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” »

Ford GT set for hybrid-powered comeback

February 7th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The rumours are swirling around the upcoming Ford GT successor with speculation on the supercars powertrain taking a seemingly unlikely turn.

Apparently the next GT40 inspired supercar from Ford will use hybrid technology to help it achieve break-neck speeds. Like the Porsche 918 Spyder the layout will consist of a standard combustion motor turning the rear wheels with an electric motor powering the front wheels for better low-sped efficiency and to boost high-speed power.

It seems radical but electric-assisted drivetrains are here to stay and are beginning to find applications in all vehicles – even retro-styled supercars.

Before you Ford fans start tearing your hair out, the good news is that the primary engine is set to be a beast. Ford is expected to use a supercharged V8 motor and the total output including the fancy new hybrid system will be in the region of 600 horsepower. That output figure would exceed the last Ford GT’s 5.4-litre dry-sump, aluminum-block supercharged V8, which was rated at 550 horsepower. Continue reading “Ford GT set for hybrid-powered comeback” »

BMW and Peugeot hook up for a hybrid drivetrain

February 3rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

After months of “are they really a couple” rumours BMW and PSA Peugeot Citroen have officially hopped into bed together to work on a hybrid drivetrain.

Building all the systems and hardware that goes into crafting a hybrid drivetrain can be highly expensive so the two Automotive heavyweights have joined forces. The companies are set to partner up on everything from battery packs and generators to software and chargers. However the main goal of the corporate marriage is to build an open European hybrid platform which will give them a little bit of structure and an edge in the upcoming electrified battle.

The joint venture is expected to get under way in the next few months, and BMW says that the first products to make use of the new technology will be on roads by 2014 at the earliest. According to reports, the very first vehicles to carry the new-age hybrid gear under its bonnet will likely be the Mini Countryman or a Countryman-based model.