Volvo Will Pay British Customers’ Electric for a Year

In an effort to encourage drivers of their plug-in hybrids to use them in the greenest way possible, Volvo is offering new hybrid customers a free year of electricity.

Volvo is calling it their “Take Charge” offer. This was announced when they revealed the new XC40 Recharge EV recently. This incentive is available to any British customer who chooses one of several plug-in hybrids. The offer is good through June 2020.

While Volvo has an electric version of any car in their cadre, the plug-in hybrid style of vehicle is available in their V90, V60, S60, S90, XC40, XC 60 and XC90 models.

Volvo will require users to record their average electrical use for a charge through the “On Call” app. Customers will then get a rebate based on their average energy usage.

Volvo stated that their purpose was multi-faceted, they want make it clear that hybrids are a sustainable transitionary vehicle or a greener option of those who don’t favor full-electrics. Also, to fight the belief that plug-in hybrids are bought only because of the tax incentives then never plugged in.

Supermini Honda Jazz Goes Hybrid-Only in Europe

At launch next year the newest generation Honda Jazz will be offered as hybrid-only. The best-selling Honda model in the UK is set to be revealed at the October motor show in Tokyo. It is thought the Jazz will be the first in the Honda stable to go hybrid-only, though the brand promised to go hybrid only in Europe by 2025.

At this time, the only model that offers hybrid at all is the CR-V. This hybrid replaced a former diesel variant. Honda is still selling a gasoline version of the CR-V in Europe as well. The CR-V hybrid as done well for Honda, accounting for an impressive 60% of model sales.

To follow the hybrid Jazz in 2020 will be the electrified version of the Civic in 2021.

The Jazz, more than likely, will take is powertrain setup from the CR-V hybrid. The CR-V employs two electric motors and a 2.0 liter gas engine combined with a CVT transmission. The Jazz will, however, have a smaller gas engine and less power given its smaller size and “supermini” status.

Honda’s goal with the new Jazz is for it to remain familiar to old customers—remember its Honda’s best European seller—yet bring in new customers to Honda through the entry level Jazz model.


Audi A6 Gets Upgrades

Audi’s new A6 will get a “mild-hybrid technology” upgrade–the upgrades will be significant compared to the old model and will be revealed in Geneva.

Audi said the A6 will be available with the same autonomous driving capability on the A8 sedan and A7 fastback. The sensors bring more active safety functions. No hands-free driving from Audi until legislation changes though.

One feature gets the new model to closer to self-driving, an auto park feature.  On the new A6 is the ability to command the car to self-park via a button on the myAudi smartphone app. The car will follow the command only after everyone has exited the vehicle.

The car will feature two 3.0-liter V-6 engines. These will come in either gasoline or diesel, both fitted with mild-hybrid technology that delivers electric power via a 48-volt belt-driven start-alternator. The lithium ion battery collects energy that would be wasted in braking and helps the car under acceleration which ultimately reduces fuel usage.

Nissan to Release “Leaf” Model in Asia-Pacific Market

On Tuesday Nissan reported it would launch their new, all electric version of its very popular Leaf in 7 Asian and Pacific markets. They even hinted at looking into several other markets with the success of the Leaf being so wide spread. At the moment electrics don’t represent much of the SE Asian market. This is often due to affordability and lack of recharge stations.

Low emission vehicles are the future and automakers are all making their bid in markets the world over.

Japan’s number 2 car maker, Nissan, will bring the Leaf to Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand.

Chevrolet’s New All Electric Bolt EV

The Chevy Bolt EV is an all new model—not to be confused with the similarly named Volt which is a plug-in hybrid with far less electric range. The new Bolt EV boasts a 238-mile EPA-certified driving range with surprisingly powerful electric motor. The Bolt is also a roomy, practical hatchback with lots of leg room and cargo space all at a very affordable price.

The LT base model includes: a 10.2 inch touchscreen (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto ready); proximity-key entry and push-button start; backup camera; 4g LTE with mobile Wi-Fi. That is a lot of modern features in a base model. Coming in at just under $40,000 dollars (and considering the $7,500 tax credit available for electric-vehicle buyers) Chevrolet potentially has a real winner on their hands—ultimately not as “cool” as a Tesla, but the pricing and feature set seems set to place a lot more drivers behind the wheel of an electric car than more expensive competitors.

At these prices many might consider the DC fast-charging package for $750 (recommended by Car and Driver). There is also the $555 Comfort and Convenience package that includes heated front seats and steering wheel. And finally the $495 Driver and Confidence package that favors features like blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alerts and rear parking sensors.


VW Cross Coupe Concept

The VW Cross Coupe GTE is a five passenger hybrid SUV. The talk is it will become a seven seater when it goes into production in Chattanooga lat 2016. (GT stands for Grand Tourer or Gran Turismo and E as in electric – thus GTE.)

It combines 276 hp 3.6 liter VR6 engine with two electric motors and all-wheel drive. The front electric motor is 54 hp and the rear is 114 hp. When fully charged, the lithium ion battery will go 20 miles when on electric power only.

There are different operating modes:
E-mode – all electric (up to 20 miles – uses rear motor only)
Hybrid – default mode – uses engine and both motors – emphasis on fuel efficiency
GTE – uses engine and both motors – emphasis on performance
Off-road – front motor will act as a generator to ensure power makes way to rear motor and wheels – emphasis that power gets to all four wheels
Battery Hold/Battery Charge – allows to plan ahead for city driving and keeps energy levels constant and will continue to charge while driving.

The interior boasts a 10.1 inch display for information. The main instruments are digital even though they may look like traditional analog.

VW Cross Coupe GTE Concept


Another interesting car: Toyota i-ROAD


The Victor crew found a “car” at the New York International Auto Show that is more like a motorcycle-car hybrid. It is the Toyota i-ROAD. It is perfect for urban areas. It can seat two (if you put a small person in the back.)

There are two wheels in the front that move up and down independently but synchronize with the driver’s steering. You can lean just like you do on a motorcycle. Two of them will fit in a parking space. It is the answer for those who may want a motorcycle but don’t want to get wet on a rainy day. Its lithium-ion batteries will go a little over 30 miles on one charge.

See it in action:

Cutting Edge Hybrid Searching For Thrill Seekers

In this the term “hybrid” is referring to yet another vehicle running on a combination of gasoline and battery power. This time Polaris is at the wheel and has taken their years of ATV, motorcycle and snowmobile engineering to present a street vehicle that combines a bit of them all.

The Victor crew found The Slingshot, a three-wheeled street vehicle, is clearly targeting thrill seekers who are looking for something a little safer than a motorcycle. The vehicles angled, armor-like side panels and tube-framing make it look like something out of the newest Batman incarnations. The front is composed of a double-wishbone suspension, coil-over shocks and a sway bar while the back sports a single aluminum swing arm.

Although it is driven like a car (it really looks like some kind of sci-fi dune buggy) operators will require a motorcycle license as it doesn’t meet crash test standards or have air bags. It does, however, have lateral seating, stability control, antilock breaks. And last, but not least, a glove box. Oh, and you’ll have to wear a helmet while operating it. It is a far different animal than the up and coming Can-Am Spyder and is more on par in size with a Mazda MX-5 Miata. The standard version will come in around 19K while the “luxury version” will come in around 24K—it will include wind screen, larger wheels, an entertainment system with Bluetooth and a backup camera. The Slingshot is strictly a topless roadster, making it a fair-weather ride. But, just in case, the seats are waterproof and there are lockable bins in the rear for storage.

It is good to see Polaris innovating in area of the recreational production vehicles as there are is a market for forward thinking thrill seekers who are looking for something a little bit different.

Joe Victor

Audi Developing Energy Generating Suspension

Think of all the things that cause loss of energy in a vehicle: mechanical friction, braking, aerodynamic drag, etc. As Audi enters the electric and hybrid market with the release of their first-ever plug-in hybrid, the A3 e-tron and their development of their so-called all-electric super car, the R8 e-tron, Audi seem almost obsessive on their “search and destroy” mission when it comes to energy drains. With this set of lenses Audi has turned it’s eyes to suspension.

Strangely enough, yes, suspension—Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Audi R&D chief, discussed the companies work on their “generator suspension that will hopefully make it into future productions.”

“What people don’t realize is that dampers get very hot,” he said. “When working hard over a bumpy road, the dampers are perhaps 100 to 125 degrees. This energy is wasted as heat into the atmosphere. So, we will replace the suspension with a generator.”

Audi is looking into the possibility of using a rotating generator inside each damper that could be spun during compression and rebound. Then, captured electrical energy could be directed to batteries for storage. This energy could provide power for an electric or hybrid’s drive system or electrical accessories. Bumps in the road could power your radio! Dr. Hackenberg even offered some ideas on how such a energy recycling suspension system to could benefit performance cars:

“Because we can send energy back into the damper, you will have an independently variable suspension. This can [mitigate body] roll.”

More Info:

Joe Victor

Exciting Innovations Featured at Japan’s SAE Expo

This year’s Society of Automotive Engineers meeting includes 488 participants (a record number) along with 80,000 some visitors. Among all the expositions a few particular innovations stand out from the crowd.

Electric Twist Beam, from ZF
German transmission maker ZF is developing an in-axle motor drive system for electric vehicles. ZF has named it the Electric Twist Beam. The Twist Beam positions two electric motors at either ends of the axle; conventional axles join the wheels.
Fair enough, but what’s? The axle-motor assembly can be easily swapped for a traditional axle, allowing automakers to seamlessly create all-electric versions of nameplates with standard internal combustion engines.

SiC Inverter
Denso, a top supplier for Toyota Group, is working on a new inverter for electric and hybrid vehicles that boasts one-quarter the energy loss of today’s inverters.
Using energy-efficient semiconductors made out of silicon carbide, instead of silicon as is done now, is the secret to the increase in energy efficiency.
The initiative dovetails with efforts at Toyota Motor Corporation to develop silicon carbide semiconductors for the power control units in hybrid vehicles. Toyota estimates it will increase fuel economy by ten percent.

Denso Corp. can make the next generation inverter smaller and more powerful by using these same chips.
The inverter under development is 0.75 liter in volume, compared with 10 liters for the inverter Denso currently supplies for the Toyota Camry Hybrid. Its power density is 100 kilowatts per liter, as opposed to 20.

New Rotary Engine
Mazda is presenting a new rotary engine, deployed as a range-extending generator for hybrid vehicles.
The almost microscopic 0.33-liter single-rotor engine is coupled with a 75-kilowatt electric motor and 20-kilowatt-hour battery. It is being shown at SAE mounted on a Mazda2 subcompact hatchback.

The exhibition drew attention from Mazda fan-people eager to see Mazda revive the engine it made famous in vehicles such as the RX-7
The Mazda range extender concept is like that of Chevrolet’s Volt. The battery and electric motor power the wheels as in an electric vehicle. But when the battery needs a recharge, the engine kicks on to generate more electricity.

More cool SAE exhibitions here: