Four Second-hand Hybrids to Avoid

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Sep 252012

And one to keep an eye on

The Toyota Prius is by far the most popular eco car, and one of the best on the market. When looking at second-hand green cars this is the one to keep your eye open for but, since the rise in popularity of eco cars, there have been plenty of others showing up throughout the country.

Toyota Prius - Plug In Hybrid Eco Car

Toyota Prius – Plug In Hybrid Eco Car

Just because a car is labelled as a hybrid, does not particularly mean it is a good car or is fuel-efficient. If this is important got you, here are four second-hand hybrids on the market to steer clear from, or at least think twice about before heading to the bank.

2010-2011 BMW ActiveHybrid X6

It has the BMW name and looks like a regular BMW X6, but this now-discontinued car used a tailored two-mode hybrid system that was designed for a large truck, together with a custom 4.4-litre twin turbo V8 engine that resulted in an output of 407hp. Although the efficiency was better than BMW’s conventional X6, it still used 19mpg of fuel.

BMW ActivE - Electric Car

BMW ActivE – Electric Car

The idea behind BMW’s green car was to design a vehicle that would mimic a seven-speed transmission using four gears and three electric assists. This way the car would feel like a regular BMW when behind the wheel. The problem with this green car was that the two-mode hybrid system ended up costing more than $10,000 per vehicle. Now that this car is discontinued, it is very pricey to fix as parts are unavailable, which is something to consider before purchasing.

2008-2009 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid

GM launched this green car a few years ago using a mid-hybrid Belt-Alternator-Starter system. It was only offered for two years and was paired with a 164hp 2.4-litre Ecotec four-cylinder engine. The problem was that its EPA ratings were only marginally better than a regular six-speed automatic transmission Malibu, which cost $2,000 less than the Hybrid.

The Malibu Hybrid does not offer drivers a smooth ride due to the rotation of the electric motor switching over to regenerate the battery charging. When GM declared bankruptcy in 2009, the Malibu Hybrid disappeared.

2009 Dodge Durango Hybrid / 2009 Chrysler Aspen Hybrid

A Hybrid SUV sounded like a fantastic idea, but it only took Chrysler a few months to realise that this was not the case. After making less than 1,000 Dodge Durango Hybrids and Chrysler Aspen Hybrids, production of this eco car ceased.

Since then, these hybrids are the only green cars Chrysler has manufactured using the two-mode hybrid system that it developed with BMW. Like the BMW ActiveHybrid X6, that system is extremely expensive, not only to manufacture, but also to repair.

2005-2007 Honda Accord Hybrid

This was the only time Honda used its Integrated Motor Assist mild-hybrid system with a 3.0-litre V-6 engine, and it was quite confusing to consumers who saw eco cars as fuel-efficient. Due to its unpopularity, this green car was only made for three years, selling a total of only 28,500 units.

Honda Accord Hybrid Eco Car

Honda Accord Hybrid Eco Car

The Accord Hybrid was 20 per cent better on petrol than the conventional Accord, but it did not only drive by using electric.  Luckily Honda  made other hybrid cars that are high-mileage compacts, but the Accord Hybrid fell short.

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Skyrocketing Sales of Market Leading Prius

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Jun 162012

Prius is Third BEST Selling Car

The Toyota Prius is the world’s most popular hybrid vehicle, with sales seeing consistent growth since its debut over 10 years ago. Now the Prius has been named the third best-selling car in the United States, with over four million vehicles purchased worldwide to date. In the first quarter of 2012, Prius sales rocketed to 247,230, which is more than double the figure for the previous quarter.

Most Popular Selling Eco Car the Toyota Prius

Most Popular Selling Eco Car the Toyota Prius

Prius Tax Breaks and Rebates

Toyota’s sales success is down to two reasons. Firstly, Prius now represents not just one model, but a collection. Secondly, this change was conveniently timed in conjunction with Japan’s tax breaks and rebates, which means that buyers are now able to save more than $2,500 when buying a Prius. Those who buy eco-cars like the Toyota Prius are entitled to rebates of up to 100,000 yen, which is the equivalent of $1,258. Tax reductions for these vehicles also apply, and will run for at least the next three years.

President of car consultancy company Car Lab, Eric Noble, said that these figures are proof that the Prius has a future, which means that there is a bright future for the hybrid car market in general.

Aqua Subcompact Plug-In

Another up and coming eco-car is the Aqua Subcompact plug-in vehicle, part of the Prius family, which is becoming increasingly popular in Japan. This has contributed to the huge rise in sales for the Prius line, with numbers tripling from 52,507 to 175,080 in the first quarter. Prius sales have risen above those of the Hyundia Elantra, Volkswagen Golf, Ford Fiesta, and the Honda Civic. The only models it has yet to beat are the Toyota Corolla and the Ford Focus.

Difficult Times Now Over

Toyota has seen some difficult times in recent years, with huge recalls made in the US in 2010 due to manufacture errors. After that, Japan’s natural disasters in 2011 brought automotive manufacture nationwide to a halt. Until this point, Toyota’s sales figures made it the largest car manufacturer in the world.

Toyota is Recovering

Toyota’s Chief Executive Officer Akio Toyoda announced that the company is turning a corner and clearly recovering from the 2011 earthquakes. Equity analyst for Standard & Poor’s Capital IQ in New York, Efraim Levy, agrees, saying that the company is clearly making a comeback. He pointed out that it is a great achievement for a niche product to see such huge success.

Prius was the First and Most Successful Hybrid Car

Prius was the first and most successful hybrid car, and has set the standard for eco-cars thereafter. Many manufacturers have released competing models, such as the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt. However, according to John Wolkonowicz, Automotive History Specialist and Analyst, none of these models are likely to be major competitors for Prius at the moment. Prius is number one on the market, so why would consumers want anything less?

With Petrol Prices Coming Down will we go Hybrid?

Wolkonwicz said that petrol prices pose a threat to hybrid vehicle sales, and that hybrid sales can’t progress enough until petrol prices stay at an increased price. Petrol prices dropped by 6.6 per cent between May 22 and April 5, and if this decline continues, consumers won’t be convinced to go hybrid.

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US ranks Mitsubishi i-MiEV top Green Car

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Feb 202012

Honda Civic knocked off top spot

It’s taken a long time to knock the natural gas version of the ever-popular Honda Civic off top spot – it has been ranked the greenest car for the past eight years by the American Council for an Energy-efficient Economy – but Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV has finally managed it.

Nissan Leaf - Electric Car

Nissan Leaf - Electric Car

Electric Vs Hybrid

The all-electric Mitsubishi I-Miev was awarded the highest ever score since the US rankings began in 1998, even though the Honda Civic natural gas has been improved, offering even better fuel efficiency this year. It tied in second place for 2012 alongside another Japanese-built all-electric vehicle, the Nissan Leaf. This is surely the latest sign that electric vehicles can cut it when competing against hybrids and natural gas competitors.

Green Score

The survey calculates each vehicle’s green score based on a number of key variables including unhealthy exhaust emissions, emissions of gases that contribute to climate change and fuel consumption. The Mitsubishi i-MiEV came in first, despite the emissions generated from the electricity required to recharge its battery.

New Titanate Oxide battery in I-Miev

The original vehicle used a 16-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion pack with 88 cells in total, which is placed under the floor. The battery was jointly developed by Mitsubishi and partner company GS Yuasa. However, the Japanese automaker upgraded this technology last year with the introduction of a lithium titanate oxide SCiB battery, developed for the latest version of the i-MiEV and the minicab MiEV. Made by Toshiba, it is claimed that this new battery pack is capable of withstanding about two and a half times more charge-discharge cycles compared to an average lithium-ion battery.

Recharging time slashed

Another feature of this technology is that it uses the Japanese-developed CHAdeMO quick-charging method, introduced in 2010 by Mitsubishi, alongside Nissan, Fuji Heavy Industries and the Tokyo Electric Power Company. The great advantage is that recharging times are slashed significantly, taking just 15 minutes to charge the battery to 80 per cent of its capacity, 10 minutes to 50 per cent and five minutes to 25 per cent. In other words, the recharging times for the i-MiEV are only a bit longer than the time it takes to refuel a normal petrol and diesel engine, a major improvement on the half-an-hour or so many electric vehicles require, and a sign that these major disadvantages are slowly being addressed.

Mitsubishi I-Miev - Electric Vehicle

Mitsubishi I-Miev - Electric Vehicle

Longer Driving Range

These SCiB batteries crucially also offer a far longer driving range than the lithium-ion equivalents that have been the standard in the industry up until now. They typically squeeze out about another 70 per cent of distance per charge. There is also the option of installing a far smaller battery which offers the same range, so this new technology adds a certain degree of flexibility too. Another nifty feature of the i-MiEV is that it can be connected to the home to power domestic electrical appliances in the event of an outage, an addition that was made in the wake of last year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Electric technology has come a long way and is going in all sorts of directions, and this latest award in the US shows it’s also becoming commercially viable.