~~~ Hybrid Cars Newsletter: Issue No. 0051 ~~~
Moderator: Bradley Berman [[email protected]]
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IN THIS ISSUE:

Recall: Toyota Floor Mats Could Be Dangerous
Toyota said on Sept. 29 it will recall some 3.8 million vehicles, including the late-model Toyota Prius, because of the risk a floor mat could keep the accelerator pedal forced down.

Hyundai Goes Super Green at Frankfurt Auto Show
There’s mounting evidence that Hyundai will deliver on promises to lead the world in fuel efficiency.

Toyota Unveils Hatchback Hybrid Concepts for Europe
Five-door hatchbacks are the best selling type of car in Europe. Toyota takes aim.

VW Unveils World’s Most Efficient Road-Legal Hybrid
It’s small (one passenger in front of the other). It’s lightweight (840 pounds). And it could get 235 miles per gallon.

Are Lithium Car Batteries Overhyped?
Battery expert Menahem Anderman: “We now know that a lithium ion battery can work. That’s not really the question.” It’s cost.

Car Culture Wars: Glenn Beck and Fox News
After Obama announced tougher rules for automobile efficiency, conservative media pundit Glenn Beck ridiculed hybrid cars. Then Fox News attacked loans to electric car companies.

Hybrid and Electric Cars Will Emit Vroomtones
One day, drivers might download “vroomtones” for their cars, the way they download ringtones for cell phones today.

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Greetings, Hybrid Car Enthusiasts,
Looking at the ever-growing list of hybrid and electric cars in the works, and on display at global motor shows, you would never know how bad the economic slump hit the auto industry in general and specifically the current hybrid market. Car companies are caught between short-term financial struggles and the arc toward sustainability. Hybrids simultaneously are a litmus test—and a cultural lightning rod, as evidenced by recent comments from Glenn Beck and Fox News. Read on and join the fun.

And for readers who currently own a hybrid car, check out our new Hybrid Cars Store! Great prices, awesome selection, and world-class service. Click now:

http://store.hybridcars.com/

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Recall: Toyota Floor Mats Could Be Dangerous
Toyota said on Sept. 29 it will recall some 3.8 million vehicles, including the late-model Toyota Prius, because of the risk a floor mat could keep the accelerator pedal forced down. As an immediate remedy, the Japanese automaker urged drivers of a range of recent Toyota and Lexus models to remove driver’s-side floor mats until it could issue a recall in consultation with federal safety regulators.

The safety recall would be the largest ever recall for Toyota in America. More details on the safety advisory are available at the Toyota website, www.toyota.com. Drivers can also call Toyota at 1-800-331-4331 or Lexus at 1-800-255-3987.

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Hyundai Goes Super Green at Frankfurt Auto Show
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/hyundai-goes-super-green-frankfurt-auto-show-26076.html

The list of Hyundai and Kia eco-models on display at the recent Frankfurt Auto Show provides mounting evidence that the Korean company will deliver on promises to lead the world in fuel efficiency. Those vehicles with Hyundai and Kia badges include hybrid city cars, a hybrid crossover SUV concept, an all-electric city car, a plug-in hybrid, diesel vehicles with micro-hybrid stop-start technology, and mid-size lithium-battery-powered sedans running on liquid petroleum gas.

Highlights included Hyundai’s ix Metro mild hybrid concept. A 1.0-liter three-cylinder gas engine matched to a mild hybrid system produces 123 horsepower. The ix Metro gets away with just one liter and three cylinders because the car is small, and because it uses direction injection, turbocharging, a small ultracapacitor, and the mild hybrid system. The i10 Electric, an all-electric version of Hyundai’s standard i10 city car, with a 100-mile range, is scheduled to go on sale in Korea in the second half of 2010.

Hyundai also showed its answer to the Chevy Volt in Frankfurt. The HND-4 ‘Blue-Will’ plug-in hybrid, like the Volt, promises 40 miles of all-electric range. The Blue Will also served as a showcase for other fun peripheral technologies, including lightweight carbon fiber, the use of a solar roof to power the car’s ventilation system—like the one found in the 2010 Toyota Prius—and interior materials made from biodegradable plant extracts, and headlamp bezels made from recycled soft drink bottles.

Kia also made a strong green showing with the 2010 Sorento diesel hybrid, and a mild hybrid version of the Kia Cee’d, the company’s top-selling model in Europe, now paired with a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder gas engine running to a hybrid powertrain.

It’s hard to say which individual Hyundai and Kia models will go into production and show up in the U.S., but Hyundai’s showing in Frankfurt suggests that the company will offer multiple hybrids with varying degrees of electrification, including plug-in cars, as it tries to gain market share in America.

Get the details:
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/hyundai-goes-super-green-frankfurt-auto-show-26076.html

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Toyota Unveils Hatchback Hybrid Concepts for Europe
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/toyota-unveils-hatchback-hybrid-concepts-europe-26104.html

Toyota unveiled the new Auris Hybrid and gas-electric Lexus LF-CH at the Frankfurt show—signaling the direction of the company’s hybrids for European customers. With its small and sporty concept hybrids, Toyota aims at the biggest part of the European market. Five-door hatchbacks are the best selling type of car in Europe.

The Toyota Prius dominates the U.S. hybrid market, and has been the No. 1 selling passenger car in Japan for the past four months. But Europe’s fuel-efficient offerings primarily are composed of diesel vehicles, increasingly combined with micro-hybrid stop-start functionality. Toyota hopes hybrid hatchbacks—smaller and with sharper design features compared to jelly-bean-like U.S. hybrid offerings—will attract Europeans to gas-electric cars.

Toyota applies its third-generation Hybrid Synergy Drive system to the Toyota Auris—a hatchback that shares a platform with the Toyota Corolla. The specs match those of the Toyota Prius: 1.8-liter, 98 horsepower engine, 60 kW traction motor, nickel metal hydride battery pack, acceleration from 0 to 60 mph in around 10 seconds, and class-leading fuel efficiency and low emissions. Like the Prius, drivers can choose between Eco, Power, and EV modes. The Auris also has an option for rooftop solar panels to support ventilation and some dashboard functions.

The new Auris Hybrid will be built in the United Kingdom beginning in the second half of 2010, with sales scheduled before the end of the year. No details yet on pricing or US availability.

Lexus, Toyota’s luxury brand, will use the new LF-Ch platform for an upscale variation of a European sport hatchback hybrid. The idea is to provide a hybrid alternative to the BMW 1-Series, Audi A3 and Volvo C30. Analysts speculate that the LF-Ch also will come in gas and diesel versions.

More info:
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/toyota-unveils-hatchback-hybrid-concepts-europe-26104.html

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VW Unveils World’s Most Efficient Road-Legal Hybrid
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/vw-unveils-worlds-most-efficient-road-legal-hybrid-26108.html

VW’s L1 is powered by a turbodiesel engine and electric motor and weighs only about 840 pounds. Today’s car shoppers should not get too excited. The L1, and the E-Up! small all-electric car, are futuristic models with little or no chance of going into volume production.

The L1’s narrow body is made of carbon fiber, and its drag coefficient is 0.195, lower than any production car on the road today. The L1 name refers to the European concept of a “1-Liter” car, meaning it uses no more than 1.0 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers, or about 235 miles per gallon. The L1 is capable of a top speed of 100 miles per hour, and 0-to-62-mph acceleration in a leisurely14.3 seconds. The passenger sits directly behind the driver. You enter the car through a roof cover hinged at the side. All instruments and controls are arranged over a 180-degree radius to the driver.

The L1’s 0.8 liter TDI is the smallest diesel engine intended for production applications every built by Volkswagen. It’s derived from the 1.6 TDI just introduced a few months ago. The 1.6 TDI is made its debut in Frankfurt in cars such as the new version of the Golf BlueMotion and Passat BlueMotion. The engine is mated to a 10-kilowatt electric motor and a 7-speed direct-shift gearbox—all situated at the back of the car. Volkswagen calls the L1 the “most fuel-efficient road-legal car hybrid drive in the world.”

Referring to the E-UP!—perhaps the more practical of the two concepts—Martin Winterkorn, VW’s chairman of the board, said, “To be a genuine success, such an electric car must be affordable to a broad customer base and must be uncompromisingly practical in everyday driving. Only then, in high volumes, and ideally on all continents, can one truly speak of the beginning of the electric age in automobiles and a perceptible reduction of their environmental impact.” Winkerton pushed off the possibility to 2010. He said, “That is why our highly efficient TDI and TSI engines are the most important waypoints of the present.”

See details and photos:
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/vw-unveils-worlds-most-efficient-road-legal-hybrid-26108.html

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Are Lithium Car Batteries Overhyped?
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/are-lithium-car-batteries-overhyped-26105.html

Toyota believes that lithium batteries do not justify the higher cost, and that current hybrid battery technology—nickel metal hydride—is best suited for conventional hybrids. The company came to that conclusion after conducting three years of “secret tests” on 126 Toyota Priuses equipped with lithium ion batteries, according to Bloomberg.

The road tests in the U.S., Japan and Europe, which ended last month, showed “durability, stability and safety are assured for a conventional hybrid,” said Kazuo Tojima, the carmaker’s senior staff engineer for batteries.

Menahem Anderman, president of California.-based consulting firm Advanced Automotive Batteries, told Bloomberg, “We now know that a lithium ion battery can work. That’s not really the question.” He added, “Cost is critical, and we still don’t know enough about long-term durability.”

Anderman’s comments echo the sentiment of former Honda president Takeo Fukui. “Lithium ion batteries are still not usable from our perspective,” Fukui said last year in an interview with Automotive News. “In terms of reliability and durability, I must say there still remain some concerns. I don’t think they are necessarily best suited for mass-produced vehicles.”

Most automakers see lithium ion batteries as the next step because they are smaller, lighter, and can produce more power and store more energy. Toyota apparently is hedging its bets. Last month, Nikkei reported that Toyota will start buying lithium batteries from Sanyo, which currently supplies hybrid batteries to Ford, General Motors and Honda.

“The problem with lithium is that it was overhyped and brought to market in the minds of the engineers and marketing guys way too soon,” said Jack Lifton, an expert in the raw materials that go into batteries. In an interview with HybridCars.com, he said, “It’s been oversold. It is nowhere near ready. It’s still in development.”

Read more:
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/are-lithium-car-batteries-overhyped-26105.html

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Car Culture Wars: Glenn Beck and Fox News
https://www.hybridcars.com/hybrid-drivers/car-culture-wars-glenn-beck-ridicules-hybrid-26115.html
https://www.hybridcars.com/incentives-laws/fox-news-attacks-us-loans-fisker-and-tesla-26130.html

The day after the Obama administration announced rules for tougher automobile fuel efficiency standards, conservative media pundit Glenn Beck ridiculed hybrid cars as undesirable and not worthy of tax incentives.

In a comedy routine on his radio program, Beck said: “Last year, when gas prices hit their all-time highs, at over $4 a gallon, of the top 10 best-selling cars of 2008, exactly none of them were hybrids, not even the hero of the environmental universe, the Toyota Prius.” In truth, the Toyota Prius ranked No. 10 for sales of passenger vehicles—and even with low gas prices in September 2009, it ranked as the 9th most popular passenger car.

A week later, Fox News piled on with Beck. Fox commentators said the U.S. Department of Energy threw away nearly $1 billion in loans to Fisker Automotive and Tesla Motors—two California-based auto startups trying to produce the next generation of American-made energy-efficient cars. On several of its shows, including America’s Newsroom and Your World, Fox News criticized the loans because Fisker and Tesla currently produce expensive cars that are made in Europe.

Moreover, Fox insinuated that Fisker received the DOE loan because of its connection with former vice president and global warming activist Al Gore. America’s Newsroom co-host Martha MacCallum said: “Listen to this. The U.S. government is making a $529 million loan to a small car company that happens to be backed by former Vice President Al Gore. Get this. It’s called the Karma. It’s a hybrid. It’s built by Fisker Automotive. The price tag for this greenmobile is about $89,000.”

While the all-electric Tesla Roadster is currently being built in England, and components of the Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid are made in Finland, Fox neglected to fully explain that the loans will be used to establish U.S. manufacturing facilities for more affordable future models.

Get the details and watch the video:
https://www.hybridcars.com/hybrid-drivers/car-culture-wars-glenn-beck-ridicules-hybrid-26115.html
https://www.hybridcars.com/incentives-laws/fox-news-attacks-us-loans-fisker-and-tesla-26130.html

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Hybrid and Electric Cars Will Emit Vroomtones
https://www.hybridcars.com/safety/hybrid-and-electric-cars-will-emit-vroomtones-26116.html

After years of complaints from blind pedestrians that ultra-quiet hybrid cars pose a safety threat, the auto industry is responding by producing onboard devices that emit sound. Nissan is considering the use of a high-pitched science-fiction sound for its upcoming all-electric Nissan Leaf. The Fisker Karma luxury plug-in hybrid might use a sound halfway between a jet engine and an F1 racecar. And Volkswagen’s E-Up! concept car might use the very 20th century sound of a common gas engine.

This is music to the ears of advocate organizations for blind people. In 2007, when hybrids starting taking off in the United States, The National Federation of the Blind called on automakers to set a minimum sound standard for hybrids. Earlier this year, The Japan Federation of the Blind submitted a request to Japan’s transportation ministry, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, and the country’s carmakers to consider the issue. The ministry set up a committee that met in July and August, and will present recommendations by Dec. 31, according to Bloomberg.

Sensing a market opportunity, car electronics manufacturers are developing new noise devices. In 2008, Lotus, the British performance carmaker, unveiled a system dubbed “Safe and Sound,” which generates an artificial noise mimicking a gas-powered combustion engine. Tokyo-based Data System Co. currently makes a device selling for about $140 that emits 16 different sounds including a cat’s meow, a “boing,” and a human voice saying, “Excuse me.”

Read more:
https://www.hybridcars.com/safety/hybrid-and-electric-cars-will-emit-vroomtones-26116.html

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WRAP-UP
Whatever sound your car makes or you want it to make, we hope you enjoyed all the hybrid news that fits in this issue of our newsletter. The green car movement ain’t stopping anytime soon. We’ll be here to capture the news and send it your way.

Don’t forget to check out the HybridCars.com Store:

http://store.hybridcars.com/

Happy Driving,
Bradley Berman
[email protected]