Monday, September 15, 2008

Plug-in Manufacturers Grow

It wasn't that long ago that I remember a Chrysler ad that bragged about how its new Charger, with the big V 8, was a hybrid... it burned gas and rubber. Now, the very ungreen Chrysler is changing its tune. Might was well, especially when your competition is well into the second verse of a very different song.

In the last few weeks, not only has Chrysler made announcements, so has Mazda, Hyundai, and Nissan.

Here's the Mazda story thanks to Autocar:

August 28, 2008

Autocar has learned that Mazda engineers are hard at work trying to develop a rival to the Chevrolet Volt – a car which uses a petrol engine to charge a battery pack which powers the wheels via an electric motor.

Senior sources say that trials are currently underway in Japan, with a prototype that uses a rotary engine to charge the battery pack. The tests are sufficiently advanced that Mazda has a working prototype in a Mazda 5 MPV bodyshell. Company bosses are said to be keen to put this system into production but no firm decisions will be made until the cost of batteries is reduced." more

And here is the announcement from Hyundai as reported in Wired:

Hyundai Going Electric With Hybrids and Plug-Ins
By Keith Barry
September 01, 2008

Hyundai's been making so many announcements about electric vehicles and hybrids lately you'd think it was ZAP. The Korean automaker's promised to put a hybrid subcompact, a hybrid mid-size and a plug-in competitor to the Chevrolet Volt on the road within five years. There's even some speculation at least one of them could be stamped "Made in the USA." clip

The Japanese dominate battery tech these days, but Hyundai says the Koreans could catch up by 2013 -- at which point the company hopes to put a plug-in hybrid on the road. Korean automakers are spending nearly $1 billion on battery tech, and the government has kicked in $40 million.

We'll see the first of the Hyundais to use that technology in November. more

And here is the Nissan story:

Nissan mulls plug-in hybrids: official
Sep 3, 2008

TOKYO (AFP) — Nissan is considering developing plug-in hybrid vehicles that can be charged at home, as it seeks to catch up with its rivals in fuel-sipping cars, an official said Wednesday. Japan's third-largest automaker is considering the move as consumers are increasingly switching to fuel-efficient cars due to high gasoline prices, spokesman Mitsuru Yonekawa said, declining to give further details.

Nissan has already conducted tests with an experimental model and is deciding whether to bring the car to market, according to local media.

Nissan has been slower than Toyota and Honda to embrace petrol-electric hybrids, seeing a brighter future for vehicles running entirely on electricity. more

And here is the Chrsyler story from Hybrid Cars:

Chrysler's Electric Cars Get Closer to Production
Hybrid Cars
September 4, 2008

Chrysler’s new line of electric cars is “closer to production than you think,” said Chrysler president Jim Press earlier today. He explained that Chrysler is currently demonstrating electric cars and plug-in hybrids to dealers to get their feedback. clip

Chrysler's hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric vehicles are coming out of the year-old ENVI program, which was organized to jump-start Chrysler’s move to develop its own ground-up hybrids. The company’s first hybrid products, the Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen two-mode hybrids, use technology developed jointly by their former parent company Daimler, along with General Motors and BMW.

Chrysler is the last of the six largest car companies to put a hybrid on the market." more

You can review a summary of the plug in hybrid plans of most major automakers at this Cal Cars site. One things is clear, except for Honda, most manufacturers are either getting on board now or headed in the Plug-In direction.

October 17-18

editors note: Check out the links, they include a wide variety of PHEV stories since our last post.



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