Monthly Archives: March 2006

DaimlerChrysler: Introduce Plug-in cars.

Up to 40 Dodge Sprinter Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) will be placed in operation with customers in California, Kansas City and New York among other locations within the United States. So now DaimlerChrysler are having its customers test drive these new hybrid cars, what I found interesting was that if you wanted to drive it on its electric motor only (at the flick of a switch), you are limited to 20 miles only on it. This is an option left to the driver, so just in case you feel like in the mood of not polluting the environment, then for 20 miles you too can be “smug”. Sorry I could not resist, I watched South Park’s “Smug-Alert” episode last night which protrays the snobbery/smugness associated with hybrid drivers. Now this is definitely one form of generating hybrid car awareness, cheers Trey & Matt.

Saab 9-3: Fossil-fuel free Hybrid car

Today the Stockholm Motor Show opened and Saab premiered its Biopowered Hybrid Concept. The Saab 9-3 convertible concept is the first of it kind, especially the fact that it runs on 100% Bioethanol, hence CO2 emissions are zero. The Stockholm Motor Show runs from 30 March – 9 April. For more information, check out Saab 9-3: Worlds First fossil-fuel free hybrid vehicle.

E85 Gas Stations

The other day Krissy and I were somehow got talking about buying a second car (like that is going to happen anytime soon), she was interested in a FFV, so I told her one of the major problems would be finding a gas station near us that supplies E85. Currently, there are only six E85 gas stations either coming up or open in Michigan. The closest one for us would entail a 40 minute drive each way. Krissy did not like that, she felt that GM was doing this big ad push for “live green, go yellow” and all we have is five or six E85 gas depots in Michigan, even Ohio has more. She being a native of Michigan, she can definitely voice that sentiment very well. So a note to the Powers that Be at the Big 3, better start opening more E85 gas stations.

Subaru to make diesel Legacy

Subaru has confirmed plans to make a diesel version of the popular Liberty/Legacy. Parent company Fuji Heavy Industries’ turbodiesel development program appears to have been fruitful, with Subaru Australia expected to offer a diesel version of the Liberty within 18 months.

I could not get any specs on the new diesel Legacy/Liberty model, but the standard 2006 Subaru Legacy Sedan, starting at $21,650 with a 2.5L, 175 hp, gives a moderate 22/29 MPG (city/hwy). For a diesel car to be cost and fuel effective, it would have to compete with what the Toyota hybrids can give us. Now that Subaru has signed an agreement with Toyota, allowing Subaru to use Toyota’s Hybrid technology, things can only get better from here. Subaru will be able to bring out a hybrid and turbo diesel car without having to spend time on research and  too much money on developing these engines, hence we will soon be seeing hybrids giving other conventional gas cars some tight competition.

Want a Smart Car?

There is no need to hold your breathe too long because Smart cars have been around for sometime in the US, unfortunately the demand for these cars are generally associated with urban city centers. If you want one go check out Zap!

When I was in London last year, I did see a few of them on the streets, nifty little things, I bet parallel parking these things is sweet. Though smart cars have been available in Canada, I had not seen any in Montreal, that is before I left in Dec 2004. The only problem I have is that all of them look a bit to boxy, but hey you have give something up in order to get good mileage (approx. 50mpg). Daimler Chrysler is integrating it profit-making Smart Car brand into its Mercedes Benz Company. DCX already has a prototype out, Smart Crosstown hybrid. Let see what else comes out of this marriage?

Source: Hybrid Cars

Toyota Camry Hybrid 2007

Toyota Motor Sales said Monday the new 2007 Camry Hybrid sedan will have a base sticker price of $25,900, plus shipping, that’s $6,580 more than a similar four-cylinder 2007 Camry with automatic transmission but without its Hybrid Synergy Drive system.

See what I mean, I like said in my post yesterday about new technology being expensive. Lets see how well this car sells in the US at this price. Toyota says that the Camry Hybrid will give 40/38 MPG (city/hwy). What I want to know is how much CO2 emissions have been reduced when compared to the standard models?

Source: HybridCars

Toyota lines up futuristic concept cars

Ever wonder when you could go out and buy a car that looks like it just stepped out of the movie iRobot, look no futher the future is here. Toyota has about nine concepts lined up. The PM (Personal Mobility Vehicle) is just one of them. Cutting-edge vehicle-to-vehicle communications technologies are employed under the concept of “meeting, linking and hanging out together”.

Other “spacey” concepts such as the Toyota Space Touch, where the driver “touches” a holographic projection. Then there is the Giugiaro-designed carbon-fiber body which seats three people abreast and features “drive-by-wire” controls, allowing you to position the steering wheel and pedals in front of any one of them and it comes with Volta’s 408-hp Hybrid Synergy Drive® (a 3.3-liter V6 with an electric motor for each axle) not only delivers 435 miles on a 13.7-gallon tank (approx. 31 MPG), 0-60 acceleration in four seconds.

So before you get in this car you better decide who is going to drive, otherwise I can see it getting really messy. So what technology do I see actually making it to from a concept car to a mass manufactured one. The drive-by-wire technology seems promising and so does the fuel cell technology. I am going to sit on the fence when it comes to others like the holographic projection for the time being, lets see what happens.

Source: Toyota Future Concept Vehicles

Critic or Not

One of my close friends from University back in London, who now lives in Texas was checking out the site and this was his feelings:

He just reiterated that I do not drive a hybrid and also that since I have not been to any of the current motor shows, how can I be comfortable being a car/hybrid/environment critic?

This is my response, well technically I do not even own a car, both our previous gas guzzlers were owned by my wife, (1991 Jimmy and 1995 Geo Metro) my current car the Mazda 3i, well let just leave that between the financing company, my wife’s grandparents and her. So technically I do drive, but only grocery runs, cause I happen to be one of the many people searching for a job in Michigan (its literally like finding a needle in haystack). If I had a job and had a salary which would allow me to buy a car, I would definitely go for a much cleaner, fuel efficient car, such as a hybrid. Till then I see them, no touch.

Do I consider myself a critic, at the very best an amateur. I am just giving my honest opinion, I wish I had the capablility to fly to Stockholm for the Motor Show. Last time I was in Sweden (1998) my friend Akshay and I were in Gothenburg and had a lot of schanpps and marinated herings. Spent two days in Stockholm, most of it spent at the Vasa Museum rest of the trip is a blur. One reason why we use the world wide web, is to go and visit or in some instance re-visit places, so till I am financially stable all my thoughts and opinions will have to considered as an honest internet based resource. And finally, I did take environmental studies as a lab elective at Richmond, so I know what “nimby” means, do you!!

Lexus to get hybrid engine

Coming soon to a Lexus dealer near you, the Lexus GS 450h, which will be powered by a gas-electric hybrid engine. Toyota plans on launching it in the North American market by April. Lexus states that it gives 34 MPG and the cool features are the new safety devices. Like the fact that Toyota has developed the technology that not only uses sensors to detect cars ahead but also uses a camera on the steering wheel to judge whether the driver is facing the front. If the driver is looking away, the emergency brakes kick in faster in a potential crash situation.

Oh look what Toyota has gone and done again, another first. Wonder what the folks at the BIG 3 think about this. Driver and passenger safety is as important as fuel economy and alternative fuel research. Wish some day these features will be standard on basic models bought by us hoi polloi on both foreign and homegrown cars.

Researchers working on Hybrid Buses & Trucks

In continuation of yesterdays post about research being supported by the EPA at Univ. of Toledo, I just wanted to make it clear as to why the work these people are doing is extremely important, we all have a basic sense about how hybrid cars such as the Toyota Prius and its relatives use the power generated from braking and store it in the battery. Now there are some inherent problems when it comes to storing energy in an hybrid, you see the battery can only store so much power and hybrid car batteries cannot charge or be discharged fast enough to be able to take advantage of all the excess power, which is being wasted when it is transferred in the form of heat.

So the researchers at the University of Toledo plan on harnessing maximum energy generated by the hybrid’s hydraulic propulsion system in the same fashion (i.e. braking) but they plan to store the engergy generated as compressed gas in a reservoir instead of releasing it as heat. Now it is stated that fuel economy for an SUV will go from 17.5 MPG to 36 MPG, I wonder what it will do for the existing hybrid car. Downside, increase in price, for such a vehicle with this new technology would go up from $500 to $3500 (just x7). Now this research is being carried out so that the hybrid hydraulic technology can be applied in the mass transport and goods carrier arena (i.e. school buses, dumpster trucks) which entails a lot of stopping. So technology and research associated with it is expensive, but would you rather shell out a couple of thousand dollars and drive a PZEV or ZEV and reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases which severely effects on our planet or would you rather pay $2.50 a gallon or more and drive a tank which pollutes the environment to a point that we all have to wear a gas mask.
Source: Researchers working on Hybrid Buses and Trucks