Archive for the ‘General’ Category

 

Apr 07

Is the 2016 Volt’s ‘fifth seat’ a broken neck waiting to happen?

 

The good news for many a Volt fan is the 2016 redesign has a three-person back seat.

The bad news may for many a Volt fan is the 2016 redesign has a three-person back seat – according to a post yesterday by GM Authority.

2016-Volt-headroom-720x340

You see, the issue arises, pun intended, with the raised middle section which, despite having seatbelts, is more a jump seat, and better suited for shorter statured folks, or ideally children.

GM Authority’s post actually documents the assessment of Mike Anthony Autosports, who at 6-foot, 1-inch tall is three inches taller than the average American. Anthony posted a video that raises questions over safety should someone his size more or less be seated in the 2016 Volt’s middle back seat during a crash, as GM Authority explains:

At 3 inches above the height of the average American male, the situation of Mike Anthony’s head in the Chevrolet Volt may not be a fair representation of what any given passenger might encounter. Still, it’s worth considering that if the middle-rear seat occupant is tall enough, their head is essentially trapped between a plastic headliner in the front, and the rear hatch glass in the back. That makes for some real potential of head injury in the event of a crash, and it highlights just how much of an afterthought the 2016 Chevrolet Volt’s fifth seat was during the design process.

Granted, the majority of us are safely below 6-foot-1 in stature, and the fifth seat in the Volt is perfectly suitable for a child. We just hope that GM takes the time to place adequate warning stickers wherever necessary, and that consumers pay heed to the possible dangers of loading five full-size adults into the vehicle.

At New York, sitting in the same spot, I think I cleared the rear middle ceiling even worse. If forced to sit there, I’d probably find it safest to scrunch forward.

Some of you have said the cup holders are in the way, but really, one is straddling that middle hump so widely, the cup holders do not seem all that intrusive compared to the overall uncomfortably tight confines.

But, the upside is the rear hump is there for child seats, kids, shorter people, and larger people willing to be inconvenienced or even take a chance, preferably for short distances.

GM Authority headlined it as a “design flaw;” Anthony said it was a serious safety hazard.

Is this overstated, or not?

GM Authority

 

Apr 06

Cadillac will selectively add electrified models across its model range

 

This story was tipped to me by a GM media rep who sent me the link to a Bloomberg story asking if I’d seen it. That right there folks is a hint Cadillac does not mean to be caught behind. …

16_CT6

Last week Cadillac revealed its flagship CT6, it’s believed news of a plug-in hybrid version will be forthcoming later this month, and this is to be the first of several new plug-in electrified Cadillacs to come this decade.

The automaker is revamping its product assortment, and General Motors’ premium brand is planning for electrification in new models to come.

“We will roll out plug-in hybrids across our portfolio,” de Nysschen said in an interview with Bloomberg at the New York auto show this week. “It’s part of confirming the progressive nature of the brand.”

As German automakers Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi are also doing, Cadillac will offer vehicles to project its presence in various global markets and build technological credentials while it is at it.

Plug-in technology – be it all-electric like Tesla, or plug-in hybrid like BMW’s i8 – is perceptibly chic to some in the general public, and part of being able to lay claim to bona fide prestige is being seen on the cusp of the technological frontier.

Cadillac is investing $12 billion in a protracted plan to spiff up its brand – a move which included relocating as a separate business unit from GM to New York which new boss de Nysschen convinced GM’s leadership was necessary to touch the pulse of the cosmopolitan societal center.

de Nysschen has also said the company’s Chevy Volt-based ELR compact coupe will not be one of the new plug-in hybrids expected to adorn the product selection as Cadillac polishes its image.

CT6_cutaway

That design harkening back to 2009 and built for 2014 has been strike one for the brand in the sales arena, while at the same time attracting buyers to its looks, and the fact its 37-mile electric range is highest next only to the Volt.

The ELR is expected to see a revision for 2016 but this still-first-geeneration product will not see a second full redesign, de Nysschen said this week.

SEE ALSO: Cadillac Will Discontinue the ELR

Driving the plug-in electrified vehicle market – aside from California which last year accounted for 50-percent of U.S. sales – is also-aspiring China.

California actually purchased more plug-in electrified vehicles than China during 2014, but the potential of the world’s largest nation, and already largest general car market has caught the attention of automakers.

In China, one requirement is plug-in hybrids meet a minimum 50 kilometer (31 mile) electric range, said GM’s Pam Fletcher, GM’s executive chief engineer for electrified vehicles, in an interview with HybridCars.com this week in New York.

CT6

China is a major market driver not just for Cadillac but the aforementioned Germans and others. A “31 mile” range for China’s test cycle might be close to that same number on the European test cycle. The U.S. EPA tends to assign numbers more conservatively and 31 might come into the 20s, but this is one benchmark to be mindful of for those wondering what target the global brands would like to hit, if not exceed.

Cadillac’s CT6 was shown this week in conventional form and available powertrains include a turbo 3.0 six, a turbo 2.0 four, a naturally aspirated 3.6 six, and specs on a PHEV should be known around the third week of this month.

Beyond that, de Nysschen says the brand will sprinkle plug-in variants into its assortment, some all-new models, but what these will be has yet to be revealed.

Bloomberg

 

Apr 03

GM News This Week

 

Here’s some news on a few cars. I will try and put another piece together on the Malibu Hybrid beyond the brief story here.

New Chevrolet Spark

By Phillippe Crowe

IMG_7942

Chevrolet has redesigned the Spark city car for 2016.

Based on a brand new architecture, the 2016 version of this city car will have a slightly longer wheelbase, and an overall height about 1.6 inches lower than the current model. The lower profile reduces aerodynamic drag to help improve efficiency, stated Chevy.

“At its core, the new Spark is still the fun, agile urban car that made the first-generation model so popular, but it delivers that fun driving experience with greater sophistication,” said Sam Basile, executive chief engineer. “And while it’s a truly global car, it is targeted for more developed vehicle markets, allowing engineers to focus more precisely on the materials and technologies that resonate with customers in those markets.”

The new Spark will be powered by an all-new Ecotec 1.4 liter four cylinder engine combined to a choice of either manual or continuously variable (CVT) transmissions. The engine’s 98 horsepower represents a 16-percent increase over the current model.

SEE ALSO: 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Test Drive Review

GM estimated this new Spark will return 40 mpg on the highway with the available CVT. This is the only mpg figure the automaker is at this time announcing.

Chevy explained the new 1.4 liter engine features an aluminum cylinder block and head, which helps reduce the vehicle’s overall mass to enhance performance and efficiency. The cylinder head also incorporates an integrated exhaust manifold, which further reduces weight – an attribute that contributes to increased vehicle efficiency and a more favorable front-to-rear weight balance, for a more responsive driving experience.

Safety-wise, the Spark will be available with Side Blind Spot Alert, Lane Departure Warning and Forward Collision Alert. The Spark will also incorporate next-generation Chevrolet MyLink with 7-inch-diagonal color touch screen.

IMG_7948
The 2016 Spark will be offered in more than 40 markets around the world and will be produced at GM’s Changwon, South Korea assembly facility.

It will go on sale in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2015. No word yet on whether the EV version will soldier on the previous gen or will migrate to the new for 2016 architecture.

Jeff’s noteThe Spark EV will carry forth as is, and not get the redesign as speculators believed. Does that mean the Bolt will replace it? GM’s comment: No Comment! But you can do your own figuring from the handwriting written on the wall.

2016 Malibu Hybrid Promises 47 MPG

IMG_7957

Today from New York General Motors announced its 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid will achieve 48 mpg city, 45 mpg highway, and 47 mpg combined making it one of the most efficient family sedans on offer in the U.S.

The estimate is not U.S. EPA verified, but per GM is expected to be officially backed up by EPA test certifications for the car that now fills a gap formerly occupied by only mild hybrids against several more-competitive full hybrids.

IMG_7968

“Fuel efficiency is important to our customers, especially in the midsize segment and with an estimated 48 mpg city rating, the Malibu Hybrid delivers,” said GM President Dan Ammann of the car that borrows technology from the Chevy Volt.

The new Malibu is being refreshed relatively early in the product life cycle of the lineup that was all new just a few years ago. Under the hood is a 1.8-liter direct-injected engine merged with 2-motor electric drive unit modified from its use in the 1.5-liter 2016 Volt

A 1.5 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery comprised of 80 cells provides energy storage and up to 55 mph all-electric drive. Range for electric drive has not yet been disclosed but this size battery is on par with other hybrids capable of under two-miles EV range, if not just one mile.

IMG_7964

Really, this is a regular hybrid, not a plug-in hybrid known for a stretch of electric range, and its efficiency is had by teetering between electric and gas drive with system controls that aim for maximum fuel economy for the car rated with 182 total system horsepower.

It of course will also share regenerative braking and other power electronics as a non-plug in, but “full” hybrid.

The car that’s to be manufactured in Kansas City, Kansas, at the Fairfax Assembly plant is due in showrooms spring 2016.

Industry watchers are reacting positively to GM’s decision to make use of the plug-in Volt’s system in non-plugged form – with tweaks for the midsize Malibu – and the hope is this has brought GM’s segment representative into greater competitiveness.

Formerly, GM has prompted articles asking how serious it was about electrification with no full hybrids and its cost-saving and comparatively milquetoast eAssist mild hybrids.

The automaker now joins on the EPA’s list of most-efficient family sedans the likes of Ford’s now 42-mpg rated Fusion which Ford originally self-certified at 47 mpg as well, but later revised.

IMG_7962 2

Others in the midsized segment are the top-selling 41-mpg Toyota Camry Hybrid which was extensively updated this year, as well as the revised Hyundai Sonata, and pending revised Kia Optima Hybrid.

Honda’s also quite-impressive 47-mpg Accord Hybrid is technically in this class of family sedan although the EPA does count it as one class size bigger as a “large” sedan.

The new Malibu is restyled and updated throughout aside from the hybrid powertrain. That GM is serious about meeting the competitors in this tight segment is clear.

One little tidbit I’ll add here is GM did plan the Malibu from the inception of its redesign of the Gen-2 Volt’s 2-motor drive train, says head engineer Daryl Wilson.

How tough would it be to make it a PHEV? Not tough at all!

Does GM intend to do this? Its comment: No comment! (and “I wish I could tell you” said Pam Fletcher of all GM has up its sleeve on the general question of electrification.

Cadillac Will Discontinue the ELR

2014-Cadillac-ELR-098

According to Cadillac brand president Johan de Nysschen, the automaker which is believed to have revised the ELR for 2016 will elect not to continue the Volt-based model.

“The ELR will continue through its lifecycle,” he said to AutoGuide in New York this week, however, “I don’t’ think we will create a next-generation, compact, two-door, gorgeously styled alternative powertrain successor to ELR.”

The “gorgeously styled” ELR also sold just 1,310 units last year being a compact 2+2 with 37 miles EV range and 33 mpg combined in premium gas-burning operation.

SEE ALSO: 2014 Cadillac ELR Review – Video

It was left unclear when the production will end and the news did catch GM media reps by surprise who have told us the ELR is due to continue, revised, next year. Those plans for the updated ELR do appear still in the works, de Nysschen’s comment would apply to after this updated ELR still in generation one’s life cycle continues.

A press announcement that was supposed to have been made in Geneva has otherwise been delayed on the revised ELR but a reasonable assumption would be it could get drivetrain updates from the 2016 Volt.

After that, if de Nysschen’s statement comes through as it sounds, the ELR could be no more but we shall see.

de Nysschen’s comment was on the occasion of bigger news for Cadillac today – the revelation of its new flagship CT6.

March Volt Sales Sees Leaf Edge It Out In Cumulative Sales To Date

chevrolet-volt-in-california-hov-lane

Chevrolet sold 639 Volts and Nissan sold 1,817 Leafs in March.

We knew this was coming, and it has: The Leaf (for now) leads in sales since both cars’ December 2010 launch with 76,407 Leafs to the Volt’s 75,231.

What this matters is in question, as the Leaf is a BEV and the Volt is an EREV.

Look for the summer to see the Volt’s sales surge.

Cadillac CT6

IMG_7678

The new aluminum-intensive Cadillac flagship, the CT6 – Cadillac Touring 6 – was revealed this week in New York.

The AWD vehicle is longer than a BMW 7-series and weighs like a BMW 5-series.

Powered by a 3.0-liter twin turbo with 400 horsepower and 400 pounds-feet torque – or a 2.0-liter turbo or 3.6-liter naturally aspirated engine – Cadillac now headquartered in the city where it was revealed wants this to be a no-excuses world car.

IMG_7681

That means benchmarks like the big Bimmer and opulent M-B S class are competitors it aims to take customers from.

To please said customers with German tastes, Cadillac has equipped the new flagship with wood, carbon fiber, leather, massaging seats, twin high-def screens on the rear headrests, night vision with pedestrian recognition, and a Bose 34-speaker Panaray stereo.

IMG_7675

No word was made of a certain plug-in hybrid variant but a little bird told me we should all look to April 21 for news to come forth on that iteration.

The Chinese are driving the market for PHEVs. The minimum AER (under their test cycle) is 50 km. On the EPA cycle it would be less than that cycle that is more a match for NEDC and not EPA.

 

Apr 02

Hybrid Electric Corvette Design Study

 

By: George S. Bower and Noel Park

About the authors: George is a retired gas turbine aerospace engineer, Volt owner and part time tech writer for GM-Volt and HybridCars.com. Noel Park is an engineer, Corvette enthusiast, Corvette and Volt owner and owner of J&D Corvette in Bellflower, California.

BarraVette

What’s the hottest hybrid sports car: The Porsche 918 Spyder, the BMW i8?….and how much do they cost? In the case of the Porsche don’t even ask. You can’t afford it. The i8 is attainable for those that can afford to spend 100,000+ on a novel sports car.

But what about GM? We all know that the current Corvette offers a maximum bang for the buck in the performance department compared to the exotics. Could GM bring this same design philosophy to an electric hybrid version of the Corvette? If they did, what configuration would it be?

A Look at the Competition

It’s always good to know what you are up against. What are the details of the Porsche 918 Spyder and the BMW i8 power trains?

Slide1

The 918 is an mid engine AWD with an electric front axle. The ICE is a V8 mounted lengthwise ahead of the rear transaxle. Sandwiched between the V8 and the transaxle is an electric motor. The transaxle gearbox is a conventional 7 speed. A battery sits cross wise in the car behind the driver’s seat. The front and rear inverters are separate units instead of integrated ones in the gen 2 Volt.

Slide2

The i8 is also a mid engine AWD with an electric front axle. The 1.5 liter inline 3 is mounted transversely and mated to the tranaxle assembly resulting in a much more compact design than the Porsche. A belt-driven 20 horsepower motor generator is added in the rear to supply regen and to act as a starter motor. The transaxle gearbox is a conventional 6 speed. The battery runs down the tunnel of the car unlike the 918. The front electric axle incorporates a 2 speed gear box.

GM Design

One thing is clear when looking at the competition. They chose a mid engine AWD design. While some may think that the Corvette is traditionally a front engine RWD car, a mid engine design from GM is not without precedence. The father of the Corvette Zora Duntov was a big fan of mid engine AWD. In fact he designed more than 1 prototype. The most noted being the CERV II shown in figure 3.

Slide3

Knowing what the competition is doing, what technology could GM leverage to improve on the i8 and 918 designs.

Slide4

The first and simplest change is to integrate the inverters as GM has done in Gen 2 Volt. The i8 and the 918 use separate inverters.

The second improvement is to use an electric front axle utilizing a co axial gearbox as in the Spark EV. This results in a much more compact design.

The 3rd improvement is in the ICE. BMW is already talking about an M version of the i8 that uses a 4 cylinder instead of a 3 cylinder. GM should therefore just go with a turbo i4 with 2000 cc instead of a 1500 cc turbo 3 boosting power from 228 to 300 horsepower. In addition GM should mount the ICE transversely like the i8 for a more compact transaxle than the Porsche.

The 4th improvement is the biggy. Both i8 and Porsche are using conventional 6 and 7 speed gearboxes. Their transaxles are mostly ICE powered. The main electrical part is the front electric axle. This results in poor performance in EV mode. The i8 0-60 time in EV mode is only around 12 seconds.

GM should leverage Gen 2 Voltec technology in the rear transaxle assembly. This would give the electric corvette superior performance in EV mode over the i8. Existing gen 2 motors could be used. However the mechanicals such as shafts and gears would need to upgraded to handle the higher power output of the ICE.

Slide5

The performance specs of the new AWD electric Corvette are presented in figure 6.

Slide6

What is the first thing we notice in the comparison? The new Vette has a respectable 0-60 time in EV mode where the i8 does not. The Corvette has more AER. The new corvette will be a fun drive in EV mode. 4.9 seconds is just fine for everyday electric driving.

The next thing you notice is that the new Corvette blows the doors off the i8 when the ICE is on. The Corvette gets to 60 in 3.2 seconds compared to 4.5 for the i8. This is primarily a result of the whopping 557 combined horsepower when the ICE is on. In EV mode the Corvette still sports 320 horsepower compared to only 129 horsepower for the i8.

I’m sure Zora Duntov would be proud of this new AWD electric Corvette. It will provide superior performance to the i8 for tens of thousands of dollars less.

 

Apr 01

GM Announces 2016 Chevrolet Amphibian

 

By Mark Brooks

DETROIT – Today General Motors announced the 2016 Chevrolet Amphibian (abbreviated Amp), a new four door hatch back built specifically for export to oil-producing nations.

Designed to leapfrog all other cars on the road today, the new hatchback from Chevy has truly astonishing performance figures. In the hands of an enlightened commuter, the sleek-looking Amphibian is able do 240 mpg and can travel more than 2,160 miles on a single 9 gallon tank of normal gasoline. This gives the Amp the largest range and lowest cost per mile of any car on the road today!

Ampongrass

As its name suggests, the Amp is not just a city slicker. Built Chevy Tough, the Amphibian can frolic from the frozen mud and snow of a Yukon ice road to the bog roads of Alberta to the searing beaches of Saudi Arabia.

How did GM do it?

After a bit of behind the scene prodding the author uncovered the Amphibians incredible secret. In true over achiever fashion, GM has embraced Oil sands extraction technology by going one step further.

The 2016 Chevy Amphibian has a miniature gasoline refinery packed into the car itself. If plugged into a normal 120-volt household outlet over night, the Amphibian can produce and store a gallon of gasoline. This gas is produced using less than a $1 worth of electricity by sucking the background pollution right out of the air in your garage. This reclaimed gasoline is then stored in a special sealed container in the car separate from its regular nine-gallon gas tank.

AmpandAircraft

That’s right, the Chevy Amphibian produces gasoline for only $1 per gallon using nothing more than electricity and the smog-filled air around you! This cuts the cost of that first gallon to one-quarter normal U.S. and Canadian pump prices and as an added benefit the air in your neighborhood gets cleaner every night the Amp is plugged in!

The EPA doesn’t really seem to know what to do with a car that both produces and consumes gasoline and its MPG rating reflects this confusion.

GM states that on the road the 2016 Amphibian will achieve an estimated EPA rating of 50 miles on the first gallon, 40 mpg after that. This is due to the higher quality gasoline created by the cars mini refinery. The gasoline produced by the onboard mini-refinery is so good it has zero exhaust emissions when burned and even allows the car to run silently! Each day, once the first gallon created by the Amphibian is used, it reverts to burning the gasoline sold at four times the price by the oil industry. To keep its R&D costs down GM has used same layout, body work and parts as its stable mate, the Chevy Volt.

AmpinDetroit

If the driver takes just 10 seconds a day to plug-in the car, the Amphibians MPG rating can soar. Utilizing the Amphibians incredible ability to create high quality gasoline, some early test drivers have reported augmenting a single tank of oil industry produced gasoline to a range of more than 5000 miles.

As for when the car will arrive, GM is only saying that Canadian customers will see the car first in “the second half of 2015″ – which looks like it will be undergoing a traditional product cycle and we will be seeing the car around August.

Pricing as one would expect is also a mystery at the moment. However, GM has strongly hinted at a starting MSRP of less than $35,000 plus destination delivery cost, a price typical of a luxury hatchback of this size.

blueandred

The Amp is expected to be a huge sales success in Canada due to the tax incentives available to oil producers. Just like the larger oil companies, Canadian purchasers, who order a new Amphibian through a shell company in Alberta are eligible for a 100% tax deduction. Note: Assumes you follow industry standard accounting principles of back dating the transaction to 2010 and accelerated depreciating of the “production equipment” under the current Alberta well head Tax Incentive program. Similar incentives are available in other oil exporting nations. The Canadian tax deduction expires in 2017, so hurry and order your Amphibian today!

 

Mar 31

10 alternative and fuel efficient cars making their world debut this week in NY

 

Thanks to everyone yesterday who offered questions to ask GM about the Malibu.

Here’s a Whitman’s Sampler of new cars pending …

15_Malibu

It’s that time of the year again – that’s right, the New York International Auto Show is upon us and blooming with spring are 17 world vehicle debuts including at least 10 with a focus on efficiency.

Press days begin April 1, and we’ll have more on each, but here in descending order are vehicles of varying degrees of interest to those watching the inexorable move toward higher mpg and lower emissions.

10. Cadillac CT6

cadillac-ct6

Who cares about a 420-horsepower big luxury Cadillac? A lot of people actually, as the brand continues its saga of wanting to compete with the Germans even on its home turf.

This one will be a no-compromise engineering thesis intended to do just that, says Cadillac, but unclear as of yet is whether a reported plug-in hybrid variant will be included.

A far cry from a compact Chevy Volt-based ELR, the PHEV CT6 – whether or not mentioned this week – is to be based on the new flagship model.

9. Mercedes-Benz GLEe

2016-Mercedes-Benz-GLE-550e

Whatever GM is up to in the upscale electrification space, Mercedes-Benz is playing its hand much less close to its chest.

In fact, as true of all the Germans, Mercedes has discovered the wonderful benefits of PHEVs to allow it to pass emission regulations and still deliver big powerful gas engines paired with an electrified side, and the GLE550e is one of 10 plug-in models to be launched by 2017.

This will be its first plug-in hybrid SUV, it joins other battery electric and plug-in hybrids just coming along, and looks to be quite the opulent people hauler.

8. Scion iA

2015_NYIAS_Scion_iA_Teaser_001

Not known to be a hybrid, the first sedan from Toyota’s Scion division is instead expected to be filed under the economical small car segment, and – like the iM also being launched – aimed at younger buyers or anyone on a budget.

The iA is based on the Mazda2 with SkyActiv motive power from the same. The vehicle will also share elements with the revised Toyota Yaris.

7. Scion iM

2015_NYIAS_Scion_iM_Teaser_001

The iM, although gussied up like a hot hatch last year in Los Angeles, will be toned down and essentially a Toyota Auris hatchback variant with appropriate Scion badging.

It too will not likely be a hybrid but will fill a needed gap in the brand’s lineup among relatively fuel-efficient cars.

6. Lexus RX

2016-lexus-rx-teaser

Along with the long-anticipated RX lineup’s revision for 2016 should be mention of the new hybrid version.

The RX crossover from Toyota’s upscale division is the brand’s top seller. The hybrid is a relatively popular alternative for the car line that accounts for one in three of every Lexus vehicles sold.

Lexus has also just launched the NX compact crossover line with hybrid variant making the need for the RX to be updated all the more glaring. Hopefully we won’t be disappointed.

5. Mitsubishi Outlander

2016-mitsubishi-outlander

One more revised gas-powered SUV may not be that exciting, but when the plug-in hybrid variant gets to the U.S. after long delay, that ought to be.

Mitsubishi has sold over 50,000 plug-in Outlanders in Japan and Europe while announcing and then postponing the plug-in hybrid that reportedly gets more electric range than Ford Energi products – high 20s or even low 30s has been reported for the Mitsubishi.

For 2016, styling elements will be updated, possibly from the Concept-S shown last year in Paris, and Mitsubishi says it’s the first to debut the brand’s new design language and features over 100 engineering and design improvements inside, and out.

The PHEV may be here by next year, potentially as a 2017 model.

4. Chevrolet Spark

2016_Chevrolet_Spark-668

The gas-powered Spark subcompact is growing up – at least design-wise if not in dimensions so much – and rightly so being this has been a relative huge global success with 1.1 million variants sold in 71 markets since 2009.

Its global debut will be mirrored by one in Seoul April 2 but for alternative energy fans, the electric “compliance” version sold in Oregon, California and now Maryland may not be revised.

Instead, Chevrolet is preparing the Bolt EV, but officially, it has not said this will be the case.

As for the gas version, the economical Spark will be less “youthful” oriented with more upscale feel here and there inside and out.

Power will be by GM’s Ecotec family of small engines for various markets in three- and four-cylinder versions from 1.0-1.5 liters.

3. Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2015_Toyota_RAV4_Hybrid_teaser

Gone is the Tesla-co-built RAV4 EV built for California, and back to its roots, Toyota is transplanting a hybrid powertrain into the new RAV and this one will be made available nationwide.

To be revealed April 2, the RAV4 Hybrid makes good also on the brand’s promise to roll out hybridized versions of all its Lexus and Toyota models this decade.

Despite a weakened conventional hybrid market – plug-ins have beaten a downward trend and did increase in share last year – and now Toyota is adding this hybrid to its growing stable.

The company already owns about 69 percent of the U.S. hybrid market, and while having revealed very little except some styling differences, it is speculated the RAV4 will get the 2.5-liter Lexus NX Hybrid’s powertrain.

2. Kia Optima

2016_Kia_Optima

To be revealed April 1, the midsized Optima has been revised and follows its overhauled not-so-distant cousin, the Hyundai Sonata which also comes in conventional, hybrid and now plug-in hybrid variants.

Could Kia surprise us with a plug-in? This it has not said, but a new hybrid ought to be at least expected, and new gasoline powertrains are otherwise promised as is updated but still-recognizable styling, more room inside, and more.

The car will also have a few more upscale cues to help fortify it as a mainstay for the Korean automaker being its top seller in the U.S.

1. Chevy Malibu Hybrid

2015-Chevrolet-Malibu

The big news from GM which had industry observers wondering how much it really cares about electrification and hybrids is its Malibu is being revised in a big way with a full hybrid version.

Until now only a mild hybrid version was available that did not hold a candle to offerings by several competitors such as Toyota, Honda, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen – nearly anyone –  but the new Malibu is borrowing system architecture from none other than the Chevy Volt.

Unlike the Volt, it won’t be a plug-in, but like the competitors, it does promise respectable mpg – around 45 mpg from a direct-injection 1.8-liter four-cylinder merged with hardware borrowed from the Volt.

2016-Malibu-Hybrid-Powertrain-3

Total output will be 182 horsepower, many questions remain, but perhaps most promising is the commitment to a full hybrid and validation of the Volt’s system as seed stock for more electrified models hoped to follow.