Hybrid Cars Newsletter Issue 50

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					~~~ Hybrid Cars Newsletter: Issue No. 0050 ~~~ Moderator: Bradley Berman [brad@hybridcars.com] ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ IN THIS ISSUE: Prius and Insight Hybrids Earn Top Safety Awards Top safety ratings from the top hybrids dispel the myth that high fuel efficiency requires a compromise for safety’s sake. Exclusive: Toyota Explains Its Position on Electric Cars “If we had a technology that was ready today…we’d do it,” said Toyota’s Doug Coleman. “We’re trying to get to that point in the future.” Best Answers to the Riddle of 230 MPG What is the real mpg for the upcoming Chevy Volt? What is the sound of one hand clapping? GM Pulls Plug on Buick Plug-in Hybrid Two weeks after announcing a plug-in hybrid Buick crossover SUV, GM executives changed their mind. Shortage of Rare Metals for Hybrids Is Overblown China is talking about tightening grip on rare earth metals used in hybrids. Will it slow down hybrids? Experts say no. Automakers Race to Design Car-to-Grid Communications Plug-in cars will be grid-connected electric devices on wheels. But how will the car “talk” to meters? We speak with Ford’s Greg Frenette. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Greetings, Hybrid Car Enthusiasts, As Prius-style conventional hybrids continue to prove their ability to deliver reliable, safe and efficient transportation, the auto industry is pushing forward with plug-in hybrids and electric cars. Which models make sense? Should we ditch MPG as a measurement? How will drivers control charging? Do we have the raw materials to supply a new industry? Some companies are boldly moving forward, despite uncertain answers to these and other questions. Others, most notably Toyota, are cautious. We speak with insiders and share what we learned in HybridCars.com’s newsletter number 50. No need to wait for next month’s newsletter. Get the news and discuss it online by following us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/HybridCarscom/134218412523 And Twitter: http://twitter.com/HybridCarsCom ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Prius and Insight Hybrids Earn Top Safety Awards http://www.hybridcars.com/safety/prius-and-insight-hybrids-earn-top-safety-awards-25992.html The Honda Insight and Toyota Prius received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's “Top Safety Pick” award based on front, side, and rear crash testing. The rating dispels the myth that

high fuel efficiency always requires a compromise for safety’s sake. To earn the Insurance Institute’s "Top Safety Pick," a vehicle has to earn good ratings in all three tests. It also must offer electronic stability control, which comes standard on all Prius models and on the Insight EX model. It's available as on option on the less expensive Insight LX. The IIHS gave top safety designations to 10 out of the 27 small cars that were tested. Other small cars with the top safety rating are the 2010 Kia Soul, 2009 Subaru Impreza, 2009 Scion xB, fourdoor 2009 Honda Civic, 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer, 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit, 2010 Toyota Corolla and two-door 2009 Ford Focus. "The latest results show that consumers who want good fuel economy can also get a high level of safety," said institute spokesman Russ Rader. "Because there are so many small cars that test well, there's no reason to settle for a small car with lessthan-stellar safety ratings." Also check out the next wave of hybrid cars coming from Japanese carmakers: http://www.hybridcars.com/news/next-wave-japanese-hybrids-heading-us-26067.html ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Exclusive: Toyota Explains Its Position on Electric Cars http://www.hybridcars.com/news/exclusive-toyota-explains-position-electric-cars-26031.html It appears that every automaker in the world has caught electric car fever, save one: Toyota, the one best known for green cars. A few weeks ago, the New York Times declared, “Toyota has fallen behind in the race for the allelectric car.” Toyota’s response? “Our hair is never on fire. We’re not looking around at the latest PR articles, and saying oh my gosh, we have to change our plans because somebody said this or that,” explained Doug Coleman, U.S.-based Prius product manager at Toyota. “We’re pacing ourselves in a way that we think that we can be competitive in a few years time for a market that makes sense for both us and the customer.” Jana Hartline, Toyota’s environmental communication manager, added, “Our outlook has never been to be the first to market. We want to be the best to market.” In an exclusive interview with HybridCars.com, we asked Coleman and Hartline to explain Toyota’s position on plug-in hybrids and electric cars. “We’re listening to all perspectives, but we’re making our own judgments based upon our own data and our own forecasts.” Costs for the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid are running much higher than anticipated—forcing the sticker price from the high $20,000 range to beyond $40,000. General Motors is betting the farm that, at some uncertain point in the future, it will be able to reduce those costs as it ramps up production. Toyota is not yet ready to make the same bet. “If we had a technology that was ready today. IIf we had the battery at a performance and quality and durability and price point that we could put into a car and mass manufacture it for some market and both sustain our business and provide value to the customer, we’d do it,” Coleman said. “We’re trying to get to that point in the future.” Get the details: http://www.hybridcars.com/news/exclusive-toyota-explains-position-electric-cars-26031.html ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Best Answers to the Riddle of 230 MPG http://www.hybridcars.com/gas-mileage/chevy-volt-and-riddle-of-230-25994.html Taking its place right next to other great existential riddles—such as “What is the sound of one hand clapping?"—GM’s claim that the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid will get 230 mpg left journalists bewildered. GM executives said they used a preliminary EPA methodology to determine the mpg of the Volt, which uses only electricity for approximately 40 miles, then uses gasoline to recharge batteries until the vehicle can be recharged with more electricity. But the EPA has not finalized its procedure, has not tested the vehicle, and is not claiming responsibility for the 230-mpg figure. Here are our favorite candidates for the best explanation of a number that defies explanation. We hope it clears up everything. "Under the rationale that GM says the EPA applied to the Volt, an all-electric car such as the upcoming Nissan Leaf or existing Tesla Roadster would have an official rating of 'infinity miles per gallon.'" - John O'Dell, Edmunds.com Green Car Advisor Nuclear-Powered Cars "If the Volt were powered mostly by a windmill or a nuclear reactor, it would also get great gas mileage, since the fuel would be coming from some other source." - Rick Newman, US News and World Report Check out other explanations: http://www.hybridcars.com/gas-mileage/chevy-volt-and-riddle-of-230-25994.html ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ GM Pulls Plug on Buick Plug-in Hybrid http://www.hybridcars.com/news/gm-pulls-plug-buick-plug-hybrid-26027.html General Motors announced on Aug. 19 that it has canceled plans for a Buick plug-in hybrid crossover. The company cited poor feedback from media, dealers, and consumers to the proposed model, which was unveiled two weeks earlier. Both the conventional and plug-in hybrid versions of the Buick crossover have been canceled. General Motors vice chairman Tom Stephens wrote on GM’s FastLane Blog: “The Buick crossover we showed received consistent feedback from large parts of all the audiences that it didn’t fit the premium characteristics that customers have come to expect from Buick." He added, "We decided that the important plug-in hybrid technology would be applied to another vehicle, at no delay, that we’ll discuss in the very near future." GM says it will use the plug-in hybrid powertrain for another vehicle that will debut in 2011. The plug-in hybrid system was originally intended for the Saturn Vue crossover, but those plans were canceled when GM sold the Saturn brand. Read more: http://www.hybridcars.com/news/gm-pulls-plug-buick-plug-hybrid-26027.html ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Shortage of Rare Metals for Hybrids Is Overblown http://www.hybridcars.com/news/shortage-rare-metals-hybrids-overblown-26072.html China is tightening its grip on its rare earth metals, which may derail production of hybrid and electric cars, according to the New York Times and Bloomberg. Hybrid cars use rare metals, especially neodymium for magnets in electric motors, and lanthanum in nickel metal hydride batteries. But experts we spoke with questioned the level of alarm. Prabhakar Patil, CEO of battery-maker Compact Power and former chief engineer of Ford’s hybrid program, sees the rare earth supply concern as “not very high,” when compared to other factors that could limit production of hybrids and electric cars. Patil believes that if supplies or prices for rare earth metals become an issue, car companies will work around a shortage by using induction motors and power electronics. He admits that there will be a penalty in terms of size, cost, and efficiency of motors. “But it is not a show stopper,” Patil told HybridCars.com. Jack Lifton, an independent Michigan-based strategic metals expert, believes there could be “a gap” in hybrid and electric car production in the future—but only if new North American production of rare earth metals does not come on board as expected, and auto engineers fail to plan for a shift to magnets and motors that require fewer or no rare earth metals. Read more: http://www.hybridcars.com/news/shortage-rare-metals-hybrids-overblown-26072.html ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Automakers Race to Design Car-to-Grid Communications http://www.hybridcars.com/types-systems/automakers-race-design-car-grid-communications26070.html Ford is scheduled to introduce the all-electric Ford Focus in 2011 and the Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid in 2012—but the system to control how and when the car is charged is still early in development. “The clock is ticking,” Greg Frenette, Ford manager of battery electric vehicle applications, told HybridCars.com. “We have data to generate, information to absorb, and decisions to make.” In an interview with HybridCars.com, Frenette described what the system can do: “On the navigation screen, the driver can tell the vehicle, for example, that even though the vehicle is plugged in and it’s 5 p.m.—I don’t want to pay the kind of electric rates that are prevalent at that time. Don’t accept the juice until the rates are lower, or I need to have a full charge by 6 a.m. tomorrow morning. It’s all menu driven. There’s going to be that level of control and communication between the vehicle and the meter that gives consumers some options.” He suggested that the system will monitor battery state of charge from the road, inform customers about nearby charging stations, and get tied in with an iPhone app. But rapid charging is another matter: “You can’t just charge batteries at any level without some sort of impact on safety, battery life, reliability and durability. We all have to abide by the same laws of physics. When forced to do that, and do it in an economically responsible manner, you find out pretty quickly who is just talking and who has serious proposals out there.” Read the entire interview: http://www.hybridcars.com/types-systems/automakers-race-design-car-grid-communications26070.html

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ WRAP-UP Thanks for checking out the 50th issue of our newsletter. Our first newsletter was sent out five years ago. Can you imagine what hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric cars we might be talking about in Issue 100, five years from now? Getting from here to there will be a fun and wild ride. Happy Driving, Bradley Berman brad@hybridcars.com ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Hybrid Cars Newsletter is a free email-based newsletter discussing the latest news and information in the world of hybrid gas-electric vehicles. Subscribe and unsubscribe at http://www.hybridcars.com/newsletter.html Feel free to forward this email in its entirety to anyone you think might be interested.


				
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