The Infiniti Essence concept was introduced at the 2009 Geneva Auto Show this week. It’s officially only a concept at this point in time, although it does appear to be based on a production intent. You’ll note the usual concept car features: the all-glass roof/windshield combination, the oversize-tires, etc., that won’t make it into production. Get past those and you have a car based on the GT-R platform, although with a low-boost twin-turbo 3.7 liter engine (not the 3.8 from the GT-R) and an electric hybrid assist system. These contribute 440 HP and 160 HP respectively, for a total of 600.
The production version will probably have a hundred HP less, and go for well over $100K. It’s also dependent on the Nissan/Infiniti hybrid system reaching production (a prototype was shown in a G35 last year), which won’t be until 2012 at least. And of course on the worldwide economy, which certainly doesn’t favor the development or sale of $100k products at the moment.
High-res Image Gallery: http://www.drivingenthusiast.net/sec-blog/?page_id=12307
If you follow the history of Lotus Engineering, you’ll find them involved in a number of interesting projects over the years. Here’s another: development of an off-the-shelf Civic Hybrid into a race car.
Remember that in the Honda Civic Hybrid system, the electric motor acts as an assist when needed, not as the primary means of propulsion. Since lectric motors make 100% of their torque at 1 RPM and up (way up!), this is ideal in situations where extra power is seamlessly needed – such as acceleration out of a corner.
There are questions – such as keeping the batteries cool and keeping them charged by the engine and by regenerative braking. No doubt the race car is fully instrumented to monitor these data.
And no doubt this could be the start of using electric motors for motorsport, as discussed in this blog over the past few years. Electric motors could be a great benefit to driving enthusiasts – it’s just a matter of development and time.
Lotus Press Release follows:
Lotus Engineering, the world renowned automotive consultancy division of Lotus is collaborating with Oaktec to develop the performance of a Honda Civic Hybrid for stage rallying and circuit racing.
Recognised as a global leader in hybrid and electric vehicle development, Lotus Engineering is supplying technical expertise to Oaktec in developing racing technology that exploits the performance potential of the petrol electric Honda hybrid system. The Honda Civic Hybrid will compete on the racetrack with ultra low exhaust emissions and high fuel efficiency.
Lancashire based Oaktec, a specialist in energy efficient vehicle design, approached Lotus Engineering to investigate areas of battery and system control technology that enable maximum racing performance and efficiency from the hybrid drivetrain. The collaboration is in partnership with Energy Efficient Motorsport (EEMS), Motorsport Development and Honda UK. The project has won funding from the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA).
Mike Kimberley, Chief Executive Officer of Group Lotus Plc said:
Toyota announced this week that litium-ion battery production would begin in 2009, and that 2 brand new hybrids (all-new cars, additions to the line) would be announced next year in addition to the on top of the already announced next-gen Prius. One of the 2 is a Lexus, the other a Toyota.
You’ll remember that in August of 2007, AutoWeek reviewed it’s understanding of Toyota’s plans for the next few years and said that production of the next-gen Supra, based on the FT-HS hybrid sports car concept from the 2007 Detroit show, would go into production in the summer of 2009.
While nothing in the way of prototypes has been spotted yet, and while it’s not confirmed that the car will be named Supra (but the statements of several Toyota Executives confirm that a response to the 350Z is very desirable), production of a new generation of high-energy batteries would be a key and necessary step in the production of a sporting hybrid.
The concept is shown below, it is roughly 350Z-sized and is powered by a combination of a hybrid powertrain and a 3.5 liter V-6. The net yield is 400 HP.
Speculation by a Japanese enthusiast car magazine. Still, it’s known that Toyota wants to compete in this arena again. And that they have been playing with the idea of usinga hybrid powertrain in a sporting application. In any case, it’ll take a few years to get this question answered – either way.
WorldCarFans.com has the inside scoop on Lexus testing it’s hybrid GS450H in Japan by taking it 24-hr endurance racing.
A very smart move by Lexus… one that has been echoed in the United States by both Honda and Acura with efforts involving the RSX, TSX, TL, and RL. The RL competed earlier this year in California: http://www.DrivingEnthusiast.net/sec-blog/2006/01/12.html#a1175
The purpose of course isn’t just to win a race and get publicity – it’s to demonstrate the engineering prowess of the manufacturer and the integrity of the hardware. The GS450H and the RL will never be used by anybody as race cars – but the outcome of the test demonstrates how well the technology holds up under adverse conditions and gets feedback into engineering to further improve the products.
This kind of simple investment translates directly into a better and longer-lasting car for the consumer. Very smart move… and if your favorite manufacturer isn’t doing this you need to do some rethinking….
Continue at the link in the title to WorldCarFans.com
WorldCarFans is a very well-done site with excellent worldwide coverage of automotive events for enthusiasts. Note their blog and RSS feed.
Autos Insider (The Detroit News) is reporting that Ford is backpedaling on it’s promise to build 250k hybrids per year by the end of the decade.
How this was to be done was never explained, other than the intent to produce a Hybrid Fusion based on the Escape powertrain and mention of a hybrid version of the 3.5 DOHC V-6 engine, probably for the large new front and all-wheel drive (shared platform) Fusion and Five Hundred.
But, lets face reality: Ford is broke, the stock is dropping, and their consideration (even though turned down) of bankruptcy shows how serious the situation is. Certainly major development funds are very rare.
Of course there is no telling what products will actually happen until announcements or specific interviews are held.
Meantime, all the flag waving and forced patriotism of the Bold Moves campaign will buy a little time, as is the point of such a marketing campaign, until further new products come out and prove themselves. “Prove” meaning that they are both relevant in the marketplace and have the required quality from launch day. And then there are the continuing near-extortion demands of the unions to deal with. The situation looks very bleak for Ford.
Newsweek – via MSNBC – reports on lack of economic benefits of buying a Hybrid and owning it over a 5-year timeframe. Hybrids are expensive – and have no viable financial model even with the Federal tax credit (and that law expires as manufacturers reach a certain point). And any kind of savings at all are very dependent on a narrow range of a certain type of driving – which may or may not fit your pattern.
Bad news all around… and only for a political statement? What about the high rate of depreciation? Will there be a crash in this market once further long-term reliability data is available?
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The Auto Prophet wonders if Ford & GM are “drinking the kool-aid” over hybrids.
Excellent point, and one to closely examine. Of course, GM doesn’t currently make any real hybrids, not that they’d allow you to think that. And Ford makes 1 and exactly one hybrid: the Ford Escape Hybrid and it’s clones from Mercury and Mazda. However, more are on the way – the same powertrain will be offered in the Fusion in 2007 and it’s also known that a V-6 hybrid will be offered at some point in the larger cars. To the tune of 250,000 cars produced per year (assuming Ford can get it’s battery suppliers in line).
But is there any real point in building these bybrids for the real world? Do they really save anything more than just a few miles per gallon? Are they there only to satisfy the greenies (of which Bill Ford is an enthusiastic member)? Good press and Government mileage credits don’t mean anything on the street for new owners.
Food for thought, and worth further reading.
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c|net reviews the Ford Escape Hybrid. The engine is “commendably advanced”… the rest of the vehicle is poor. Editors rating: 6.4 out of 10. Full review provided. If you are an owner, you can also add your own experiences and rating.
This makes a lot of sense… and the taxi fleet in NYC is certainly in need of an update – as well as better mileage. Keep in mind that when the air conditioner is set to “Max”, the engine reverts back to gas-only operation. With the passenger compartment partitioned off from the driver, this wil probably be the norm for much of the year.
Ford Press Release follows: