- Chevrolet Volt
- Ford Fusion hybrid
- Lincoln MKZ hybrid
Not Only the Japanese Are Making Hybrids
It is not only Toyota that are bringing out hybrid cars, there is the Chevrolet Volt, the Ford Fusion hybrid and also the Lincoln MKZ hybrid.
Ford have said they would like to have as much as 25% of its global sales of cars to have electric motors and batteries by 2020. Ford aims to have all its cars more economical and have more cars that are pure electric or plug-in hybrids. That statement does still allow them to produce a few gas guzzles if they want though.
It’s good to see a major manufacturer like Ford really having a future plan for hybrid cars. The Ford fusion and the Lincoln MKZ are from the same stable although they operate under different badge names. Both of the cars use the same power drivetrain. This means it has a 156 hp 2.5 litre very lean burning Atkinson cycle gasoline engine. These engines are known for being a more efficient usage of the Otto cycle four stroke engine.
The electric motor is a 106 hp AC electric motor. Transmission has a planetary gear set and the output from the two motors are sent into an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission. The power from the two types of motor, goes to the front wheels.
Let The Computer Decide For You
The way it works in both the Ford and the Lincoln is that it is a parallel hybrid system and they will operate under electric power only, gasoline power only or a combination of the two systems.
The cars’ computer system makes all the engine power decisions. When to engage the electric motor, the petrol engine or both systems. The 275 volts from the nickel metal hydride battery pack when fully charged can drive at up to 47 miles per hour for about 2 miles before the petrol engine adds its power to the drive.
The Lincoln is rated as a luxury car and Ford are proud to say that the fuel usage is less than with the Lexus HS 250h. The Lincoln MKZ is a good looking car inside with restrained styling. Not too much chrome and very stylish.
The MKZ as with the Ford Fusion Hybrid shares the feature of a SmartGauge. It is supposed to teach the driver how get the best mileage efficiency out of the car. You can even have the car talking to you, which I imagine might be novel at first, but quickly would become tiresome. There is also visual feed back with gauges, set to give you instant history of your fuel usage.
Of course there are indications of the charge in the battery, the output from the gasoline fuelled engine and the power consumption of the accessories. Most of this information to help you use the features of the hybrid car, you see displayed on hi-res LCD screens in the dashboard.
There is an animation that has leaves of a vine that grow when the driver is driving in a more efficient manner. There are five white apple blossoms to be seen in the display when you have saved 200 gallons of petrol. These are just visual lessons for you on how to get maximum fuel economy possible in the hybrid car you are driving.
Better Pricing On A Hybrid - Lincoln Hybrid Is Same Price As The Petrol Version
For the first time a car manufacturer has priced the hybrid model at the same price as the totally hydro carbon car. No more with this car, can you complain that it is more expensive that the ordinary non hybrid version. This is important because there should be a reward for the eco drivers, of savings in the wallet, when using a car that is designed around the concept of frugality.
And Now for Something Completely Different
The Chevrolet Volt
The car I lusted after in terms of hybrid used to be the Prius and of course the Tesla Roadster for sexiness and the fact that I would never be able to afford one. Now though I am really impressed by the technology of the Chevrolet Volt. What it does different is that it drives the first 40 miles on a charged up set of batteries before starting the petrol engine. The engine doesn’t drive the car forward though, it is there to spin a generator that charges up the batteries to supply a further 300 miles of driving.
Bring Your Own Chevrolet Volt Electric Charging Station
The engine is only a 1.4 litre and is part of an arrangement that is series type of hybrid motoring. The lithium ion batteries have about 16 kilowatt hours of power but is never fully used, which ensures the longevity of the batteries. Basically what you have is the drive train arrangement of the Leaf, Tesla Model S and Roadster - But with its own generator brought along for the ride. Until there are sufficient electric charging stations for fully electric cars this is a good halfway house arrangement.
The Chevrolet Volt has a normal mode setting and a Sport mode and the only real difference is the change in the amount of accelerator travel needed to make the car accelerate. It will go from nought to sixty miles per hour in nine seconds and has a reasonable top speed of 100 miles per hour. You will not miss the revving sound of a petrol engine though because you will be wallowing in the uniqueness of going that fast so quietly.
There is another mode in the Chevrolet Volt called ‘mountain mode’ and all it does it to have the engine running more often to make sure the batteries have as much charging as possible from the petrol engine. Mostly you will want to let the cars sophisticated electronics keep the car as quiet as it should be.
Will The Chevrolet Volt Stop In Time
The batteries also receive charge from the regenerative braking and reports say that new drivers of the Chevrolet Volt may be a little worried about how the braking feels at first. It seems a bit hesitant to do the stopping of the cars momentum even though it does do the job. I have had to get used to a squashy or overly harsh braking system in ordinary cars, so this is not something only found on electric vehicles.
Inside the car it is futuristic looking and has the touchscreen in the middle. There are loads of buttons and indicators to play with, some of which can be fiddled with to stop you from getting sensory overload from the dashboard. There is enough room inside the car for four people and is like a normal car, but then is not.
Or will you go for the fully Electric Nissan Leaf.