~~~ Hybrid Cars Newsletter: Issue No. 0058 ~~~
Moderator: Bradley Berman [[email protected]]

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IN THIS ISSUE:

Ford Aims for 100-Percent Petroleum-Free Compostable Cars
“I want to say just one word to you: Plastics!” That might have been good advice to new college graduates a generation ago, but today that could be replaced with this word: “Biofoam.”

Hybrid Invasion of Europe Begins with Auris Hybrid
Toyota began selling the Auris Hybrid in the U.K. on July 1. It’s the first time a full hybrid has been produced in Europe for Europe.

VW Plans to Go Hybrid with Gas-Electric Jetta in 2012
In one more sign that the automotive world is shifting to electric-drive technology, Volkswagen reconfirmed its commitment to producing a hybrid version of its popular Jetta.

Chrysler Plans for Hybrids, EVs and Natural Gas Vehicles, Probably
FIAT-Chrysler says that will compete on hybrid and electric cars, as well as vehicles powered by compressed natural gas. We’ll believe it when we see it.

Mixed Reviews on Honda CR-Z as Hybrid and Sports Car
Honda recently gave automotive journalists their first chance behind the wheel of the 2011 Honda CR-Z Hybrid. Honda’s goal is to combine the fuel parsimony of a hybrid with the sportiness of the company’s classic CRX coupe. Did Honda succeed?

Fisker Delays Karma Until Next Year, But Wilmington Plant is a Go
The Fisker Karma, an $88,000 plug-in hybrid sports car that was scheduled to hit showrooms this summer, has been pushed back until next year.

Electric Vehicle Bill Wins Some Powerful Supporters, But Can it Pass?
The Obama administration is said to have given its support to the Electric Vehicle Deployment Act of 2010, which could provide billions of dollars in additional subsidies for EVs. What lies ahead for the legislation?

Volt vs. LEAF: Can’t We All Just Get Along?
Step aside Rodney King. Mini E driver Tom M. asks why fans of the Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF can’t play nice.

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Greetings, Hybrid & Electric Car Enthusiasts,

This is our first newsletter since launching PluginCars.com, the sister site to HybridCars.com. Eventually, we might produce two separate newsletters—one for efficient cars sans plug, and another avec plug. But for now, we combine the top news from the past month about the full range of electric-drive vehicles—from hybrids to EVs. This approach will mirror what we expect in the marketplace: not two distinct buyers and markets, but a continuum of choices offering consumers a wide range of options for greatly reducing or completely eliminating their use of petro-nastiness. The volume of news about all these options is off the charts—and that’s a good thing. Thanks for your interest.

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Ford Aims for 100-Percent Petroleum-Free Compostable Cars
https://www.hybridcars.com/environment/ford-aims-petroleum-free-compostable-cars-28147.html
Most conversations about the environmental impact of cars focus on drivetrains—hybrid versus diesel versus electric, etc. But the use of new bio-based materials—used in everything from seats to dashboards—also has a big impact on energy, as well as the environmental safety of passengers. That’s why Ford is expanding its use of bio-based soy foam through nearly all of its vehicle lineup this year as part of an ongoing effort to use more renewable and recyclable materials.

Ford’s use of biofoam has helped the company reduce its petroleum oil usage by more than 3 million pounds annually and carbon dioxide emissions by 11 million pounds. In a press release, Debbie Mielewski, technical director of Ford’s Plastics Research Group, said, “One day I hope to see the automotive world go totally compostable, removing the use of petroleum-based parts 100 percent.”

We reached out to Debbie to learn more.

HybridCars.com: What are the most toxic or energy-intensive parts found in cars today?

Mielewski: Our goal is to make sure cars today don’t use anything that can be labeled toxic. The objective of my group is to develop alternative materials to limited, traditional petroleum-based plastics. These materials can be 20 to 30 percent lighter in weight, improving fuel economy. They can utilize a waste material—such as wheat straw, which is left after the grain is harvested. They can have an improved lifecycle—less energy to produce and less CO2 emitted into the environment. Some of the materials are compostable, eliminating the landfill of plastics. Plastics are certainly a huge part of the automotive process—and we are quick to recognize that—so the more sustainable we can make these plastics the better. We are also working hard to make sure all Ford cars are 100 percent recyclable. The materials we use play a huge part in that process.”

Read the entire interview:
https://www.hybridcars.com/environment/ford-aims-petroleum-free-compostable-cars-28147.html

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Hybrid Invasion of Europe Begins with Auris Hybrid
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/hybrid-invasion-europe-begins-auris-hybrid-28168.html

Toyota began selling the Auris Hybrid in the U.K. on July 1. It’s the first time a full hybrid has been targeted for the heart of the European market.

The Auris—which uses the same technical architecture as the Toyota Prius— is a mainstream economical model, with a position in the market roughly similar to the Corolla. The hybrid version is very similar to the conventional Auris. The main differences are: lower ride height for better aerodynamics (0.28 Cd); reshaped bumpers and longer rear spoiler (also for aero); and a smaller gas tank and trunk to accommodate the nickel metal hydride battery pack. Cosmetic changes include a chrome grille, LED driving lights and hybrid blue-tint badges.

Europe has historically preferred diesels to hybrids as a green fuel efficiency choice—but this marks the beginning of a shift to hybrids. The Auris Hybrid could help Toyota bypass FIAT to become Europe’s low-CO2 champion. The Auris hybrid’s CO2 output is just 89 grams per kilometer.

Toyota says the Auris Hybrid central to its Europe strategy. Toyota expects the hybrid version to account for one-quarter of Auris sales this year. That means 14,000 units, growing to 30,000 starting in 2011. By 2015, Toyota wants hybrids to make up 50 percent of its model range in Europe.

The introduction of Auris Hybrid could ripple across the pond. Could Toyota push down the price tag of a U.S. Auris Hybrid to $19,000 or lower? Could it configure the car to break 50 mpg? Could the design be modified with some of the Prius’s DNA for those that like a unique, eco-friendly appearance? If yes to all the above, Toyota could have the first serious option for hybrid affordability.

Read more:
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/hybrid-invasion-europe-begins-auris-hybrid-28168.html

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VW Plans to Go Hybrid with Gas-Electric Jetta in 2012
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/vw-goes-hybrid-gas-electric-jetta-2012-28106.html

In one more sign that the automotive world is shifting to electric-drive technology, Volkswagen reconfirmed its commitment to producing a hybrid version of its popular Jetta. A gas-electric Jetta, to debut in 2012, would put another affordable mainstream hybrid option into showrooms.

Affordability is the key word, as hybrids push further into mainstream vehicle lineups. The new (gas-powered) 2011 Volkswagen Jetta is priced at $16,000, about $1,700 less than the current version. “With the new Jetta, we’ve kept everything people liked, but also made the car more accessible to the entry-level buyer in the compact segment,” said Toscan Bennett, a VW product strategist. “We want people who had considered Jettas too expensive to put us on their shopping lists.”

Volkswagen later this year will introduce the Touareg Hybrid SUV its first hybrid—but it will hardly be affordable. Based on pricing announced in Europe, the Touareg Hybrid could exceed $90,000 in the U.S. Moreover, it will join a crowded field of expensive luxury hybrid SUVs already on the market—SUVs that aren’t selling particularly well.

On the other hand, a Jetta Hybrid probably will probably be priced in the low $20,000s, while offering fuel economy numbers in the mid-40 mpg range. It will represent the first time an automaker stacks up a hybrid and clean diesel option in a cost-competitive model.

More importantly to the green car movement, Volkswagen is demonstrating the “no silver bullet” philosophy, in which efficient gas-powered cars, clean diesel, hybrids and electric cars mutually coexist. Cutting oil dependence and reducing emissions is not an either-or decision. It’s all of the above.

Learn more:
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/vw-goes-hybrid-gas-electric-jetta-2012-28106.html

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Chrysler Plans for Hybrids, EVs and Natural Gas Vehicles, Probably
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/chrysler-hybrid-and-electric-car-plans-probably-28133.html

Last November, FIAT-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne and his lieutenants spent a long day laying out the details of their plans for a new Chrysler that would compete on all fronts, including cars that would compete in a growing field of hybrid and electric cars.

Since then, an electric version of the FIAT 500 has made the round of auto shows—and is scheduled to go on sale in 2012. The company also announced plans for a small test fleet of Dodge Ram plug-in hybrid pickups—backed by a $48 million U.S. Department of Energy grant. (The conventional hybrid version of the Ram was canceled, after years of development.) And, of course, the company still sells the GEM, a line of neighborhood electric vehicles. Other than that, the company has been silent on its green car plans while it struggles to right its balance sheets and bring new volume product to market.

At the Automotive News Detroit Green Car Conference last month, Paulo Ferrero, Chrysler’s senior vice president for powertrain, might have elaborated on the company’s strategy for electrification—since speakers from Nissan, BMW and Think were talking about their companies’ EV strategies already being implemented. His presentation did include a slide or two on plug-ins, but with no new information other than a commitment to “develop a range of technologies for hybrid/electrification across various platforms.” That’s pretty vague and clearly not a commitment to deliver vehicles on a timeline with the competition.

Ferrero did drop a big surprise: natural gas vehicles! It turns out FIAT has CNG powertrains in a full range of vehicles already in Europe (where government incentives and utility support make them an attractive option) and they might find their way over here—along with multi-air engines and a variety of improvements to gas-powered engines and transmissions promising a 25 percent overall fleet average fuel economy improvement for Chrysler’s fleet by 2014.

Check it out:
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/chrysler-hybrid-and-electric-car-plans-probably-28133.html

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Your Support
Check out the Hybrid Cars Store for hybrid accessories:
http://store.hybridcars.com

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Mixed Reviews on Honda CR-Z as Hybrid and Sports Car
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/mixed-reviews-honda-cr-z-hybrid-and-sports-car-28117.html

Can a hybrid be as fun as a sports car? Can a sports car save fuel like a hybrid?

Honda recently gave automotive journalists their first chance behind the wheel of the 2011 Honda CR-Z Hybrid. Honda’s goal with the all-new two-seater is to combine the fuel parsimony of a hybrid with the sportiness of the company’s classic CRX coupe—and to offer it as the most affordable hybrid on the market. The fuel economy rating of the standard six-speed manual is 31/37 mpg, with the optional automatic (CVT) rated at 35/39 mpg.

Here’s a sampling of what auto critics had to say on the twin goals.

Jalopnik: “The CR-Z is not a fast car; it is not even a quick car…but it’s still moderately entertaining. Is this the most entertaining hybrid car money can buy? Yes. Is it what I want and, frankly, what the market needs? Not quite.”

Automotive News: “Well, it won’t set your hair on fire, and a small car can feel fast even when it isn’t. Is it more fun to drive than a Prius or Insight? Definitely…A day of spirited country-highway driving netted 35 mpg — not much better than the similarly sized Honda Fit, which isn’t even a hybrid.”

Car and Driver: “Somewhat shockingly, however, this hybrid is entertaining, even as it tries to marry the disparate concepts of sport and efficiency… Particularly with the three-mode adjustable drive system in Sport, it’s a relatively fun little car…[Yet] if fuel-efficiency is the goal, better mileage (and practicality) can be found in the Toyota Prius and the Insight, which are EPA-rated for 50 and 41 mpg combined.”

Read more reviews:
https://www.hybridcars.com/news/mixed-reviews-honda-cr-z-hybrid-and-sports-car-28117.html

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Fisker Delays Karma Until Next Year, But Wilmington Plant is a Go
http://www.plugincars.com/fisker-delays-karma-until-next-year-wilmington-plant-go-45160.html

The Fisker Karma, an $88,000 plug-in hybrid sports car that was scheduled to hit showrooms this summer, has been pushed back until next year. Though the first few customers can expect their orders to be filled by the end of the 2010, a company spokesman says that full production will not begin until “the first three months of 2011.”

Fisker says that financing from private equity markets is the culprit for the delay, not design or technical issues. So far, the automaker has raised nearly $190 million in private capital and has been given an additional $528.7 million in government loans from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Earlier this month, a bankruptcy judge approved Fisker’s acquisition of a shuttered 3.2 million-square-foot former General Motors factory in Wilmington, Del., at a cost of $20 million. Fisker says that once renovations are complete on the plant, it will be capable of producing more than 100,000 vehicles a year. That capacity could come in handy once the company’s less expensive offerings begin to hit the market. A $48,000 sedan that’s currently being called “Project Nina” is due out in 2012, but Fisker hopes to bring a vehicle that sells in the $30,000 range soon. First, it needs to deliver on the Karma.

Learn more:
http://www.plugincars.com/fisker-delays-karma-until-next-year-wilmington-plant-go-45160.htm

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Electric Vehicle Bill Wins Some Powerful Supporters, But Can it Pass?
http://www.plugincars.com/electric-vehicle-bill-wins-some-powerful-supporters-can-it-pass-43411.html

The Obama administration is said to have given its support to the Electric Vehicle Deployment Act of 2010, which could provide billions of dollars in additional subsidies for EVs. The legislation, which was the subject of a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on June 23, would target as many as 15 “deployment communities” with the hopes of flooding each zone with electric vehicles and charging stations in the coming years.

The most recent version of the legislation would appropriate a total of $4 billion to increase the existing $7,500 federal electric vehicle subsidy to $10,000 and provide funding for public and private charging infrastructure within the deployment communities. It would force participating communities to provide an additional $2,500 per vehicle credit and match 20 percent of the federal funding it receives. The EVDA also would fund battery research and establish a $10 million prize to the first company to produce a “cost effective” battery capable of yielding 500 miles of range on a single charge.

At issue in the June hearing was whether passing a bill targeted only at electric cars means that the government is prematurely “picking a winner” in the alternative vehicle technology race. Kathryn Clay, director of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, voiced strong concerns about focusing the program so narrowly around a few select regions. “Attempts to prejudge the market bring tremendous risks, and the problem is compounded by making just a few large bets,” she told the committee.

The bill is heavily supported by the Electrification Coalition, whose Electrification Roadmap inspired the broad architecture for the legislation. The coalition is a non-profit industry group composed mostly of CEOs from companies such as PG&E, Nissan, Coda, Cisco and FedEx.

“The Electrification Coalition believes they have the support, but if it passes, it’ll be without the full buy-in of many stakeholders,” says Chelsea Sexton, co-founder of Plug In America and a frequent contributor to Plugincars.com. “While most are taking it up behind-the-scenes, several other electric drive/utility industry groups and organizations are also concerned about its implications.”

Read the full article and add your opinion to the hot thread on PluginCars.com:
http://www.plugincars.com/electric-vehicle-bill-wins-some-powerful-supporters-can-it-pass-43411.html

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Volt vs. LEAF: Can’t We All Just Get Along?
http://www.plugincars.com/why-cant-we-all-just-get-along.html

Tom M., who has been driving the all-electric Mini E, doesn’t understand why there’s so much acrimony between fans of the upcoming Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF. Here’s what he had to say:

I, like many of you out there I’m sure, read the various blogs and message boards that are dedicated to discussions about the upcoming electric cars from GM and Nissan. What strikes me as a little odd is how fans of either of the two attack the other car with extremely negative comments.

I suppose it’s because they, to some degree, measure the validity of their own decision to choose one over the other by how successful that car is as compared to the other. Chevrolet Volt supporters write about how the LEAF is an under-engineered piece of crap and how the people that buy them are going to GET stuck all over the place when they run out of charge. Nissan LEAF fans will never let anyone forget that the Volt is a gas burner and needs all the maintenance that every other ICE vehicle needs, including oil changes and tune-ups.

It’s obvious both cars have flaws as well as many benefits. However one thing all EV supporters can agree on is that both of these vehicles are a huge step in the right direction and they both will help us begin to reduce our oil consumption.

These cars are different enough that they can both succeed without cannibalizing the others sales. A healthy debate is always a good thing, just remember, we’re all on the same side in this fight.

Read the entire post, and express your views:
http://www.plugincars.com/why-cant-we-all-just-get-along.html

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WRAP-UP

As you can see, the global auto industry is moving at a rapid pace to go green. From hybrids to electric cars, from CNG to biofoam, the green technology race is on. All this innovation is taking place, and gas prices are still well below $3 a gallon. Can you image what could happen if more of these green cars hit the market just as gas makes another run to $4 or higher? Buckle your seatbelts, folks. The green car world is ready to take off.

Happy Driving,
Bradley Berman
[email protected]