The Chinese are taking over the car world, or so they would have us believe. BYD showed its E6, a five-passenger plug-in electric crossover, in Detroit and got some pretty good world press. It’s going to come to the U.S. sometime before the end of the year with a “limited dealer network.” So said Henry Li, BYD’s export head, though David Cole—longtime auto industry observer—pointed out the difficulties in breaking into the U.S. market. Still, BYD aims to sell 800,000 vehicles this year and be the “top global automaker by 2025.” Warren Buffet is one of its investors.
The car is supposed to have a full-charge range of 330km; using 220-volt current it can quick-charge to 50 percent capacity in 10 minutes, to 80 percent in 15. Cost is predicted to be around $40,000. It’s comparable in size to the MAZDA5.
Ford’s much-ballyhooed electric Focus will be available in 2011, says the company. A full charge (6-8 hours on 220 volts, longer on 110) is good for “up to 100 miles,” which kind of takes a back seat to the E6, doesn’t it? The car is to have a “smart user interface,” similar to that on the Fusion Hybrid. Jay Leno got one to drive and promote on his 10pm show. Perhaps the car will fare better than his show has.
I couldn’t help noticing another Great American Hybrid on a competitor’s site: the 2010 GMC Yukon Hybrid, which again proves how ridiculous it is to hybridize a vehicle like this. Hauling this kind of iron around will cost you a minimum (base price) of $50,920—“a $13,000 jump over the base-level gas-only Yukon.” For what? “The Yukon Hybrid will accelerate gently on electric power up to 27 mph, though top speed falls during cold weather.” Your backup is a 332-hp 6-liter V8, which can run on 4 cylinders to save fuel under light loads. Did’ja ever hear of anything so crazy?
For all the good advance press Honda got for the CR-Z (from us too), its reception in Detroit has been pretty negative. Michelle Krebs summed up some reader comments, which focused on both performance and appearance. One person was worried
that “it’s heavier than the Insight which needs 11 seconds to hit 60,” prompting a Volkswagen TDI owner to gloat, “My TDI smokes that and still gets 36 mpg AND has a backseat.”
Another, commenting on the car’s long nose, said, “That’s one horrid rhinoplasty.” It does look pretty weird in profile. The interior fared better, but there have been increasing numbers of stories about Honda losing its way.
Nissan hasn’t—at least not yet. They are still building crazy concepts like the Juke that our tgriffith reported on. Now they are giving us the Mixim, a super-compact three-seater with the driver in the middle. Mixim’s been around for a while, but is still interesting: shorter, lower, and wider than the Cube, it has LED headlights, electric motors front and rear, dramatic styling, and impressive acceleration—says Nissan. Don’t ask when it’s going to be built, and don’t ask who does Nissan’s car names—maybe we are missing something there.
Finally, big diesels are still (I don’t care what anyone says) big polluters. It seems that the Port of Los Angeles and its neighborhoods have been experiencing a very high lung cancer incidence with, not coincidentally, horrible air quality from diesel fumes emitted by trucks parked waiting for cargo. Green Car Advisor says that the Port has signed an agreement with Vision Industries to test hybrid long-haul trucks running on electric motors powered by hydrogen fuel cells. University of California-Riverside is involved, along with the California Energy Commission. The tests will determine whether Vision’s long-hauler can work in short- and medium-distance cargo situations with a viable hydrogen fuel infrastructure in place.
Tell us what you think of the new CR-Z and why it’s getting such bad press. Has Honda lost its way?