Tuesday, December 21, 2010

EV Charging Stations For The New Generation of Electric Automobiles

By J. Lloyd Dent

In the beginning, arranging for the charging station installation will be part of the purchasing process of buying your first Electric Vehicle (EV). All approved chargers by the various manufacturers will be compliant with SAE J1772 standards for electric vehicles and electrical connectors.

You won't be able to buy the car unless you are willing to install a charging station your home. Consumers who buy the Nissan Leaf will be required to use their exclusive contractor, AeroVironment, for installation of the home chargers. They may be able to install their own charging equipment if they sign a waiver.

The Chevy Volt will come standard with a 110 volt charger which will allow you to charge directly from your home wall outlet. For Volt customers who prefer to have a 240 V rapid charger installed, SPX service solutions is the exclusive contractor for the installation of their rapid charging station.

There is a big difference in the vehicles range due to the size of their battery packs. Chevrolet considers the Volt to be a hybrid vehicle which can be plugged in. GM describes the car as an extended range EV (electric vehicle) with a smaller battery. The LEAF is strictly electric with a much larger battery pack that is 2-3 times the size of the Volts. The Chevy Volts 16kwh battery will probably only ever use 8 kw of it. The Leaf will contain a 24 KWh battery, but will probably need to use 80-90% in order to increase the battery life. In order to fully charge the LEAF, it will need to be plugged into a 110v outlet for the entire day. It is expected that the cost to install a Level II home charging unit will run about $2,200.

Because the Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt are expected to be the first cars which will require the installation of a Level 2 home charger until 2012, it is expected that the demand for home charging units will remain low, unless a surprising number of first owners opt to have the rapid chargers professionally installed.

Now there are a number of companies entering the charging station market. AeroVironment was the first company to devote itself to developing and building Level II home charging units. The reason they won the contract from Nissan was probably because they were the first one with a product to offer. Most of the other companies that are developing and building charging stations focused on industrial units for commercial and municipal installations. However that is changing as the first mass market electric vehicles are finally ready to launch.

Below are the current companies that manufacture Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

ECOtality- ETec

Now called ECOtality North America, ECOtality has been producing electric charging stations for quite a while. Industrial equipment such as forklifts have used electric charging technology for some time. They have used their experience to market the Minit-Charger for both residential and commercial charging applications. The EV Project which is managed by ECOtalty is seeking to install thousands of charging stations over the next year in the 5 states where the EV's will first be released. ECOtality also installs stations made by other manufacturers. ECOtality builds both level I and level II chargers but does not make fast DC charging equipment. ECOtality has recently introduced a new line of commercial and home Level II charging stations. It is believed that the new stations-designed by global industrial design firm, frog design-will help update their conservative image.


SPX has been selected by Chevrolet to be the exclusive service provider for the purchase and installation of the Chevy Volt 240 Volt rapid home charger. SPX will facilitate every aspect of the purchase and installation of the rapid chargers which will charge the Volt in approximately 4 hours. The SPX team will advise homeowners on the requirements to upgrade their electrical service to accommodate the home charging system and will even assist them in taking the necessary steps to qualify for reduced electric utility rates.


AeroVironment was chosen to be the exclusive home charging installation contractor for the Nissan LEAF. Even though AeroVironment is mostly known for residential installations, they are one of the few companies that sell both Level II and fast charging DC chargers for commercial use. AeroVironment is a well established company that developed unmanned aircraft for the military for many years. The company was responsible for the charger for the Impact, the precursor to the GM EV1 built in the 1990's. They also developed the charging stations for the EV1, so it is only natural that they would manufacture the new versions of charging stations.

Coulomb Technologies

Coulomb technologies is one of the better known EV charging manufacturers. Coulomb is rapidly building out their membership Charge Point network which will allow their members to pull up to any of their stations and begin charging immediately. Currently most of the 300 stations they have installed are Level I, however they have now begun installing Level II chargers as well.

Clipper Creek

A less well known company, Clipper Creek has been selling chargers for decades. The design of their equipment is not as modern and sleek as some of the newer styles. Their chargers are geared more towards fleet installation rather than residential or businesses. Clipper Creek has made it well known that their products can be installed anywhere. They handle the home charging installations for the Tesla Roadster. These charging stations are meant for Level II charging only and come in a variety of configurations to meet their customers' needs.

General Electric

The newest entrant in the EV charging station market is GE. They just introduced their new Watt Station charger. The first release is meant primarily for commercial installations, but there are plans to introduce a residential version later this year. The Watt Station is known for its attractive design. Legendary designer Yves Behar is the genius behind the sleek style of the Watt Station. It is also the first model that incorporates Wi-Fi smart technology.

PEP Stations

A little known company called PEP has begun working with Ford to build rugged robust charging stations that can handle rough usage. These units are architectural in design with a concrete base and stainless steel top. These units are primarily marketed to commercial and municipal installations. This obscure company has no track record, so their quality remains to be seen. The designers used high quality automotive grade components, so they are built to be robust.

Better Place

Better Place is known for battery switching techniques. They have now begun installation of vehicle charging stations in Israel and Denmark. So far they don't have any plans to sell their units for residential use. We mention them here because they may change their strategy to offer residential charging options.


Leviton is a huge and well known electrical supply company. They are along established company with a large number of service technicians. Leviton is including a 10 year warranty on their "Evr-green" home and commercial charging stations. The Leviton Evr-Green charging stations can support both Level I and Level II charging and will integrate with Charge Point charging stations. Leviton has also introduced a standard installation method that is the industry's first pre-wired plug in system for their Level II chargers. This system will enable consumers to make their homes "plug in ready" before they purchase any electric car. This prewired system has a starting price of less than $200, not including installation and is meant to lower installation costs and reduce installation times. The prewired kits are required to be installed by an installer certified by Leviton, but once the system has been installed, the Level II charging station can later be easily added by the consumer.

Currently these are the main players in the electric car charging market place. Only time will tell who will emerge as the market leader and what other new players will join the fray. If you have heard of any other players that are making electric car charging stations, please let me know so that I can include them in this list.

For the most up to date information on EV Charging stations, visit the Electric Vehicle Charging station blog at: http://www.ElectricVehicleChargingStations.org

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=J._Lloyd_Dent

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Energy Efficient Cars

By Matt Secrist

Many people think that the United States is the only economy that is struggling right now, but this is far from being true. There are many other global economies that are also struggling and are looking for ways to save money as well as be more efficient. With this worldwide awakening to efficiency and environmentalism, it makes sense that people are looking into alternative forms of fuel. There are millions of people that live in the world that are looking to conserve. One of the best ways to save money is through the use of cost-efficient fuel, namely LPG. LPG stands for liquefied petroleum gas and it is a much cleaner fuel that allows people to get better gas mileage as well as extend the life of their engine. LPG Cars have risen in popularity and are continuing to be put in the spotlight as the population sees the major benefits that come from using this alternative fuel source.

One of the main things that has brought LPG so much attention is its price. LPG is much cheaper than your typical oil, and can be bought for almost half of the price. So why wouldn't you go with a fuel that is half the price as well as more efficient? LPG is made from a mixture of butane and propane which puts less stress on your car and also does much less damage to the environment. Because of how many people that commute to work every single day it would makes sense for the general population to start moving towards a cleaner fuel source so that they can preserve our beautiful world and keep their cities clean.

Another pro to going with an LPG car is that most of the time the cars that run this type of fuel are much smaller than the typical American idea of "Bigger is Better". Americans get so caught up in buying huge trucks, SUV's, and vans that they forget how much these vehicles pollute the air. Smaller cars are great because cities are usually are very congested and there are usually a lot more drivers on the road. This way it can be easier to navigate your way around and find parking when you need to.

There are a lot of benefits that come with LPG, and many countries can benefit from them all around the world. Do your research and look more into LPG cars to see how they can be a benefit to you and your family, no matter where you live.

Matt writes articles about LPG Cars in India and for LPG Cars in India.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Matt_Secrist

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ford Fusion Version 2010 - The Winner of the Price of Motor Trend Magazine

By Georgi Ivanov

Ford Fusion and namely the 2010 version, is the winner of the price - Car of the year, of the Motor Trend magazine. The blue oval model managed to survive among the extremely strong competition, where the rivals against the Fusion were 23 other cars, among which was Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, BMW 7 Series D¸ Mercedes-Benz E-Class. But the company of Ford showed its flexibility in these hard times, providing the car users and the car market with one remarkable car and charming car for the great majority of drivers. The editor-in-chief of Motor Trend magazine - Angus MacKenzie was very pleased with the new version of Ford Fusion and the fact that, this car is competitive with car that are best sellers like Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. He also added that it is not surprising the fact that Fusion entered in the list of 10 top sold cars in the United States.

The new Fusion managed to win the price of the magazine because this model has combined all the things desired from a new model of a car - it has a good quality, it has a good price, it is well-equipped, and there is a possibility for the customer to choose from sport of hybrid modification.

The American Ford Fusion has nothing to do with the car with same name that is selling in Europe. The American sedan is manufactured on the platform of Mazda 6 and the basis engine is four-cylinder petrol unit with volume 2.5 liters. The car could be also found with six-cylinder petrol unit engines with volume 3.0 and 3.5 liters. And as we mentioned early this model of Ford Fusion has also a hybrid version that uses engine with volume 2.5 liters but reduced to 152 hp power there is also a version with electro motor with power of 106 hp. The fuel consumption for the hybrid is about 5.7 liters for 100 kilometers.

In the long 60 year story of the price "Car of the year", models from the Ford factory have been winners 11 times. The magazine chooses each year off road car of the year too and this year the price winner was again Ford but this time Ford F-150.

The new model of Ford Fusion is one remarkable car, it has a great appearance and it also provides the drivers with one flawless driving experience. And further more the tempting price has made this car one of the most preferred in the United States of America for the last year. This time the designers and the engineers from Ford has come up with one great suggestion for all drivers who are looking not only for a good looks of the car, but for great performance and a price that is not so unreachable by the casual car user.

To find out more about the best models offered by Ford, take a look at this article.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Georgi_Ivanov

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Let's Just See About the Honda CR-Z

By Windy L Reigns

Across the pond in Japan the Honda CR-Z has been on sale for quite some time. Here in the states, not much has been said about this new sporty hybrid. In fact, unless you are an automobile enthusiast you may have never even heard about the CR-Z, but oh wait, you will soon. Honda is shining the limelight on the CR-Z as it did in the past with the Acura NSX and Honda S2000; which both revolutionized the Honda lineup.. Honda is taking a risk with the hopes that the CR-Z will attract the sports car crowd. From first looks the 2011 Honda CR-Z seems like a confused car. Yes it is identified as a hybrid sports car, but it does not get that great of gas mileage nor is it very sporty. So, what gives? Why is Honda devoting time and energy to a vehicle that is middle of the road? The CR-Z has an underwhelming 122 HP and fuel economy figures are 36 MPG in the city and 38 MPG on the highway. For comparison; the S2000 produced 200 HP and the Civic Hybrid gets 40 MPG city and 45 MPG highway.

Although small the CR-Z is not very light for a two seater car. It weighs in at 2560 lbs. The CR-Z draws power from the same 1.5 liter engine as the Honda Fit, this combined with an electric only generates 122 HP and a mere 128 lb-ft of torque.. However, what 2011 Honda CR-Z is missing in power it makes up with a stiff chassis and great suspension. The inside of the CR-Z is distinctly Honda.. The futuristic guages are perfectly placed. The ergonomics are great and the space is plentiful enough for two adult passangers. As with any new Honda, you can purchase extra options, but this can swell the price to upwards of $28k. The small 1.5 liter engine features an aluminum block with Hondas famed DOHC V-tech. The compression ratio is 10.4:1. This makes for 111 HP and 106 lb-ft. torque from the engine. The additional power from the electric motor increases horsepower by 11 and adds 22 extra lb-ft. torque very low in the RPM range which helps off the line acceleration. The CR-Z also has Honda's integrated motor assist which is present in all Honda hybrids. The CR-Z also has start/stop technology which in essence turns off the engine any time you are idle. The engine is activated again by simply hitting the accelerator pedal. The continuously variable transmission keeps the engine in its sweet spot.

All these fuel saving technologies intermix to give the CR-Z a rating of 36 MPG city and 38 MPG highway.|This smart mixture of energy saving technologies allows the Honda CR-Z to boast an MPG rating of 36 city and 38 highway. The CR-Z also comes with 3 driving modes: sport, normal, economy|Three driving modes are available on the CR-Z: sport, normal and economy to allow the driver to select the most efficient use of fuel. With the push of a button the desired driving mode can be selected. Sport mode adds assertive performance and steering. Fuel efficiency is maximized in the economy mode. The 2011 Honda CR-Z does 0-60 mph in 10.6 seconds, and finishes the quarter mile in 17.6 seconds. Which is not that impressive, however, the corners are where the CR-Z shines. Millions of sports car owners can attest to the fact that power alone does not make for a good track car. With excellent steering and braking ability the Honda CR-Z is a treat to drive. The suspension consists of MacPherson struts with stiff springs. There are also anti-roll bars and torsion beams. The Honda CR-Z does well on the highways and only time will tell if this little $20k sports hybrid will perform on the track. We will know soon enough if there will be an American market for the new Honda CR-Z.

Find Great Deals on Honda Cars Atlanta.

Windy Reigns, Author and Car Aficionado


Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Windy_L_Reigns

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Top Electric Scooter Brands To Keep In Mind When Buying An Electric Scooter

By Alex Tsui

Are you shopping around for an electric scooter? As you browse through the various scooter websites, you will find that there is an endless array of electric scooters of all shapes, colors, sizes, models and brands. So how do you choose? What are the best brands of scooters that will give the best bang for your shopping bucks?

Here are some famous brands in no particular order of importance:

Razor Scooters

Razor is easily one of the most well-known electric scooter brands today. The Razor brand was established in 2000 when the company launched its first kick scooter. Now it has gone on to sell more than 20 million scooters worldwide.

Known for its commitment to the latest technology, high-quality materials and stringent safety standards, Razor has evolved into a household name and leader in the electric scooter industry.

Based in Cerritos, California, Razor offers an impressive line-up of kick scooters, electric scooters, electric ride ons and caster driven scooters in all kinds of attractive modern designs.

Currie Scooters

Another innovative industry leader is Currie Technologies which develops and distributes hybrid and electric-powered bikes and scooters under the Izip and Ezip brands. Currie scooters are known for their patented unique electro-drive propulsion systems that provide efficient performance in all situations.

X-Treme Scooters

X-Treme scooters started in 2001 and has a branch in Southern China which hires quality control engineers to ensure that all their scooters are made to the proper specifications. X-Treme scooters are available in a wide range of designs for different applications and are known for their low price tags.

This is just a small sample of electric scooter brands that you can find in the market today. When choosing a good electric scooter, you have to look beyond just its brand name. You have to consider other criteria such as its weight, battery power, charging time, top speed, range of distance per battery charge, the environment in which you will be using the scooter, and other aspects that might affect its operation in the long term. However, if you start off by choosing a reputable brand, you will have less problems to worry about later.

Do not rush your buying decision. Read through product catalog descriptions carefully and ensure that a particular model has all the features that you are looking for. Once you have a model in mind, compare its price between a few shopping websites. Include the shipping price and other miscellaneous fees as well.

Save money and do your bit for the environment by getting a cheap electric scooter today. You can check out lots of electric scooter reviews and the latest scooter designs by going to http://www.cheapelectricscooter.org/.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Alex_Tsui

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Toyota Camry Hybrid 2010


The Toyota Camry Hybrid sedan brings the quality and reliability of the Camry together with increased fuel efficiency.

The Camry Hybrid is a front-wheel drive four-door sedan that seats five passengers. Available in one well appointed trim it comes standard with Hybrid Synergy Drive, a combination electric motor/gasoline engine fitted with an efficient, continuously variable transmission. The standard warranty for hybrid-related components is 8 years/100,000 miles. A moonroof, navigation system, leather seats and heated front seats are optional. Standard safety features include stability and traction control, seven-airbags, and a tire pressure monitor.

The 2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid has been redesigned.

You'll never get accused of recklessness for buying a Toyota Camry. In the Toyota Prius, the hybrid system was a bold move into unknown technology. The first half of the Camry Hybrid drivetrain is a 147 horsepower version of the standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine. The battery pack consists of 34 nickel metal hydride modules, each of which contains six 1.2-volt cells. Run it all through a continuously variable transmission, and it adds up to 192 horsepower, versus the standard Camry's 158 hp. Toyota employs the full regimen of safety features for the Camry Hybrid, from the standard Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management (VDIM) system, which orchestrates antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, and steering boost—to the Whiplash Injury Lessening (WIL) seat design found in the Prius.

Toyota set the price for the Camry Hybrid at $25,200. The first set of Camry Hybrids was all produced in Japan. In 2007, Toyota began producing approximately 4,000 Camry Hybrids per month in its Georgetown, KY, plant, where it currently turns out Camrys at the rate of 30,000 per month.

Toyota plans to sell 60,000 Camry Hybrids, or 15 percent of all Camry sales. Naysayers believe gas-electric hybrids will reach the limit of their market potential when the East Coast and West Coast fringe have bought their Priuses. The Camry Hybrid will test that premise like never before.

NHTSA Frontal Crash Test

NHTSA rates crash-tested vehicles by assigning them one to five stars, with five stars indicating the most injury protection and one star indicating the least protection


On the outside, the redesigned 2007 Camry trades a conservative image for what Toyota calls "a more stylish, athletic, modern image." That means a pinch of Lexus styling added to the same old Camry: a sleeker shape, two-inch longer wheelbase, fancier instrument panel, and other features like a tilting-telescoping steering wheel. The hybrid gets dressed up a bit more with a matte-chrome grille, blue-tinted headlight reflectors, LED tail lamps, and the hybrid badges.

Toyota earned its reputation for quality by its attention to detail. Expect the same with the engineering and layout of the 2007 Camry. For example, they reduced internal friction and enhanced the Camry engine block's rigidity to improve fuel economy and reduce noise and vibration. In the hybrid version, they added wheel spats and underbelly pans to improve the aerodynamics (down to an impressive 0.27 drag of coefficient.) They also managed to retain the 60/40 rear-seat folding split, which is lost in Honda hybrids to make room for the extra hybrid components.


The Camry Hybrid is loaded with cool standard features including a tire-pressure monitoring system (very helpful for optimizing fuel economy), halogen headlamps, Bluetooth connectivity, a 440-watt premium audio system (MP3 and WMA compatible, with auxiliary input for iPod), smart keyless entry, push-button starting, and dual climate control. The list of options includes a moonroof, voice-activated navigation system, leather-trimmed interior, and heated seats. The in-dash multi-function trip computer display is standard on the hybrid.

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Honda Insight 2010

For three decades, Honda has played a leading role in meeting environmental challenges. The Civic Hybrid is living proof that environmentalism and style can go hand in hand.

Power at the Pump

The benefits of the refined gasoline-electric powertrain on the Civic Hybrid are never more evident than when you watch those little numbers adding up at the pump. And with an EPA-estimated city/highway rating of 40 city/45 hwy mpg [1], you'll spend a lot less time at the gas station.

Help Clear the Air

The air also benefits with the Advanced Technology Partial-Zero-Emission Vehicle (AT-PZEV)[2] rating, which is the most stringent emission standard achieved by a gasoline-powered vehicle in the U.S.

The goal of the 2010 Honda Insight is to make the best use of the most cost-effective hybrid technology. For the new Insight’s design, Honda uses a shape that’s coming to define hybrid and electric vehicles: a five-door hatchback with a smooth front and a high, abrupt tail.

The differences between the 2010 Honda Insight and the 2010 Toyota Prius, can be easily summarized: The Insight is thousands of dollars cheaper, gets comparable fuel economy, has a crisper look and provides a more agile and enjoyable ride. But the Insight is noticeably smaller, especially for passengers in the backseat. The Insight is smaller than the Prius by 2.5 inches in both length and height, and also has a 6-inch shorter wheelbase. While the Prius is classed as a mid-sized car based on its interior volume, the Insight is a compact. The dashboard of the Insight looks like a blending of the Honda Civic and Honda Fit.

Insight EX models add alloy wheels, cruise control, 6-speaker audio system with USB audio interface, steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters, Honda Vehicle Stability Assist and an available Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System with Voice Recognition.

Driver Controls and Feedback, For Max MPG

The dashboard EcoGuide accumulates data on driving patterns, so hypermiling drivers can analyze their history to improve driving strategies. Overall, Honda claims the Insight’s IMA system is 19 percent smaller and 28 percent lighter than the previous generation used in the current Honda Civic Hybrid.

The Honda Insight is rated at 40 miles per gallon on the city cycle, and 43 mpg on the highway, for a combined mileage of 41 miles per gallon.

2010 Honda Insight - Key Features
  • The 60/40 split rear fold-down seat back lets you create the right balance of people and cargo.
  • In addition to displaying exterior temperature, average fuel consumption, and current MPG, the Multi-Information Display also provides feedback on your braking and acceleration to help you drive more efficiently.
  • With eight gigabytes of memory and voice recognition, the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System with Voice Recognition provides directions using a series of 24 global positioning satellites. Bluetooth-enabled cell phones can do hands-free dialing with up to 50 contacts per phone stored within the system.
  • The EX model’s USB Audio Interface can read flash drives loaded with MP3 or WMA files. You can also plug in your compatible iPod to this port, which not only charges the device but also allows it to be controlled using the interface dial on the head unit or steering wheel.
  • Standard safety features on all Insights include dual-stage, dual-threshold front airbags; front-side airbags with a passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS); side curtain airbag system; anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution (EBD); driver- and front-passenger active head restraints and a front body designed to mitigate pedestrian injuries.
  • Accessories for the 2010 Insight include: Fog Lights; Body Side Molding; Door Visors; Splash Guards; Front and Rear Underbody Spoiler; Wheel Locks; Auto Day/Night Mirror; Cargo Cover; Cargo Tray; Floor Mats; Leather Steering-Wheel Cover.
2010 Honda Insight – Technology

Under the Insight’s hood is a 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine putting out 98 horsepower and 123 lb-ft of torque—obviously tiny for what Honda claims is a five-passenger subcompact. It’s mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which provides infinite ratios to keep the engine operating within its most efficient range. On the upscale EX model, Honda offers paddle shifters mounted behind the steering wheel that give the driver the experience of a seven-speed gearbox. A CVT doesn’t actually have gears, so the system uses electronics to direct the transmission to up- or downshift in specific ways when a driver hits the paddle.

The hybrid heart of the system is the fifth generation of Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system. The lightweight, ultra-thin electric motor between the engine and transmission puts out 10 kilowatts (13 horsepower). It is powered by a flat nickel metal hydride battery pack that sits under the rear deck, just behind the gas tank under the rear seat. The battery holds 0.58 kilowatt hours of energy—just slightly less than half the 1.3 kilowatt-hours of the current Toyota Prius pack. The Insight battery is recharged with both spare engine power and regenerative braking, and its accelerator connects to an electronic sensor rather than a cable, also known as “drive-by-wire."

Energy for the motor is stored in the usual nickel metal hydride battery pack. Just as Ford has done with the new Fusion hybrid, Honda has updated the Insight's battery, making it smaller and lighter. It contains 7 modules with a dozen D-size cells each. The power output of the modules is 30 percent greater than the Civic and the pack has a total capacity of 580 Wh. That's somewhat less than the 869 Wh of the Civic but it's in keeping with the cost-reduced nature of the Insight. The power electronics, motor ECU and an air cooling system are all integrated with the battery pack. The entire assembly sits below the cargo floor between the rear wheels.

Building On the Insight Tradition

The 2010 Honda Insight is a major improvement from the legacy model. In Sept. 2006, Honda stopped making the old Honda Insight, a teardrop-shaped two-seater that was loved by many happy owners, but also perceived as impractical by mainstream consumers. Despite the old model’s real-world fuel economy of nearly 70 miles per gallon, the company sold fewer than 2,000 Insights in 2005, and fewer than 1,000 units through Sept. 2006 before the company pulled the plug.

The five-door 2010 Insight breathes new life into Honda’s hybrid efforts. It’s the first of several vehicles that Honda will build on a dedicated hybrid platform—the next will be the sporty two-seater CR-Z. Along with the Civic Hybrid, the new vehicle will be produced at an expanded hybrid vehicle production line at the Suzuka factory in Japan.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hybrid: Toyota vs Honda

It took 10 years for Toyota to sell its first 1 million hybrids globally. The Nikkei reported last month that Toyota plans to double its global production of hybrids vehicles from the 2009 level by 2011. Toyota expects US car sales to rise 10 percent this year to about 11.4 million vehicles.

(Picture left: Toyota FT-CH) Toyota currently makes the Camry Hybrid in the United States, at its Georgetown, Ky. plant. Honda, the second largest global hybrid producer, made less than 150,000 hybrids in 2009.

Toyota currently sells more than 10 hybrids, including dedicated models such as the Prius and Lexus HS 250h—as well as the Toyota Sai, a sister model to the HS 250h only sold in Japan. Toyota plans to boost production of these existing vehicles in addition to launching new hybrid minivans, subcompacts and luxury cars, according to the report.

No details are available yet on the Toyota hybrid minivan.

Toyota introduced its first-generation Prius hybrid in 1998 to the Japanese market. Honda's HEV features the company's innovative Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system that was detailed in Green Car Journal's Fall 2004 issue.

Toyota uses its sophisticated Hybrid Synergy Drive system to power todays Prius, a follow-on to the first-generation Toyota Hybrid System. Both automakers are now offering their second generation hybrid vehicles. Both the Toyota and Honda hybrids are parallel configurations, with wheels driven by both their internal combustion engine and electric motor. The Honda IMA systems electric motor/generator supplies additional power to the gasoline engine when needed for acceleration or when driving demands are greater, such as when climbing grades, thus the designation motor assist. The Honda gasoline engine always provides propulsion.

Things are reversed with Toyotas Hybrid Synergy Drive, which finds the Prius starting out on battery electric power. The gasoline engine seamlessly starts up to provide additional power during acceleration, at higher speeds, or when driving up grades. Hondas hybrids cannot do this.
The Prius uses a four-cylinder, 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle engine. The four-stroke Atkinson cycle, invented by James Atkinson in 1882, is different than the Otto cycle engine were used to driving in very distinct ways. Restricting throttle opening results in large pumping losses and greatly reduced efficiency. Effectively, the use of the Atkinson cycle allows the Prius engine to operate quite efficiently at relatively low power levels while still having sufficient power for climbing hills at freeway speeds.

The Prius uses the same basic 1.5 liter engine as the Toyota Echo, where the engine is rated at 108 horsepower at 6000 rpm. Variable intake valve timing (VVT-I) reduces cylinder pressure to eliminate knocking, important because the engine has a 13:1 compression ratio. The aluminum, dual overhead camshaft (DOHC) 16-valve engine produces 76 horsepower at 5000 rpm and 82 lbs-ft of torque at 4200 rpm. The engine earns an Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (AT-PZEV) rating, is a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV), and has an EPA rating of 60 mpg city/51 mpg highway, for a combined estimated 55 mpg fuel economy rating.

The permanent magnet, AC (alternating current) synchronous motor produces 67 horsepower (50 kW) at 1200-1540 rpm. A built-in transformer converts some of the hybrid batterys power into 12 volts DC to operate vehicle accessories. In the latest generation Prius, the high voltage converter system increases battery voltage from 202 volts to 500 volts for driving the electric motor. This Power Split Device allows the engine to operate in its most efficient load and speed range most of the time. The planetary gear system connects the engine, generator, and motor together, allowing operation in a parallel hybrid mode with the electric motor and gasoline alone or together powering the car. It can also operate like a series hybrid when the gasoline engine operates independently of the vehicle speed to charge the battery or provide power to the wheels.

This advanced hybrid vehicle shares virtually nothing with other Toyota models. Hybrid Synergy Drive is quite scalable, so expect to see it used in other Toyota and Lexus models. Other Toyota hybrid models will be sure to follow.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Accident Involving Prius

The California Highway Patrol officer who responded to an emergency call about a runaway Toyota Prius described the driver as visibly shaking and said he "appeared to be in shock" once the car came to a stop, according to the police report released Wednesday.

The Prius' driver, Jim Sikes, called 911 on March 8 after he said his accelerator became stuck as he tried to pass a slower vehicle. In the police report, responding Officer Todd Neibert said he "could smell the heated brakes which indicated they had been used extensively" and said he saw the brake lights periodically illuminate as he came upon the car.

Prius Accessories:
Eventually, Neibert used the patrol car's public address system to instruct Sikes to apply the brakes and the emergency brake at the same time. "The driver ... was visibly shaking and breathing deeply," the report said. Upon searching the car, Neibert found "a large amount of brake dust and brake pad material in and around the wheels," the report said.

David Justo of Toyota Motor Sales headquarters, described in the memo as Toyota's residential hybrid expert, said that if the gas pedal of the car was stuck to the floor, and the driver applied the brake, the engine would shut down.

The memo said before Sikes' vehicle could be tested, technicians had to replace rotors, brakes and pads, as the pads and rotors were worn down.
Early evidence points to driver error as the reason a 2005 Prius sped into a stone wall on March 9, according to federal investigators.
The statement suggests the driver may have been stepping on the accelerator, instead of the brake, as she told police.

Investigators from Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration inspected the wrecked 2005 Prius on Wednesday and extracted data from the car's event data recorder.

No other cars were involved in the accident. Police said the driver, whose name has not been released pending the investigation, has a clean driving record.

A team of six inspectors from Toyota and two from NHTSA spent several hours taking photos, measurements and downloading the black box data from the car, which has been at the Harrison Police Department since the accident.

The 2005 Prius was part of Toyota's November recall to address the risk of pedal entrapment in the floor mat.

Summarized from CNN

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Monday, March 08, 2010

Toyota Complain: Doubting the Prius?

NHTSA said that it has received nine new complaints alleging fatal crashes caused by sudden acceleration in Toyota cars since Jan. 27. As of Feb. 3, when NHTSA launched its investigation into problems with the hybrid vehicle, the agency had 124 complaints on file. "The agency is quickly gathering more data on all of these additional complaints to help guide our examination of sudden acceleration, the Prius braking system, as well as other safety issues."

Cindy Knight, a Toyota spokeswoman said the company is responding "more aggressively and more quickly" to customer complaints.

"We are taking steps to implement more stringent quality controls, investigate customer complaints more aggressively, keep open lines of communication with safety agencies and respond more quickly to safety issues we identify."

Since November, Toyota has recalled more than 8 million vehicles, including 8,000 Tacoma trucks and over 400,000 of the popular Prius hybrids, for problems ranging from brakes and acceleration issues to faulty manufacturing in other areas.

The Toyota Prius is a car that, right from its 1997 launch, came veiled in a frosty penumbra of disbelief, of incredulity. Yeah. Toyota said one thing. Now there is a Prius recall, something to do with brakes that don't brake. Not simply because Prius sounds like pious. First, make people hate it.

(Taken from the CNN)

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Monday, February 08, 2010

Prius and It’s Cruise Control

The Toyota Prius sometimes accelerates while in cruise control, rocketing past the set speed and sending drivers on wild rides, according to some owners and auto safety experts.

The computer guru blamed the problem not on floor mats or a sticky accelerator pedal, as Toyota has maintained, but on bad software. An exasperated Wozniak expressed frustration with his efforts to contact Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Clarence Ditlow, the executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, a Washington-based group focused on car safety, said his group has received about 10 cruise-control complaints from Prius owners -- roughly 5 percent of the overall complaints his organization has received about the hybrid.

The Prius is among the 8.5 million Toyota vehicles recalled in recent months for problems related to gas pedals and brakes. Just this week, Toyota recalled hundreds of thousands of 2010 Priuses for problems associated with its brake system.

CNN spoke with several owners of previous Prius models who say they were experiencing the same problem: When they resumed cruise control, the car took off as if it had a mind of its own and resisted when they slammed on the brakes. A spokeswoman for NHTSA refused comment for this story, saying the government agency is looking at the Prius braking system but not potential cruise-control problems.

Feds and Toyota too close?

Towns asked in a February 3 letter to Toyota CEO Yoshimi Inaba.

Grover Walton repeatedly slammed on the brakes of his 2008 Toyota Prius on a road trip to visit his granddaughters in South Carolina last October. The car lurched back and forth, and gained speed.

The incident began, he said, when he hit the "resume" button on his cruise control, thinking he'd speed back up to around 63 mph. The car got up to 75 mph.

The car wouldn't shift into neutral. The car came to a stop on the shoulder of the road. Many automakers have had cruise-control problems over the years, including Ford, which last October added 4.5 million older model vehicles to a recall over a faulty cruise control switch that could overheat.

It's not surprising to him to hear of Prius owners complaining about possible cruise-control problems. Hybrid vehicles are among the most complex. The cars have separate electric and gasoline engines and a regenerative braking system that uses energy from the car's wheels to help charge its battery.

Finding the root cause of the problem, Friedman said, gets tricky. "If you test them independently, they all work perfectly well."

Owners: It's not the floor mat

Barbara Walton never uses the cruise control any more, and she stays in the right lane just in case she needs to pull over quickly.

The dealership that fixed the car blamed the problem on floor mats. "Initially, we thought Toyota would be pretty receptive," her husband said. The problem has not resurfaced.

(Taken from CNN: By Christina Zdanowicz and Wayne Drash)

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Dead Prius Battery Used to Equal $3500 - Up Until Now

By Mike Lynch

If you have a dead Prius battery, you know exactly what I am talking about. Chances are, you have taken to your local shop and you have been told that it is going to cost you upwards of $3500 for a new battery. And of course, this probably does not include labor!

In the past, Prius owners would have to simply pay the thousands of dollars to replace the dead Prius battery. There was no alternative! You either buy the battery or you get rid of your car. Now a majority of the Prius batteries that are failing are model years 2001 through 2003. Can you take a quick guess as to why these batteries are so expensive?

It is simply supply and demand - that is it!

As these model year cars get older, more of the batteries are starting to fail. This gives the manufacturers the ability to charge this kind of money to replace a dead Prius battery. There is some good news however. Prius owners are no longer forced to buying a new battery. The technology exists that will allow you to rebuild your battery!

Is that not good news!

It works like this -

1. Diagnose the problem. This is the process of determining what exactly is wrong with your battery.

2. Purchase the parts needed. This is where you identify the parts that you are actually going to need to rebuild the battery (this is actually REALLY easy!)

3. Remove you old battery from your car.

4. Rebuild the battery. For this, you are going to want some instructions on how to exactly do this both safely and properly.

5. Re-install your rebuilt battery.

You see, inside your dead Prius battery are what we call cells. These are essentially individual power sources (think of them of just little batteries). As your Prius gets older, these cells begin to fail. And as you can imagine, the main battery will too fail as the cells start going bad.

What can be done is simply "swapping out" those bad cells with good cells. That is it! Not only are you saving thousands of dollars on a dead Prius battery, but you are also keeping another battery out of the garbage dump!

DO NOT buy a new battery! A dead Prius battery is something that YOU can repair yourself! To learn just how you can do this, visit http://www.ReplacementPriusBattery.com/.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Mike_Lynch

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