Archive for November, 2013

Honda’s 2015 Hydrogen FCEV

Honda, as well as Toyota and GM, intend to have hydrogen fuel cell powered electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

Japanese auto buyers will be the first to receive Honda’s new hydrogen vehicles, however the FCEV’s should be available to U.S. buyers in 2016.

In what quantity? That’s yet to be discovered. Perhaps instructive, the current Honda fuel cell electric vehicle, the FCX Clarity has had a production run somewhere north of 200, but only 40 or so have been sold in the U.S.

The Clarity has a 250 mile range. Jessica Fini of Honda North America tells one of our correspondents, Michael Boehm, that the FCEV vehicle Honda will have in 2015 will exceed that range, but would not yet provide an exact estimate.

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Electric BMW i3 Test Drive at 2013 LA Auto Show

by Dean Adams Curtis

Inspired by a panel discussion about the future of sustainable mobility hosted in mid-November by UCLA’s Smart Grid Energy Research Center and the German American Business Association, which featured stimulating discussions by representatives of the BMW leadership team, as well as by Dr. Rajit Gadh of UCLA and others, Green Family Car asked the panel’s moderator Michael Boehm, founder of the Advanced Sustainability Institute, to meet the following day at the 2013 LA Auto Show for a test drive of BMW’s new i3 electric vehicle.

We’re particularly impressed by the fact that the fun-to-drive i3 EV’s are produced at German assembly plants which get all their energy from renewable sources like on-site windmills. These plants get their carbon fiber on big spools after it is cooked in an assembly line of electric ovens at a new U.S. plant in Moses Lake, Washington, which gets all its electricity from Grand Coulee Dam hydropower.

Examining the i3 story closely reveals that this new EV entry has been designed from scratch for maximum sustainability, as well as emission-free agile driving, following on the heels of BMW’s ActiveE electric sedans, many of which are rolling on the streets of San Francisco for rent and easy, fully-charged pickup, provided by BMW’s Drive Now subsidiary. The ActiveE electric sedans inherited lessons learned during a rollout of BMW-owned Mini electric vehicles, the MiniEs, which were created rapidly using off-the shelf components to thrust BMW into the center of the field of EV play.

And if you feel that you need more than the 80 to 100 mile range that BMW predicts you will get with your i3, you’re able to purchase a range extender, one of BMW’s small motorcycle engines, that uses gas from a two-gallon gas tank to create electrons to recharge your batteries.

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Honda Accord’s family of fuel-efficient models win Green Car of the Year Award

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Mike Accavitti, senior vice president of Automobile Operations at American Honda and the 2014 Honda Accord.

The Honda Accord is the 2014 Green Car of the Year.

In fact, it’s not just one model of the ever-popular Accord that wins the award — it’s the family of three, four-cylinder, fuel-efficient Accords.

LOS ANGELES — The 2014 Honda Accord, America’s top-selling car with retail car customers, has been named the “2014 Green Car of the Year” by Green Car Journal. The award recognizes the class-leading environmental performance of the Accord family of vehicles, including the fuel-efficient and low emissions Accord 4-cylinder and V-6 Coupe and Sedan, the EPA-rated 50 mpg city Accord Hybrid and the EPA-rated 115 MPGe combined Accord Plug-in Hybrid.

“Led by the 2014 Accord Hybrid, the entire Accord lineup really embodies the promise of the Honda brand to deliver both fun-to-drive enjoyment and outstanding fuel efficiency at the highest level,” said Mike Accavitti, senior vice president of Automobile Operations at American Honda. “I want to say thank you to Green Car Journal, not just for honoring Accord, but for shining a spotlight on the environment and our shared vision for an ultra-low carbon future.”

2014 Green Car of the Year jurors selected the Accord as the winning model for many reasons, not the least of which is its ability to offer an efficient choice for a wide range of buyers, from those seeking better fuel efficiency in a conventionally powered model to those desiring the milestone efficiency of a world-class hybrid or plug-in hybrid. In addition to the “Green Car of the Year” honor, the Accord was earlier honored as one of Green Car Journal’s ‘Top 5 Green Cars for 2014’ and additionally earned the magazine’s ‘Green Car Product of Excellence’ distinction.

The 2014 Accord is the second Honda brand vehicle named as “Green Car of the Year” in the past three years, joining the 2012 Civic Natural Gas, which netted the distinction in 2011.

According to Accavitti, winning the Green Car of the Year Award signals a new era at Honda that focuses on a broad range of alternative technology.

“What you’re seeing at Honda is a development and innovation of our hybrid technology.

“We are one of the only manufacturers that have . . . a natural gas car, a battery car, a plug-in car, three different types of hybrids and an internal combustion car. ”

We have the one-motor system that we offer now in our Insight and the brand new two-motor system that we offer in the Accord Hybrid, again delivering great fuel efficiency. It’s a different, new solution and I encourage you to learn more about the Accord Hybrid because it’s not what the other guys’ got. It’s a new solution that enables us to achieve best-in-class fuel economy.”

But that doesn’t mean Honda is focused on just hybrid technology, said Accavitti.

2014 Honda Accord group.

The Honda Accord family includes fuel efficient 4-cylinder and 6-clyinder models, a 4-cylinder gas/electric hybrid and a plug-in hybrid sedan.

“We showed yesterday that our vision for the future is fuel cell technology, but we are not hanging our hat on just one specific technology,” he explained. “At Honda, we have a portfolio of alternative fuel technologies that we are developing right now. We are one of the only manufacturers that have, on the road now, a natural gas car, a battery car, a plug-in car, three different types of hybrids and an internal combustion car. So we feel that wherever the market goes we will be in a real good position to take advantage of it.”

The 2014 Honda Accord lineup features Honda’s innovative Earth Dreams Technology powertrains, including Honda’s next-generation 2.4-liter, direct-injected 4-cylinder engine with continuously variable transmission or 6-speed manual transmission. The Accord Plug-In, with an 115 MPGe combined EPA fuel-economy rating, and the Accord Hybrid Sedan, with a class-leading 50 mpg EPA city fuel-economy rating, are powered an all-new highly efficient Atkinson cycle engine and two-motor hybrid system2. Fuel efficiency is the best ever for Accord in the EPA Midsize class, with 4-cylinder models earning a 36 mpg highway EPA rating and the V-6 models garnering a 34 mpg highway EPA rating.

In addition to fuel economy ratings leadership, the Accord has continually led the industry in meeting strict emissions standards. The Accord Plug-In is the first vehicle to achieve SULEV 20 emissions standards, with the lowest tailpipe emissions of any ICE vehicle currently available. Additionally the Accord was the first vehicle to meet ULEV (1998) and SULEV (2000) emissions standards.

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Scion iQ is small in stature, but brings big benefits

2012ScionIQ015.OceanA recent story in Green Car Reports provides a hint that Toyota may be considering dropping the Scion iQ mini subcompact due to lack of sales. This report came out just as we were testing the 2013 Scion iQ, and as our review shows, we were very impressed. The fact that the Scion iQ actually has a back seat that holds people and/or cargo makes us believe that it could certainly hold its ground against the Smart FourTwo — its direct competition.

Here’s our review and video.

When a couple of cousins who are six-feet-tall plus get together to review the diminutive Scion iQ, you’d expect some wisecracks about how it might be better suited for short folk and Smurfs. But the Family Car cousins came away genuinely impressed by the roominess of Toyota’s micro sub-compact sedan.

Thanks to its uniquely designed interior, the Scion iQ is able to fit an adult in the rear seat behind the passenger, while a child, pet or small package can fit in the rear seat behind the driver.

That’s right, there’s a rear seat in this spunky runabout and it folds down completely flat to provide ample cargo space. Rear leg room and space for stuff too? The iQ may look compact, but it’s big on versatility.

The four-cylinder, 1.3-liter engine is plenty powerful for this little pup, and fuel mileage is a combined 37 mpg. Not bad for a daily commuter and shopping hopper.

The 2013 Scion iQ is priced at $15,495 to start.

The iQ is also available in a battery-electric version — the Scion iQ EV — a four-seater that is designed for car-sharing programs, in urban and campus environments.

As Americans continue to search for smarter transportation choices, it would be a shame to discontinue vehicles like the Scion iQ before they even are given a chance to succeed. Even a Smurf deserves a second chance.

Here’s the video:

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