Toyota’s Prius Hits One Million U.S. Sales

Posted in auto industry, Hybrid, News, Toyota by Kurt Ernst | April 6th, 2011 | 3 Responses |

Toyota's Prius v Concept. Image: Toyota

Americans, generally speaking, don’t like hybrids. We ignore them like that day-old plain donut in the break room, which is good enough for consumption only when nothing else is around, or when we’re too frugal to spend money on what we really want. The exception to this rule seems to be Toyota’s Prius hybrid, which has enjoyed a healthy (bordering on rabid) following since the car was launched in 2000. In just eleven years, Toyota has managed to sell 1,000,000 Prius models in the US, and has delivered over 3,000,000 to date worldwide. Since launch, the Prius has consistently been the best-selling hybrid vehicle in the United States, and now accounts for over 60% of hybrid vehicles sold in 2011. The Prius has a brand awareness that other hybrid automakers would kill for. Read More…

Porsche Opens Sales Of The 918 Spyder

Posted in Car Buying, EcoLust, Hybrid, Porsche by Kurt Ernst | March 21st, 2011 | Leave a Reply |

Image: Porsche

I’m a skeptical guy by nature; some would call me a pessimist, but I prefer to think of myself as a realist. My wife sees me as somewhere between those two extremes, and calls me a “dark realist”, which is a tag I can live with. With that in mind, when an automaker tells me their next supercar, will have a combined output of 718 horsepower, sprint from zero to 62 miles per hour in under 3.2 seconds, lap the Nürburgring in 7:30 and still yield fuel economy of 78.4 miles per gallon, I’m inclined to doubt them. When they open the order books while the car is still in early development, and ask customers to part with $845,000 (plus tax) to take delivery some nineteen months in the future, I’m inclined to yell “fraud”. Unless that automaker is Porsche, and the car in question is the new 918 Spyder. Read More…

Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid Is New And Improved

Posted in Car Tech, Hybrid, News, Porsche by Kurt Ernst | March 19th, 2011 | Leave a Reply |

Porsche's 911 GT3 R Hybrid. Image: Porsche

Porsche didn’t build their impressive racing resume by resting on their past accomplishments, and that’s certainly the case with the 911 GT3 R Hybrid racecar. Introduced at the 2010 Geneva Motor show, the car first saw action at a Nürburgring race on March 27, 2010. It was later run in such events as the 24 Hours of Nürburgring and Road Atlanta’s Petit Le Mans. As good as the car proved to be, Porsche realized that improvement was necessary to make it a truly competitive endurance racer. For the 2011 season, the new and improved 911 GT3 R Hybrid gets more powerful electric motors, improved aerodynamics and a weight savings of some 110 pounds. Read More…

I’m Going To Like Infiniti’s M Hybrid

Posted in Hybrid, Infiniti by Kurt Ernst | March 18th, 2011 | 1 Response |

Infiniti’s new M Hybrid is still a few months away from launch, but I know this already: when I drive it, I will like it. Forget the fact that I typically like anything that Infiniti builds, and consider the G37 sedan one of my all time favorites. Forget the 360 horsepower and 32 mile per gallon fuel economy that Infiniti’s throwing down. I’m going to like it simply because Henry Rollins is Infiniti’s new pitchman, and Henry Rollins has never steered me wrong. If you don’t know who he is, do yourself a favor: beg, borrow or steal a copy of “A Rollins In The Wry”, and then grab as much of Black Flag’s music as you can. In the mean time, support him by watching the video below. Read More…

EcoLust: VW’s 2011 Touareg Supercharged Hybrid

Posted in EcoLust, Hybrid, Volkswagen by Kurt Ernst | March 13th, 2011 | 1 Response |

Here’s what you need to know about the 2011 VW Touareg Hybrid: it’s got a blown V6 engine and it puts out 380 horsepower and 428 ft lb of torque. It’s one of the two fastest VW’s built, and 0 to 60 comes up in 6.2 seconds on the way to a 149 mile per hour top speed. That’s not great for a sports sedan, but that’s pretty damn impressive for a full size SUV. I’m not really a hybrid guy, and I’m not really a luxury SUV guy, but I sure hope that VW throws one of these into the press fleet. There are two videos below: the first is an oddly creepy VW ad, while the second features racer Ryan Arciero telling you why you’re going to want to dive this rare beast. Read More…

Porsche Shows The Evolution Of Hybrid Technology

Posted in Car Tech, Hybrid, Porsche by Kurt Ernst | March 10th, 2011 | 2 Responses |

Porsche's 918 RSR parallel hybrid concept. Image: Porsche

Porsche chose the Geneva Auto Show to highlight both their very first hybrid vehicle (the Semper Vivus) and their latest hybrid concept, the 918 RSR. As different as the two vehicles are, both share the original vision of Ferdinand Porsche: to create the lightest, most efficient vehicles in the world.

The original Semper Vivus dates back to 1901, and was created by Porsche to overcome the excessive weight of lead-acid battery powered electric vehicles. Using a Daimler internal combustion engine to drive a generator supplying power to the hub-mounted front wheel motors, Porsche created the very first series hybrid automobile. Though shown in two wheel drive form here, four wheel drive variants were also built using supplemental rear hub mounted motors. The cars were capable of speeds up to 35 miles per hour, and some 300 Lohner-Porsche cars were sold before production ceased in 1906. Video below. Read More…

Porsche Recreates History For Geneva

Posted in Classic, Cool Stuff, Geneva Motor Show, Hybrid, Porsche by Kurt Ernst | February 25th, 2011 | 2 Responses |

If you would have asked me to name the first serial hybrid from a major automobile manufacturer, I would have said the Chevy Volt. I would have been wrong, because Ferdinand Porsche created something called the Semper Vivus (Latin for “always alive”) back in 1900. Built for Austrian coachmaker Ludwig Lohner & Company, the Semper Vivus featured two combustion engine generators, powering two electric motors mounted in the front hubs. Onboard batteries supplied supplemental power, much the same way as today’s parallel hybrid cars do. To celebrate the re-emergence of hybrid technology, Porsche has re-created this pioneering automobile and will display it at next week’s Geneva Motor Show. Want to see it run? Check out the video after the jump. Read More…

Save The Planet: Drive A Porsche Panamera S Hybrid

Posted in EcoLust, Geneva Motor Show, Hybrid, Porsche by Kurt Ernst | February 18th, 2011 | 2 Responses |

Tree-hugging gear heads rejoice! Image: Porsche AG

Want to drive a green car, but aren’t willing to give up the occasional full-throttle run up a canyon road? Need a four door hybrid, but want something with entertainment value? Assume these two goals are mutually exclusive? You remember what happens when you assume, right? Porsche may have just what you’re looking for, since they’ve just announced a hybrid version of their Panamera S sedan. Designed as the ultimate green grand touring car, the Panamera S Hybrid produces a combined 380 horsepower yet returns fuel economy up to 49.89 MPG (based on EU standards) when equipped with low rolling resistance tires. Want the maximum grip, at the expense of a little fuel economy? Wearing standard tires, the Panamera S Hybrid still delivers up to 47.78 MPG. Read More…

The 260 MPG VW You Can’t Buy – Yet

Posted in auto industry, Featured, Hybrid, Volkswagen by Kurt Ernst | January 27th, 2011 | 5 Responses |

Volkswagen's Formula XL1 concept. Image: Volkswagen

Meet the VW Formula XL1 concept, the latest vehicle in VW’s line of ultra-efficient, one liter vehicles. Unveiled at this weeks Qatar Motor Show (which seems like an odd place to promote fuel efficient vehicles), the Formula XL1 pulls out all the stops to boost fuel economy and reduce emissions. A plug-in hybrid, the XL1 is powered by both an 800cc, two cylinder TDI engine and a lithium-battery-powered electric motor. Combined, they give the car an astonishing 260 mile per gallon fuel economy, yet still yield reasonable performance. Zero to one hundred kilometers per hour (62 MPH) takes 11.9 seconds, which is on par with some of today’s more fuel efficient vehicles. You won’t be autocrossing the XL1, but cars like the XL1 may allow you to continue autocrossing your fuel-gulping Mustang GT. Read More…

Audi Shows A6 Hybrid, We Ask Why

Posted in Audi, Car Buying, General, Hybrid, NAIAS by Kurt Ernst | January 12th, 2011 | 5 Responses |

Audi unveils the A6 Hybrid in Detroit. Image: Audi of America

I like Audi and I love the styling of the new A6, but I cannot imagine why they thought it was necessary to build a hybrid version of their midsize luxury sedan. Audi, if you recall, promised to bring a diesel variant of all their cars to this side of the pond in the coming years. Speaking for most enthusiasts (the type of buyers that Audi is likely to attract), I’d much rather have a clean, fuel efficient diesel than an expensive, heavy and needlessly complex hybrid. Read More…