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Long-range, expensive Denza EV on track for fall launch in China

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Range Rover Hybrid brings advanced powertrain to Chinese market

Posted Apr 24th 2014 10:01AM

Land Rover Range Rover Long Wheelbase Hybrid

The Land Rover hybrid models are growing both in terms of offerings and in size. At the 2014 Beijing Motor Show, the brand unveiled the Range Rover Long Wheelbase Hybrid to join the standard version and Range Rover Sport Hybrid.

The long-wheelbase Range Rover's powertrain is identical to what is offered in the standard Range Rover Hybrid. It combines the brand's SDV6 3.0-liter turbodiesel with an electric motor producing 47 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque. It grants a total system output of 335 hp and 516 lb-ft, and an eight-speed automatic gearbox from ZF routs power to all four wheels. The company claims the hybrid adds 265 pounds of weight to the SUV. However, it gives a 26-percent improvement in emissions and is rated at about 37 miles per gallon in the EU combined cycle. It can even run purely on electric power for a mile at speeds up to 30 mph, and regenerative braking keeps the system topped up.

The styling remains nearly identical to the standard LWB Range Rover. There are a few Hybrid badges, and that's about it. However, rear seat passengers get to take advantage of the cavernous backseat that adds 7.3 inches of room over the regular Rangie.

Orders for the SUV begin in May, and Chinese deliveries begin around the end of the year. However, like the rest of the hybrid Range Rovers, it likely won't be coming to North America anytime soon. Last year, Land Rover's US boss said the diesel hybrid would come here eventually, but he didn't give a timeframe. We have contacted the company for an update. Scroll down to read the full release about Land Rover's massive new Range Rover Long Wheelbase Hybrid.

Fiat will start selling 500e in Oregon this summer

Posted Apr 24th 2014 7:54AM

Fiat 500e electric vehicle

Even thought demand in California for the Fiat 500e electric vehicle is growing, the fun little EV is about to grown its sales to the north. Fiat US chief Jason Stoicevich tells Wards Auto that sales of the EV will start in Oregon this summer, adding that green-minded Portland will likely be a strong market for the model.

Fiat 500e demand in California is "fantastic."

This year's first-quarter sales of the gas-powered and EV variants of the 500 were up about 19 percent from a year earlier, as a recent TV ad campaign featuring Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and the model's availability at about 220 dealerships appear to have been effective. Stoicevich didn't give any specific sales figures for the 500e, though he did say demand in California is "fantastic."

"After its introduction in California last year, the Fiat 500e has been a great success for our brand in just a short period of time," Fiat spokeswoman Angela Bianchi wrote in an e-mail to AutoblogGreen while confirming the debut of 500e sales in Oregon this summer. "Oregon is the second-largest ZEV (zero-emissions vehicle) state after California."

Late last year, Wards Auto named the 500e motor to its 10 Best Engines list, making the model the first Fiat ever to receive that honor. The 500e has 111 horsepower and can go 87 miles on a single charge. The 500e also won Road & Track's 2013 award for best electric car in November as the model was praised for its power and handling. Read our review of the 500e here.
Related Gallery2014 Fiat 500e
2014 Fiat 500e2014 Fiat 500e2014 Fiat 500e2014 Fiat 500e2014 Fiat 500e2014 Fiat 500e2014 Fiat 500e2014 Fiat 500e

News Source: Wards Auto, Fiat

Could Tesla build EVs in China as soon as 2017?

Posted Apr 23rd 2014 7:55PM

Tesla Model S

A 25-percent import tariff can certainly make an automaker take notice (to wit: Toyota). In Tesla's case, that means getting production capabilities on the ground in China as soon as possible. According to Bloomberg News, that could mean 2017. Or maybe not.

Bloomberg, citing comments by Tesla chief Elon Musk made at Beijing's Geekpark Conference earlier this week, said the California-based maker of the Model S electric sedan may start making vehicles in China as soon as 2017 or 2018. Musk also envisions a substantial charging network throughout cities such as Beijing and Shanghai and obviously thinks the current Chinese resistance to plug-in vehicles will pass. The California-based automaker delivered its first nine Model S EVs in China this week.

Of course, Musk has a way with hyperbole, and when contacted by AutoblogGreen, a company representative toned down such a timeframe.

"We hope that local production in China is in Tesla's future so that we can manufacture our vehicles where they are sold," wrote Tesla spokeswoman Liz Jarvis-Shean in an e-mail to AutoblogGreen. "We aren't likely to produce cars in China within the next three to four years, however, nor are we currently in any serious discussions to do so."

By making cars in China, Tesla, which opened a showroom in Beijing late last year, would avoid the 25 percent import tax China enforces on foreign-made vehicles. As it is, Tesla is pricing the 85-kilowatt hour version of the Model S at about $118,000 in China. That's about $47,000 higher than the US base price, but it's actually kind of "aggressive." Musk has said Tesla will sell as many as 5,000 vehicles in China this year, while Tesla executives have said they expect China to account for a third of Tesla's global sales this year and as much as half next year. Tesla sold about 22,300 vehicles in the US last year.

Tesla has also started leasing the Model S in Switzerland for roughly $750 a month. Read more details in the press release below.
Related GalleryTesla Model S: Quick Spin
Tesla Model S: Quick SpinTesla Model S: Quick SpinTesla Model S: Quick SpinTesla Model S: Quick SpinTesla Model S: Quick SpinTesla Model S: Quick SpinTesla Model S: Quick SpinTesla Model S: Quick Spin

News Source: Bloomberg News

Citroën CX-R concept makes late debut from China

Posted Apr 23rd 2014 5:30PM

Citroën C-XR Concept

We obsessively covered the 2014 Beijing Motor Show, but apparently Citroën decided it had one more vehicle to debut to join its DS 6WR and DS 5LS R at the Chinese show. This C-XR Concept is far less wildly styled than the two other models, however, as this concept is actually quite close to production spec.

The C-XR blends the styling of Citroën's hatchbacks with some SUV cues. Up front, it has a wide, chrome grille that links directly into the headlights, and lower down, there are vertically mounted LED running lights. The rear pillar has C-shaped chrome accents to link the chrome roof rails and belt line.

The concept isn't really meant to go off-road, but it gets a dash of ruggedness from its protective wheel arch cladding and raised ground clearance. The interior is still a secret, but the top does have a large panoramic sunroof to let light in. The concept's powertrain uses the company's THP 160 petrol engine with stop/start and an automatic gearbox. Scroll down to read the full release about the concept.
Related GalleryCitroën C-XR Concept
Citroën C-XR ConceptCitroën C-XR ConceptCitroën C-XR ConceptCitroën C-XR ConceptCitroën C-XR ConceptCitroën C-XR ConceptCitroën C-XR Concept

News Source: Citroën

Long-range, expensive Denza EV on track for fall launch in China

Posted Apr 23rd 2014 4:27PM

Daimler-BYD Denza EV

For anyone who's not convinced that the auto industry operates on a slow timetable, remember that Mercedes and BYD first teamed up for a Chinese-market electric vehicle in 2010. While we've heard lots about the resulting EV that the Denza brand would make since then, the car wasn't scheduled to hit the market until 2014. At the Beijing Motor Show this week, Denza showed off a production version of the car and said that things are "well on track" for sales in September.

The Denza EV will not be cheap, costing an expected 369,000 yuan ($59,000 US), but there are government subsidies available that can knock up to 117,000 yuan ($18,000) off the price. You get a lot of range for your money, though, since the Denza EV has a 47.5-kWh battery that should give the car 300 kilometers (186 miles) per charge. The 86-kW (115 horsepower) motor offers 218 foot-pounds of peak torque.

The first Denza EVs will likely be sold at BYD locations, since Denza dealerships are not scheduled to open until the middle of 2015. The first four will be in Beijing, Shanghai, China and Shenzhen. Similar to how it works with Tesla for the B-Class Electric Drive in other parts of the world, Daimler is relying on electric powertrain technology from BYD in the Denza joint venture. The Benz will come to American shores this summer.
Related GalleryDenza EV
Denza EVDenza EVDenza EVDenza EVDenza EVDenza EVDenza EVDenza EV

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req., Denza

Image Credit: Newspress, Denza

Local production could improve Toyota Prius' fortunes in China

Posted Apr 23rd 2014 2:00PM

Toyota Prius

The Toyota Prius is the world's most popular hybrid vehicle, but it may take domestic production capabilities for the model to achieve a high level of popularity in China. Japan-based Toyota is aiming to produce an increasing percentage of Prius components in China in order to bring down its price there, Bloomberg News reports. Eventually, the goal is to make all Priuses sold in China in that country in order to avoid the steep 25-percent import tariff.

As it is, Toyota sold just 1,400 Prius vehicles in China last year, compared to about 234,000 in the US and 315,000 worldwide. Hindering sales is the fact that the Prius costs about as much as an entry-level Audi in China, where Volkswagen is the country's best-selling automaker. Toyota has been selling the Prius in China for almost a decade but may soon find local sources for the batteries and other hybrid parts for the Prius and Camry Hybrid, Bloomberg says, citing comment from Hiroji Onishi, Toyota's China chief, at the Beijing Auto Show.

Part of the problem is that the Chinese government provides less than $500 worth of subsidies for each hybrid sold, compared to about $9,600 for an electric vehicle. While that subsidy may rise as China municipalities take on the country's growing pollution problems, there's lingering concern over spurring sales of a car that's made by competing Japan.

Toyota starting making some of its Prius vehicles in China in 2005 but halted production on the second-generation version of the hybrid four years later.
Related Gallery2012 Toyota Prius
2012 Toyota Prius2012 Toyota Prius2012 Toyota Prius2012 Toyota Prius2012 Toyota Prius2012 Toyota Prius2012 Toyota Prius2012 Toyota Prius

News Source: Bloomberg News

2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E

Posted Apr 23rd 2014 11:57AM

2015 Volvo S60

For those not paying attention, Volvo has updated its S60 sedan range for 2015 with a new range of engines under the Drive-E label. Wearing the same T5 and T6 badges to note the relative levels of power under the hood, both engines are 2.0-liter four-cylinders, with the lesser being turbocharged and the greater being both supercharged and turbocharged.

Both Drive-E variants are currently only available in front-wheel-drive flavor, though Volvo will still happily sell you an S60 T5 AWD with the older 2.5-liter turbo five-cylinder, or a top-of-the-line S60 T6 with a turbo'd 3.0-liter six-cylinder and all the wheels turning.

The car I drove for a week is perhaps the most balanced version of the S60 range, with that exotic sounding twin-charged 2.0-liter mill planted happily in the attractively sloping nose. Provided you're not hung up on front-drive dynamics, the T6 Drive-E might be a solid candidate for your next premium small sedan shopping list, as well.

Driving Notes
  • At 302 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, the output of Volvo's twin-charged 2.0-liter mill is damn close to that of the outgoing turbo-six, while weighing close to 150 pounds less. The engine feels meaty down low, as you'd expect, with audible whine from the supercharger never letting you forget about the forced induction at low rpm.
  • With the transmission slotted into normal Drive mode, throttle response is pretty great when forcefully pulling away from stoplights or entering the highway. Moved into Sport mode, the programming becomes downright aggressive, and the torque available is palpable through your toes. Speed doesn't pile on instantaneously when passing on the highway at 70 miles per hour, but simply tap the throttle from 10 mph around town, and Sport mode will launch you gleefully past your neighbors if you aren't ready for it.
  • Past experience with the S60 had me expecting that this car would be a bit less engaging than it turned out to be. The single-mode suspension is pretty well balanced between a compliant ride and tight handling, unless you really push the car. At a good pace, there's more lean in the chassis than I'd like from a sporting tool, but not so much that I think it detracts from the mission of this laid-back yet quick sedan.
  • The steering isn't particularly meaty or full of feel, but it is quick. On bendy roads, the S60 changed direction in short order, and didn't feel to be overly heavy in the nose – thanks here again to that lighter engine. Go hard and the front-drive S60 will push wide, sure, but handling feels balanced in everyday, lukewarm corners.
  • Noted supercharger whine to the side, the confines of the S60 are mostly hushed at a cruise. The fast-moving Volvo sets a nice stage for conversation, listening to your favorite tunes – I found the Volvo Premium Sound System to be clear, if not rich – or generally making light time of long commutes.
  • The increased fuel efficiency of the Drive-E engine should also be friendly to posh commuter types. Volvo and the EPA quote 24 miles per gallon in the city and 35 on the highway. Those numbers put it well ahead of the curve for most smaller engined versions of primary luxury competitors – BMW 320i, Lexus IS 250, Audi A4 2.0T, etc. – while offering a lot more power. Looked at conversely, it competes almost toe-to-toe on power with the more potent versions of all those sedans, while being priced lower (sometimes a lot lower).
  • I actually think that BMW's 328d would make a really interesting head-to-head comparison with this T6 E-Drive. Both start in the high $30k range; the Volvo has more power and (I believe) a slightly more refined driving experience; the BMW has better fuel economy, newer tech and the benefit of rear-wheel-drive dynamics.
  • You can decide for yourself about the aesthetics of the Volvo, but I still find this bodystyle to be completely lovely, a few years on from its introduction and having been grafted a slightly redesigned nose. Likewise, the cabin feels on par with the best in the segment in terms of design, materials and comfort, though the suite of technology powering its comparatively tiny-screened infotainment system lags the class. Personally I'd abide the slightly outdated tech for the tradeoff of the amazing front seats – and I work on the Internet, people.
  • Volvo has done a great service in keeping its mainstay S60 relevant with the new powertrain upgrades, overall. As ever with Volvo models, this is a car that should appeal to those drivers with a taste for luxury, indifferent attitude about at-limit handling (no rear-drive bias) and a vague notion that German cars are for "other people."

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Seyth Miersma / AOL

Yamaha PES1 and PED1 electric motorcycles headed for production

Posted Apr 23rd 2014 11:30AM

Yamaha PES1

Yamaha PED1A big player in the two-wheeled world is hopping into the electric market. Yamaha's PES1 (pictured above) and PED1 (pictured right) battery-powered concepts are going into production in the near future, the company announced. Both bikes originally debuted at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show.

According to Visor Down, the Yamaha disclosed in its annual report that both cycles would be in production by 2016. "In addition to the advantages of being electrically powered, these motorcycles will offer the operability expected by existing motorcycle fans, together with a new riding experience," said a portion of the announcement.

If their skeletal looks don't give it away, these are some very light motorcycles. In concept form, Yamaha reported that the PES1 sport bike weighed less than 221 pounds, and the PED1 dirt bike weighed less than 187 pounds. Power came from a removable lithium-ion battery pack and brushless DC motor that were housed in a monocoque frame that was shared by both cycles. The concepts were equipped with a transmission with both manual and automatic modes.

Yamaha hasn't released performance figures for either bike yet. However, an earlier video suggested that the top speed of the PES1 was limited to 62 miles per hour. Granted, that was the concept version, and the production model could be faster.

Considering that Yamaha has a long and storied history of building fantastic bikes with internal combustion engines, we have high hopes it can do the same to challenge the electric cycle world.
Related GalleryYamaha PES1
Yamaha PES1Yamaha PES1Yamaha PES1Yamaha PES1Yamaha PES1Yamaha PES1Yamaha PES1Yamaha PES1

News Source: Visor Down

Image Credit: Yamaha

BMW ups i3 production to 100 units a day to meet demand

Posted Apr 23rd 2014 9:58AM

BMW i3 plug-in vehicle

To reverse the old Field of Dreams quote, they are coming, so BMW is building them. All indications are that US demand for the BMW i3 plug-in will be larger than initially expected. As a result, the automaker is upping production at its German factor by more than 50 percent in advance of stateside sales, Automotive News says, citing BMW boardmember Harald Krueger.

BMW has started making about 100 i3s a day, up from its previous daily rate of about 70 units. So far, BMW, which is expected to begin sales of the i3 in the US later this month, has made about 5,000 i3s. BMW spokesman Dave Buchko confirmed in an e-mail to AutoblogGreen that the company was boosting production of the i3 based not only on US demand but on worldwide demand, but he declined to be specific about BMW's new production rate.

BMW started selling the i3 in Europe in November and had racked up a six-month waiting list by early February. Last month, Norbert Reithofer, chairman of the board of management for BMW, estimated that the company would be making a cool 100,000 i3s a year by the end of the decade, and that the global automotive market would support that production level. Check out our First Drive of the i3 here.

News Source: Automotive News-subs req.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Sebastian Blanco / AOL

Toyota launches updated Yaris in Europe, Vitz in Japan [w/videos]

Posted Apr 23rd 2014 7:59AM

2015 Toyota Yaris (EU)

Toyota first launched the Yaris in 1999, though that model was sold in the North America as the Echo. The second generation arrived in 2005, replaced by the third in 2011. Sometime next year, Toyota is expected to roll out a new Yaris for North America, to be built in Mexico on the same platform as the next Mazda2. But before that comes to pass, Toyota has introduced a mild facelift for the Yaris in markets other than ours.

With styling cues borrowed from the new Aygo and the Yaris Hybrid-R concept, the new Yaris (for Europe) and Vitz (for Japan) are distinguished by updated styling front and rear. Though the European model bears a more aggressive look than the JDM version, both feature the new X motif that seems to be the new look for the whole family – particularly for small hatchbacks.

The back end has also been revised to incorporate new LED taillights and a (faux) diffuser in the bumper. The cabin, meanwhile, has been redesigned to feel roomier and quieter with upgraded equipment. The suspension has also been refined, and in Europe at least, Toyota will continue to offer the Yaris with a choice of 1.0- or 1.3-liter gasoline engines, 1.4-liter diesel or hybrid powertrains.

We'd tell you more about the varied specifications, but Toyota, in all its worldwide wisdom, oddly released one photo and a press release for the EU-spec Yaris, a whole mess of photos but no press release for the JDM-spec Vitz, but videos for both. There's also a performance-oriented G's version for Japan in the gallery above. As for the North American version, we're still waiting for official word from Toyota USA, so stay tuned.
Related Gallery2015 Toyota Yaris/Vitz
2015 Toyota Yaris/Vitz2015 Toyota Yaris/Vitz2015 Toyota Yaris/Vitz2015 Toyota Yaris/Vitz2015 Toyota Yaris/Vitz2015 Toyota Yaris/Vitz2015 Toyota Yaris/Vitz2015 Toyota Yaris/Vitz

News Source: Toyota

Earth Day certainly is something to celebrate

Posted Apr 22nd 2014 9:33PM

Happy Earth Day, Big Blue Marble!

When we started AutoblogGreen on Earth Day 2006, we had no idea all of the places that covering the less-wasteful side of the auto industry would take us or how interesting the different eco-mobility strategies from the various automakers would be. Eight years later, we're still engaged with this topic. Now that we're celebrating our bronze anniversary, we're happy to once again look at the big picture and remember why every drop matters.

Not everyone is a fan of setting aside a day to celebrate the natural world, but we still agree with the idea of spending at least 24 hours in this sort of contemplation. The auto industry likes to get into the act as well. This year, the Diesel Technology Forum is promoting clean diesel, Toyota accepted the EPA WasteWise award for the fourth year in a row, General Motors talked about reducing energy intensity by 32 percent at four plants, Chrysler made some big natural gas savings and Nissan said it celebrates Earth Day every day. Let's see what tomorrow brings.

Image Credit: EraPhernalia Vintage / Fickr

Solar Roadways puts up a parking lot, launches Indiegogo campaign [w/video]

Posted Apr 22nd 2014 7:45PM

Solar Roadways demonstration parking lot

Joni Mitchell was wrong when she sang out against paving paradise and putting up a parking lot. Ok, maybe not. Still, we think the demonstration project just built by the folks over at Solar Roadways would get a pass from the Canadian singer-songwriter. That's because the real estate in question is covered with a textured glass surface that can, among many other things, generate low-carbon electricity, melt snow, and throw up safety warnings with its integrated LED lighting system.

This smart road has grown from its original conception to award-winning early prototype to actual installation in a few short years and is now ready for its next step: manufacturing. To do that, the family-based startup needs money for staff and other costs. While it has received funding from the Department of Transportation for its efforts so far, it's now turning to the world at large with an IndieGoGo campaign for help moving this ambitious vision forward.

If successful, the concept will next start appearing in parking lots, driveways and sidewalks before taking that final leap toward paving the way to a solar-powered paradise. Sound too idealistic, too utopian? Well, maybe. But, big change doesn't happen by thinking small. While we consider a lyric from another musician – "You may say I'm a dreamer, But I'm not the only one" - scroll down for a fresh video from Solar Roadways discussing the possibilities of this awesome idea, and showing off what they have achieved so far.

News Source: Solar Roadways

Epic Electric American Road Trip goes 12,000 miles on EV power

Posted Apr 22nd 2014 4:14PM

EpicEVTrip tesla model s

Twenty-seven states. 12,000 miles. Zero gasoline. Those are the headline numbers for the "Epic Electric American Road Trip" that ended in Venica, CA today, just in time for Earth Day. Norman Hajjar, the managing director of Recargo's driver research division, PlugInsights, made the journey in a stock Tesla Model S both as a way to draw attention to electric vehicles (he's trying to get Guinness World Record to verify that this was the longest vehicle journey ever taken using 100 percent electric power) and to show that long-distance road trips are possible even with today's charging infrastructure.

This was certainly a trip for an EV diehard, since it was made up of 109 hours of charging and 213 hours of driving. That leads to the second part of Hajjar's reason for driving criss-cross across the US: to "draw attention to needs for further improvement." You can relive the journey over at Plugshare or on Twitter.

News Source: PlugShare

Image Credit: Norman Hajjar / Flickr

VW ready to spend $25B on at least 6 EVs in China by 2018

Posted Apr 22nd 2014 12:41PM

VW E-Mobility Group in China

Standing next to the lovely GTE plug-in hybrid during the Beijing Motor Show, VW CEO Martin Winterkorn announced a renewed, $25-billion focus for the German automaker on electric mobility in China. EVs + China is not a new equation for VW (see here and here and here), but the time is now for the plan to come together, apparently. As Winterkorn said in a statement (available below), "We are launching the biggest initiative for e-mobility in China's automotive history."

"We are launching the biggest initiative for e-mobility in China's automotive history" – Martin Winterkorn

With the Porsche Panamera S E-hybrid already in showrooms, the next tip of the spear is made up of the all-electric e-up! and e-Golf, both of which are due later this year. In 2015, the Audi A3 e-tron and Golf GTE will arrive. In 2016, there will be two exclusive-to-China plug-in hybrid vehicles in showrooms: a A6 PHEV and a "new mid-size limousine from the Volkswagen brand." VW Group may even throw in the Bentley Hybrid Concept for good measure. The China-only models will be built in the country and VW is investing over $25 billion between now and 2018, creating an expected 20,000 jobs.

News Source: Volkswagen

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