Chevrolet Volt for UK sale in November 2011

By dancurranjr On December 14th, 2010

Chevrolet will start selling the Volt range-extender hybrid from UK Chevy outlets in November 2011 and plans right-hand drive from launch. It means that GM will offer Europeans the choice of the Volt or the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera – the Euro spec version of the same car.

Although prices are not yet set for either model, CAR understands the Chevy is likely to be positioned slightly cheaper than the Vauxhall. Sadly it’s not as simple as taking the US price and converting it; that would point to a UK list price for the Volt of £25,500.

‘It will be a higher price product,’ said Wayne Brannon, president of Chevrolet Europe. ‘The Volt will be restricted in terms of volume for some time. It will be a small number of cars for 2012 and we will not sell an impressive number – but it will gain credibility for the Chevrolet brand over here.’

Where can I buy my Chevrolet Volt in the UK?

Brannon said that the Volt would be sold from around just 50 of the existing Chevrolet dealerships across Europe, with just a handful in the UK rather than at all 150 showrooms.

Sales are likely to focus around the larger metropolitan conurbations, such as London, Birmingham and Manchester. ‘That’s where the early adopters and people who drive low-mileage commutes of 40 miles or less are most likely to live,’ said Brannon.

Chevrolet is undertaking a European pricing study at the moment and will announce the European cost for the Volt at the 2011 Geneva motor show.
Chevrolet Volt: the background

There’s a buzz around the so-called range-extender hybrids, as they bridge the gap between full electric cars and hybrids. They remove ‘range anxiety’ as the battery will never go flat in day-to-day driving; the on-board internal combustion engine is used primarily as a recharger to top up the battery, rather than to turn the wheels.

That brings many advantages, and owners who use the car to commute short distances and plug in the Volt overnight to charge may have to fill up with petrol only once a year. However, it also means that they are lugging around a heavy and compromised combustion engine in what is essentially an electric car.


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.


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