Tag: Green Technology

2014 Toyota Corolla Nominated for Green Car of the Year Award

October 23, 2013 lacarguy Green Articles, Toyota Tags: , , , 0 Comments

The 2014 Toyota Corolla has been elevated to “green heights.”  The Green Car Journal has named the eleventh-generation sedan a finalist for the 2014 Green Car of the Year award and one of its top 5 Green Cars for 2014. The Corolla also earned the magazine’s ‘Green Car Product of Excellence’ distinction. The other 2014 model finalists include the Audi A6 TDI, BMW 328d, Honda Accord, and Mazda3. All five are also honored as Green Car Journal’s “Top 5 Green Cars for 2014″ and earn the magazine’s “Green Car Product of Excellence” honors.

2014_Toyota_Corolla_LE
Finalists are selected for their achievements in raising the bar in environmental performance. Availability to the mass market is a factor to ensure honored models have the potential to make a real difference in environmental impact, and finalists must be available for sale by January 1st of the award year.

”The Corolla has been the world’s most popular name plate with over 40 million sold since 1966.  The Corolla’s environmental sensitivity has evolved with the market.  The new 11th generation of Corolla, and the new LE Eco model in particular, offer increased levels of capability and fuel economy,” said Bob Carter, Senior Vice President, Automotive Operations, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Green Car of the Year® jurors include auto enthusiast and Tonight Show host Jay Leno, plus leaders of the nation’s major environmental organizations including Jean-Michel Cousteau, president of Ocean Futures Society; Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council; Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club; and Matt Petersen, board member of Global Green USA. Green Car Journal editors round out the 2014 Green Car of the Year® jury.

The Green Car of the Year will be announced during media days at the L.A. Auto Show, Nov. 20-21, 2013.

VW Invites Journalists to Drive the XL1

July 2, 2013 lacarguy Green Articles, HybridCars.com, Volkswagen Tags: , , , 0 Comments

by Zach McDonald | HybridCars.com Over the last dozen years, Volkswagen has gradually been working to perfect a concept car so revolutionary in its fuel efficiency that it was known as the “One-Liter.” The naming reflected VW’s original goal for the car, to produce a vehicle that could travel 100 kilometers on a single gallon of fuel. vw-xl1-wolfsburg Now, with the addition of a small lithium ion battery pack and plug-in hybrid charging capability, the One-Liter has evolved into the XL1, a limited-run production vehicle that will not only meet, but exceed the original goal of 100 km/L fuel economy by 10 km/L. VW recently invited a small group of journalists to drive the car in Wolfsburg, Germany, giving them a chance to peep some of the more nuanced fuel-saving features and find out how the final production vehicles drive. The verdict form PluginCars.com is that while the XL1 most certainly wasn’t built to appeal to the mainstream, its single-minded focus on reducing inefficiencies provides a unique look into the future of automotive transportation. The most noticeably deviant feature of the XL1 compared to other cars is its shape. With a wider front that tapers off into a teardrop-like rear, the XL1 was designed to be among the most aerodynamic vehicles ever on the road. A coefficient of drag of just 0.19 blows production plug-ins like the Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt (which both have a 0.28 coefficient,) and the Tesla Model S (0.24) out of the water. Another measure Volkswagen undertook to reduce drag was the elimination of side and rearview mirrors in favor of cameras that display on screens inside of the cockpit. This approach saves weight and drag on the vehicle, and is an example of a feature that may see its way onto production vehicles from a number of carmakers in the future. Full-sized power windows have also been replaced by small, hand-cranked miniature sub-windows which exist as part of the full window glass on the driver and passenger-side doors. This kind of feature, as well as minimal sound-proofing that makes every bump and acceleration audible to those inside of the cabin, is likely a sacrifice that would be unacceptable to mass-market consumers. For Volkswagen though, the XL1 is still largely a test vehicle, even if 250 will soon be made available on the European market. What the company learns from its experience with the XL1 though will likely pave the way for a number of future fuel-saving innovations available to the greater market.

Toyota Avalon Hybrid Draws Praise in Reviews

May 20, 2013 lacarguy Green Articles, HybridCars.com, Toyota Tags: , , , 0 Comments

by Zach McDonald | HybridCars.com

Toyota‘s new Avalon Hybrid was released earlier this year as the latest product of Toyota‘s gradual push to offer hybrids across every segment of its vehicle lineup. The Avalon Hybrid‘s sibling, the Lexus 300h ES shares its drivetrain with the Avalon Hybrid but comes at a higher pricetag and with more amenities.

2013-Toyota-Avalon-Hybrid

The Avalon platform, remade for 2013, is a full-size sedan line offering improvements in comfort and upgrades in features compared to the midsize Camry Hybrid. Performance and efficiency numbers are nearly identical to both the Camry and Lexus hybrids, with the Avalon providing up to 200 horsepower at an EPA average combined fuel economy of 40 mpg (the Camry averages 1 mpg better.) That should come as no surprise considering that the Avalon shares the same 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle engine with both vehicles.

Efficiency fares slightly better under urban driving conditions, where the hybrid can officially travel gas-free at speeds of up to 25 mph. In real world tests, reviewers have exceeded Toyota and the EPA’s efficiency estimates. GreenCarReports.com was able to keep the Avalon Hybrid in EV Mode at speeds of up to 48 mph, while Edmunds produced city fuel economy of 46.5 mpg during its 100-plus mile test.

The Avalon Hybrid starts at $35,555, more than $9,400 north of the Camry Hybrid, but offers a number of luxury car comforts as standard to the vehicle. Leather seats, a leather wrapped steering wheel and heated mirrors are among a number of features not standard in the Camry but built into the base-model Avalon. Suggested starting pricing comes in $4,500 higher than the V6 Avalon, and about $3,700 lower than the Lexus 350h ES hybrid.

Volkswagen Launches Natural Gas-Powered Eco Up!

December 20, 2012 lacarguy Green Articles, HybridCars.com, Volkswagen Tags: , , 0 Comments

by Zach McDonald: HybridCars.com

This week, Volkswagen will launch the Eco Up! compressed natural gas vehicle in Europe. Yet another variation on the ever-versatile Up! small car platform, the Eco Up! requires just 2.9 kilograms of natural gas to go 100 kilometers—equivalent to more than 55 mpg on gasoline. The car represents one of several powertrain configurations Volkswagen has explored using in the Up!, joining the plug-in electric e-Up!, as well as diesel, hybrid and fuel cell models that have been shown off since VW unveiled its New Small Family (NSF) series back in 2007.

Volkswagen Eco Up!
For Volkswagen, the Up! platform is yet another illustration of the company’s “all of the above” strategy for limiting emissions and increasing the fuel economy of its global lineup. The car is not destined for the United States—where consumer-driven natural gas vehicles are relatively rare—but it could appeal in other countries like Pakistan, India, Brazil and Argentina, where CNG-powered cars make up a significantly higher share of the market. Volkswagen estimates that natural gas cars will make up 4 percent of the market in its native Germany by 2020, or roughly 1.4 million vehicles.

Were the Eco Up! to come to the United States, it could might provide some stiff competition to the Honda Civic GX, which is currently the only natural gas model on the market here. But where the Civic GX gets a combined 31 mpg in fuel economy, the Eco Up! rivals the efficiency figures of hybrids like the Toyota Prius.

Of course, with CNG vehicles, gas mileage numbers are just the beginning of the story. As a transportation fuel, natural gas is estimated to burn about 25-percent cleaner than gasoline, at about two-thirds the cost (depending upon market conditions.) Billionaire energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens has spent the better part of the last five years promoting natural gas as a more sensible, cost-effective auto fuel than gasoline in the U.S., but has so far been unsuccessful catalyzing a major shift among consumers.

Still, CNG’s undeniable economic advantages as well as its popularity overseas make it an intriguing alternative to gasoline, diesel and batteries, and according to VW, the possibilities for natural gas go far beyond the abundant international reserves that promise to keep prices relatively low for the foreseeable future.

Volkswagen believes that biomethane—which can serve as a renewable substitute for the fossil-fuel form of natural gas—could be the answer to lowering the fuel’s carbon footprint even further. “When 20-percent biomethane is added to the natural gas at the refilling station, this by itself reduces CO2 emissions by 39 percent,” said the company in a press release announcing the Eco Up! “When fueled with pure biomethane, the cars emit up to 97-percent less CO2.”

Currently, VW says biomethane is available at more than a quarter of the natural gas filling stations in Germany.

Will the United States ever yield a significant market share to consumer natural gas vehicles? Depending upon how high gasoline prices rise in the coming years, there could be room in the market for any car that promises to save drivers more than half of their fueling costs. In order for that to happen though, an infrastructure of CNG filling stations will have to emerge—as well as broader availability of vehicles like the Civic GX and Eco-Up! Whether or not the latter happens is squarely in the hands of carmakers like Volkswagen.

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.