Toyota to Offer Hybrid Technology to Chinese Partner

By dancurranjr On December 6th, 2010

Toyota recently ruled out the possibility to start building hybrid cars in China so, in order to be able to compete against powerful names such as Volkswagen and General Motors, the Japanese company is planning to offer hybrid technology to a local partner. A report by hints that the name of Toyota’s future Chinese buddy is FAW Group, which could start production of hybrid models based on Toyota’s resources as soon as 2013.

Toyota will thus supply the know-how, as well as motors, batteries and several other components to the Chinese group, but specific details are yet to be revealed. Still, Kyodo News claims negotiations are still under way, so more information is likely to emerge in the near future.

And although Toyota doesn’t intend to produce cars in China, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the company will ignore the local market. Back in August, Japanese representatives announced that Toyota wants to open its first wholly owned research and development site to increase quality of the vehicles it sells in China.

The announcement was made by Masahiro Kata, the head of Toyota China, during a quality seminar that was recently held in Japan. The executive didn’t offer any additional details regarding the future quality center, but added that the site’s project is currently being analyzed by the country’s authorities and that it will be located near Shanghai.

Of course, an R&D center would be mainly aimed at vehicle recalls, as Toyota still struggles to repair its image after the nightmare it had to deal with this year.

SOURCE: AutoEvolution

Diesel Hybrids Deliver Big Savings to UPS

By dancurranjr On January 2nd, 2010

Score one for diesel hybrids.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory got its hands on six hybrid vans that United Parcel Service is using, and after testing them nine ways from Sunday found diesel-electric technology improved fuel economy more than 28 percent. What’s more, it cost significantly less per mile to operate while delivering the same reliability and performance as conventional diesel vans.

The federal eggheads spent a year analyzing fuel economy, maintenance and vehicle performance data for six first-generation hybrid UPS vans developed by Eaton Corp. It’s no surprise a delivery service would be eager to give diesel-electric tech a try — UPS must spend money by the truckload on fuel — and the NREL joined UPS in putting the trucks through their paces in Phoenix.

So why’d they team up for the research?

Because the Eaton parallel hybrid system was developed in part under a $7.5 million, 33-month contract from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Heavy-Hybrid Propulsion System program. The feds like the technology because it increases fuel economy and reduces emissions, and they wanted to see what we got for the money.

“Having provided funding for the development of the Eaton hybrid system, DOE was eager to participate in testing the system in a commercial fleet,” Lee Slezak, manager of the advanced heavy-hybrid program, said in a statement. “Our goal is to help develop more efficient vehicle technologies and then document their on-road performance.”

The feds compared six diesel-hybrid vans to six diesel vans. According to the lab’s report, the hybrids delivered 28.9 percent better fuel economy, averaging 13.1 mpg to the diesels’ 10.2 mpg. Maintenance costs were about the same, but the diesels showed slightly better reliability — a factor the researchers chalk up to “troubleshooting and recalibration issues” associated with prototype components.

The hybrids were driven 15 percent fewer miles per day, which the feds attribute to the fact the diesel-electrics were assigned to urban routes where they made more stops per mile and spent more time at low speeds or idling. Overall, the hybrids delivered a 15 percent improvement in total cost per mile.

UPS is, as you’d expect, quite pleased with the results.

“NREL’s report on the performance of our hybrid delivery vehicles is helping make this type of energy-efficient vehicle a standard in the industry,” said Robert Hall, the company’s director of maintenance and engineering. He’s hoping the findings speed up market acceptance of the technology.

Eaton supplied the hybrid propulsion systems for the vans, which were manufactured by Freightliner. The system uses an Eaton automated transmission with an integrated motor-generator and lithium-ion batteries. The electric bits are mated to a four-cylinder Mercedes-Benz diesel engine — the same one used in the conventional vans.

UPS must like what it sees, because the delivery company just ordered another 200 Eaton hybrid vans.