Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Volt Gets Its EPA Sticker Also

Hot on the heels of the EPA announcement that the Nissan Leaf will get 99 MPGe, the Chevrolet Volt received its own EPA sticker today. Unlike the all electric Leaf, the Volt is a plug in hybrid and thus has three distinct fuel economy figures. On a full battery charge the Volt will travel about 35 miles while getting 93 MPGe, or only slightly worse than the Leaf. After the initial battery charge runs out the Volt consumes gasoline like a regular car. The EPA rates the Volt at 35 city and 40 highway when running purely on gasoline, these numbers place it slightly above compact cars fuel economy wise. Overall, the EPA predicts that through a mix of electric and gasoline driving the Volt on average will achieve 60 MPG combined, this places the Volt 10 MPG ahead of the Prius. Of course this estimate depends on the amount of driving done with the gas engine running. A long highway drive with no opportunity to recharge will push the MPG down towards 40, while short trips around town will have the Volt's average over 60. While the Volt didn't live up to Chevy's 230 mpg hype claim, its electric efficiency is only slightly behind the lighter Leaf's and respectable in gas only mode.

With both the Leaf and the Volt ready to go on sale this December the electric vehicle battle is on and it's up to the consumer to see which vehicle they prefer. Looking solely at the EPA ratings, the Volt gives up little efficiency while providing a significant range advantage.

LA Autoshow Favorites

With the LA Autoshow behind us it's time to take a look at the best production and concept cars from the show. The list of production models making their debut was significant. Chrysler and Dodge unveiled significantly updated versions of their mid-size sedans and minivans along with the new Durango and Charger. Nissan unveiled its new Quest minivan along with the first convertible crossover in the Murano CrossCabriolet. The Buick LaCrosse with E Assists is interesting as well as it promises high fuel economy from a mild hybrid system. Nevertheless, the CLS 63 AMG takes the best production debut category with its matte paint, huge power, and bold styling. The original CLS is widely known as a styling icon, and it appears that the second generation CLS, at least in the AMG form, does not disappoint.

Mercedes Benz CLS63, click to enlarge

On the concept side, he Subaru Impreza Concept and the Nissan Ellure take the honors as best concepts. Both concepts aim to give the public a preview of how their future production sedans will look like. The Impreza concept gives a good preview of how the next Impreza sedan should look like minus the typical show car elements. While Nissan says that the Ellure concept is not a preview of any specific model in its lineup, don't be surprised to see some of its styling elements in the next Sentra and Altima.

Subaru Impreza Concept

Nissan Ellure Concept

Monday, November 22, 2010

EPA Gives the LEAF 99 MPG

With the Nissan LEAF set to go on sale this upcoming December, the EPA has finally given the car its official fuel economy sticker. Officially the LEAF will have a city rating of 106 MPGe, 92 MPGe highway and 99 combined. Naturally because the LEAF is powered solely by electricity it doesn't use any gasoline, but the EPA is calculating its "fuel economy" ratings on energy consumption. Thus the LEAF consumes electrical energy at a rate equivalent to a gasoline powered car achieving 99 miles per gallon combined. The EPA also estimates that on a full charge the LEAF should be good for about 73 miles of travel. Needless to say these ratings put the LEAF ahead of any other mass produced car to date.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Unrelated But Awesome

Here are the two pieces of automotive news from the past couple of days that are completely unrelated but nevertheless very interesting. First is the first official photo of the upcoming Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet. Even though Nissan had confirmed its existence a while ago not many believed that Nissan would actually take the top of its well known crossover. The CrossCabriolet represents a new vehicle segment being formed in front of our eyes, which makes it an exciting debut at the upcoming Los Angeles autoshow. As far as the design of the crossover convertible, the transition looks good so far, but we have to wait for top-up pictures before assigning a final verdict.

The second exciting piece of news is Lamborghini's reveal of its brand new 700 horsepower V12 engine. The 6.5 liter V12 features a new design and is said to be lighter than the previous V12s which all shared a common heritage dating back to 1964. Along with the new V12 Lamborghini also revealed a new automated manual gearbox that promises extremely fast shifting times. The V12 and gearbox combo will go inside the Murcielago replacement in early 2011. The latest rumor indicates that it will be called the Aventador. The Aventador and its new V12 are especially exciting because they represent what could be one of the last pure supercars.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cylinder Displacement By Brand

The common automotive saying says that there is no replacement for displacement, but there is no such saying about the best way to achieve more displacement. A company may choose to increase the number of cylinders or they can just build an engine with larger displacement per each cylinder. Having a smaller cylinder usually allows for an engine that can achieve higher RPM, but having more cylinders also increases complexity and weight. After sorting through some data, Kill With Fire has come up with this chart that ranks all of the manufacturer brands by their average cylinder size.

Click on the chart to enlarge it.