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February 24 2017

16:00
Tesla now offers insurance and maintenance for life
15:41
Lexus, Porsche, Toyota, Buick: America's most dependable brands
15:30
2017 Jeep Compass driven, Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid, Honda WR-V: What’s New @ The Car Connection
05:01
2017 Jeep Compass review
05:01
2017 Jeep Compass priced from $22,090; delivers 30 mpg plus
05:01
2017 Jeep Compass first drive: fitting in

February 23 2017

19:14
Yes, car seats expire and here's why
15:40
America's bridges are crumbling: here are the iffy ones near you
15:30
Failing infrastructure, 2018 Audi S4, Tesla Model 3: What’s New @ The Car Connection
15:04
2017 Hyundai Ioniq
13:35
Nissan's CEO steps aside, but not to retire

February 22 2017

16:01
Another Chinese electric car startup hits snags
15:41
Feds investigate auto lenders who track borrowers by GPS
15:30
Loan delinquencies, Range Rover Velar, Hyundai Ioniq review: What’s New @ The Car Connection

February 21 2017

21:28
2017 Subaru Impreza
05:00

BMW Recalls US i3 REx Plug-In Hybrids for Problems With Fuel Line

BMW AG has recalled more than 19,000 i3 range-extended (REx) vehicles sold in the U.S. due to potential fuel vapor leaks that could cause a fire.

The recall affects 2014 to 2017 model year models manufactured between March 2014 and December 2016.

BMW discovered the car’s fuel tank vent line can rub against the sleeve of a battery cable. That friction is capable of causing a tear where vapor can leak out, which would be vulnerable to fire.

The problem was originally discovered by a BMW dealer.

BMW says there have been no reported fires or crashed related to the fuel tank vent line.

A recall will begin in April, when BMW i3 REx owners will be notified about the potential hazard and that the fuel vent line will be replaced for free.

SEE ALSO:  BMW Confirms i5 Range-Extended Range EV

BMW doesn’t break out sales numbers of the i3 REx separately from the i3 all-electric standard version. Sales are thought to be strong for the plug-in hybrid i3 in U.S. and Europe.

BMW does believe enough in the REx plug-in hybrid to make it available for BMW i5 crossover SUV model that may roll out in 2021. BMW executives hope its REx option can alleviate range anxiety in highway-intensive markets like Germany and the U.S.

The Detroit News

The post BMW Recalls US i3 REx Plug-In Hybrids for Problems With Fuel Line appeared first on HybridCars.com.

05:00

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Review – First Drive

With the dawn of 2017, South Korea’s Hyundai Motors has begun rolling out an ambitious new mainstream line of Ioniq liftback sedans in the U.S. market that goes directly against Japan’s venerated Toyota Prius, king of the hybrids.

It’s a battle for efficiency and consumer value between a well-established stalwart and a hungry and ambitious upstart. Hyundai is bringing hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrain options but also one-ups Toyota with an all-electric variant of this new model.

Ioniq for the win?

In order to learn more, we attended a media first drive event last week along California’s sunny and scenic Santa Barbara coast.

2017 IONIQ HEV

The Ioniq Hybrid

The Ioniq model trio starts off with a basic hybrid using Hyundai’s new 1.6 liter Atkinson cycle “Kappa” gasoline engine that matches the 40-percent thermal efficiency of Toyota’s latest Prius engine as well as Honda’s Earth Dreams engine used in its Accord Hybrid.

The Hyundai engine alone can generate up to 104 horsepower (78 kilowatts) and 109 pounds-feet of torque. It is mated with a 6-speed automatic dual clutch transmission (DCT). Sandwiched between them is a thin 43-horsepower (32-kilowatt) electric motor that provides up to 125 pounds-feet of torque on its own. A clutch allows for the gas engine to be disengaged when it isn’t needed such as when launching from a stop or during low speed driving for short distances. Combined with the gas engine, the total peak system output is rated as 139 horsepower.

At up to 58 mpg combined city and highway for the base Blue trim, the Ioniq just beats out the Prius Eco model’s 56 mpg EPA rating. The regular Ioniq scores a combined EPA estimate of 55 mpg to the regular Prius rating of 52 mpg. These numbers are outstanding. Ford’s C-Max hybrid only manages 40 mpg.

What all this means is that the Ioniq drives like a conventional car with an automatic step transmission. The vast majority of drivers today are familiar and comfortable with Hyundai’s type of arrangement that directly matches engine rpm and vehicle speed. The DCT shifts quickly and competently. The downside is the usual hunting between gears while driving uphill or under hard acceleration. Some other hybrids like the Prius use an electric continuously variable transmission that doesn’t abruptly shift between separate fixed gears.

The engine starts instantly when needed but imperceptibly turns itself off at other times. An available computer graphic illustration shows the power flow through the vehicle’s drivetrain between engine, motor, and wheels but doesn’t show absolute power levels. It can be difficult to predict when the engine starts up or shuts down. The Prius shows more advanced gauges that allow for more confident driver control of engine use for those who care to hypermile.

Ioniqfront

A unique feature in the Ioniq hybrid is its 12-volt battery. Rather than a traditional lead acid standalone unit, Hyundai uses a lithium-ion design that is electrically separate from – but co-packaged with – a 1.56 kilowatt-hour high voltage hybrid battery under the rear seats. Both batteries are covered under a lifetime failure warranty for original owners.

If the 12-volt battery should ever be temporarily run down too low to start the car it can be revived by the large hybrid battery by pressing a button inside the car. If that fails for some reason the car can still be traditionally jump started.

Another uncommon feature is the ability of the navigation system to guide efficient driving using its knowledge of upcoming elevation changes on the road ahead.

An available sport mode optimizes for quicker reaction to accelerator changes by keeping the engine running and dipping deeper into the battery for assistance.

The Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid

The plug-in hybrid model swaps in a bigger 8.9 kilowatt-hour high voltage battery and the electric motor is boosted to 60 horsepower (44.5 kilowatts) from 43 horsepower (32 kilowatts).

ioniq

Hyundai says the plug-in model is expected to provide at least 27 miles of EV driving range although official EPA estimates are not yet available. A standard J1772 AC charging inlet takes in 3.3 kilowatts during recharging or you can use the provided 120-volt charge cord. The faster rate fully charges in just over two hours at public charging stations or at home while the regular charge cord can take as many as eight hours.

Even though its battery is slightly larger than the 8.8 kilowatt-hour pack in the Toyota Prius Prime, Toyota’s plug-in hybrid, the Ioniq is limited by its smaller motor. The Prime has two motors which it can combine together to put out the power of 91 horses, or about 50 percent more than the Ioniq. This allows the Prime to accelerate up to 84 mph without needing to start the gas engine while driving on only battery power. The Ioniq is more likely to tip the gas engine into play during normal driving but it can drive electric-only at speeds up to 75 mph.

The Toyota comes with a heat pump that efficiently heats the cabin by acting as a reverse air conditioner even in cold outdoor winter temperatures. The Ioniq, however, has no electric heating and must start the gas engine to generate waste heat that can be routed to the cabin. Someone fixated on keeping the gas engine turned off during all-electric daily commuting but with extended range via a gasoline engine on the weekend may be better suited to the Prime.

The Ford C-Max Energi and Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrids come with electric resistive heating which is less efficient than a heat pump. They can also keep the engine off while driving solely on battery power. The Volt provides by far the strongest electric-only acceleration and twice the electric range but also comes with a bit higher price tag. It’s possible to drive the Ioniq without starting the gas engine if you drive mildly and disable any heating but it requires effort.

The Ioniq Electric

Alright, enough about gasoline engines! The all-electric Ioniq charts its own course and starts off fresh with a completely different package under the hood.

IMG_2746

A 28 kilowatt-hour battery pack with cells from LG Chem extends from under the rear seats and into the lower part of the liftback storage space. A fan is used to actively cool the pack with cabin air since it likes the same temperatures that people prefer.

The pack provides enough to fully power the 88 kilowatt (118 horsepower) motor at up to 218 pounds-feet of torque. The EPA rated driving range of 124 miles at 136 MPGe gives the Ioniq top marks out of all electric cars with a range of less than 200 miles. Hyundai has disclosed plans for a future 200+ mile electric vehicle but it will be a CUV rather than an Ioniq model.

Recharging the battery using the standard J1772 inlet supports twice the charging rate as the Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid and so can take in up to 6.6 kilowatts and fully charge in 4 hours. Unlike the plug-in hybrid which locates the charge port on the left front fender, the electric model moves it to the left rear fender.

The electric Ioniq also comes with a standard DC charging inlet with faster than usual charging rates. There are two DC charging standards competing in the marketplace today. Japanese brands support CHAdeMO but as a practical matter that mostly means Nissan. Hyundai’s sister brand Kia has a compact Soul EV that comes with a CHAdeMO socket. The Ioniq Electric supports the other standard which is called CCS and Kia is adopting this also in the future. CCS is supported by all of the U.S. and European car brands.

Using today’s base of installed CCS-capable 50 kW stations the car can fill up to 80-percent full in 30 minutes. Using a new generation of stations coming out later this year it can take the same charge in as little as 23 minutes at a peak charge rate reportedly near 70 kW. That’s apparently even faster than the new Chevrolet Bolt EV can add miles of range for every minute of charge time.

Acceleration from a stoplight or when merging onto the freeway feels competent — think 0-60 mph in about 10 seconds.

Unlike the hybrid Ioniq variants, the electric Ioniq uses a heat pump to warm the cabin. While this is becoming more common, some cars including those from Tesla and the Chevrolet Bolt EV are still using less efficient resistive electric heating.

IMG_2760

Regenerative braking is an area where carmakers are innovating with new ideas. The Ioniq Electric has a small paddle switch on each side of the steering wheel. Toggle the left paddle and it increases the strength of regenerative braking. Do the same on the right side and it bumps down the strength. A small graphic indicates on the driver’s screen the regeneration strength level.

The amount of electric drag runs from a no-braking pure glide up through three levels of progressively stronger peak electrical braking drag. The actual amount of regeneration under that peak level is controlled by how the driver presses on the “go” pedal. Press down to accelerate and lift off to control the amount of regenerative braking.

The actual brake pedal works well and was free of the kind of squishiness and awkward transition when blending from regenerative to friction brakes that used to plague early hybrid cars.

The Ioniq Electric has good EV range for the price and is very competitive but it has only about half the range of the new 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV. The Bolt has much stronger acceleration. The Ioniq’s dynamically selectable regenerative braking levels are a nice touch but, again, are no match for the Bolt EV’s elegantly implemented strong regenerative braking that can often smoothly bring the car to a complete stop without any use of the traditional brake pedal. The Bolt EV also has a starting price that is $7,000 higher.

Other key competitors with 100 to 125 miles of electric range include the Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus EV, VW Golf EV, and BMW i3 BEV with MPGe ratings that mostly range from 112 to 119.

Shared Features

All three Ioniq models use modern light-weighting techniques like aluminum hoods and hatches and varying grades of high strength steel along with advanced structural adhesives to reduce unnecessary weight and increase rigidity to improve the ride.

2017 IONIQ HEV

Careful attention to aerodynamic design resulted in an excellent coefficient of drag of just 0.24, on par with some of slipperiest mainstream sedans.

The exterior and interior design is uncontroversial and mainstream. The usual physical buttons and knobs are provided along with a now-typical 7-inch LCD center infotainment display screen. Hyundai supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so smartphones are seamlessly integrated. An upgraded 8-inch display is available.

17_ioniq_hatch

The general dimensions of the Ioniq are typical of its key competitors. The EPA labels the Ioniq as a “large” car based on its interior passenger and rear storage areas. Although headroom is adequate in the rear it does quickly taper downwards right where the headrest is positioned so the fully reclined head of passengers may brush the headliner above.

Advanced safety features like front collision detection, lane departure warning, automated emergency braking, blind spot and rear cross-traffic alert, and Smart Cruise Control are available. The Ioniq has received 5 star “best in class” crash test results in European testing and Hyundai says they are expecting similar results from future US testing.

Hyundai’s Blue Link telematic system is available on the hybrid models and is standard on the electric. It provides remote information and services like door unlocking, remote climate control, and vehicle recharging control via a dedicated smartphone app.

The hybrid and plug-in hybrid models have tanks that can hold almost 12 gallons of gasoline and thus provide over 600 miles of driving range.

Conclusion

Hyundai’s new line of electrified Ioniq sedans narrowly capture the prize from
Toyota’s Prius for efficiency while providing excellent value for your money.

17_ioniq

 

Ioniq Pricing

The so-called Blue basic hybrid model starts at about $23,000 including mandatory delivery charges. A slightly fancier SEL trim starts at about $24,800. The upscale Limited edition starts at just over $28,300. Hybrid sales have already begun.

Note, that Toyota now includes their equivalent of the hybrid SEL Tech Package in the price of every Prius so someone wanting advanced camera and radar-based safety features would actually pay slightly more for the Ioniq than a Prius II.

The plug-in hybrid model’s pricing is not yet available since it does not arrive in the U.S. market until late this year.

The all-electric Ioniq arrives in April with distribution in California although it can be special ordered by any Hyundai dealer in all 50 states. It has a base model price of about $30,300. The Limited edition goes for just over $33,300 and with the Ultimate package it surpasses $36,000.

An innovative new subscription leasing program for the electric model that includes unlimited miles may also help affordability although the final details have not yet been announced.

Up to $7,500 in federal tax credits are available for the electric and about $4,500 on the plug-in hybrid. Some states may have additional incentives such as California which rebates $2,500 for the electric and $1,500 for the plug-in models.

IMG_2741 IMG_2753 IMG_2743 IMG_2766 IMG_2765 IMG_2756 IMG_2740 IMG_2744 IMG_2748

The post 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Review – First Drive appeared first on HybridCars.com.

February 20 2017

19:30

GM Readying Thousands Of Self-Driving Chevy Bolts To Roll Out in 2018

General Motors plans to be the first company to bring thousands of self-driving vehicles to roads through its partnership with ride-hailing firm Lyft.

Two sources familiar with GM’s plan told Reuters last week that thousands of self-driving all-electric Chevrolet Bolts will roll out by 2018, with most of them going to Lyft.

The automakers has no immediate plans to sell autonomous Bolts to the public, the sources said.

Lyft declined to comment, but GM hasn’t denied the report.

“We do not provide specific details on potential future products or technology rollout plans. We have said that our AV (autonomous vehicle) technology will appear in an on-demand ride sharing network application sooner than you might think,” GM said in a Friday statement.

So far, Alphabet’s Waymo self-driving car subsidiary has the most autonomous vehicles on the roads with about 60 being tested in four states. Ford has a similar plan to GM’s with self-driving ride sharing fleets scheduled to come out in 2021. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will be providing a few Chrysler Pacificas to Waymo for conversion to self-driving test minivans.

Reuters, which broke the story Friday, thinks that its November interview with GM executive Mike Abelson shed some light on the subject. Though he isn’t the first company executive to discuss GM’s AV strategy, with several of them acknowledging during interviews that self-driving cars will be mass produced and deployed in mobility fleets. Details on scale of production and timing of deployment were left out.

Ableson told Reuters that GM carsharing service Maven will likely be included in the roll out of self-driving Bolts for fleet testing. Maven and Lyft are likely to find more business opportunities with the first wave of more costly autonomous vehicles.

“If you assume the cost of these autonomous vehicles, the very early ones, will be six figures, there aren’t very many retail customers that are willing to go out and spend that kind of money,” Ableson said. “But even at that sort of cost, with a ride sharing platform, you can build a business.”

In December, the company revealed that fully automated Bolts will starting being built in early 2017 at GM’s Orion Township plant in the Detroit area. Testing of about 40 self-driving Bolts will also come to Detroit this year after the first wave was tried out in San Francisco and Scottsdale, Ariz.

SEE ALSO:  GM’s Maven Car-Sharing Service Adds Bolt EVs in LA

Abelson suggested in his November interview that GM could be uniquely positioned to engineer, manufacture, and test out AVs at a high-volume scale.

“If you take those three things, no one company has all three,” he said.

Abelson thinks that GM having a stake in Lyft, launching Maven, and last year acquiring AV technology startup Cruise Automation, could be a tipping point in GM’s favor in leading the way in the nascent technology.

“Cruise, Lyft, Maven are all bringing different parts of this singular solution around autonomous on-demand networks in urban environments,” he said.

Reuters

The post GM Readying Thousands Of Self-Driving Chevy Bolts To Roll Out in 2018 appeared first on HybridCars.com.

19:29

Tech Companies Fight State Laws Favoring Automakers Over Startups In Self-Driving Car Testing

Tech companies and advocacy groups are battling potential new state laws that would only allow automakers to test autonomous vehicles in those states.

A handful of states are considering enacting what’s usually called Safe Autonomous Vehicle acts that would bar technology companies and only allow vehicle manufacturers to test drive self-driving cars.

The legislation kicked off in Michigan, which included a bill draft with input from General Motors limiting access to state testing to automakers. The state did revise the bills wording of “motor vehicle manufacturer” based on suggestions by Uber and Waymo to include companies developing and testing self-driving systems.

Tennessee, Georgia, Maryland, and Illinois are also reviewing bills that would be close to Michigan’s automaker-only original version, Automotive News reports.

Ride-hailing firm Uber and Alphabet, Inc.’s Waymo self-driving car division says Safe Autonomous Vehicle acts are unnecessarily restrictive and give automakers an unfair advantage.

“Just as Americans should have a choice in what car they buy, they should also have a choice to ride in safer, more advanced self-driving cars,” Waymo said in a statement. “This kind of anti-competitive bill will only slow down the rollout of live-saving technology and create an unlevel playing field at the expense of consumer safety.”

A few other tech companies, self-driving vehicle advocacy groups, and other automakers, share Uber and Waymo’s concerns about making sure a competitive environment is protected.

“It’s not a good idea to close the door on innovators who might come up with a solution and be a good and valuable partner,” said Brad Stertz, director of government affairs for Audi of America. “Competition is one of great things spurring this revolution since it started.”

SEE ALSO:  Google’s ‘Waymo’ Self-Driving Cars Are Improving

In September, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy, a set of recommendations and guidelines for governments enacting self-driving car rules. The federal agency is still reviewing the proposal which may enact a nationwide legal structure governing self-driving car testing and deployment. NHTSA has the goal of rolling out an enforceable national standard that would resolve a “patchwork of incompatible laws,” according to its guidelines.

Some automakers, including Toyota, agree with taking this nationwide approach.

“We firmly believe that the establishment of vehicle performance standards for autonomous vehicle technology should take place at the national level,” said Gill Pratt, CEO of the Toyota Research Institute, last week in a statement to Congress.

It may be too early in the process for states to establish a legal structure governing self-driving cars without federal guidance, said Chan Lieu, an adviser to the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets.

“That’s the concern, is how to synchronize all of this,” Lieu said. “We need to get states to hold off and understand what their motivation is. We’re still a ways off from deployment in a number of these states. It’s premature to be acting.”

The coalition represents Ford, Volvo, Waymo, Uber, and Lyft, on autonomous vehicle policies.

Automotive News

The post Tech Companies Fight State Laws Favoring Automakers Over Startups In Self-Driving Car Testing appeared first on HybridCars.com.

05:03

Plug-in Vehicles Continuing To See Soft Used Car Prices

Used car prices for electric cars continue to show signs of a soft market and loss for plug-in vehicle owners.

InsideEVs had reported last month that off-lease and trade-in EVs were showing signs of “dirt cheap prices.” The Fiat 500e was auctioning as low as $4,000, and a few Tesla Model S vehicles are selling as low as $30,000.

U.S. News & World Report confirmed that price downturn after doing some research on used car price ranges for several plug-in electrified vehicles on the market, which InsideEVs presented in a table:

  • 2016 Fiat 500e:  $6,333-$8,022
  • 2013 Smart Fortwo ED:  $10,619-$11,355
  • 2011-2013 Chevrolet Volt: $12,398-$18,422
  • 2012-2013 Nissan LEAF:  $13,896-$16,749
  • 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf:  $15,845-$18,652
  • 2015 Kia  Soul EV:  $18,345-$21,512
  • 2013-2015 Ford Focus Electric:  $20,717-$24,475
  • 2014 BMW i3:  $27,003-$30,287
  • 2013-2014 Tesla Model S:  $42,192-$57,403

 

Car buyers are tapping in to $7,500 federal tax incentives and rebates in several states for PEV purchases; and lease rates have highly competitive and cheap during sales seasons in recent years. That hasn’t helped their used car prices.

Automotive analysts covering used vehicle valuation have been warning about this market trend in recent years. Low gasoline prices have been behind it, with hybrid vehicles seeing an even bigger impact in used vehicle values and new vehicle sales than plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles. The generous government incentives and lease deals, along with PEVs being a relatively new vehicle technology, have hurt their used prices, according to market reports.

SEE ALSO:  NADA Used Car Guide Sees Electrics Gaining Ground Over Hybrids in Sales

Used vehicle prices do vary by several market forces in all areas of the country, and some vehicles have been doing much better than others. Fiat has been offering ultra-cheap used car deals. Tesla has been known to see strong results for the Model S on the pre-owned market. Offering lifetime free supercharging on the older models is attractive, as is over-the-air software updates, according to InsideEVs.

Inside EVs

The post Plug-in Vehicles Continuing To See Soft Used Car Prices appeared first on HybridCars.com.

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