The latest technology might be baffling to some, because, for the most part, we lack the time and energy to fully understand the many concepts that have gone into it. For example, pretty much everyone can figure out how a bicycle works, and with specific training you could figure out how a gasoline-powered passenger car operates, but how much time would you need to figure out how the new Electric Vehicles [EVs] work?
Every wheeled vehicle has a few things in common, be it a bicycle, passenger car, or freight truck. All these things have an power supply, something converts that power supply into kinetic energy, and a drive-train to transfer that energy to the wheels. In the case of a bicycle, you are the power supply. The force you put into the pedals is converted into rotary motion, and using chains and various gears, the drive-train, that rotary motion is transferred to the wheels, propelling you forward.
A passenger car or freight truck are basically the same, but on different scales. They have a power supply, the fuel tank, which supplies fuel to the engine, which converts it’s explosive energy into rotary motion, which is finally transferred via the drive-train to the wheels, propelling you or your cargo forward.
An electric vehicle is also very similar in theory. The power supply is a chemical battery pack, which supplies electrical energy to the motor. The motor converts that electrical energy into rotary motion, which is transferred through a constant variable or one-speed planetary transmission, the drive-train, to the wheels, propelling you forward.
Driving an Electric Vehicle
When you look at an EV, you might notice some differences. Typically, EVs are smaller, and more aerodynamic, but you can find models that will carry four people and baggage. Sit in the car and press the start button and hear, well, nothing. A tone may sound and maybe an indicator on the dash will let you know that the vehicle is ready to operate, but the only sounds you will hear are the radio and the air-conditioning, because there is no engine in an EV.
Step on the brake to release the shift lock, then step on the accelerator, we can’t call it a ‘gas’ pedal because there is no gas. Forward or backward motion is quick and powerful, due to the electric motor’s excellent torque rating from a stop. As you accelerate down the street, you’ll also notice there is no shift feel of any kind, just smooth acceleration from a stop to your desired speed.
As you’re cruising down the road, you might take notice of the instrument cluster, which features a speedometer, often a combination of digital and analog readouts, and a state-of-charge meter instead of a fuel gauge. Some models include a power output meter and tools to help you drive more responsibly, helping you to avoid hard acceleration or excessive speed, as these waste energy.
Stopping for a Break
We’ve nearly arrived at the park, and so we need to slow down. Release the accelerator and step on the brake pedal, and something interesting happens, the brakes don’t engage. Not to worry, though, everything is under control, thanks to the hybrid braking system installed on the EV. When you step on the brake pedal, a computer determines your intention based on vehicle speed and how hard and fast you depress the pedal, and the electric motor becomes a generator. Your forward motion is converted back into electrical energy, recharging the battery pack. The hydraulic or electric brakes don’t engage until the last couple seconds, bringing you to a safe and complete stop.
We’ve arrived at the park, and this park has a charging station. This is not the norm, but we’ll take advantage of it, seeing as we’ll be here for a few hours. An EV usually has it’s charging port somewhere close to the front of the vehicle, so that it’s easy to access after parking your car. Typically you would charge your EV overnight with a charger mounted in your garage or near your driveway. Some EVs come with a charger in the car as well. Typical charge times are up to 10 hours on a 120 volt typical household socket, or up to 5 hours on a 240 volt line, typical for a dryer or electric range. The charger here in the park is a quick-charger, which can restore our EV battery pack to 80% capacity in about 30 minutes.
If you decide to buy an electric vehicle, you’ll have to make a couple changes. Filling up with gas every week has become old habit. Charging your EV at night will become your new habit. Saving money on gas is a habit you’re going to love. As an owner of an electric vehicle, you can enjoy a quiet vehicle, commuting to work or running errands, every day knowing you are less dependent on fossil fuels, and reducing your greenhouse gas emissions.
The seventh-generation Chevy Corvette’s due to appear late 2014. The prototype actually appeared much earlier, though, in the movie Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. giving us a look at it’s striking new appearance in comparison to earlier generations. General Motors president Mark Reuss said the new Corvette would be “completely different,” but only time will tell.
There were speculations that the new Corvette might make the switch to a mid-engine layout, but engineers have defended the sixth generation’s front mounted engine and it seems that the rumors have no merit. The seventh generation, 2015, Corvette will have the standard front engine, rear-wheel-drive setup, just as it always has, but with a couple possible changes.
The 6.2 liter V8 engine producing 498 horse-power is most likely to stay right where it is under the front hood, but there is the possibility that it’ll be downsized, somewhere in the 5.5-liter range engines similar to the fifth generation small-blocks. The newer engines, while smaller, produce more power and torque while achieving better fuel economy, something that even the sports car drivers are looking for.
Another engine possibility is the 3.6 liter V6 engine, in a single- or twin-turbocharged design, something that might appeal to world markets a little more than the big V8s. This might seem strange to Corvette fans, but it’s a move General Motors is going to have to take in order to meet the stricter emissions regulations both here in the United States and in Europe.
There is in the works a new seven speed manual transmission, trying to keep up with one of its main competitors, the Porsche 911, which is offering a seven speed transmission in 2012. There were rumors of an optional dual-clutch automated transmission, but it seems likely General Motors will stick with a standard automatic system.
General Motors design chief, Ed Welburn, admits that the sixth generation interior is a disappointment but is promising that the seventh generation is going to be absolutely world class. The new Corvette has a slightly longer wheelbase, something that will help improve the car’s handling and ride comfort.
The body won’t be radically different than the sixth generation, with a long and low hood, fighter-cockpit cabin styling, and high and wide rear end to accommodate the wide axle and big tires. Tail lights are inspired by the Camaro’s rear end, and four center-mounted exhaust tips similar to the concept car seen in 2009.
The car will be available in both hard-top and soft-top versions. Using new materials, an aluminum space frame, and carbon-fiber and fiber-glass body, might be expensive, but it will cut the overall weight of the vehicle. Less than 3,000 pounds, this is a move that will trim some more off fuel consumption and make for a more sporty driving experience.
The Final Word
For a while, there were rumors and speculations going about the actually appearance of the new 2015 Chevy Corvette, but nothing concrete. In a facebook post, after someone posted some renderings of the as-yet-unreleased car and it’s final design, General Motors responded, “We appreciate their enthusiasm but you’ll have to wait a little longer to see what the next Corvette will actually look like.” So it seems we’ll have to wait for the 2013 or 2014 International Auto Show circuit to see Corvette’s true form.
Why save gas? One reason for doing so might be to save money on fuel, because fuel prices keep going up. Another reason might be along the lines of lessening or eliminating the dependance on foreign oil imports. And don’t forget the environment, as scientists agree that burning fossil fuels, such as gasoline or diesel fuel, puts excessive amounts of carbon-dioxide into the air, which some say is linked directly to global warming. Two choices could be a super efficient compact car or a hybrid electric vehicle. What’s the difference? Will you have to give up anything to enjoy the promises of a hybrid, or should you just stick to gasoline?
Cost of Ownership
Hybrid electric vehicles, for the most part, are more expensive than their gasoline-powered counterparts. Federal tax credits up to $7,500 for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles help defray the initial investment cost. Based on the what happened with the original $3,400 tax credit for hybrid electric vehicles, phased out in 2010, the current credits will most likely be phased out over the next few years. The US Department of Energy lists the most current tax credits that may be applicable on both federal and state levels.
You can get a good idea of a hybrid electric vehicle’s initial investment cost by comparing it to a similarly classed gasoline powered model, a sister version if possible. For example, the Ford Fusion Energi, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle to be released in 2013, has a base price of $27,995, while the gasoline-powered Ford Fusion I4 S has a base price of $20,705, a $7,290 difference. Not all hybrids and their sisters price so close together, though. For example, the Lexus LS 460 L starts at $75,480, while its hybrid counterpart, the LS 600h L starts at $112,750, $37,270 more expensive.
If you choose a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, then there’s also the added cost of the Level II charger which could require professional installation, costing as much as $3,000.
When comparing stickers on hybrid electric vehicles and gasoline-powered vehicles, you might notice one odd thing about the EPA estimated miles-per-gallon ratings. Typically, gasoline-powered get better fuel mileage on the highway, while their hybrid electric counterparts get better fuel mileage in the city. The Ford Fusion Energi is rated 41 MPG City and 36 MPG Highway. The Ford Fusion I4 S is rated at 23 MPG City, 34 MPG Highway. The reason for this is simple, zero speed with the engine idling means zero miles-per-gallon. No matter whether you are on the highway or stuck at a red-light, the engine in a gasoline-powered vehicle is always running. In a hybrid electric vehicle, unless the battery needs charging, the engine will shut down at a red light. In reverse or light acceleration forward, the gasoline engine probably won’t even run.
Hybrid vehicle fuel efficiency really shines in stop-and-go city traffic. They have their best torque from the electric motor at zero miles-per-hour, so short accelerations forward are quick and easy, and don’t require the engine to run at all. One misconception about hybrid electric vehicles is that their fuel economy is better in all conditions. Once you get out of the city, though, on the open road, the benefits of the hybrid system are effectively eliminated. At highway speeds, the gasoline engine will have to run the whole time, for both battery charging and forward motion.
How to decide depends on what you are looking for in a vehicle. Hybrid electric vehicles tend to be more expensive, and it could take years to recoup the cost difference in fuel savings. However, if you drive on the highway frequently, then those fuel savings just won’t be there. If you have a short commute, then a hybrid vehicle might be a good choice. If your commute is longer, or you take long trips every weekend, the benefit of a hybrid vehicle might cancel itself out, and you’d be better off considering a fuel efficient compact or sedan.
When it comes to SUV, there are many choices available. Limiting yourself to just hybrid drive-trains, however, doesn’t mean limiting your options. Whether taking the kids camping in the woods or towing the boat to the launch, you can be assured there is a hybrid SUV model that will meet your needs.
Capacity of Hybrid SUV
When it comes to capacity, whether people or baggage, nothing tops the GMC Yukon Hybrid. Carrying up to 9 passengers or up to 109 cubic feet of cargo, no matter where you go, your bags won’t have to ride on the roof. The Yukon starts at $52,470 and features a hybrid all-wheel-drive drive-train that yields 23 highway MPG. Following close behind are two other General Motors offerings, the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid, and the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid.
Economy of Hybrid Sport Utility Vehicles
Both running the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid and the Lexus RX 450h promise up to 28 highway MPG. The Highlander starts at $38,715, but after options you might as well go for the RX starting at $45,235. Following close behind the Toyota lineup is the Ford Escape Hybrid, promising 27 highway MPG.
Pricing of Hybrid SUV
The Ford Escape Hybrid is the least expensive in the hybrid SUV family, starting at $30,570. Even at this price, it still promises top-of-class 27 highway MPG and carries up to 5 passengers. Following close behind, and starting at $38,715, is the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, which gives you an additional MPG and 2 extra passenger seats.
Performance of Hybrid Sport Utility Vehicles
If you are looking for something sporty, then you might be interested in the Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid, with a 0-60 time of 6.1 seconds. The Cayenne starts at $69,000 and has a sporty design and feel, and can carry 5 passengers comfortably, while at the same time promising 25 high MPG. Close behind the Cayenne is the Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid, with a 6.2 second 0-60 time. Starting at $7,000 less than the Cayenne, you sacrifice only one-tenth of a second on the 0-60 time, at nearly the same MPG.
Towing Capacity of Hybrid SUV
If you need to tow a boat or your Interestingly enough, the two Hybrid SUVs with the best acceleration also have best-in-class towing capacity. Properly equipped, the Cayenne and Touareg can both tow 7,700 pounds. The General Motors lineup follows close behind with towing capacities from 5,600 to 6,200 pounds.
No matter what you are looking for in a hybrid SUV, you can find it in the model offerings for 2012. Economy or Luxury? Fun or Utility? The choice is yours, and the hybrids aim to please.
General Motors. (2012). 2012 Catalog | GMC Yukon. Retrieved July 10, 2012, from gmc.com
General Motors. (2012). 2012 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid SUV Features & Specs | Chevrolet. Retrieved July 10, 2012, from chevrolet.com
General Motors. (2012). 2012 Escalade Luxury Hybrid SUV Dimensions | Cadillac. Retrieved July 10, 2012, from cadillac.com
Toyota Motor Sales. (2012). 2012 Highlander eBrochure. Retrieved July 10, 2012, from toyota.com
Lexus | Toyota Motors Sales. (2012). 2013 Lexus RX. Retrieved July 10, 2012, from lexus.com
MotorTrend Mag. (2012). New 2012 Hybrid SUVs. Retrieved July 10, 2012, from motortrend.com
Research indicates that in 2014, electrified vehicle sales will near 400,000 units. Electrified vehicles come in three types. These would include electric vehicles [EV], such as the Nissan LEAF, released in 2011. Hybrid electric vehicles [HEV], such as the Toyota Prius, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles [PHEV], such as the Chevy VOLT, also fall into this category. Model year 2014 is starting to look very interesting as more manufacturers perfect their technology and offer EVs to the driving public.
Chevrolet will build on their success with the VOLT and electrify the Spark model. Already a compact car with great fuel economy, the new Spark EV will benefit from a fully electric drive-train using a nano-phosphate battery pack developed by A123 Systems. The new battery design will improve performance in colder weather, increasing its range. Spark EV is expected to start at $29,125 before incentives.
Tesla Motors will be taking the Model S drive-train and give it a new body, the 85 kilo-watt-hour battery boasting an impressive 300 mile range. The new Model X luxury crossover seats seven passengers, with no sacrifices of performance or comfort, and starts at $84,900.
The Fisker Surf is also a new body style, based on the Karma drive-train. Another luxury crossover, it has a 50 mile EV range, which can be extended using the new BMW turbo-charged engine/generator in case you have to drive further and don’t have access to a charger. The Surf is expected to start at $95,900.
The Infiniti LE sedan is expected to have a 100 mile range and start about $57,000. Cadillac is working to release the ELR, a luxury sedan with a drive-train similar to the Chevy VOLT, featuring EV technology with a range-extending gasoline engine.
Audi has two electric vehicles coming up in 2014. A luxury sedan, the A3 e-Tron is a PHEV with EV range of 75 miles.
Audi’s other new offering, in the sport category, is the Audi R8 e-Tron. This fully electric sport coupe starts at $158,000
BMW is developing two vehicles slated to appear in 2014, both in the “i” series. The BMW i3 is a fully electric vehicle with a range of about 100 miles. It can recharge in just under four hours, or for longer trips, the range-extending gasoline generator can get you where you need to go without a charger.
The BMW i8, a luxury sport coupe, is a PHEV, featuring an electric motor on the front axle and a high performance 3 cylinder engine on the rear axle. Making the best of both worlds, the electric drive and combustion drive work in tandem to deliver excellent power, handling, and top speed. The i8 is expected to start at $150,000.
As we’ve seen from the offerings discussed, there is no sacrificing luxury, technology, or performance when considering an EV. These vehicles promise a lot, and I am looking forward to the 2013 Auto Shows to see what else is coming for 2014 and onward. So far, the future looks bright. Is an EV in yours?
The next first version of the Porsche 911 GT3 is the 2014 model. Many changes have been made to the high end sports car including both performance updates for speeding down the road as well as cosmetic changes which help to enhance the styling which Porsche is well known for. Of course, to go along with the beautiful and increased power, Porsche also upped the capabilities of the suspension components present in the German car maker’s next market addition.
A number of different changes have been confirmed on the outside of the 2014 Porsche 911 GT3. The front of the newest sports car has been enlarged through use of a front lip spoiler as well as bigger air intakes. The air intakes also help to increase the efficiency and power output of the engine. As of right now, the wing found on the GT3 has not been confirmed as the spotted version was a sort of hybrid between two other popular Porsche spoilers.
As with many of the official details, or even speculation, of the insides of new sports cars, this new Porsche is still a crapshoot as to whether the interior will see any extensive changes. The 2014 Porsche 911 GT3 may follow the exterior, though, and increase the cab room, making for a bigger vehicle in general and compared to older 911 models.
Power and Performance
As expected out of the 2014 Porsche 911 GT3, optimal power will come out of the engine. While there are no confirmations about what type of engine will be used (cylinder wise or displacement) it is expected that Porsche will use a 3.8-liter naturally aspirated flat six which it is well known for. Also, according to the official reports, the 2013 model gets 435 horsepower, so expect about 445 or 450 out of the 2014 model of the GT3 along with it’s a 7-speed manual transmission.
Suspension and Handling
Information on the handling and suspension capabilities of the newest Porsche are being kept on the down low. The only factors worth mentioning are bigger brakes (and, according to simple car logic, enhanced suspension) to handle the relatively high amount of power that is expected out of the flat six engine.
Like all other Porsche products out there, one can expect the 2014 Porsche 911 GT3 to be absolutely beauty. With the exterior changes (and expected interior changes) one will not mistake this Porsche for a Miata or other relatively mediocre model vehicle. Of course, to perfectly accent the pure magnificence of the 2014 Porsche 911 GT3, some improved suspension, handling, and engine components are also expected to not only speed one down the highway, but also help one handle the car at “way to fast” speeds.
Kia’s newest rear wheel drive sedan, the 2013 Quoris, could prove to be a major winner for the company. Currently, the car is being touted as, well, having one of the worst names thought up for a motor and four wheels in a long time (of course, this title comes from a number of third party sources that are not related to Kia.) The Quoris is actually the same K9 which was introduced in Korea, and as such, it follows the precedents set by this vehicle.
The outside of the 2013 Kia Quoris presents a beautiful and functional piece of machinery which, when compared to what one would expect out of such a crazy name, it quite the piece of handiwork. According to many, the Kia Quoris looks like a four door version of the Hyundai Genesis (another vehicle built in North Korea.) This is mostly accurate considering the pictures released of the Quoris show a sleek and short ride which entices thoughts of speed when cruising down the highway; not a common occurrence among Kia vehicles.
Nothing specific has been released about the inside of the Kia Quoris. The only thing which is confirmed as far as features on the inside is a back up cam and a number of other different driving assisting products (such as lane change assistant) which will make the daily commute that much easier.
Power and Performance
As previously mentioned, the engine found inside the 2013 Kia Quoris will be the same as the engine found inside the South Korean Kia K9. One of the engines available is 3.8-liter six-cylinder engine which will put out 286 horsepower (quite capable when you consider other Kia vehicles on the market.) The other option, a 3.8-liter six-cylinder gasoline direct injection (GDI) engine which puts out 329 horsepower. Both engines come with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Considering the lightweight factor of traditional Kia’s, the horsepower put out by the Quoris will be stretched as far as possible, making for a quick and comfortable ride.
Suspension and Handling
Nothing specific about the handling features of the new Kia Quoris has been released. The Quoris will have the title of a luxury sedan, though, so one can definitely expect there to be a number of suspension components such as independent suspension which will keep the ride as smooth as possible from point A to point B.
Not much has been confirmed on the 2013 Kia Quoris, but two things can be surmised from the given information: it will be relatively powerful and it will be a comfortable ride. As the Quoris is a luxury sedan, one can expect a hint of rumble on the hood when running down the highway (although it will not stand up to well to a Cadillac or Lincoln) and, of course, not too many bumps on the road will be felt while inside the Quoris. Although its name leaves much to be desired, expect the Quoris to be a pleasurable vehicle overall, although not anything too special.
One of the most modern super cars soon to be available is the new 918 Spyder. With a number of different features, both power and cosmetic, the 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder presents a vehicle that will not only go extremely fast, but also one that will is rated at an exceptionally high fuel efficiency rating for the more practical driver. Of course, not too many buy a Porsche for practicality, but that option is always there!
While nothing new can be added to a brand new car, the preliminary draw on the 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder is absolutely stunning. With its all carbon fiber body, the hybrid supercar has a stylish which cannot be beat, while also being incredibly light. Just some of the features seen at the Geneva show prototype included side exhaust pipes, in-set headlights (although they are slight shallow compared to the original draw), and a rear mounted wing for holding down the fore mentioned power.
Since the 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder was designed primarily for speed and fuel efficiency, it has to forgo some room in the cab (although this is to be expected from any Porsche super sports car). With this said, not much is known about the interior of the new 918, as it seems most are more focused on the power/fuel efficiency comparison.
Power and Performance
The power train for the 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder differentiates from many other available options out there, especially in super cars. Essentially, the vehicle is power by three separate engines: an eight-cylinder engine (undisclosed displacement), an electric motor for the front wheels, and an electric motor for the back wheels. Essentially, when the batteries are charged and ready to roll, the 918 can utilize all of the engines to enable four-wheel drive as well as put out over 700 horsepower. 218 horsepower from the electric motor set is expected with the rest being made up by the eight-cylinder gas engine.
As mentionable in the 918 is the fuel efficiency. The average driver will get around 78 mpg while driving on only the electric motors for the first 16 miles (full range for the electrics). The car will top out at 199 mph and can go from 0 to 60 in under three seconds.
Suspension and Handling
While no specific details have been released on the suspension and handling features for the 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder, one can expect only the best for a super car. One thing that is known about the 918 is that it will include regenerative braking for recharging the battery while driving, one can also expected performance brakes and rotors to ensure the vehicle stops from its top speeds.
The 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder will be an absolute beast when it hits the street. Combing both a conservative attitude with a need for speed, the 918 will impress all friends of the driver when it blows by the gas station where all of said friends are filling up. If one can afford the 918, it is definitely going to be a one of a kind buy.