Category: Green Auto Technology
Even though Toyota seems to be focusing on Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicles as the transportation of the future, they are still working hard to develop their electrical technology, and they have quite a few developments up their sleeve. The automaker has two different powerful battery technologies in development that could both dramatically improve the performance capabilities of electric-driven vehicles, one of which is in the prototype stage already, solid-state batteries. Solid State Batteries Toyota is developing a technology known as solid state batteries and they have already produced a coin-sized prototype that manages an impressive level of energy density compared to current lithium-ion batteries. The battery manages an energy density of around 400 Watt-hours per liter, or 400 Wh/L. This is currently close to two times as dense as lithium batteries being used today, which could do great things for electronics in general outside of the automotive industry. On top of offering more energy storage capabilities, this battery can also put out a power stream about five times as powerful as lithium-ion batteries are capable of doing. That means more powerful motors can be driven using fewer batteries. This technology is expected to be released in 2020 and should be perfected enough to hit between 600 and 700 Wh/L by 2025. What Makes them Different Solid state batteries are known as such because they rely on a solid electrolyte in place of the liquid electrolyte that’s used in lithium ion batteries. Instead of nickel-metal hydride or a lithium ion, solid ceramic or a polymer is used instead. This packs more energy into a smaller area allowing for a greater storage capacity. What the Batteries Can Do With solid state batteries being at the current energy density of the prototype in development a family sedan would be able to drive for around 300 miles on a single charge. While this is quite a ways off from the 600 miles that many automakers are shooting for, this is still a huge step forward for the industry overall and something to get excited about. Lithium Air Batteries Toyota is also developing lithium air batteries, but they expect these to take about five to ten years longer to develop than solid state batteries. These batteries rely on a small cathode that interacts with oxygen and requires less materials overall. This makes it possible to squeeze even more energy into a tiny area and could allow up to 1,000 Wh/L of storage by 2030. These two advances represent major breakthroughs for the electronics industry and will make it possible to produce long-distance electric vehicles that are much more efficient than the ones we see today. It’s hard to say if they are simply hedging their bet on Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles with this technology or if they plan to incorporate it into future vehicles to create something even more sophisticated for drivers to rely on.
Volkswagen recently announced the release price and date of the e-Golf electric hatchback vehicle. It’s set to go on sale in November and the SEL premium model will be sold at around 35,000 not including the destination fee. This price point is relatively affordable for such a capable electric vehicle that produces no tailpipe emissions but the even more remarkable thing is that VW went to the trouble of buying a carbon emission offset from 3Degrees for each of the vehicles produced to help the environment.
Capable and Spacious
The e-Golf is comfortable on the inside and offers the most interior space of any compact electric vehicle with a whopping 93.5 cubic feet of space for up to five passengers. The rear of the vehicle offers 22.8 cubic feet of storage space unless the seat is folded down and then the number goes up to 52.7 cubic feet in total space.
The e-Golf is capable of achieving a range of over 100 miles when driven carefully but automakers state that it averages between 70 and 90 miles on a single charge. The 199 lb.-ft. torque provided by the engine offers plenty of power for quick acceleration and enjoyable driving. A rapid charging system makes it possible to recharge the battery up to 80 percent full in just 30 minutes making a series of short trips in the car much more convenient than in other electric vehicles. This compact car is built on the same MQB architecture as the rest of the Golf lineup, giving it a sporty feel and agile handling. The e-Golf is also the first VW vehicle to offer complete LED headlights in the US, giving it a higher level of visibility while consuming less power.
Equipped with satellite radio, Bluetooth technology and an advanced media system with a remote app, the e-Golf is certainly a well-connected vehicle. It offers all the features that you would expect in the latest luxury sedans and that makes the driving experience all the more enjoyable. Dual-zone automatic climate control keeps the vehicle at an ideal temperature, and three different driving modes help you adjust how much energy you burn through while travelling. Heatable seats and keyless entry add further conveniences to the vehicle and a rearview camera and Park Distance Control make driving more convenient.
The Carbon Offset
Volkswagen worked with 3Degrees to offset all of the CO2 emissions created during the production and distributions of the vehicles as well as for charging the vehicles during the first 36,000 miles of operation. This helps lay the argument of whether electric vehicles are actually useful for reducing CO2 emissions to rest. With the offset purchased the e-Golf is clearly the superior choice for the health of the environment.
This latest release will bring more usable all-electric vehicles to the masses in a fun little platform. No information has been released about lower trim packages if there are going to be any, but the e-Golf SEL looks like a lot of fun to drive around.
There’s a reason that Toyota hybrid technology manages to stay ahead of the pack, despite very heavy development in the sector. It all boils down to talented researchers and engineers that work tirelessly to come up with improvements to the technology. Eric Dede is one of these engineers, and he recently developed a new invention at Toyota’s research lab that will noticeably improve the efficiency of Toyota’s future line of hybrid vehicles.
About Eric Dede
Eric Dede is currently the manager of the electronics research department at the Toyota Technical Center, but that doesn’t mean that he just sits on the sidelines telling others what to do. Previously Dede was the senior engineer for the University of Michigan Space Physics Research Lab and he likes to get his hands dirty and take part in the research process. While making sure the facility is running smoothly, Dede is chiefly responsible for developing future elemental technology for Toyota’s hybrid vehicles and EV’s. His invention in 2013 earned him the R&D 100 Award, essentially an Oscar for an inventor.
His Hybrid Invention
Eric Dede invented a micro-channel cold plate, or a more efficient way of transferring heat through Toyota’s hybrid vehicles. This invention improves heat transfer by up to 70 percent, reduces the total pump power needed by 50 percent and has the potential to increase hybrid performance by up to 10 percent, which is an awful lot in vehicles that are already getting over 50 MPG in the city.
Dede’s patent and subsequent R&D 100 Award isn’t the first that a Toyota engineer or scientist has earned, but it is the first time that all of the research was done in-house at Toyota. This is a sign that Toyota is continuing to expand their research facilities and create more cutting edge technologies for the future.
Even though it’s only Dede’s name on the patent he isn’t taking all the credit for the invention. He stated that “This was a great collaborative project that established useful methods for the advanced design and optimization of electromechanical systems.”
Toyota Leads the Pack
Most people already recognize Toyota for having some of the most sophisticated and accessible hybrid technology on the market today. The technology improvements by Dede, and the 1,355 patents filed by their engineers and scientists in 2013 proves that they want to continue holding that position in the industry. Toyota is working hard to develop the most sophisticated vehicles on the market, and they aren’t afraid to forge ahead on an unfamiliar path. Their development of the original Prius proves that, and they’re proving it once again with the Hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicle that’s set to be released in 2015.
Toyota has finally announced more information about their eagerly awaited hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. In Tokyo City less than a week ago they showed off what the exterior of the new sedan will look like and also gave a price and an expected release date for the vehicle. The only catch, all of this information only pertains to the Japanese model of the car. Toyota spoke briefly about a tentative release date of a similar vehicle in Europe and the United States, but it’s not as firm as the Japanese model.
Hydrogen fuel cell is one of the newest and most exciting ways to power a vehicle, and now the people of Japan have a deadline for when they can start buying Toyota’s first commercially-available hydrogen-powered vehicle. They expect to release the car before April of 2015, and it is expected to be priced at 7 million Yen, that’s approximately $69,000 by today’s exchange rates.
A Long Time Coming
Even though many people have only heard of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles in the last few years Toyota has been working on the concept heavily for the past 20 years, trying to develop the vehicle that they will be releasing soon. All of the time and effort put into this research put the automotive giant ahead of most automakers with this technology, allowing them to pioneer it much the same way that the Prius did for hybrid cars.
Improvements and Performance Expectations
Initially the fuel cell technology Toyota was relying on was not advanced enough to offer performance levels similar to a gasoline powered vehicle. Today Toyota says that’s not the case. Their current vehicle can travel up to 700 km (435 miles) on a single set of cells. Not only that but the refueling time for this vehicle is a mere three minutes, which is very comparable to gasoline vehicles as well. Now the only real hurdles left to overcome are getting up all of the necessary refueling stations to make travel with this vehicle convenient, and figuring out how to make these vehicles even more affordable. As long as fuel cell technology takes off as well as many people expect it to, these other issues will sort themselves out with time.
The Benefits of Hydrogen Fuel Cells
Fuel cells are much more environmentally friendly than gasoline is because they don’t emit any pollutants during operation, and can be made using clean energy sources such as wind and solar power. They are also expected to be more sustainable than fossil-fuel-reliant gasoline is making them a great source of power for future generations. If you live in Europe or the US you’ll have to wait until sometime in the summer before getting a chance to own one of these beauties, and pricing information hasn’t been made available yet.
Come meet SpongeBob Squarepants and see the all-new Highlander Hybrid at the LA Auto Show this weekend
Toyota’s Highlander Hybrid has always been a near-perfect combination of size, luxury, fuel efficiency and power, and for 2014 a dose of style can be added to its long list of positive attributes.
With the recent redesign of the gas-powered Highlander, the Highlander Hybrid benefits from fresh new looks. With an increase in length and width over the outgoing model, the new Highlander Hybrid has road presence like no Highlander before it.
Using the same powertrain as it predecessor, the V6-powered 2014 Highlander Hybrid should manage the same combined EPA fuel economy rating of 28 mpg.
The 2014 Highlander Hybrid will be available in two trims: Limited and Limited Platinum. Starting at $47,300, the Highlander Hybrid Limited comes standard with an eight-inch touchscreen display with navigation and Toyota’s Entune system, eight airbags, and a backup camera among other things.
Moving up the Highlander Hybrid Limited Platinum adds Safety Connect subscription emergency services, a radar-based cruise control with Toyota’s Pre-Collision safety system to help in avoiding accidents, a lane departure warning system, panoramic moonroof, and heated seats in the second row. The Highlander Hybrid Limited Platinum will be priced at $49,790.
Meet SpongeBob Squarepants
If the passengers you’re hauling in your 2014 Toyota Highlander or Highlander Hybrid happen to be children, be sure to stop by the Los Angeles Auto Show this weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday) to meet SpongeBob Squarepants and see the SpongeBob Squarepants Toyota Highlander.
Teaming up with Nickelodeon, Toyota will offer a build your own SpongeBob booth, airbrush tattoo artists, and a chance to win a surfboard by Santa Cruz Surfboards from the non-profit environmental group Heal the Bay.
On top of this, Toyota and Nickelodeon will work together to donate $5 to Heal the Bay for each individual who Tweets or Instagrams a picture of the SpongeBob Squarepants Highlander with #SpongeBobHighlander up to $10,000.
To learn more about the 2014 Highlander, Highlander Hybrid, or the SpongeBob Highlander keep following LAcarGUY News.
This year’s Los Angeles Auto Show served as the unveiling of the all-new Audi A3 for the North American market. Filling the spot of the A3 Sportback, the new A3 will shun the hatchback configuration for most models and will instead adopt more traditional sedan and convertible bodystyle.
If you’re a die-hard fan of the A3 Sportback, don’t lose hope yet, as Audi will continue to offer the hatchback body in the e-tron Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle model. As the name suggests, this model will be able to run on electricity alone for some miles before its gas engine kicks in.
For those of us interested in saving fuel at the pump, but not quite ready to make the transition to a plug-in hybrid car, the new A3 will be offered with Audi’s 1.8 TFSI and 2.0 TFSI four-cylinder engines, producing 170 and 220-horsepower respectively. Audi will also offer a 150-horsepower 2.0-liter TDI diesel engine that will offer extended range and fuel efficiency over its gas-powered brethren.
If you’re a speed demon, you can also make your way up to the 290-horsepower S3 model. Expect a future RS3 model offering in excess of 300-horsepower.
But the A3 isn’t so much about horsepower, as it is about bringing Audi’s pursuit of luxury and technology to the masses. With a base price of $29,900, the all-new A3 gives customers the opportunity to own the first vehicle in its class with 4G LTE connectivity. This technology allows the all-new A3 to incorporate features such as Google Earth and Google Street View in its MMI infotainment system.
Operating in conjunction with a 7-inch screen that rises from the dash, MMI’s latest trick is the incorporation of a touchpad onto its rotary wheel. Teamed with the A3’s available 705-watt Bang & Olufsen Sound System, the compact Audi is turned into a miniature A8.
With available safety features such as active lane assist and adaptive cruise control, the Audi A3 incorporates a host of technologies to keep its passengers safe. Whether your new to the Audi brand, want to cut your emissions by investing in the A3 Sportback e-tron PHEV, or feel the need for speed that is the sporty S3, Audi’s latest compact model will leave you more than impressed with its available luxury and technology features.
Volkswagen continues to prove its commitment to green technology with the unveiling of the e-Golf at this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show. With a full array of diesel vehicles and the recent introduction of the gas-electric Jetta Hybrid, the e-Golf moves Volkswagen into the realm of all-electric vehicles.
Boasting a range of between 70 and 90 miles, the e-Golf is able to manipulate its electric motor’s power delivery to give drivers the option of more horsepower or greater range.
Three different driving modes are available: Normal, Eco, and Eco+. In Normal mode the e-Golf makes a full 115-horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque, or enough power to take the e-Golf from 0-60 mph in a reasonable 10.4 seconds.
Stepping up to Eco mode improves the vehicles range, but also pulls back some of the e-Golf’s modest power. With 94-horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque available in Eco mode, the e-Golf scoots from 0-60 in 13.1 seconds.
For owners who really want to get the most range from their e-Golf, there’s Eco+ mode. With power pared down to 74-horsepower and 129 lb-ft of torque, and the A/C shut off, Eco+ mode is ideal for city use.
In the event a Volkswagen e-Golf owner does find his or her car out of electricity, Volkswagen is offering an exclusive roadside assistance plan that will take an owner and his or her e-Golf to a charging station at no cost, provided that the owner is within 100 miles of his or her home.
Furthermore, if an owner does not want to wait with his or her e-Golf as it charges, Volkswagen will cover the cost of a cab ride home; though, such an event will likely be rare as the e-Golf’s battery can be recharged to 80-percent of its capacity in approximately 30 minutes when using a DC Fast Charging system.
Volkswagen designed the e-Golf to help owners cope with potential range anxiety. A range monitor provides the driver with general information, such as the impact auxiliary systems like the A/C will have on the e-Golf’s range. And regenerative braking will be offered in three different levels in order to allow e-Golf driver’s to recapture the most kinetic energy back if they so desire.
Unlike many modern electric vehicles, the e-Golf is unique in that its architecture was designed from the start to use electric propulsion. As such, the battery and electric motor don’t intrude into the passenger compartment.
Sporting the familiar styling of the all-new Golf, the e-Golf wears a unique fascia with “C-shaped” LED daytime running lamps that will become a signature cue of all electric Volkswagen’s. Volkswagen also added LED headlamps that use less energy than halogen or xenon units.
The e-Golf marks the beginning of a new electric age at Volkswagen and we at LAcarGUY News look forward to seeing the next steps the company takes on the road to electrification. LAcarGUY News will be at the Los Angeles Auto Show posting the latest news and images from the show on our Facebook pages. Be sure to “Like” Pacific Volkswagen and Volkswagen Santa Monica on Facebook to get the latest information from the show floor.
The compact Lexus CT 200h is the latest Lexus to incorporate the company’s trademark “spindle grille” into its front-end design. Like other Lexus vehicles, the CT’s styling benefits from the aggressive maw, giving the car an added dose of character and aggression.
Scheduled to be unveiled at the Guangzho Motor Show in China, Lexus states the car will also receive a revised rear-end design and new alloy wheels.
Currently the CT is a hybrid only affair, affording the compact hatchback with impressive gas-mileage; however, Mark Templin, Lexus International executive vice president, recently told Motoring Australia that he hoped in the future Lexus might add a second powertrain option to the CT to target “people who want fast cars.”
Lexus recently revealed that it will show a compact SUV concept called the LF-NX with a new turbocharged four-cylinder at the Tokyo Motor Show. This engine is expected to eventually replace the IS250’s V6 engine, but will it also find its way under the hood of the updated Lexus CT? We’ll find out when the car debuts on November 21. Be sure to continue to follow LAcarGUY News for the latest Lexus news.
Image credit: Lexus
With the 2014 Corolla, Toyota brings to market a completely updated version of its bread and butter car. Besides the Camry, the Corolla is the highest selling vehicle in the Toyota lineup with approximately 300,000 units sold per year. Since entering the market in 1968, Toyota has sold 10 million Corolla’s worldwide. Meanwhile, Corolla is responsible for 38% of the company’s overall U.S. sales.
The appeal of the Corolla crosses demographic lines. While its modest price makes it a desirable buy among younger shoppers, the Corolla’s inherent value has made the car a favorite among older buyers, as well as Hispanic and African American buyers, who have made the Corolla the #1 vehicle sold to both communities.
With the 2014 model, Toyota has done a 180 with the Corolla, turning the car into a purchase made out of passion and not just necessity. This starts with an exterior design that is more dramatic than the 2013 model. It certainly makes a statement, as the Corolla will no longer blend in to the background of mall parking lots. Different trim lines are accompanied by different appearance packages. The S model has a unique shape to the grill, grill inserts and fog lamps. The LE Eco model offers a rear spoiler, low rolling resistance tires, and a smoothed out under tray to lessen aerodynamic drag. LED headlights are standard across all models – a first for the compact segment.
The S model, with it’s blacked-out trim and grill, makes for a very striking vehicle, particularly in silver or blue. Other trim lines are more conservative in their style, but still maintain a handsome look.
The wheelbase of the 2014 Corolla has been stretched 3.9 inches, which leads to an additional 5 inches of rear legroom, giving the 2014 Corolla more legroom than some midsize sedans. This added space means two adults will be able to fit very comfortably in the back, with enough headroom for a 6-foot tall person.
The dash area is all-new as well, with a horizontal design and a significant upgrade in materials. While hard plastics are used throughout most of the cabin, each piece has a solid look and feel to it. The steering wheel has a nice thick design that’s very comfortable to grip, meanwhile S models come with a leather-wrapped wheel that gives a more premium feel compared to the standard steering wheel.
Seat materials are also well done. The standard cloth seats offer a nice thickness that leads one to believe the material will stand up to the test of time. Higher-end models use Toyota’s Tex Leather that also has a solid look and feel to it.
Bluetooth is standard on all models, as well as eight airbags, power windows, and the aforementioned first-in-class LED headlights. LE trimmed Corolla’s add Entune audio with a 6.1-inch touchscreen, as well as a backup camera with dynamic glide slope guidance. For 2014 Entune has been upgraded with a simpler user interface, an improved voice recognition system, and additional apps. Unlike in previous years, Entune is now a subscription-free service, allowing all 2014 Corolla owners to enjoy the service.
There are three transmissions available on the 2014 Corolla. Base L model’s come with a standard six-speed manual transmission or optional four-speed automatic transmission. LE and LE Eco models come only with a CVT that is available on the sportier S model with integrated paddle shifters. A six-speed manual is standard fare on Corolla S models.
The CVT transmission is a Toyota designed and built unit that is programed to simulate a seven-speed gearbox. Most of the “shifting” is felt only under heavy throttle settings, otherwise the transmission provides the seamless drive and feel associated with CVTs.
From behind the wheel, the Corolla offers a rather firm but very comfortable ride that soaks up bumps and potholes well at normal city speeds. As you approach highway speeds, the suspension transmits more road imperfections into the cabin. It’s not jarring, but it is noticeable.
One item that drivers will immediately take note of is that the Corolla gives you the feeling of going much slower than the speed you are actually traveling at. Going 70 mph, gives you have the perception that you are actually going 50-55 mph. This speaks to the quality of the Corolla’s chassis and sound deadening materials.
This also translates to the feeling of acceleration in the 2014 Corolla. Between the quiet cabin and the dynamics of the CVT, the perception is that the Corolla is accelerating rather slow; however while not quick, Corolla’s available power is more than adequate for all driving situations.
The LE Eco is unique over other Corolla models in that it employs Toyota’s Valvetronic system. While the standard VVT system adjust the opening and closing of the valves for maximum efficiency, Valvetronic goes one step further in adjusting valve lift and allows Toyota to maximize the engine’s efficiency. The net result is a Corolla with 8 extra horsepower and an EPA-rated 42 mpg on the highway.
The 2014 Corolla will come with two additional airbags over the outgoing model, raising the number to eight. Toyota has also increased side impact resistance by incorporating a new support beam for additional safety protection.
Available in four trim levels, the 2014 Corolla L has a base price of $16,800, while the LE stickers at $18,300, the LE Eco at $18,700, and the S at $19,000. Option packages have been simplified into two categories: Plus and Premium. Toyota made the decision to simplify the Corolla’s option packages from customer feedback and observed buying dynamics.
Toyota knows its customers very well, and the latest Corolla will appeal strongly to them. The core essentials that have made the Corolla so popular are still the cornerstones of the 2014 model; however the car’s dramatic new styling and modern interior that challenges that of the Sentra, Civic, and Forte, give the car a newfound glory. The Corolla continues to fall short of being an all-out “driver’s car” but it is a very competent compact car. With the Corolla entering dealership lots, Toyota’s challenge is to see if the 2014 model can increase the car’s customer base, as Toyota wants to increase Corolla sales by 10%.
Original source VW USA
The Volkswagen XL1, the most fuel-efficient and aerodynamic production car in the world, made its U.S. debut at the 23rd Annual Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) Conference at the Chattanooga Convention Center today. The XL1 offers an estimated European combined fuel consumption rating of 261 mpg (more than 200 mpg estimated in the U.S. cycle) and can cover up to 32 miles as a zero-emissions vehicle in all-electric mode.
“The XL1 offers a glimpse into Volkswagen’s present and future eco-mobility capabilities, and highlights the ultimate successes of ‘Thinking Blue’,” said Oliver Schmidt, General Manager of the Engineering and Environmental Office (EEO), Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. “Volkswagen is proud to debut this ultra-fuel-efficient vehicle before the Society of Environmental Journalists, a group that shares in our commitment to environmental stewardship.”
In addition to the XL1 display, Volkswagen’s participation in the SEJ Conference included a tour of its LEED® Platinum-certified Chattanooga manufacturing plant and solar park; test-drives in its line of eco-friendly cars, such as the e-Golf, Passat TDI Clean Diesel and Jetta Hybrid; and a bird-watching expedition on Volkswagen Chattanooga’s sanctuary grounds.
The XL1 is an automotive standout that follows pure sports-car design principles: light weight (1753 pounds), exceptional aerodynamics (Cd 0.19), and a low center of gravity. This super-efficient Volkswagen has the ability to cruise down the road at a constant 62 mph while using just 8.4 PS (6.2kW) horsepower. In all-electric mode, the XL1 requires less than 0.1 kWh to cover more than a kilometer.
The XL1 emits just 21 g/km of CO2, thanks to its high-tech lightweight design, aerodynamic efficiency, and a plug-in hybrid system consisting of a 48 PS (35kW) two-cylinder TDI® engine, a 27-hp electric motor, a seven-speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic transmission, and a lithium-ion battery.
The estimated European driving cycle of 261 mpg fuel consumption figure is a record that has not been achieved by any other vehicle to date, showing that Volkswagen is redefining what is technically feasible in the automotive industry. The XL1 also has a top speed of 99 mph and can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 12.7 seconds.
Conceptually, the XL1 represents the third evolutionary stage of Volkswagen’s 1-liter car strategy. When the new millennium was ushered in, Prof. Dr. Ferdinand Piëch, now Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG, formulated the visionary goal of putting into production a practical car that had combined fuel consumption of one liter per 100 km (235 mpg). In the two-seat XL1, this vision has become reality.
Despite the tremendous efficiency of the XL1, the engineers and designers successfully came up with a body design which delivers more everyday utility than the two previous prototypes. In the L1, the 1-liter car that was shown in 2002 and 2009, the driver and passenger sat in a tandem arrangement for optimal aerodynamics; in the XL1, the two occupants sit slightly offset, side by side, almost like a conventional vehicle.
The XL1 is 153.1 inches long, 65.6 inches wide, and just 45.4 inches tall. By comparison, a Volkswagen Polo is slightly longer (156.3 in) and wider (66.2 in), but is significantly taller (57.6 in). Even a purebred sports car like today’s Porsche Boxster is 5.1 inches taller. The XL1 will look spectacular going down the highway—a car of the future, built for today.