Thursday, November 29, 2012

New Fusion named Green Car of Year

By Joseph Szczesny
The 2013 Ford Fusion has notched another award as it was named Green Car Journal's 2013 Green Car of the Year during press previews for  the Los Angeles Auto Show. The Fusion won out from an a very strong field of finalists including the 2013 Dodge Dart Aero, Ford C-MAX, Mazda CX-5 SKYACTIV and the Toyota Prius c.
Green Car of the Year honors are reserved for production vehicles on sale by Jan. 1 of the award year.  Nominees are exemplary in that they forward environmental performance in meaningful and quantifiable ways while also presenting an accessible choice to enough consumers to make a real impact on the environment. The new Fusion not only significantly reduces petroleum use, CO2 emissions and overall environmental impact, but is priced to encourage the kind of sales volume that can truly influence environmental improvement.
Ford's all-new Fusion exhibits a stunning design and Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, plus an affordable point of entry at just $21,700. Importantly, the 2013 Ford Fusion breaks new ground with five diverse powerplant choices, among them three efficient gasoline internal combustion engines including two with EcoBoost technology, a 47 mpg hybrid, and a plug-in hybrid that's expected to top 100 mpg equivalent.
Powering the base model is a 175 horsepower, 2.5-liter engine that's EPA rated at up to 34 mpg on the highway. Making use of Ford's advanced EcoBoost technology that combines direct gasoline injection and turbocharging, the Fusion's 178 horsepower, 1.6-liter powerplant achieves up to 37 highway mpg, with the more powerful 240 horsepower, 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine netting 33 mpg highway estimates. The Fusion hybrid provides a combined 188 horsepower with notable 47 mpg fuel efficiency across the board, while allowing travel at up to 62 mph on electric power alone. Fusion Energi capitalizes on Ford's excellent hybrid powertrain, adding plug-in charging capability and up to 20 miles of all-electric range, with hundreds of additional miles available on gasoline-electric hybrid power.
"The 2013 Ford Fusion approaches the market with a 'game-on' attitude," said Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of the Green Car Journal and, and president of the nonprofit Green Car Institute. "There's no overstating the importance of what Ford has done. Many have long envisioned new car showrooms where a desired model could be purchased with one of many distinctly different and efficient powertrains, selected to satisfy a buyer's particular needs and desires."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ford reveals fuel-efficient of Fiesta

  The revamped Ford Fiesta, powered by the award-winning 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine that delivers 40 mpg-plus debuted during the press preview at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
  "Customers want cars that are expressive and fun while offering class-leading fuel economy," says Mark Fields, Ford president of The Americas. "Fiesta delivers all the excitement drivers are looking for in a car we believe will raise the bar even higher for small cars in North America.
"Our goal with this Fiesta was to take a car that was already a leader in fuel efficiency, performance, connectivity and personality, and make it even better," Fields adds.
 Fields described the new version as the most dramatic and distinctive Fiesta to date will deliver the best miles per gallon among its rivals, led by Ford's patented new 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine. This landmark engine, already selected for both the Popular Mechanics 2012 Breakthrough Award and Engine Technology International's International Engine of the Year Award in Europe, is expected to deliver more than 40 mpg.
 With that, Fiesta is projected to be the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid subcompact in America, and stands as a shining example of Ford's commitment to provide consumers with the most fuel-efficient cars, SUVs and truck,
  The 1.0-liter EcoBoost saves cash at the pump, it doesn't hold anything back on the road. At 123 horsepower for each liter of engine displacement (the engine's size), the 1.0-liter EcoBoost delivers more power for its size than a Lamborghini Aventador (at 108 horsepower per liter).

EcoBoost is fundamental to Ford's strategy to provide technologically advanced, high-output, smaller-displacement powertrains that deliver uncompromised performance and fuel economy. EcoBoost engines deliver fuel economy gains of up to 20 percent and reduction of CO(2 )emissions of up to 15 percent, compared with larger, less-efficient engines. Ford's leadership with EcoBoost has resulted in more than 125 patents on the technology. Currently, more than 500,000 vehicles have this engine and by 2013 more than 1.3 million will have EcoBoost, Fields added.

"This car was built for the digital generation," added John Schneider, Ford chief engineer, Upperbody Electronics. "With Bluetooth connectivity and MP3 capabilities, tech-savvy people who use social media to be constantly connected with the world around them won't be slowed down when they get in this car.

"It has always been the belief at Ford that entry-level drivers deserve the best technology," Schneider adds. "We launched SYNC AppLink on Fiesta, and now transitioning to MyFord Touch with this new touch screen enables us to go further in our quest to give drivers the best in in-car electronics."  By Joseph Szczesny

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

GM steps up electricfication drive

 General Motors is saying it will have 500,000 vehicles on the road with some form of electrification by 2017 with a focus on plug-in technology, according to the company’s top product development.
“The plug-in offers a unique opportunity to change the way people commute,” Mary Barra, senior vice president of Global Product Development told media attending the GM, said recently.  Other automakers, among Volvo, Ford, Honda, Toyota and Volkswagen, have stepped up their commitmens to hybrids, plu-in hybrids and EVs.
 Barra said plug-based solutions will play a significant role in our technology portfolio going forward.
The plug-in Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle, introduced in 2010, has become more than a statement for GM in the electric vehicle space, said.
“What started out as a technology proof point… has turned into a real-world starting point to push EV technology further and faster than we thought possible five years ago,” she said. “The unique propulsion technology pioneered in the Volt – the same technology that will be featured in the Cadillac ELR – will be a core piece of our electrification strategy going forward.”
Learning from the Volt is being liberally applied to the Chevrolet Spark EV, which will go on sale next year in the certain U.S. markets and South Korea with other markets to be announced soon.
“We’ll meet requirements set by certain regulatory agencies, but we’re not building the Spark EV to check a regulatory box,” Barra said.
GM is on track to sell more than 50,000 vehicles this year with electrification – between the Volt and eAssist light electrification technology on the Buick LaCross, Regal and Chevrolet Malibu. The 2014 Chevrolet Impala also will offer an eAssist model when he debuts next year.
“Our commitment to eAssist is unwavering,” Barra said. “In fact, our future portfolio calls for eAssist to be on hundreds of thousands of GM vehicles annually by 2017.” By Joseph Szczesny

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

MPG to honor Cadillac ATS

  The Michigan-made 2013 Cadillac ATS has been named "Vehicle of the Year" by the Los Angeles-based  Motor Press Guild.
  The ATS was one of six finalists chosen by  MPG members who test and review cars on a regular basis. The final vehicles were evaluated and ranked by all voting journalist and analyst members at MPG's annual Track Day in October.  Vehicles were rated in the categories of safety, quality, value, performance/handling, design/style, environmental/green impact and technology/innovation. The award will be presented during the press preview prior to the official opening of the LA Auto Show.

 In addition, journalists were encouraged to consider models that reflect the unique style of Southern California, according to MPG representatives.
  "In many ways, the ATS is a breakthrough vehicle for Cadillac," said Laura Burstein, Motor Press Guild president. "Not only is it smaller and leaner than other Cadillacs on the market, it's the first American luxury car that truly goes head-to-head with compact luxury sport sedans from well-known European and Asian brands. Our members remarked that the ATS is capable on both the street and the track, offers a well-made and attractive interior, is replete with the latest technology and - perhaps most importantly - is fun to drive."
"The ATS is the result of an extensive, all new, ground-up mission to deliver a segment-winning vehicle," says Don Butler, vice president of Cadillac Marketing. "That makes it especially rewarding when our efforts are recognized and awarded by a large and influential panel of automotive experts."
  To be eligible for the Motor Press Guild Vehicle of the Year award, models must be all-new or substantially changed from the previous year and available at dealerships on or before Jan. 1, 2013. Other 2012 VOTY finalists (in alphabetical order) are the 2013 Ford Fusion, 2013 Honda Accord, 2013 Nissan Altima, 2013 Scion FR-S and 2013 Subaru BRZ. By Joseph Szczesny

Monday, November 19, 2012

Volvo launches plug-in diesel

  Volvo Car Corporation is starting up  production of  what it describes as the world's first diesel plug-in hybrid, the new Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid, which can run for long periods on batteries or utilize the on board diesel engine for power. After the initial batch of 1,000 model year 2013 cars, production will increase to
4,000-6,000 cars as of model year 2014.
   The assembly of the  diesel plug-in hybrid has been successfully integrated on the same line as the company's other models at the Torslanda plant in Gothenburg.

    This is a remarkable achievement considering that the sophisticated plug-in hybrid technology includes two complete drive trains and a powerful battery that provides a range of up to 50 kilometres on pure electric power.
    "We are first in the industry to integrate a plug-in hybrid in an established
production flow together with other car models," says Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research and Development at Volvo Car Corporation. "The integration in the standard production flow gives the plug-in hybrid buyer the possibility to choose in principle all options available for the standard V60." By Joseph Szczesny

Thursday, November 15, 2012

BMW aids U.S. sledders

 BMW of North America, the Official Mobility Partner of the United States Olympic Committee, has  announced it  is developing a new two-man bobsled for use by Team USA in the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. In collaboration with USA Bobsled & Skeleton Federation (USBSF), BMW aims to leverage its engineering and design expertise to answer longstanding equipment and innovation needs of the U.S. Bobsled Team.
Working first with USBSF to capture its deep empirical knowledge, BMW then examined the design and performance history of existing two-man sled platforms, one of which has been the default bobsled of Team USA for more than 20 years, to completely re-engineer the two-man bobsled. Similar to vehicle development, BMW EfficientDynamics have been applied to the design of the two-man sled. The company has paired intelligent lightweight materials, optimized aerodynamics and chassis dynamics to leverage the energy output of the two-man team, increasing overall sport performance.
This project was sparked by a USBSF request for help  in closing a technology gap specific to the innovation of the U.S. two-man sled. While Team USA achieved momentous success at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, winning a gold medal in the four-man bobsled event, the two-man Olympic gold is one that has eluded the U.S. since 1936.
"We're extremely proud of what we've been able to accomplish as a team in the last 10 years, and know that we have the athletic potential to bring home more Olympic gold medals next year," said Darrin Steele, chief executive officer of USBSF. "By bringing BMW in to provide its expertise, we see an opportunity to close an equipment gap between Team USA and countries that have historically led Olympic two-man bobsled competition."
More than one year in development, a prototype of the BMW two-man bobsled has already been delivered to USBSF. The technology will be refined in the next year in continuance of a highly iterative development process that involves on-site immersion with USBSF athletes, coaches and engineers by BMW Group DesignworksUSA, BMW Group's international design studio headquartered in California, and on-ice testing by USBSF.
"What's been unique to this process is the level of collaboration by our creative team with the performance staff at USA Bobsled & Skeleton," said Laurenz Schaffer, President, BMW Group DesignworksUSA. "The level of immersion we've been able to achieve, which included athlete interviews for preferences and improvement areas, ergonomic evaluations and optimization studies in aerodynamics, has helped us to design what we believe will be a truly improved and innovative product."  By Joseph Szczesny

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ford, Microsoft celebrate alliance

 Despite  persistent complaints about the the system’s effectiveness and user interface problems, Ford Motor Co. and Microsoft are celebrating the fifth anniversary of the partnership, which spawned the SYNC system.
   More than 5 million Ford vehicles with the  connectivity system, which is  on a Microsoft platform for mobile connectivity.  Consumer Reports recently said problems with the system led to lower levels of consumer satsfication with Ford vehicles. But virtually every othe manufacturer has followed Ford’s lead and offers its own connectivity platform
Meanwhile, Ford and Microsoft look to the future for next phase of the connected  car experience to be based on intelligence through fusion of cloud
computing and sensor data
"SYNC has helped us evolve as an automaker, to think and act more like a technology company, with a new level of openness and access that has forever changed how we look at our business and respond to our customers," said Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president, Ford Research and Innovation. "Ultimately, SYNC embodies what Ford is all about: going further to transform innovative ideas into products that are affordable, attainable and valuable to millions of people."
When Ford and Microsoft first initiated the collaboration in 2005, the engineering teams recognized that mobile electronics were quickly becoming an increasingly important part of people's lives as cell phones and digital media players. Considering how quickly mobile device usage had grown in just the previous few years, the development team decided a new development approach was needed going forward. By Joseph Szczesny

Monday, November 5, 2012

Average fuel economy of cars improves in October

 After adjusting the average for changes in the rating for Hyundai/Kia vehicles, the average fuel economy of new vehicles sold in the U.S. in October was 24.1 miles per gallon - the highest level yet, and up 4 mpg from October 2007 when the survey began., according to the Univerity of Michigan Transportation Research Institute in Ann Arbor.  This 20 percent  improvement in fuel economy  corresponds to a 17 percent  reduction in fuel consumption (gallons per mile).  For the description of the calculations and the recent mpg values, please visit
The University of Michigan Eco-Driving Index (EDI)--an index that estimates the average monthly emissions of greenhouse gases generated by an individual U.S. driver--stood at 0.81 in August, an improvement of 19% since October 2007.  The EDI takes into account both vehicle fuel economy and distance driven, which utilizes the latter relying on data that are published with a two-month lag, according to U-M. By Joseph Szczesny

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hyundai and Kia face must adjust fuel economy estimates

Hyundai and Kia, both of which have chalked up big sales gains over the past three years, will have to adjust their fuel-economy stickers on the vehicles they sell in the United States after the Environmental Protection Agency said they had deliberately  overstated the miles per gallon figures required by the government.
The Environmental Protection Agency uncovered the discrepancy during an audit. The Korean automakers, which share testing and engineering labs both in the U.S. and South Korea, insisted the mathematical mistake that led to the faulty numbers was not done deliberately.
 Nevertheless, they  must retrofit the window stickers on the cars, reducing their fuel economy figures by one-to-six miles per gallon depending on the model, the EPA said. Both companies also face hefty fines.
"Consumers rely on the window sticker to help make informed choices about the cars they buy," said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator of the EPA's air-quality office. "EPA's investigation will help protect consumers and ensure a level playing field among automakers."
The EPA said its inquiry into the errors is continuing, and the agency would not comment when asked if the companies will be fined or if a criminal investigation is under way. But the EPA said it's the first case in which erroneous test results were uncovered in a large number of vehicles from the same manufacturer. Only two similar errors have been discovered since 2000, and those involved single models.
Hyundai and Kia executives apologized for the errors, insisting they unintentional, and promised to pay the owners of 900,000 cars and SUVs for the difference in mileage. The payments, which will be made annually for as long as people own their cars, could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars for both companies.
 Both Kia and Hyundai have touted fuel economy in their marketing campaigns over the past three yers. Hyundai especially has touted the fact it sell more non-hybrid models that get better than 40 miles per gallon than any other automaker.
The EPA said it received about a dozen complaints from consumers that the mileage of their 2012 Hyundai Elantra compact cars didn't match the numbers on the window stickers. So staffers at the EPA's vehicle and fuel emission laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich., included the Elantra in an annual audit that focused on cars that lead their market segments in mileage.
The audit turned up discrepancies between agency test results and data turned in by Hyundai and Kia, the EPA said. As a result, the automakers will have to knock one or two miles per gallon off the mileage posted on most of the models' window stickers. Some models will lose three or four miles per gallon, and the Kia Soul, a funky-looking boxy small SUV, will lose six mpg from the highway mileage on its stickers.
Hyundai and Kia, which have a common owner though they operate independently in the U.S. and other parts of the world, blamed the discrepancies on mistakes stemming from procedural differences between their mileage tests and those performed by the EPA.
"We're just extremely sorry about these errors," said John Krafcik, Hyundai's CEO of American operations. "We're driven to make this right."
The changes affect 13 models from the 2011 through 2013 model years, including seven Hyundais and six Kias. Window stickers will have to be changed on some versions of Hyundai's Elantra, Sonata Hybrid, Accent, Azera, Genesis, Tucson, Veloster and Santa Fe models, as well as the Kia Sorrento, Rio, Soul, Sportage and Optima Hybrid.
Michael Sprague, executive vice president of marketing for Kia Motors America, also apologized and said the companies have a program in place to reimburse customers for the difference between the mileage on the window stickers and the numbers from the EPA tests.
In an effort to compensate customers, Kia andHyundai plan to find out how many miles the cars have been driven, find the mileage difference and calculate how much more fuel the customer used based on average regional fuel prices and combined city-highway mileage. Customers will also get a 15 percent  premium for the inconvenience, and the payments would be made with debit cards, Sprague said. The owner of a car in Florida with a one mpg difference who drove 15,000 miles would get would get a debit card for $88.03 that can be refreshed every year as long as the person owns the car, Sprague said.
If all 900,000 owners get cards for $88.03, it would cost the automakers more than $79 million a year.
For information, owners can go to or .
Sung Hwan Cho, president of Hyundai's U.S. technical center near Ypsilanti, said the EPA requires a complex series of tests that are very sensitive and can have variations that are open to interpretation. The companies did the tests as they were making a large number of changes in their cars designed to improve mileage. The changes, such as direct fuel injection into the cylinders around the pistons, further complicated the tests, Cho said.
"This is just a procedural error," he said. "It is not intended whatsoever."
Krafcik said the companies have fixed testing procedures and are replacing window stickers on cars in dealer inventories. Owners can be confident in their mileage stickers now, he said, adding that Hyundai will still be among the industry leaders in gas mileage even with the revised window stickers.
The mileage was overstated on about one-third of the Hyundais and Kias sold during the three model years, he said.
Customers can find information about their Hyundai's m.p.g. here. Customers can find information about their Kia's m.p.g. here.  By Joseph Szczesny