Hybrids Hip at North American International Auto Show<br><br>DETROIT, Michigan, January 5, 2004 (ENS) - Hybrids - vehicles that team conventional gasoline engines with electric motors for better mileage and lower emissions - took center stage today at the media preview of the North American International Auto Show at Detroit’s Cobo Conference and Exhibition Hall. The show opens to the public Saturday. <br><br>The 2004 Toyota Prius, a gas-electric hybrid vehicle, zoomed away with the show's North American Car of the Year title. With a suggested retail price of $20,510, this car offers greater power, better fuel economy and lower emissions than the first generation Prius. <br><br>With power from a 50 kilowatt electric motor assisting the gasoline engine, the 2004 Prius gets an unprecedented 55 estimated combined miles per gallon (mpg), and an Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (AT-PZEV) rating. <br><br><br>Toyota's Prius 2004 was chosen as North American Car of the Year. (Photo courtesy Toyota)<br>The 2004 Prius emits only 10 pounds of smog forming emissions per 150,000 miles, and is 90 percent cleaner than the federal average and 89 cleaner than the California state average. <br>The Prius automatically recharges its batteries using regenerative braking, or by running the on-board generator, so it does not need to be plugged in for recharging. <br><br>The newly designed Prius appeared on U.S. dealers' lots in October. Toyota expects annual sales of the hybrid to exceed 35,000 as compared to 21,193 sold in 2003. <br><br>Toyota also unveiled a "husky hybrid" at the show to meet demand for larger sport utility vehicles. It will be at dealers' showrooms next year. <br><br>Lexus, the luxury marque of Toyota, is showing the production version of the RX 330 Hybrid SUV. Early reports claim the gas-electric vehicle provides V8 like acceleration while achieving around 40 miles per gallon. <br><br><br>Lexus Hybrid SUV at the auto show (Photo courtesy Lexus)<br>There are two basic kinds of hybrid vehicles - full and mild. Full hybrids have the capability to run solely in electric mode, while a mild hybrid always requires power from the internal combustion engine. <br>In a mild system, the internal combustion engine shuts down whenever the vehicle comes to a complete stop and starts up again as soon as driving is resumed. A full hybrid can run exclusively on electric mode at slower speeds. <br><br>A full hybrid system incorporates regenerative braking technology, which funnels energy generated from the brakes into the battery and stores it for use later on. Batteries on full hybrids are larger and more powerful than those on mild hybrids. <br><br>Subaru is showing a hybrid, B9SC, with a powerful electric motor teamed with a 2.0 liter horizontally-opposed gas engine. At low and medium speeds, the gas engine charges the advanced laminated lithium-ion batteries developed by Subaru and NEC Corp. At speeds greater than 50 mph, this Subaru runs on the gas engine alone. A special two-way clutch combines the gas engine and electric motor for quick acceleration. <br><br>The Subaru R1e is a new small electric vehicle designed for urban markets. It uses the laminated lithium-ion batteries that are charged by plugging them into the type of AC outlet used for large residential air conditioners. <br><br>“We believe that the rechargeable battery holds the key to determining success or failure of an environment friendly car that uses an electric motor,” said Kyoji Takenaka, president and chief executive officer of Subaru’s parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. <br><br>Mazda RX-8 hydrogen hybrid rotary engine, first showcased at the 2003 Tokyo Motor Show, is on view here in Detroit. Powered by the RENESIS Hydrogen Rotary Engine this four door, four seat sports car was developed with a dual-fuel system, allowing it to run on either gasoline or hydrogen. <br><br><br>Mazda's new generation rotary engine RENESIS (Photo courtesy Mazda)<br>A rotary engine uses separate chambers for induction and combustion, side-stepping the backfiring that occurs when using hydrogen in piston engines. <br>The Mazda design injects the hydrogen in a gaseous state. The system draws air from the side port during the induction cycle and uses dual hydrogen injectors in each of the engine's twin rotor housings to directly inject hydrogen into the intake chambers. <br><br>Mazda says the separate induction chamber also provides a safer temperature for the engine’s dual hydrogen injectors with their rubber seals, which can be damaged by the higher temperatures of conventional engines. Dual injectors are used in each of the engine’s twin rotor housings since hydrogen has an extremely low density, thus greater volumes of this fuel must be injected than gasoline. <br><br>Hisakazu Imaki, President and CEO of Mazda said, "The Mazda RX-8 is the result of Mazda's spirit of challenge and carries Mazda's soul under its hood - it embodies "Zoom-Zoom" -- love of motion felt as a child - to the fullest." <br><br>The RX-8 has been named 2003-2004 Japan Automotive Hall of Fame Production Car of The Year, and the 2003-2004 Japan Car of The Year Most Fun special award. In addition, the RENESIS, which powers the RX-8, was named International Engine of the Year 2003. <br><br>The rotary engine performs the four processes of intake, compression, combustion, and exhaust in succession by turning a triangular-shaped rotor in the cocoon-shaped combustion chamber to generate power. <br><br>The Honda Civic Hybrid, the first mainstream vehicle sold in North America equipped with a gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain, now includes improved standard equipment such as side air bags, and sleeker styling. <br><br>The system's compact nickel metal hydride battery is automatically recharged during braking and deceleration. Further improving efficiency are an "idle stop" system that shuts off the engine when the vehicle is stopped, and a cylinder idling system that temporarily shuts off three of the engine's four cylinders when the vehicle is slowing or coasting for reduced engine pumping losses and improved regenerative braking efficiency. <br><br>The Civic Hybrid's fuel economy remains unchanged for the 2004 model year - an EPA city/highway rating of 48/47 mpg. Models equipped with a 5-speed manual transmission achieve a city/highway rating of 46/51 mpg. Both models have a range of more than 600 miles. <br><br>The Civic Hybrid was the first hybrid vehicle to meet California's stringent AT-PZEV standards. <br><br>Ford says its "environmentally responsible" Escape Hybrid SUV will be in showrooms by late summer. This small SUV, which debuted as a concept vehicle at the New York International Auto Show in April 2003, combines a highly efficient internal combustion engine with an electric transaxle motor. <br><br><br>Ford Escape Hybrid SUV (Photo courtesy Ford)<br>The Escape Hybrid’s Vehicle System Controller is the brains of the operation, switching between operation modes automatically so the driver can concentrate on the road. <br>Like other hybrids, the Escape's battery does not require power from an external plug. It is charged by both the engine and regenerative braking system, which recharges the battery with energy that would otherwise be lost. <br><br>“We designed Escape Hybrid with a full hybrid system because the fuel economy benefits are significantly higher and the technology is production ready,” says Ford Chief Engineer Mary Ann Wright. “When you start getting into SUVs and bigger cars, you don’t see as many cost saving benefits with a mild hybrid system.” <br><br>General Motors plans to roll out several new hybrid models between model years 2004 and 2007. This year the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra hybrid trucks will be available first to fleets. In the fall, they will be available to the public. <br><br>In 2005, GM plans to introduce the Saturn Vue, which will have twin electric motors and will carry a Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle rating. <br><br>In 2006, GM plans to launch the Chevrolet Equinox SUV which will provide improved fuel economy in stop-and-go driving. <br><br>And in 2007, the Chevrolet Tahoe and the GMC Yukon SUVs are expected to roll onto dealers' lots. These vehicles will have displacement on demand technology, which is estimated to boost fuel economy by 15 to 20 percent. This same year GM will offer the hybrid system used on the Equinox on the Chevrolet Malibu sedan. <br> <br>Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2004. All Rights Reserved. <br><br><br><br>___________________________________________<br>I'm just another Mac user at an 8 hour day Dilbert style cubicle job....<br>
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