PHEV’s Set To Revolutionise The Hybrid Vehicle Market?

Hybrid and electric vehicles have already proven to be a global success; however the economical benefits and environmental gains of conventional hybrid vehicles have always been limited by the restrictions on battery-only driving distances. The use of lithium-ion batteries within Plug-In Hybrids (PHEVs) however could change all of this. More efficient and capable of producing up to 3 times the energy of a NiMh battery, lithium-ion technology is set to revolutionisethe hybrid vehicle market.

Whereas the battery pack in a conventional hybrid is charged exclusively from the on-board internal combustion engine and regenerative braking, a plug-in hybrid can be plugged into the mains and charged to give extended travel time running on battery power alone. PHEV’s are able to give drivers the best of both worlds, providing the performance and journey distance of conventional hybrid cards, whilst offering the substantial fuel economy, emission reduction, and petroleum displacement benefits of pure battery electric vehicles. With today’s ever increasing oil prices, electric and hybrid vehicles have never been so relevant, and with performance figures of over 100mpg it’s easy to see why PHEV’s are being hailed as the future of the auto industry.

Lithium-Ion Technology

Previous hybrid vehicles used nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries, which can be engineered for relatively short battery-only driving distances. The larger energy storage and electrical power capacity that lithium-ion battery technology provides however, means that next generation plug-in hybrids will be capable of travelling much further using battery power alone. PHEV designs currently beingtrialledboast top speeds of 62mph in EV mode and an electric-only range of 12.5 miles, a significant improvement on the previous 2 mile range of conventional hybrids.

The environmental gains and economical benefits of PHEV’s are significant, the increased power, endurance and acceleration in EV mode means that during town driving the vehicle is able to perform using battery only power, leaving the combustion

engine to kick in for higher speed driving or when battery power runs out. When the battery power does run down, PHEV’s operate like conventional hybrids and use the engine power and regenerative braking to charge the battery and drive the vehicle, eliminating the practicality issues with pure electric vehicles and their restricted travel distances.

The Future of Hybrid Vehicles

This extended battery-only power means reduced fuel consumption and lower emissions, especially when powered using electricity from renewable energy sources. Offering the best compromise between efficiency and usability, PHEV’s are predicted to be popular with consumers looking for increased economical benefits and environmental gains while retaining the function and performance of a conventional hybrid. Toyota are alreadytriallinga new plug-in hybrid version of their popular Prius, and with other manufacturers following closely in their lead and indicating the release of PHEV vehicles in the next 2 years, plug-in hybrids could soon be commonplace on our roads.

Low-Emission Cars on the Second Hand Vehicles Market

Reduced CO2 vehicles move onto the second hand car market

New sub-100g/km cars are selling increasingly well. But will that rise in demand continue onto the second hand vehicle market? Let’s look into it.

What are the advantages of reduced-emission vehicles for businesses and consumers?

European has set CO2-targets that car manufactures have to live by. This is why almost all car makers have developed strategies for reducing emissions. But consumers and businesses are also wising up to the benefits of reduced-emission cars.

Businesses are always looking for ways to limit operating costs as much as they can without having to compromise on service levels. And that is where sub-100g/km vehicles come into the fleet! Fleet managers are putting the focus on whole-life cost and value for money and they realize how interesting low-CO2 cars can be for their fleets. Think tax-advantages.

Off course, We can’t ignore external factors like natural disasters, war and civil unrest. Each of these have helped increase oil prices significantly. The effect of these factors can’t be underestimated as a cause offuel-efficient vehicles demand shooting up.

Sub-100g/km vehicles on the second hand car market

Reduced-emission vehicles have only recently started appearing on the second hand car market. But we still don’t see high numbers of hybrids, electric cars and reduced-emission vehicles on second hand vehicle marketplaces. That is why it would be difficult to make an accurate prediction on the success low-emission, high-mpg vehicles will have in the future.

At the moment, the reduced-emission cars supply mainly exists out of petrol-electric hybrids, super-minis and the latest generation of fuel-efficient small hatchbacks. Because they are so scarce, availability and prices are the major issues for car buyers right now.

Car choices are limited because the majority of cars have a similar body shape. Moreover, the majority of second hand cars are retail rather than fleet models and tend not to surface in a wholesale car auction.

Fleet numbers, however, will eventually start growing, which will help fight the high auction prices, which currently often outweigh the benefits from reduced motoring costs. Make and model, mileage, condition, desirability and presentation, on the other hand, will always be critical issues as far as pricing and demand is concerned.

Can reduced-emission cars be a remarketing success?

Whether or not it is worth to take up sub-100g/km cars in a fleet for their remarketing value, is hard to tell. We could expect that this type of pre-owned cars will remain a niche-interest sector in the short-term. But if motoring costs keep climbing and the low-CO2 second hand vehicles remain tax-friendly then demand could increase strongly. But it is more likely that fleet managers will be driven towards these cars by tax advantages rather than their remarketing value.

Hyundai to Compete in Luxury Vehicle Market

Asian brands have been enjoying much success in the United States in recent years. The Asian invasion of the U.S. auto market is led by the surging Toyota Motor Company which is poised to take over General Motors’ spot.

But aside from Toyota, other Asian brands are making waves in the U.S. auto scene. One of the brands coming from the Orient is Hyundai. The company is known for producing the Hyundai Tucson and the Sonata. While the company is the largest car manufacturer in South Korea, they have yet to make a major bid for a good share of the U.S. auto market.

The company saw the need for them to increase their name’s popularity in the United States. To address that issue, the company is planning to enter the luxury vehicle segment following in the steps of Toyota and Honda which created a luxury division for the United States automobile market. The company announced that their outing in the premium segment of the U.S. auto market will culminate last year after releasing a sketch of their luxury vehicle named the Hyundai BH.

Following the announcement, CNN also reported that Hyundai is entering the luxury vehicle market to upgrade its image as a maker of quality vehicles and not just specializing in economy vehicles.

Jake Jang, the spokesman for Hyundai, has this to say about the release of their newest model: “”We will launch the ‘BH’ in the first half of 2008 in South Korea and will begin to sell the premium sedan in the United States, the major export market for the model, late 2008.” The luxury vehicle is aimed at the American consumers who are known for their affinity for vehicles which provides not only good performance but also luxurious features. This is evident on the strong sales of luxury brands like Lexus.

In order for Hyundai to be a strong competitor in the luxury vehicle field, the company will be equipping their BH with a V8 engine that will be designed to perform at a level similar to that of luxury vehicle already being sold in the market.

The move by Hyundai to produce luxury vehicles is to boost profit in the U.S. market and this would counter the declining demand for their vehicles in the South Korean auto market. Aside from the luxury sedan, Hyundai is also planning add premium models in the near future. If one looks at the reason for the success of luxury brands like Lexus, it would benefit Hyundai if their first luxury vehicle is reliable.

Reliability is, of course, what luxury vehicles have that is greater than non-luxury cars. So for the Hyundai BH to be successful, it has to be as tough as a Volvo motor mount. The reliability of Hyundai’s first luxury vehicle will determine the success of the company’s venture in the luxury vehicle market.