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Audi unwrapped a plug-in hybrid concept in the form of the A3 e-trn that is set to make its official debut during the Geneva Motor Show this March.

audi-a3-e-tron-6The hybrid combo is made up of the stock 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine found under the hood of the A3 Sportback and an electric motor that outputs 75kW. The engine is linked to a 6-speed automatic gearbox. The new motor-transmission is dubbed by the German car manufacturer as the e-S tronic.

The total output of the system is 204 horses while delivering a torque of 258 pound-feet. This is a very decent output, in case you are worried since the A3 released in the United States only gives out 200HP and a torque of 207 lb-ft.

Unlike its other siblings, the A3 e-tron does not come with the quattro all-wheel drive setup but instead goes for a front-wheel drive configuration. Drivers can easily choose the settings whether the power of the car will come just from the gasoline engine, the electric motor, or a blend of both.

On the looks department, it is really difficult to distinguish the e-tron from its conventional A3 Sportback counterpart. This might explain why Audi placed a screaming e-tron sticker on its side.

This hybrid can go 31 miles using pure electronic power alone and that number beats the 20-mile pure electric range of the Fusion Energi of Ford. The A3 e-tron can also go fast at 80 mph while on pure electric mode, so the car is made autobahn friendly.

According to the car manufacturer, the car will have a fuel mileage of 156 miles a gallon on European standards. The carbon dioxide emission is pegged at 35 grams per kilometer.

The A3 e-tron can go from a standstill to 100 kph in a matter of 7.6 seconds. It can get to a top speed of 137 mph. While plug-in hybrids are mainly built for great fuel consumption, Audi has to be praised for delivering a vehicle that can make driving a a green car exciting.

Scientists from the Keio University located in Japan have developed an optical-camouflage technology that works like Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak but may well be one of the best new tools to make vehicles safer.

With the technology available today, you can see what is behind you vehicle on the screen on your dashboard. Although you can see what is behind the vehicle, it is still very hard to be fully certain that you will not be hitting anything when you back up. The experts at the Japanese university were able to make the backseats “invisible”.

The experiment made use of a Toyota Prius. From the perspective of the driver, the back of the car becomes transparent or see-through. This eliminates blind spots that may conceal potential hazards when your vehicle is in reverse. The see-through vehicle was showcased in Tokyo recently.

A similar technology actually came out a decade ago. It was then developed by Mashiko Inami, Susumu Tachi, and their colleagues.

The invisibility cloak takes a footage of the things behind the object and then projects everything on the garment to create the illusion of invisibility.

Both technologies make use of retroreflective materials. A demo of the cloak can be seen on the video below. The scientists embedded the cloak with reflective beads to emit light in specific directions.

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The original proponents of the invisibility cloak suggested that this technology can be used to enhance safety of vehicles. Inami and his team recently built on this idea.

The scientists from the university has not yet revealed the full details about the transparent Prius so we do not know if reflective beads were also used for the backseats. Based on the available picture, there might be a display attached to the headrest of the driver.

Not everyone likes hybrid cars but at least most people appreciate their purpose. A lot of people like the thought of saving on fuel expenses but car owners do not like a car that screams that they drive something different from the rest. Here’s is a list of top hybrid vehicles with great fuel mileage, easy to use, and has a styling that just makes them look like your ordinary, everyday car.

Hybrid Toyota Camry

The newer Toyota Camrys have sharper styling than their older versions. The subtle changes on the design of the Camry Hybrid though does not reveal anything about its green drivetrain. You will get a shiny grille in chrome, a refreshed front fascia, and a unique alloy rim design. It blends quite well with the rest of the traffic plus your pocket enjoys 41 mpg.

Hybrid Ford Fusion

The styling of the Ford Fusion Hybrid might catch some eyes with a grille that can be likened to an Aston Martin and design lines that looks quite modern from any angle. It is very difficult to distinguish though from its gasoline-running siblings since you cannot practically spot a difference on its external styling. The combined mileage is pegged at 47 mpg. The car is a great way to save gas without having to announce it to the world.

Hybrid Honda Civic

The hybrid variant of the Honda Civic is among the longest-running green cars on sale. The styling of the sedan body does not give onlookers any hint about its hybrid drivetrain. It has a chrome grille (a common feature of hybrid cars), a boring bumper, and alloy rims. It looks like your standard Civic. Its fuel mileage may not be the best of the bunch but still very decent at 44 miles per gallon.

Hybrid Hyundai Sonata

The Hybrid Sonata is about sweeping lines, a gaping grille, unique wheels, and distinct lights. This hybrid from the Korean car manufacturer is not the best in terms of fuel economy. It only returns 37 mpg combined.

Lexus RX 450h

This car boasts of a well developed technology for its hybrid drivetrain. You cannot really distinguish the RX 450h from the RX 350 when you look at it but the small “h” badging gives it away as a hybrid. You can still pass without being noticed in this hybrid plus get to enjoy 30 mpg from its hybrid setup and all the gadgets Lexus is famous for.

Before buying that green car, make sure to get more than one car insurance quote to make sure you're not paying too much for one of those have-to-haves for drivers: auto insurance.

The United States is currently the biggest market for hybrid vehicles as it is more than willing to accept new hybrid vehicles rolled out by carmakers. It seems though that Germany will alter this vision as Audi will not bring the A8 hybrid to the U.S. Instead, the vehicle will be marketed in Western Europe and Asia.

Audi already started deliveries of the Audi A8 Hybrid in Germany last May and deliveries in parts of Asia will commence next year. Audi will be marketing the long wheelbase version in Asia and another model for the right hand drive countries.

The 2012 A8 hybrid will be sporting a four-cylinder TFSI with 2.0-liter displacement. This powerplant can give out 208 horses and is far better than just a modified V-8 or V-6. The choice of the engine helps to keep down the car’s weight and the price. The A8 Hybrid goes for 70,700 euros in Germany after some taxes. The long-wheel base version sells for 85,400 euros or about $105,000. Looking at the trends of prices on both sides of the pond and consumer preference, most likely the short-wheelbase A8 Hybrid will have a tag price of around the area of $70,000.

If the U.S. price seems cheaper, it’s because the one being released in Germany points to a front-wheel drive version that depends on a 3.0-liter TDI V6 that gives out 201 horses. The model is obviously less powerful and according to sources, less luxurious.

The hybrid version cannot beat the fuel efficiency of the base diesel model but the CO2 emission average will be lower. The better emission is important in Europe for purposes of insurance. Both cars run from 0 to 62 miles per hour between 7.7 seconds and 7.9s. The A8 Hybrid though does not do well with regard to cargo room. The lithium-ion batteries that weigh 84 pounds take much of what’s supposed to be the trunk. From the regular 13.2 cu.ft. the space is limited to 10 cubes. It just does not make sense if the car is for four adults yet have a very limited space for luggage.

During test runs, the car is just numb with the steering a bit detached. Clearly this car is not for drivers who want some attitude from their cars. The electric motor that gives out 52 horses performs smoothly. Combined, the A8 Hybrid can easily get a 37.3 mpg average for city/highway.

Japanese carmaker Honda Motor Co. plans to boost the numbers of Acura in the premium segment with the new top of the line sedan that runs on a V6 engine working with a pair of electric motors in order to produce a V-8 power while having a fuel economy of a small vehicle.

The RL sedan will be replaced by the RLX by next year and the latter was unwrapped by Honda during the recent auto show in New York. The RLX hybrid sedan has a 3.5L gas engine that works in combo with two electric motors depending on a pack of lithium ion battery. The setup gives out 370 horses while having a fuel mileage of 30 miles a gallon on highway and city driving combined.

The RLX will follow the refreshed RDX that will hit showrooms this month and the ILX sedan which will go on sale by next month as Honda pushes for a stronger share of the luxury segment against competition like the BMW, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and Daimler. Honda aims to have a 46% jump in the sales of Acura in the United States before the end of 2012.

While the Japanese car manufacturer makes V8s for their race cars, it avoids to use them on the light trucks and sedans under the Acura and Honda brands. The RLX will go head to head against tough competitions like the 7- and 5-Series of BMW, LS and GS models of Lexus, and the E-Class of Mercedes which has tag prices ranging from $47,000 to $71,000 for their base models.

Acura top execs boasts that the new hybrid vehicle will sport a super handling quality and an all wheel drive setup which will set the brand apart from other car manufacturers.

The sales of Acura in the Untied States had its peak back in 2005 when it delivered 209,610 units and dropped to 123,299 vehicles in 2011. Honda aims to achieve 180,000 vehicle sales this year.

A lower end version of the RLX will be sold as a FWD model that depends on a V6 powerplant. No information was released about the pricing of the different versions of the RLX.

Plug-in-vanBuyers of plug-in vans in the United Kingdom will receive about 20% off the cost of their payments for the green vehicle or up to $12300. This was recently announced by the ministers of Transport and Business. The program is actually an extension of the currently active Plug-in Vehicle Grant that extends help of as much as $7,700 for consumers buying a green car. The ministers also confirmed that funds are in place to support this program thru 2015.

There are 10 cars which are eligible for the grant for plug-in cars. Five of these cars are available since 2011 while the other half will be rolling out to showrooms this year. During the its first year of implementation, there were 1,052 registrations of vehicles eligible for the purchase assistance. The manufacturers of the vehicles are the one applying for the grant so there will be a lag between the registration and the application for the grant.

The purpose of the program is to help consumers purchase vehicles with ultra-low CO2 emissions which without the grant might not be affordable. The owner will also make most of the vehicle as these green vehicles have lower running cost.

The grant for plug-in vans qualify vehicles which pass certain and strict criteria with regard to emissions, safety, and performance. The application for the grant has been opened and manufacturers are encouraged to send in applications so their vans will be part of the assistance scheme. The government expects to release a list of vans which qualify for the grant in the near future.

The government of UK allocated around $614 million to push for the purchase of green cars and vans with very low emission. The funding includes around $123 million which will be used for research and vehicle development, roughly $46 million for infrastructures, and around $460 million for consumer incentives.

The UK has around 2,500 charging points installed thru efforts of the government and other private institutions. The private sector plants to put up 4,000 more charging stations around the United Kingdom by this year.

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mitsubishi-evo-xJapanese car producer Mitsubishi recently announced that they will be implementing engine technology updates to improve the fuel efficiency of their vehicles across the range. There is also a report circulating that the carmaker confirmed that the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution will be getting a diesel electric hybrid drivetrain.

The news about a greener powerplant under the hood of the Mitsubishi under the hood of the eleventh generation Evo is not really new since this have been rumored leaking from the development team.

The CEO of Mitsubishi, Osamu Masuko, though did not give out a lot of details about the development of the sporty sedan but emphasized on the aim of the company to produce more fuel efficient cars and also lowering the emission of their car models.

The move of Mitsubishi to give the Evo XI a hybrid system is a big step. This is considering that the rally inspired cars are well love by sporting fans who are most likely not big fans of hybrid technologies.

The Evo X is schedule to end its run by 2013, and the next generation Evo with the diesel-hybrid setup to come after shortly.

Experts speculate that the Evolution XI may be able to blast from 0 to 60 in less than 5 seconds. And that the car will be having lesser carbon dioxide emission while doing that.

The Mitsubish Evo is not really big in the market of the brand in the United States with a very small niche market for rally ready four wheel drive vehicles. So the move to make it run on diesel from gas might actually drive away som fans who power and speed who do not want the 286 horsepower of the current Evolution to drop.

Mazda is leaning on their SkyActiv technology to battle it out with hybrid and plug-in vehicles in terms of efficiency. The carmaker will equip the Mazda3 set to hit showroom in the early part of 2012 with fuel saving technologies.

Mazda will make use of the 2.0L 4-cylinder SkyActiv G gasoline engine. The direct-injected powerplant has an initial numbers of 40 miles per gallon while crusing on the highway under the hood of the Mazda3. The engine gives out 155 horsepower and has a torque of 148 lb-ft.

The next SkyActiv technology that will be utilized for the Mazda3 will come as a choice between two transmissions. Consumers will have a choice between a 6-speed automatic or manual gearbox. The automatic transmissin is call the SkyActiv-Drive which combines CVT or continuously variable transmission with DCT or dual clutch transmission. The manual gearbox is labeled as the SkyActiv MT that follows the conventional gearbox design.

The new Mazda3, with the fuel saving technologies in place, will be 30% more efficient in terms of fuel economy than its older sibling, the 2011 Mazda3. Mazda fans will only have several months more to wait for the 2012 Mazda3 to hit the showrooms in the US and of course see if Mazda will try a bit of electrification.

SkyActive refers to the next gen of technologies by Mazda that may refer to their new design for the body, chassis, transmissions, and engines. These advancements give the new Mazda vehicles improvements in terms of aerodynamics, safety, and environmental performance.

volvo_v60-hybridAccording to Volvo Cars, the brand new V60 Plug-in Hybrid would go into sale sometime in 2012. The V60 Plug-in Hybrid is a new diesel-electric sport unit that will make its first appearance during the Geneva Auto Show in 2011. Moreover, sources say that the V60 Plug-in Hybrid would not go into sale in North America.

The car company has described the V60 Plug-in Hybrid show-car version as close to production as it could be. The V60 Plug-in Hybrid is said to emit virtually lower than 50 g/km of CO2 and has a fuel efficiency of 124 mpg. The V60 Plug-in Hybrid could run for up to 30 miles using electricity alone.

The V60 Plug-in Hybrid will carry a D5 2.4-liter V5 turbodiesel engine. It boasts of 215 horsepower with a partner torque rate of 325 lb-ft. The turbocharged engine is attached to an automatic 6-speed transmission that gives power to V60 Plug-in Hybrid’s front wheels.

The V60 Plug-in Hybrid also carries an electric motor with 60 horsepower and a battery lithium-ion component with 12 k Wh that gives power to the car’s rear wheels using the brand’s ERAD (Electric Rear Axle Drive) system. This hybrid system that is employed in the V60 Plug-in Hybrid has been developed jointly with Vattenfall, a Swedish energy company.

The car company is confident in its claim that by the year 2012, they would be the first to manufacture this kind of hybrid car that is, obviously, a new breed when it comes to hybrid models.

toyota-EVToyota Motor Corporation launched its first ever hybrid vehicle in August 1997—the Toyota Coaster Hybrid EV.  That same year in December, they also launched what came to be known as the world’s top mass-produced hybrid car—the Toyota Prius.  Soon, TMC expanded the development and application of its hybrid system to their wide range of vehicles such as their SUVs, minivans, and rear-wheel-drive sedans to name a few.  In 2009, the third-generation of the world famous Toyota Prius rolled into the global market together with the Toyota Sai and the Lexus HS250h.

TMC is proud to announce that their famous hybrid Toyota Pris has once again been hailed as the top-selling hybrid in Japan and is in its 14th consecutive month of outselling all other car models in the Japan.  And so it seems that TMC is the sitting on a very comfortable lead when it comes to hybrid sales.  Still, TMC is in pursuit of introducing the hybrid models of their entire line up by the year 2020.  TMC also strives to reach their goal of selling over one million hybrid vehicles annually before this decade ends.

There are 8 Toyota hybrid passenger vehicles that are available in almost 80 regions and countries all over the world. In a press release, TMC mentioned that they are planning to expand their existing line up of hybrid fleets and getting more countries and regions to opt for their hybrid models.

TMC positions itself strongly in the environmental issues that plagued the world today.  The company works toward the wide use of hybrid vehicles by setting a goal of 1 million sales per year of hybrid vehicles in 2010s and launching more hybrid vehicles in 2020s.

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