Next-gen BMW 3-Series teased in first promo video

March 25th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

BMW has released a promotional video that gives us our first official glimpse of its redesigned 3-Series sedan.

While the clip doesn’t give too much away, it does show the upcoming car’s exterior as well as an X3-inspired cabin.

The new 3-Series will be slightly larger than the current model and adopts plenty of styling cues from the larger 5-Series. Engine options are top secret for now, but petrol options are expected to include a turbocharged 1.6-litre mill with 110 kW, a turbocharged 2.0-liter motor with 180 kW and a high-power turbocharged 3.0-litre inline-six that will pump out around 225 kW. BMW wants to cover its bases so a hybrid powertrain is also on the cards with a petrol engine paired to a 40 kW electric motor.

The 2012 BMW 3-Series is scheduled to be officially revealed later this year, with a possible debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Check out the promo video below. Continue reading “Next-gen BMW 3-Series teased in first promo video” »

Porsche announces pricing and details for 918 Spyder Hybrid Supercar

March 22nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

It will still be at least two years before Porsche’s new 918 Spyder hybrid supercar reaches production, but that’s not stopping the German carmaker from putting a price tag on it and opening the order book.

The 918 Spyder is to be the most expensive model ever built by Porsche with European prices starting from €645,000 ($1.24m NZD). That’s a large chunk of change to say the least but for the money buyer’s will get the latest hybrid tech and the natural successor to the iconic Carerra GT.

Production of the 918 Spyder will take place at Porsche’s Zuffenhausen plant in Germany starting from September 18, 2013, with first deliveries to commence in November 2013. Porsche plans to limit production of the two-seater model to no more than 918 units worldwide.

The 918 Spyder is closely modeled after the concept study seen at last year’s Geneva Motor Show. However, the production version will not have a full open-top look, instead it will go with removable roof panels that can be stowed in the front luggage compartment. Other differences from the concept include the addition of exterior mirrors and the removal of the side exhaust tail pipes. Continue reading “Porsche announces pricing and details for 918 Spyder Hybrid Supercar” »

Mitsubishi to keep Evolution alive… for now

March 21st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

It was just a couple of weeks back that we brought readers the sad news that Mitsubishi planned to kill of its iconic hero model – the Lancer Evolution. Currently, in its tenth generation, Mitsubishi claimed dropping sales and plans for a new greener direction. This left Evo fans globally sulking around the house and making attempts at drowning their sorrows.

But now, after a strong backlash, Mitsubishi is backing down quickly from its earlier claims that the Lancer Evolution would be no more after its 10th generation. The Japanese automaker now promises that the Evo X will live out its life cycle as planned, and will continue to evolve in the future, but that may mean going a slightly different direction.

A different direction, WTF you might say. Well you got to feel a bit sorry for Mitsi here, it’s desperately trying to balance the necessity to move toward more eco-friendly vehicles while not alienating the huge fan base that the Evo has cultivated since the first-generation car was introduced in 1992. Continue reading “Mitsubishi to keep Evolution alive… for now” »

Toyota’s global hybrid sales reach three million units

March 11th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota is celebrating a new milestone with global sales of it’s hybrid vehicles now reaching the three million mark.

Toyota offers 16 different hybrid models around the world in 80 different countries, and it’s about to introduce several new variations of the Prius. Toyota’s hybrid sales began in Japan in 1997 with the launch in August of the Coaster Hybrid EV. This was followed in December by Prius, with just 323 sales in that first month.

Global demand for Toyota’s hybrid vehicles is accelerating rapidly, with one million being sold in the past 18 months alone – more than one per minute.

By contrast, it took almost 10 years to sell the first one million Toyota hybrids and two years and three months to sell the second million – a milestone only reached in September 2010.

The global total of Toyota hybrid sales to the end of February was just over 3 million, which includes more than 2.1 million Prius and 210,000 Hybrid Camry.

Toyota New Zealand  executive director Paul Carroll said responding to environmental issues whilst providing a range of fun to drive vehicles for customers is a priority for the company.

He said: “Customers are increasingly turning to hybrid vehicles in the face of rising fuel costs and a desire for more sustainable low cost motoring. As the leader in hybrid technology, Toyota is well placed to meet consumer needs both now and in the future.” Continue reading “Toyota’s global hybrid sales reach three million units” »

Lexus launches CT200h luxury hatch into NZ market

February 28th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Lexus New Zealand has just launched the all-new CT200h, the world’s first full hybrid luxury compact car.

Lexus National Manager, Debbie Pattullo said CT200h is the car for tomorrow’s forward thinking driver, and is the gateway to bring a new generation of customers to the Lexus brand.

“CT200h is an exciting addition to the Lexus line-up. The inclusion of the Lexus Hybrid Drive system in a compact luxury model makes this a unique vehicle which we’re sure the luxury vehicle buyer in New Zealand will appreciate.”

“There’s a definite trend toward small vehicles that do not compromise on features. CT200h gives Lexus a presence in this growing luxury compact segment. At the same time, CT200h is an example of the Lexus commitment to developing cars that are innovative, and different from what’s already out there in the marketplace.”

The modern styling on the CT200h combines with low CO2 emissions and high fuel economy to create a tempting prospect for NZ buyers.

Fuel consumption is just 4.1 litres per 100 kilometres with 94 grams of CO2 emitted per kilometre.

In full EV (Electric Vehicle) mode, the new CT200h can be driven at low speeds  in almost complete silence, using no fuel and emitting zero emissions when certain conditions have been met. Continue reading “Lexus launches CT200h luxury hatch into NZ market” »

Volvo to debut V60 diesel hybrid at Geneva Show

February 23rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

There’s often serious debate over what’s best in the current automotive climate – diesels or hybrids? But now Volvo may have found an answer to this problem but offering both options in one vehicle. The Swedish automaker is storming into Geneva with what it’s calling “the world’s first diesel plug-in hybrid”.

Housed inside the handsome V60 wagon, the diesel hybrid has two distinct drivetrains that can operate separately or in tandem with each another. Sitting under the bonnet is a 2.4-litre five-cylinder turbodiesel with 160kW and 438Nm of torque, while a 70-horsepower electric motor with a 12-kWh lithium-ion battery pack turns the Electric Rear Axle Drive (ERAD).

Through dashboard-mounted buttons, the V60 hybrid can operate in ‘Pure’ mode as a fully electric vehicle with a 51km range. In Hybrid mode, it emits less than 50 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer and has an impressive with a 1200km range. If you’re not in a green mood then there is a Power mode that turns the powerplant into a boosted torque monster with and will take the V60 to 100kph in just 6.9-seconds sprint. While that won’t trouble many sports wagons, for a diesel hybrid it’s a rapid figure. Continue reading “Volvo to debut V60 diesel hybrid at Geneva Show” »

Honda Jazz takes lead as Japan’s biggest selling car

February 9th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

While there is no doubt that the Toyota Prius is the world’s best-selling hybrid, in Japan there is a new sheriff in town — the Honda Jazz. The Prius has held out for the past 20 months as the top-selling automobile in Japan but for January of this year the Honda Jazz compact hatch took over the top spot.

Jazz sales in Japan surged to 14,873 units in the first month of this year, which is a 14 percent increase over the sales it achieved back in January 2010. In the January sales almost half of the 14,000-plus Japanese buyers went for the Jazz Hybrid.

Much of the hybrid Honda’s gas-electric appeal comes from its ¥1.59 million ($24,900 NZD) price tag, which is around $4,500 NZ less than the Honda Insight and it undercuts the Prius by a similar amount.

This is a clear sign that the market for hybrid compact hatchbacks is growing. Does the Honda Jazz have the endurance to out last the Prius in this battle. Only time will tell. Continue reading “Honda Jazz takes lead as Japan’s biggest selling car” »

Toyota to take Yaris HSD hybrid concept to Geneva

February 8th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

It’s no secret that Toyota has big plans to get into the growing market segment for hybrid powered small hatchbacks in Europe. But what has been just revealed is that a first look at Toyota’s efforts is on the cards for the upcoming Geneva Motor Show.

The Japanese manufacturer has just confirmed that it will unveil its Yaris HSD Concept at the March event. Toyota is keeping its card close to its chest for now on the Yaris concept so there’s little information on what kind of powertrain or fuel economy the car will achieve when it debuts. However, Toyota has said that the Yaris HSD Concept design will have some hybrid-specific features, so expect some serious Prius influence in the sheetmetal.

The B-segment remains one of the most popular market segments in Europe but it won’t be easy for Toyota’s hybrid offering to compete with high-efficiency diesel engines. The other barrier comes with price as hybrids command a price premium. So Toyota will need some smooth moves to make the hybrid Yaris a viable competitor in Europe. Continue reading “Toyota to take Yaris HSD hybrid concept to Geneva” »