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Archive for July, 2010

Chevy Volt Pricing Announced: $41,000

July 27th, 2010
Photo courtesy of GM

Photo courtesy of GM

After all the hype and hoopla, the most highly-anticipated electric car to ever grace the roads of America finally has a price tag: $41,000.

It’s a bit of a shock, especially in our current economic climate.  That’s a stout $8,000 more than the Volt’s closest competitor, the 2011 Nissan Leaf.  Or, roughly the price of two brand-spanking new 2011 Mazda Mazda2‘s.  With cash left over.  Government rebates will bring that price down a solid $7,500, bringing the price down to a more digestible $33,500 vs. the Leaf’s $25,280.

Now, the canary in the coal mine is the fact that GM has given the consumer the option of leasing the 2011 Chevy Volt for only $350/month for 36 months, which we predict will be the dominant choice for those bent on ridding our dependence on fossil fuels, all while backing up a domestic manufacturer that’s trying feverishly to pull itself out of bankruptcy.

The Volt will go on sale in November of this year.

More to follow…stay tuned by following us on Twitter and Facebook.

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2012 Audi R4: News, Performance and Pricing

July 23rd, 2010

Ever since Audi showed its electric e-Tron Concept car at the Frankfurt Auto Show in October 2009, reporters and editors who cover the auto industry have been wondering what the German automaker intended to do with it.

Well, it looks like we got our answer. Johan de Nyssche, president of Audi USA, has confirmed that the e-Tron will be produced for the market as the Audi R4. It is said that the new R4 will be offered as an all-electric vehicle and will also include versions with gasoline and a diesel engines. Reports say that the new vehicle will fall between the R8 and TT in the pecking order of Audi models, it will share Porsche’s next-generation Cayman and Boxster platform and it will come in a coupe and convertible.

The all-electric will be the top model of the series. It will feature four electric motors that can each generate 300 horsepower and more than 3000 lbs-ft of torque and sprint from 0-60 mph in less than 5 seconds. Wondering about its maximum speed? It could be close to 140 mph.   The layout is said to be mid-engine for the gas and diesel models and quattro all-wheel drive will be included as standard.

It will have a starting price of about $49,000 and could be available in Europe by the end of 2011 and appear in North America a few months into 2012.

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2011 Acura TSX Hybrid: Availability, Pricing and MPG

July 22nd, 2010

Luxury and fuel economy. They don’t necessarily jive as well as say, Crown & Coke.  Acura will aim to change that.  Let’s be honest: the Lexus HS is basically a  Corolla Hybrid.  So that throw at the dart board doesn’t quite count.

Acura will be offering their take on sauce and sting with the introduction of the 2011 Acura TSX Hybrid.

As early as 3 years ago, industry insiders started talking about a hybrid in the works for Honda’s luxury marque. Confirmation came in January this year at the Detroit Auto Show where Honda CEO, Takanobu Ito, disclosed Acura’s eagerness to develop hybrid variants for more than one model.

Taking into account their current lineup, the TSX seems to be the best candidate for a luxury hybrid. It’s currently the smallest Acura available. More than that, however, is the fact that once retrofitted with a hybrid system, an Acura TSX Hybrid can compete directly with the aforementioned Lexus HS, and probably defeat it in every imaginable way.

Acura has already confirmed the release of the 2011 TSX Sport Wagon so it would be safe to expect more or less the same enhancements on a 2011 TSX Hybrid. Regarding the power plant, the company would probably enlist the use of the  Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system used in the Honda Insight.

How much will it cost?
Well, with the price of the current 2010 Acura TSX starting at $29,310. we’re estimating that the 2011 Acura TSX Hybrid will cost around $35k nicely equipped.

When will it be available?
Fall 2011.

What type of fuel economy will it get?
We predict around 30/35 mpg.  The current 4-cylinder TSX gets 20/28 mpg.

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Chevy Volt Battery Gets 8-year/100,000 Mile Warranty

July 14th, 2010
Image Courtesy of CrunchGear.com

Image Courtesy of CrunchGear.com

The 2011 Chevy Volt could make or break General Motors.  Not surprisingly, GM is digging deep into its playbook, employing every tactic to  make it stand out in a market soon to be flooded with a plethora of EVs and plug-in hybrids.

And the automaker’s ace in the hole will be the 8-year/100,000-mile warranty on the Volt’s battery. That compares very favorably to the Tesla Roadster, which has only a 3-year warranty on its battery.  Part of the reason people will discount EVs as a primary mode of transportation is 1) range anxiety and 2) battery life.  GM has definitely appeased the latter.

GM can offer this kind of warranty because of the Volt’s inherently durable battery pack design. A total of 288 lithium-ion battery cells are enclosed in a liquid-cooled case, which makes the pack capable of operating in temperatures ranging from -13 degrees Fahrenheit to 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

The battery pack’s systems are monitored by sensors that run more than 500 diagnostic tests every minute, ensuring that power output is consistent and the system is operating safely.

Finally, the battery pack never fully discharges or accepts a full charge. This helps achieve the battery’s long life. While these features all sound good on paper, without real world testing it’s a bit hard to believe these batteries can last that long. That’s why GM has been testing the Volt for the last three years, running Volt batteries for millions of miles to make sure that the 8-year/100,000-mile mark is reachable.

The argument for owning a Volt just got a whole lot better.

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2011 BMW X1 Features, News, Pricing and Availability

July 14th, 2010

About a year has passed since BMW officially announced that the X1 crossover would be coming to North America.  The smallest and newest addition to BMW’s stable of Sports Activity Vehicles (SAV) is already available in other notable markets, namely Europe, where buyers have the choice of a variety engines including a fuel-sipping 45-mpg 4-cylinder diesel engine.

BMW still hasn’t decided which engines will reach our shores, but when the X1 arrives in early to mid 2011, it will probably be offered with the 258hp, 3.0-liter inline-6 engine also found in the 1 and 3 Series.  Also undecided for the North American market is the choice of a rear-wheel (sDrive) or all-wheel drive (xDrive) configuration.

Though the X1 will be smaller in size compared to the X3, the X1 will still still accommodate five passengers and should be available with features including the iDrive navigation system, a sports package and a panorama roof.  The starting price is estimated to be between $30-35k.

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