Tag: Prius v

Hybrids and EVs Score Big in Consumer Reports Reliability Survey

October 31, 2012 lacarguy HybridCars.com Tags: , , , , , , , 0 Comments

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.

Lexus Highest-Ranked Brand for Second Consecutive Year in J.D. Power Initial Quality Study

June 22, 2012 lacarguy Lexus, Toyota Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

The J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, a touchstone for the industry’s current successes and failures in new-car design and production, has just released the results of its 2012 Initial Quality Study (IQS). Lexus was the highest-ranked brand for the second year in a row with the fewest problems per 100 vehicles. The brand was followed by two other luxury manufacturers, Jaguar and Porsche, which tied for second place. Cadillac and Honda rounded out the top five.

According to the study, as the North American automotive industry continues to recover, vehicle manufacturers post the strongest improvement in initial quality since 2009 and are producing higher-quality vehicles than ever before. Still, quality was hurt by widespread glitches in technology such as touch-screen controls and voice-recognition software, said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates.

As manufacturers introduce increasingly sophisticated multimedia systems designed to enhance the ownership experience, owners more frequently cite these systems as a source of quality problems. For the first time in the 26-year history of the study, owners report more problems related to audio, entertainment, and navigation systems than in any other vehicle area. This is driven in part by a rapid increase in the fitment of new technology, such as voice recognition on mainstream models.

“Until recently, this type of sophisticated technology was found primarily on high-end models” said Sargent,  “However, over the past few years it has rapidly found its way into the automotive mainstream. For example, in 2012, more than 80 percent of owners indicate that their new vehicle has some form of hands-free technology.”

Toyota and Lexus vehicles captured five segment awards (Yaris, Corolla, ES 350, LS and RX) and five Toyota manufacturing facilities in Japan and North America won plant awards, including one Gold, in the 2012 Initial Quality Study (IQS), more than any other automaker in both categories.

The study also found:

  • Toyota has fewer problems than the premium brands industry average;
  • 15 Toyota, Lexus, and Scion models ranked in the top three of the segments they compete in;
  • Corolla is the highest performing non-premium model, it also ranks fifth overall;
  • The all-new Prius v garnered second place in a closely contested segment; and
  • The redesigned Camry scores even better than last year’s model

“We are very pleased with this year’s Initial Quality Study honors”, said Ray Tanguay, Senior Vice President and Chief Quality Officer Toyota Motor North America, Inc. “These accolades echo our enduring commitment to quality, value, and customer satisfaction”.

Worldwide Sales of Toyota Hybrids Top 4 Million Units

May 29, 2012 lacarguy Hybrid Vehicles, Toyota of Hollywood, Toyota Santa Monica Tags: , , , , , , 0 Comments

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) recently announced that global cumulative sales of its hybrid vehicles have topped the 4 million mark as of April 30, 2012. Currently, Toyota sells 18 hybrid passenger vehicles in 80 countries and regions around the world. And this year, hybrid sales accounted for 15 percent of TMC’s global vehicle sales.

The first Prius went on sale in Japan in 1997 and in 2000, Prius hybrid technology was introduced to the U.S. Since then, the Toyota Division of Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A. has sold 1.5 million hybrid vehicles in the U.S., accounting for 65 percent of all hybrid vehicles sold in the region. Prius, the iconic hybrid brand, makes up half of all hybrids on the road in the U.S. with sales totaling 1.2 million units through April 2012.

The expansion of the Prius family line of vehicles has been successful in the U.S. since the Prius v was introduced to the market in November 2011 and the Prius c and Prius Plug-in during the first quarter 2012. In that time, Prius family sold 60,859 units in the U.S.

In addition to the Prius family, Toyota’s line of hybrid vehicles include versions in the Camry and Highlander, which feature larger displacement applications of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive.

“All of us at Toyota would like to sincerely thank our customers, who have made Prius the best-selling hybrid in the industry,” said Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager, Toyota Division. “While we’re proud of this accomplishment, we are not stopping here as hybrids will continue to be a core technology for Toyota.”

As of April 30, 2012, TMC calculates that TMC hybrid vehicles, since 1997, have led to approximately 26 million fewer tons of CO2 emissions—considered to be a cause of climate change—than would have been emitted by gasoline-powered vehicles of similar size and driving performance.

Toyota Confirms Prius Plug-In's Eligibility for an Additional State of California Consumer Incentive and Its EPA Mileage Rating

February 27, 2012 lacarguy Electric Vehicle Extended Range, Toyota Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

As the 2012 Prius Plug-in models begin to arrive at Toyota Santa Monica and Toyota Hollywood, Toyota Motor Sales, Inc. announces that it has been approved for the State of California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Program (CVRP).

Designed to promote the use of Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEV) and related clean vehicle technologies, the CVRP is a consumer incentive made available in addition to the $2,500 Federal Tax credit¹ offered for qualified vehicles (more information available at: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/article/0,,id=219867,00.html). The 2012 Prius Plug-in also offers consumers eligibility for the State of California’s HOV lane sticker (information found here).

The CVRP program offers rebates to individuals, business owners, non-profit groups, and government entities that purchase or lease new eligible zero-emission or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Under this program, the Prius Plug-in is eligible for a $1,500 rebate that will be provided to consumers on a first come first-served basis. These grants are available when a vehicle is either purchased or leased for 36 months or longer. The CVRP is funded by the California Air Resources Board (ARB). Additional information about the CVRP incentive and application resources can be found on the EnergyCenter.org website.

The first-ever Prius Plug-in Hybrid, combines the benefits of the third-generation Prius Liftback’s Hybrid Synergy Drive with a dedicated electric driving (EV) capability, in a package that is priced more competitively than most currently available plug-in hybrids or pure Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV). The Prius Plug-injoins the Prius Family, which includes the third-generation Prius Liftback, the versatile new Prius v and the all-new subcompact Prius c, which will be available in March of 2012. The Prius Plug-in features a new Lithium-ion battery, which boosts its overall fuel economy and offers convenient charging times of only 2.5-3 hours using a standard 120V outlet or 1.5 hours using 240V.

While in EV Mode, the Prius Plug-in is rated by the EPA to drive up to 11 miles. It’s also capable of traveling up to 62 mph using electric power alone. During EV Mode driving, the Prius Plug-in is rated at 95MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent). In hybrid mode, it has an EPA combined mileage rating of 50 mpg. This means that when the EV Mode is depleted, Prius Plug-in still obtains the same estimated high fuel economy rating as Prius Liftback. With its Lithium-ion power and extended electric vehicle mode, the Prius Plug-in is EPA-rated for a total driving range of 540 miles.

It will be available in two models, the Prius Plug-in and the Prius Plug-in Advanced. The Prius Plug-in Hybrid model comes equipped with an abundance of standard features including LED Daytime Running Lights, Smart Key on three doors, Display Audio with Navigation and Entune™ with integrated backup camera, Touch Tracer Display, heated front seats, Remote Climate (A/C only), EV/ECO/POWER modes, unique15-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels, enhanced Multi-information Display and much more.

The Prius Plug-in Advanced model adds additional standard features including Premium HDD Navigation with Entune™ and JBL® GreenEdge™, Plug-in Hybrid Applications through a user’s smartphone (Charge Management, Remote Climate, Vehicle Finder, Charging Station Map², and ECO Dashboard²), Head-up Display, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Pre-Collision System, LED headlamps with auto on/off feature and integrated fog lamps, SofTex-trimmed seating, an eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat, Safety Connect and more.

The base MSRP for the Prius Plug-in Hybrid is $32,000. The Prius Plug-in Hybrid Advanced has an MSRP of $39,525. Both Prius Plug-in models are eligible for up to $4,000 worth of government-supported consumer incentives ($2,500 federal tax credit¹ and $1500 worth of the State of California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Program), in addition to offering eligibility for California’s High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane sticker.

Ten Electric Cars Coming in 2012

January 3, 2012 lacarguy HybridCars.com Tags: , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

By HybridCars.com

The year 2011 was a landmark year for EVs. We witnessed regional launches of the Nissan LEAF and the Chevy Volt. These two plug-in cars were the start of a new era for electrified personal transportation. The current American car auto fleet, however, is enormous—and two models alone cannot create change on a large scale.

During 2012, these two plug-in cars will have—depending how you look at it—either competition in the marketplace or help in the movement to electrify transportation

This coopetition includes the Ford Focus Electric, the much-anticipated Tesla Model S, and others. Pike Research predicts that more than 250,000 plug-in vehicles will be sold globally in 2012. Regardless of whether or not this prediction comes true, 2012 will bring more choices in vehicle style, brand, size, performance, and price, for cars with cords.

Here is HybridCars.com Top 10 countdown of plug-in cars to look forward to in 2012:

10. LEAF and Volt (Expanded Markets): First on my list is expanding availability of the two cars that kick-started the new era of plug-in vehicles. General Motors rolled out the Volt in four stages during 2011, making it available nationwide at the end of the year. Canada and the UK can expect to see Volts in 2012. The LEAF began shipping to the UK, Japan, and some US states in 2011. Nissan says the LEAF will be available in all 50 US states by March of 2012.

9. Smart ForTwo Electric Drive: Daimler reports that it will launch its third-generation Smart ForTwo Electric Drive to 30 markets around the world in September of 2012. This is a three-month delay for the two-seater initially planned for June 2012. Daimler claims the delay is due to quality control issues at the battery supplier Li-Tec.

8. Honda Fit EV: The Fit EV is scheduled for release in Oregon and parts of California next summer. Only a few hundred cars are expected to reach US shores during 2012, with 1,100 scheduled for production during the next three years.

7. Mitsubishi i: The updated Mitsubishi i-MiEV has been shipping in Japan and the UK for several months. The town of Normal Illinois received hundreds of i’s in 2011 as part of a test program and publicity campaign. The first regularly ordered i was delivered to an owner in Hawaii in December 2011. The national-wide US rollout is scheduled for July 2012. The i is a nice addition to the available EV portfolio because at $29,125 (before state and federal incentives) it is one of the most affordable highway-capable EVs.

6. Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid: With the “Prius Goes Plural” campaign, Toyota has added the Prius V, Prius C, and (relevant to this topic) the Plug-in Prius (PIP). The Prius has a loyal following among green drivers. PIP will be the Prius with the highest MPG rating in the Prius family. This will make it the car of choice for many Prius fans, even with its price premium over the standard model. PIP will be available in 15 states in spring 2012 with nationwide availability in 2013.

5. Ford Focus Electric: Ford initially announced that these were going to start shipping in December 2011. One or two may go out the door, but any real volume won’t happen until Spring 2012. I am looking forward to seeing the EPA rated range and price information. This is the first pure EV of this era from one of the Big 3. It will be a bellwether.

4. Fisker Karma: First promised in 2009, Karma reservation holders have been repeatedly delayed. And with each delay the price ratcheted up, from an initial $80,000 price tag now to $106,000 (as of Dec. 13, 2011). There were a few token deliveries in 2011, including handing key-fobs to Leonardo DiCaprio, Al Gore and Colin Powell. 2012 should be the year for mere mortals, although you will need six figures of cash to make it happen.

3. Toyota RAV 4 EV (Redux): This vehicle is a joint effort between Toyota and Tesla. The original RAV 4 EV was a favorite among the millennium era EVs. It is scheduled for sale in mid-2012. Initially sales will be limited to California.

2. Ford C-Max Energi: The Ford C-Max Energi is a plug-in hybrid version of the Ford C-Max wagon (or compact multi-purpose vehicle, or MPV, as it is referred to in the UK). The 2013 Ford C-Max Energi is planned for launch in North America in 2012, and Europe in 2013.

1. Tesla Model S: This is the car I am most looking forward to driving. Tesla followed the tech development model with an alpha and beta phases in 2011 and production samples are now on the road. Tesla plans to build and sell 6,500 units in 2012. However, unless you are already a reservation holder, you are out of luck because 6,500 people have already put down $5,000 each to get a place in line to buy one. Deliveries are expected to start mid-2012.

There are other plug-in cars—from smaller and less proven companies—that could make it to market in 2012, most notably the Coda Electric Sedan. But Coda, as well as BYD, Zap, Zenn, and Wheego—are dark horses in the emerging market. Of course, the only thing that would be truly surprising in this tumultuous nascent industry would be a year with no surprises.

The Prius V Is Here, See It In Action

November 7, 2011 lacarguy Green Auto Technology, High MPG Vehicles, Hybrid Vehicles, Toyota Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

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.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqteH35POGI?rel=0&hd=1&w=853&h=480]

A Closer Look: Toyota’s 2012 Prius V

June 29, 2011 lacarguy Green Articles, Hybrid Vehicles, Toyota Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

As you may know, Toyota is growing its Prius family line of vehicles in hopes that a few variations on our most successful battery-powered recipe will offer buyers solutions that the conventional Prius simply couldn’t match. Have you been considering a Prius but felt that the standard vehicle would not accommodate your growing family? Or do you lead a more active lifestyle and require something that will easily carry all your gear without you having to master the art of packing? Well, do we have the vehicle for you.

When it came to designing the Prius V, Toyota’s designers wanted to make sure that the newcomer would still be instantly recognized as a member of the Prius dynasty. Up front, the vehicle wears both stylized head lamps and a rounded front fascia that’s remarkably similar to the 2011 Prius. It also worth noting that the front fenders and hood are completely new sheetmetal. Also, the headlight housing has been altered to incorporate a new ridge that reduces wind turbulence around the side view mirrors. As a result, the small change has a huge impact on interior noise.

From the side, the wagon-like presence of the Prius V is inescapable with its long roof, similarly lengthy rear doors, and an extended cargo area. The rear offers a fairly sizable hatch that terminates in a unique rear spoiler which serves an aerodynamic purpose. Toyota designers and engineers made an effort to decrease the vehicle’s coefficient of drag as much as possible to increase fuel efficiency. Enhancements include touches like protrusions from the front and rear bumper, specially designed side skirts and extensive underbody cladding that help the Prius V return its .29 coefficient of drag.

Engineers essentially stretched the Prius floorplan to give the Prius V an extra three inches of wheelbase and six inches of overall length. Combined with a taller roof, additional glass and large rear hatch, this newcomer weighs 3,274 lb. Opting to skip throwing extra horsepower to all that weight, engineers simply changed the axle ratio from 3.268:1 to 3.704:1. As a result, the Prius V feels just as adequate on the road as the third-generation Prius. The new gear ratio means that acceleration is perfectly acceptable for matching wits with traffic in town or on the highway with 0-60 mph sprints taking an estimated 10.4 seconds. A total of four drive modes are accessible via buttons mounted on the center console, including EV, Eco, Power, and Normal modes.

Under the hood, the same 2ZR-FXE 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine found in the base Prius supplies power in conjunction with a pair of liquid-cooled motor generators. Engineers designed the transaxle case in the Prius V with integrated water jackets for the first time to keep the motors at a steady temperature, thereby increasing longevity and performance at the same time. Combined output sits at 134 hp at 5,200 rpm and 105 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. The exhaust recirculation system was also redesigned to decrease the drivetrain’s warm-up period, as a result, the Prius V can reach optimum operating temperature up to a minute sooner than vehicles equipped with the old system.

As most other automakers are flocking to lithium-ion batteries, Toyota has decided that there is no need to pursue the added cost of the technology for the Prius V. Instead, the hybrid wagon uses a modified version of the same nickel-metal hydride battery pack found in the third-gen Prius. Total output has been boosted slightly to 650 volts, and the more compact battery configuration keeps from impeding on interior room. Additionally, the battery pack’s cooling duct now draws ambient air from a hidden location under the second-row seats.

If you’re looking toward a small SUV, a crossover, or a wagon, the Prius V has all the functionality of those vehicles with the fuel economy and panache that only the Prius name can offer. With improved functionality, the Prius V can be the vehicle to accommodate a growing family with an active lifestyle. Contact us to book your test drive today and we will notify you as soon as the vehicle hits our showroom. Follow us on Twitter and join our Facebook community to keep up with the latest updates.