News: Honda Unveils CR-V Hybrid at Frankfurt Motor Show

News: Honda Unveils CR-V Hybrid at Frankfurt Motor Show

At last week’s Frankfurt auto show, automakers vied to show that Tesla won’t overtake them by introducing a passel of battery-electric vehicles themselves. Here’s a look from Clean Fleet Report of one of those new electrified cars that you could be driving by the end of this decade.

Honda Joins the Compact SUV Hybrid Club

Last week, Honda unveiled its CR-V hybrid prototype at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show. Featuring some new styling changes, reminiscent of the new Civic Type-R, the CR-V hybrid boasts an Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive system, dubbed i-MMD. The system (based off the current Accord Hybrid) is comprised of a 2.0-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder gasoline engine, an electric motor and a separate electric generator.

Honda CR-V Hybrid

Honda CR-V Hybrid Coming

Rather than using a normal automatic transmission, the system uses a single-ratio direct drive transmission. This allows for seamless transition between three driving modes: EV Drive, Hybrid Drive and Engine Drive.

In EV Drive mode, power is drawn solely from the batteries and sent to the electric motor, allowing for emission-free driving. When in Hybrid Drive mode, the gasoline engine supplies power to the electric generator, which in turn delivers power to the electric motor. In Hybrid mode, any unused power from the gasoline engine can be redirected to recharge the batteries. In Engine Drive mode, the wheels are driven by the gasoline engine, with ‘on-demand’ boost available from the electric motor.

While it has not yet been announced that the CR-V Hybrid will come to North America, it will reach Europe sometime in 2018 and is likely to find its way to the U.S. after that.

Crossovers Get Electrified

But does Honda’s Frankfurt reveal also tell us something about global auto-market trajectory?

Honda CR-V Hybrid

The compact crossover segment is seeing more electrified models

While Honda’s CR-V Hybrid is still one of only a few crossover vehicles to be electrified, it seems to be the beginning of a larger trend. As the market moves away from sedans in favor of lifted “lifestyle” hatchbacks, it is only a matter of time before hybrid and electric crossovers become the leading segment.

In fact, Toyota’s RAV4 Hybrid has already raced past the clearly aging Prius V in sales numbers. Admittedly, Subaru’s XV Crosstrek Hybrid did not last long, Nissan’s Rogue Hybrid has followed a similar trajectory. Kia added the hybrid Niro. Ford has followed the trend, announcing an electrified version of its Escape (to replace the departing C-Max Hybrid), while Chevrolet dropped a diesel engine in the Equinox to maximize fuel economy. The race is on.

Related Stories You Might Enjoy:

Road Test: 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Road Test: 2917 Nissan Rogue Hybrid (John’s view)

Road Test: 2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid (Steve’s view)

Road Test: 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid (Larry’s view)

Road Test: 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid (Steve’s view)

Road Test: 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid (John’s view)

Road Test: 2017 Ford C-Max Hybrid

 

News: Mini EV Teased Ahead of Frankfurt Motor Show

News: Mini EV Teased Ahead of Frankfurt Motor Show

At this week’s Frankfurt Motor Show, automakers will be vying to show that Tesla won’t overtake them by introducing a passel of battery-electric vehicles themselves. Here’s a look from Clean Fleet Report of one of those new electrified cars that you could be driving by the end of this decade.

Electric Mini to Hit Market in 2019

For the most part, modern electric vehicles (EVs) fit into two categories: small econobox commuters and $100,000+ super cars.

Mini EV

A promise of an affordable performance EV

Unfortunately, for those of us who don’t enjoy blending in our our morning commute, or didn’t find 100 grand under our pillow after losing a tooth, we have yet to see a small, affordable, but sporty EV.

Ahead of the biennial Frankfurt Motor Show, Mini unveiled its new EV concept. It will be officially showcased during the show. While this is not Mini’s first EV (that was the Mini-E, a limited edition produced in 2009) it is designed to complement the new Countryman plug-in hybrid.

Design First

As no powertrain specs have yet been released, the Mini EV tease is really a design showcase more than anything else; that being said, the design is something worth showing off.

Mini EV

A full electric Mini returns

As if the engineers in Germany have finally turned aesthetic appeal into a science, Mini describes its new EV design as, “Cutting-edge, pure and dynamic (in an efficient way).” What we really like about its design are the new LED headlights (which look much less “buggy” than the current Mini Cooper headlights), the funky asymmetrical wheels, and the LED taillights, which are each designed to be half a Union Jack.

Just like every other anticipated EV, if the Mini is going to be competitive it will have to offer an all-electric range of at least 200 miles (if not more), and maintain the classic “bulldog” sportiness that has carried the brand for so many years.

The latter could be much harder than it sounds, but according to Senior Vice President of BMW Group Design, Adrian van Hooydonk, “The Mini Electric Concept is a quintessential Mini–compact, agile, simply the ideal companion for everyday driving. At the same time, it conveys a whole new take on the concept of sportiness.” Given that the Mini EV’s powertrain will be built in the same line as the BMW i3, it can be expected to produce similar spunky performance.

As with powertrain numbers, we have yet to be given an official price for the Mini EV. Its pricing will likely not be dictated by competitor pricing, as the Mini EV will not have any direct competitors; that being said, look for pricing to be somewhere around the magical $35,000 mark with lease deals below the BMW i3’s $289/month ones.

Related Stories You Might Enjoy:

News: Mini Countryman Plug-in Hybrid

Road Test: 2017 BMW i3

News: Hyundai-Kia’s Future Is Electric Powertrains

News: Hyundai-Kia’s Future Is Electric Powertrains

Korean Company Pushes Hard with EVs

Only a decade ago, the words “Hyundai” and “Kia” were recognized strictly by fans of recycled Mitsubishi technology, and people who love hamsters. However, recently Korean giant Hyundai-Kia has made its presence felt in the automotive world with sales, quality rankings and technology. Now, it looks to make an even bigger splash with electric vehicles (EVs).

Hyundai FCEV concept

Hyundai’s future EVs will include fuel cells

In a statement, Hyundai-Kia announced that it will spotlight electric vehicles as the main focus of its brand. This announcement comes following the recent U.S. launch of the Ioniq EV, and tease of the upcoming Niro EV.

“We’re strengthening our eco-friendly car strategy, centering on electric vehicles,” Lee Kwang-guk, executive vice president of Hyundai Motors, recently told a news conference.

According to various reports, Hyundai is planning to release an EV sedan under its luxury brand, Genesis, with an estimated range of more than 300 miles per charge. Also in the works, is an all-electric version of the Kona crossover, which will have an estimated range of about 240 miles, and may be shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show later this month.

Dedicated EV Platform

According to a Reuters report, Hyundai also confirmed that it is developing its first dedicated electric vehicle platform, likely to be first seen in the upcoming Kona EV. The new platform will allow the company to produce multiple EV models with longer driving ranges.

2017 Kia Niro

A Niro EV is coming soon

The announcement of these new EV vehicles–as well as three others that have not yet been detailed–brings Hyundai-Kia’s projected eco-friendly vehicle count up to 31 models by 2020; nine more than it had 2014.

This focus on EV technology is hardly surprising as the market continues to shift in that direction. With Tesla launching its Model 3 and General Motors boosting the range its EVs, the question has to be: Will the Koreans be able to offer, not just an alternative EV, but a range of game-changing EVs? We’ll be keeping tabs on every development.

Related Stories You Might Enjoy:

Road Test: 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric

Comparison Test: 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric & Hybrid

News: Will Hyundai Bring Its New EV to the US?

Road Test: 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid (Larry’s view)

Road Test: 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid (Steve’s view)

Road Test: 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid (John’s view)

News: Chanje looks to change the game with all-electric commercial van

News: Chanje looks to change the game with all-electric commercial van

Start-up To Bring Chinese EV Van to U.S. Market

Last week, a new startup called Chanje (pronounced “change”) jumped into the electric vehicle (EV) market, but not with a vehicle you might expect. In its inaugural press release, Chanje unveiled its first vehicle: a commercial, all-electric van called V8070 (their creative team might need a little help).

Change Electric Van

Chanje thinks its electric van will fit into the last-mile delivery market

The V8070 is nominally a Class 5 medium-duty panel van with about 580 cu.ft. of cargo space. Range is estimated at 65 miles with a full 6,000-lb payload and 100 miles with a 3,000-lb payload. The van uses dual rear-mounted electric motors with batteries mounted on the floor of the vehicle.

Chanje claims that, “The average urban delivery route in the U.S. is 70 miles a day, making last-mile delivery a perfect market for electric mobility.” This target market is a large niche (500,000 sales annually) that has not been successfully explored by any other major auto makers. In the past decades other startups (some of which are where Chanje executives had their first taste of the business) have made a run at producing electric trucks for this market, but none have survived. Currently, two major competitors are sniffing in this arena—Daimler subsidiary Mitsubhishi Fuso started production of an all-electric Class 4 truck, the eCanter, in Europe with plans to introduce it in the U.S. next month. In addition, Chinese automaker BYD has established a manufacturing facility in California and is offering an all-electric Class 5 truck (chassis only) for sale.

Chanje V8070 Specs & Background

The V8070 is estimated to achieve a 50 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent rating); according to Chanje, it could save customers an average of 70 percent in fuel costs by going full electric, although it will have a higher initial cost for the vehicle. the company focuses on the benefits of its vehicles rather than its specifications. It has said the van has a 7.2 kW on-board charger and uses a J1772 standard charger, the same one used on light-duty vehicles. It will carry a 70 kWh battery powering dual rear electric motors. The motors have a combined 198 horsepower, but more important, deliver 564 pounds-feet of torque. The van’s top speed is 80 mph, but it can take on a 30 percent grade. It rides on 215/75R17.5 tires and features an independent front suspension and leaf spring rear. A key delivery number is its 26.6-foot turning radius. 

Backed by Hong Kong’s FDG Electric Vehicles, Chanje has already received a $1 billion investment from FDG to bring the V8070 to mass production by the end of the year. While its current manufacturing facility is in Hangzhou, China, Chanje is looking to open a facility somewhere in the western United States.

Change Electric Van

The dash for the Chanje van is modern

The commercial fleet management company, Ryder, has already partnered with Chanje and has placed an initial order for the V8070. The first portion of Chanje vehicles will be sent to Ryder locations around the country; available for ChoiceLease customers. A second portion of the vehicles will be added to Ryder’s commercial rental fleet; available to customers for short-term rentals.

While big time delivery services like United Postal Service and Federal Express are the ultimate target for Chanje vans, those larger companies will likely wait and see how the V8070 fares in smaller markets before putting their own money down. In the interim, Chanje executives have said they will target smaller fleets, which the affiliation with Ryder could help.

While the V8070 is currently only available in one size, Chanje plans to offer a diverse range of EV vans in multiple configurations and sizes. Pricing for the V8070 is a bit vague and has not been officially announced yet. 

Related Stories You Might Enjoy:

News: 2017 ACT Expo Points To New Directions for Trucks

News: Can Electricity Help Deliver the Mail?

News: Report Says Buick Will Get EV Crossover Based on the Bolt EV

News: Report Says Buick Will Get EV Crossover Based on the Bolt EV

GM Set to Expand EV Lineup

Even though General Motors technically won the race to release an affordable electric vehicle with over 200 miles of range, their golden child–the Chevrolet Bolt EV–has not sold quite as well as GM had hoped. Maybe it is still a little early to tell for sure, but it seems that GM is wasting no time in giving its buyers more options.

According to a recent report from InsideEVs, an all-electric Buick crossover based on the Bolt EV may be on its way. The report is based on information obtained from a “very trusted/known source” who attended a focus group in California.

Buick EV

Buick EV

According to the source, the future Buick EV will be essentially just a body and badge swap, with a few caveats. Most importantly, the Buick EV will share the same 60 kWh battery and motor as the Bolt which means it will be front-drive only.

With the interior of the car, it seems that GM is really trying to separate this vehicle from the Bolt as it will feature a floating roof and entirely new center console with larger touchscreen display. The Buick EV is also said to have about three inches more rear legroom.

Buick Encore-like

From the outside, the body of the future Buick EV was described by the source as “next generation Buick Encore-like.”

Buick Velite 5 Extended-Range Electric Vehicle

One Chevrolet (the Volt) has already become a Buick in China (the Velite 5)

Buick Velite 5 Extended-Range Electric Vehicle

One Chevrolet (the Volt) has already become a Buick in China (the Velite 5)

While it is common knowledge that GM plans to build a variety of vehicles based off the Bolt EV platform, this report is the first to suggest that the first Bolt EV sibling will be a Buick. This is not surprising, as any attempt to compete with the Tesla Model 3 (the other “affordable” EV that is just starting production—the quotes indicating that so far that means a $44,000 model) must fall further into the luxury category than the Bolt EV.

If Buick does release an EV crossover, look for it to cost around $3,000 more than the Chevrolet Bolt, and to hit the U.S. and Chinese markets first. The Chevy Volt had already been translated into the Buick Velite 5 for the Chinese market.

Related Stories You Might Enjoy:

Personal: Six Months with the Bolt EV

News: First Tesla Model 3 Deliveries

News: Chevrolet Bolt EV Will be Available Nationwide