Monthly Archives: May 2006

Prius recalled due to faulty steering wheel component

Toyota Motor said Tuesday that it planned to begin a global voluntary recall of nearly 320,000 of its hot-selling Prius gasoline-electric hybrid sedans to repair a potentially faulty steering system component.

Apparently this recall is not specific to the Prius, Toyota is recalling 9 more models. Several faulty parts in the steering wheel system may cause drivers to lose control. At this precise moment no one has had an accident due to these faulty parts.

Loremo 157 MPG update

Loremo AG says that it will start production of the 157 mpg diesel engine car in 2009. These guys already have a prototype, now on show in Kuala Lumpur. By the looks of it Malaysia may be one of the first places to actually see this car on its roads when it does roll out. Malaysia’s Kosmo Motor Company has taken a 26% stake in Loremo AG, the developers of the Loremo LS, a 1.5 l/100km (157 mpg US) diesel passenger car.

Issue with this car, well it weighs in at just about a 1000 lbs, hence interior space may be a an issue for the average American. The two-cylinder model may have some problems when it comes to accelerating, especially when one is merging on to a highway 0-60 mph (120 kmph) in about 20 seconds, in my opinion this questions the safety factor concerning highway driving. So will we see this car ever, I think Asia will this first, then Europe, North America I think not. But again I may be wrong and by 2009 we may have no other choice but to go on to a strict low carb diet just to get our fat behinds into such a nifty car.


GM’s Saturn VUE Green Line Hybrid

Look what we have here, a hybrid SUV from GM. Saturn’s VUE Greenline Hybrid, costing around 23k, with an EPA estimate of 27/32 city/hwy mpg, I say the only good thing about this SUV is the fact that it only cost 23k. My Mazda3 (which is not a hybrid) gives me the same mileage and it cost even cheaper. In addition there are other cars out there such as the Toyota RAV4 which give about 24/30 mpg. GM needs to start seeing the bigger picture when it comes to hybrids especially hybrid SUV’s. Here is a hint, “Smaller hybrids give better mileage”, I know this a new concept, but its time to stop living large. Now if the guys at GM really wanted to show other automakers like Toyota who is the boss, these guys should have made this SUV a true hybrid by making it run on E85 too. Next time folks!!!


Plug-in hybrids may soon become a reality: Last week in Washington, DC — even as top executives from Ford, Chrysler, and GM asked lawmakers to subsidize the installation of more ethanol pumps at filling stations — makers of new battery systems were letting U.S. senators test-drive prototype cars that get over 100 miles per gallon, but don’t require any new infrastructure.
A retro-fitted Toyota Prius apparently can give 100 mpg (if driven properly). Plug-in hybrids at the moment are considered to be great for short trips and city driving (15-20 miles). One hurdle I see is that automakers have to overcome is battery size.

Just one question though, I want to know how many U.S. Senators who are “test driving” the hybrid plug-in prototype own a “green car”?

Will battery-powered Taxi’s work?

NYC already has 6 Ford Escape Hybrid cabs on the streets. Now Hybrid Technologies plans to build a battery-powered car, in this case, convert a PT Cruiser to run only on a 320V lithium-ion battery, weighing in at over 600 pounds and has a recharge cycle life of around 1500 charges. The downside for cabbies is that it can only go for a 150 miles befores it needs to be recharged. According to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, each New York taxi averages nearly 100,000 miles of driving annually.

Now taxi drivers in NYC maybe running close to 200 mile per shift, so in essence this may not be the best idea for cabbies who are trying to earn a decent wage, but the fact remains that atleast these electric only cabs will cut down the levels of tail-pipe emissions to zero. In my opinion I am in favour of hybrid taxis, I have nothing against electric only powered cars, but until researchers do not come up with a car battery that can hold a charge longer, one will need to have back-up power source. Another problem faced by cab companies is that the start up cost of investing in hybrid cars as taxi’s is extremely high and no one can blame them. If a cab company did invest in hybrid taxis, then these guys will bump up the cost for renting them out to the drivers, forcing the drivers to work more shifts so on and so forth, its a vicious cycle folks.


Maranello 4

If Krissy and I were living in London, this is something we would definitely have considered buying. The Maranello 4 is a two-seater electric car which comes from the land of Ferrari, Fiat & Lamborghini. With a top speed of 30 mph, it can go up to 45 miles on a single charge (gelled lead-acid batteries). It cost just under 10,000 quid (USD 18,700 approx.). London being a very congested city, this car will be a boon for people who live and work in the city. Added bonus of owning such a small car and the fact that it runs purely on electricity, parking is easy and free in many areas of the city.

Car that runs on water

A UK company set up by Russian scientists called OM Energy claim to be on the brink of inventing a car that would use a combination of hydrogen (extracted from water) and gasoline to create a “Super-Fuel”, thus dispensing with the need to be wholly dependent on gasoline. The breakthrough is the electro hydrogen generator which extracts hydrogen from water by spinning it at high speed. The hydrogen is then mixed with the petrol supply to create an environmentally friendly ‘super fuel’ which ‘stretches’ the unleaded fuel, enabling the car to go further on less. The generator is spun using the engine’s recycled exhaust gases.

I know this concept will probably take 10-15 yrs before it actually goes into production, but hey this may be the solution to the danger associated with having to store large amounts of hydrogen. Cleaner cars, that run on hydrogen and ultra low levels of gas usage, fascinating.

BMW, DaimlerChrysler & GM to unveil two-mode hybrid

Last week BMW, DaimlerChrysler & GM unveiled plans of their two-mode hybrid system at a conference in Vienna. This consortium aka Global Hybrid Corp. plans on introducing this hybrid system in its SUV’s and trucks, starting with the 2008 Chevy Tahoe. Hopefully these guys plan on introducing this new two-mode hybrid system in sedans and compact cars, ohh I forgot GM has to sell its huge trucks and SUV’s. How silly of me to think like that!!

So what is this two-mode hybrid system?

While the two-mode system takes a new approach to hybrid drive technology, there are some similarities. Like all hybrids, the two-mode combines the power of a gasoline engine with that of electric motors; it captures energy from braking that would otherwise be lost; and it shuts off the engine at a stop. Like most of today’s hybrids, batteries alone can power the vehicle at low speeds. But the new technology is different in some crucial respects. It has the potential to operate much more efficiently at highway speeds, with a greater boost from the electric motors. The components are lighter and more compact and can be readily adapted to different types of vehicles. It is particularly well suited to large trucks and SUVs — the biggest gas hogs in Americans’ garages — where it will have the greatest impact on overall fuel consumption.


Toyota Camry Hybrid 2007

The Toyota Camry Hybrid is out on the roads folks. Price approximately at $25,000 (approx.). Now this car for people like me, falls in the hybrid luxury vehicle class. The Camry hybrid has got a EPA fuel rating of 40 MPG, 43/37 city/hwy mpg as per Toyota specs released. In any case with a 17 gallon fuel tank, one would only have to fill up after about 684 miles (approx.). For an in depth review on the Camry Hybrid check it out at HybridCars.

I did a quick comparison between the Prius and the Camry Hybrid using the Gas mileage calculator on the Hybrid cars website to check tail-pipe emissions. Over the course of 13000miles/year the Camry will emit about 6,321 lbs of CO2 (1877 lbs more than a Prius).


Honda to make better and cheaper hybrids

Honda’s President & CEO Takeo Fukui has announced that by 2010 Honda will introduce low-cost hybrid and clean diesel vehicles in North America, hence reducing CO2 emissions. Honda confirmed that it is now developing a new dedicated hybrid vehicle “suitable for family use” in major automobile markets in the world. With this new dedicated hybrid vehicle, Honda believes it will offer a major cost reduction, enabling the company to offer the vehicle in 2009 at a price level lower than the Civic Hybrid.

Hopefully by doing this Krissy and I will be able to afford a hybrid by then. Fingers-crossed that by 2010 gas price is not $10 a gallon. Then we will have to resort to our alternative plan, bicycles.