~~~ Hybrid Cars Newsletter: Issue No. 0054 ~~~
Moderator: Bradley Berman [[email protected]]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

IN THIS ISSUE:
2009 Was Breakthrough Year for Global Hybrid Car Sales

You would have never guessed it, but last year might go down in history as a breakthrough year for hybrids.

Hybrid Car Horse Race Heats Up for 2010
Every global carmaker is cranking up its R&D departments and turning up its marketing efforts to promote their place in the hotter-than-ever hybrid race.

2010 Detroit Auto Show: Electric Drive Is Here to Stay
The year’s North American International Auto Show puts to rest any questions whether electricity will be integral to the vehicle powertrains of tomorrow.

The Persistent and Elusive Dream of a Diesel Hybrid
The idea of combining a diesel engine and a hybrid powertrain has been on the drawing boards for many years. In 2010, it’s diesel-hybrid-déjà vu all over again.

GM Unveils Chevy Volt Smartphone Application
In one more sign that plug-in cars and information networks are merging, General Motors unveiled a downloadable smartphone app for remotely controlling and monitoring vehicle charging and other functions.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Your Support
Check out the new Hybrid Cars Store, for the web’s best prices, selection and service on hybrid accessories and other goodies.

http://store.hybridcars.com

Thanks for your support.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Greetings, Hybrid Car Enthusiasts,
When consumers were hit with the big gas price spike of 2008, most global automakers were caught off guard. That spike past $4 a gallon helped contribute to the economic crisis, which decimated automobile sales in the United States for the past year and a half. As we slowly crawl back to better economic ground—and the economic engine, especially in developing countries, picks up speed—the price of oil is expected to rise. Yet, the next price spike at the pumps could be very different. That’s for one reason: There will be a vast array of choices of electric-drive vehicles that use a lot less fuel, like a conventional hybrid, to pure electric cars those that don’t use any at all. This issue of our newsletter chronicles how close we’re getting to this new automotive reality. Enjoy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

2009 Was Breakthrough Year for Global Hybrid Car Sales
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/2009-was-breakthrough-year-global-hybrid-car-sales-26419.html

Last year was the worst for auto sales in decades, but might be recorded in history as the breakthrough year for gas-electric hybrids and other small efficient cars. Connect these dots from global sales stats.

Prius Was No. 1 Seller in Japan
The Toyota Prius was Japan’s top-selling automobile last year for the first time since its debut in 1997. The Prius took the number one sales slot in May, and never let go—posting a total of 208,876 units in Japan in 2009. That represents 5.3 percent of the Japan’s new passenger car sales. The Honda Insight came in fifth with 93,283 units. Strong hybrid sales in Japan revealed how the right vehicles, combined with effective government incentives, can effectively push consumers toward efficient automobiles.

Hybrids Gained Market Share in U.S.
Hybrid sales in the U.S. comprised 2.8 percent of the new vehicle market, its highest market share ever. In July, hybrids peaked at 3.6 percent of the market, boosted by the “Cash for Clunkers” rebate program. The total number of hybrids sold declined 7.5 percent from last year, but the overall market fell by 20 percent. Hybrids are expected to make a gain of one or two percentage points in 2010, when the overall market bounces back. In a sign of what may come, hybrid sales in December 2009 rose by 42 percent compared to the previous year. Ford’s annual hybrid sales were up 72 percent from 2008.

Fuel-Efficient Ford Models Topped Charts in the UK
The Ford Fiesta took over the top sales position in the UK from the Ford Focus and the pair retained first and second in the sales charts through the end of the year. Ford sold 117,296 Fiestas during the years. The Econetic version of the Fiesta manages better than 60 miles per gallon. The Ford Fiesta will make its US debut in mid-2010. The Focus, the second-best selling car in the UK, will get a stop-start system—a mild form of hybrid—next year, boosting its mileage beyond 60 mpg.

Read more:
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/2009-was-breakthrough-year-global-hybrid-car-sales-26419.html

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hybrid Car Horse Race Heats Up in 2010
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/hybrid-car-horserace-heats-2010-26481.html

Although hybrid cars currently account for less than 3 percent of auto sales, major car companies are fighting for position to become leaders in gas-electric technology. Every day brings more news that auto executives see electric-drive cars as the key to future prosperity.

Toyota, the current leader by a wide margin, is planning to double its hybrid production by next year—mostly by adding about 10 new models. Reports this month indicate that the company expects to have the capacity to sell 1 million hybrids every year, as early as 2011. On Tuesday, Toyota announced that it will guarantee a flow of lithium—the key to the next generation of advanced auto batteries—by taking a 25 percent stake in an Argentina-based lithium production project. (Of course, the company has bigger problems these days than lithium supply.)

Honda, once neck-and-neck with Toyota in hybrid technology, has experienced one blunder after the next in its hybrid marketing efforts. But it’s not giving up. Honda CEO Takanobu Ito, speaking at the Detroit auto show, said that he wants “to develop and expand our hybrids.” He challenged his research and development staff to produce a hybrid that beats the Toyota Prius in fuel economy.

On a happier note, Ford is on the rise. The Ford Fusion Hybrid received the North American Car of the Year Award. In 2009, Ford bypassed Honda to become the second largest seller of hybrids in the United States. Sales of the Fusion/Milan and the Escape SUV hybrid approached 32,000—eclipsing Honda, although still one-sixth that of Toyota’s U.S. hybrid sales. Moreover, Ford is on track to introduce an all-electric car, the Ford Focus EV, in 2011, and a plug-in hybrid version of the Escape Hybrid.

Meanwhile, the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid and all-electric Nissan Leaf are waiting in the wings—for limited introduction later this year. Critics warn that market adoption of plug-in cars with large, expensive lithium ion batteries will take time, while conventional hybrids have proven themselves. Yet, it’s not a question of either a hybrid or an electric car. Both are expected to gain a foothold in the marketplace, as every global carmaker cranks up its R&D departments —and its marketing efforts – to promote their place in the hotter-than-ever hybrid race.

Learn more:
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/hybrid-car-horserace-heats-2010-26481.html

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

2010 Detroit Auto Show: Electric Drive Is Here to Stay
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/2010-detroit-auto-show-electric-drive-here-stay-26426.html

The 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit puts to rest once and for all any questions about whether electricity will be integral to the vehicle powertrains of tomorrow. A sampling of this year’s Detroit announcements reveals different directions depending on whose electric navigation screen you’re viewing at any given moment.

* General Motors continued the drumbeat for the Chevy Volt, while announcing that it had built its first lithium ion battery pack at a special battery assembly plant near Detroit.
* The Ford Fusion Hybrid won the 2010 Car of the Year award. Ford also reiterated its plans for a battery-powered Focus, which in its new gasoline engine guise was Ford’s top-billed new product at the show.
* What really underscores the industry’s unanimity on electrification is Volkswagen’s New Compact Coupe concept, which mates a hybrid powertrain to its TSI gasoline engine. The vehicle is a veritable showcase of advanced technology, with a hybrid system backed by a lithium battery and a turbocharged, direct-injection engine backed by a 7-speed direct-shift gearbox. The NCC concept promises 45 mpg.
* BMW is taking the next steps in its electrification plan. The Active E will be an all-electric version of the BMW 1 Series and is destined for a limited test market next year.
* The Nissan Leaf, the only car that Nissan brought to Detroit, helped anchor the show’s “Electric Avenue,” a collection of electric-drive hopefuls situated along a back wall of Cobo Hall.
* Harking back to the CRX pocket rocket, the new, two-seat Honda CR-Z hybrid promises a big dose of zip along with hybrid electric drive zap. Slated for launch this summer, the CR-Z uses Honda’s proven hybrid technology, applying its IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) system plus a 1.5-liter iVTEC engine.
* Toyota’s news was the FT-CH hybrid concept car. A “don’t touch me yet” mock-up lit up the stage, sketchy on details except it will be 22 inches shorter than the Prius. The CH in the name stands for Compact Hybrid, and Toyota is targeting the car for a lower price to appeal to a younger, less-affluent but city-hip demographic.

More info:
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/2010-detroit-auto-show-electric-drive-here-stay-26426.html

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Persistent and Elusive Dream of a Diesel Hybrid
https://www.hybridcars.com/types-systems/persistent-and-elusive-dream-diesel-hybrid-26410.html

The idea of combining a diesel engine with a hybrid powertrain has been on many drawing boards for many years. The Clinton Administration’s fuel efficiency research programs program of the 1990s produced a trio of 80-mpg diesel hybrids. None went into production. Peugeot has been showing a diesel-hybrid concept for years. GM unveiled a 60-mpg diesel-hybrid Opel Astra concept about five years ago. Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes all were talking about diesel hybrids in early 2008. And buzz about a 70-mpg VW Diesel-Hybrid Golf spread across the blogosphere, also in 2008, with rumors that Volkswagen would deliver one “as early as 2009.”

Here we are in 2010, and it’s diesel-hybrid-déjà vu all over again. Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche has confirmed suggestions from last summer that Mercedes will launch the 2012 Mercedes-Benz E300 Hybrid using a 2.2-liter, four-cylinder diesel engine with twin turbochargers, in late 2011 (probably only for the European market). The lithium ion battery and electric motor in the E300 would be similar to those used in the $89,000 Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid, which went on sale late last year. Add a diesel engine to that vehicle and expect a price tag close to $100,000.

According to Autocar, a UK-based auto website, engineers at GM Europe are also “studying the feasibility of integrating the company’s existing hybrid components—motor-generators, batteries and control electronics—with diesel engines.” The GM engineers are even reported to be considering a diesel version of the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt. The prospect of a diesel plug-in hybrid—even better if running on biodiesel—could mean operating a car almost entirely on electricity, and using biofuel to extend its range. That would be the holy grail of long range and zero petroleum. Unfortunately, the cost of a large lithium ion battery pack, electric motors and a diesel engine is likely to keep this idea in research labs for many years. Green car fans shouldn’t get their hopes up again.

Read more:
https://www.hybridcars.com/types-systems/persistent-and-elusive-dream-diesel-hybrid-26410.html

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

GM Unveils Chevy Volt Smartphone Application
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/gm-unveils-chevy-volt-smartphone-application-26402.html

In one more sign that plug-in cars and information networks are merging, General Motors unveiled a downloadable application that will let Chevy Volt drivers use a Blackberry, iPhone or Motorola Droid to remotely control and monitor vehicle charging and other functions. GM demonstrated the mobile application at the glitzy International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The driver will be able to use the phone for various functions, including:

* Scheduling or initiating charging, and displaying charge status and level
* Getting status reports, such as how much electric driving range is available
* Warming up or cooling the vehicle before getting in
* Sending text messages to remind drivers to plug in their vehicles
* Showing miles per gallon, EV miles and miles driven for last trip and lifetime

Drivers also will be able to view and manage vehicle systems and commands from the vehicle, the Internet or through a monthly OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics e-mail.
Similar smart phone applications, and remote charging controls, are expected from Nissan for its all-electric Nissan Leaf, and from Toyota for the plug-in version of the Toyota Prius. In August 2009, Ford introduced an “intelligent” system for drivers to manage charging of its planned electric and plug-in hybrid cars. That system is being installed in 20 Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid demo vehicles.

Check it out:
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/gm-unveils-chevy-volt-smartphone-application-26402.html

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

WRAP-UP
Conventional hybrids. Diesel hybrids. Plug-in hybrids. Pure electric cars. The pace of change is accelerating. We’ll be here to capture the changes.

Happy Driving,
Bradley Berman
[email protected]