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From Honda.com (news releases):

New V6 Accord Hybrid with VCM

Slated for introduction later this year as a 2004 model, the mid-size Accord Hybrid brings hybrid power to Honda's best-selling model, delivering an even higher level of performance than the already powerful 240-horsepower Accord V6 Sedan with the fuel economy of a four-cylinder, compact-class Civic.

The Accord Hybrid is the first V6 application of Honda's Integrated Motor Assist technology and the first hybrid vehicle to employ Variable Cylinder Management technology. Developed by Honda, VCM allows for the deactivation of three of the engine's six cylinders under certain conditions - such as highway cruising - to deliver even greater fuel efficiency with no sacrifice in performance. VCM will also be applied to another new model being introduced later this year.

With the addition of the Accord Hybrid, Honda increases to three the number of models featuring its innovative Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid technology, including two of America's most popular cars - the Honda Civic and Honda Accord. Honda was the first automaker to introduce gas-electric hybrid technology to American consumers when it launched the Honda Insight in December 1999, followed by the Civic Hybrid - the first truly mainstream hybrid vehicle - in March 2002. Together, the Insight and Civic Hybrid captured four of the top five slots in the EPA 2004 fuel economy ratings.

Link: http://www.hondacars.com/info/news/article...ry=currenthonda


Can't GM climb onboard this as well??!!
Power and gas sipping all at once!

Cheers
 

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GM is putting all it's eggs in the fuel cell basket as far as I can tell. The hygrogen infrastrucutre alone for these things will take decades to sort out. Hybrids look increasingly like a good interim solution.

Mark
 

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Originally posted by usa1@Jan 12 2004, 07:54 PM
GM is putting all it's eggs in the fuel cell basket as far as I can tell. The hygrogen infrastrucutre alone for these things will take decades to sort out. Hybrids look increasingly like a good interim solution.

Mark
I agree. GM's general dismissal of all things hybrid has me concerned for their future competitiveness. I don't think a few hundred government hybrid vehicles is going to cut it, and I am growing ever more skeptical of their plans for limited hybrid powertrains in their commercial vehicles, as the time table for their introduction is being pushed back.

I agree with Mark that a hydrogen infrastructure is years away for a variety of reasons.

The current atmosphere at GM around hybrid powertrains reminds me of how Roger Smith dismissed the sure-to-fail "melted chocolate" appearance of the '86 Ford Taurus. He didn't call that one too well, eh?
 

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Well, I don't totally disagree, but I think its a bit more complicated than that. GM has voiced a strategy that hybrid technology is best used to improve the fuel economy of larger vehicles that really need an improvement rather than small cars that already get good fuel economy. Sell a lot of pickup trucks that average 20 mpg rather than 15 mpg and you have the potential to save an lot of fuel.

From a tax point of view, improving the low end of GM's fuel economy line rather than the upper end is more likely to improve their CAFE numbers while allowing them to sell profitable cars and trucks. It's difficult to profitably introduce a expensive new technology in a $20,000 sedan. It's much easier in a $35,000 truck. And unlike Toyota and Honda, GM sells a huge volume of low fuel economy trucks and SUVs that may soon be targeted by higher CAFE numbers - so having a solution ready is a good business strategy.

That said, they ARE losing the marketing and communications advantages of having an offering in the consumer market. Certainly hybrid technologies play to the GM's strengths - they already developed a lot of expertise on electric powertrains and controlers with the EV1 program. They really should take something like the Malibu and offer some kind of hybrid powertrain that gets really good fuel economy just to demonstrate that they can compete in that area. Supposedly Saturn was supposed to offer such cars under the "Green Line" label, which seems brilliant, but they seem really slow in coming - which isn't!

Conversely, if GM has a better solution to the ecological and political costs of oil dependancy (bio-diesel? grain alcohol?) they should start articulating their strategy now.

Ironically, if GM really believes in fuel cells, it will need expertise in hybird power systems. Most fuel cells don't respond too quickly to changes in power, so it is likely that fuel cell vehicles will be hybrids in the sense that they will need to store excess electrical power in a battery or capacitor for quick bursts of acceleration. Demonstrating expertise in hybrids now only paves the way for fuel cell vehicles in 10 or 20 years.
 

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Let's see the sticker price and fuel economy numbers.
That way we can calculate cost of ownership and see
if getting a hybrid car is even worth it in the long run.

Just seeing high fuel economy numbers does not mean
that a hybrid is any more economical than the others.
 

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The price of hybrids can be easily solved by focusing on performance, rather than solely on fuel efficiency. Consumers pay premiums every day for V6s over 4 cylinders, or V8s over V6s. Why?? Because of increased performance. We're used to that.

If GM offered a $25,000 - $30,000 Malibu that got 240 HP, would it matter if it was powered by the 3.9L V6 or by the 3.5L V6 plus a hybrid?? A top of the line 3.5L V6 Malibu is already $25,000. If they offered the 3.9, you know it would be even more expenssive. So why not stick a hybrid powertrain in there and say "Yeah, you get the extra power you wanted, but by the way, you also get improved fuel economy as a bonus." As experience and economies of scale increase, costs will come down and the technology could be offered in less expenssive vehicles to compete with the likes of the Prius as well. IMO.
 

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The real price advantage will come with 4wd models.
Currently getting 4wd options add several thousand dollars to a cars price, and cuts mpg significantly.
Current hybrid technology adds several thousand to the price of a car, although it is coming down. The current prius is as large as the camery, and costs about the same. It improves mpg.
A hybrid can be configured to provide 4wd capability without a drive shaft and rear differential. Thus a hybrid might actually weigh less than a conventional 4wd.
Thus for a minor price difference you could improve performance and gas mileage and get to yak to all of your neighbors about the great technology siting in your driveway. Let's face it, most people don't use 1/4 of the capablities their cars have, the yak factor is important.

I think that toyota will be releasing the highlander and RX330 with this type of configuration. I'm betting the price will not be that much different than the high end standard gas options, but we'll see.

The other things to consider in the savings department.
1. brakes - Since you use the electric motor to slow down, brake wear is significantly reduced.
2. Oil changes - The civic hybrid recs a change every 10,000 miles
3. Engine wear - The load on the engine is significantly reduced as the electric motor handles much of the torque loads. Electric motors should easily outlast the engine.

The risk is the increased complexity. The quality of cars in general has dramatically improved, and my guess is that there should be little risk in this department. Toyota warranties the hybrid components for something like 8-10yrs.

I have a civic and I think we may trade in the minivan if the highlander really pans out. Ford may produce an Escape model, but I'm not sure what sort of configuration they will have, and they have continuely delayed this. The mild hybrids and the talk of fuel cells are confetti in my oppinion. We need concrete action from our companies.

As a guy who would love to buy American, but hates supporting saudi arabia, I really wish the big 3 would get involved in figuring out a solution for our country.
 

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GM has 100 excuses why it still uses pushrod engines in so many vehicles, why so many 4-speed transmissions in all-new cars, old chassis/frames under so many refreshed and restyled cars, and even lets its so called "sport vans" come with a Chevy Venture console shifter, so the avoidance and excuses for implementing Hybrid powertrains on a wide variety of mainstream passenger vehicles -- heck even one -- (no fleet Silverado mild hybrids don't count since you can get them with a diesel anyway) doesn't shock me.

GM avoiding hybrids is just like their avoidance and eventual grudging acceptance of just about every kind of new technology (how long until the Cavalier finally gave in and got an overhead cam base engine?) that requires major changes in their mainstream vehicles. GM prefers to change and invest as little as possible, it seems, unless the tech in question is something fluff-like such as night vision cameras or other doo-dad add ons. Honda, on the other hand, knows that investment in this kind of thing pays off in the form of free PR from the techno-geeks that drool over this kind of thing, and the Democrats and Greenies who love them almost as much as they love Taxes ;).

DOD in revised pushrod engines won't win PR wars. Even just one Suzuki co-developed hybrid passenger car would.
 

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MING, now you know why I have ranted and raved about GM suits since I joined this forum. GM ruled the car world technologically and design wise from the 1920's to the mid 1970's then they collapsed like the Roman Empire. To fat dumb and happy for too long then the barbarians ran them over. They have been in the Dark Ages ever since and are trying to figure it out. The Romans never figured it out so keep your fingeres crossed.
 

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I think the General felt like the days when it reached with technology (i.e. the days of Ed Cole) it never really got a big payback for all the effort. GM spends millions developing a radical new small car (the Corvair) only to find itself up against two very conventional competitors (the Valiant and the Falcon) ... and the public not really caring about the differences.

GM develops an all aluminum engine without cylinder liners (the Vega) only to have a whole bunch of problems in the field. Yet, the technology itself went on to become proven by companies like Porche and Mercedes Benz. The concept was quite sound. GM's execution was lacking.

I think from the "GM culture" perspective, the last big innovation that made them any money - and gave them a competitive advantage - was the automatic transmission.

But, I think GMs problem isn't creating new (and exciting) technology. It seems their engineers and R&D people are among the best in the world. Where it seems to fall down is in the manufacturing and marketing. GM seems to be too big a company to get a radical new idea to market successfully.

Other big technology companies with this problem often spin off their engineering divisions or create smaller companies designed to be agile enough (and with the right team) to find ways to commercialize their best ideas. Xerox through it's PARC research centre created a whole bunch of innovations (the computer mouse, the concept of the desktop) that Xerox ended up licensing to other companies. Palm (as in the Palm Pilot) was spun out of a larger comany called 3Com when it recognized the company was more likely to be a success if it was on its own and focusing on what it did best.


Maybe that's what GM should do. I've advocated for SAAB to function this way as it is closest to this anyway. SAAB could be the GM arm that brings new technology to market - hybrids, fuel cells, advanced materials, telematics, etc. Produced in smaller numbers to a market that wants the next thing, such a division would give GM the chance to see what these technologies has more widespred potential before "trickling" them down to other divisions.
 
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