highway. Like the rest of the E-Classes coming for 2010, Mercedes-Benz Canada is launching the diesel E with a visually aggressive AMG Sports package as standard equipment.

Details of the further-out diesel-hybrid E are still sketchy. Although Lindau confirmed that an E-Class diesel hybrid is in the works, neither timing nor engine size were discussed.

However, Germany’s DPA news service reported that a diesel-electric ML SUV would make 340 hp from its 3.0-litre V-6, while at least one online rumour had the ML diesel-hybrid on sale in North America by the end of this year.

Mercedes-Benz has shown various diesel-electrics at different auto shows over the last two years, including a diesel-hybrid S-Class, which produced 265 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque from a hybridized BlueTec V-6. A smaller four-cylinder diesel-hybrid engine was also previewed in the Vision GLK concept at last year’s Geneva auto show; it boasted some eye-popping numbers: 224 hp, 413 lb-ft of torque and an estimated average of 40 mpg — that’s 5.9 L/100 km.

‘Stunning’ sales numbers shock analyst

“Stunning is the only word I can think of,” said shell-shocked auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers in his review of February sales numbers in Canada, which showed that GM had lost its traditional top spot to Chrysler, even tumbling behind Ford.

He noted that GM had not lost the monthly sales race in this country since at least 1949, and perhaps even longer than that. “I suspect you have to go back to the early 1900s to find a month when GM was not at least in second place.”

The three Detroit Three subsidiaries were within 542 units of each other, so it was really a three-horse nose-hair finish that could have gone to any of them. But the historic significance remains: the largest car company in the country — by employees, dealers and vehicle owners, if not February new-vehicles sales — could no longer maintain its generations-long hold on the sales crown in Canada.

Chrysler seemed an unlikely candidate to depose the sales king, with its own serious financial issues well-documented in appeals by both companies for billions of bailout dollars to governments north and south of the border.

Toyota seemed to be the most threatening contender, noted DesRosiers, but it finished in fourth place in February.

The Detroit Three units collectively lost 37 per cent in sales, compared to a loss of 17 per cent for offshore-based auto makers.

In the United States, GM managed to retain its best-selling company title with sales of 127,296 vehicles, with Toyota coming in second at 109,583, followed by Ford and Chrysler.

Buick looking to adopt Opel platforms

The close vehicle-sharing relationship between Saturn and its German cousin Opel could be reflected in future Buicks, Autoweek magazine reported this week, although the models would more like cousins rather than identical twins.

Opel platforms are being looked at as the basis of future Buick sedans, Buick vice-president Susan Docherty said, although there could also easily be Buicks not sourced from any of its European divisions, such as the Enclave crossover or new LaCrosse sedan (called the Allure in Canada).

Even if Opel is eventually sold, as GM is trying to do, the company will likely keep an alliance with any potential buyer to keep the currently planned platforms in place, an unnamed source told the magazine.

Docherty also noted that, as Pontiac’s lineup is slimmed down, Buick-Pontiac-GMC dealers will receive more sedans to keep the channel “well-rounded” with four-doors and crossovers.

Electric Tesla Roadster coming to Canada

The Tesla Roadster is coming to Canada by the end of this year, the company said this month; Canadian orders are being taken for deliveries expected in the fourth quarter.

At first, the cars will come from regional centres in New York and Seattle that will be up and running by mid-year, the company said. But it hopes to establish Canadian dealers in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec, likely at some point after Tesla has something more to offer than the slinky little two-seat sports car.

Getting enthusiasts and, soon after, the general public excited about electric cars was probably the Tesla Roadster’s greatest accomplishment, as the Lotus Europa-shaped convertible’s sizzling 0-96 km/h time of 3.9 seconds helped garner the little car tons of media exposure.

Canada could be a showcase country for Tesla, because the majority of electricity across the country is from renewable resources, the company said. “An EV recharged from the current Canadian grid, on average, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 85 per cent compared to an equivalent gasoline-powered vehicle,” according to the release announcing Canadian sales, with about 80 per cent in Ontario coming from hydro or nuclear sources.

“In hydro-dominant British Columbia, Quebec and Manitoba, the reduction would be an impressive 98 per cent.”

The cars cost $109,000 (U.S.), and although a Canadian price has not yet been confirmed, it will reflect “exchange rates at that time (of delivery).”

SOURCE: Globe Auto

Mercedes-Benz E-Class at LemonFree.com