Ford hybrid micro-van

Ford C-MAX side viewFord has announced a hybrid micro-van to be available in North America in 2012. The C-MAX will have three rows of seats and sliding side doors. A non-hybrid C-MAX has been available in Europe since 2003 and is somewhat similar to the Mazda5.

There will be two hybrid models, plus ones with conventional drivetrains. The C-MAX Hybrid sounds like a traditional hybrid, while the C-MAX Energi will be a Volt-like plug-in hybrid which aims to deplete its large battery before burning much gas. I’m looking forward to seeing more details.

update: Automobile Magazine’s first look has some images. So does

hybrid Toyota minivan more than rumor?

Prius MPV behind standard PriusAutomobile magazine reports that Toyota will be unveiling a Prius minivan early next year. Others expect an announcement as soon as the Los Angeles auto show, which begins this weekend.

If the blue silhouette image from last month is any indication it won’t be much bigger than a standard Prius, though Car News Break claims it should seat seven.

(Earlier in the month Toyota officially mentioned the newest member of the Toyota Prius family without identifying it as a van.)

hybrid minivan update

Chrysler: The “EV” plug-in hybrid minivan is toast. It was one of three vehicles in Chrysler’s ENVI program which has been canceled. The hyperlinks in my 2008 ENVI post are now dead.

Honda: It has been reported that Honda plans to add a hybrid minivan in 2011.

Toyota: Rumors of a “Prius MPV” (small hybrid van) have been swirling for a couple years now. They persist despite no substantiation.


Chrysler update: The Detroit News says that Chrysler “plans to offer a two-mode hybrid version of the Dodge Ram pickup next year. It will be followed by a plug-in hybrid Ram and a plug-in hybrid minivan in 2011.” The article also predicts that Chrysler will sell a pure electric version of the Fiat Doblò in late 2011 or 2012.

The Michigan Messenger also mentions a hybrid Chrysler minivan, but other sources do not. They do point out that Chrysler received $70 million in DoE grants to support its ENVI effort.

Chevy Volt getting lots of press

Chevy Volt under 230 mpg bannerThe Chevy Volt is a plug-in hybrid sedan anticipated in late 2011. Periodically I search for news stories on the Volt, but today the news stories found me. I have heard four different news blurbs discussing the Volt today (over three different forms of media) without even trying. I would say GM’s public relations department gets a gold star today.

I’m taking away a gold star, however, for the design of the banner unfurled above the vehicle at today’s announcement. (See image.) To me, it screams “23 MPG.” GM wants us to read it “230 MPG” but I just don’t see the smiley outlet thing as a zero. Do you?

The story lead has been GM’s 230 MPG claim. That it’s turning heads is no surprise, but I’m hungry for more details. GM says the Volt’s city EPA rating will be 230 miles per gallon, which I don’t doubt (even though the EPA hasn’t tested it yet) because GM has been negotiating with the EPA over methodology for a while now. But it will be interesting to see what the accompanying highway and overall numbers will turn out to be, and what assumptions will be made to reach them.

GM has said that a fully-charged Volt should be able to travel 40 miles without burning any gas, after which it should get approximately 50 MPG until the battery can be plugged in and recharge. So for the city rating, it seems the EPA is presuming that 78% of the distance traveled will be on battery power alone.

0.78 mi@∞ mpg + 0.22 mi@50 mpg → 1 mi / 0.0044 gal = 227.3 mpg

I don’t think 78% sounds unreasonable, but I’m curious how it was chosen Of course, should you want to know how much gas you would burn were you to drive a Volt, you should ignore the EPA’s 78% figure and come up with a percentage that represents your particular driving habits.

Charging the Volt’s battery at off-peak times (night) should cost less than $1 in most U.S. regions, so those first 40 miles will be reasonably cheap. Do you have an outlet in your garage?

Ford electric van by 2010

I have written about hybrid minivans b e f o r e but not for a few months because I hadn’t heard anything new. Well this week Ford announced that it will introduce a battery-powered van in 2010. It’s nice to know Ford is in the game, but there are some caveats:

  • It’s a full-size van (perhaps based on the Transit) not a minivan.
  • It’s a commercial vehicle intended for fleets, not private owners.
  • It’s a pure electric, not a hybrid or plug-in hybrid.

The announcement also mentions an “electric small car” in 2011 and “next-generation hybrid vehicles, including a plug-in version” in 2012.

While I’m here: The Chevy Orlando minivan is coming to North America in 2011 and could possibly get the Volt’s plug-in hybrid drivetrain.

Lexus to go hybrid-only?

lexus hybrid logo
Reuters reports that Toyota is considering making the Lexus lineup hybrid-only in the medium to long term. Hybrid versions of the RX, GS, and LS are already on the market. Presumably, hybrid versions of the remaining models would be introduced in the near term.

Toyota has arleady declared its intention to produce hybrid versions of all its vehicles—eventually—but dropping all conventional powertrains from the Lexus nameplate would be an intriguing move.