Honda Planning a Major Jump in Hybrid Sales in Japan in 2011

By dancurranjr On December 20th, 2010

Honda will put pedal to the metal in Japan next year when a new and bigger range of hybrid models will land on the market.

Joining the CR-Z and Fit Hybrid on the scene will be a hybridized version of the Freed, Honda’s quirky small domestic van. Honda will also introduce a stretched wagon version of the Fit hybrid for domestic consumption, according to sources. The front half of the body will be stock, but overall length will stretch by more than 2 feet.

The Fit hybrid wagon is expected out in March, while the Freed hybrid will arrive later, around fall 2011.

The redesigned Civic Hybrid, to be unveiled in January at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show and tipped to be the first Honda hybrid to get a lithium-ion battery pack, will be another 2011 debut, but Japan, in fact, might not get it.

Having announced the end of Civic sales in Japan and with that longer Fit hybrid wagon in the wings, Honda may feel that it doesn’t need the new Civic Hybrid in Japan anymore, not even as an iconic stand-alone model.

Honda will also have the Insight to fall back on, of course, and the good news there is that that to-date lackluster model is due for a major revamp next July.

Toyota will counter with a hybrid version of the new Vitz (Yaris) and Mazda is promising a face-lifted Mazda 2 with the automaker’s new Skyactiv G gas engine that can achieve hybrid-type economy without the weight and complexity of battery and motor.

Add it up and, although the technology is light and compact, Honda’s IMA hybrids have yet to truly catch on and/or frighten Toyota, the market leader. So will 2011 at last be the turning point for Honda?

Inside Line says: The new Honda hybrids could be big in Japan where the word “hybrid” is a major come-on, but in the U.S., given the inevitable price premium for the technology, such small gasoline-electric models could be a harder sell.


2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid Offers Good MPG and Fair Price

By dancurranjr On May 15th, 2009

2010mercury-milanFord Motor Company introduces the 2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid which delivers up to 41 miles per gallon. The vehicle is a midsize sedan which can also operate on electric power with speeds up to 47 MPH without using a drop of gasoline. The automobile features an innovative dual-LCD SmartGauge cluster with EcoGuide which provides a four-level display to help you improve fuel efficiency.

One of the nice things about this Mercury car is that it is capable of driving more than 700 miles on one tank of fuel. The propulsion system is also equipped with a combination with a permanent magnet electric motor powered by a nickel-metal hydride (NiMN) battery. The engine is a 2.5L Atkinson-Cycle which runs on 4-cycliners.

The combined power rating is 191-net horsepower which features late intake valve closing (LIVC) and advancements in processor technology for seamless transitions from gas to electric operation. The Mercury automobile can also be equipped with a standard 3.0L Duratec 24-vavle V6 engine. It can use either gasoline or E85 alternative fuel that reduces carbon emissions.

SmartGauge With EcoGuide

SmartGauge with EcoGuide can help extend mileage on a tank of gas. It features an innovative LCD gauge cluster with colorful graphics and provides you with performance-related information on the Milan. There are four different levels of information which include:

  • Inform: Adds fuel level and battery-charge status
  • Enlighten: Adds electric vehicle mode indicator and tachometer
  • Engage: Adds engine output power and battery output power
  • Empower: Adds power to wheels, engine pull-up threshold and accessory power consumption

Nickel-Metal-Hydrive Battery Pack

The battery is a 275-volt nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) pack which transfers power to the electric motor. This propels the Milan car up to 47 miles per hour. In fact, that’s the highest possible speed of any hybrid vehicle in the electric mode. Ford also offers 8-year/100,000-mile limited warranty.

The hybrid vehicle also has Regenerative Braking which helps to recharge the battery pack. For example, when you apply the brakes in a conventional vehicle, the energy is lost due to friction. During braking in the Milan, the electric motor captures 94 percent of this energy that is normally lost and sends it back to the battery pack to be stored for later use.

Milan also handles the roadway using Ford’s new Intelligent All-Wheel Drive (AWD) technology. If the roadway is gravel or web, the Intelligent AWD can help provide proper traction. The AWD features are automatic and will respond instantly depending on road conditions.

The quality of the ride is responsive and smooth. The Mercury Milan has a double-wishbone independent front suspension with a stabilizer bar, a design commonly found in top-of-the-line sports and luxury cars. The flexibility of the multi-link independent rear suspension is designed to deliver excellent ride quality and handling capability.


Mercury Milan at