November 20th, 2012 at 11:42am
General Electric announced it will buy 2,000 Ford C-MAX plug-in hybrids for its fleet, see what Ford is willing to do in exchange. BMW will show off a plug-in hybrid at the L.A. Auto Show next week. Nissan released an upgraded version of the LEAF in Tokyo today with changes based on feedback from owners. All that and more, plus John responds to your questions and comments in “You Said It!”
Hello and welcome to Autoline Daily. There sure is a lot in the news today about electrics, plug-ins, hybrids and diesels, so let’s get to it.
GE AND FORD GO FOR THE GREEN
General Electric announced it will buy 2,000 Ford C-MAX plug-in hybrids for its fleet. In exchange, Ford will promote GE’s charging station and natural gas fueling station with its commercial customers. And Ford will provide GE with alternatively powered vehicles for use at its Vehicle Innovation Center. Also, the Georgia Institute of Technology will monitor GE’s plug-in fleet to study driving and charging habits to help improve all-electric driving and charging performance.
AUDI, HONDA, VOLVO BIG ON DIESELS
Now for the diesel news today. First up, Audi announced it will offer diesels in the U.S. for the A8, A7, A6 and Q5 starting next year. The company says the diesel models are up to 30 percent more fuel efficient and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent compared to their gasoline counterparts. Next up, Honda announced that starting next year it will offer a new 1.6 liter diesel engine for the Civic and CR-V in the European market. The engine was specifically designed for Europe and will be built at the company’s factory in England. And rounding out today’s diesel news, Volvo announced it’s ramping up production of the diesel plug-in hybrid version of the V60. The company will build a thousand for the 2013 model year and up to 6,000 after that.
BMW PLUG-IN HYBRID
BMW will show off its fuel-efficient, high-performance i8 concept roadster at the LA Auto Show next week. It’s a plug-in hybrid that BMW says is capable of 354 horsepower, 0 to 60 in 4.6 seconds and will deliver 78 mpg. The car is based on BMW’s innovative LifeDrive architecture, which uses a lightweight, modular construction and lots of carbon fiber. This gives the i8 some eye-catching design features like the upward-swiveling, windowless doors and electric kickboards stowed under a transparent tailgate.
LEAF GETS AN UPGRADE
Nissan released an upgraded version of the LEAF in Tokyo today. It has sold over 43,000 LEAF’s worldwide with nearly half of those sales in Japan. But that is substantially below where the company thought sales would be, so it’s increasing the number of dealerships in Japan equipped with fast chargers to 700, up from 400, by the end of March. The new version of the Leaf includes reduced power consumption, a more efficient regenerative brake-control system, 12 percent more luggage space and a weight reduction of 176 lbs., which increases the range to 142 miles on the Japanese driving cycle, up 18 miles from the previous model. Nissan also chopped the price by $6,000, to $41,000, which is the price tag in Japan.
French supplier Valeo is coming out with an electric supercharger. Unlike belt-driven superchargers, it doesn’t draw power directly from the engine, and that helps boost fuel economy. Valeo sees it being used in small displacement turbocharged engines with stop/start. The electric supercharger helps get the car launched before the turbo can spool up. Valeo says it has 10 automakers testing its supercharger on both gasoline and diesel engines. It says it will go into production sometime around 2015 or 2016.
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!.
YOU SAID IT!
And now it’s time for your feedback.
motorman wonders, “How is the state and federal government going to collect road tax on home fill-up of natural gas powered cars???”
They’re not, motorman. Road tax only applies to gasoline or diesel sales at the pump. That’s why so many states are looking at raising registration fees or even taxing motorists on how many miles they drive every year.
C-Tech heard us talking about strong hybrid cars, which use an Atkinson-cycle engine and wants to know, “What does the Atkinson-cycle engine mean?”
Let me give it a shot, though some of you out there may be able to explain it better than I can. An Atkinson-cycle engine has a longer expansion cycle than compression cycle. That does a more efficient job of using the energy from the burning air/fuel mixture. But it also reduces the low-end torque in an engine. That’s why you see Atkinson engines in strong hybrids. The electric motors make up for the loss of torque.
Kate McLeod saw our report on Toyota suing Mexico to prevent it from adopting US fuel economy standards. She says, “Not sure why Toyota would be up in arms about 35 MPG fuel economy. They have Scion, Prius, good fuel economy on their cars and no trucks to speak of. I get that there are no loopholes but I don’t understand Toyota being out in front about this. Your thought?”
Good question, Kate. Maybe Toyota thinks that if it gets involved in the effort it will be a lot more credible than other automakers protesting fuel economy regulations.
We got a lot of feedback on our poll asking how old is too old to run a car company. Bradley G says: “Age has nothing to do with running a company. Who is more capable? Lt. Dan Akerson & Bob Nardelli? Or older guys who get it: Bob Lutz & Alan Mulally and don’t forget the Late great Carroll Shelby, proves that you are never too old if you love what you do.”
Amen to that.
We also got a lot of feedback on the most recent episode of Autoline This Week which was all about electric cars. Nick Prudent Says: “Love the show + Peter & John, but totally tired of the anti-Tesla views. Tesla is an American company building cars in America…and you won’t give them a chance. Sigh… Fisker, now there’s a fiasco…
And Brett says: “re: Tesla Model S. Somebody pinch me!! Did I just hear bonafide auto insiders find virtually nothing to complain about (save for price) in an EV??”
Let me make it clear to everyone once again. I am not anti-EV. But I am against government mandates that force automakers to build EV’s even if they don’t want to. And I’m against generous government subsidies that go to well-off people so they can buy an EV.
Thanks for all your letters and comments, and please keep them coming. But that wraps up today’s show, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.