The all-new 2011 Honda CR-Z sport hybrid coupe, making its U.S. production debut at the North American International Auto Show. (Photo: PRNewsFoto/American Honda Motor Co., Inc., Judie Long)
From Green Right Now Reports
Honda today debuted the all-new 2011 CR-Z sport hybrid coupe at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
The CR-Z, which will go on sale late this summer in the U.S., is powered by a 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine along with Honda’s compact and lightweight Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid-electric system. The two-passenger CR-Z will feature a new three-mode drive system that allows the driver to select between Sport, Econ (Economy) and Normal driving modes.
A host of new greener vehicles will be making their North American debuts at the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show from Dec. 4 through Dec. 13 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Mercedes-Benz will show off the fuel-sipping E350 BlueTEC and the fuel-cell-powered F-Cell. The company also will showcase the just-launched ML450 Hybrid, Mercedes-Benz’s first hybrid SUV.
Essentially an electric car that makes its own power on board, the new Mercedes-Benz F-Cell has a range of about 240 miles and, running on compressed hydrogen, boasts an equivalent fuel mileage of 86.6 city-highway combined miles per gallon. In 2010, Mercedes-Benz says 200 production F-Cell cars will be delivered to customers in the U.S. and Europe as part of a special lease program.
Gee-whiz technology always starts out expensive. Graying boomers can remember paying $400 for a VCR. That first DVD player probably set you back $600. Now you can buy one at a grocery store for less than $40.
The 2010 Honda Insight is no $40 DVD player, but it proves the point: costly technology eventually becomes affordable. The starting sticker price of the Insight LX, the most basic of the three trim levels available, is $19,800. The MSRP for the top-of-the-line Insight EX with navigation system is $23,100 plus $670 destination and handling fees.
You’d expect Doug Fox, the cordial co-chair of the North American International Auto Show, which opens to the public on Saturday, to have some good spin on how this event would rise above the stench of economic panic in the Motor City, and the country.
Not only did he have the goods, by the end of the conversation, I was convinced that this is a pivotal, but not hopeless time for the car industry.
Don’t be fooled. Gasoline prices won’t be bumping around $2 a gallon for long. Driving a car with good fuel economy still makes sense. Higher mpg means lower operating costs for the household budget and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
Happily, car shoppers today have a myriad of options among fuel frugal 2009 cars. You can find something getting 30 mpg or better on the highway at nearly every dealer lot. In some cases, you’ll have to settle for a trim line with a smaller engine and manual transmission to hit the 30 mpg mark.
Jennifer Drukker expected people would stare at her new car. What she didn’t expect was this: “I was at the first stop light after I’d driven off with the car. It was literally the first time I came to a stop after driving off with the car,” she recalls. “The driver of the car next to me rolls down the windows and starts shouting questions.”
If it seems an extreme response to a Chevrolet Equinox, a fairly mainstream SUV, consider that the paint job includes the word “fuel cell” on the sides.
Fuel cell vehicles that turn abundant hydrogen into electricity are one promising alternative to gasoline-burning, toxic-fume-spewing internal-combustion engines. Widespread availability of such cars – which emit water vapor instead of greenhouse gases and stuff that’s flat out unhealthy – is years in the future.
But for Jennifer Drukker, Jamie Lee Curtis (yes, that one) and a handful of other drivers, the future is now.
Honda is shifting gears in its strategy for hybrid cars. Judging from announcements at last week’s Paris Motor Show, the automaker has decided that the hybrids most likely to succeed in the marketplace are models with a standalone hybrid identity — like Toyota’s Prius, which is not available with a conventional gas engine — rather than those, like Honda’s Civic, that are already familiar in all-gasoline incarnations.
So while Chrysler’s new plan will speed up electric vehicle roll-out by building on existing cars, Honda will now focus on “dedicated” hybrid models like the new Insight Hybrid, which it expects to have in showrooms early next year. (Perhaps confusingly, this new car recycles the name of a previous Honda vehicle, a gas/electric hybrid that was discontinued a couple of years ago due to poor sales.)
The five-passenger car will be followed by two other dedicated hybrids — within the next four years, Honda intends to introduce both a compact similar to its Fit and a sports car resembling the CR-Z. The Insight’s fuel efficiency figures are not yet public, pending full EPA review, but company spokespeople have said its performance should be comparable to the existing Civic Hybrid, which gets a combined 42 mpg.
Though no price has yet been mentioned, in a press release the company boasts it will offer the Insight at “a price significantly below hybrids available today” and therefore expects to sell 200,000 cars a year, with half that in North America.
Pushed by the dwindling prospects for fossil fuels, the auto industry is undergoing changes not seen since the days of Henry Ford. Today’s innovators aren’t just looking to gear up production, they’re trying to dial back energy use, and that’s produced a bumper crop of wild and wacky (and some not so wacky) concept cars.
It would cost less to manufacture (and buy), less to maintain, less to fuel and there would be no emissions. The makers of this car, Air Car Factories, are either on drugs or they’ve seized the Holy Grail. Their car would run on compressed air collected by see-saw devices on the road. Each car would be refueled through regenerative driving. The Barcelona-based company expects to begin with electric models, until testing is completed on the Air Car. A green dream? We hope it’s a reality.
That’s right. This is a car designed by a shoe maker. It doesn’t much look like a shoe. More like…nothing you’ve seen before. The car is intended to be “athletic.” No joke. “An athlete training to drive the Nike ONE uses a physical resistance simulator, that mimics the vehicle’s controls, along with the digital simulation within GT4 to train their muscles and mind for specific tracks and competition scenarios,” explains Phil Frank, lead designer, who said his team was inspired by the principals of Nike founder Bill Bowerman. The long term plan is that any movement by the driver would be converted into electricity through nanotechnology using a “Spark Suit.” Frank calls it “the ultimate in convergent technologies.” We agree.
If plug-in hybrid cars and trucks become a common sight, don’t look for the Honda badge to be among them. Honda Motor Co. Chief Executive Takeo Fukui believes plug-in hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles don’t have enough environmental benefits for Honda to pursue, according to The Wall Street Journal. Toyota executives recently made similarly disparaging comments about [...]