Tag: green cars

Toyotas Flexibility Helps Ensure Mirai Customers are Happy

December 15, 2015 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , , ,

Toyota has been working hard to push forward hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and recently started selling the Mirai vehicle. About 57 Mirai’s have been sold to date and the owners of those vehicles in Southern Cali are running into a bit of trouble when trying to refuel them. That’s because some of the expected refueling stations around the area are lagging behind schedule. This could make owning the vehicle into a stressful experience with just four refueling stations open currently, but Toyota’s quick thinking is keeping the experience a positive own for all the early adopters. The automaker found a way to make six additional refueling spots available to give the owner’s more flexibility than they would have with the actual stations currently open.

toyota mirai fill up

Portable Refueling Stations

Toyota set up six portable refueling stations right at six of the eight dealerships that sold the Mirai vehicles to those customers. That means most Mirai buyers can simply head back to their local dealership to refuel the vehicle anytime that it needs to be topped up, free of charge of course. This just shows that Toyota really wants the Mirai to succeed and even though things don’t always go according to plan the automaker can work through problems to make the tech work.

Why the Lag?

California has ambitious plans to open up dozens of refueling stations, but the government has had some trouble getting them up and running according to schedule. It’s unclear if it’s a construction issue, or something to do with regulations. Private companies are involved in the plan as well and they could be leading to the holdup as well. Either way, while Mirai customers wait for the other refueling stations to open up they can rely on Toyota to provide all the fuel that they need. Thankfully the Mirai has a range of around 300 miles and shouldn’t need to be refueled that regularly except for the very heavy drivers.

If you’re a customer waiting on the Mirai and you’re starting to freak out thinking that you won’t have a place to refuel the vehicle relax and know that Toyota has your back. The automaker wants the tech to succeed because it knows fuel cells have a strong future, sure there will be some growing pains along the way, but that’s nothing that Toyota can’t handle.

The 2016 Toyota Prius FAQ: What We Know Right Now

September 11, 2015 lacarguy Green Articles, Green Auto Technology, Hybrid Vehicles, Toyota, Toyota of Hollywood, Toyota Santa Monica Tags: , , , , , ,

2016 Toyota Prius-1

The big question: When is it coming out?

No firm date was given, but it looks like early first quarter of 2016

What is going to cost?

Again, no firm numbers were given, but we’d bet that it will be very close in pricing to the current one, even though there is more content and safety items available.

How big is it?

The new Prius is 2.4 inches longer, 0.6 inches wider and 0.8 inches lower than the model it replaces, providing a planted on-road presence while delivering more occupant and cargo room.

Will it get better fuel economy?

With an expected ten percent improvement in EPA estimated MPG on core models, Prius will offer best-in-class fuel economy among vehicles without a plug.  A soon-to-be unveiled Eco model will achieve an even greater improvement, strengthening Toyota’s leadership in hybrid fuel efficiency.

What is the interior like?

The Prius’ new, premium interior adopts advanced technology complemented by features that are functional, fun and have high visual impact. The wrap-around dash design, form-hugging seats, ease of controls and improved visibility put the driver in complete control.

What has Toyota done to make the Prius safer?

The new global architecture that the 2016 Prius is built on also provides a more rigid structural framework to help enhance occupant protection in the event of a collision. The high strength upper body is designed to distribute frontal collision impact energy. Plus, the Prius will be among the first U.S. models to offer Toyota Safety Sense (TSS), a new multi-feature advanced safety package anchored by automated pre-collision braking.  TSS bundles cutting edge safety technologies including:

  • Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection
  • Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist
  • Full-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
  • Automatic High Beams

What inspired the design?

From the side, it is longer and sleeker with the overall outline evoking an athletic shape.  Inspired by a runner in the starting blocks, the sporty design conveys a feeling of forward motion.

The hood is lower and the distinctive roof peak has been moved forward. Bold character lines run along the side from the front fenders – one just above the sill that sweeps up towards the rear fender, while the upper crease morphs into the rear spoiler, which has been lowered.

The use of new standard LED headlamps minimizes the Prius’ front fascia and, at the same time, provides an arresting lighting display which helps define the vehicle’s character. The unique and striking rear combination lamps express the distinctive lines of the Prius from the rear spoiler to the trailing edges of the sides.

When can I place my order?

Make sure that you follow us on Facebook and Twitter and we will let you know just as soon as you can.

Fisker Karma Meets Fuel Economy Standards For 2025

September 25, 2012 lacarguy Fisker Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Fisker Automotive, the leading manufacturer of luxury Electric Vehicles with extended-range (EVer™), today announced that the company’s flagship Karma sedan already surpasses its 2025 fuel economy target under Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards – recently finalized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

“It’s a testament to the disruptive power of technology that a premium luxury sedan like the 2012 Fisker Karma beats its fuel economy target for 2025 – today,” said Fisker CEO Tony Posawatz. “We applaud NHTSA and the Environmental Protection Agency for their efforts to increase fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. With the Karma, we have brought to market the technology that these regulations are designed to encourage, and we’re pointing the way for the rest of the industry.”

On August 28, NHTSA and EPA finalized fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for model years 2017 through 2025. The rule sets an average fuel economy target for an automaker’s entire fleet of new vehicles, based on the footprint of each individual model in the fleet. For a vehicle of the Karma’s size, the fuel economy target for 2025 is 45.6 MPG. Current NHTSA methodology – notably different than the EPA label – assumes the Karma will drive half its miles on gasoline and half on electricity and takes into account the energy consumption of both, giving the Karma an equivalent fuel economy of 47.3 MPG.

“The Karma is way ahead of the curve, and we are pleased that these fuel economy standards demonstrate that,” said Henrik Fisker, Executive Chairman. “Regulations must make assumptions about how a car is driven on average, but the appeal of the Karma is that the driver can decide when to drive on electricity and when to drive on gas. The car’s performance in the real world is what matters most – and customer feedback so far suggests Karma owners are outperforming the assumptions behind the regulations.

On a recent conference call, Karma owners were asked to report their fuel economy. The results were impressive: the group of over 30 respondents averaged 150 MPG. One customer reported achieving 57 MPG for the previous 5,500 miles of driving, which included weekend trips of over 300 miles, while another averaged over 100 MPG with 5,000 miles on the odometer. One owner reported consuming only 20 gallons of gasoline over the last 3,500 miles – for an average of 175 MPG – and many others reported average fuel economies of well over 200 MPG.

“This is just a small sample of Karma owners, but they demonstrate what we’ve said all along – the Karma’s fuel economy performance depends on how you use it,” said Henrik Fisker. “The Karma’s technology puts the freedom in drivers’ hands. We’re thrilled to see from these early reports that Karma customers are relying predominantly on the electric range – plugging in at home and maximizing their zero emission driving – but not compromising on their driving habits.”

Electric Car Charging Goes Wireless

December 15, 2011 lacarguy HybridCars.com Tags: , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

By Jim Motavalli HybridCars.com

Inductive EV charging—look, ma, no wires!—is gaining momentum, with Daimler testing concepts for the new battery version of the B-Class Mercedes and Nissan actively contemplating making it an option on the 2014 LEAF. Wireless charging leader Evatran will sell wireless kits for the LEAF and Chevy Volt next year, and it’s even hooking up with Sears Home Services to bring its Plugless Power to the masses.

The basic technology is familiar from wireless phone charging and the electric toothbrush. There are a few basic obstacles to creating larger versions for cars: high cost; the 10 percent average energy loss today when transferring power from a floor-mounted transmitter to a car-based receiver; and a start-from-scratch regulatory climate. But there’s no question that wireless charging, which creates a magnetic field to pass an electric charge from one coil to another, is on the ascendancy. It certainly addresses anxiety over having to learn a new way to fill your car up with energy—all you have to do is park, and these automated systems will do the rest for you.

Technology on the Move

It’s far too early to tell if wireless technology will eventually triumph over the wall-mounted home charging system, and no automakers have formally adopted it. “All we have done is shown this technology,” says Nissan’s Steve Oldham. “We haven’t confirmed anything. The stuff that is out there is speculation.” But Popular Mechanics claims that wireless will be an add-on for the luxury Infiniti version of the LEAF in 2014. The Rolls-Royce 102 EX Phantom, which I recently test drove in New York, is also set up to use a wireless charger from HaloIPT.

In the system that Nissan demonstrated, drivers simply align their vehicle over an inductive charging mat. A dashboard-based navigation system uses sensors to guide the rear wheels into place. The touchscreen hosts buttons to start and stop a charging session.

In Alignment

Daimler has teamed up with Conductix-Wampfler on plug-free charging for the Mercedes E-Cell. According to Conductix, one big hurdle is the need for exact alignment between the charger and the vehicle. The signal can travel only six inches or so, so the driver is likely to need an automatic parking system to ensure a good lock-in.

Major auto supplier Delphi and wireless leader WiTricity have their own system under development, using technology invented at MIT. Randy Sumner, a spokesman for Delphi Packard Electrical/Electronic Architecture, told me that automakers have shown considerable interest in wireless charging, which could accompany the second-generation EVs coming out in the 2014-2015 time frame.

Priced Like Navigation?

Wireless chargers have definitely gotten smaller and more efficient. Dave Schatz of WiTricity told me he expects consumer systems to eventually cost no more than car-based GPS navigation. Evatran’s Plugless Power floor-based unit is now the size of a small hubcap, with up to 97 percent efficiency between the charger and the car. It’s also more forgiving of poor alignment. Evatran is testing the system on a fleet of a dozen Chevy Volts. But it’s still far too expensive, at $5,000 for an all-in system in 2012.

The General Electric wall-mount WattStation is now available at Amazon.com for $1,099 (none used yet), so Evatran’s Sears play makes sense. According to co-founder Rebecca Hough, Evatran will make its wireless hardware kit (for the Volt and LEAF) available in 2012 for approximately $2,500, with installation (unpriced so far) extra. The basic installation is for people who are lucky enough to have dedicated 240-volt lines in their garages; the standard install includes that line.

Some regulatory and safety issues have yet to be worked out. Underwriters Laboratory (UL) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) are set to introduce standards for wireless in the second quarter of next year (fast for SAE), and waiting for that has hindered plans for commercial and public wireless charging. Obviously, you’d want this at Starbucks and the big-box stores, but companies aren’t likely to go ahead without the standards in place.

The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) issues standards for the strengths of magnetic fields, and Hough says that Evatran has no trouble meeting them. She also says that wireless will incorporate many of the safety provisions built into SAE’s J1772 standard, including safety interconnects and shutoffs.

By the way, claims for inductive charging are somewhat confusing, because there’s a difference between the efficiency measured charger-to-car and the overall system. Evatran boasts an only three percent communications loss, but the overall system is currently at 91 percent. Company engineers think that 93 or 94 percent system efficiency is doable relatively soon, but going beyond 95 percent is a long-term prospect. Would we be happy with a gas station that spilled five percent of the gas on the ground?

John Gartner, a senior analyst at Pike Research, says that widespread will take years to roll out. “It’s of interest to most top automakers, many of which have internal programs in development. The consumer market is still years away. There’s still no common SAE standard, and you don’t want vehicles tied to charging docks, and the cost ($500 per car) is too steep to include on vehicles that aren’t going to use it all of the time. The technologies are all pretty different, so unlike cabled charging, some companies would be left out of any standard that is eventually passed. Qualcomm surprisingly is going after the market in a big way with its recent acquisition of HaloIPT.”

Still, wireless is probably here to stay, but it will take time to develop. “Pike Research sees the market growing slowly from 2013 ($26 million globally) to $233 million globally by 2017,” Gartner said. “Fleets that can share charging docks are the mostly likely early adopters.”

The bottom line here is that inductive charging, which appeared to be abandoned from the last generation of EVs, is now looking more and more practical as a long-term solution. Even if wireless does eventually triumph, however, wired charging is still likely to dominate the early EV years simply because the units will be in place and working. But there’s no reason they can’t happily co-exist.

Volkswagen Settles On Standard Electric Car Battery, From China

November 29, 2011 lacarguy Electric Vehicles, Green Articles, Volkswagen Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

By Alysha Webb

Volkswagen will use the same battery module design for all its electric vehicles globally across all its brands according to Dr. Tobias Giebel, head of the Volkswagen Research Lab in Shanghai. Those battery modules and the battery cells in them are likely to be sourced from China, he said.

Volkswagen's electric cars, like the upcoming e-Up, will likely use battery cells and modules sourced from China

“You have to be focused beyond the cell level. That is the only way,” said Giebel at the EV Battery Forum Asia 2011 in Shanghai. The Forum took place on November 7 – 9, 2011.

Volkswagen’s Giebel was optimistic about Chinese battery makers’ capacity to one day build low-cost, high-quality vehicle batteries. In an interview with PluginCars.com, Giebel said Volkswagen is working with local battery manufacturers in China to produce a product that meets Volkswagen’s global standards. “We believe the future of battery cell sourcing is in China,” he said. Today, China’s lithium-ion battery makers are focused on consumer technology, said Giebel. Its automotive-grade batteries are not up to the high-level vehicle traction battery manufacturers in Korea or Japan, he said.

But Volkswagen is working closely with about 20 of China’s more than 100 battery producers, and is already seeing improvement. “We think in a couple of years we will have really strong suppliers in fully domestic companies,” said Giebel. When they are, Volkswagen will use the same source for its Asia, Europe, and the United States operations, he said.

That could mean a significant amount of business because Volkswagen will use a standard module for all electric vehicles across all its brands. That means all hybrids, plug-in hybrid electric, battery electric, and fuel cell vehicles produced under the Volkswagen Group’s 10 nameplates, which include Volkswagen, Skoda, Audi, Seat, Bentley, Porsche, Scania, Bugatti, Lamborghini, and Volkswagen commercial vehicles.

“The module shape and number of cells will be the same,” said Giebel. “The module is not part of any international norm. It is a company internal standard.” Inside the module, Volkswagen might adapt the connection between the cells to vary the number of parallel and serial cells, said Giebel. The module is a company internal standard, he added.

Volkswagen’s current parallel hybrid models, including the Touareg SUV, have a different technology, but the company will use the standard module concept first on battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric models, said Giebel. “The extension to parallel hybrid (HEV) will be decided later,” he said.

Fisker Karma Achieves Outstanding Results in Fuel Efficiency & Emission Outputs

November 28, 2011 lacarguy Electric Vehicle Extended Range, Electric Vehicles, Fisker Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

According to independent testing by the Technischer Ueberwachungs Verein (TUV), Europe’s recognized automotive certification agency, the Fisker Karma Vehicle with extended range achieves 112 mpg (2.1 L/100km) combined fuel economy and emits just 51 g/km CO2. TUV tests also validated the Karma’s all-electric range at 51.6 miles (83 km.)

In separate testing, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has rated the Karma a 10 out of 10 for fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions, while the California Air Resource Board (CARB) recently offered its certification, making the Karma emissions compliant in all 50 states.

With 400 horsepower, the Karma is capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 6.1 seconds and is the most efficient, lowest emission automobile available despite its size, performance, and design. All this is achievable due to the Karma’s cutting-edge EVer™ (Electric Vehicle extended range) powertrain technology, which combines the zero-emissions and efficiency of electric drive with the range and freedom of petrol-powered cars.

Unlike pure electric vehicles, the Karma can travel long distances without range anxiety or long recharge times. And as a series plug-in hybrid, the Karma gives drivers the ability to run emission free on-demand. While the Karma can run on all-electric power in Stealth mode for 51.6 miles, it has a total range of up to 300 miles (483 km) before a stop for gas or recharge is required. When driven in charge-sustaining Sport mode, the Karma achieves 26 mpg (9.2 L/100 km) combined fuel economy in TUV tests, the best of any full size, US-market luxury car.

“We are naturally very pleased with the TUV results, which show we have delivered better than our anticipated fuel efficiency figures,” said CEO and co-founder Henrik Fisker. “We believe the Karma is a car well-suited to the lifestyles of many people, and these results only reinforce that position.”

TUV Results

  Urban Extra urban Combined
CO2 58 g/km 47 g/km 51 g/km
Fuel Consumption 98 mpg(2.4 L/100 km) 118 mpg(2.0 L/100 km) 112 mpg(2.1 L/100 km)
Electric Range     51.6 mi(83 km)

Fisker Karma Named Automobile Magazine's 2012 'Design of the Year'

November 10, 2011 lacarguy Electric Vehicle Extended Range, Fisker, Green Auto Technology, High MPG Vehicles Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

By Zack McDonald from HybridCars.com

The Fisker Karma has faced some tough press lately, including a brief, misinformed outrage surrounding the fact that the car will be manufactured in Finland despite the Fisker’s receipt of a $529 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. As those who have followed the company over the years know, Fisker intended to build the Karma in Finland long before it received any federal loan guarantees, and still plans to manufacture its next vehicle at a factory in Delaware.

Recently though, the headlines have begun to tilt in the Karma’s favor. On Wednesday, it was announced that Automobile magazine had named the car “Design of the Year” for 2012, calling it “a beautiful and highly dramatic automobile, unlike anything else on the road today and yet very much like dozens of the most beloved sports cars of the past.”

The accolade underscores an important point about the Karma that tends to get lost in a flood of often politically-tinged reactions: the Karma is a $96,000 luxury sports sedan and as such, it deserves to be evaluated on different terms from the Chevy Volt or Toyota Prius Plug-in. Emissions-conscious purchasers of luxury performance vehicles haven’t traditionally had many offerings to choose from. The Karma gives this relatively untested market a new option, and according to Automobile magazine-and nearly everyone else who’s driven and reviewed the vehicle-it’s a pretty impressive one at that.

Over in Europe, the Karma got some more good news last week from independent fuel efficiency tests carried out by the German regulatory body Technischer Überwachungs Verein (TÜV). The results of those tests prove that the Fisker Karma is one of the most capable—at least among plug-in hybrid vehicles—electric-only-mode performers in the world. The TÜV’s thorough “real-world urban” tests show that the plug-in returned an impressive 51.6-mile range in electric-only mode. This figure beats the Karma’s official EPA rating by a substantial 19.6 miles.

Of the results, Henrik Fisker, chief executive officer of Fisker Automotive, stated, “We are delighted that the TÜV has confirmed that most owners will achieve a 50-mile range running purely on electric during their daily commute.”

The 2012 Fisker Karma is currently on sale in the US, though production volume is extremely limited and all Karmas to be sold in 2011 have already been spoken for. Come next year, Fisker aims to ramp up production and sell approximately 15,000 Karmas in the US and Europe.

Fisker Surf Unveiled At The Frankfurt Autoshow

September 21, 2011 lacarguy Electric Vehicle Extended Range, Fisker, Green Articles, Plugin Hybrid Vehicles Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

A stunning new version of the Fisker Karma was turning heads at Fisker Automotive’s booth at the Frankfurt Autoshow. The brand new Fisker Surf delivers on Fisker’s promise of Pure Driving Passion and Uncompromised Responsible Luxury.

The new Fisker Surf is the world’s first electric luxury/sports automobile for an active and eco-friendly lifestyle. The Fisker Surf builds on the success of the ground-breaking Karma Electric Vehicle with extended range (EVer™). Along with its own independent, spirited attitude, it brings additional, flexible load-carrying capacity. The Fisker Surf combines performance, luxury, style, utility, and economy with an enduring concern for the sustainable use of resources and respect for the environment. The Surf is Fisker’s version of a crossover between the sports car and the station wagon. The addition of the Surf exemplifies how Fisker is expanding its Karma platform rapidly with models that create a new market niche.

“The Surf is a first-of-its-kind eco-friendly lifestyle vehicle that offers space, performance, and luxury design for people who live an active, environmentally conscious lifestyle and like to drive beautiful cars,” Henrik Fisker, CEO/Executive Design Director, Fisker Automotive.

Fisker Automotive also announced its partnership with BMW who will now cover the supply of engines and other components for future Fisker models. BMW will supply a four-cylinder turbocharged engine for the next generation of Fisker cars, code named ‘Project Nina,’ which are scheduled to go into production at the re-commissioned GM plant in Wilmington, Delaware. Production will begin by the end of 2012 and cars will hit showrooms globally in 2013. The first Project Nina production will be a mid-sized premium sedan that will utilize Fisker’s EVer™ technology to deliver on Fisker’s corporate vision of Uncompromised Responsible Luxury.

According to Henrik Fisker, “The BMW engine was an obvious choice for us, as BMW is known for producing the best and most fuel efficient gasoline engines in the world. We are very pleased to have signed the agreement with BMW.”

In addition to growing its fleet of vehicle models, Fisker Automotive is proud to announce its RESERVE customizable options program developed in collaboration with Claus Ettensberger Corporation (CEC). This exclusive Fisker authorized accessory program will be available through Fisker retailers. The first car equipped with accessories from the program features a variety of aerodynamic components and two wheel options (forged and monoblack) for the Karma. There are a number of other new and exciting products in development.

You’ll just have to continue to follow us on Twitter and be part of our Facebook community to find out what’s released next.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4OgCKG5I_A&w=560&h=315]

Fisker Karma To Arrive In Our Santa Monica Showroom Shortly

March 29, 2011 lacarguy Fisker, Fisker Santa Monica, LAcarGUY Sustainability, Plugin Hybrid Vehicles Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

After several delays, production of the Fisker Karma finally began last week. Based in Orange County, California, Fisker builds the Karma at the Valmet Automotive plant in Finland, who also builds cars under contract for Porsche. Deliveries are expected within the next month which is fantastic news.