~~ Hybrid Cars Newsletter: Issue No. 0045 ~~~
Moderator: Bradley Berman [[email protected]]
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IN THIS ISSUE:
2011 CAFE Targets Drop Below Level of Today’s Cars

The new CAFE rule for 2011 cars is 30.2 mpg—1.2 mpg less than the car fleet average already achieved for model year 2008 cars. Huh?

HybridCars.com Gets 75.3 MPG in 2010 Toyota Prius
While it was a cheap thrill to score so high, it’s far less remarkable than the average mileage for the group of journalists on the media preview drive: 69.9 mpg.

Toyota Confirms Plans for Low-Cost Hybrid
“We are developing a low-priced hybrid vehicle like Honda’s Insight,” said Akihiko Otsuka, chief engineer of the redesigned, third-generation Toyota Prius.

Realities Behind Obama’s Electric Car Photo Op
When President Barack Obama walked into Southern California Edison’s electric-vehicle test facility on March 19, he visited what may be the highest concentration of electric vehicles in North America.

Consulting Group: Beware of Electric Car Costs
Consumers are saying, “This is great. I want a cheap, long-range, comfortable, electric vehicle.” What nobody is telling these people is the true additional cost of an electric vehicle.

Mercedes Rejects Electric Car Battery Swapping
A growing number of skeptics are questioning the feasibility of electric car battery swapping. The latest is Thomas Weber, Mercedes’ chief of research and development.

Hybrids In an Era of Survival
The dismal economy is forcing companies to make tough decisions about what can get tossed aside to save a buck. But the world’s major automakers are holding firm to plans for green cars.

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Greetings, Hybrid Car Enthusiasts,
Low gas prices and a dismal economy have kept hybrid sales close to earth. Before gas-electric cars have been given the time to make a real dent in oil use and climate changing emissions, many carmakers are jumping ahead a stage or two to full electric cars. EVs are grabbing a lot of the headlines—helped by a push by President Barack Obama. In this issue, we’ll try to separate the truth from the hype, so the great promise that EVs—and the full range of greener electrified vehicles—represent are not spoiled by too many promises. Thanks for checking it out.

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2011 CAFE Targets Drop Below Level of Today’s Cars
https://www.hybridcars.com/incentives-laws/cafe-targets-2011-drop-25684.html

The Department of Transportation announced in March new fuel economy standards requiring 2011 model-year cars to average 30.2 mpg, and light trucks to average 24.1 mpg. The combined average requirement will be 27.3 miles per gallon—a 2 mpg increase above the 2010 standard, but a mere 1 percent increase over the 27.0 mpg level already achieved last year for 2008 model year vehicles.

The car standard part of the new Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) rule—a 2011 average of 30.2 mpg—is 1.2 mpg less than the car fleet average already achieved for model year 2008 cars, according to DOT statistics.

Environmentalists and energy advocates were disappointed by the rule—and were uncertain about the motivations behind the decision. “The administration apparently has the economic crisis in mind,” said John DeCicco, senior fellow, Environmental Defense Fund. “But it’s not clear that any extra cost would be required by automakers to achieve fuel economy levels they’ve already achieved.”

The pressure to meet higher fuel efficiency standards is one of the forces behind carmakers’ move toward smaller fuel-efficient vehicles, hybrids and eventually plug-in vehicles. It’s unlikely that the relatively easy targets for 2011 will affect those plans—especially considering the more critical dialogue taking place between automakers, federal regulators, and California regulators. All parties are working toward an aggressive but realistic single nationwide fuel efficiency standard.

Read more:
https://www.hybridcars.com/incentives-laws/cafe-targets-2011-drop-25684.html

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HybridCars.com Gets 75.3 MPG in 2010 Toyota Prius
https://www.hybridcars.com/mileage/hybridcarscom-gets-75-mpg-2010-toyota-prius-25680.html

Seventy-five-point-three miles to the gallon! That was enough to win the 2010 Toyota Prius fuel economy competition that stacked 28 auto journalists against one another Feb. 24 in Yountville, Calif. While it was a cheap thrill to score so high, it’s far less remarkable than the average mileage for the group of journalists on the media preview drive: 69.9 mpg.

Of course, this level of fuel economy should not be expected for typical owners of the 2010 Prius. But the fact that it happened, and without applying any black magic or severe “hypermiling” techniques, is amazing. The drivers took between 70 and 85 minutes, traveling on average between 27 and 29 miles per hour on the 33.8 mile course through Yountville and Napa—not including one outlier that took more than two hours. I drove with the slow traffic and let most cars pass me, but my pace was certainly within legal limits—and could represent the efforts of a reasonable but motivated fuel-conscious driver.

The average score for the journalists was seven mpg higher than the mileage earned by Akihiko Otsuka, the man who led a team of 2,000 engineers to create the third-generation 2010 Toyota Prius. So, clearly, all of our scores were a bit rigged by our desire to “beat the chief” as the competition was named. And yet, the auto journalists—folks who usually make their living by putting cars through high-speed paces—were able, with little effort, to get mileage off the charts. The official EPA numbers for the 2010 Prius are 51 in the city and 48 on the highway.

Read about high-mileage tools and techniques for the 2010 Toyota Prius:
https://www.hybridcars.com/mileage/hybridcarscom-gets-75-mpg-2010-toyota-prius-25680.html

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Toyota Confirms Plans for Low-Cost Hybrid
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/toyota-confirms-plans-low-cost-hybrid-25681.html

In early March, Japan’s Nikkei business daily reported that Toyota is planning to introduce a new hybrid model that is significantly less expensive than its existing gas-electric cars. At that point, Toyota refused to comment on the report, but a few weeks later, Toyota officials confirmed their intention to make a small affordable hybrid.

“We are developing a low-priced hybrid vehicle like Honda’s Insight,” said Akihiko Otsuka, chief engineer of the third-generation Toyota Prius. “We are going to compete by expanding our hybrid-vehicle lineup to smaller hybrids, in the class of the Vitz [sold in Japan] and Yaris.” He did not say when the small hybrid would debut, but it could arrive as early as 2011, according to Nikkei.

When the new 2010 Honda Insight went on sale, it became the first hybrid car available for less than $20,000. A Yaris-based hybrid could directly compete with the Insight on price. The most expensive gas-version of the Yaris carries a suggested retail price of $15,880.

In early April, another hybrid price war story emerged in Japan: Toyota is planning a base model Prius priced at about $20,750—only a few hundred dollars more than the Honda Insight’s price tag. The more expensive Prius packages will stay in place, but Insight intenders will have to at least consider the base-level Prius, which might lack frills, but is significantly bigger, faster, and more fuel-efficient than the Insight.

Of course, the beneficiary of the competition will be consumers—and if/when gas prices bounce back, all the more affordable models could become big sellers.

Read more:
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/toyota-confirms-plans-low-cost-hybrid-25681.html

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Realities Behind Obama’s Electric Car Photo Op
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/realities-behind-obama-electric-car-photo-op-25662.html

When President Barack Obama walked into Southern California Edison’s electric-vehicle test facility on March 19, he visited what may be the highest concentration of electric vehicles in North America. It was a photo op, of course. The president’s goal, said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, was to highlight the role of plug-in cars in creating “clean energy jobs” that will spur economic growth.

During his campaign, Obama promised to put 1 million plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015. That’s an aggressive goal, considering that it took a decade for global production of hybrid cars to pass the 1 million mark after the first Toyota Prius rolled off the line in 1997.

Most analysts expect plug-in vehicles to follow a similar growth curve to hybrids, though government subsidies and tax credits may increase the rate by compensating for the high cost of the battery packs over the first few years.

Estimates for annual production of plug-ins—all of them global—are all over the map:

The industry analysis firm Global Insight estimates that in 2015, 1.7 million standard hybrids will be built. But only 100,000 of that total will be plug-ins—and the number of pure electric vehicles will remain almost unnoticeable.
More optimistically, European parts maker Robert Bosch LLC expects that in 2015, global production of electric vehicles (plug-in hybrids and pure EVs) will total between 300,000 and 500,000 units a year.
General Motors said that it expects to sell 10,000 Volts in its first full year (2011) and 60,000 per year after that (2012 and beyond).
French carmaker Renault—which is partnered with Nissan and has perhaps the most aggressive plans for pure electric cars—expects to sell more than 100,000 EVs a year starting in 2012.
Read more about Obama’s Visit:
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/realities-behind-obama-electric-car-photo-op-25662.html

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Consulting Group: Beware of Electric Car Costs
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/auto-task-force-advisors-beware-ev-costs-25685.html

A few days after Obama’s visit to SCE, he announced the next steps to help General Motors and Chrysler. The announcement followed about six weeks of deliberations by the president’s auto task force. One of the advisors to the task force, the Boston Consulting Group, recently issued a report, “The Comeback of the Electric Car?” I spoke with Xavier Mosquet, the lead author of the report.

There’s been a lot of recent news and excitement about electric cars, despite the current environment of low gas prices. What message do you think the consumer is taking?

Xavier Mosquet: I think consumers are saying, “This is great. I want a cheap, long-range, comfortable, electric vehicle.” What nobody is telling these people is the true additional cost of an electric vehicle. Unfortunately, this is far higher than people will be able to afford. I’m not suggesting that we should not do some of it. But the environment is clearly not set for big development of electric vehicles.

What’s been the reaction to Boston Consulting Group’s report on electric cars?

Two-fold. We’ve had a few people debating our hypothesis about the long-term costs of batteries, and coming up with more aggressive evaluations. That’s why we’re checking around the world. So far, we haven’t found strong evidence that the costs are different [than our current evaluation]. The other thing is a lot of extremely positive reactions, saying it was about time that someone shows the reality. Because otherwise we’re not making the right decisions.

Read the entire interview:
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/auto-task-force-advisors-beware-ev-costs-25685.html

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Mercedes Rejects Electric Car Battery Swapping
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/skeptics-question-electric-car-battery-swapping-25627.html

Shai Agassi, the founder of Better Place, has convinced heads of state, governors, wealthy investors, and powerful chief executives that a network of electric car battery recharging and swapping stations will help solve the world’s energy problems. But a growing number of skeptics are questioning the feasibility of the plan—especially the concept of swapping discharged batteries with fresh ones.

The latest skeptic is Thomas Weber, Mercedes’ chief of research and development. In Ha Aretz, an Israeli newspaper, Weber said that battery-swapping stations for electric cars may, in fact, be dangerous. The Mercedes executive said his company explored a similar plan in the 1970s, and discovered that changing a battery on the road could cause electrocution or fire.

Read about battery-swapping:
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/skeptics-question-electric-car-battery-swapping-25627.html

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Hybrids In an Era of Survival
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/hybrids-era-survival-25694.html

The dismal economy is forcing companies, and individuals, to make tough decisions about what is essential, and what can get tossed aside to save a buck. In the past, car companies might have shelved green car technologies as nice-to-have but too expensive and not really critical. However, this time around, the world’s major automakers are holding firm to plans for hybrid gas-electric cars, pure electric vehicles, and other fuel-saving programs.

This commitment will be challenged as we approach the first anniversary of record-setting high gas prices and high hybrid sales—and reporter after reporter quotes annual declines in hybrid sales of 20 or 30 percent or higher.

The financial crisis is perhaps hitting GM harder than anyone else—but the company is not letting go of green. “Given the challenges we have with CAFE requirements and what consumers will demand, I don’t see any of those [green] initiatives going to the back burner,” said GM spokesman Kyle Johnson.

Honda is showing no signs of cutting back on its green plans. The company decided not to display at the Frankfurt Auto Show, and instead will use its European resources to strengthen new fuel-cell research and its hybrid vehicle portfolio.

Toyota is expanding the market for the 2010 Prius to 80 countries, with an annual goal of selling 400,000 units worldwide.

Nissan is rolling on with its plans to mass market an electric car. I spoke with Mark Perry, Nissan’s product planner, on the Sacramento, Calif., stop of its nationwide tour to promote the company’s upcoming practical and affordable electric car. “This is our future. We absolutely believe, from a pure sustainability standpoint, we have to, have to, get to electrification,” said Perry. “We’re not saying that gasoline motors are going to disappear tomorrow. But the market is going into a transition. We would rather be at the forefront than the backside.”

Read more:
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/hybrids-era-survival-25694.html