New Cars Introduced In Detroit

electric motor
electric motor

There are three new cars that have wowed the visitors, kibitzers and participants in the ongoing Detroit Motor Show. These electric vehicles are from Lexus, the prime Toyota brand, Volvo, the Swedish car giant and BMW, the German carmaker.

The Lexus LF-LC concept is a rapid departure from the conservative models of the previous years. This is a two plus two seater hybrid sports coupe designed by Calty Studio of Toyota. While many say that the concept would just remain a concept and not a commercial vehicle, the design is consistent with the design development done under the CT and GS. This vehicle liberates the concept of a sports coupe to push the performance, style and technology boundaries not only for Lexus but for the industry as well. The price is $375,000 and it has a front engine rear drive hybrid power train named the Advanced Lexus Hybrid Drive.

The Volvo XC60 Plug-In Hybrid is a reworked version of the highly successful family sedan. This Volvo design has a plug-in version of the V60 wagon sold throughout Europe. A gas version electric hybrid would be available by 2015 in the United States. According to Stefan Jacoby, CEO of Volvo Cars, he viewed that plug-in hybrids had greater market advantages over the all-electrics. He did say that it would take some time for the market share of electric vehicles to become significant. The XC60 has a 280 horsepower turbo charged four-cylinder engine that shares duties with a seventy horsepower electric motor. It claims to run from zero to sixty in just 5.8 seconds. With just electric power, the range is 35 miles while with the gas engine, the electric equivalent of over 100 miles to the gallon can travel over 600 miles to a full tank of gas.

The BMW ActiveHybrid 5 and Active Hybrid 3 were unveiled last Jan 9, 2012 and are in reality higher mileage hybrid models of the company’s top selling sport sedans. The ActiveHybrid 5 would be sold all across America by June and the ActiveHybrid 3 would become available by the fall season. The 5 series has a combined mileage of 28 miles to the gallon while the 3 Series runs 37 miles to the gallon. The hybrid vehicles would run on turbocharged 300 horsepower engine with six cylinders in addition to a 55 horsepower electric motor. The cars have eight speed automatic gearboxes and have start stop functions to avoid idling when at full stop. The ActiveHybrid 5 would cost $61,845 including delivery charges, $8700 more expensive than the conventional 535i. These hybrids are much more practical vehicles compared to the i8 plug in hybrid still to be built. Overall, there’s not much to distinguish the hybrids from their conventional cars.

Volvo Announces EV Range Extensions


Volvo Car Corporation has recently announced an improvement in the automaker’s electric car line by including in its program test cars with Range Extenders. These devices are combustion engines that increase the range of Volvo’s electric vehicle fleet.

The project is supported by the European Union and the Swedish Energy Agency and would be in production by the first quarter of 2012. According to Derek Crabb, Volvo’s VP for Powertrain Engineering, the expansion is an increased focus on the limitations of the battery life in an all-electric vehicle. Despite the inclusion of the engine, the CO2 emissions are still below the ceiling of 50g/km set by existing EU laws.

The company is already into three different programs using different technology combinations. In one program, there is a three-cylinder gasoline or ethanol engine to complement the electric drive to the front wheels. All the vehicles have brake energy regeneration and the battery pack is smaller to allow for the combustion engine and the fuel tank.

The first program is the all electric Volvo C30 with a series connected Range Extender. The result is the car can produce 60 hp or 45 kW located under the rear load compartment floor with a 40-liter tank. In this configuration, the combustion engine is connected to a 40 kW generator that drives the electric motor or can recharge the battery instead.

The second program is the electric Volvo C30 with a parallel-connected Range Extender. Here the combustion engine is parallel connected to the turbocharged 190 horsepower engine to drive rear wheels on its six speed automatic transmission. The battery can also be recharged to be used by the 111 hp electric motor.

The third program is installed in a Volvo V60 and is parallel-connected Range Extender. This configuration has all the drive system up front where the 111 hp electric motor is supplemented by the three-cylinder engine to produce 190 hp. It also has a two stage automatic transmission on a 40 kW generator. The combustion engine drives the front wheels and recharges the batteries at the same time.

The three car projects would provide the car company the possibilities in the utilization of the Range Extender in future vehicles. The goal, according to Crabb, is to “make the cars exceptionally CO2 lean without compromising on customer requirements such as comfort, driving pleasure and practicality.”