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.
by Zach McDonald: HybridCars.com
The 2012 Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Survey has again found hybrid and electric vehicles to outperform their peers in predicted overall reliability. Toyota models in particular fared well, with the Prius, Prius V and Prius Plug-in all receiving positive ratings in the report, and the Scion nameplate taking the honors for most reliable brand. The new Prius c compact hybrid was the top-scoring model overall.
The ratings are derived from assessing carmaker and model data dating back as far as ten years, and encompassing more than 1.2 million cars and trucks. As reported on the NYTimes.com Wheels blog, Consumer Reports testers say that hybrids have outgrown battery-related reliability fears, and are now considered to be among the safest investments on the road.
“We’ve got Priuses out there with 200,000 miles on them and 12 years in service,” said director of automotive testing, Jake Fischer. “So the whole thing about the sky falling and the $10,000 battery [replacement cost] hasn’t happened.”
Indeed, one of the early fears about hybrids was that their nickel-metal hydride battery packs would lose capacity or fail early in the life of the vehicle, bringing on thousands of dollars in replacement costs that could outstrip any gas savings versus conventional ICEs. To this day, some consumers still site battery reliability fears as one of their primary reasons for not considering a hybrid, even as hybrids continually perform well in resale value and reliability tallies.
Of all of the hybrid and plug-in cars Consumer Reports reviewed for the survey, all but one received a better-than-average rating.
The Chevy Volt, Nissan LEAF and Prius Plug-in were all awarded positive marks, though Fischer admitted that it’s still not yet known how the lithium ion battery packs found in plug-ins will hold up over the long term. This summer, Nissan dealt with fallout from an apparent range-loss phenomenon in parts of the Southwest, where heat was considered the likely culprit in dozens of reported cases of battery degradation.
Though the issue generated some bad press for Nissan, it was mostly limited to areas of extremely high heat like Phoenix, and affected just a small fraction of a percent of the total LEAFs Nissan has sold in the United States. On the whole, there is little evidence to suggest that plug-in vehicle batteries won’t live up to their expectations, but as with hybrids, it will be years before they will be able to truly prove themselves to the public.
Furthermore, there are some decided reliability advantages to driving a fully-electric vehicle like the LEAF or Toyota Rav4 EV. One of the primary contributors to engine trouble in a vehicle is the build-up of deposits of “engine gunk,” which results from the burning of hydrocarbons. With no gasoline to burn, EVs need fewer tune-ups and are expected to be significantly less subject to break downs that their ICE counterparts. Provided that their lithium ion battery packs hold up to years of charging, EVs could soon prove to be the most reliable cars on the road.
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.
In the global car business, the forces of homogenization (fuel economy and crash tests, aerodynamics, limited supplier base, materials costs) are almost irresistible. And this is particularly so in the premium luxury segment. That’s right, BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Lexus have great full-size sedans and four-door coupes, but they are for the most part, interchangeable.
Let us introduce you to the world’s most interesting car. Every square inch of the Fisker Karma underscores clarity and design intent and vested individuality and a scorn for convention. Which is to say that the Karma is unlike any other car. This is a car so far outside the mainstream that it was clearly born out of a grand vision.
That grand vision, and the confidence to make it a reality, belongs to Henrik Fisher, ex-Ford and -BMW designer (Aston Martin D89, BMW Z8), who with former BMW executive Bernard Koehler started Fisker Automotive in Anaheim, California in 2007. Their thesis was simple: Money is easily bored and there are sufficient numbers of carbon-conscious high-end consumers to support a luxury-EV company.
So what makes the Karma so interesting? Where do we begin. How about the gearshift, comprised of a symmetrically reflecting dihedral group of acrylic switches in a pentagonal projection in the center console. You don’t see that every day. The EcoSport package uses veneer from rare hardwoods, salvaged from the bottom of Lake Michigan where they sank while being floated down from the logging camps a century ago. The leather is Bridge of Weir Low Carbon Leather, sourced from ranchers who observe the Five Freedoms of animal welfare. The Lucite panels (100% recycled, of course) in the doors and console have magnolia leaves embedded in them. These many textures provide something the luxury car market sorely lacks: cars with a definitive narrative. We tell stories about our cars because they tell stories about us.
To alert pedestrians of its presence, the Karma emits a ghostly, electronic thrum, almost a “Tron-like” sound, as engineers call it, that reverberates from loudspeakers concealed in the front and rear bumpers. The rear speakers are located behind chrome alloy diamonds where one would expect to find the exhaust pipes. So where are the exhaust pipes? The turbocharged 2.0-liter, 260 horsepower four cylinder engine/generator under the hood actually exhausts through small ports behind the front wheels.
In all electric Stealth mode–with a full charge, a range between 32 miles (according to EPA) and 50 miles (according to Fisker)–the Karma accelerates to 60 in 7.9 seconds on its leisurely way to a 95-mph top speed. Pull the left-hand paddle behind the steering wheel and the car goes in to Sport mode, bringing the output of the battery (20 kWh/180kW max discharge) and the generator (175 kWh) online to energize the two 201-hp electric motors in the rear. In Sport, the car hits 60 in 6.3 seconds which is a mere half second slower than the Porsche Panamera S Hybrid.
Overall, the Karma is a fascinating and compelling automobile, an arty dreadnought of a car that gets an honest 52 mpg-e (or better, says Fisker) and, for most drivers on most days, uses zero gas. Will the Karma save the planet? Maybe, may be not, but the world is definitely a more interesting place for it.
+ KARMA CONTINUES TO WIN AWARDS
Henrik Fisker, CEO, and executive design director, says he is “happy, humbled and very proud” of the number of international awards the Karma has continued to receive in its debut sales year. In recent weeks, this has included Top Gear’s Luxury Car of the Year, Automobile’s Design of the Year Award, listing in TIME Magazine’s Top 50 Innovations of 2012, a Global Green Design Award, and noted Swiss magazine Schweizer Illustrierte named the Karma their Most Stylish Car of 2012. Commenting on the success, Henrik Fisker said, “We have always had a great deal of faith in the appeal of the cars we create, but to have that recognized by critics so early on in the Karma’s lifespan is really fantastic.”
+ WIND TURBINE CHARGES KARMA AT ILLINOIS ECO RESTAURANT
Savvy Karma owners eating out at The Great Escape restaurant in Shiller Park, Illinois, have been able to charge-up their luxury plug-in hybrids for free and with zero environmental impact, after the restaurant fitted EV charging stations to a giant wind turbine. Keen to do their bit for the environment and to reduce dependence of foreign oil, the restaurant owners erected the 112-foot wind turbine in 2009, providing well over 50-70 percent of their energy needs in a sustainable way – and leaving plenty of energy over to charge up a few Karmas during lunchtime.
+ FISKER DOES DEALERSHIPS DIFFERENTLY
Fisker dealerships are emerging worldwide, with 45 already up and running in the US alone. In keeping with Fisker Automotive’s philosophy of utilizing existing resources wherever possible, the company has tried to avoid building new facilities from the ground up. Instead, Fisker is recycling previously occupied car showrooms and transforming them into new environmentally friendly ones with showrooms furnished with environmentally responsible furniture. This means using sustainable materials in construction, such as reclaimed wood flooring and color and materials containing glass and reclaimed wood veneers. Technology tables with touch-screen functionality allow consumers to configure and order their
Karma while cutting out the use of traditional paper sales materials. Fisker retailers are also installing the first ever solar-powered dealership signs, designed specifically for Fisker Automotive, which contain recycled components, are low maintenance and operate on cloudy days with less than two amps of power. These signs reflect the overall mission of Fisker Automotive, which is Uncompromised Responsible Luxury.
Designed to function as a city-friendly vehicle with an engaging driving experience, hatchback utility, and an EPA-estimated city fuel economy rating of 53 mpg, Prius c offers the highest city mpg rating of any vehicle without a plug. The all-new Prius c joins the Prius Family, which includes the third generation Prius Liftback, the versatile new Prius v and the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, which will be available in early 2012.
Unique Place in the Prius Family
A gateway into the Prius Family, the new Prius c will find favor with younger shoppers seeking a smartly designed, fuel-sipping subcompact car packing advanced drivetrain and in-car technology. The SULEV (Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle) rated Prius c will offer engaging driving dynamics and superior urban maneuverability. When the 2012 Prius c arrives in showrooms in March 2012, this all-new hatchback will offer:
* The highest rated city fuel economy of any vehicle without a plug*; 53 mpg in the city, and 46 mpg on the highway, for a combined rating of 50 mpg
* A starting MSRP of $18,950 with a proven hybrid powertrain and premium technology
* A premium hybrid experience thanks to a wide array of convenience and advanced in-car electronics features, including a standard 3.5-inch full color TFT multi-information display, Bluetooth® hands-free phone capability, USB port with iPod® connectivity, and available Display Audio system with Navigation and Entune™
Prius c: Four Grades
The Prius c will be available in four grades, offering desirable features, equipment, and enhanced capability providing consumers compelling value. All Prius c models will be equipped with a Hybrid Synergy Drive 1.5-liter DOHC, 16-valve engine with VVT-i, a 60 hp permanent magnet AC synchronous motor, and a 144 volt nickel-metal hydride battery which generates 25.9 hp of electric propulsion for a total hybrid system net output of 99 horsepower. The Prius c will be equipped with 9 standard airbags, driver and front passenger Advanced Whiplash-Injury-Lessening seats and Toyota’s Star Safety System ™ that includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction control (TRAC), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), and Smart Stop Technology (SST).
The Prius c One base grade will offer many standard features such as automatic climate control, tilt-telescopic steering wheel with audio, climate, multi-information display and Bluetooth® hands free phone controls; and remote keyless entry with illuminated entry.
The Prius c Two grade offers a 6-speaker audio system, variable intermittent windshield wipers, a 60/40 split fold-down rear seat with adjustable headrests, cruise control, engine immobilizer, center console with armrest and storage compartment, and a cargo area tonneau cover.
The Prius c Three grade enhances the technology in the vehicle with improved audio and connectivity. The Prius c Three includes a Display Audio system with Navigation and Entune™ that adds a 6.1-inch touchscreen, Sirius XM Satellite Radio capability (includes 3 month trial subscription to XM Select Package), HD Radio™ with iTunes® Tagging, USB port with iPod® connectivity and control, vehicle information with customizable settings, and advanced voice recognition. Toyota Entune™ includes Bing™ and Pandora®; real-time info including traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports, and stocks. Apps available spring 2012 at no charge include iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com and OpenTable®. Access to Entune™ services is complimentary for three years. In addition, the Prius c Three grade includes color-keyed outside door handles with touch- sensor lock/unlock feature, a tilt/telescopic steering wheel with audio, climate, Multi-information Display, Bluetooth® hands free phone and voice command controls, a Touch Tracer Display, and a Smart Key System on the front doors and liftgate with Push Button Start and remote illuminated entry. The Prius c Three allows buyers to add 15-inch alloy wheels and a power tilt/slide moonroof with sunshade as optional equipment.
The Prius c Four grade is distinguished by its 15-inch, 8-spoke alloy wheels, Softex-trimmed heated front seats, color-keyed heated power outside mirrors with turn signal indicators, and integrated fog lamps. Optional equipment for the Prius c Four includes 16-inch, 8-spoke alloy wheels with 195/50R16 tires and power tilt telescopic moonroof with sunshade.
2012MY Prius c Pricing Sheet
PRIUS c ONE $18,950
PRIUS c TWO $19,900
PRIUS c THREE $21,635
PRIUS c FOUR $23,230
2012 Prius c Options and Packages
Available for Prius c Three:
Power tilt/slide moonroof with sliding sunshade – MSRP $850
15-inch 8-spoke alloy wheels with P175/65R15 tires- MSRP $390
Available for Prius c Four:
Power tilt/slide moonroof with sliding sunshade – MSRP $850
16-inch 8-spoke alloy wheels with P195/50R16 tires – MSRP $300
16-inch Alloy Wheel Package: combines 16-inch 8-spoke alloy wheels with P195/50R16 tires and power tilt/slide moonroof with sliding sunshade – MSRP $1,150
Available Exterior Colors:
Blue Streak Metallic
Summer Rain Metallic
Black Sand Pearl
Magnetic Gray Metallic
Classic Silver Metallic
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.”
|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)|
We’ve talked about it for quite some time, and now it’s finally here, the first new model of the Prius line, it’s the Prius V. V is for Versatility! The Prius V has as much cargo capacity as most CUV’s on the market today, yet returns the superior fuel economy you would expect from a Prius. As you may remember we had a chance to drive a Prius V back in June and wrote about it here on the blog.
Now, the Prius V’s are here, and we have them available at both the Toyota Santa Monica and Toyota Hollywood stores! We showed the Prius V off at the AltCar Expo, and we also shot this test drive video for you, have a look.
LAcarGUY was well represented at the 6th Alt Car Show, which took place at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on September 30 and October 1, with vehicles from 4 of our dealerships. Inside the display area the new FISKER KARMA was featured and ended up being the hit of the show. Toyota Santa Monica did have the Prius V available for test drives during the well-attended weekend. Also available for test drives were the new CT 200h and the HS250h from Lexus Santa Monica as well as the new redesigned 2012 Passat TDI and the VW Golf TDI from Volkswagen Santa Monica. There was never a lull for test drives throughout the entire two days. Toyota future vehicles were also on display, with the 2012 RAV EV and Prius PHV receiving plenty of attention!