Category: Green Auto Technology

A Primer About Plug-In Hybrids

June 14, 2008 lacarguy Concept Vehicles, Hybrid Vehicles, LAcarGUY Sustainability 1 Comment

A Primer About Plug-In Hybrids

How would you like to run your car for less than $1 per gallon, with much lower emissions? Impossible?

Not according to Dr. Andy Frank, Professor of Engineering at the University of California at Davis, and Felix Kramer of The California Cars Initiative (CalCars). Frank and Kramer have become the world’s leading advocates for "gas-optional" or “plug-in” hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV).


Ironically, just when the American public is finally getting that you don’t have to plug hybrid cars in, here comes the plug-in hybrid. With the plug-in hybrid, you still will not be required to plug the car in—but you’ll have the option. As a result, drivers will get all the benefits of an electric car, without the biggest drawback: limited range. You'll be able to go all-electric for the vast majority of your driving, which for most motorists takes place close to home. When the electric charge runs out, a downsized gas engine kicks in and your car drives like a regular hybrid.


Staying in Stealth Mode

Many hybrid car drivers enjoy keeping the car in all-electric “stealth” mode, when the car is in slow stop-and-go traffic. Plug-ins would extend the stealth mode for the lion’s share of local driving.

The potential advantages are enormous. Consider:

·         A hybrid gets about twice the fuel economy as a conventional car of the same size and capacity

·         A plug-in hybrid will get about twice the fuel economy of a “conventional” gas-electric hybrid

·         A plug-in hybrid, running on biofuel (e.g., 85 percent ethanol) could almost entirely eliminate its use of petroleum


Sanyo, VW to develop lithium-ion batteries

May 28, 2008 lacarguy Hybrid Vehicles, LAcarGUY Sustainability, Volkswagen 0 Comments

Associated Press
Sanyo and Germany’s Volkswagen AG will develop lithium-ion batteries for hybrid vehicles as global automakers race to develop more environmentally friendly technology, Associated Press reports. 

Japanese electronics maker Sanyo Electric Co. said Wednesday it will invest 80 billion yen ($769 million) to expand production by 2015 of such batteries, with plans to start mass producing them in a Japanese plant by next year, making 15,000 to 20,000 batteries a year.  The deal with Volkswagen, announced Wednesday, follows a 2006 agreement between Sanyo and Volkswagen agreed to work together in nickel metal hydride batteries, now used in most gas-electric hybrids like Toyota’s Prius.  Sanyo already provides nickel metal hydride batteries for Ford Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co

Toyota of Hollywood mentioned in LA Times

May 23, 2008 lacarguy Hybrid Vehicles, LAcarGUY Sustainability, Toyota 0 Comments

Hybrid sales are zooming

Allen J. Schaben, Los Angeles Times
Anna Gladstone, of Hollywood Hills, put a deposit down and her name placed on a waiting list to purchase a Toyota Prius Hybrid car at Toyota of Hollywood this week. Gladstone is canceling her lease on her Volvo Crosscountry. "I think its time that we all pitch in and use less gas," Gladstone said.
With pump prices around $4 a gallon, dealers are selling the high-mileage cars as fast as they’re delivered.
By Martin Zimmerman, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 23, 2008
Hybrid cars are disappearing off dealer lots as buyers looking for relief from $4-a-gallon gasoline endure waiting lists, price markups and paltry trade-ins in their quest for better fuel economy.

"I’m selling every one I can get my hands on," said Kenny Burns, general sales manager at Toyota of Hollywood. With only one Camry hybrid in stock and a 30-day waiting list for a new Prius, Burns is selling the cars as fast as Toyota can deliver them.

Full article here

Lexus Hybrid Benefits

February 1, 2008 lacarguy Hybrid Vehicles, LAcarGUY Sustainability, Lexus 0 Comments

Increased Horsepower

Zero to 60 in 5.2 seconds [1] [2]. That’s the kind of power you can expect in the GS 450h. While it may have a V6 engine under the hood, the extra boost from the electric-drive motor gives the vehicle the acceleration power of a V8. Of course, performance like this isn’t exclusive to the GS 450h. The LS 600h L’s V8 gas engine and high-output electric motor provide an impressive 438 total system horsepower [1]. The RX 400h also boasts similar power enhancements, as will future Lexus Hybrids.

Lower Emissions

Lexus Hybrids were designed to provide the long-term benefit of lower smog-forming emissions. In fact, every Lexus hybrid vehicle has been certified as a Super Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) with about 70% fewer smog-forming emissions than the average new vehicle. Hybrid drivers also receive the more immediate advantage of better fuel economy overall. ]

Smoother Ride

The signature refined ride and smooth acceleration Lexus is famous for is also retained in our hybrid vehicles. Thanks to an Electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT), the switch between the electric-drive motors and internal combustion engine is virtually seamless. And the strategic placement of hybrid components throughout the vehicle, coupled with exceptional rigidity of the frame, give the driver a solid and luxurious ride.

Reduced Noise

Those already familiar with our legendary quiet interiors will be pleased to discover the noise levels in Lexus hybrid vehicles have been reduced even more. The engine mounts were moved upward to diminish vibrations, and the air intake system was completely redesigned. We even added insulation to the body panels, wheel wells and windshield. It’s all part of our continuing quest to provide the most serene environment for our drivers.

Longer Battery Life

The nickel-metal hydride battery in Lexus hybrid vehicles is so advanced that it’s covered by a warranty for eight years/100,000 miles. Better still, you never have to plug in the vehicle to charge the battery. The reason? When the vehicle is coasting or braking, electric power is captured and stored in the hybrid battery for later use. This power management system helps to ensure the battery never runs out of energy.

Better Fuel Economy

The electric-drive motors in Lexus hybrid vehicles provide more than a quieter ride. They also result in vehicles that have better fuel efficiency than their non-hybrid counterparts.

Performance & Innovations Dual Power Supply

During strong acceleration and when maximum power is required, Lexus Hybrid Drive simultaneously uses its internal combustion engine and electric-drive motors for exceptional performance. When the electric-drive motors complement the gasoline engine, they provide higher torque, which in turn results in smoother acceleration, free from gearshift lag. Plus, the extra torque that the electric-drive motors provide makes the engine feel considerably larger than it actually is.

Hummer VS Prius

September 8, 2007 lacarguy Hybrid Vehicles, LAcarGUY Sustainability, Toyota 0 Comments

Hummer versus Prius

Hybrid Synergy View Newsletter
September 2007 

Some readers of Hybrid Synergy View say they've heard about a report that claims a Hummer H3 sport utility vehicle uses less energy per mile driven than a Toyota Prius sedan. Not surprisingly, Prius fans who take pride in their cars' energy efficiency are confused by this claim. 

The report, published earlier this year by CNW Marketing Research, Inc., is titled "Dust to Dust: The Energy Cost of New Vehicles From Concept to Disposal." It is said to measure in dollars and cents all the energy used in creating, building, operating and disposing of each vehicle over its entire lifetime. The report says a Prius costs $3.25 per mile to operate, versus just $1.95 a mile for the Hummer H3. 

In May, a response from the Pacific Institute said of the CNW report, "The little supporting evidence that it has released suggests that the contentions in the report are, at best, unproven, and are likely wrong: the result of faulty analysis, untenable assumptions, manipulation and misuse of facts and data, numerical mischaracterization, and inadequate review."

Plug-In Hybrids

February 1, 2007 lacarguy Hybrid Vehicles, LAcarGUY Sustainability, Toyota 0 Comments

Plug-In Hybrids Hybrid Synergy View Newsletter
Winter 2007

The idea seems simple enough: Just add a cord and a plug to a Prius so you can charge its battery on ordinary household electric current overnight. Then, use only the battery power to make the short round-trips to work, school or the store. That would save lots of gas, and the charging could be done mainly at night, when utility rates are cheaper. When driving longer distances, the engine kicks in and the vehicle operates on gasoline, much like today’s Hybrid Synergy Drive® vehicles. 

This inspiring idea has caught the public’s attention as an energy-security measure that uses domestic and potentially renewable resources. Not surprisingly, it has prompted questions to automakers about when the first commercial plug-in hybrid can be expected.

As the leading maker of hybrid vehicles, responsible for three out of four sold in the United States last year, Toyota receives many of these questions.

Toyota believes plug-in hybrid vehicles are an appealing technology offering possibilities for energy diversity. Depending on electric power sources, they may offer reductions in both emissions and fuel consumption. Reaching this vision, however, will require breakthroughs in battery technology, including capacity, durability and cost. At present, plug-in hybrid vehicles are not commercially feasible.

It’s about batteries
An earlier edition of Hybrid Synergy View pointed out that much of the “magic” that makes hybrid vehicles work involves high-voltage battery technology.