Archive for February, 2010

New Porsche 911, now with Hybrid!

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

It wasn’t all that long ago (summer 2009) that we caught a glimpse of the Batmobile Porsche 911. That car appeared to have a special something hiding under the bonnet – an electric motor and battery. For pictures, see:

http://green.autoblog.com/2009/07/28/spy-shots-is-this-porsche-911-mule-hiding-a-shocking-secret/

As a result ,of those photos, internet forums were set ablaze with speculation of what future iterations of the Porsche icon might include for a powertrain.

Then just weeks ago we heard from Porsche CEO Michael Macht in an interview with AutoCar Magazine that the company had no plans for hybrid technology, but wished to include some technologies including brake regeneration and start-stop. Brake regeneration captures the kenetic energy that occurs under braking conditions and start-stop stops the engine while the car is halted, such as in waiting for a red light at a stop.

In a bluff of some sort, Macht’s company announced earlier in the week the release of the 911 GT3 R Hybrid. Perhaps Macht would argue that a GT3 R is not a road car. Perhaps Porsche is really looking to develop a news sports-oriented technology to repel the charges of batteries adding immense weight to traditional hybrid vehicles. We knows that the company has announced a hybrid Cayenne, and one has to imagine a hybrid Panamera is also being developed. Sports cars, however, must remain light, so the test of this new GT3 is how quick can they make it.

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Think a recall is cheap? Think again.

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010
Toyota Prius one of many Toyota/Lexus models being recalled.

Toyota Prius one of many Toyota/Lexus models being recalled.

Companies hate recalls. Even recalls that go well, such as the Tylenol recall of the early 1980s, still cost money in inventory, distribution, PR, and of course legal costs. While the Tylenol recall was handled simply by letting consumers know that they should throw away their bottles of aspirin, Toyota’s recent recall of vehicles first in America, then in Europe, cannot simply be handled through a press release.

Instead, Toyota actually has a greater battle. First, engineers must diagnose the problem with their cars, first said to be poorly designed carpets, and now a problem with the electronic throttle control. The truth may be that the company does not fully understand the source of the problem as the LA Time’s recently wrote in interviewing California Congressman Henry Waxman.

Toyota has contended that a slight modification to the accelerator design, including adding a small metal plate to the mechanical sensor in the accelerator should fix the problem. The automaker advises consumers to get the problem fixed, to hold down the start-stop button for three seconds and/or shift the car into neutral. So critical and misunderstood, however, is the procedure to cut power to the car during operation that the company is considering redesigning the start-stop button. The LA Times, who has been covering the Toyota recall extensively (Toyota USA is based in Torrance, California), reports that the company may be changing the button to turn the car off with three-taps of the button in future models. Of course, you might argue, why bother with this potentially costly change, and the response would be to put yourself in the shoes of someone who is driving in a car that has accelerated out of control. Do you really want to wait three seconds to turn off the engine? Certainly not. (more…)