Toyota implements interior and tech upgrades for 2013 Camry Hybrid


2013-toyota-camryJapanese car manufacturer Toyota introduced a host of improvements for the interior and technology features of the Camry and the Camry Hybrid for the 2013 model year.

The front door panels of the Camry LE get rid of the hard plastic and now use a soft-touch material.

The arm rests are now matched to the color scheme of the car’s interior while the models with leather seats make use of accent stitches. The hybrid version of the Camry LE now features a 6.1-inch screen for the entertainment system. The screen also doubles as a feedback display for the fuel consumption and energy usage of the car.

The new Toyota Camrys now feature a Blind Spot Monitor technology that alerts the driver when another vehicle crosses the blind spot of the car’s mirrors to avoid merging accidents. Designers also made Bluetooth connectivity as a standard feature. The multimedia system of the car also comes with HD and satellite radio.

The 2013 modely year of the Camry Hybrid still continues with the same mechanicals as the previous model. It depends on a 2.5L 4-cylinder gas engine that is tuned for low emission and maximum efficiency. The petrol powerplant is paired with an electric motor. The output of the whole system is 200 horses.

The Camry Hybrid can go from 0 to 60 miles an hour in just 7.6 seconds from a complete stop. This puts it just between the regular 4-cylinder Camrys and the more potent six-cylinder models.

Like other hybrid vehicles, the Camry can tap either power by using an electronic CVT gearset. Using pure electric power, the Camy Hybrid can just go for 1.6 miles at 25 mph.

EPA rating of the Camry Hybrid is 43/39 mpg city/highway. The combined rating is pegged at 41 mpg.

The 2013 Hybrid version of the Camry has a tag price of $26,140 exclusive of delivery charges.

VW unveils the Eco UP!, can run on biomethane or natural gas


volkswagen-eco-upVolkswagen recently rolled out what they claim to be the most fuel-efficient passenger car using natural gas, the VW Eco Up!. This four-seater only makes use of 2.9 kilos of natural gas for every 100 kilometers. Doing the math, the cost of running it in Germany for the said distance is around 3 euros and even cheaper in Italy, considered as biggest market for cars running on natural gas.

One of the biggest advantages of vehicles like the VW Eco Up!, it can run on natural gas but can also depend on other alternative fuels like the biomethane. The latter comes from plant by-products and does not conflict with food crops. So what the car will spew out will only depend on how much carbon dioxide has absorbed thru its life time. Experts are also looking into hyrdrogen as a dependable source of energy but at the moment, it is very expensive and not viable for consumption.

Since the 1990s, Volkswagen has been equipping their vehicles with systems that can run using natural gas. One major problem encountered by the car manufacturer through the years is how the tanks that store the natural gas take up a lot of space.

Today, VW has six vehicles powered by natural gas. The EcoFuel line includes the Caddy 2.0, Caddy Maxi 2.0, Touran, Passat and its Estate sibling, and the Eco Up!. By 2013, the brand will also be releasing an EcoFuel version of the VW Golf.

The Eco Up! is a city car that can go for 100 kilometers with only 2.9 kilos of compressed natural gas and gives out only 79 grams of carbon dioxide. Looking at its competitor in the U.S. market, the Natural Gas version of the 2012 Honda Civic is only able to achieve 31 miles a gallon.

If you are in the United States, unfortunately, the VW Eco Up will not go on sale in your market. It will be sold in the European market where there are discussions of using biomass sources to create natural gas that will run your vehicle.

2013 C-Max Energi by Ford registers 100 MPGe, beats Plug-in Prius, Volt


2013-Ford-C-MAX-EnergiThe 2013 C-Max Energi by Ford is the most fuel efficient plug-in hybrid today. It is able to to go as far as 100 miles for every gallon of fuel equivalent combined according to tests by the EPA. This was recently announced by Ford as the 2013 C-Max Energy beats the plug-in hybrid version of the Prius and the Chevrolet Volt.

The Ford green vehicle priced at $33,745 edged the 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid that has a rating of 95 MPGe and the 2013 Volt by Chevrolet that has a rating ofr 98 MPGe.

The Ford C-Max Energy makes history as the first plug-in hybrid to achieve 100 MPGe combined. It is the first vehicle to be listed by the EPA on their special list of vehicles that can go beyond 100 MPGe. This list only included pure electric vehicles like the 2013 Fit EV from Honda, the Mitsubishi I, and the 2013 Focus Electric by Ford.

The Ford C-Max Energi is scheduled to go on sale by next year. The vehicle also got a 108 MPGe rating from the EPA for city driving. These numbers are just 2 MPGe lower than the city rating for the Focus Electric.

The non-plug-in cousin of the C-Max Energi, the C-Max Hybrid was rated by the EPA at 47 mpg for both city and highway. The C-Max Hybrid has a tag price of $25,995.

2013 RX 450h by Lexus goes thru 750-mile fuel mileage test


The luxury crossover Lexus RX is the mainstay of the brand in the U.S. market and represented about 42% of its sales last year. The RX 450h is a hybrid model that is making its way to garage of affluent families in the suburbs. There is just one problem with the hybrid since the EPA ratings do not match its fuel mileage in real-world setting.

A recent road test of the Lexus RX450h subjected the vehicle to a 750-mile road test that covered rural roads and highways. During the five-day journey, the vehicle returned 26.8 miles for every gallon. This number is about 10% lower than the combined rating of the all-wheel drive version of the RX 450h with an EPA of 29 miles per gallon or 30/28 mpg city/highway. The front-wheel drive version has 30 mpg for its combined rating or 32/28 mpg city/highway.

The test run that went 1,600 miles from the United Kingdom to Switzerland returned 31 mpg while on the city streets and 25 mpg on the highway. This was on an all-wheel drive version.

MPGs now though can be crowd-sourced nowadays. The site FuelEconomy.gov allows vehicle owners to upload the mileage of their vehicles. So far there is no enough data for the 2013 Lexus RX 450h but the 2012 all-wheel drive version is consistently reported to have an average of 29.3 mpg.

The figures on the site though are not validated and only a few owners report their fuel consumption. The RX 450h is somehow close to the EPA ratings but there are cases where it is worse.

The 2013 Lexus RX 450h has a tag price starting at $47,310. This is roughly $8,000 more than the gas version.

Infiniti shows off LE Concept; to roll out in two years as a production electric sedan


Infiniti has been teasing car lovers with concept cars like the Essence and Emerg-E which are exotic and are eco-friendly at some of the biggest motor shows of recent. The carmaker though claims that the latest vehicle they unwrapped, the LE Concept, is set to hit dealerships by 2014 with the production version very similar to the concept vehicle.

The Infiniti LE Concept has a 24kWh battery pack of lithium ion which consists of 192 cells located underneath the compartment floor on the passenger side. The setup might be familiar as this is also the configuration for the Nissan Leaf. The electric motor is upsized to 100kW for this vehicle though. The LE Concept has an output of 134 horsepower and a torque of 240 pound feet or a good improvement of 24HP and 30 lb-ft compared to the Leaf.

Infiniti clarifies that the LE Concept is not a compact and at 186.4 inches in length, it is almost the same size as the G Sedan. On top of the electric vehicle platform, the body of the LE has been streamlined to have a drag coefficient of 25 which will help the car achieve its full range of 100 miles.

The interior of the vehicle makes use of design lines to make the cabin purposeful with phrases like ripple and double wave used to describe the overall appearance. In front of the driver will be the digital and analog feedback on the speed of the vehicle, distance remaining, and location of nearby EV chargers. The instrumentation is run by an Atom processor.

In terms of technologies used, the LE Concept comes packed with the Infiniti Connection. This includes the 24×7 concierge servicce of Infiniti, POI searc, and navigation. The menu also includes the standard quick charging system and an option for wireless charging.

According to Infiniti, the LE will be the first vehicle to have a wireless charging system in case the technology will make it to the production version. Take note of the “if” which screams that we have to wait and see.

Ever wondered about how R&D works in the tech business? Well, I did too - so I researched and wrote this article about it. Enjoy!

Green car power: 875 bhp Ferrari FF with bio-ethanol converted engine


ferrari-ff-with-bio-ethanolYou might have dreamed of cruising on the asphalt while stepping on the gas pedal of a speed monster like a Ferrari but you might be consciences struck with all the fuel it will burn and all the carbon dioxide it will spew out. So think of electric cars or maybe a hybrid to satisfy you. What if we tell you there is a green Ferrari that you can get your hands on?

Here’s how the Ferrari FF becomes a green car. A Norwegian firm called Customized.no offers a conversion kit that will make your stallion run on bio-ethanol E85 for less than 1,500 euros. The tweak can make your stock 651 horsepower V12 into a more poweful 875 bhp supercar that has a lower carbon dioxide emission comparable to a bluemotion VW Polo.

This is not really a first time that we hear of a car running on E85 that becomes very powerful in terms of its output.LIke the Agera R from Swedish hypercar manufacturer Koenigsegg which gives out 1099 bhp. Fill its tank up with a 95 octane gasoline and you limit its power to 927 bhp. E85 is also the blend of fuel used by IndyCars but they mixed it with 15% pump gasoline.

Looking at the carbon dioxide it coughs out of the air, the Ferrari FF is not doing so good at 360 grams per kilometer but the conversion to E85 puts it below the the 100 gram mark according to initial reports. Looks like the setup improves everything and steps up its 0 to 100 kph from 3.7 seconds down to less than 3 seconds or about 20% better.

The conversion kit was installed by a Ferrari dealer for the ride on picture on here. We do not have word if putting the conversion on the $300,000 car invalidates the warranty with the Italian carmaker.

Ford 2012: Expect more efficient EV’s and C-Max Hybrids


The new year brings a lot of new ideas and products even in the autoworld. For American car manufacturer Ford, it means a new model for its Focus Electric and a host of green cars to meet the needs of consumers who want to lessen their carbon footprints.

The 2012 Focus electric will be the first EV that can carry five passengers and yet give an amazing efficiency of 100 miles per gallon. If that fact does not impress you, how about a charging time half the time it takes to charge up the Nissan Leaf?

Ford is determined to give consumers the vehicles that will fit their needs be it plug-in hybrids, EVs, or hybrids. The carmaker wants to give consumers the best fuel efficiency possible with their rides and this is very evident in their upgraded editions of the C-Max Energi and the C-Max Hybrid. These rides clearly outmatch the Prius V of Toyota in several categories. The C-Max vehicles boast of excellent performance in combo with great mileage. The efficiency is possible because of an effective pairing for the gasoline engine and the setup.

The C-MAX makes use of a Lithium battery system which is utilized for the Hybrid. The charged battery partnered with the engine can bring you 500 miles far from your point of origin. Ford will soon roll out their C-Max Energi and C-Max Hybrid and when that happens, they will be the biggest hybrid transmission maker in North America.

The engineers at Ford have also been working on minor aspects of their green cars like the cooling of heated parts to complete their green, and very efficient vehicles. They will also be giving consumers a new technology which will be cutting short the charging time of the battery. You will be looking at 15 minutes of charging time which is not yet achieved by any commercially available green cars. Owners can charge their vehicles using the usual 240 volt outlets and juiced up the battery fully in less than 3 hours.

Ford understands that electric vehicles is the way to go to address the worsening condition of the environment and the busier lifestyle of consumers and so their team is working hard to cut charging times and even give us more efficient vehicles.

DeLorean DMC-12 to have electric version by 2013


EV DeLoreanDMC or DeLorean Motor Company based in Texas recently confirmed that they are working on the stainless steel sports car DMC-12 all electric version. The company is collaborating with Epic EV for the production of the DMC-12 electric vehicle by 2013.

The DMC-12 electric variant prototypes are claimed to go as fast 125 miles an hour. The electric DMC-12 will have a tag price of $90,000 thru $100,000 when it is launched in 2013. This information was shared during the unwrapping of the gull-winged vehicle at the owners event recently. If you are starting at the car’s picture and it looks familiar, its because the car was the star of the 1980s film trilogy Back to the Future.

Stephen Wynne, owner of DMC also revealed that the DMC has been trying to develop in the last four years an electric vehicle that has an output of 260 horsepower.

The first carrier of the DeLorean Motor name was a company founded by John DeLorean who used to be an executive of General Motors in 1975. This company though only produced the DMC-12 and has been through rough times until it went thru receivership and then bankruptcy by 1982. DeLorean in a desperate attempt to keep the car company afloat, he was videotaped to be accepting money for drug trafficking. Later he was acquitted of these charges since this was brought against him thru entrapment. DeLorean passed away in 2005.

The DMC of today is a separate firm started by Wynne back in 1995. DMC also bought the remaining inventory and DMC’s trademark. It has nothing to do with the old DMC but is in support of the old DeLorean car company.

Epic EV on the other hand is owned by Chris Anthony, co-founder of Aptera, who spearheads the development of Amp and Torq vehicles.

Federal Mogul introduces innovative pistons with coating to help reduce emissions and fuel consumption


 EcoTough PistonWhen car enthusiasts talk about engine technologies, most of the time the piston is overlooked. It’s an undeniable fact though that a piston is a vital component of gasoline powerplants. Federal Mogul, a known supplier of technologies to improve the efficiency of powertrains, developed a piston called EcoTough.

EcoTough is a coated piston designed to have low friction and low wear properties. It also helps in reducing carbon dioxide emission and increase fuel efficiency by 0.8%. The newly developed piston is compatible with existing designs of engines in volume production today.

Federal Mogul has not revealed the specific components of the coat that they use for the piston but insiders hint that it contains carbon fiber, molybdenum disulfide, and graphite.

During test runs in laboratories, the EcoTough piston resulted to an 18% decrease in friction loss and about 3% increase in parasitic loss of the engine.

Other benchmark tests revealed a fuel efficiency increase between 0.4 and 0.8%. The coated pistons also demonstrated decreased signs of wear after being subjected to 50 cycles of cold starts and after resistance testing with full load.

The EcoTough pistons are on production and will be introduced to complete the volume production vehicle of a major European car brand

Federal Mogul is headquartered in Michigan and currently has a workforce of 43,000 to meet the demand for safety and powertrain technologies.

Karma Plug-in nears launch, Fisker hires Ad Agency


Startup car manufacturer Fisker Automotive is closing in on the launch of the 2011 plug-in hybrid Fisker Karma sports sedan. The lead guy for marketing, Marti Eulberg, hired an ad agency based in California, Lambesis to handle the launch.

The carmaker was asked several times why they were hiding the car from the public with only Prince Frederik of Norway, the only outsider that has driven it on the roads. Some may argue that Fisker had to do more testing because of the switch to lithium ion batteries late in the ball game. However executives of Fisker discounts that saying that they just have to make sure that everything is fully ready and running well.

Fisker had to do an extensive review of nine advertising agencies before giving the green light to Lambesis.

Fisker Karma Super Saloon Hybrid

The car manufacturer plans to roll out its first model this year, a 403 horsepower Karma that has a starting tag price of $90,000. They are looking into possible sales of around 15,000 units.

A launch for a new car may hit a high cost of around $50 million but Fisker has been doing rounds of the different auto shows and have been pushing for their products over the internet. The official website of Fisker has registered for it the most orders compared to the other possible channels.

Fisker entrusts the car to be globally promoted by Lambesis. Their first project will be to revamp Fisker’s website this fall.