Chrysler has had only one mass-produced electrified vehicle in its history and that was the now-discontinued Durango hybrid. According to a report from Bloomberg, Chrysler is once again kicking around the thought of electrified vehicles, be it by 100 percent electricity or some sort of hybrid system.
Bob Lee, the head of Chrysler’s engine and electrified propulsion engineering department was quoted as saying “We do believe in electrification, sparingly and for the right kinds of targeted applications.” This basically means that Chrysler is taking its dive into electric propulsion very carefully until it knows that there is a market among Chrysler buyers.
That’s not a huge shock, considering that Chrysler was pulled from the financial flames twice in the last decade, or so – once by Daimler and once by Fiat. Chrysler is finally pulling in a profit and now it’s actually carrying its parent company, Fiat, on its shoulders to keep it from drowning in debt.
Speaking of Fiat, Lee also confirmed in the same report that Fiat is moving into production of the anticipated 500EV, the electric-powered Fiat 500. The 500EV will go into production later on this year and be ready for release sometime in the 2013 model year.
The 500EV will likely be the testing grounds for Chrysler to see if it is a profitable venture or not. We are willing to bet that buyers gobble up the 500EV and that Chrysler soon follows suit with a small EV of their own. Down the road, with fuel prices going how they are, we may even see the Viper utilizing a hybrid system, much like Ferrari is planing to install on its upcoming Enzo/F70.
We’ll keep an eye on this and let you know once there is some confirmation on a Chrysler with electric propulsion.
Recently, we introduced you to the VIA VTRUX, an electric pickup truck with a range-extending gasoline engine. Now we are set to bring to you the SUV variant from the same company.
VIA is headed up by former GM executive, Bob Lutz, so these all-electrics are based on Chevy models. The VIA VTRUX SUV, which is also dubbed the Suburban, is based on the 2011 Chevy Suburban, but with a vastly different drivetrain underneath it.
With all of the hybrid SUVs hitting the marketplace, we honestly wonder if there is room for an electric SUV of this nature. Sure, we have the Tesla Model X SUV showing up at some point in the coming years, but it is not your "typical" SUV. The VIA VTRUX Suburban is a traditional SUV that simply lacks the traditional gasoline power.
So, how doe this VIA SUV hold up to its hybrid competition, some of which comes from its own donor company, GM?
As the global recession rolls around the Earth, automakers everywhere are starting to hit their breaking points. There have already been talks of Ford and Chevy pulling out of Europe and recently, Ford announced that it was cutting 15 percent of job in Australia due to poor sales.
On the heels of that announcement comes a report from International Business Times that claims Ford is simply ramping up to end its Australia-based manufacturing altogether. The consensus is that Ford of Australia will cease production in the Outback by 2016.
Now, the Ford pull-out from Australia, much like the potential pull-out from Europe, does not mean there won’t be any Fords sold there. This simply means that the Australia-built fords, like the Territory and the fairly bad-ass Falcon sedan, will no longer exist. In their place will likely be imported Fusions and Explorers, maybe bearing different names.
Slow sales are not the only cause to Australia’s No. 3 automaker pulling out, the enactment of tough-to-meet Euro 5 emission standards are likely the straw that broke Ford’s back. Both the Falcon and Territory cannot meet these stringent regulations without expensive revisions to the driveline.
Ford has yet to make any announcement regarding its Outback exit, but it looks to be a certainty. We’ll update you if Ford finally announces this exit.
Electric vehicles and various hybrid systems are taking over the front pages of the automotive world as of late. One of the areas where hybrids and EVs haven’t completely infiltrated is the world of pickup trucks. Well, that’s until former GM executive, Bob Lutz, joined forces with the little-known Via Motors.
Via Motors has quite literally taken the electric truck, SUV, and van ball and run with it, and has started carving itself a nice little niche in the automotive world. One of its entrants is the Vtrux, which is a range-extended electric truck. The information on this new green pickup is not 100 percent available yet, but Via has posted a good amount of information on this pickup’s upcoming release.
The question on the mind of the automotive world is can an electric truck actually do well in this world of powerful diesel- and gasoline-powered pickups? The answer to this question is very simple, but to get to that answer, we have to tear into the Vtrux and find out what makes it tick.
Click past the jump to read all about the Vtrux and find out the answer to that all-important question.
Aston Martin is not exactly your poster child for fuel economy, as every model, sans a re-badged Toyota iQ, boast either a V-8 or V-12 engine. That about puts them near the bottom of the list in average fuel economy. With new CAFE and emission standards coming about each and every year, Aston Martin needs to get up to speed with creating slightly more efficient cars.
According to a report from Autocar, Aston Martin boss, Ulrich Bez, said that Aston is “open to the concept” of using small-displacement engines under the stipulation that they do not hamper the boutique automaker’s desirability. This ultimately translates out to “as long as it is still fast.”
This need for speed means that the likely replacements for the powerful V-8s and V-12s that Aston Martin uses would be 6-cylinders with some serious boost. A supercharger certainly would not give a 6-cylinder the kind of pop that Aston Martin would require, so a turbo or pair of turbos would definitely be the only route to take.
We have already seen BMW making use of forced air to pump up its in-line 6-bangers. Take the 2012 BMW 335i xDrive Coupe for example; it has a 3.0-liter engine that pumps out a healthy 300 horsepower. Of course, BMW also de-tuned it a little to avoid it conflicting with M3 sales. At full tilt, we would anticipate a boosted 3.0 to crank out upward of 400 horsepower.
That would give Aston the chance to just about match their V-8-powered cars’ current output rating while helping save a few mpg. It would obviously be a win-win situation, with the exception of the likely price hike for the increased technology.
We’ll keep an eye on this situation and update you as more information becomes available.
We absolutely love the BMW i8, we really do, and we are excited to see exactly what BMW brings to showrooms with its anticipated 2013 release. As we sit back and ponder a little bit more about the i8, we begin to notice that the i8 has a pretty good chance of being an absolute flop. Now, before you BMW enthusiasts start picketing in front of the TopSpeed offices, hear us out, and understand that we are just saying there’s a possibility.
So BMW is touting around the 350 to 400 combined horsepower in the i8, but we often glance right past that “combined” word and only see the total output. In reality, the i8 only boasts about 220 ponies and 221 pound-feet of torque from its gasoline power plant. The remaining power comes from the two electric motors powering the front wheels. In addition, this combination is what allows the i8 to hit 60 mph in sub-5-second times.
From what we are told by BMW, the i8 can run on electric power only for about 20 miles and the electric motors are battery powered, which gains no regenerative power from the 3-pot engine in the rear. So once the batteries die, you’re stuck piloting this likely heavy car with only 220 ponies. This becomes even more of an issue, as BMW has kept rather mum on the topic of how far the car will actually go on the combined gas-electric power.
If the batteries discharge, you are not going to sniff a 5-second 0 to 60 time, as a lot of the torque responsible for such lightning-fast acceleration is provided by these electric motors. Sans those electric aids, you are likely looking at a 8- or 9-second sprint to 60 mph, which is rather disappointing in a car that is certain to crest to $100K mark when it hits showrooms.
Again, this is purely just a look ahead at what could potentially make the i8 a bust. We certainly hope that BMW has figured out a way to prevent this from happening.
There are very few things in this world that include the word “Eco” in its name and still remain fun. Ford somehow managed to find a way to have its cake and eat it too – what a weird saying – with the EcoBoost engines. Not only are they more economical than the engines they replaced, but they, for the most part, are drastically more powerful.
For example, let’s look at the F-150. In 2011, Ford dropped the 5.4-liter V-8 and 4.6-liter V-8 from the F-150’s options list and replaced them with the twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine. The 2011 EcoBoost engine pumped out 55 more horsepower than the 2010 5.4-liter and 73 to 117 horsepower more than the 4.6-liter V-8. Add in the fact that the 6-pot boosted engine also got 2 mpg city and 2 mpg highway better than the 5.4-liter, and 1 mpg and 2 mpg better than the 4.6-liter V-8, and you have a winner.
Well, this all added up to some impressive sales, even more impressive that Ford could have imagined. According to the Detroit Free Press, Ford anticipates selling about 1.6 million EcoBoost engines in 2013, according to its current pace, which is 100,000 more units that its initial target was. Ford is seemingly always adding a new EcoBoost engine, with the 2.0-liter and 1.0-liter variant coming out this year and a 2.3-liter variant looking like a sure thing for 2015, so we see this number going nowhere but up in the coming years.
Ford definitely bet the farm on the EcoBoost engine in the F-150 to start with and much like it did in 1996 when it drastically restyled the F-150, it won back the farm and took the neighbor’s farm along with it. Our hats have to go off to Ford and its ability to think outside of the box and constantly give the customer what he wants. It’s no wonder Ford was one of the few Detroit automakers to survive without a government bailout.
While Mazda of America is busy working on its SkyActiv system, back at home in Japan, it is hard at work creating a new micro-mini vehicle. This latest micro-mini to hit the Japanese market is the Mazda Flairwagon, which is a relatively appropriate name given this new wagon has plenty of flair to show off, with its odd-shaped body.
Underneath all of the Mazda badging is a car that is not even related to Mazda in any way, as this new micro-mini wagon is really nothing more than a Suzuki Palette with Mazda badges. Unlike other rebadged cars like the Cavalier and Sunfire, Mazda didn’t really bother changing anything but the badges, which is pretty strange. Then again, this Suzuki also prowls the streets bearing the Nissan Roox name. In the Roox’s case, Nissan at least changes the headlights a little to separate it from its Suzuki donor.
Is this compact and odd-looking wagon something that will actually sell and will it ever find its way outside of the Japanese market? To find out the answers to these questions and learn all about this “new” micro-mini by Mazda, click past the jump.
There is no doubt that a fairly wide gap exists between Infiniti and its F1 sponsorship. Really, there is not a single production Infiniti that anyone can point to and say “Ah, that is a car that relates to open-wheel performance racing.” Sure, there have been concepts and so forth, but nothing firm.
The halo car was once thought to be the upcoming Emerg-E hybrid, but signs are pointing that the Emerg-E may disappoint. Infiniti is planning to have a running prototype of the Emerg-E ready to go for Goodwood Festival of Speed and, according to several outside sources that Car and Driver has spoken to, this gas-electric hybrid may not be the performance car that everyone is expecting (sub-five-second 0 – 60 time, 420 horsepower, etc.).
While that is really disappointing, as we were anticipating huge things from the Emerg-E, we cannot say that we are surprised. Infiniti has been really tight-lipped on this project, which oftentimes means that there are some issues going on. If the reports are accurate, then the tight lips have been due to the Emerg-E not being able to reach the power numbers that Infiniti estimated.
Don’t fret though, as Infiniti does have a fallback plan, in the form of the 2009 concept, the Essence. Yes, the Essence has been effectively shelved since its debut, but, according to reports, there are still talks about this 592-horsepower hybrid making its way into production in one form or another.
For now, all we have are unconfirmed reports from outside sources, so we will reserve our judgment for Goodwood. Who knows, the Emerg-E could come out and blow us away, and Infiniti may have kept it quiet just to avoid the competition, like Acura’s NSX and BMW’s i8, from knowing what Infiniti is planning.
Goodwood kicks off on June 28th, so we don’t have to wait too awful long to find out. We’ll update you just as soon as we hear more about this situation.