Friday, May 31, 2013

Nissan LEAF hits 10,000-unit sales mark in Europe

Nissan has now sold 10,000 units of the battery-electric LEAF in Europe. The LEAF went on sale in Europe in March 2011 in a handful of markets and is now available across the region.
In March, Nissan sold more than 1,000 LEAFs, said Nissan Europe Director of Electric Vehicle, Jean-Pierre Diernaz. In April, LEAF was the second best-selling car overall in Norway. 
We are seeing a shift in attitudes to electric mobility, with more people buying electric cars and the infrastructure developing at an ever increasing rate. We have hit this landmark just as we prepare to introduce the new European-manufactured Nissan LEAF with over 100 improvements into the market.
—Jean-Pierre Diernaz

2014 Chevrolet Malibu equipped with new 2.5L iVLC base engine with start-stop

2014 Malibu. Click to enlarge.
Chevrolet unveiled the 2014 Malibu, featuring updated styling (and more rear seat room) and a new 2.5L base engine with variable valve lift control (Intake Valve Lift Control, iVLC and start/stop technology as standard. Estimated fuel economy with the base engine is 23 mpg US city / 35 mpg highway (10.2 and 6.7 l/100km, respectively)—5% and 3% improvement, respectively. The new 2014 Malibu goes on sale this fall.
Chevrolet will continue to offer the Malibu ECO with eAssist, as well as the 2.0L turbo; the latter, which features a 14% boost in torque (295 lb-ft/400 N·m), does not come with start-stop technology.
The all-new Ecotec 2.5L iVLC DOHC four-cylinder engine with direct injection is the 2014 Malibu’s standard engine. Its variable intake valve actuation enhances efficiency and helps lower emissions, while also enhancing low-rpm torque, for a greater feeling of power at lower speeds.
When the iVLC system operates in low-lift mode, the engine pumps only the air it needs to meet the driver’s demand. The system switches to high-lift mode at higher speeds or under heavy loads, providing the full output capability of the engine.
New start/stop technology shuts down the 2.5L engine to save fuel when the Malibu stops momentarily, such as at stoplights, contributing to the estimated 5% increase in city fuel economy. The engine automatically starts again when the driver takes his or her foot off the brake. An auxiliary battery powers electric accessories such as the climate system, power windows and radio during engine restarts.
The Malibu stop-start system uses a smaller (12v) auxiliary battery than its counterpart in the eAssist system. The start-stop system only aides in starting or cranking the engine, not for propulsion boost as eAssist technology additionally does.
The new 2.5L is SAE-certified at 196 hp (145 kW) and 186 lb-ft of torque (253 N·m). Revised transmission shift points and quicker shifts also enhance the feeling of performance, while delivering greater refinement.
The 2014 Malibu’s available 2.0L turbo engine delivers nearly 14% more torque than its predecessor. It is SAE-certified at 295 lb-ft (400 nm). New engine calibration and tuning account for the improvement, making the Malibu 2.0L turbo’s torque the best in the segment, even among competing six-cylinder-engines, GM said. The 2.0L turbo also produces an SAE-certified 259 horsepower (193 kW).
Chassis and suspension updates inspired by the 2014 Impala also contribute to the 2014 Malibu’s more refined driving experience, including rebound springs that are internal to the struts. They enable more refined calibration of the dampers for a smoother overall ride, while also improving body roll control and weight transfer during acceleration or turning.
Electric power rack-and-pinion variable-effort power steering is standard. Revised, higher-effort calibrations for 2014 were engineered to improve the overall steering feel.

Source: Green Car Congress

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tesla Aims For $40,000, 200-Mile EV


The Tesla Model S is many things; fast, good looking, and with the most range of any EV on the market right now. That said, it is still a $70,000 vehicle, placing it well beyond the price range of 99% of car buyers. But for Musk’s encore act, he is making affordability the primary goal, along with a real-world 200 mile range that will have even EV skeptics reconsidering their position…if he can actually make it happen.
In an interview with the Detroit News, Musk said that while having paid off the government green loan was like taking a weight off of his chest, the company could not rest on its laurels. It’s next vehicle, the Model X SUV, has been pushed back a year, and while Tesla sales are strong, there is still a whole lotta debt to deal with. After the Model X though, Tesla wants to launch a 200-mile EV with a starting price of about $40,000, about the same price as the Chevy Volt, though the main competition will be the BMW 3-series. Also, it may cure blindness and walk on water.
If that seems like a tall order, that’s because it is, and I am worried for more than one reason. Technically speaking, Musk and Tesla achieved their goal of selling a $50,000 electric vehicle, but only thanks to a $7,500 government tax rebate. Tesla also killed the cheapest Model S just months after production began; the cheapest Model S you can buy, after the government rebate, starts at $62,500. I’m worried he might pull the same stunt again.
That said, Tesla has already beaten the odds when it comes to launching a successful electric car. A 200-mile range at $40,000 would meet the needs of most Americans, and with more Supercharger stations to be in place by the time this next sedan comes out (in about 3 or 4 years), Tesla really could become the next great American automaker. Then again, Musk could pull another sleight of hand, leaving us plebeians still waiting for an affordable, practical EV.
So which do you think it will be readers?

 Source: The Detroit News

Renault Asks If Customers Want A Topless EV, Customers Respond “Oui”


The European auto industry kind of really sucks right now, and EV sales are far below analyst expectations. Still, there is a lot of enthusiasm for EVs in Europe, and when Renault asked its Facebook fans if they’d like a cabriolet version of the Zoe Z.E. electric car, those potential customers responded with an overwhelming “Oui oui!”
The post began with a reposting of a Zoe Z.E. cabriolet rendering done by a Spanish fan, which showed the cute little EV sans its roof. The Zoe slots between the neighborhood electric Twizy and the larger Fluence sedan in Renault’s all-electric Z.E. lineup, and even I have to admit it is quite cute.
There currently aren’t any EV convertibles offered, save the $100,000 Tesla Roadster, and there is likely a good reason for that. Convertibles are heavier and require additional, non-essential electronics, both of which will affect the range.
But the cool factor of having a quiet electric car with the top down and nothing but the sound of the wind in your face sounds romantic if you ask me. Romantic, and very French. Would you rock a droptop electric car?

Source: Renault

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Daimler consulting with Ford about 3-cylinder engines

Soon enough, Ford will offer its 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder engine under the hood of the Fiesta here in the United States, building on the success of the small powerplant overseas. In fact, this success has caused other automakers to take notice, and according to Automotive News Europe, Daimler is now talking to Ford about this engine for use in its own products.

In other markets, Ford offers the 1.0-liter mill under the hood of the Focus (we had the chance to sample this package on our home turf), as well as the B-Max MPV. For this new collaboration, Daimler would use the turbo-three in the next-generation Smart ForTwo, as well as the Renault Twingo, which the German automaker will be collaborating on as part of its alliance with Renault-Nissan. Speaking to AN, a Mercedes-Benz engineer called the 1.0-liter mill an "interesting and impressive engine."

In exchange for details about the EcoBoost inline-three, Daimler will supply Ford with information regarding its Euro6 stratified lean-burn gasoline engine, which is found in the new E-Class sedan.

This isn't the first time Ford has collaborated with Daimler and Renault-Nissan about powertrain development. Earlier this year, the companies said they would all work together on hydrogen fuel cell development, with a plan to introduce a hydrogen powertrain by 2017.

Source: Autoblog

Monday, May 27, 2013

VW XL1 likely to be available for lease only

When we drove the Volkswagen XL1, the incredibly efficient plug-in diesel hybrid pod that gets something like 261 miles per gallon, we learned that Volkswagen is only going to make 250 of them.
We later heard it was unlikely to come to the US, which isn't all that surprising.

What VW hasn't been very vocal about is how the car will make it in to customer hands, whether it will be a lease or sale deal, except to say that an announcement would come this summer. So, when Wired recently had the chance to get behind the wheel, it made sense that VW officials were a little more open, and hinted they are leaning more towards leasing rather than selling. We asked a VW representative ourselves, and VW of America's manager of product and technology communications, Mark Gillies, told AutoblogGreen that "it will most likely be a lease scheme."

We thought the XL1 shared more than aerodynamic looks with the classic GM EV1.

Source: Autoblog Green

Chevy Spark EV Priced At $27,495, Offered With $199 Lease


With the next wave of electric vehicles ready to roll out this year, a stiff pricing war is starting to take place. The latest shot comes from General Motors, which revealed this week that the 2014 Chevy Spark EV will have a starting price of $27,495. With the $7,500 government tax rebate, that means you could get the Spark EV for under $20,000, or lease it for just $199 a month.
Alas, unless you live in California or Oregon, the Spark EV remains out of your hands, at least for now. Those looking to sign a 36-month lease will have to fork over $999 at the signing, and will be limited to just 12,000 miles per year. With an EPA-estimated range of 82 miles per charge and an urban-focused sales pitch though, most drivers should have no problem staying under 12,000 miles a year.
The Chevy Spark EV joins both the Nissan Leaf and Fiat 500E with its $199 lease offering, but its the buying price that I’m excited about. The government rebate makes a lot more sense when it takes an almost $30,000 EV and turns it into a $20,000 EV, rather than a $40,000 hybrid into a $32,000 hybrid. This is a car that, thanks to the rebate, a younger person might actually be able to afford.
At this rate, electric vehicles could conceivably cost $20,000, without the tax rebate, in just a few more years. Maybe all those analysts yammering about lower battery prices knew what they were talking about after all?

Source: Chevrolet

EV battery swap company Better Place files for liquidation

Better Place, a high-profile developer and proponent of a battery switch model for electric vehicles, filed a motion with the Lod District Court in Israel to ask for the dissolution of the company and the appointment of a temporary liquidator.
In its motion the company stated that in light of its failure to raise additional funds and in the absence of sufficient resources for the continued operation of the business, the company is asking for the court’s assistance in protecting the rights of its employees, customers and creditors.
This is a difficult day for all of us. We have come a long way in order to bring about a global vision. From the start, Better Place was a breakthrough for the infrastructure of the electric car industry and successfully completed the development of its technology and infrastructure. Israel was the first place in which an electrical car could travel without limit.
Unfortunately, after a year’s commercial operation, it was clear to us that despite many satisfied customers, the wider public take up would not be sufficient and that the support from the car producers was not forthcoming.
Against that background, the most recent fundraising round was not successful. In recent months, the management of the company did all that it could to keep the business operating. Today, in the light of our obligation to our staff, customers and creditors, we are applying to the court for the appointment of a temporary liquidator.
The management is requesting the voluntary liquidator once appointed to decide as quickly as possible to award compensation to customers and staff and maintain the functioning of the network.
—Better Place CEO Dan Cohen
In an interview with Israeli business daily Globes, Cohen said that the liquidator will have to decide the issue of disposition of batteries in customer cars; in the Better Place model, the customer owns the car, but not the battery. “Ownership of the car is different for each customer, and it’s true that the customer doesn’t own the battery. This is the first thing that the liquidator will have to examine, and it’s hard to give an answer now,” Cohen told Globes.
Better Place had raised more than $750 million in the four years after its founding in 2007, and by November 2011, had a valuation of $2.25 billion (post money valuation on a fully diluted basis). In August 2012, the company secured a €40-million (US$50-million) loan from the European Investment Bank, marking the first credit facility from a financial institution for the company.
Better Place apparently had been struggling since last fall, with the resignation of founder Shai Agassi in October 2012; the subsequent departure a few months later of Evan Thornley, who took over from Agassi; and the winding down of operations in North America and Australia to focus on Denmark and Israel.
In a statement issued announcing the filing for liquidation, Better Place said that over the past six months, management had made fundamental changes in the company, focused its strategy, goals and markets and at the same time had continued to seek additional financing for the business and secure additional models to supplement its current offer.
Despite significant efforts over that time frame, the company said, revenues are still insufficient to cover operating costs, and in the light of the continued negative cash flow position, the Board has decided that it has no option but to seek to make this application to the Courts for an orderly liquidation of the company.
This is a very sad day for all of us. We stand by the original vision as formulated by Shai Agassi of creating a green alternative that would lessen our dependence on highly polluting transportation technologies. While he was able with partners and investors to overcome multiple challenges to demonstrate that it was possible to deliver a technological solution that would fulfill that vision. Unfortunately, the path to realizing that vision was difficult, complex and littered with obstacles, not all of which we were able to overcome. The technical challenges we overcame successfully, but the other obstacles we were not able to overcome, despite the massive effort and resources that were deployed to that end.
The most important thing of all was that the intention was the right one. The purpose and concept of the business was to deliver a positive change in the world in which we live. We know that there is no certainty in any venture. It requires daring, courage, determination and resources in order to turn a venture into a sustainable industry.
The vision is still valid and important and we remain hopeful that eventually the vision will be realized for the benefit of a better world. However, Better Place will not be able to take part in the realization of this vision.
—Better Place Board of Directors

PHEV conversion company Echo Automotive completes $3M financing, joins CALSTART

Echo Automotive, Inc., a developer of technologies enabling the conversion of existing fleet vehicles into plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, completed a $3-million financing with United Fleet Financing, LLC, through a private placement offering and mezzanine financing.
Echo’s Chief Technology Officer is John Waters, the founder & CEO of Bright Automotive (earlier post). Among his other career achievements are launching the lithium battery business for Delphi Electronics, including the Segway battery pack; project lead for production and battery pack design of GM’s EV1 electric car; and VP of Transportation at Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI).
The EchoDrive conversion system comprises a 30 kW traction motor; modular Li-ion battery pack built with 2.2 kWh modules; 650A inverter and power electronics; on-board charger; and hybrid controls. The company is targeting Class 1-5 fleet trucks, and has entered a service agreement with Meineke Car Care Centers, Inc. and Dickenson Fleet Services to serve as a national service centers and installers.
This $3,000,000 infusion of working capital will allow us to ramp up our order fulfillment operations and meet the growing demand for EchoDrive kits more quickly.
—Dan Kennedy, Echo’s CEO
Echo authorized the sale and issuance of up to 2,727,273 units of its securities to United Fleet in a private placement for the purpose of raising working capital to accelerate its business plan. Each consists of one share of the common stock at $0.55 per share and one warrant exercisable to purchase one and one-quarter (1.25) shares of common stock at an exercise price per share of $0.65. The proceeds will be provided by United Fleet on a tranche basis with monthly installments for nine (9) months starting June 2013.
Additionally, United Fleet and Echo consummated a financing and security agreement in which United Fleet agreed to provide an additional $1,500,000 of working capital for Echo through mezzanine financing.
The mezzanine financing is a five (5) year secured note with accrued interest at an annual rate of eight percent (8%). The terms of this note include conversion features at $0.55 per share and warrant rights with a strike price of $0.65. This additional working capital will also be provided to the Company in nine (9) monthly installments starting June 2013.
Separately, Echo joined CALSTART, a leading North American advanced transportation technologies consortium, to accelerate awareness and adoption of its bolt-on hybrid solutions.

Source: Green Car Congress

2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel: First Drive

It’s not every day Chevrolet executives talk about launching at car that competes directly with … a Volkswagen.
The new 2014 Chevy Cruze Diesel, however, aims directly at the only affordable compact four-door sedan with a diesel engine sold in the U.S. until now: the Volkswagen Jetta TDI.
So within months of VW’s addition of a hybrid model to the Jetta lineup, Chevy has gone up against the Jetta TDI’s dominance and unveiled GM’s first diesel-enginedpassenger car since 1986.
While it’s pricier than various Cruze models with conventional gasoline engines, fuel economy is the Cruze Diesel’s raison d’etre: The EPA rates it at 33 mpg combined (27 mpg city, 46 mpg city). That’s the highest highway rating for any non-hybrid vehicle sold in the U.S., as Chevy pointed out several times.
That’s the same as the Cruze Eco with six-speed manual gearbox (28 mpg city, 42 mpg highway). That efficiency model is powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter gasoline engine, and incorporates a host of weight-reduction measures and aerodynamic tweaks (some of which have made their way into the Cruze Diesel as well).
B20 biodiesel
One benefit for diesel drivers intrigued by renewable fuels: The diesel Cruze accepts fuel up to 20 percent biodiesel, or B20. It’s the only diesel passenger car to do so, although some diesel trucks now take B20 as well. But the Jetta TDI, for instance, is only warranted up to B5.
With its 15.6-gallon fuel tank, the diesel Cruze offers a real-world highway range of 700 miles or more. While that’s likely far beyond the range of most occupants’ bladders, it does mean owners have to fill up less frequently—which makes up for having fewer fuel stations.
Today, about 60 percent of U.S. gas stations also offer diesel fuel, with roughly half of them having it on the main pump ranks. (The other half has its diesel pumps somewhere else on the property, usually in a place where semis and big rigs can fuel up.)
2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel, 2013 Chicago Auto Show
2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel, 2013 Chicago Auto Show
What's it called again?
Our test car was a base 2014 Chevrolet “Cruze Turbo Diesel”—which Chevy marketing materials also sometimes call the “Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel”. We’re going to call it the Cruze Diesel from now on, as we suspect virtually every buyer will.
Our test route, unusually, had as much high-speed highway driving as secondary and rural roads on it—testimony to GM’s confidence in the diesel Cruze’s high efficiency at higher speeds.
Over the first 43-mile leg, we averaged 39.2 miles per gallon according to the car’s digital display. On the 43-mile return route, that rose incrementally to 39.4 mpg.
We conclude that in everyday usage, the Cruze Diesel should easily return 36 to 42 mpg unless there’s a lot of heavy stop-and-go driving. Anecdotal tales by Cruze Diesel testers indicate that pure highway driving can return even higher figures, as much as 50 mpg or more—though we’ll wait to confirm those numbers ourselves before we believe them.
2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel, 2013 Chicago Auto Show
2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel, 2013 Chicago Auto Show
Eurodiesel engine, beefier transmission
Under the hood is a 151-horsepower 2.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder engine—built by GM in Germany—that puts out 264 lb-ft of torque. (The comparable figures for the VW Jetta TDI’s 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine are 140 hp and 236 lb-ft.)
The diesel engine in the Cruze is mated to a six-speed automatic made by Aisin, a beefier unit than the GM-made six-speed automatic used in gasoline Cruzes.

At idle, both inside the car and outside, it’s obvious this Cruze isn’t powered by a gasoline engine. There’s the characteristic sewing-machine growl of a diesel engine, but it’s not objectionable—just different. And on acceleration, although engine noise rises, the Cruze Diesel stays civilized, proof of a lot of effort put into noise suppression. It’s clearly quieter inside than the Jetta TDI, which can approach raucous under hard acceleration.
Strong pull in heavy car
On the road, the Cruze Diesel performs pretty much the way you’d expect a modern diesel passenger car to perform. It’s not terribly quick off the line, but as soon as the diesel revs up, it pulls strongly. Chevy quotes a 0-to-60-mph acceleration time of 8.6 seconds, which lets drivers keep up with traffic. Pedal input is linear, meaning that the driver has to push the accelerator pedal through some travel before acceleration comes on—unlike the touchy pedals used in some Japanese vehicles with gasoline engines.
It’s a heavy car, though—some 250 pounds heavier than a gasoline Cruze—due to the heavier engine, stronger transmission, bigger brakes, and extra equipment like the tank for Diesel Emission Fluid, or liquid urea.
That means that it’s smooth and comfortable, but hardly encourages sporting driving. In that respect, the Cruze Diesel differs from the trimmer Jetta TDI, which feels more light and agile from behind the wheel. The electric power steering is about average, neither as numb as most Toyotas nor as tactile and connected as the best Mazda steering.
Numerous new and redesigned parts
Many diesel fans have asked, “Why can’t carmakers bring over the diesels they sell in Europe?” The large number of unique components that Chevrolet developed for the U.S. version of its 2.0-liter diesel engine highlights just how different the two markets are.
2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel
2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel
The U.S. version of the engine required many redesigned components to meet tougher U.S. emissions standards and the much greater temperature extremes found on the North American continent.
Just a few of the components included a new exhaust manifold, different exhaust-gas recirculation, ceramic glow plugs and an optional oil-pan heater for cold starting, a new timing belt and tensioner system, and numerous additional sensors in the exhaust system.
Chevrolet engineers also remapped the first three gears of the automatic transmission to provide smoother shifts and more seamless power delivery for North American drivers less accustomed to obvious and abrupt gear changes than their European counterparts.
Urea tank: 10,000-plus miles
The Cruze Diesel injects liquid urea into the exhaust to take care of challenging diesel emissions levels—unlike the Jetta TDI. Engineers admit that much of the North American development work will help future Cruze models comply with stricter European emission standards that are part of the Euro6 rules due in just a few years.
The urea tank has been designed to provide at least 10,000 miles of driving per tank—meaning that it can be refilled by the dealer at every major service interval. Chevy engineers suggested that owners may well get considerably more than that distance from each tank, depending on usage.
Aero tweaks from Eco
The Cruze Diesel benefits from work on other Cruze models that reduces aerodynamic drag to increase fuel efficiency at higher speeds. It uses the same active shutter under the grille that pioneered on the high-MPG Cruze Eco gasoline model, which reduces drag by closing off airflow through the engine compartment when it’s not needed for cooling.

The diesel Cruze also has a decklid spoiler, panels under the body to smooth airflow, and low-rolling-resistance tires on its unique 17-inch painted aluminum wheels.
Chevrolet has also put a lot of effort into customized acoustic treatments for the diesel version, adapting some from the very quiet Buick Verano compact sedan that uses Cruze underpinnings. In our judgment, they work. While drivers and passengers will be conscious they’re in a diesel car if they listen for it, the Cruze Diesel is pleasantly quiet under most circumstances (if not quite as quiet at highway speeds as the standard version, perhaps the quietest compact we’ve ever tested).
Mid-twenties or more
The base Cruze Diesel comes standard with features that are options on other Cruze models, including leather-appointed seating with front seat heaters, remote keyless entry, remote start, a 7-inch color touchscreen for the six-speaker audio system, and a Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system that includes Bluetooth audio streaming.
Options include a navigation system and an Enhanced Safety Package that incorporates side blind-zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear parking assist. The Cruze Diesel comes with 10 airbags as standard (the Jetta TDI has only six) and the usual suite of electronic safety systems.
2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel
2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel
Our test car was the standard 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel, which carried a base price of $25,695. Its sole option was a $100 oil-pan heater, so with the mandatory $810 delivery fee, its bottom-line sticker price came to $25,795.
Adding navigation and appearance options to that total will bring it toward $30,000, which may seem a lot for a compact sedan, but is still roughly comparable to the highest end of the Jetta TDI range.
The navigation system, by the way, can be programmed to filter fueling stations so only those offering diesel fuel appear on the map. The Cruze Diesel doesn’t come that way from the factory; instead, the filters are supposed to be set by the dealer during the car’s pre-delivery inspection. Chevy claims it’s an easy setting for owners to change if the dealer should forget.
2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel
2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel
Chevrolet marketers suggest that the Cruze Diesel costs less than a “comparable” diesel Jetta TDI, which they say is fitted with two extra-cost options: a Premium package and VW’s six-speed direct-shift automatic gearbox. That car carries a base price of $26,325—or $630 more than the diesel Cruze.
That said, it should be noted that the least expensive 2013 VW Jetta TDI (base trim, six-speed manual gearbox) is $23,055.
Diesel fans and enthusiasts have repeatedly asked whether Chevy will offer a six-speed manual transmission in the U.S. Cruze Diesel—as it does in the European version. Chevrolet marketing executives would say only that they’re starting with the transmission most Americans are used to, and that they’ll monitor market demand for the car and additional model variations.
The powertrain warranty for the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel is 5 years or 100,000 miles.

Source: Green Car Reports

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Forbidden Fruit: New-for-2014 Honda Cross Cub 110

New 2014 Honda Cub 110

What you’re looking at here is the all-new, 2014 Honda Cross Cub 110 … and it may be the most important motorcycle launch in Honda’s storied history.
To understand why the new Honda Cross Cub is so important requires a bit of historical perspective. See, Honda’s existing Cub is a transportation icon – over the last 5 decades (!?) Honda has built and sold more than 60 million Cubs, and the original Cub was the first moped/scooter/motorcycle that a generation of baby-boomers probably owned. You met the nicest people on a Honda Cub. The Cub is the bike that, for better or for worse, separated the long-haired, Harley-riding Hell’s Angels from “decent” motorcyclists a generation or two ago, and it’s the bike that financed the research and development program that led to the Honda Civic, Honda Accord, and (arguably) the decline and ultimate fall of GM. Heck, a blue Honda Cub is featured in the Ruby X video I posted earlier today!
The Cub is a big deal. It’s been in production for generations, and it’s in need of a serious technical update. The new 2014 Honda Cross Cub is that update – and it promises to take the best of Honda’s Cub and mix in the best part’s of “my” generation’s Honda icon: the Ruckus.
How does the new Honda Cross Cub measure up? It’s hard to tell, since the bike won’t enter series production until later this year. Once it starts selling in hot bike markets like Japan and Thailand, the company will have to decide whether or not to bring the bike Stateside.
Don’t hold your breath for that (we should, probably, just consider ourselves lucky to be getting the new Honda Grom) but we’ll keep you posted!

SourcesCanada Motor Guide, CustomLifeNet’s YouTube channel.

Next-gen Toyota Prius spied inside and out

Toyota has built itself into the industry's standard-bearer when it comes to hybrids, and it isn't going to let the poster child for gas-electric vehicles get stale on the market. These spy shots captured in California are our first good look at the next-generation Prius, which could come to market wearing a 2015 model year designation.

Even though it looks like Toyota may have blown its annual camouflage budget on this mule, we can clearly see that it will have the same iconic half-moon design that has been with the car since 2003. If so, this goes against reports from last year that suggested the car would be getting a different look inspired by the 2013 NS4 Concept. Although, this could also indicate that the Prius family will continue to grow – adding a new sedan – to the existing Prius CPrius V and Prius Plug-In lineup.

These spy shots also give us an indication as to what the interior will look like, with a more stylish three-spoke steering wheel and an instrument panel design that sort of reminds us of a BMW. On the other hand, all the tape, cobbled together pieces and lack of space for a center stack display screen has us thinking this isn't what the final product will resemble.

As for what will be powering the 2015 Prius, we hear that updated versions of the current electric system and engine will be employed, but it will carry over the nickel metal hydride batteries found in today's model. Still no word on the rumored possibility of all-wheel-drive system, either. In addition to a new design and updated powertrain, it sounds like production of the next-generation Prius could be making a move to the US, joining the line at Toyota's Tupelo, MS plant.

Source: Autoblog

2014 BMW 5 Series diesel costs $4,800 less than ActiveHybrid in US

Hey, for some, $4,800 is the price of their next car. For the Ultimate Driving Machine, it's the price difference between a diesel and a hybrid.

BMW has released pricing specs for its 2014 model-year 5 Series sedans, and it turns out that the German automaker appears to view diesel as a superior way to hit stricter fuel-economy standards compared to hybrids. How do we know? Bimmer is pricing its 535d sedan at $57,525. Not only does the oil burner deliver 255 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque, but it's less expensive than the ActiveHybrid 5, which checks in at $62,325.

Of course, one could scrap any pretense of fuel economy and go for the V8 with TwinPower Turbo, which delivers a whopping 445 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque – and a fuel economy rating that will likely displease the treehuggers of the world. Check out BMW's really long press release below.
Show full PR text