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Toyota to add more hybrids.....

24

Comments

  • logic1logic1 Posts: 2,433
    I see three reasons why a small SUV hybrid is better for the NA market:

    One, the Small SUV market is growing and the compact car market, at least for now is shrinking. Tastes change, but absent a really boost in gas prices, I do not see a lot of the US market going for compacts.

    Two, (closely related to one) hybrids are pricier than their plain gas burning cousins. The NA market rarely pays a premium for compacts. A hybrid will not attract the buffs willing to pay top dollar for a small car the way a 3 series or 9-3 will.

    Three, there is more room in the small suv than in the compact. Hybrids have at least two engines. The GM design will add extra (albiet rather small) engines for air conditioning and power steering as well. Americans like to put a lot of stuff in their cars. Japanese do not. A hybrid compact loses space, so it loses American customers, imo.

    Like any large company, GM most likely considered all sorts of options when it developed its hybrid systems. It has a duty to the share holders to do so. I doubt very much licensing Toyota's system was every a very high priority. GM has its own technology. There is fair reason to believe GM's technology will suit this market better. We will know in a year or so.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    One - At this rate, it would take more than 10 years for the small SUV market to match the compact sedan market.

    Two - Have you checked the sales of the Freelander? Small SUVs are the compact sedans of of the SUV world. The models that offer high levels of content at higher prices are the ones that do not sell well (or are highly discounted).

    Three - This has the ring of truth to it. At least in a mixed sense. Yes, there is more room in a larger vehicle. Because the VUE and Escape were designed with big V6 engines in mind, there is probably a decent amount of room in the engine compartment when it's occupied by the smaller I4 blocks.

    However, the notion that a commuter car needs extra space more than a utility vehicle seems a bit odd to me.

    I'm not convinced. If you want to make a big splash and gain some street creds with a new technology, you do it in a major segment. Small SUVs are a middle ground.

    I suspect that Ford chose a small SUV because there was no other market left for them to be first. Toyota and Honda had small cars, Chrysler was planning (at the time) a hybrid Durango and minivan, and Ford's family sedan has not been well-received. The big markets were covered, so they started publicly laying claim to the small SUV segment a long time ago.

    Why GM decided to take the same approach, I have no idea. With Ford beating them to the punch, it makes little sense as a PR move. Especially since Ford has been promising a no-compromises approach to the Escape with power and towing similar to the 3. V6. Perhaps the VUE's architecture was the easiest to transform.
  • john1701ajohn1701a Posts: 1,897
    > The GM design will add extra (albiet rather small)
    > engines for air conditioning and power steering as well.

    Prius doesn't need an engine for either. Both of those functions are electric in the 2004, they run off of the battery-pack instead.

    > I do not see a lot of the US market going for compacts.

    That's why Prius is growing to a MIDSIZE sedan this year, and without the price increasing.

    So with less of a price difference and the more of an efficiency gain now, you really can break even on just gas & oil savings. That makes all the extra goodies only the hybrid offers frosting on the cake, an extra you didn't have to pay for.

    > There is fair reason to believe GM's technology will
    > suit this market better.

    How? (I'm genuinely curious what configuration you think they will choose for their dominant hybrid technology.)

    JOHN
  • logic1logic1 Posts: 2,433
    and other accessories off the battery pack all along. The problem with the existing hybrids is when the car is being taxed -- say going up an incline, heavy stop and go -- the air conditioning weakens and the power steering boost lessens, leaving occupants hot and grumpy.

    And we do not have to think how the VUE hybrid will be set up. We know. Just go to Saturn fans or media.gm.com.

    You join what is becoming a favored and very annoying ploy in the Edmunds TH by putting words in my mouth. I did not say anywhere that GM's hybrid technology will be dominant. I stated correctly that GM will use its own hybrid technology and that I thought hybrid cute utes are the better manifestation of the technology for the NA market. Utes make up almost 50% of the US market. The small utes from Ford, GM and Honda are selling very well (for whatever reason, the RAV4 has been going backwards). Making a popular line hybrid seems to make sense to me. The fact that Toyota is floundering in the cute ute market does not make it a bad one.

    The VUE hybrid will combine the regular 2.2 ecotec with the pre-existing electric power steering, a small electric engine for the airconditioning and a large electric engine to add to the drive power. The result will be great gas mileage with performance almost the same as the base V6 VUE. I think it an attractive combination.

    To answer Varmint's question, along with what I said here and above, the VUE is selling very well for Saturn. GM obviously wants the franchise to keep going by adding an ecological varient along with the performance varient.

    More importantly, the VUE platform will base the upcoming Chevy Equinox. With Chevy having three times as many dealers as Saturn, the Equinox has a chance to sell in the high 100s and maybe even push 200k if the execution is right. GM will not have to drop a dime to move the hybrid mechanicals from the VUE to the Equinox. If hybrids win broader market acceptance, GM could sell 50k hybrid VUES and Equinoxes per anum.
  • john1701ajohn1701a Posts: 1,897
    > The problem with the existing hybrids is when the car
    > is being taxed -- say going up an incline, heavy stop
    > and go -- the air conditioning weakens and the power
    > steering boost lessens, leaving occupants hot and grumpy.

    That's a misconception about power needs.

    You obviously haven't driven a Prius at 70 MPH up a 6% grade. IT DOESN'T USE THE BATTERY-PACK AT ALL DURING THE CLIMB! In fact, just the opposite happens; it's charged on the way up.

    The engine revs to full RPM, that provides more than enough thrust to turn both the wheels and the small motor (generator). Not all that electricity is needed for the bigger motor (thrust), so the extra is routed to the pack. You literally end up at the top with more stored electricity than you started with at the bottom.

    JOHN
  • john1701ajohn1701a Posts: 1,897
    > I did not say anywhere that GM's hybrid technology
    > will be dominant

    I asked which of GM's hybrid technologies within the company itself (hence the word "their"), not an industry-wide question.

    GM with offer "FULL", "ASSIST", and "NOT REALLY" type hybrids. Each will a different configuration of motor(s), battery-pack capacity, and electric support.

    If GM selects to push volumes sales, they may push the "NOT REALLY" type (just a 42V battery offering nothing but auto-stop/rapid-start).

    If GM chooses to lead the market with the most technically savy hybrid that breaks the records Prius is currently setting, they will go the "FULL" route. How many they sell and how they choose to promote it would be a total mystery. So I'm curious what others think about this approach.

    "ASSIST" is the happy medium technically, but they way it could be perceived makes me wonder. Having a number of "FULL" hybrids exceeding 150,000 miles at that point and showing there really are no concerns about reliability could change the attitude about this type rather significantly.

    And then of course, the thought about Toyota "floundering" is a bit premature. Their new hybrid system is componentized. That means they will be able to insert it into other platforms fairly easily. In fact, they have already announced upcoming SUV and minivan hybrids. Offering an "ute" to compete with the VUE-Hybrid is completely realistic. Don't forget, Toyota has a new vehicle coming out next year that falls into that category. It very well could be available in hybrid form a year afterward.

    JOHN
  • logic1logic1 Posts: 2,433
    I do not think Toyota floundered with hybrids. It obviously did not. The RAV4, however, missed the market in NA as it is too small with no other attractive features. The Escape, CRV and VUE have taken away a market segment that Toyota originally owned. I would not be surprised if Toyota comes back with a better challenger in this market segment. And if Toyota does, I expect it will also offer a hybrid version.

    I have read on numerous occasions that Prius owners in warmer areas are disappointed with the air conditioning and power steering. I believe the JD Powers customer satisfaction survey also mentions this.

    To answer your other, interesting question, IMO from a purist green perspective, the FULL hybrid set up Toyota uses in the Prius and GM will use in the VUE Greenline is the best. The VUE Greenline will have mpgs in the high 30s and lower emissions than any other IC GM product.

    I believe that the NOT REALLY and ASSIST efforts have merit. By simply adding electric power steering and a motor for airconditioning across the entire GM line would save millions of gallons of fuel every year.

    The ASSIST approach with a standard IC engine may leave Green thinking people wanting. But in a year or so, GM will have DOD engines starting to flow into its lines. Combine an ASSIST approach with a DOD engine will allow the driver significant fuel ane emissions savings for most situations, with the advantage of the full power of a V6 IC engine for the few times the drivers really need it.

    All of this is stop gap, of course. What the market really needs is bio hydrogen extraction so we can all go fuel cell and leave the IC engine to hobbyiests and museums where it belongs.
  • john1701ajohn1701a Posts: 1,897
    I agree with many of those points you made, but not the "stop gap" comment. At a rate of 60 million new vehicles per year worldwide and a minimum of 15 years before fuel-cells could even remotely compete on that scale, 900 million new vehicles (excluding pollution growth and developing country purchase increases) will be built & sold. Temporary or not, it is such a massive volume that it can't simply be shrugged off as just something to drive in the meantime, especially when you take into account the fact that they will be in service for around 10 years each.

    That also means the small 10-20% efficency improvements some hybrid designs offer is no where near enough. The more advanced hybrid designs (like the 2004 Prius) offer a 100% efficency improvement.

    JOHN
  • john1701ajohn1701a Posts: 1,897
    > pollution growth

    By the way, I meant "population".

    JOHN
  • logic1logic1 Posts: 2,433
    to buy, I think most of us here would be pleased if more people joined the debate.

    I hope as more models hit the market we start seeing the number of posts in Hybrid posts as on some of the other boards.
  • john1701ajohn1701a Posts: 1,897
    Before the new Prius was announced, the hybrid forum here was so active it made it to Edmunds top-10 list and stayed there for quite awhile.

    Activity died afterward. There was nothing to debate. The aspects that some people had identified as shortcomings had been overcome. The new Prius fulfills even their criteria.

    Discussions instead could evolve here, but realistically those kind of posts are only popular when only the vehicle itself is discussed. Off-Topic message content that deals with politics and other vehicles tend to make people lose interest.

    JOHN
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    so much talk of "upcoming hybrids" for months now, more than a year in fact, and yet here we are on July 29, 2003 and STILL we have only Honda and Toyota in the hybrid ring...and Toyota still has only the one model they have had for a couple of years. Given that Toyota's business plan is usually conservative, it seems even they are not sure hybrids will take off, and are content to sell them in small numbers and ramp up hybrid models very gradually.

    Ford keeps pushing availability dates back and back, GM waffles over what it will do and when, and I do not even remember hearing anything about DCX's future offerings.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • john1701ajohn1701a Posts: 1,897
    > it seems even they are not sure hybrids will take off

    Not true. They know hybrids will take off.

    What they don't know is what the configuration will be.

    So they are evolving the technology while at the same time trying to figure out what power/efficiency/size ratio the market prefers.

    JOHN
  • daysailerdaysailer Posts: 711
    >> pollution growth

    >By the way, I meant "population".

    There's a difference? ;-)

    > The aspects that some people had identified as
    > shortcomings had been overcome. The new Prius
    > fulfills even their criteria.

    You do have a knack for overstatement! We don't know what the new Prius fulfills or what has been overcome since it is not yet available and has not been tested. It promises to be a significant improvement and I certainly hope that it is, but it is still in the FUTURE. Your use of the past tense is premature.

    Enthusiasm has its place, but not at the expense of objectivity.
  • john1701ajohn1701a Posts: 1,897
    > objectivity

    What more do you want?

    The acceleration increase is already documented. It achieves what others have desired: less than 11 seconds 0-60. (10.7 seconds to be precise.)

    The size increase is already documented too. People wanted a midsize with a large trunk. That is exactly what the new model delivers. No testing is needed. Just look at the measurements & photos.

    The performance increase doesn't need to be measured beyond the EPA numbers, which are now also documented. The new model will deliver MPG above 50. That's enough to fulfill requirements too. Whether it really does achieve a 55 MPG average (50 highway, 60 city) doesn't matter. It's already high enough to clearly outperform all other midsize vehicles by a noticable margin. It even competes dead on with diesels of that size.

    The price is also documented already. The no more than $3,000 of a price difference is satisfied. There's not any part of that in question.

    What more do you want?

    The engineering details clearly show the system has been modified to increase efficiency. Aspects like making the body shape more aerodynamic is a no-brainer. That will obviously help. Changing the A/C to electric is another. The engine is gross overkill to power nothing but the A/C pump when stopped at a light. Using the battery-pack instead is quite a bit more efficient, since only the actual needed power will be drawn instead. The thermal retention system for artifically keeping the catalytic-converter warm (by using already heated liquid) is a bit more complicated, but still easy to understand. As long as the CAT stays warm, the engine doesn't have to start back up (which again is overkill, since just a little heat is needed). Certain components within the engine have been changed to reduce friction & weight, that will help too.

    What more do you want?

    Are you magically going to change your attitude when the above are all confirmed by real-world data rather than just the testing results?

    JOHN
  • john1701ajohn1701a Posts: 1,897
    I forgot to mention the system has been changed from 273.6 to 500 volts. Electricity transfer at higher voltages is more efficient.

    It doesn't take a rocket-scientist to know that nearly doubling the voltage will contribute to the overall efficiency gain in the new model.

    JOHN
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,592
    over the next few years is pretty gutsy for a conservative company.

    I wonder if Honda's Acura DNX (nee Dualnote) is on target for an '05 entry? Real performance in a 40mpg car, that's for me.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    they cancelled the DNX...

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,592
    Say it isn't so. Can you give me something more specific?

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • daysailerdaysailer Posts: 711
    Objectively measured, independenty verified FACTS, not conjecture. And no, manufacturer's data is not sufficient basis for a $20k+ expenditure, in my view.

    And IF a 10.7sec 0-60 time is indeed "precise" and verifiable, it will be a welcome incremental improvement, but insufficient to win a space in my garage, particularly considering its lofty price. Even more important is whether suspension tuning has been improved to surpass the rather low dynamic limits of the present Prius.
This discussion has been closed.