Honda CRZ 2012 Review

January 18th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

To date, hybrid vehicles have certainly been rather dull automobiles that have failed miserably to excite anyone with the need for speed. Just when you thought all was lost for anyone wanting to save the planet one kilometre at a time, Honda’s new CRZ hybrid has come to the rescue.  Billed as the long awaited replacement for the CRX, Honda has managed to capture that same youthful enthusiasm the CRX delivered those 26 years ago.

Everywhere you look the CRZ has taken styling cues from the CRX. From the bodylines to the classic split rear window, it’s instantly recognisable as its predecessor.

That CRX feel is carried on into the interior, with the instrument cluster featuring wings like the original 1986 model. A large central analogue rev counter dominates the display with a digital speedo inside. Everything can be controlled right at your fingertips on the steering wheel, including shift paddles if you elect for the CVVT auto transmission model. As with decent modern stereos there is both an aux and USB input for MP3 player or iPod. The USB cord is hidden in a small smart device sized compartment in the centre console, keeping the device out of sight and out of harm’s way.

Continue reading “Honda CRZ 2012 Review” »

Volvo’s petrol plug-in hybrid

January 10th, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

Volvo will unveil an innovative petrol plug-in hybrid XC60 at the Detroit Auto Show later this month. It is an electric car, a highly economical hybrid and a powerful high-performance car all rolled into one.

At the touch of a button, the driver decides how the available power from the combination of the high-performance petrol engine and the electric motor is to be utilized.

“The technology in the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept is as ingenious as it is unique,” says Stefan Jacoby, President and CEO of Volvo. “You can make really green progress on the road without compromising on any of the luxury car’s renowned properties. No other manufacturer has succeeded in delivering fuel economy and electrical range on this level in a capable, spacious performance car with 262 kWs on tap.”

The same concept in the Volvo V60 plug in diesel hybrid goes on sale in Europe later this year and subject to further evaluation could be seen in New Zealand some time in 2013.

Volvo expects to introduce the plug in petrol hybrid technology to North America, which prefers petrol to diesel, in 2014 although it may be in a different car to the XC60 Concept on show in Detroit this month.

The driver chooses the driving mode via three buttons on the instrument panel. The buttons give the car three distinct temperaments: Pure, Hybrid or Power.

In Pure mode the car is powered solely by its electric motor as much as possible. The operational range is around 50 kms.

Hybrid mode is the standard setting whenever the car is started. The gasoline engine and electric motor cooperate to provide minimum environmental impact. According to the European certification driving cycle NEDC, CO2 emissions are 53 g/km with 2.3 litres/100 kms fuel economy. The car has a total operating range of up to 960 kms.

In Power mode, the technology is optimized to create maximum possible power and 580 Nm of torque. The electric motor’s instant torque delivery contributes to the car’s acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.1 seconds.

The front wheels of the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept are powered by a four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine from the forthcoming VEA (Volvo Environmental Architecture) engine family. This engine produces 210 kWs and maximum torque of 380 Nm. Power delivery to the wheels comes via a newly developed eight-speed automatic transmission.

“In the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept we demonstrate that our forthcoming four-cylinder engines offer the same high performance as today’s sixes. At the same time, their fuel consumption will be lower than in current four-cylinder engines,” says Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research & Development at Volvo.

The concept car carries a “T8″ badge, which emphasizes the combined 262 kWs of the high-performance four-cylinder engine and the electric motor. This moves the car into territory previously occupied solely by eight-cylinder engines or turbo sixes.

Fuel economy with the new VEA modular motor is improved by up to 35 percent compared to engines with similar performance. Modularity and compact transverse design are also ideal for future electrification developments.

The engine in the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept has no conventional starter motor or alternator. Instead, there is an Integrated Starter motor and Generator (ISG) connected to the crankshaft, which is located between the engine and the transmission. The ISG is capable of delivering an extra 34 kWs during acceleration. It also charges the battery during braking.

The rear axle of the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept is driven by an electric motor producing 53 kWs. It is supplied with power from a 12 kWh lithium-ion battery pack installed under the floor of the load compartment.

The battery pack is recharged from a regular power outlet, at home or at a parking place. Recharging time varies with the current. If 220V is available a full charge with 12A takes just 3.5 hours.

The electric four-wheel drive in the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept is activated by pressing the AWD button. Instead of the mechanical power transfer of conventional four-wheel drive, the central control unit distributes power between the gasoline-driven front wheels and the electrically driven rear axle.

The electric four-wheel drive system has been designed to provide better traction when starting and when driving on slippery roads.

The driver can choose to save battery power for later in order to drive on pure electricity later on, for example, an urban green zone or in the heart of a city. When Save is activated, the generator charges and tops up the battery pack if necessary.

Toyota unveils Prius C hybrid small hatch

November 16th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota has officially revealed its new standalone hybrid hatchback model that will be called the Aqua in Japan and be known as the Prius C in the rest of the world.

The Prius C is set to be the fourth entry into Toyota’s expanding range of Prius-badged hybrid models. There’s the regular Prius, the new plug-in Prius PHEV and the Prius V minivan. The new Prius C five-door hatchback will occupy a position as the base model of the Prius family.

The Prius C is only slightly bigger than the Toyota Yaris but packs a hybrid drivetrain, consisting of a “high-output” electric motor with a 1.5-litre gasoline engine. The 1.5-liter petrol unit produces 55kW at 4,800 rpm and 111Nm of torque, with the electric motor adding in up to 45kW and 169Nm.

Toyota said that it expects the Prius C to return a fuel economy of around 4.7lt/100km when used in the city. Continue reading “Toyota unveils Prius C hybrid small hatch” »

Mitsubishi taking new Mirage and electric concept to Tokyo

November 14th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Tokyo Motor Show is rapidly approaching and the latest automaker to show its hand is Mitsubishi. The Tri-Diamond automaker will display two brand new machines one a production model and the other a concept.

The production model will be the next-generation of the familiar Mirage hatchback. The new Mirage is a basic five-door hatch that will come sporting an economy-focused 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine with stop/start technology and a CVT Transmission. Expect it to be a frugal little number when it launches in the Thai market first, in March 2012.

Mitsubishi’s more daring concept vehicle will be theplug-in hybrid Concept PX-MiEV II which represents Mitsubishi’s vision for a mid-size SUV of the future. This concept is also chasing down extreme fuel economy with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that’s mated to a pair of 60-kilowatt electric motors. The advanced drivetrain will push all four wheels through Mitsubishi’s S-AWC (Super-All Wheel Control) traction control system. Apparently its performance is comparable with that of a 3.0-litre V6. Continue reading “Mitsubishi taking new Mirage and electric concept to Tokyo” »

Volvo putting plug-in hybrid V60 on sale next year

October 19th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Volvo is preparing to put its V60 Plug-in Hybrid diesel car on sale in European markets from next year.

The Plug-in Hybrid has been built in close cooperation between Volvo Car Corporation and Swedish energy supplier Vattenfall.

“No industry or organisation can tackle the climate challenge all by itself. It is our mission to develop carbon dioxide-lean cars, but it is the society that is responsible for creating a sustainable future,” says Stefan Jacoby, the President and CEO of Volvo. “This project shows how cooperation between experts in different areas brings us closer to the transition from individually carbon dioxide-lean products to a climate-smart lifestyle.”

When powered solely by electricity, the V60 Plug-in Hybrid has a range of up to 50 kilometres. Continue reading “Volvo putting plug-in hybrid V60 on sale next year” »

Toyota building hybrid LMP1 racer for Le Mans assault

October 17th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota has been the front runner in hybrid-powered passenger vehicles for many years and is now setting its sights on hybrid race car domination. The company’s racing division, Toyota Motorsport, announced today that it will enter the 2012 World Endurance Championship with a new hybrid weapon.

The last time Toyota competed in Le Mans racing was in 1999, before the Japanese automaker abandoned its GT-One program to focus on Formula One.

Now, Toyota is busy developing a brand-new, gasoline-electric hybrid racer that will compete in the top LMP1 class. The chassis is in development with Toyota Motorsport at its Cologne, Germany headquarters, which previously served as the Formula 1 base. The prototype race car’s hybrid powertrain will be engineered in Japan. Continue reading “Toyota building hybrid LMP1 racer for Le Mans assault” »

Kia sets new world record for Hybrid vehicle economy

September 22nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Kia has broken the world record for the lowest fuel consumption in a hybrid petrol vehicle, while driving through 48 adjoining states in the USA.

After a 14-day journey that started at the company’s manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia and finished in Greenville, South Carolina, the Kia Optima Hybrid achieved a fuel consumption of 3.64L/100km, beating the car’s official EPA highway fuel consumption figure by 61.37%.

The car was completely standard and to comply with Guinness World Record guidelines, the Optima Hybrid had to carry two people (drivers Wayne Gerdes and Chris Berniues) and their luggage throughout the journey.

The pair drove an average of 902 kilometres per day and the Optima Hybrid used just over 5.5 tanks of petrol to complete the route, recording an average distance of 2268.8 kilometres between re-fills.

Their lengthy journey took in every adjoining state in the country, followed in a clockwise direction, through all kinds of terrain and weather, from temperatures exceeding 47.7°C in the deserts of Arizona down to sub zero in the Rocky Mountains. And it wasn’t just highway driving the Optima also faced rush-hour traffic jams in Chicago, New York and Las Vegas. Continue reading “Kia sets new world record for Hybrid vehicle economy” »

Jaguar unveils stunning C-X16 sports car concept (+video)

September 8th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Jaguar has revealed its latest concept car, the C-X16 before it makes an official debut at next week’s Frankfurt Motor Show. The concept is already touted as being a likely future production model that will sit below the XK in Jaguar’s current line up. The concept may eventually spawn Jag’s affordable two-seater sports car that will fight Porsche’s Cayman and 911.

Built to be a true driver’s sports car, the C-X16 is the smallest Jaguar in terms of length since the 1954 XK120. The concept rolls on a shortened platform of the next generation XK’s aluminium chassis structure and has a perfect 50:50 weight distribution between its axles.

Under its traditionally long bonnet the C-X16 packs a hybrid powertrain that includes a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine with 280kW of power and 450 Nm of torque. The conventional engine works in with an electric motor generator integrated into the eight-speed automatic gearbox that transfers power to the rear wheels. Continue reading “Jaguar unveils stunning C-X16 sports car concept (+video)” »