Tag Archive | "toyota prius"

The Alternative To Electric Cars?

On and off over the last one hundred years automobile manufacturers have tried to produce a viable electric car without commercial success. Thanks to the latest technology their attempts in the last few years have been reasonably good but, as far as the majority of the buying public are concerned despite all the hype, not nearly good enough for the reasons we all know. Word is that a couple of Japanese car makers have acknowledged the fact that EV’s are still not truly ready and may never be in the foreseeable future.

In the quest to turn away from fossil fuels attention seems to be turning to what the industry hope may be The Next Big Thing, and that is hydrogen power. Immediately the climate change lobby and other vested interests (in and out of government) have become excited without taking into account the scientific fact that hydrogen is volatile and difficult to store. Imagine trying to establish the infrastructure needed countrywide to fuel all the cars! Rush towards this technology too soon and sales could go through the roof – literally.

The lack of range, the lack of charging points and the time taken to charge an electric vehicle are not lost on the public. So much so that in the USA where they expected a massive take-up, the Obama administration has backed off from its over-ambitious EV targets. For now, it seems likely that the industry will concentrate on the much more sensible alternative of petrol/electric hybrids which overcome the shortcomings of purely electric cars.

Nevertheless companies like Nissan and Toyota are still intending to pursue fuel-cell technology which they hope will become the new green breakthrough. Cars that convert hydrogen to electricity. The stakes are high on this issue. Whomsoever comes up with a viable alternate fuel stand to make a mega-fortune but it has got to be a risky and costly enterprise.

It is not expected – considering the investment – that car companies will abandon electric vehicles altogether as a niche market does exist. It took six years for Toyota’s Prius to really establish itself in the USA but in 2012 they sold well over three hundred thousand hybrids in America and some 1.2 million worldwide.

One thing that is certain is that manufacturers have got to find some answer to the increasingly stringent regulations being set by governments for future years. If not electric cars then maybe fuel-cell vehicles are the alternative. They are certainly being talked up in certain quarters but a realistic car must still be a long way off. Or will it all prove to be a load of hot air?

Posted in Auto NewsComments (0)

New Car Bonanza

The next eighteen months or so will see the release of a bumper crop of new cars from around the world. Space is far too limited to list them all here but there are some standout choices. This spring Pagani will begin sales of it’s Zonda replacement, the Huayra, which is a lot easier to type than say. It’ll cost you a cool million, give or take, and sports a 700bhp V12, so if the petrol price crisis is getting you down then it’s probably best not to order one just now. Back on Planet Earth, Vauxhall are rather belatedly introducing a small SUV called the Mokka that is meant to take on the likes of Nissan’s popular Juke. It’s an attractive car with the usual suspects on offer for the engine bay.

Hot hatch fans will be delighted to learn, if they haven’t already placed their orders, that Ford’s 248bhp Focus ST will soon start rolling off the production line. This is a consistently popular model – rightly so – and now it is more efficient too. Renaultsport are craftily releasing their Megane 265 in April to try and steal some of the ST’s thunder. Peugeot are a bit behind in the hot hatch game as the new and highly regarded 208GTi won’t be available until much later this year.

In July, Toyota will add to their hybrid fleet with what looks like the cheapest petrol / electric car on the market – the £15000 Yaris, featuring the technology that’s been tried and tested in the Prius. These cars are beginning to demonstrate some appeal and for true city dwellers who don’t want to be doing with garage forecourts, the Mia Electric microbus is on sale now. It’s only got 24bhp on offer but makes up for it with a five hour charging time, 96 mile range and practical sliding doors. Pricy though.

Later this year Fiat will replace their weird but rather good Multipla with the 500L. The L stands for Large, so it’s the size of its predecessor but takes its styling cues from the dinky 500 and is built on an enlarged Panda platform. The usual options, including 4WD, are offered on this interesting motor. The lower roofline of the Range Rover Evoque has set a bit of a trend with, amongst others, Hyundai Velostar Turbo with which they hope to compete with the Golf.

Looking even further ahead, watch out for an Evoque Convertible (2013) look-alike from Ssangyong – the cunningly named XIV-2 – which features a fabric roof that folds back like the Fiat 500C. 2013 will also see a new old vehicle, as it were, the Plus E! That’s right; if you have a fondness for handlebar moustaches and string-backed driving gloves then prepare to be horrified by an electric sports car from that last bastion of Englishness – Morgan! Whatever next in the rush for new technology?

This is just a taster. Whatever happens to fuel prices or battery technology in the future then rest assured the motor manufacturers are working hard to keep motoring interesting. Keep an eye on Motor Blogger for more.

Posted in Auto NewsComments (0)

Coming Soon – Toyota Prius+ Seven Seat Hybrid

There’s no doubt that the Toyota Prius came in for some stick when it was first announced. True petrolheads were aghast at this electric monstrosity when it first went on sale in Japan in 1997 and was finally unleashed on the world in 2001. It heralded, the fuel-sniffers said, the end of motoring as we know it. Well, it hasn’t quite worked out like that and most drivers today accept and, for the most part welcome, the new technology.

Toyota, whilst continuing to satisfy the demands of hairy chested sporting drivers with the brilliant GT86, have continued to expand their hybrid technology with the impending summer launch of the Prius+, a fully hybrid seven-seat MPV. The ground-breaking new model, which combines traditional people carrier practicality with ultra-efficient performance, is also the first mainstream Toyota hybrid to use a lighter and more compact lithium-ion battery pack.

It retains the exceptional efficiency of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive power train. Despite the battery pack, the car is light and has exceptional aero-dynamic qualities. In T4 trim the car breaks the 100g/km barrier thus being eligible, currently, for zero rated road tax and congestion charge exemption. Official consumption figure is 68.9 for the T4 and only slightly less for the T Spirit version which itself only just tips over the 100g/km target.

In a clever move, the company have installed the slim battery pack within the centre consul thus avoiding any intrusion on rear passenger and boot space. Genius. All five rear seats fold, allowing for various load-carrying combinations. The two equipment grades offer all the usual options; auto aircon, panoramic roof, rear view cameras, Bluetooth, leather and the like and there’ll be a choice of seven exterior colours.

The family friendly MPV, based on it’s smaller sibling, was very well received at the Geneva Motor Show. The headline feature inside the Prius is Toyota’s new Touch & Go Plus and Touch Pro navigation systems. Featuring real-time traffic updates and the ability to use Google’s Local Search feature, it will be interesting to see how they manage to bring what has been a successful Smartphone technology to work in a car.

For the greener among you, there are new planet-saving features including a monthly fuel consumption record storing the previous five months of economy data. The ability to calculate how much is being saved on fuel costs might help justify why you bought a hybrid in the first place. You can order now and deliveries will start around July 9th from a very creditable £26,195.

Fear not petrolheads; motoring hasn’t died, it’s just grown up.

Posted in Car ReviewsComments (0)

Most Wanted Cars For WAGS

For those of you who haven’t been on this planet for the last few years, a WAG is the female partner of a footballer and stands for “Wives And Girlfriends”.  These WAG’s are famous for their choice of luxury cars and often their choices influence many of the public.

The most infamous WAG’s choice of car is the Range Rover Sport.  It’s chunky looks, brutish power and beautiful interior make it the perfect choice for these young and rich ladies to cruise around in style.  There is also plenty of room for the school run while still looking ultra cool and being protected in a big cocoon of safety and class.

The thing that WAG’s love about the Range Rover Sport is the “Bling” factor.  Lots of shiny chrome, beefed up body parts and flashy lights is everything that a WAG looks for in a car and the Range Rover Sport does it all with ease.  They are also very easily “kitted up” with lots of little extras and can easily accommodate some huge alloy wheels.

Other cars that WAG’s love include Bentley’s for similar reasons but the Toyota Prius is also a favourite for the WAG that likes to show off the fact that she is “economically minded”.  As more and more people have begun to complain about how wasteful a 4×4 is with the planets resources, it has become more and more fashionable to drive around in a hybrid and show that you really care!

However, there is now the perfect compromise with the new member of the Range Rover family.  The Range Rover Evoque was released in 2011 and unbelievably looked as good as it did in its original concept stages.  The Range rover Evoque has all the class and bling factor of its bigger brother, the Range Rover Sport, but it is smaller and more economical.

The beauty of the Range Rover Evoque is that it is a 4×4 but its emissions and petrol consumption is very similar to a standard family saloon, meaning that the argument of being wasteful with the planets resources doesn’t really stand up.  However, the benefit of still having a stunning car with big wheels and lots of shiny chrome remains.  The interior of the car as well is truly amazing.  The levels of comfort and quality inside make this a car that you will just love to be in and that is why WAG’s are now quickly adopting this as their new car of choice.  Wait for this to be “the next big thing”!

Posted in Featured ArticlesComments (2)