Category: Hybrid Vehicles
Subaru’s XV Crosstrek has been a sales success since entering the market last September. Subaru reports having sold 45,000 of the little crossovers in its first year and the brand as a whole is set to top 400,000 U.S. sales this year – the fifth year in a row the company has witnessed a sales increase.
In order to keep the momentum going, Subaru is introducing its very first hybrid-electric vehicle for the 2014 model year, the XV Crosstrek Hybrid. Sure Subaru may be a little late in coming to the hybrid party, but it’s better late than never.
Starting at $25,995, the XV Crosstrek Premium takes the topline non-hybrid XV Crosstrek Touring and builds on it. That means besides added fuel efficiency the new XV Crosstrek Hybrid comes with features such as LED rear taillights, a standard 4.3-inch LCD display, a standard rearview camera, keyless access and ignition that allows owners to unlock and start the vehicle without removing the key from his or her pocket, and automatic climate control.
Step up to the $29,295 XV Crosstrek Hybrid Touring and you’ll receive a standard navigation system with a 6.1-inch display, leather seats, and a sunroof.
To learn even more about the capable and fuel efficient XV Crosstrek Hybrid, as well as the standard XV Crosstrek, stop by Subaru Pacific today.
by Zach McDonald of hybridcars.com
Be it restaurant smoking bans or Pinot Noir, California has a way of setting trends that seem to inevitably spread throughout the country. For carmakers though, the importance of pleasing California drivers goes beyond their apparent influence on trends: not only is the state the U.S.’s largest auto market, it accounts for more than 10 percent of sales nationwide each year.
Now, for the first time, a hybrid has topped the list of the most popular new cars in the Golden State. In 2012, the Toyota Prius outsold the second-place Honda Civic line by more than 3,500 units, making it the most widely purchased platform in the state with a total of 60,688 vehicles sold.
The figures include sales of the Prius, Prius v, Prius c, and Prius plug-in hybrid, which combined to sell more than 236,000 vehicles in the United States last year—up 73 percent from 2011. Toyota also regained its lead as the world’s largest carmaker in 2012, thanks in part to robust hybrid sales. In Japan, the Prius and the Prius c were the two best selling vehicles last year, with the state of California ranking as the top market for Toyota hybrids outside of their home country.
What has led to the Prius’s meteoric rise in California? One contributing factor last year may have been gas prices, which hit record highs in the state thanks to refinery fires and other supply setbacks. But independent of the ups and downs of the oil market, Californians have always been a little greener in their driving preferences. The state was the first in the country to popularize the Prius, and has led all other states by leaps and bounds in hybrid and electric vehicle adoption.
Does this most recent feat mean that the Prius will overtake Ford’s F-150 pickup truck this year as the most popular vehicle in the U.S.? Probably not. At the very least though, it signals that hybrids are here to stay and should continue their brisk growth in popularity throughout the United States.
by Dan Grey: MPGOmatic.com
I can hear what you’re thinking … Volkswagen, selling a hybrid sedan?
Aren’t VW’s fuel-efficient TDIs the best-selling passenger car diesels in America?
Indeed they are, but VW faced a dilemma.
The typical Toyota Prius owner, they say, rarely considers buying a diesel.
So Volkswagen decided to build a hybrid of their own. A very different hybrid. One with a turbocharged engine. Marketed to folks that love to drive.
The typical hybrid has a continuously variable (CVT) transmission, lackluster handling, and a rather unsporting demeanor. The Jetta Turbo Hybrid, by contrast, has a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission and a suspension that’s rewarding to drive through the twisty bits.
In order to best show the Jetta Hybrid’s potential, Volkswagen invited a group of automotive journalists out to New Mexico, to enjoy a spectacular drive from Santa Fe to Taos and back. I had the good fortune to be able to tag along.
The Jetta Hybrid boasts the most rear-seat legroom and largest trunk in in its class. To prove the latter point, Chicago-based automotive journalist Jill Ciminillo, a.k.a. The Girl in the Trunk, applied her rather unique method of measurement. (The video is a must see!)
A rear spoiler, front air dam, extended side skirts, and underbody trickery lower the Jetta Hybrid’s Coefficient of Drag (Cd) to 0.28, a solid improvement over the standard Jetta’s already respectable 0.30.
While the official EPA estimates were not available at the time of testing, Volkswagen is aiming for 45 miles per gallon (MPG) combined. Through four hours or so of driving, we averaged approximately 46 MPG, with some hefty climbs through the hills and plenty of foot on the throttle. Volkswagen claims a 0-60 mile per hour (MPH) time of 8.6 seconds, and while we didn’t have the opportunity to time (or shoot) a run, it’s clearly that fast.
Faster than one might expect from a 1.4-liter hybrid … were it not turbocharged.
In Boost mode – with the electric motor working in concert with the turbocharged 1.4-liter gasoline-powered engine – the drive train produces a total of 170 horsepower (HP).
The Jetta Hybrid will run under electric power at speeds up to 37 or 44 miles per hour, when in “E-mode.” The engine will shut off while foot-off coasting at speeds all the way up to 84 MPH. The transitions between modes are seamless.
The dashboard includes a unique “Power Meter” to the left of the speedometer to indicate regeneration and efficient driving. It’s quite different from what most hybrid drivers may be accustomed to. While the LCD screen provides historical fuel economy data, we’d like to see more depth and features here. Adding a fuel economy training application would help drivers exceed the official mileage estimates.
Overall, VW’s engineers have hit the mark. The Jetta is the driver’s hybrid sedan.
by Zach McDonald: HybridCars.com
Volkswagen has announced pricing for its forthcoming Jetta hybrid, which is scheduled to be released later this year. The car will come in four trim levels, with the base model carrying a price tag of $24,995 plus a $795 destination charge. The Jetta Hybrid is the most fuel-efficient model in the Jetta lineup, which also features the Jetta TDI (coming in at $22,990 to start,) and the base model 4-door sedan (which starts at $15,515.)
The Jetta Hybrid will boast a combined fuel economy of 45 mpg, which is a significant improvement over the combined 34-mpg TDI, and the 28-mpg base model—though both of those cars display better highway mileage than their combined efficiency ratings indicate.
VW says the Jetta hybrid can go from 0-60 in under 9.0 seconds, which means it should outperform all other similarly priced hybrids, including the Prius c, which registers a time of 10.6 seconds in that test. In a stunt at the Bonneville Salt Flats this summer, Volkswagen proclaimed the Jetta Hybrid “the fastest hybrid in the world,” after hitting speeds of more than 185 mph in a modified version of the car. The market version of the Jetta Hybrid, of course, won’t go anywhere near that fast, but it’s still likely to be noticeably sportier than many of its peers.
The base $24,995 trim level will be available by order only, but will come with standard daytime running lights, automatic climate control, Bluetooth accessibility, and 15-inch aluminum alloy wheels. For about $2,000 more, the Hybrid SE edition will carry power reclining front seats, a media interface with an iPod cable, LED taillights, premium touch screen radio, keyless access, and push-button starting.
For $29,325 the Hybrid SEL comes with a power sunroof, heated front seats, and 16-inch aluminum allow wheels. The trim levels top out at $31,180 with the SEL Premium, which offers Bi-Xenon headlights with daytime LED running lamps, 17-inch wheels, and a premium Fender sound system with subwoofer.
Under the hood, all Jetta Hybrids will have a 1.4-liter direct-injected turbocharged engine, supplemented by a 27-horsepower electric motor, for a combined 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque.
by Zach McDonald – HybridCars.com
Last year, a study by AutoPacific found that about 70 percent of Prius drivers have a college education, which probably comes as little surprise to anyone who’s ever listened to a hybrid owner proudly describe the inner workings of his car’s regenerative braking system. Indeed, at least in its early years, the Prius came to develop a bit of a reputation as a “geek-mobile,” which is what GM Chairman Dan Akerson derided it as several years ago. (Perhaps the Prius line’s recent climb to the become world’s third best-selling platform serves to confirm that “the geeks shall inherit the earth.”)
For its part, Toyota is more than happy to sit at the nerd table. The company has already featured famous eco-geek Bill Nye in internet advertising supporting the releasing of the Prius c, and sponsors the sustainable technology section of the “How Stuff Works” website. Recently, the carmaker released a series of promos posted on “How Stuff Works” featuring the host of a Discovery Channel show of the same name, which was inspired by the site.
Over the course of five relatively short videos, host Ben Bowlin uses the Prius v wagon to illustrate simple physical concepts like mass and the four states of matter. The spots are light-hearted and probably best suited for younger Prius fans, with Bowlin exploring such scientifically dubious questions as “how many plasma screen televisions can fit into the Prius v’s cargo area?”
For those interested in a little more substance, “How Stuff Works” does have articles explaining the mechanics behind the Prius, the relationship between horsepower and fuel economy, and hybrid vehicle design.
The Prius v’s expanded cargo area makes it an ideal fit for many families who held out on buying the Prius liftback because it didn’t meet their storage needs. Though these “How Stuff Works” video science lessons are unlikely to teach potential Prius v owners much they didn’t already know, maybe they’ll help to get the kids a little more excited for a hybrid-powered trip to grandma’s.
Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) recently announced that global cumulative sales of its hybrid vehicles have topped the 4 million mark as of April 30, 2012. Currently, Toyota sells 18 hybrid passenger vehicles in 80 countries and regions around the world. And this year, hybrid sales accounted for 15 percent of TMC’s global vehicle sales.
The first Prius went on sale in Japan in 1997 and in 2000, Prius hybrid technology was introduced to the U.S. Since then, the Toyota Division of Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A. has sold 1.5 million hybrid vehicles in the U.S., accounting for 65 percent of all hybrid vehicles sold in the region. Prius, the iconic hybrid brand, makes up half of all hybrids on the road in the U.S. with sales totaling 1.2 million units through April 2012.
The expansion of the Prius family line of vehicles has been successful in the U.S. since the Prius v was introduced to the market in November 2011 and the Prius c and Prius Plug-in during the first quarter 2012. In that time, Prius family sold 60,859 units in the U.S.
“All of us at Toyota would like to sincerely thank our customers, who have made Prius the best-selling hybrid in the industry,” said Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager, Toyota Division. “While we’re proud of this accomplishment, we are not stopping here as hybrids will continue to be a core technology for Toyota.”
As of April 30, 2012, TMC calculates that TMC hybrid vehicles, since 1997, have led to approximately 26 million fewer tons of CO2 emissions—considered to be a cause of climate change—than would have been emitted by gasoline-powered vehicles of similar size and driving performance.
It’s been twelve years since the Toyota Prius first came on to the American stage. Thought of as a science experiment then, and in many ways it was, now in it’s third generation the Prius Liftback IS the face of Toyota.
While the hybrid and plugin electric market may only be 2.5% of all vehicle sales in the U.S., the Prius accounts for more than 50% of those sales. The most shocking statistic is that 96% of all Prius’ sold, are still on the road today. Looking to expand the sales of the Prius, Toyota have expanded the sub-brand of Prius into four models, with the goal of the Prius family of vehicles surpassing Camry in sales.
The first expansion of the Prius family was the v, not quite a crossover, yet more than a wagon, it was Toyota’s move to get growing and active families more space to fit their lifestyle without compromising fuel economy or the integrity of the Prius name. The Plugin Prius will be the current Liftback model that will have the ability to drive 15 miles on pure electric, then revert back to a standard Prius Hybrid once the charge has been depleted. The last component is the source of our review, and that is the Prius c. It is a B-segment car, which will be competing against the likes of Toyota’s own Yaris and iQ, along with the Mazda2, Ford Fiesta, Chevy Spark, Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, Kia Rio and Hyundai Accent.
Powering the Prius c is an updated version of the venerable 1.5 liter inline four cylinder engine. It has been updated to improve efficiency with lighter weight valve springs, lighter tension weight piston rings along with a few other items like the elimination of an accessory belt so now that the power steering, air conditioning and water pump are all driven via electric motors to reduce drag and friction and improve fuel economy. This is paired with a Ni-MH battery pack that is about 2/3rds the size of the one found in the Liftback, which provides an additional 25.9 horsepower to the 73 horsepower engine. The transaxle in the Prius c is an all electric unit that has no belts.
Fuel economy is the raison d’etre in the Prius family and the Prius c will deliver that in spades. Rated by the EPA 53 city, 46 highway and 50 combined. We had the opportunity to drive for a short 25 mile loop that was an equal mix of surface roads and highway. On the surface roads we pulled down 63.5 mpg without really making an effort to maximize fuel economy, and at the end of the loop we had a combined 54.7 mpg, and that was while driving highway speeds of 70-75 mph. Keeping with the rest if the Prius family, the c also has start/stop technology, so that the car is running only when it needs to when stopped in traffic. If you are in stop and go driving, this is an excellent way to save a few extras drops of fuel.
Lest you think this B-segment car is cramped inside, it is not. Front seat passengers have plenty of room, no fear of rubbing shoulders with your passenger. For back seat passengers, two normal sized adults will be able to ride comfortably. We had the drivers seat set for us at 5’11”, then jumped in the back seat behind and were able to get in and out with no problem, and our knees were not touching the back of the driver seat either.
The rear seats do fold in a 60/40 arrangement allowing for good load flexibility, bicycles and snowboards will have no problem fitting inside. With the seats up there is 17.1 cubic feet of space in the hatch area, which should be more than enough room for day to day items, or runs to the grocery store.
In the upper trim levels Toyota have made Softex synthetic leather an option. Listening to their consumers, Toyota have eliminated the use of natural leather in the Prius family of cars. The Softext in our test car, was comfortable, had a quality feel to it, and was grippy so that we did not slide around in the seat.
There will be four trim levels to the Prius c, One, Two, Three and Four. Stepping up to trim level’s Three and Four will net you a smart key, which offers the ability to not have to take the key out of your pocket to get in the car, or need it for starting. The upper two levels also get you the top end audio system with navigation. It has a 6.1 in touch screen with AM/FM/SirusXM/HD Radio and also will play CD’s along with MP3 and WMA files through a six speaker system.
All trim levels have bluetooth as standard but trim levels Three and Four allow for advanced voice recognition. The top end audio system also includes Entune. Entune is a system that Toyota have developed that works with the data connection on your smart phone to supply Pandora, iHeart Radio, OpenTable, MovieTickets.com along with real time traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports scores and weather to you.
You register on a specific Toyota website with your cars VIN number, and then you can assign up to four different phones to the system so that everyone can taylor the system to themselves, if multiple people in a household share the car.
The Prius c also contains a 3.5 inch TFT display to the right of the offset digital speedometer. There are multiple levels of menus to explore within. Items like energy monitors, drive information, scoring the last 100 drives and how economical the current one is, 5 minute consumption. There is an ECO Savings level where you can program the current cost of gas in, and also the mpg of another vehicle to see how much you are saving with the Prius c. It also calculates the current cost of your current trip, and past trips, and brake it down into a cost per mile. It will also grade you on how economically you are driving and braking on a scale of 1-5 and display it in a bar graph.
Many people worry about safety in cars that are as small as the Prius c. To address this Toyota is including nine standard airbags along with items like ABS, traction control, vehicle stability control, brake assist, brake force distribution and smart stop.
Smart stop is a system that intervenes when both the brake and gas peddles are pressed at the same time. In a panic situation one might press down hard on both peddles without meaning to. The system senses this, and disengages the gas, it also incorporates a hill assist into the system so that if you are on a hill and stopped, you do not roll backwards when transferring from the brake peddle to the gas peddle.
Pricing for the Prius c in trim level One starts at $19,710, Level Two is $20,760, Level Three is $22,395 and Level Four is $23,990, all prices include the $760 destination fee. While this is certainly on the higher end of the B-Segment price structure, cars like Ford’s Fiesta can quickly top $20,000 as well once they are optioned up. The base price of the Prius c is about a $2,000 premium over the Yaris to give some context.
Out on the road the Prius c drives very well. While the handling can’t be called sporty, it is very competent. It is very agile, has a better ride quality than the Prius Liftback or v, and also transmits less road noise through the tires than the Liftback or v as well. The Prius c engineers took extra time to mitigate as much NVH from the car as possible and their work shows.
Acceleration in city traffic from 0-40 miles an hour is good, though not quick. Merging onto the highway the power can be best described as adequate. It is able to get on to freeways and merge without drama, and while you may feel you need to be going faster or accelerating quicker, once you look at the speedometer, you will see you’ve already gotten up to the speed of surrounding traffic. The car can engage an EV mode where it can run up to a mile with a max speed of 25 miles an hour.
The Prius c was able to run 75 miles an hour on the highway with no issues, it was not moved around by semi’s going past, it felt very stable, and the interior is quiet enough to hold a conversation in a normal tone of voice.
While the other versions of the Prius have never excited us all that much, we feel that the c is the first Prius that we can get behind. It truly was a fun and satisfying car to drive. In a time when gas is again approaching $4/gallon in the U.S., having a car that can pull down 50 mpg is an attractive proposition. And when that proposition asks very few compromises from you, it’s even more so. No the car is not a sports car, or a sporty car, what it is, is a small car that gets the job done, can be well equipped, and you don’t mind driving. While in the past, and even now with the Liftback and the v, the Prius’ could be described as automotive appliances, the c does not have that vibe, it feels like a car first, a hybrid second.
We’ve talked about it for quite some time, and now it’s finally here, the first new model of the Prius line, it’s the Prius V. V is for Versatility! The Prius V has as much cargo capacity as most CUV’s on the market today, yet returns the superior fuel economy you would expect from a Prius. As you may remember we had a chance to drive a Prius V back in June and wrote about it here on the blog.
Now, the Prius V’s are here, and we have them available at both the Toyota Santa Monica and Toyota Hollywood stores! We showed the Prius V off at the AltCar Expo, and we also shot this test drive video for you, have a look.
Zack McDonald from HybridCars.com contacted us and asked if he could be a guest blogger for LAcarGUY, we were happy to oblige!
Remember the Volkswagen L1 that debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show back in 2009? If not, here’s a brief refresher: The carbon-fiber bodied L1 concept was powered by a 0.8-liter two-cylinder diesel engine that cranked out 27 horsepower. That diesel engine was supplemented by a 10-kW electric motor housed inside the L1’s seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. With a curb weight of only 838 pounds, Volkswagen claimed the L1 would return upwards of 170 miles per gallon.
Then, in January of 2011, Volkswagen unveiled the third generation of its fuel-sipping concept. The third-gen vehicle differed from its predecessor in several ways, but most notable was its addition of a port, which transformed the concept into a plug-in hybrid vehicle. Called the XL1, Volkswagen’s lightweight concept boasted an electric-only range of 21 miles and measured in at 153-inches long, 66-inches wide and only 45-inches high. Weight shot up to 1,753 pounds, but the output from its diesel engine jumped to 48 horsepower and its electric motor cranked out 20 kW. Volkswagen claimed the XL1 concept could zip from zero to 62 miles per hour in 11.9 seconds and top out at 100 mph.
Most importantly, the XL1 retained its streamlined body and its ultra-efficient hybrid powertrain. At the time, Volkswagen announced the XL1 would return a remarkable 261 mpg—a questionable figure since it’s based on Europe’s lenient fuel economy test cycles. Nevertheless, we’d expect the production version to return approximately 150 mpg in “real world” driving, and word is a production version is coming soon.
According to Automotive News Europe, Volkswagen chief executive officer, Martin Winterkorn, officially confirmed the 2013 launch of the two-seat XL1. ANE quoted Winterkorn, “We will start small series production by 2013—in Germany.”
That most likely equates to VW whipping out 100 or so production versions of the XL1 and selling them to the general public over in Germany. So, more of a field trial than a full-scale production vehicle, but hopefully VW brass will decide to eventually give the XL1 plug-in hybrid the mass production green light.
Sunday was National Plug-in Day (October 16, 2011), with over 200 EV drivers taking part in a parade of electric vehicles in Santa Monica, California over the weekend and LAcarGUY was there with Mike Sullivan driving the Prius Plugin and Kelly Sullivan driving the Fisker Karma! Congresswoman Janice Hahn of California along with California state Senator Fran Pavley, Chris Paine and actor Ed Bedgley Jr. were just a few of the other well known people who drove their personal EV’s in the parade.
With 200+ vehicles participating this years event was the largest-ever plug-in vehicle parade and biggest grassroots EV event, the parade in Santa Monica was mirrored by similar displays in 20 cities across the US.
Organised by not-for-profit EV advocate group Plug-in America, the day saw new and legacy plug-in vehicles from the likes of GM, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Toyota, smart, Ford, Tesla and Coda take part in the flagship parade through downtown Santa Monica.
“Only a few years ago, major automakers were literally crushing electric cars. Today, virtually every auto company in the world is selling or developing a plug-in car, and consumers are snapping up each and every one, stimulating our economy while helping the environment,” said Plug In America co-founder Paul Scott.
You can see all of the pictures we took from the event on out Flickr page, just click this link to take you there.