Chicago Auto Show and Fuel Efficient Cars   Leave a comment

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Chicago Auto Show first time was staged in 1901. It has been staged more times than any other auto exposition, this is the 103rd show. It is largest auto show in North America and I guarantee you that if you are that detail oriented person who want to identify the best car you like for each participating auto maker and then try to decide which one you will buy out of that shortlist, you can not see it all in one visit. You need to be there at least couple of times or more.

I went there on Feb 10 for my first visit and only got to see Toyota, Ford, Volvo, VolksWagen. Beside taking a lot of pictures I received some media information. But I was yet not sure what I want to really talk about out of all of it.

I have decided to explore Hybrid and total Electric cars and compare them using the Auto show platform where I can get as many pictures and information as I want. This article will basically focus on the pros and cons of hybrid and total electric cars and hopefully I will be able to write more as I go.

Actually Ford brought my attention to this. Their Focus Electric eliminates more than two dozen components that require regular servicing over the life of a vehicle. This happens due to reduction of the moving mechanical components. There are 25 major items that usually require inspection, maintenance or replacement during the 10-year, 150,000-mile life of a conventional car that Ford Focus Electric doesn’t have. Ford has really established itself as an outstanding technology friendly auto manufacturer as out of all. I think this is a very strong aspect of benefits of a Hybrid car.

Other thing that we most commonly think when we hear Hybrid or electric-only cars is fuel economy Which eventually translates to less money toward gas over the life of vehicle. The best way to measure that is to compare the Hybrid version to a standard gas car of the same make and model. For example FordFusion gives 23 mpg city/33 mpg highway vs. Hybrid gives 36 mpg city/41 mpg highway. Ford Escape gives 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway vs. Hybrid FWD: 34 mpg city/31 mpg highway; AWD: 30 mpg city/27 mpg highway. Toyota Camry gives 22mpg city/33mpg highway vs.Hybrid gives 31mpg city/35mpg highway.Toyota turned out to be most green in terms of serving media needs as they handed me a CD full of information and I really liked it. I hope next year they will have a business or greeting card size information card with media website and links to important sections or press releases.

Toyota is offering 15-year/150,000-mile Hybrid-related Component Coverage (applicable states are: CA, MA, NY, NJ, VT, CT, ME, NH and RI) with the exception of the hybrid battery. The hybrid battery is warranted for 10 years/150,000 miles. Whereas in other states it is 8-year/100,000-mile. Hybrid-related Component Coverage Compared to 3-year/36,000-mile Comprehensive, 5-year/60,000-mile Powertrain, 5-year/unlimited-mileage Corrosion Perforation is pretty good.

This also shows these components are more durable. Though I have yet not researched other manufacturers but I am sure Ford’s claim for reduce maintenance and Toyota’s extended warranty is implying the industry trend for these aspects of Hybrid vehicles.

Hybrid cars still have gas engine but if the electric power is not going to be in use for majority of the driving then really what is the point? So anything Hybrid not giving even 50miles on single charge is really not offering much benefits neither in terms of fuel economy nor in term of environment.

Beside that whatever manufacturer is claiming the millage on electric power is, it is determined with optimal conditions. It can reduce in more extreme the temperature as more energy is used to heat or cool the cabin, higher speeds require much more energy to overcome air resistance, smooth acceleration and deceleration will use less while aggressive acceleration and deceleration will use more energy and heavy cargo and driving up steep long inclines will reduce range as well.

Basically if you are a more than one car family you can get electric-only cars for local commute and may be keep one hybrid or standard gas car for long distance traveling. Or those people who keep two cars anyway, should consider getting an all electric car. It is cool, fun and most environment friendly.

But for single people like me who can not afford to keep two cars, manufacturers need to device a way to charge the battery while driving, say through solar cells, or ability to use a backup like UPS (uninterrupted power supply) so that we can drive beyond 80 or 100 miles. I am thinking that for long distance if cars become capable of using second battery or a back system, eventually there will be service station that will rent you these things for days or weeks.

But with current configuration we can’t go camping or take a trip to Springfield from Chicago on single charge. Unlike filling the fuel tank, charging a car battery is not a 10-15 minute business a little longer trip or missed exit or bad traffic condition can turn into a big hassle. I really hope they can over come this short coming soon. I mean really soon because we want to get those all electric-only cool cars.


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