German carmaker Volkswagen has given its go for the the produciton of an exotic, two-seater that you only normally see in concept form. The VW XL1 is a hybrid vehicle that features mirrors that are based on cameras, enclosed wheels on its rear end, and gullwing doors. It will hit the production line during the first half of 2013.
Volkswagen did not disclose the tag price of the XL1 but experts see it to come between $40,000 and $67,000. The company has the permit to produce 1,000 units every year.
The power of the XL1 will come from a twin-cylinder diesel powerplant that gives out 48 horses and an electric motor that churns 27HP.
Volkswagen can be considered a late comer into electric engines after claiming for years that diesel is the best way to go in terms of fuel efficiency. It has put aside the concept of a hybrid powertrain that combines electric motors with the conventional combustion engine.
During a recent press event, VW disclosed that the XL1 will be made in its Osanbrueck factory and the car will be the company’s first push to the market of plug-in hybrids.
The XL1 tips the scale at just 795 kilos while standing lower than the Posch Boxster and comes shorter than the subcompact VW Polo.
Toyota introduced the compact hybrid vehicle Prius back in 1997 or more than a decade before the Touareg SUV was rolled out by VW in 2010.
VW is looking to roll out a plug-in Golf by 2014 as well as that of a Passat. This will also be true for the Porsche Cayenne, Audi A3, and Audi Q7.
It is not uncommon to see Tesla Roadsters zooming along the highways between San Francisco and the Silicon Valley. You even have a supercharger station when you get to San Jose. Better Place, founded at Silicon Valley, has been oddly absent amid all the Chevy Volts, Ford Focu Electrics, and Nissan Leafs in the Bay Area.
Better Place was actually busy setting up EV charging networks in countries like Denmark and Israel. The company operates swapping stations where customers can bring their depleted batteries and get fresh ones. The company was able to provide a good coverage for electric vehicles in the island-like countries.
By next year, Better Place will do something for its home state. It will launch a whole fleet of taxis in the Bay Area that runs on switchable batteries.
The energy commission of the state approved the funding for the eTaxi program. The partnership aims to spread awareness about the green vehicles to more sectors of the society. One may not be able to afford an electric car but in California, you will be able to ride one.
The initial phase of the project will involve putting up two stations for battery switching. These will primarily serve Coda electric vehicles going around the area. Eventually around six stations will be built to serve a fleet of at least sixty taxis.
The battery swapping infrastructure is more practical for a fleet of taxis whose drivers do not have all the time in the world to wait for the battery pack to be recharged. The battery can be swapped with the installation completed in a few minutes.
Better Place is shifting to taxis and corporate fleets as it struggles after I tried to win consumers in Denmark and Israel. They also have lost around $71 million just in the third quarter for their projects in the said countries.
The annual auto show in Paris has been a great venue for car manufacturers to showcase their electric vehicles. For 2012, the ZOE from Renault garnered the most votes to be named the Best Green vehicle. The Renault ZOE is an electric car with an affordable price tag and a driving range of 90 miles.
The Renault ZOE was first unwrapped during the 2009 auto show in Paris. It was categorized as an ultra compact city car that can go as fast as 90 miles an hour with a driving range of a hundred miles. Back then, the carmaker stated that it will take around 4 to 8 hours to recharge the battery using a charging station or about 30 minutes using a fast charging station.
It is also important to take note that Renault is a partner of the firm called Better Place that is building swapping stations in Denmark, Israel and Amsterdam. It will also have another station in San Francisco by next year. The ZOE can get a battery swap in a matter of 3 minutes.
For the 2012 edition of the motor show in Paris, Renault revealed more details about the ZOE as they prepare for its official roll out before the end of this year. The ZOE will have a Range OptimiZEr that is engineered to make sure it will have an optimal range in real world driiving conditions. Drivers can expect a range of 62 to 93 miles from the Renault electric car.
It will also be equipped with a Cameleon charger that automatically adjusts to the available power. Recharging the ZOE will take around 30 minutes to around nine hours.
The Renault ZOE will start at $26,820. In France, this green car can qualify a buyer for a deduction of $9,069 that effectively makes the starting price $17,751. The battery pack is not included in the price as Renault decided to lease for around $102 per month on a contract that will cover about 12,500 kilometers annually.
The Chevrolet Spark may only be a small car but it packs a lot of equipment to convince young buyers that the car should be in their garage. The 2013 model year is already being sold in one hundred countries and the small city car is set to get to US shores before the end of the year.
General Motors tailors the specs of the Spark for the U.S. market and veers it away from its root as a budget car. Chevrolet is pushing it to the consumers in the states as an ideal urban car that is very easy to own, very easy to drive, and very easy to park.
The version of the Sparks for the US will get Hill Start technology and Panic Break Assist. The first one helps hold the car on brake as the driver moves his foot from the brake to the throttle. The latter determines if the driver is trying to do an emergency stop and tries to assist by applying the maximum pressure on the brakes.
The 2013 Spark will also have connectivity features. It will have a MyLink Infotainment system that can be controlled using the 7-inch touchscreen. This will also come with Bluetooth, navigation, internet radio, and on demand radio.
This version of the Spark will also get more power compared to the other releases across the globe. The 1.2-liter petrol engine can give out 84 horses. It will also roll on 15-inch alloy rims which is the first for its sector.
The fuel ratings for the Sparks with automatic transmission are not yet available but the manual version does 32 mpg on city streets and 38 mpg on the highway or a combined rating of 34 mpg.
The coolest rides have made their way to the big screen and now it is the NSX Roadster of Acura set to appear in the upcoming The Avengers movie. The hybrid roadster was spotted last year during the filming of the Avengers but Acura recently shared that the NSX Roadster will be the ride of Tony Stark portrayed by Robert Downey Jr. in The Avengers film.
The Acura NSX Roadster is in every angle and every inch perfect for Iron Man, the alter ego of the character Tony Stark. The design lines of the car are perfect for the adventurous and powerful suit of the Iron Man who is among The Avengers.
Acura does not have any clear plans of producing the NSX Roadster bu the NSX Coupe will be rolled out by 2015. The movie though might be used by the car manufacturer to gauge the pulse of the market if the roadster should hit the production line.
Like the hard topped sibling, the NSX roadster will feature the Sport Hybrid Super Handling AWD system which combines the powerful V6 running on gasoline and 3 electric motors. The setup guarantees that the Acura NSX hybrid will be among the greenest sports cars in history.
The NSX also has a pure electric mode with the gasoline engine kicking in when more power is required.
The NSX hybrid Roadster is only one of the Acuras that will appear in the movie as part of the SHIELD organization. The other Acura models include the Acura RDX, TL, ZDX, and MDX.
The Avengers will hit the movie theaters on May 4 but more than a hundred dealers of Acura will host pre-screenings to celebrate the brand’s involvement in the movie.
The 2013 Lincoln MKZ which took the spotlight during the recent motor show in Detroit will be rolling out with two engine options and that includes a hybrid setup.
Ford makes sure that the Lincoln MKZ will not only look different from its current Ford Fusion in terms of style but will also have something different under its hood. The new MKZ will be rolling out this Fall and an insider has confirmed that the designs of the production models are already done before the concept vehicle was ready.
It might be a bit difficult to imagine what the production version will look like but there will be for sure side mirrors, door handles, and a space for an extra passengers (the concept MKZ had only space for four).
The details about the hybrid powerplant has not been released yet but it is scheduled to be unwrapped during the auto show in New York where the production model MKZ will go on display.
The Lincoln MKZ might also get the 4-cylinder EcoBoost that is also being used by the current Ford Fusion. The car can be calibrated to improve the electronic throttle, suspension, and noise control.
The Ford Fusion will be marketed with three gas engine options, plug-in hybrid, and a hybrid while the Lincoln MKZ will only get one gasoline powerplant and a hybrid. A plug-in is possible if there will be a demand for it.
The Lincoln MKZ will also have an 8-speed automatic gearbox, adjustable suspension, and a bunch of automobile technologies.
The first hybrid of the brand rolled out in 2010 and already helped in boosting sales. The current hybrid version of the MKZ has a 2.5L 4-cylinder gas engine paired with electric motor and has a combined fuel mileage of 39 mpg. This number is almost twice the mileage of the conventional MKZ 6 cylinder engine that returns 21 mpg.
Mercedes-Benz unveiled the concept vehicle called F125! last month in Frankfurt and it might just be the answer to the questions of the luxury vehicle segment on what ride they can get that gives out some power but then greener, just like how every regulation in different countries ask for.
The F125! actually checks a lot of boxes in the wish list of car manufacturers for the future. It has high quality materials, driving that is computer assisted, high tech telematics, and the fuel cell hydrogen drivetrain.
The F125! might sound like a big science project but according to the research and development team of Mercedes-Benz, it holds the key to the future of the S-Class line of the brand. The car, according to the team, was built keeping in mind what the car in 2025 will look like.
The future S Class puts it way above the regulatory standards of today. By 2025, the fuel mileage of a vehicle must average 54.5 miles per gallon while in EU the CO2 emission must average only 130 grams per kilometer by 2015. These limits puts manufacturers of big internal combustion engined vehicles like the S Class against the wall, that is why Daimler decides to go with an electric drive.
Going electric does not solve the dilemma on the S-Class since the market for this car demands power, and cruising range. And Mercedes-Benz is thinking of 1,000 kilometers with zero emission which will meet tough regulations by 2025. To address the range and power issue, the only answer is to go with fuel cells to run the 4 electric motors of the F125!.
Daimler though is giving the F125! the feel when you start your ride today, so instead of using the standard design, the concept vehicle makes use of a system which is still on research stage. The technologies involve are next generation systems but is still under development.
During the unveiling of the Audi A6 back in November last year, the car manufactured based in Ingolstadt did not confirm the availability of the A6 hybrid in North America. Recent reports though say that reliable sources from Audi confirms that the A6 hybrid will make it to the United States by next year with a tag price above $55,000.
Experts are speculating that the Audi A6 Hybrid that will reach the US soil will have the similar specs as the one that Audi will roll out in Europe next year.
The European version will make use of a parallel hybrid setup which makes use of a 2.0L TFSI petrol engine that generates 211 horsepower and 258.15 lb-ft of torque with a 45 horsepower, 155.63 lb-ft torque electric motor.
Combining the capabilities of the electric motor with the gasoline dependent engine, they have a combined output of around 245 horsepower and roughly 354 lb-ft of torque. The power will be transferred to the front wheels via an 8-speed modified tiptronic gearbox.
The electric motor will be dependent on a system of lithium ion battery that will weigh around 36.7 kilograms. The battery pack will be placed under the luggage compartment. The luggage compartment has a good space for around 375 liters but is less that the regular model’s 530 liters.
The Audi A6 Hybrid can blast from 0 to 100 kilometecrs per hours in just 7.3 seconds and can reach a top speed of 238 km/h. The combined fuel economy with this setup will be 6.4 liters/100 kilometers. The hybrid A6 can go on pure electric power for about 100 kilometers.
It may look cute and all but early on, the 2011 Think City automobile is facing two major safety issues. The first one deals with the improper installation of seat belts. The other one tackles the defroster system. These issues were raised by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Because of such issues in safety regulations, the car company Think North America has recalled all of the 16 2011 Think City units that has been sold in order to address the improper installation of the seat belts by Think’s Elkhart, a final-assembly plant based in Indiana. According to the NHTSA, the seatbelt on the driver’s side do not have a tensioner that is a requirement in order to support the mandatory Child Restraint System. NHTSA added that due to the improper installation of the seat belts, there is an increased risk of injury.
The company’s dealers are willing to do a free inspection and replacement of the seat belts. However, Think North America has yet to coordinate with NHTSA for the scheduled owner notifications so the owners have yet to be notified, otherwise, you can reach Think North America at 855-698-4465.
As for the defroster system problem, the NHTSA has said that the car’s fluid heater system is functioning poorly and might have a hard time cleaning the windshield during cold weather, which then adds to more risks in injury and accidents. Likewise, the company’s dealers will address the problem and replace the existing defroster system in your 2011 Think City unit.
Premier John Brumby stood at Port Melbourne with Australian Roads and Ports Minister Tim Pallas and President Masahiko Takahashi of Mitsubishi Australia to welcome the arrival of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, the first commercial vehicle that is fully electric. Twenty units of Mitsubishi i-MiEV rolled onto the Webb Dock East.
Brumby said in a statement that these i-MiEV units will play a part in the Victorian Government’s trial for electric vehicle. He mentioned that the government is fully committed in their initiative to make the state a greener and cleaner environment; therefore, the $5 million electric vehicle test trial is the government’s way of ensuring that the state is electric vehicle-friendly.
Brumby also mentioned that the Victorian Government is working hand-in-hand with the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) in looking for at least 180 families who are willing to take part in the test trial. These families will get to test drive the electric vehicles for almost three months. This is a good way to see how the plug-in charging, electricity network, and the test drives will fit into the daily lives of the test applicants and how successful the electric vehicles are in adapting to day-to-day situations. The test trial will also include light commercial vehicles, passenger vehicles, and two-wheelers. Brumby said that the test trial is part of the Victorian Government’s $38 billion Transport Plan and that this will enable the government to see how they can make the these electric vehicles more useful on the road and for the people.