Toyota and Lexus recalling 235,000 hybrid CUVs and sedans over separate issues

Filed under: Convertible, Hybrid, Sedan, Recalls, Safety, Crossover, Lexus, Luxury

2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

When it rains, it pours. Toyota has announced a pair of separate but voluntary North America recalls covering approximately 235,000 vehicles built between 2006 and 2011. The larger of the two recalls targets Toyota’s hybridized crossovers, the Lexus RX400h and Toyota Highlander Hybrid. 133,000 units, including 2006-2010 Highlander and 2006-2008 RX crossovers are covered in the campaign. The other recall affects 102,000 IS350 sedans, IS350C convertibles and GS350 sedans built between 2006 and 2011.

With the CUVs, the faults in the parallel circuits of the transistors can cause heat damage in the inverter assembly, triggering an abundance of warning lamps and sending the vehicle into limp mode. The Lexus sedans are being recalled due to loose bolts on the variable valve timing controller. Detected by unusual underhood sounds on startup, the issue can cause the engine to stop while driving. The inverter issue is also triggering similar recalls in Japan and Europe.

At the moment, it’s unclear if any of these issues have caused any crashes or injuries. Toyota says it plans to notify owners of the recall via snail mail. Additional information for owners can be found on the recall sites for Toyota and Lexus or by calling Toyota’s customer service line, at 1-800-331-4331. Scroll down for the complete recall notice from Toyota.

Continue reading Toyota and Lexus recalling 235,000 hybrid CUVs and sedans over separate issues

Toyota and Lexus recalling 235,000 hybrid CUVs and sedans over separate issues originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 04 Sep 2013 10:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Toyota and Lexus recalling 235,000 hybrid CUVs and sedans over separate issues

Filed under: Convertible, Hybrid, Sedan, Recalls, Safety, Crossover, Lexus, Luxury

2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

When it rains, it pours. Toyota has announced a pair of separate but voluntary North America recalls covering approximately 235,000 vehicles built between 2006 and 2011. The larger of the two recalls targets Toyota’s hybridized crossovers, the Lexus RX400h and Toyota Highlander Hybrid. 133,000 units, including 2006-2010 Highlander and 2006-2008 RX crossovers are covered in the campaign. The other recall affects 102,000 IS350 sedans, IS350C convertibles and GS350 sedans built between 2006 and 2011.

With the CUVs, the faults in the parallel circuits of the transistors can cause heat damage in the inverter assembly, triggering an abundance of warning lamps and sending the vehicle into limp mode. The Lexus sedans are being recalled due to loose bolts on the variable valve timing controller. Detected by unusual underhood sounds on startup, the issue can cause the engine to stop while driving. The inverter issue is also triggering similar recalls in Japan and Europe.

At the moment, it’s unclear if any of these issues have caused any crashes or injuries. Toyota says it plans to notify owners of the recall via snail mail. Additional information for owners can be found on the recall sites for Toyota and Lexus or by calling Toyota’s customer service line, at 1-800-331-4331. Scroll down for the complete recall notice from Toyota.

Continue reading Toyota and Lexus recalling 235,000 hybrid CUVs and sedans over separate issues

Toyota and Lexus recalling 235,000 hybrid CUVs and sedans over separate issues originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 04 Sep 2013 10:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R zips in on its way to Frankfurt

Filed under: Concept Cars, Frankfurt Motor Show, Hybrid, Performance, Hatchback, Toyota

Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R Concept

Toyota has been known to make some exciting cars over the years, but its hybrids, well… let’s just say a Prius appeals to a different kind of buyer. The TS030 Hybrid LMP1, on the other hand, now that’s more our speed. And at the Frankfurt Motor Show next week, the Japanese industrial giant will bridge the gap with the concept car you see here. Previewed in bits and pieces along the way, Toyota has now revealed the full details and array of photos of its new Yaris Hybrid-R concept. And what the full picture reveals is a Prius C that’s gone to the gym – or more appropriately, the track.

Powering this little pocket rocket is TMG’s Global Racing Engine: a 1.6-liter inline-four with direct injection and a Garett turbocharger to drive 300 horsepower to the front wheels through a six-speed sequential gearbox. A pair of electric motors provide an extra 60 hp to each of the rear wheels for a combined output of 420 hp and through-the-road all-wheel drive. A third 60hp electric motor serves as traction control under acceleration and acts as a generator under braking to feed the TS030-derived super capacitor that boasts a higher power density and faster charge/discharge speed than a traditional battery. The system can provide a 40-horse boost for ten seconds in Road mode, or the full 120hp for five seconds in Track mode.

Though based on the three-door Yaris, there’d be no mistaking this for any ordinary econo-hatch. 18-inch TRD alloys with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires pack the wheel wells and a wider grille dominates the front fascia, while black and blue trim contrast sharply with the white bodywork. The rear pillar incorporates a quick-fill competition-spec fuel cap, LED daytime running lights illuminate the way and oversized brakes keep it all under control. The interior boasts Recaro racing buckets in black leather and blue Alcantara. There’s more to digest in the press release below, but the bottom line is that if this is where Toyota is taking its hybrids, we want to climb into the driver’s seat, and we’re looking forward to seeing the concept in the flesh next week.

Continue reading Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R zips in on its way to Frankfurt

Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R zips in on its way to Frankfurt originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 04 Sep 2013 03:18:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R zips in on its way to Frankfurt

Filed under: Concept Cars, Frankfurt Motor Show, Hybrid, Performance, Hatchback, Toyota

Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R Concept

Toyota has been known to make some exciting cars over the years, but its hybrids, well… let’s just say a Prius appeals to a different kind of buyer. The TS030 Hybrid LMP1, on the other hand, now that’s more our speed. And at the Frankfurt Motor Show next week, the Japanese industrial giant will bridge the gap with the concept car you see here. Previewed in bits and pieces along the way, Toyota has now revealed the full details and array of photos of its new Yaris Hybrid-R concept. And what the full picture reveals is a Prius C that’s gone to the gym – or more appropriately, the track.

Powering this little pocket rocket is TMG’s Global Racing Engine: a 1.6-liter inline-four with direct injection and a Garett turbocharger to drive 300 horsepower to the front wheels through a six-speed sequential gearbox. A pair of electric motors provide an extra 60 hp to each of the rear wheels for a combined output of 420 hp and through-the-road all-wheel drive. A third 60hp electric motor serves as traction control under acceleration and acts as a generator under braking to feed the TS030-derived super capacitor that boasts a higher power density and faster charge/discharge speed than a traditional battery. The system can provide a 40-horse boost for ten seconds in Road mode, or the full 120hp for five seconds in Track mode.

Though based on the three-door Yaris, there’d be no mistaking this for any ordinary econo-hatch. 18-inch TRD alloys with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires pack the wheel wells and a wider grille dominates the front fascia, while black and blue trim contrast sharply with the white bodywork. The rear pillar incorporates a quick-fill competition-spec fuel cap, LED daytime running lights illuminate the way and oversized brakes keep it all under control. The interior boasts Recaro racing buckets in black leather and blue Alcantara. There’s more to digest in the press release below, but the bottom line is that if this is where Toyota is taking its hybrids, we want to climb into the driver’s seat, and we’re looking forward to seeing the concept in the flesh next week.

Continue reading Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R zips in on its way to Frankfurt

Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R zips in on its way to Frankfurt originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 04 Sep 2013 03:18:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Toyota drops detail about 414-hp Hybrid-R concept powertrain

Filed under: Concept Cars, Frankfurt Motor Show, Hybrid, Technology, Hatchback, Toyota, Racing

Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R Concept

The Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R Concept has been teased already, offering up little glimpses and details of the Frankfurt-bound vehicle. And while those few, shadowy shots have been great, we’ve really wanted to know how this hatchback would deliver its promised 400-plus horsepower. Under hood sits a 1.6-liter, race-derived, direct-injection, turbocharged four-cylinder that powers the front wheels. Sounds peachy, but with 414 horsepower splashed across the page, we’re going to need something more than a 1.6-liter, turbo four.

A supercapacitor, developed from the Toyota TS030 Hybrid Le Mans racer sits in place of a hybrid’s traditional battery packs. The benefit, according to Toyota, is that power can be more rapidly absorbed and discharged than in a traditional battery system, like nickel metal-hydride.

The gas engine is joined by a trio of 60-horsepower electric motors. Two of the them power the rear wheels, while the third sits between the engine and the six-speed, sequential gearbox. Developing the same amount of power as the rear-axle motors, this centrally located motor channels power to the race-derived supercapacitor during braking, and ships extra grunt to the rear wheels under acceleration when the front wheels start to lose grip. Besides the distributive power of the central motor, the rear electric motors can adjust the amount of torque flowing to each wheel, much like a differential.

Take a look below for the full press release from Toyota, and then be sure to check back when the Yaris Hybrid-R Concept makes its official debut at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Continue reading Toyota drops detail about 414-hp Hybrid-R concept powertrain

Toyota drops detail about 414-hp Hybrid-R concept powertrain originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 30 Aug 2013 19:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: GM says hybrid Corvette no laughing matter [w/poll]

Filed under: Coupe, Hybrid, Performance, Chevrolet, Luxury

When Mark Reuss was in LA recently, he sat down to have a few words with the scribes at the Los Angeles Times. When the issue of a hybrid Corvette came up, Reuss answered with “Don’t laugh.” The General Motors president is a complete fan of the possibility, calling it “attractive” and “really fun,” believing it would improve GM expertise and that “people would love it.”

Naturally, the president being supportive of an idea doesn’t give indication that a hybrid Corvette is on the way. However, with supercars like the Porsche 918 Spyder and Ferrari LaFerrari giving hybrid tech a solid, if remote, place in the performance car world, the inexorable trickle-down of technology means we shouldn’t be surprised if and when it does happen.

And now that we have that non-negative half-answer to a speculative question, it would be irresponsible for us not to commence rumormilling for the C8 Corvette. Taking Reuss at his word, the C8 will obviously be a hybrid with all-wheel-drive – the left side wheels driven with electric motors, the right side with the mid-mounted, four-cylinder diesel engine. With coefficient of drag of just .16, figure on a 0-to-60 mile-per-hour time of under 2 seconds and an all-electric range of something like 30 miles at top speed. Don’t forget, folks, you read it here first.

What do you think of the idea of a gas-electric Corvette? Vote in our poll below, then have your say in Comments.

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GM says hybrid Corvette no laughing matter [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 30 Aug 2013 13:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Quick Spin: 2013 Honda Civic Hybrid

Filed under: Hybrid, Sedan, Honda, Quick Spins

2013 Honda Civic Hybrid

Even after Honda’s Great Emergency Refresh of 2013, it still takes a sharp eye to spot the visual differences between the 2013 Honda Civic and its 2012 counterpart. While annual styling changes used to be commonplace back in the 1950s and ’60s, this has become a much rarer practice in the industry due to the high costs of doing so, and sets the tone for just how important the Civic is in the Honda lineup.

One thing that hasn’t changed for the Civic is the wide selection of models available including the fuel-efficient HF, Natural Gas and Hybrid models. For this Quick Spin, I spent a week with the 2013 Civic Hybrid, which has always been a kind of un-Prius with its more-conventional sedan styling. The Civic’s top-mpg offering now finds itself under fire from newer rivals like the Chevy Cruze (Eco and Diesel) and VW Jetta (TDI and Hybrid). With the growing number of hybrids, diesels and high-fuel-economy gas models car buyers currently have at their disposal, if you’ve been clamoring for more fuel-efficient cars in recent years, now’s the time to be putting your money where your mouth is.

Driving Notes:

  • The only part of the 2013 Civic Hybrid that was left alone, was the one area it could have used a little modernization: Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist system. On the fuel economy front, sandwiching the 27-horsepower motor between the 110-hp 1.5-liter engine and the CVT returns EPA estimates of 44 miles per gallon for city and highway, which is far better than the mild-hybrid eAssist system used by General Motors but not as advanced as other hybrids in this segment. Unlike eAssist, Honda says that the motor can send power directly to the front wheels (but only during deceleration as a way to lessen the load on the engine), but unlike a more advanced hybrid, the Civic can’t accelerate under all-electric power. Honda stepped up its game with a new lithium-ion battery for 2012, but it needs to come up with an equally advanced answer for the rest of the system.
  • The advantage of IMA, though, is a less intrusive hybrid experience. Except for the stop-start system, the only way most drivers will really know this is a hybrid is by how much better it is at the pump. During my week with the car, I was pleasantly surprised at how the Civic never ‘felt’ like a hybrid but returned excellent fuel economy. Based on the in-cluster estimates I averaged just over 40 mpg on the highway, and in the city my numbers were consistently above the official 44-mpg rating.
  • Aside from the powertrain, Honda made numerous small improvements that paid off big time with the styling of the 2013 Civic sedan lineup. The exterior received new fascias, taillights and a modified decklid to give all sedan models a more mature appearance, and the Civic Hybrid probably comes off as the most stylish of the Civic models now with its grinning chrome grille, LED running lights and the clear-lens, light-pipe taillights.
  • Interior updates were equally subtle but make a huge difference in terms of comfort and style, such as the added padding to the door panels for added comfort, the reworked instrument panel with a cleaner, less awkward design and much better HVAC controls. Despite being a big step up from 2012, the 2013 Civic’s interior is still a step behind class leaders (in roominess and styling). All of these interior and exterior changes were most likely already in the product pipeline as a midcycle refresh, so it will be interesting to see how Honda updates this design in another couple years.
  • Starting at $24,360, the Civic Hybrid has about the same premium as most hybrids or diesels in this class, but my fully loaded tester with navigation and leather came out to $27,850. This is still a reasonable price for such a well-equipped car in this market, but for dedicated green-car enthusiasts, it might be a little too close to new plug-in or full-EV models to warrant the price.
  • Considering that a Civic Hybrid buyer could have just as easily bought a Civic Si, I’m not going to harp on the Hybrid too much, but the 110-hp engine and the equally buzz-killing CVT don’t make for an exciting car. Still, going back to the IMA, the true saving grace of this system is that it doesn’t add too much weight. At 2,879 pounds, the Civic Hybrid weighs almost the same as the non-hybrid Civic EX-L. In terms of braking, the weight saving means better performance along with pedal feel that is neither too spongy or frightening.
  • A new feature for 2013 is a lane departure warning system that uses a forward-mounted camera to sense the road lines and flash a bright warning on the upper screen if the car swerves out of its lane. Unfortunately, this camera takes up an unusually vast amount of windshield real estate, which was obvious as I was pulling out into traffic on more than one occasion.
  • When it comes to the idea of small, fuel-efficient cars, I’ve always been in the diesel camp, but I also enjoy taking long road trips. Those with regular city commutes should appreciate Civic Hybrid as much for what it brings to the table (excellent fuel economy) as for what it leaves behind (an overly flashy “I’m a hybrid” design). There is no doubt that this refresh has bought the Civic some time to keep pace with other compact cars, but I think that as much that has changed in this segment in the last few years, Honda isn’t going to have much breathing room in this segment until the next-gen Civic can get here.

2013 Honda Civic Hybrid originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 30 Aug 2013 12:03:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Nissan applies for ‘R-Hybrid’ trademark, but what is it for?

Filed under: Coupe, Hybrid, Performance, Nissan, Design/Style, Racing

Nissan Pure Drive R-Hybrid badge

Patent and trademark filings are sort of like tasseography for those of us in the auto industry. If you know where and how to look at something, there’s a lot to be figured out. Take this trademark filing from Nissan – it’s similar to the Pure Drive badge found on a Versa or Sentra, but the bottom half sports the phrase “R-Hybrid.” This wouldn’t be remarkable if the “R” in R-Hybrid weren’t the same style as the “R” in the Nissan GT-R’s badge, right down to the serifs.

While it’s easy to see this as grasping at straws, it makes a fair degree of sense. The R35 GT-R may be a dominant performance machine, but it’s been around since 2008, which is donkey years in the automotive industry. And based on the recent crop of hybridized hypercars and racecars, a hybrid GT-R doesn’t seem like such a stretch.

As Car And Driver points out, figuring out that the GT-R will go hybrid isn’t hard – figuring out when it will arrive, is. The buff book rightly points out that a new GT-R isn’t expected until 2017, but that designing and trademarking a badge four years ahead of time is a bit odd. Car and Driver speculates that we could see a mildly hybridized R35, although the chances do seem remarkably low. Head over to C/D for a more thorough rundown on why this just might be a GT-R badge, including comparisons with other R-badged Nissans.

Nissan applies for ‘R-Hybrid’ trademark, but what is it for? originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 28 Aug 2013 13:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Peugeot reveals Le Mans-derived 208 Hybrid FE prototype

Filed under: Concept Cars, Frankfurt Motor Show, Hybrid, Europe, Hatchback, Peugeot

Peugeot 208 Hybrid FE - front three-quarter view, white

You can’t leave a team of racing engineers sitting still for too long. They need something to keep them busy. Just ask the guys at Toyota or Peugeot.

Toyota shut down its Formula One program in 2009 and didn’t get to Le Mans until last year, filling the vacuum left by Peugeot’s departure at the end of the previous season. In the meantime, the engineers at Toyota Motorsport GmbH developed the TMG Sports 650. Peugeot Sport had a similar lull after shuttering its LMP1 program before it launched Sebastien Loeb’s 208 T16 Pikes Peak challenger this summer. This is what they were working on in the meantime.

It’s called the Peugeot 208 Hybrid FE, and it’s set to debut next month at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Working in partnership with French oil company Total, the Peugeot racing team applied many of the lessons it learned from developing the 908 HDi FAP prototype to a base Peugeot 208 Access.

They bored out the 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine to 1.2 liters, gave it direct injection, replaced all the internal components and coated new ones in DLC (Diamond-Like Coating, a hardener used in motorsports engines and suspension components). All of this was done in order to increase torque by 25 percent (now up to 88 pound-feet) while keeping power steady at 68 horses. They then installed the 908’s electric motor for another 22 lb-ft of torque, along with its lightweight lithium-ion battery pack. They decreased aerodynamic drag by 25 percent (thanks in part to low-rolling-resistance rubber and a narrower track) and cut 20 percent off the structure’s curb weight to optimize efficiency.

The result is a prototype that sacrifices none of the donor car’s creature comforts (save for the air conditioning system) and can hit 62 mph from a standstill in 8 seconds flat, return 141.2 mpg (on Europe’s liberal efficiency cycle) and emit just 49 grams of CO2 per kilometer. All of which may not be as exciting as what Toyota’s racing team did with their down time, but as environmental impact becomes increasingly vital to global automakers, it could prove more important.

Continue reading Peugeot reveals Le Mans-derived 208 Hybrid FE prototype

Peugeot reveals Le Mans-derived 208 Hybrid FE prototype originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 26 Aug 2013 18:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Nissan to add Rogue, Murano hybrid around 2015

Filed under: Hybrid, Crossover, Nissan

2014 Nissan Rogue Spy Shots

Except for the limited-production, Toyota-assisted Altima Hybrid, Nissan has pretty much shied away from hybrid vehicles, but that is all about to change. As a part of a plan to launch a total of 15 electrified vehicles by 2016, Nissan is launching the Pathfinder Hybrid, which goes on sale this fall, and we’ve heard in the past that the Altima will get another hybrid variant, as well. Now, Green Car Reports is confirming that the Murano and the smaller Rogue (seen above in next-gen prototype phase) will both receive hybrid powertrains.

Though riding on different platforms, both hybrid crossovers could share the system being introduced in the Pathfinder, consisting of a 2.5-liter supercharged four-cylinder engine, a 22-horsepower electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack. There is still no word on when the next-gen Murano will arrive, but the 2014 Nissan Rogue will be introduced on September 10.

Nissan to add Rogue, Murano hybrid around 2015 originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 25 Aug 2013 17:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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