Hybrid Article in Automotive News

Hybrids 101

Perplexed by plug-ins? Lost when it comes to lithium ion? Start with this sample from our extensive online guide

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Nearly every major automaker plans to roll out environmentally friendly vehicles or add to its current fleet of hybrids or hydrogen-powered cars.

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If these plans come to fruition, by around 2012 consumers will be able to choose from:

— Battery-powered electric vehicles.

— Plug-in hybrids.

— Fuel cell vehicles that use hydrogen.

A century ago, cars powered by gasoline, steam and electricity battled for supremacy. Over the next decade, consumers once again will have a number of powertrains and fuels from which to choose. Back then, gasoline-fueled internal combustion engines emerged triumphant. This time there may be more than one winner.

Daimler AG’s Smart microcar shows how Americans’ car-buying patterns are evolving in an era of environmental concerns and fluctuating fuel prices. Smart has proved that some people will plunk down $13,000 to $20,000 for a small, highly maneuverable car best suited to cities rather than highway driving. First-year sales totaled about 25,000.

So a small battery-powered electric car such as the upcoming Mitsubishi i MiEV or Toyota FT-EV could find a place on American roads, even though the driving range will be limited to about 100 miles on a charge.

Hybrid Guide

Because so many automakers are working on advanced-propulsion vehicles and often giving different names to the same technologies, it is difficult to keep track of all that is going on.

So Automotive News has put together a Hybrid Guide explaining the powertrains of the future. We define the terms you see in automakers’ messages. We explain how the different types of hybrids work.

Also included is a list of major automakers’ plans for hybrids and electric vehicles with as much information as is known — such as what kind of hybrid, what kind of batteries it uses and when it will be available.

The full guide is available online at http://www.autonews.com/hybridguide. Here’s a small sampling.

Types of vehicles

Not all hybrids work the same way. There are two types of hybrids: full (or strong) and mild. There also are two different powertrain configurations: series and parallel.

Here’s how they work:

Full hybrid: Found in the Toyota Prius, Ford Fusion Hybrid and Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, it can be driven short distances by the electric motor alone. After a percentage of the battery’s charge is used or when the vehicle reaches a certain speed, the gasoline engine turns on, drives the wheels and recharges the battery pack. Under heavy acceleration, both the engine and the motor drive the wheels.

Mild hybrid: Found in the Honda Civic Hybrid, it uses the electric motor to supplement the gasoline engine. In other words, the electric motor reduces the load on the gasoline engine and acts as a stop-start system. The electric motor does not drive the vehicle by itself.

Mild hybrid powertrains are designed in two ways. The first has an electric motor sandwiched between the engine and transmission, as in Honda Motor Co.’s Integrated Motor Assist. General Motors uses another approach in its Belt-Alternator Starter system. It has a combined motor/generator bolted to the front of the engine.

A mild hybrid can improve fuel economy by 20 to 30 percent in some driving conditions. The Saturn Vue offers a good example of how a mild hybrid can improve fuel efficiency. The Vue has a 2.4-liter engine and automatic transmission. The non-hybrid version is EPA rated at 19 mpg city and 26 mpg on the highway. The mild hybrid version, which also has a 2.4-liter engine and automatic transmission, carries EPA ratings of 25 city and 32 mpg highway.

Series hybrid: Propulsion comes entirely from the electric motor or motors. The onboard gasoline engine generates electricity directly for the motor and the battery pack. The Chevrolet Volt is an example of a series hybrid. After 40 miles, the charge in the battery pack runs down and the gasoline engine starts up, turning the generator which makes electricity for the motor and the battery pack. The gasoline engine does not drive the wheels and is not mechanically connected to the wheels. Its sole purpose is to generate electricity.

Parallel hybrid: Found in the hybrid versions of the Ford Escape and Chevrolet Tahoe, it uses both the gasoline engine and electric motor to provide mechanical propulsion to the wheels, either together or independently.

Hybrid terms

Belt-Alternator Starter system, or BAS: A combination of motor/generator that is bolted to the front of the engine and connected to the crankshaft by the fan belt. It provides a slight boost to acceleration, puts energy back into the battery pack on deceleration and gives the vehicle stop-start capability.

Plug-in hybrid: The initial charge for a plug-in hybrid comes from the grid and gives a hybrid vehicle a longer driving range on pure electric power only. Plug-ins are scheduled to be introduced late in 2010, with the Toyota Prius and Chevrolet Volt leading the way. Plug-ins can be either series hybrids such as the Chevrolet Volt or parallel hybrids such as the Toyota Prius.

Range extender: This is a hybrid vehicle that has to be plugged in for its initial charge and has an onboard source of electricity, such as a fuel cell or a gasoline engine that spins a generator. The Chevy Volt is a range-extended, gasoline-electric plug-in series hybrid. Some automakers want to classify their range-extended hybrids as electric cars because if driven 40 miles per day or less, the vehicle will not need its gasoline engine to generate electricity. But under the Society of Automotive Engineers’ definition of a hybrid, the vehicle has two sources of energy for propulsion stored onboard. So a range-extended vehicle is a hybrid.

Two Mode: The marketing name for a hybrid drive system developed by BMW, Chrysler LLC, Daimler and General Motors. Two different Two Mode transmissions have been developed, one for rear-drive vehicles and one for front-drive vehicles.

The Two Mode transmission has two electric motors and delivers the fuel economy advantages of hybrid driving in the city and on the highway. A regular one mode hybrid, such as the Toyota Prius, uses the electric motor to drive the vehicle at low speeds and to assist the gasoline engine when accelerating. At highway speeds, the electric motor in the Prius does not drive the vehicle. The Two Mode uses its electric motors to drive the wheels all the time, sometimes in conjunction with the gasoline engine.

Advanced propulsion plans

Here are BMW’s plans for advanced-propulsion vehicles. The online guide examines 14 automakers’ plans.

BMW: The German automaker’s Mini brand is leasing 500 Mini E battery-powered electric cars to consumers now. This is an electric car that must be plugged in at night to recharge the lithium ion batteries. The test could lead to limited production in about 2011.

BMW plans to introduce the X6 crossover with a Two-Mode hybrid powertrain in late 2009 or early 2010. This will be a gasoline-powered hybrid that uses the Two Mode transmission developed by BMW, Chrysler, Daimler and GM. In this application, the Two Mode transmission is a four-speed rear-drive system that delivers the benefits of electric-assist hybrid propulsion in both city and highway driving and also can tow heavy loads.

On European vehicles, various BMWs are equipped with a stop-start system that uses lithium ion batteries.

BMW also is testing a fleet of 7-series sedans with an internal combustion engine that burns either gasoline or liquid hydrogen.

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So you say you’re different….

It is easy to say you are different but how do you prove it?  Your actions! Since 1974 our family has believed buying & selling cars can and more importantly should be fun & easy.  When a customer visits Stapp Interstate Toyota – Scion we really do try everything in our power to make them feel welcome as guests.  I can’t figure out why other dealers choose to do business any other way, but as you know, A LOT do.  On of my favorite things about being at our dealership everyday is hearing the stories from our customers who had been somewhere else first.  Funny thing is….it is very easy to be nice, honest & fair.  I wish I could say we had a magic formula that we discovered from years of trying different things, but all we do is treat our customers as valued friends. For over 30 years we’ve made the buying process different by stepping outside the traditional way of doing things such as…

· We listen to how YOU want to buy a car rather than telling you how you are going to buy one.

· We DO NOT have an F&I department. That’s right you only have to deal with 1 person when you come in to buy a vehicle.

· We thank our customers by giving them a 10% OFF VIP discount card for anything else they ever by at Stapp Interstate Toyota for the vehicle for as long as they own it.

· We only offer Toyota Financial Services products. This means if you choose to purchase additional Vehicle Service Coverage, Guaranteed Auto Protection, or Pre-Paid Maintenance it will be insured by a reputable and solid company and will be honored at any Toyota authorized facility in the entire United States.

When we built the new facility on I-25 my wife and I would stay up at night after we put the kids to bed and try to figure out reasons why people might not choose to follow us out to the Interstate.  When we’d come up with a reason, we’d brainstorm on a way to hopefully change their mind.  Here’s a list of a couple of the “solutions”….

· Wireless internet access throughout the entire dealership

· A family restroom

· A REAL media room with big screen TV & leather chairs

· A customer work center w/ telephone, computer and a door for when you need a little privacy

· Amy’s Cafe (this area is named after my late Grandmother who was a major staple in the history & success of Longmont Toyota) offering coffee, snacks, etc.

· We created a “Kid’s Corral” with a matchbox car race track, TV, magnet board, chalk board, books, games, bean bags & more

· LOTS & LOTS of upfront customer parking spots (this was a HUGE complaint at the old location on Main Street in Longmont)

· A dedicated 3 lane enclosed customer drive in the service area for easy drop off and delivery

· A park inspired outdoor waiting area (our customers who bring in their dogs love this)

· A receptionist to welcome you (rather than 4 guys in plaid suits smoking cigarettes)

· A dedicated 3 bay glass enclosed climate controlled delivery area

Ok, I’ll stop….I think you get the point.  The cool part is a couple of the solutions have turned into our customers new favorite aspects of the Stapp Interstate Toyota experience.

I recently challenged the company who does our advertising to stop saying “we are different” and actually “SHOW” our customer that we are indeed different.  Please look for these commercials in the near future and let me know what you think, better yet come by a give us a shot to prove to you that buying or servicing your vehicle can actually be fun, but only at a dealership who is willing to prove that they are different!

Brion Stapp

Stapp Interstate Toyota – Scion