Category: Green Auto Technology
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.
Newest Audi TDI® models powering “Truth in 48” challenge to drive from L.A. to N.Y. in 48 hours on four tanks of clean diesel fuel
A team of 12 drivers will embark this weekend on “Truth in 48,” a bid to drive 2,800-plus miles from Audi Pacific to New York in 48 hours or less. The team will be driving the 2014 Audi A6 TDI and 2014 Audi A7 TDI sedans, with the 2014 Audi Q5 TDI as a support vehicle in the challenge to demonstrate the extended range and fuel economy provided by Audi clean diesel technology.
The rally, led by Wayne Gerdes of CleanMPG.com, will make only four refueling stops. They will depart from the Audi Pacific dealership in Torrance, CA the morning of the Saturday, Sept. 7, with plans to conclude the drive at the Audi Manhattan dealership the afternoon of Monday, Sept. 9.
Throughout the drive, the CleanMPG team will swap seats with members of the media, including Christian Moe of Road & Track, Damon Bell of Consumer Guide Automotive, Jill Ciminillo of Chicago Tribune and Sebastian Blanco of Autoblog Green.
Each Audi TDI clean diesel vehicle delivers up to 30% better fuel economy and 30% lower carbon dioxide emissions than gasoline engines, resulting in longer range and fewer trips to the fuel pump. By having more density than gasoline, diesel packs more energy in the same amount of fuel which helps maximize the miles per gallon. The 2014 Audi A6, A7 and Q5 TDI clean diesel engine vehicles adds to Audi’s list of advanced technologies that help enhance fuel efficiency, including Audi ultra® lightweight technology, Audi quattro and Audi e-tron.
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.
At a quick glance, the Toyota RAV4 EV looks a lot like the gas-powered RAV4; however, upon closer inspection Toyota has done a lot to differentiate the two RAV4 models that serve very different purposes.
As noted in the video below, Toyota incorporated a more aerodynamic front-end design to the RAV4 EV, as well as power saving LED headlights and daytime running lights. Revisions extend to the rear end too, where unique taillights sit below an extended rear spoiler and next to a tailgate that forgoes the RAV4’s signature hatch mounted spare tire (the latter feature being available to the gas-powered RAV4 as well).
Design changes reach underneath the car too. Redesigned spats near the wheels, and a smooth underbody aid in vehicle aerodynamics.
Inside, the RAV4 EV gains a new gauge pack and center console controls that reflect the high-level of technology the car packs. Watch the video below to see these new features in action on the Toyota RAV4 EV.
Living with an electric vehicle doesn’t mean having to live with compromise. To assist owners of the new RAV4 EV, Toyota has designed its Entune app to specifically accommodate their needs.
From the vehicles multimedia system owners can access Entune’s variety of apps, one of which is a list of the nearest charging locations. Owners can also set the time their RAV4 EV will begin charging if leaving it on a charger for an extended period of time. This feature can save RAV4 EV owners money as charging during off-peak hours is often less expensive.
Other interesting features include the ability to set a “pre-climate” mode from the owner’s smart phone. Selecting this mode engages the vehicle’s air-conditioning system before the driver arrives at the vehicle so that the RAV4 EV’s interior temperature is already set to his or her preferences. But don’t take it from us, watch the video below to see the RAV4 EV’s Entune features in action:
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.
With a slated launch date of mid-2014, the A3 e-Tron will be Audi’s first all-electric vehicle. Watch LAcarGUY’s Mike Sullivan describe highlights of the vehicle which include lithium ion batteries with a range of approximately 85 to a 100 miles per charge and 199 lb-ft of torque with zero pollutants.
As the industry moves forward with alternatively fueled vehicles, Audi will have several offerings including the Q5 in a diesel and hybrid and the all-electric A3.
Watch as Mike describes how LAcarGUY plans on preparing for a future with all-electric vehicles:
by Zach McDonald — hybridcars.com
It’s been a little more than two years since Toyota and Tesla shocked the automotive world by announcing their intention to work together on electric vehicles. At the time, the nature and extent of that cooperation were unclear, but just months later we learned that the two companies were hard at work adapting Toyota‘s RAV4 crossover into an EV.
This won’t be the first Toyota RAV4 EV to hit the market, though it will be completely technologically distinct from its predecessor. Released in 1999, the original RAV4 EV is still beloved (and driven) to this day by hundreds of passionate owners. This time around though, the RAV4 plug-in will carry a lithium ion battery pack and strong reminders of Tesla’s DNA.
Toyota has been famously reluctant to build fully-electric vehicles, due mostly to the carmaker’s unease about expensive, limited-range cars that won’t take you 100 miles in between charges. Surprisingly, Tesla feels largely the same way: the most affordable version of its Model S carries a range of 160 miles at highway speeds, more than twice the range of cars like the Nissan LEAF and Ford Focus EV.
In a pair of videos recently released by Toyota, engineers from the project tell the story of how the two carmakers came together to build one of the most intriguing vehicles to come along in years.
Both companies played to their own strengths. Tesla took the lead in providing the car’s electric drivetrain and 41.8 kilowatt-hour battery, capable of at least 100 miles of range (though a recent New York Times review found the SUV easily exceeds that number.)
Toyota was responsible for applying its renowned regenerative breaking technology, which is balanced with the Tesla drive architecture to provide an efficient, responsive ride. Modifying the body and undercarriage of the car to ensure optimal aerodynamics were another challenge, since any drag can greatly diminish an electric vehicle’s range. The RAV4 was given an enhanced spoiler, redesigned front fascia and covered underbody to achieve a coefficient of drag of around 0.3 (about 25 percent better than a standard RAV4.)
Together, Toyota and Tesla have constructed the first lithium ion-powered electric SUV on the market. Though initial production will be limited to just 2600 vehicles, demand for the car should be strong given its unique blend of attributes. If response to the first RAV4 EV is any indication, expect a chorus of calls for Toyota to build more.
Have you considered a fully electric vehicle? Or would you like to consider one but are concerned that it might not make it as far as you would like it to. What if the vehicle ran out of power? What if it leaves me stranded? Well, you are not alone. There are others out there who would consider purchasing an electric vehicle but have what we call, range anxiety.
Watch the following video as Toyota executives, engineers and designers discuss the RAV4 EV and how they plan on eliminating range anxiety by creating an aerodynamic, fully functional, and fun-to-drive vehicle without any compromises.
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.