Using Hybrid Tech to its Full Potential

Using Hybrid Tech to its Full Potential

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The Union of Concerned Scientists is, well, concerned about hybrid technology. Specifically, the UCS has noticed an ever-increasing industry focus on so-called “muscle hybrids,” or vehicles that use hybrid tech for a boost of power, rather than for environmental reasons, and doesn’t think the industry is using the technology to its fullest potential. From the organization’s recent 2011 hybrid scorecard report, published on HybridCenter.org:
Despite this progress, there is still a lot of untapped opportunity to use hybrid technology to boost efficiency in every size and class; many promising improvements are still on auto engineers’ drawing boards. And while we evaluate 34 different hybrid models on the market, only a handful comprise the vast majority of sales—the Prius alone accounts for more than half the sales total. Automakers need to move hybrid technology beyond the niche market by offering more hybrids with strong environmental performance and a reasonable sticker price.
The UCS calls out the Volkswagen Toureg gas-electric as the most egregious muscle hybrid model currently on the market, noting a mere 10 percent reduction in greenhouse emissions as compared to its gasoline counterpart. (Some hybrid models reduce such emissions by thirty or even forty percent). The aforementioned Prius remains the top scorer, with Ford, Hyundai, Honda and Nissan offering 2011-2012 hybrid models with top marks. (Check out more plus the full report card after the jump.)

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Blue Angels’ Mustang Celebrates 100 Years of Naval Aviation

By Michelle Koueiter

Ford Motor Co. teamed with U.S. Naval Aviation to produce a single-edition “Blue Angels” 2012 Ford Mustang GT, to be auctioned in honor of the 100th anniversary of the navy’s air presence.

Design of the centennial-edition GT was inspired by the F-18 Hornet aircraft used in the Blue Angels aviation team’s performance demonstrations. It will cross the auction block at the Gathering of Eagles charity event, held the week of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s 2011 AirVenture on July 28 in Oshkosh, Wis.

Detroit Free Press, citing unnamed sources, says a 50-mpg diesel-powered Cruze is on the horizon.

Posted by Joshua Condon Monday, July 11, 2011 2:02:33 PM
The Detroit Free Press is reporting a rumor, provided by unnamed sources said to be familiar with General Motors’ product plans, that Chevrolet will offer a diesel-poweredCruze model in 2013.

The diesel Cruze would rival the Toyota Prius hybrid for fuel efficiency, at around 50 mpg. GM sold around 25,000 gasoline-powered Cruzes in the U.S. last month to take the top spot in vehicle sales.

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New Techniques Cut Cost of Carbon Fiber

By David Sedgwick, Automotive News

Posted by AutoWeek Monday, July 11, 2011 12:56:30 PM

Carbon fiber, once so costly that it was the preferred material only for fighter planes and supercars, is catching the attention of weight-conscious automakers.

Carbon fiber’s cost is falling dramatically, thanks to production advances that let suppliers speed the material’s finicky, and costly, curing process.

One technological breakthrough that makes carbon-fiber auto parts more affordable may come from a process used to make carbon-fiber golf clubs. More on that later.

While carbon fiber does not match steel or aluminum for cost, it is about 50 percent lighter than conventional steel and 30 percent lighter than aluminum. Its strength and weight make it ideal for electric cars, sports cars and luxury cars.

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Infiniti Offers Free Concierge Service to New-Car Buyers

Program provided at no cost for first four years of ownership.

Infiniti is looking to sweeten the pot for new luxury-car buyers: Any new-car purchase comes with four years of complimentary Infiniti Personal Assistant concierge service. Customers can access the new service from their car, through the vehicle’s Bluetooth system, and elsewhere, using a mobile phone.

The service provides users with information ranging from the driving-specific — directions, city guides, weather forecasts, emergency assistance and schedule reminders — to the general interest, such as sports scores and stats, stock market info, dining suggestions, and movie times and reviews. There are even consumer product reviews and price comparisons, all accessible with a phone call that connects to a live assistant.

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Tests Electric-Vehicle Sounds of Facebook

By Jake Lingeman

Sure, if it were up to us, every car would sound like aLamborghini Aventador or a McLaren Formula One race car. And while those specific options aren’t available (yet), Ford is using its Facebook page to let fans vote on sounds to be made by the electric Focus.

Since EVs are so quiet, Ford needs to give the Focus electric some sound for safety’s sake–to draw the attention of people who are blind people, those using cell phones or iPods and even for animals. It is not currently mandated that all electric cars make a sound, but lawmakers are in talks to do just that. Ford is likely looking ahead so it won’t be unprepared later.

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Lexus Likely to Lose Luxury Crown

Japan earthquake helps BMW, Mercedes-Benz overtake Lexus for the first time in 11 years.
Posted by Joshua Condon Monday, July 11, 2011 8:40:33 AM
Lost sales amid vehicle shortages caused by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami have allowed rivals BMW andMercedes-Benz to grab luxury market share from Lexus. If the sales year plays out as expected, the badge will see its 11-year reign as the world’s No. 1 luxury automaker come to an end.

Overall sales are expected to drop by 17 percent in the U.S., Lexus’ biggest market, to around 190,000 vehicles. Toyota’sluxury division saw first-half sales dip by 18 percent, while BMW’s sales rose 13 percent, to 113,705, and Mercedes-Benz grabbed an additional 7 percent, to 110,926. Assuming BMW holds onto the sales lead for this year, it would represent the first time the German manufacturer has bested Lexus since 1997.

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A 101-Year-Old Woman and Her 81-Year-Old Packard

ving history, plain and simple.

Posted by Sam Smith Monday, July 11, 2011 6:16:05 AM
Margaret Dunning is 101. She has been driving for more than 90 years, albeit not always legally. The straight-8-powered 1930 Packard 740 roadster she’s pictured with here is hers. It’s 81 years old, and she has owned it since 1949. She still drives it — drives it! at 101! — and changes the oil and spark plugs herself.
This might just be the coolest thing you see all week
The New York Times has devoted an entire piece in its Automobiles section to Dunning, complete with a short video. We can’t embed NYT video here, but it’s more than worth the time. (A link to the clip, along with a few relevant quotes, can be found after the jump.) The article is a hoot; it talks of Dunning’s time growing up in the early days of the automobile, offering up gems like this:
She cherished her time in the car alone, reaching into the wind for roadside stalks of fragrant sweet clover. “I’d see a few friends or race past a blind pig,” she said, using the euphemism for Prohibition-era drinking establishments. “Before I could get home, people would be calling saying, ‘I think I just saw Margaret, with quite a dust pile behind her.’”

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