Tag: hybrid technology

Volkswagen Debuts New Twin Up! Concept at Tokyo Motor Show

December 3, 2013 lacarguy Volkswagen Tags: , , , 0 Comments

Volkswagen is taking everything it has learned from the introduction of the XL1, the world’s most fuel-efficient hybrid car, and applied it to a high-production vehicle, a plug-in hybrid version of the up!, called the twin up! concept. To be presented at the Tokyo Motor show this year, the four-seater shares certain parts of its drive system with the XL1 including its diesel engine, electric motor, and DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission.

vw-twin-upIt was an easy conversion to install the compact plug-in hybrid since all new Volkswagen vehicles are configured to accept alternative drive systems as well as conventional ones. The only modification made in the production version was to lengthen the extremely short front overhang by 1.2 inches.

The twin up!’s 55 kW (75 PS) drive unit—consisting of a 35 kW (48 PS) 0.8-liter TDI Clean Diesel engine, a 35kW electric motor, a seven-speed DQ200 DSG transmission, and the power electronics—is mounted at the front of the car. Installed at the back, behind the rear seats and under the trunk, is the “fuel storage system”: an 8.6 kWh lithium-ion battery, the 12-volt battery for the electrical system, and an 8.7-gallon fuel tank.

The car attains impressive efficiency thanks to a combination of good aerodynamics (0.30 Cd), a low unladen weight of 2657 pounds, lightweight plug-in drive components, and low rolling resistance 165/65 R15 tires. In all-electric model, for example, the twin up! has a driving range of 31 miles. In the “New European Driving Cycle”—the standard testing and comparison driving cycle for plug-in hybrid vehicles in Europe—the concept car returns a sensationally low fuel consumption figure of 214 mpg, which equates to CO2 emissions of just 27 g/km.

The twin up! highlights the fact that efficiency and driving fun will not be mutually exclusive in the future. In the city, in electric mode, the twin up! accelerates from 0 to 37 mph in 8.8 seconds on its way to a top speed of 78 mph. In hybrid mode, the car delivers 159 pound-feet of torque, a high number for such a small car. Out of town, the twin up! goes from 0 to 62 mph in 15.7 seconds and reaches a top speed of 87 mph.

Porsche Unveils Plug-in Hybrid 918 Supercar

May 30, 2013 lacarguy Porsche Tags: , , , 0 Comments

For years, Porsche has teased with the its concept version of a plug-in hybrid supercar, the 918 Spyder. Just over a week ago, the car was unveiled in its production form and what a car it has turned out to be.

Powered by a mid-mounted, 4.6-liter V8 combined with two electric motors and a lithium -ion battery, the 918 Spyder’s output is 887 horsepower and accelerates from 0 to 60 in merely 2.8 seconds. Just running on electric power alone, it is capable of driving up to 18 miles around town. Top speed is 211 mph on regular power or 93 mph on electric.

Porsche says its goal with the 918 Spyder drop-top was “the parallel improvement of both efficiency and performance without one being at the cost of the other.” It says the 918 Spyder “will act as the gene pool for the Porsche sports cars of the future.”

It is evident that Porsche is not shying away from the fact that its latest supercar is a hybrid. There are five different driving modes available on the 918 Spyder: E-Power, Hybrid, Sport Hybrid, Race Hybrid and Hot Lap. With all that power mentioned on the track, the 918 is designed with a tamer side to deal with everyday driving. Its electric range is enough for a decent commuter range and it can be recharged from a standard wall socket in seven hours.

Despite the extra weigh of having to tote a hybrid battery, the car weighs only 3,715 pounds. The heaviest components are situated low to give the car more ground-hugging characteristics. Also, the rear axle is steerable to make cornering more precise and the car is all-wheel drive.

Only 918 of them will be built, starting on September 18, or 9/18. When it started taking orders a couple of years ago, the price was $845,000.

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.


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.

2013 Audi Q5 Hybrid Arriving Soon to North America

January 17, 2013 lacarguy Audi Tags: , , 0 Comments

In the past, Audi has been known to have a lukewarm attitude towards hybrid technology. As part of the Volkswagen group, the automaker has always championed diesel. Finally, in 2009, Wolfgang Hatz was quoted to have said that, “[Audi has] to do hybrids to show people that we are able to do them.”

Audi Q5 Hybrid
The results will be tangible as soon as the 2013 Audi Q5 Hybrid arrives in showrooms. Launched for sale in Europe in late 2011, the long awaited Q5 Hybrid is reportedly still on track for its local debut this fall. But hybrid technology isn’t new to Audi. Actually, the German automaker showed people that it was able to produce not only a hybrid, but a plug-in diesel hybrid back in 1997. The Audi Duo III, AKA A4 Duo, followed three previous Duo hybrid concepts dating back to 1989. The Duo III used a 1.9-liter TDI diesel engine and a 21 kW (28 horsepower) electric motor with a cabin switch to change between the engine and electric motor. Fuel economy wasn’t much improved compared to the standard 1.9-liter diesel, and coupled with a high price there were few buyers. Around 60-65 were produced.

Over the years, research and development have refined the hybrid technology and the results have positioned the Q5 Hybrid for success. Along with improved fuel economy the Q5 Hybrid comes fully equipped with a number of engineering, technology and performance enhancements. Based on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), which gives more weight to start-stop driving than the EPA test cycle does, combined fuel economy is said to be 34 mpg. Expect EPA estimates at around 25-26 mpg city/ 27-28 mpg highway and a combined rating in the neighborhood of 26-27 mpg. That’s a significant 5-6 mpg improvement over the four-cylinder gas-powered Q5. In comparison to other luxury sport utility and crossovers, the Q5 Hybrid bests the BMW ActiveHybrid X6, Mercedes ML 450 Hybrid 4Matic, Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid and is just shy of the Lexus 450h AWD.

The Q5 Hybrid will be Audi’s first hybrid vehicle on sale in North America. Powered by Audi’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder, turbocharged TFSI engine and mated to an electric motor along with an eight-speed transmission, total combined output is 245 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque. The vehicle sprints from 0 to 60 mph in 7 seconds flat before topping out at 138 mph which is impressive given its 4,400 lb curb weight.

Audi’s hybrid design allows the gas engine and electric motor to couple and decouple via a multiplate clutch, enabling the two powertrains to work independently or together in parallel fashion. The electric motor can drive exclusively for short distances and at speeds of up to 60 mph. However, it’s mostly used to aid the engine during high load situations, such as overtaking or driving up a hill.

The Q5 Hybrid is a testament to Audi’s focus on luxury and performance, while integrating steady fuel economy improvements. Now Audi drivers can have bragging rights that their new SUV is not only fast, but also uses a bit less fuel.

Science Sells: Toyota Teaches Physics in New Web Campaign

August 16, 2012 lacarguy Hybrid Vehicles, Toyota Tags: , , , 0 Comments

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.