Archive for August, 2009

Honda Insight: Color-coded speedometer and video games

2010HondaInsight270Do you like playing video games? How about a variety of colors to keep you entertained during your drive?

And let’s not forget good gas mileage. How does 40-plus mpg work for you?

If all of the above appeal to you (or just the mpg part), then the new, 2009 Honda Insight is the perfect car for you.

I’ve been driving one for nearly a week now and I continue to be educated and entertained by the host of amazing amenities the little car has to offer. Since it’s a hybrid, most of the gadgets are related to helping you — the lead-footed driver — get the best gas mileage that you’ve probably ever experienced (unless you already own a hybrid, that is).

2010HondaInsightDash150The first thing you notice is that the digital speedometer, which is placed high above the rest of the dash in a holographic type of screen, has a background that turns from green to light blue to dark blue as you accelerate. It’s easy to deduce that green is for good economic driving and blue is for bad. They could have used red, I suppose, but the sight of a bright red glow across your dashboard could very well scare some folks out of their seatbelts.

Anyway, by laying off the gas pedal and nursing it on the hills, you’ll find that it’s not too difficult to stay in the green much of the time. There’s also an indicator along the left side of the dash that tells you the same thing.

Then there’s the ECON button. If  43 mpg isn’t enough for you, just push that green ECON button and the engine will work for you to get the best gas mileage you can possibly get. And here’s the cool part, as you are driving in ECON mode, an indicator on the dash shows a bar that tells you the proper range you should be in while accelerating or braking. Stay within that range long enough and you’ll earn a leaf on a tree (or perhaps it’s a flower). You try to get as many leafs as you can so that when you finally turn the car off, the Insight’s computer will give you a score.  It keeps track of how you perform and if you do well enough saving gas, you will move up to another level in the game.

Great gas mileage and a reward to boot — what’s not to like about that!

The Insight is a joy to drive as well and there doesn’t seem to be any sacrifice in power just because it’s a hybrid.

But who cares about power anyway when you can earn a few leaves for green driving?

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Still a year away from the road, Volt is grabbing headlines with shocking 230 mpg claim

ChevroletVOLTNot to be outdone by the recent news about the fully electric Nissan Leaf, General Motors announced today that its electric and gas powered Chevrolet Volt will get upwards of 230 miles per gallon in city driving.

Why just city driving? Because after running 40 miles on a charge, the Volt will dip into its small gasoline engine for some extra fuel. This will bring the gas mileage down to approximately 100 mpg on long trips. Still impressive, but not as flashy in the headlines as 230 mpg.

We’ve been waiting for the Volt to emerge from the GM plant for several years. With its sleek and futuristic styling and promise of zero reliance on gas, the Volt has been couched as somewhat of a savior for the financially troubled General Motors.

So today’s announcement is simply another in a long string of pre-production hype that GM is trumpeting in an attempt to grab the headlines back from the “Leaf” and to pump out some positive GM news for a change.

We will reserve judgment until there is an actual Volt — or Leaf — on the road and we get to test it ourselves.

Only then will we see if we get much of a charge out of the Volt.

See what our friends at Hybridcars.com have to say.

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Nissan’s electrifying news: The ‘Leaf’ lives!

Nissan announced today in Japan the launch of the first all-electric production model vehicle to be produced and distributed in the U.S.

The Nissan “Leaf” will begin sales in the U.S., Japan and Europe by the end of 2010, followed closely by two more zero-emission models.

Here’s the report from Reuters:

YOKOHAMA, Japan – Nissan Motor Co took the wraps off its much-awaited electric car on Sunday, naming the hatchback “Leaf” and taking a step toward its goal of leading the industry in the zero-emissions field.

Japan’s No.3 automaker and its French partner, Renault SA, have been the most aggressive proponents of pure electric vehicles in the auto industry, announcing plans to mass-market the clean but expensive cars globally in 2012.

Nissan will begin selling the first Leaf cars in the United States, Japan and Europe toward the end of 2010, adding two more models soon after. It expects production to start with around 200,000 units a year at the global roll-out in 2012.

Read the rest here.

The hatchback will have a cruising range of just 100 miles and a top speed of just under 80 mph. But because there are no gears to engage, Nissan says the Leaf will be quick off the block. If it’s anything like GM’s all-electric vehicle the EV1 (that was scrapped for political purposes in the late ’90s) we can assure you that it will be fast.

Nissan hasn’t released pricing on the Leaf, but promises that it will be comparable to the price of a similar gasoline-engine car.

The autumn launch of the Leaf  is significant  because that’s also the target date for the Chevrolet Volt, another all-electric vehicle that is getting positive reviews from those lucky enough to drive a test version.

Let’s hear it for this electrifying news!

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