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Tata introduces hybrid car ‘Prius’ in India

Posted by autotran on January 7, 2010

Japanese car major Toyota on Thursday launched the availability of its latest generation hybrid car ‘Prius’ in India, besides launching the CNG version of its popular sedan Corolla Altis.

Priced between Rs.26.55 lakh and Rs.27.86 lakh, the third generation Prius, which became the world’s first mass produced hybrid vehicle in 1997, com

Prius Plug-in Hybrid

BEAUTY ON FOUR WHEELS: Toyota Motor Corp. Executive Vice President Takeshi Uchiyamada demonstrates during a photo session of its "Prius Plug-in Hybrid" on Dec. 14, 2009 in Tokyo: File Photo: AP

es with 1.8 litre petrol engine with a battery of 60 kilowatt.

This will have three driving modes

  1. Power mode,
  2. Eco mode and
  3. Electric vehicle mode (battery).

Prius, which in Latin means ‘to go before,’ is ‘equipped with the latest version of its pioneering technologyToyota Hybrid System II (also called Hybrid Synergy Drive) — that has achieved world-leading fuel efficiency.

“Through the launch of Prius, Toyota is keen to demonstrate its commitment to offer the latest eco-friendly automotive technology to its customers in India. Prius today is the most successful hybrid in the world with cumulative sales of nearly 15-lakh. We will continue to popularise environmental-friendly vehicles in India to further our efforts to help save the environment,” said Toyota Kirloskar Motor Deputy Managing Director Sandeep Singh.

“Prius will be imported as completely built-up unit from Japan. We have ordered 200 units for India that will be sold during March-December 2010, while the bookings have already started. Prius will be available only in 10 cities, including the metros and smaller cities like Chandigarh, Pune and Ahmedabad, while the waiting period for the hybrid will be about two months” Mr. Singh said.

Source: http://beta.thehindu.com/business/companies/article76987.ece?homepage=true

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Tata introduces Mini – Minivan

Posted by autotran on January 7, 2010

Visit New Delhi and you will be overwhelmed by the number of motorized trikes hustling and bustling through the city proper. They are practically the official vehicle of India because of their low cost, ease of maintenance and small (Mini)size. But just as Tata is trying to revolutionize the world of budget motoring with the Nano, the Indian automaker wants to offer another form of urban transport to replace the much-loved trike (Van). The Tata Magic Iris is it.

Tata Magic Iris

Tata Magic Iris

Tata Magic Iris

Tata Magic Iris

Tata Magic Iris

Tata Magic Iris

Tata Magic Iris

Tata Magic Iris

Tata Magic Iris

Tata Magic Iris

Tata Magic Iris

Tata Magic Iris

We don’t have exact dimensions, but as you can see in the images, it is small – the wheelbase isn’t much longer than a baseball bat and the wheels max out at 12 inches (10-inch hoops are standard). Nestled within the steel five-seater (two in front and three out back) is a 611cc, water-cooled diesel churning out a 11 horsepower, allowing the diminutive box to hit a maximum speed of 34 mph. While its specs aren’t about to set the world on fire, it’s considerably more versatile than the trike it aims to replace. Tata hasn’t announced pricing yet, but expect the Magic Iris to come in well below $2,000 when it hits Indian roads later this year.

Source: http://www.autoblog.com/2010/01/06/auto-expo-2010-tata-magic-iris-is-ready-to-take-on-the-trike/

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Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Posted by autotran on December 21, 2009

The Interwebs have discovered some additional images of the Geneva Motor Show-bound Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Although there is a full-on rear shot, these are more about details and lighting elements than taking the entire car in. The new hatch won’t suffer from any lack of LED’s, with an array of four in the headlights and a basket full of them in the rear taillights and third brake light.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Some new images of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Fiat’s aims to sell around 100,000 units per year, and with five engine choices on offer at launch, the company is doing its best not to leave any potential customer out. If we’re lucky, that pool of potential customers will include Americans that aren’t ex-pats… Have a look at what’s coming in the gallery of high-res images below.

Source: http://www.autoblog.com/2009/12/21/more-pics-of-the-alfa-romeo-giulietta-appear/

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Geneva Motor Show 2010: Rinspeed to unveil the UC? Electric city car

Posted by autotran on December 16, 2009

When we get to Geneva next March, eccentric Swiss design house Rinspeed will be showing off a design for a new electric commuter vehicle called the “UC?” The design of the car itself doesn’t appear to be particularly novel with styling that looks like a cross between the Smart ForTwo and Fiat 500 (not to mention the Aston Martin Cygnet from earlier today).

Rinspeed UC? – click above for high-res image gallery

Rinspeed UC? – click above for high-res image gallery

However, Rinspeed is proposing an interesting approach to extending the range of the EV. Because the UC? is only 2.5 meters long, it could theoretically take advantage of the same kind of perpendicular parking that many Smart drivers use. With that in mind, Rinspeed is proposing that railroads build special train cars that would allow the UC? to be driven straight on and off for travel between cities where the 75 mile nominal plug range would make travel impractical. Since most European trains are electric, it’s even conceivable that drivers could plug in their UC? Models during the train trip. Rinspeed hopes to offer up the UC? to outside manufacturers who may want to build it.

Press release

A Clever E-Speedster to Fight Gridlock

Automobile, Train and the Web Form a New Kind of Symbiosis at the Geneva Motor Show 2010 (March 4th – 14th, 2010)

For the first time in its long history of developing groundbreaking concept cars the Swiss automobile and concept powerhouse Rinspeed is creating not just a car but a entire mobility concept. The highly likeable two-seater is powered by an electric motor and is aptly named “UC?”, which stands for “Urban Commuter” or “You see?”. It was designed for possible future series production.

Nomen est omen: The little speedster measures just 2.50 meters in length and is intended to help avoid gridlock in the inner cities. At the same time an advanced railcar loading system will add the option to cover long distances by train, comfortable, without traffic jams and stress-free. The desired mobile carport with integrated battery charging station is conveniently booked via the internet.

Rinspeed UC? – click above for high-res image gallery

Rinspeed UC? – click above for high-res image gallery

Rinspeed boss Frank M. Rinderknecht: “UC? – it’s a new and highly emotional web-based car world that interweaves individual and public transport in an intelligent way. We want to create a community of people who are open for a new definition of mobility.”

The lightweight “lovebug” is operated with a central joystick and delivers 124 Newton meters of torque. It reaches a top speed of 110 km/h and has an operating range of 120 kilometers. But the most important aspect of the vehicle is that there is a good chance that it will be built in series production. The concept is designed be easily adapted and integrated by volume manufacturers. Intensive dialogues at the highest levels are already well underway.

The partners and suppliers in the “UC?” project are:

Absaar GmbH – http://www.absaar.com

AEZ Leichtmetallräder GmbH – http://www.aez-wheels.com

AkzoNobel Car Refinishes – http://www.akzonobel.com

A.T. Kearney Global Management Consultants – http://www.atkearney.com

Carl F. Bucherer – http://www.carl-f-bucherer.com

Coop Genossenschaft – http://www.coop.ch

Die Agentur, Werbeagentur GmbH – http://www.dieagentur-group.com

J. Eberspächer GmbH & Co. KG – http://www.eberspaecher.com

Elektrizitätswerke des Kantons Zürich – http://www.ekz.ch

Esoro AG – http://www.esoro.ch

Harman/Becker Automotive Systems – http://www.harmanbecker.com

Li-Tec Battery GmbH – http://www.li-tec.de

Motorex Bucher Langenthal AG – http://www.motorex.com

Paravan GmbH – http://www.paravan.de

Pirelli Tyre (Europe) S.A. Swiss Market – http://www.pirelli.ch

Rafi GmbH &Co. KG – http://www.rafi.de

Rehau AG & Co. – http://www.rehau.com

Sellner GmbH – http://www.sellner.de

Sibu Design GmbH & CoKG – http://www.sibu.at

Ticona GmbH – http://www.ticona.de

VDO – Continental Automotive Switzerland AG – http://www.continental-corporation.com

Special thanks to:

Xmobil Design + Marketing GmbH – http://www.xmobil.de

Dominic Wuffli + Cédric Facchin

Forward-Looking Statements – This news release contains forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by the Rinspeed management. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.

Source: http://www.autoblog.com/2009/12/16/geneva-preview-rinspeed-to-unveil-the-uc-electric-city-car/

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Driven: 2010 Honda Civic EX-L Sedan at price $24,515

Posted by autotran on December 15, 2009

Heated leather seats, a nav system, voice-activated Bluetooth, a moonroof, and XM satellite radio, all on a Honda Civic? Are you kidding?

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

If you’ve known the Civic as a source of inexpensive, economical transportation in the past, it’s easy to think that on first glance at the feature set of our test 2010 Honda Civic EX-L Sedan—and its price tag: $24,515.

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

Although that’s certainly not pricey for a vehicle today (the average price of a new vehicle lands a bit below $30k), the level of equipment is surprising, because—probably like you—I tend to associate the Civic either with frugality and basic transportation, geeky maximum fuel-efficiency (Civic Hybrid) or edgy tuner-style performance (Civic Si).

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

Go for the top-of-the-line EX or EX-L and you’ll end up with a bit of a different experience. For starters, you get the same curvy yet slab-sided exterior and odd dual-tier instrument panel that had shoppers quite polarized on introduction. But it’s accented with a few more soft-touch surfaces, upgraded trims, and perforated leather steering wheel trim. The center console has a padded, sliding armrest, while back-seat passengers get a pull-down armrest with integral cupholders.

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

The EX-L feels completely loaded, with those things aforementioned plus power everything, keyless entry, cruise control, a USB audio interface, nice 16-alloy wheels, and upgraded ventilated disc brakes. All the safety bases are covered, too, with stability control and anti-lock brakes with brake assist part of the package.

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

But while some things are different from the basic, frugal Civic you might remember, other things stay the same. For one, the five-speed automatic transmission in the 2010 Honda Civic is a little lumpy, and its shifts aren’t nearly as decisive and smooth as in some rival vehicles. Drive the Civic a little harder and the powertrain seems to smooth out and hit its stride, with letting the smooth engine rev higher and shifting more confidently. The same goes for downshifts; try to be light on the throttle and downshifts involve a slight lurch; step into it more and the downshift is more decisive. Overall, we love the manual transmission that comes with Civics and would highly recommend it over the auto for anyone who’s ever enjoyed a manual.

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

The overall goodness of the engine is hard not to love. It’s a 1.8-liter in-line four-cylinder, making 140 horsepower and just 128 pound-feet of torque, but it feels like plenty for the under-2,800-pound, front-wheel-drive Civic. An aggressive throttle calibration makes it feel perky off the line, and if you pin your foot to the floor it’ll build power all the way to redline and not disappoint. It doesn’t offer the rush of the Si, but most shoppers will love how the standard Civic’s engine doesn’t become raucous and unrefined when you rev it like so many other engines this size. Overall, the Honda Civic feels very peppy, with quick and precise steering especially in low-speed driving. On the highway the steering felt a little too light on center, leading us to make more small adjustments than we’d like. Push it hard and it feels like a more sophisticated, more expensive car whereas most other budget-priced small sedans start to show ragged edges.

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

The Civic remains one of the most fuel-efficient cars in its class in real-world driving. The EX-L came with EPA ratings of 25 mpg city, 36 highway, and we averaged nearly 29 mpg in a week’s worth city stop-and-go and suburban errand running, with plenty of cold starts. If you’re considering the Civic instead of a mid-size model like the Accord, that’s a full 30 or 40 percent better than the 21 or 22 mpg figures we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in mid-size four-cylinder sedans.

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

There have to be some compromises, right? Well there are. Try to fit adults in the back seat and you’ll notice the most pronounced difference between the Civic, or for that matter some other compact sedans with slightly less rakish rooflines. Even average-height adults will have to tuck their heads around the door line when entering, and taller adults simply won’t have enough headroom. On the plus side, if you do fit, the cushions back there are nicely contoured and there’s decent legroom.

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

In front there are also more than a few disappointments. Ever since this generation of the Honda Civic made its debut, this rather tall driver hasn’t known what to do with his right leg as it rests just beside the hard, sharp handbrake lever. Anyone above six feet tall needs to watch out for this, as it could be a deal-breaker for long trips.

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

Don’t expect anything close to luxury-car comfort in the Civic. The leather is very stiff, almost like vinyl, and the front seat heaters didn’t appreciably heat the backrests, just the lower cushions—which seemed to be the case on both sides. And although there were soft-touch inserts for the doors, the rest of the door panels, center console, and instrument panel was covered in rather hard, thin-feeling gray plastic.

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

The 2010 Civic is near the end of its product cycle, and a few of its tech features proved frustrating. The nav-system’s screen seems a bit dull and lower in resolution to a number of other systems we’ve seen recently in new models, with an odd, unintuitive menu structure and slow response, while this version of Honda’s HandsFreeLink Bluetooth system completely struck out, failing to pair with two different phones we had on hand. The Bluetooth controls can’t be accessed visually through the nav-system screen or the gauge cluster, and there’s no significant instruction on pairing through the owner’s manual or the so-called Technology Reference Guide, and didn’t have a lot of success with it. An audio help menu starts when you hit the talk button, and we managed to pair one of the phones, then were later told the phone wasn’t found, with the system locking up and muting the sound system (requiring us to turn on and off the ignition to again listen to the sound system).

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

2010 Honda Civic Sedan

The small-car market has changed a lot since the Civic’s last full redesign in 2005 (for 2006). The Civic doesn’t look nearly as cutting-edge in appearance as before, and the competition has heated up with the introduction of excellent, well-equipped and enjoyable offerings like the 2010 Mazda3 and the 2010 Kia Forte. But the Civic’s longstanding reputation for reliability and resale value are hard to overlook and especially in the lower DX and LX trims, the Civic’s level of value is tough to beat.

Source: http://blogs.thecarconnection.com/marty-blog/1040193_driven-2010-honda-civic/page-1

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Mercedes-Benz Reveals Electric SLS AMG

Posted by autotran on July 17, 2009

The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is an exotic gull-wing supercar, still in the testing stage, that

  • packs a 6.3-liter
  • V-8 engine
  • capable of 570 horsepower
  • and consuming some gas, one assumes

Hardly en vogue these days, and that might explain the development of an electric version of the supercar, the SLS AMG with electric drive.

The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, introduced this year, is powered by a 6.3-liter V-8 engine, but the company is also envisioning an electric version for the future.

The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, introduced this year, is powered by a 6.3-liter V-8 engine, but the company is also envisioning an electric version for the future.

On Thursday, Mercedes issued its 1st news release on its electric SLS AMG, which will be unveiled to the press at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

Unlike the electric Tesla Roadster, which is powered by an electric motor at the rear axle, the SLS AMG has 4 electric motors placed near the wheels. Mercedes said the motors aren’t in the wheel hubs, as found in many electric-car concepts. One of the criticisms of in-hub electric motors is the increase in unsprung weight, which encumbers car handling and driving dynamics.

Nevertheless, the SLS AMG electric would be all-wheel drive. The peak output, according to Mercedes, is 392 kW (or the equivalent of 525 horsepower). The protoytpe car (and there is a running prototype, according to Rob Moran, a Mercedes spokesman) uses a 400-volt lithium-ion battery with 48 kWh of energy content. The battery is liquid-cooled and can be recharged under braking.

Mercedes says that acceleration from 0 to 62 miles an hour takes around four seconds, which is similar to the Tesla Roadster (and the gas-engine SLS AMG).

The electric version of the SLS AMG has all the benefits of an electric-car layout (i.e., not having a heavy lump of an engine in the front of the car): low center of gravity, balanced weight distribution.

A diagram of the electric Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG.

A diagram of the electric Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG.

Daimler has made several moves recently to show that it is paying more than lip service to its claim that it is exploring alternative energy. In May, Daimler bought a stake in Telsa Motors. At the time, a Daimler board member, Thomas Weber, said “the guys from California also showed us that sporty cars” could be a good target.

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BMW X1 SUV Confirmed For 2011 U.S. Launch

Posted by autotran on July 3, 2009

The next couple of years will be very busy for BMW as it launches a handful of new models including new versions of current top sellers and some models we have never seen before. The new X1 falls into the latter category and will take the automaker into the compact SUV market currently dominated by the likes of the Honda CR-Vand Toyota RAV4.

2011-bmw-x1-suv_1

The X1 has been conceived with the flexibility to offer traditional RWD and xDrive AWD configurations, as well as a wide variety of gasoline and diesel powertrain choices. While we will be seeing the compact SUV for the first time in the metal at this September’s Frankfurt auto show, the new model is not scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. until 2011.

It’ll be released in Europe this fall, however, where it’ll be offered with a choice of four engines – one gasoline and 3 diesels–and will be available in both RWD and AWD.

2011-bmw-x1-suv_2

Every X1 will also be available with BMW’s EfficientDynamics technology, helping to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions. These will include brake energy regeneration, engine stop-start systems and a gearshift point indicator.

2011-bmw-x1-suv_3

The initial model range will include the 258hp and 228lb-ft of torque xDrive28i 3.0-liter gasoline model, which can accelerate from 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds and reach a top speed of 127mph while returning fuel economy of 25mpg. This will be followed by a 204hp and 295lb-ft of torque xDrive23d, a 177hp and 258lb-ft of torque xDrive20d and sDrive20d, and finally a 143hp and 236lb-ft of torque xDrive18d and sDrive18d.

As for styling, BMW family traits can also be found in the design of the front and rear lights, which resemble those used on the recently revealed 2011 5-series GT and the 2009 7-series sedan, respectively. The shots also confirm that BMW designers have stuck closely to the lines of the Concept X1 showcased at last year’s Paris auto show.

Inside, 5 full-sized seats in an elevated position offer generous space, while the backrest in the rear is also adjustable for angle and folds down in a 40/20/20 split. Luggage compartment capacity may be increased from 14.7 cu ft to a maximum of 47.3 cu ft. An electrically operated Panorama glass roof is also available as an option.

2011-bmw-x1-suv_4

Like the 1-Series BMW sedan, coupe and convertible, the X1 won’t be cheap by the time it comes to America. A base price around $30,000 is likely, as is a fully-loaded price above $40,000.

source: http://blogs.thecarconnection.com/marty-blog/1021905_bmw-x1-confirmed-for-2011-u-s-launch

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Mitsubishi launched electric car

Posted by autotran on June 5, 2009

Looking to gain an early lead in the emission-free vehicle market, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. Friday launched a compact, 4-door electric car that it will market in Japan to corporate customers starting in late July.

The lithium-ion battery powered i-MiEV, which can travel 160km (kilometers) (99.2 miles) on a single charge, is the 1st step into the eco-friendly car market by the small Tokyo-based auto maker better known for its brawny SUVs like the Pajero.

By bringing its electric car to market this year, Mitsubishi is hoping to gain a lead over Nissan Motor Co., Japan’s 3rd largest auto maker by sales volume, which plans to mass market its own electric vehicle starting in 2010.

But sales volume will be small. Mitsubishi expects to sell 1,400 vehicles in Japan in the fiscal year ending March 2010, raising sales to 5,000 vehicles next fiscal year when it starts individual sales in Japan. Worldwide, Mitsubishi plans to ship i-MiEV in limited quantities to the U.K., New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore starting this year. It has also agreed to supply i-MiEVs to PSA Peugeot Citroen SA in late 2010 or early 2011.By 2020, Mitsubishi says its expects electric vehicles will make up 20 percentages of its overall production volume.

For now, Mitsubishi’s ambitions are constrained by its production capacity and by the high cost of electric vehicles. Mitsubishi plans to produce about 2,000 electric cars in the fiscal year ending March 2010, ramping up to 30,000 vehicles by 2013, as its lithium-ion battery production operations are expanded at Lithium Energy Japan, a joint venture run by Mitsubishi, G.S Yuasa Corp. and Mitsubishi Corp. Nissan, which is putting the finishing touches on its own lithium ion battery plant outside Tokyo, plans to roll out 50,000 electric cars in the 1st year of production.

With a 4.59 million yen price tag, i-MiEV may also struggle to find buyers during the worst recession to hit Japan since World War II. Mitsubishi is counting on generous government incentives to stimulate the market for the vehicles. The national government is currently offering subsidies of up to 1.39 million yen on “clean energy” vehicles like i-MiEV. Some local governments are also offering additional subsidies that could bring the price of i-MiEV down to as low as 2.2 million yen.
Still, many auto makers and analysts remain skeptical of the potential for large scale sales of electric cars because of their limited range and the need to build more recharging stations to support them.

The Mitsubishi Motors Corp. i MiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle)

The Mitsubishi Motors Corp. i MiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle)

Mitsubishi is selling its electric car to corporate customers in Japan first in order to allow more time for local governments and businesses to set up more recharging stations around the country to support electric car drivers.

Mitsubishi, however, is confident that the Japanese government’s commitment to promoting electric vehicles through various incentives will help the market here grow substantially. By 2020, the Japanese government expects next generation eco-cars like electric vehicles, hybrids and plug-in electric vehicles, powered by both batteries and gas, will make up half of all new car sales.

Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124417212155988023.html

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The electric sports car – Tesla Roadster review

Posted by autotran on June 5, 2009

The electric sports car is one of the stars of this year’s London Motorexpo.

The electric sports car is one of the stars of this year's London Motorexpo.

The electric sports car is one of the stars of this year's London Motorexpo.

It is a shame the Lucy Clayton Finishing School for young ladies are no longer in Knightsbridge. I understand they used to have a wooden door and car seat combo for teaching "the right sort of gel" to origami in and out of low-slung automotive exotica with dignity intact. Opening on June 25, the UK showroom for Tesla’s remarkable all-electric Roadster is right around the corner, and having just crumpled behind the wheel with all the dignity of a pantomime horse toppling into an orchestra pit, I could really use a lesson.

It is entirely apposite that the previous victim of my panzer approach to sports car access should have been an Elise, because Lotus and Tesla have much in common. Wishing to establish a performance DNA for its all-electric power train, Tesla took exactly 8 seconds to recognize that the Elise’s all-aluminums and glass-fibre construction offers just the required lightness to ping the Roadster at the horizon with all the alacrity of a bullet fired from a gun that steadfastly refuses to go “BANG”.

In the engine bay lurks a 248bhp electric motor no larger than the size of a KFC family bucket, 6,831 painstakingly temperature-controlled lithium-ion batteries and an electronic power-management system with the IQ of a small planet. By conventional, internal-combustion standards, this is the world’s simplest power train. Two bearings constitute the sum of motor moving parts subject to wear and tear, there’s only one forward gear and maximum torque of 276lb ft is delivered from a standstill…..

Thus armed, the Tesla will shift silently from 0 to 60mph in 3.9 seconds and on to a governed top speed of about 130mph. Claimed maximum range is some 220 miles, with a full charge taking 16 hours, or 4 if you happen to have a 3-phase generator lying around. The harder you use it, though, the shorter the range.

Flick it into drive; remove foot from brake and the Tesla creeps just like any other automatic. There’s no power assistance to the helm but, to be honest, I never really noticed, not even in Knightsbridge. And the only real difference to driving a standard automatic in town is that you rarely seem to need the brakes. The retarding effect of a motor that serves as a generator to recharge the battery is so strong that for the first few miles I find myself inadvertently stopping well short in traffic, and then driving up to the car in front.
The other difference, of course, is the notable absence of noise – all you can hear is the sound of a very small executive jet taxiing beneath the bodywork. Ironically, however, settled at lorry exhaust height in traffic, there’s so much of a racket going on that the benefits of silence are completely lost?

Tesla Roadster review

Tesla Roadster review

Stamp your foot to the floor when pottering at 30mph and the result is little short of astonishing. The Tesla belts away with the seamless surge of a catapult launch, leaving you feeling almost short-changed at the absence of commensurate bellow. The ride is, however, rather more crash-bang than Lotus’s legendary blend of supple, subtle and taut. Maybe it’s the added weight. Despite entirely carbon-fibre couture, the Tesla is a good deal heavier than an Elise and, yes, you certainly do feel the effects of 300 bags of sugar stowed behind your head.

Once you get over having spent £90,000 on a car without an exhaust pipe, the range issue remains a problem. If this is ever to be anything other than a rich man’s toy, it will have to be addressed. Don’t get me wrong: 200 miles allied to this performance is little short of astonishing for an all-electric car, and the average commute won’t constitute a problem. That said, could you commute comfortably in a Lotus?

Fact is, if I wish to coax my popsy any real distance for a filthy weekend, we will be setting out on Wednesday and returning on Tuesday – the frequent overnight stops required for a 16-hour recharge are somewhat more taxing than the Tesla’s toothbrush and squishy grip luggage capacity.

Only 30 per cent of the energy generated by a combustion engine actually drives a car, compared with 85 per cent of that generated by an electric motor, and – assuming a fossil-fuel power station generates your electricity – the Roadster effectively returns CO2 emissions of just 63g/km and an overnight recharge costs less than £5 of cheap-rate electricity, so the Tesla still constitutes a huge step in an interesting direction. Daimler certainly thinks so and, eager to benefit from the unprecedented efficiency of Silicon Valley’s battery- and power-management technology, has recently acquired a 10 per cent stake in the company.

Moreover, with the impending Model S, a four-door saloon with a 300-mile range and a recharging time of as little as 45 minutes, Tesla is quick to point out that, in the context of a clear century of combustion engine development, it isn’t exactly dragging its heels.

Facts:

  • Price/availability: £90,000. On sale June 25
  • Tested: Tesla Roadster, 375v AC electric motor powered by lithium-ion battery pack, one forward gear
  • Power/Torque: 248bhp@8,000rpm/276lb ft@0rpm
  • Speed top Level: 130mph
  • Acceleration: 0-62mph in 3.9sec
  • Fuel Economy: N/A
  • CO2 Emissions: N/A (63g/km well to wheel)
  • VED Band: A (£0)
  • The Verdict: Extraordinary. Needs an interior to match the engine-bay technology
  • Alternatives: Not really. But there’s a wealth of quick cars out there for 90 grand

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/carreviews/5446199/Tesla-Roadster-review.html

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First Drive: 2010 Lexus HS 250h hybrid

Posted by autotran on May 27, 2009

2010 Lexus HS 250h

2010 Lexus HS 250h

Just because The Cold War is over does not mean that all cold wars have come to an end. Two protagonists in the auto industry – once again, West  vs. East – are currently embroiled in an in car safety & technology arms race that is beginning to look more like Roskosmos vs. NASA than a battle between luxury sedans. The latest master weapon comes from Lexus in the form of its Lexus HS 250h hybrid, claimed to be not only the world’s 1st hybrid-only luxury sedan, but also the most fuel-friendly luxury vehicle extant. If Lexus has it, they put it on this Lexus car. Our question was: Would we want to put one in our driveway? Follow the jump to find out.

Frugal hybrids, sports car hybrids are here, and luxury hybrids are dipping wheels in the waters. This Lexus car marks the first luxury-only hybrid to make its acquaintance with the public. During the launch, Lexus was at pains to make sure we did not confuse this Lexus car with the Prius, informing us that the HS’ closest sibling is the Euro-market Toyota Avensis. Fitting in between the IS, ES and GS in brand placement, the HS 250h “was developed as an answer to customers looking for an environmentally conscious premium vehicles.”

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What about the LS 600h and GS 450h? In addition to the HS 250h being hybrid-only, it’s the 1st Lexus hybrid tuned with the primary goal of delivering superior economy. While Lexus’ LS and GS hybrids are meant to provide power above their weight class with the same fuel efficiency, the HS is meant to provide economy with a decent dollop of power.

It does so via a DOHC 2.4-liter Atkinson-cycle 4-cylinder engine with variable valve timing. The engine alone puts out 147 horsepower, but adds some juice from the 245-volt battery behind the rear seats and the system is good for 187 horsepower. Torque comes to 138 lb-ft, and you can have it all on regular 87-octane gas. The car isn’t just frugal on gas; it’s equally parsimonious with emissions: 70 percentages fewer smog-forming emissions find their way out of the tailpipe compared to conventional vehicles & evaporative emissions are close to zero.

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The mpg tally? According to Lexus, you’ll be the proud owner of 35 cities, 33 highways, 34 combined. That easily beats other car in the entry luxury segment, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series. It even beats the One Series. Heck, it even beats a Mini Cooper (except for the diesel, which you can not get here yet). Mind you, the HS is not really competition for those cars, which all stress sporting splendor as opposed to frugal hybrid luxury.

A shift-by-wire system operating through a CVT (continuously variable transmission) gets the grunt seamlessly to the ground. The console-mounted shifter engages Reverse, Drive, Neutral, and a “B” setting that actuates an engine braking feature when going downhill, which helps use gravity to refill the battery & keep your feet off the brakes. Oddly, Park is a button next to the shifter – if you do not use the button, the car will remain in neutral when you get out. As the gentleman from Lexus University explained, “If you do not press the button, the car’s going to leave.”

Let’s talk car technology for a moment, shall we? Here are some of the systems on the HS 250h:

  • A Pre-Collision System: You get when you check the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control option. If your HS thinks you are going to hit someone, it will ring the warning bells & add brake pressures if it doesn’t detect you are pressing the brake hard enough. The driver monitor will also be working to make sure you are still at work behind the wheel. If you do happen to have a boo-boo, you will be protected by 10 airbags.
  • A heads-up-display this projects not only speed, but nearly any input you give the car, including navigation instructions and audio system commands. The steering wheel buttons are touch sensitive, so that when you rest your finger on one, it appears dimly in the HUD display, and is illuminated if you actually press it. You also get Pre-Collision and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control warnings shown to you in the HUD.
  • The wide-view front monitor is the same feature you get on a Rolls-Royce Phantom. If, for some reason, you can not see what you are about to nudge the Hess’s 4-foot nose into, turn on the front monitor and you will get a 190-degree view from the grille-mounted camera?
  • An infrared-cut, acoustic glass windshield that reduces IR waves by 30 percentages, and side glass with a water-repellent coating for better wet weather visibility and defrosting.
  • Intelligent high-beams use a camera in front of the rear view mirror and automatically switch between low and high headlight levels. They can also shorten the distance of the beam depending on whether traffic is approaching you or you’re pulling up behind someone.
  • Lane Keep Assist helps you stay in your lane in 2 ways. When the lane departure warning system can clearly make out lane markings, the steering wheel will vibrate and if you stray, the car will apply an ever-so-subtle amount of steering input to get you back in the lane. The 2nd feature is essentially the car keeping itself in the center of the lane. Once the HS 250 knows where the lane markers are, it’ll gently provide steering inputs on its own to keep the car going right down the middle. Not that you would – but you can take your hands off the wheel and watch the car keep itself between the lines. Of course, this feature does not work on switchbacks, and it is not an auto pilot, but it does appear to be the way things are going these days.
  • Casual voice command capability (as on the IS convertible) that let you blurt out “I need a gas station” and “Make it cooler” instead of dictating your way in clipped tones through menus.

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When you are not inputting commands through the steering wheel and watching buttons light up in the HUD, you will be doing it on the Romulan center console via the Remote Touch Controller – which is, simply, a mouse – introduced earlier this year on the RX crossover. If you can navigate a MacBook or PC, you can navigate the Lexus’ menus. The controller provides user-adjustable feedback when it rolls over a clickable option, so once you have memorized the options on a screen you can click your choice without looking. Although it could appear gimmicky – and a tad large – a couple of points-and-clicks soon had us saying “Hey, that’s all right!” If it had a ‘Back’ button it would be absolutely perfect, but that’s an opportunity for Lexus to have something new to introduce on next year’s model.

Now to the technological main event: whereas Mercedes has Tele-Aid and GM has Onstar, the HS 250h introduces Lexus Enform with Safety Connect. This is actually 2 different subscription services: Safety Connect will be available on all cars; Lexus Enform will be available on those with navigation.

Safety Connect notifies a command center if you have been in an accident, alerts tracking authorities to the vehicle’s location, can make calls for emergency assistance, and adds GPS location data when you make calls to Lexus’ roadside assistance program.

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Enform can be thrown on top of that services and has 2 offerings. Destination Assist is like calling 411 for navigation – command center agents will help you find what you are looking for by name or type of business, at which point it’ll send the directions to the navigation system.

EDestination lets you go on the Lexus site at your home computer (or any other iPhone or computer – no Blackberry capability yet) and save up to 200 destinations in 20 different personalized folders. You can even annotate each destination with your own comments. Then you can send that entire packet to the car and download them all into the navigation system. Purchase an HS and you will get the first year of Lexus Enform and Safety Connect for free.

If you just can not get enough of Lexus, there’s Lexus Insider, a free opt-in service. Go to the Lexus Insider screen and you will find audio messages from the company that can provide anything from useful vehicle tips to event information and owners’ benefits.

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The last sprinkle on the gizmo cake is XM Sports, Stocks for cars with navigation and an XM subscription. With XM Sports you can program schedules and results for five teams from the NBA, MLB, NFL, and NHL. XM Stocks keeps track of 10 companies in your portfolio and can read the day’s activity to you.

The car’s trimmings have not been left out of the technofest, either. Bioplastics derived from kenaf make up 30 percentages of the hybrid’s interior and luggage area – in upholstery, foam, and injection-molded and board parts – with the result that the car is 85 percentages recyclable. Elsewhere, leather abounds in the seating areas and there’s a sheaf of rawhide over the dash cluster and lining the center console.

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And that brings us, at long last, to the most quotidian aspect of the car: sitting in it. The HS is roomy and comfy, and the truncated center console keeps everything wide open inside. The thin, shaped front seatbacks leave plenty of room in back for real, human-sized men, so it is a good thing that the trunk is roomy, too. At 12.1 cubic feet, it can swallow more than any other Lexus hybrid (beating the LS 600h by 0.5 cubic feet), which means four and their golf clubs should go nicely. Any seat in the house is a nice one to have.

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We have spent so long discussing the bounty of what’s inside the car because we are still not taken with what’s outside the car. The HS 250h is a lot of things and has a lot of things, but we would not put exceptional looks on that list. It has a Cd of 0.27, making it as slippery as it is bland. Of course, we understand why it looks like it does. But that does not change the fact that, well, it looks like it does. At one point, we pulled up next to a Toyota Corolla S, the one with the aero bits, and the resemblance was uncomfortable. We would not have minded a little drop in gas mileage for a bit more bite in the HS’ design.

19th-century French author Guy de Maupassant said he ate in the restaurant at the base of the Eiffel Tower because that was the one place where he did not have to see the tower. Once inside and moving in the HS, you won’t think about the way it looks. The driving experience is pretty close to awesome, this being a hybrid that will seat four grown men with luggage and get you at least 34 mpg combined, probably more with a conservative right foot.

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Turn the car on and you probably won’t hear a thing, which is not unusual for a Lexus. But in this case, there might actually be nothing happening – if the car does not need anything other than electrical power, even though you are about to pull away, it’ll remain silent. The only indication that all systems are go is a green “Ready” light in the gauge cluster. The car can operate at up to 20 mph on electric power alone for about 5 minutes, so if you are putting through a severely speed restricted area, you can do it within a cloak of aural invisibility (pedestrians, beware!).

When the engine finally does come on, it is the standard Lexus protocol of quiet. When urging the HS on, you can hear its exertions, but it is nothing out of place. Lexus spent a lot of time balancing the car’s weight and shape against the sound profile that passengers would experience inside, and the results speak for themselves – or rather, they don’t.

There are four drive modes when you get up to speed: EV, Eco, Normal, and Power. If you have bought a hybrid and you want a Power mode, perhaps you should buy the GS hybrid, but the setting does give you slightly increased throttle response. Normal mode was actually just fine for us as far as power was concerned. The car gets up to 60 in 8.4 seconds, which strikes us as plenty of pace for a model like this.

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The HS never feels slow, not even in Eco mode, which was our favorite & coincidentally the slowest driving mode possible. Eco mode slightly retards the throttle response so that not only do you get the best possible gas mileage, but you begin to learn how much throttle you should give the car in order to achieve it. It does not rob you of your ability to give the car a whipping – if you mash the throttle, the car will understand that you want everything it is got. In Eco mode, the thriftiest Lex will build its way up to 35 mph much more fuel efficiently. This will usually result in some tarmac space growing between you and the folks stabbing at their accelerators, but it is not nearly as intrusive as it might sound. And we saved the life of a baby whale every time we used it.

You can also select EV-only mode, provided you know you are going to be going under 20 mph and the battery is more than 50 percentages charged.

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But what about pushing in and out of corners? After driving it in the hills surrounding Los Angeles, the handling gets a thumbs-up from us. The HS uses MacPherson struts up front (with all of its parts completely different to the Prius) and a double wishbone rear suspension. The steering rack is not mounted on rubber bushings to keep the line of feedback undulled, and the electric power steering is speed sensitive. If you get the Touring Package, the suspension is tuned for even sportier handling. And if the truth be known, the package added up to a car that we thought handled better than the rear-drive IS Convertible. In fact, we drove them back-to-back just to make sure. We are not saying it could outperform the IS 350C, but in terms of meeting our expectations for cornering, steering, and feedback – sheer handling enjoyment– the HS wins.

We’ve no problem recommending the Lexus HS 250h because it certainly gets 2 out of 3 things exactly right: the cabin experience sets a fine mark for what a luxury pure hybrid can be and the driving is enjoyable. Our V8-loving enthusiast hearts never really felt cheated when tooling around in the car – in fact, we liked it. It is only the styling that gives us pause long enough to say that we’ll let other beholders judge that beauty for themselves.

If you are looking for a hybrid-only luxury car, this is the only place you can go for now. If you are looking at any entry-level luxury car, then the Lexus HS 250h is a fine place to start comparing the present choices with one possible future.

Source: http://www.autoblog.com/2009/05/26/first-drive-2010-lexus-hs-250h-is-pretty-on-the-inside/

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