Green Fleet Roundup: Honda’s First Plug-in Hybrid, Better Place, Land Rover
Honda will release the 2014 Accord plug-in hybrid, the automaker’s first plug-in hybrid to hit the market, early next year. The car will have three different operations: all-electric EV drive, gasoline-electric hybrid drive and direct-engine drive. Its two-motor hybrid system allows the powertrain to transition between the three operations so drivers can customize their commute and maximize the efficiency of their drive.
The total driving range rating for an Accord Plug-In Hybrid with a full tank of gasoline, with external battery recharging, is targeted to reach beyond 500 miles. The plug-in Accord can be fully charged in less than three hours using a standard 120-volt electrical outlet and in less than one hour using a 240-volt “Level 2” charger.
Better Place has launched an electric taxi project at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, which is being co-financed by the European Union’s TEN-T program. A battery switch station, which was built in partnership with the airport, will initially serve 10 Renault Fluence ZE taxis operated by three major Dutch taxi companies — Connexxion, Bios and TCA. Better Place announced it will expand the Schiphol EV program to include a second battery switch station in Amsterdam, which aims to increase the service area for the first group of electric taxis.
Land Rover has introduced its fourth generation Range Rover, which features an all-aluminum body structure 39 percent lighter than the steel body in the outgoing model, which improves performance and cuts fuel consumption by as much as 22 percent, depending on the model. The lightweight structure, combined with additional changes to the chassis and driveline, contributes to a model-for-model weight saving of up to 772 pounds compared to the outgoing vehicle. The new model offers a choice of three engines, one gasoline and two diesel. A high-efficiency diesel hybrid model will be coming in 2013, with target carbon dioxide emissions of 169 g/km.
Toyota’s 2013 Avalon is 110 pounds lighter than its previous model year, making it the lightest-weight vehicles in the premium mid-sized segment, the automaker said. Engineers have focused on weight reduction across Toyota’s product line in an effort to improve efficiency. The 2013 Avalon offers a combined 40 mpg EPA rating. By the end of the year, the Avalon Hybrid sedan also will arrive to market with a combined 40 mpg rating.
BMW has improved the efficiency of its fall 2012 models within the compact and mid-range segments through a number of enhancements to the vehicles’ engines and other equipment. The new BMW 114d model, which is powered by a 1.6-liter version of the four cylinder diesel engine, will make its debut this fall.
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