As always, there’s a lot happening in GeenLand, and today we’re going to give you short takes, because much of what we hear and read is not hard and fast news. It’s product planning, wishful thinking, and hints. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
Lexus is touting its LF-Ch hybrid concept (above), which General Manager Mark Templin said (at the L.A. Show last week) he’d love to see produced and sold in the U.S. No details yet on the powertrain, but Autoblog thinks we can “expect the same engine that powers the HS 250h to be fitted to the compact hatch, complete with a six-speed automatic transmission and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.” As usual, Europe will get it first.
Porsche confirmed that it is working on a hybrid Panamera, possibly powered by the hybrid powertrain the company is developing for the Cayenne. Again, this is speculation, but the car likely won’t appear until 2011.
Another site reports rumors (and an impression from Japan, right, complete with wrinkle) that Toyota is working to revive the good ol’ MR-2 as a hybrid using third-generation Prius components. One could imagine this as good competition for Honda’s CR-Z. One could also imagine late-night drags on L.A. streets, as in days of old. It may be called the MR-S.
The Italians, never to be outdone, introduced the Tazzari ZERO electric at the Bologna Motor Show (bet you didn’t know that was going on). Another in the endless succession of European city cars, the ZERO seats two, uses lithium-ion batteries for an 84-mile range between charges, and tops out at 56 mph. Acceleration time for 0-31 kph is “under 5 seconds.” Says Edmunds, “An optional 380V Superfast charger will recharge the pack to 80 percent in 50 minutes with a 3-phase power supply.” Now that’s performance.
Peugeot claims the modified 307 achieves hydrogen consumption on par with Honda’s FCX Clarity. That’s impressive. Unfortunately, Peugeot said it doesn’t expect a viable market for hydrogen vehicles to exist for another 10 or more years and therefore isn’t rushing to offer a fuel-cell-packing ER-EV anytime soon.
Hydrogen presents just too many technical problems, at least at present. Scroll down on the page to read the first comment here, for instance. Too bad, as it could be the ultimate fuel source.
VW still believes in diesels, and there is much to be said for them. A clean-diesel version of an all-new New Beetle will come to the U.S. (don’t know when, maybe 2012), and an all-electric version of the Up! hatchback, which made a big hit in L.A., is also in the works. The Up! Lite, seen there and at right, is an extreme-lightweight with diesel-hybrid power: a 51-hp, 0.8-liter two-cylinder turbodiesel couples with a 10kW motor and a seven-speed DSG gearbox. Multiple powertrain versions are under study.
Last but never least comes GM, which has announced it will invest $700 million in eight Michigan factories to produce the Volt. The Hamtramck plant in particular will get a $336 million upgrade in machinery and equipment. This is great news for the state and, we hope, for the electric car industry. The state is a disaster area and needs all the help it can get.
Drop a comment on us if you have any more green news!