Hybrid Vehicles Makes a Turn for the More Powerful Vehicles in the Auto Industry:Written by Jenny McLane
It is common knowledge among car enthusiasts and car owners that bigger vehicle, bigger amount of fuel it consumes. With this in mind, several automobile producers have begun diverting a big chunk of their efforts to producing more hybrid 4x4s in year 2005.
Taking on Fleet First. The big three - Ford, Dodge and General Motors have seemed to agree that 2005 is perfect opportunity to introduce hybrid versions of some very popular vehicles.
Ford Introduces Ford Escape Hybrid, first vehicle to combine SUV capability with outstanding fuel economy and low environmental impact of a full hybrid. "Full" hybrid means it automatically switches between pure electric power, pure gasoline or diesel engine power or a combined operation to optimize efficiency and performance. The no frills Escape Hybrid drives normally, performs superbly and offers all features you'd expect from SUV leader. The Hybrid Ford Escape features lots of room, comfortable seating for five, an adaptable cargo area, 1000-pound towing capacity, and an optional Intelligent 4WD System which produces same all-weather grip and off-road competence available in conventional Escape models. Full hybrids can achieve 50% or more improvement in fuel economy during traffic induced stop-and-go type of driving, wherein electric motor is most efficient. The Escape Hybrid delivers more than 75% fuel economy improvement in city driving when weighed against a conventional V-6 powered Escape XLT. The Escape Hybrid can travel more than 400 miles in city driving on a single tank of gasoline. Ford has already manufactured and sold 4,000 units Ford Escape Hybrid in 2004 and its resounding success has prompted it to build a “modest” 20,000 more for 2005. Ford wants to make sure it is not just a fad and people would see practical, economical and environmental impact a Hybrid vehicle can induce. The Escape Hybrid costs $3,300 more than V-6 powered Escape.
Dodge and General Motors follow suit. Ford has been first to produce and set bar in large vehicle Hybrid market segment and Dodge and GM cannot afford to lag behind. General Motors and Dodge are not that far behind though. In last quarter of 2004, General Motors introduced electric hybrid versions of its 2005 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups. The trucks were only available to those who are in Florida, California, Nevada, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington. GM expects to produce about 2,500 units in 2005 - 1,875 Silverados and 625 Sierras - with hopes of launching vehicles on a national scale by 2006. Dodge manufactured only 100 diesel-electric 2005 RAM pickups, targeted for utility company fleets. The diesel will produce better fuel economy, with an additional 15% mpg boost over conventional diesel Ram coming from electric side. Diesels are generally considered more “environmentally disastrous” on ecological front. The Dodge Ram Diesel Hybrid is expected to sell for around $40,000 a somewhat larger cost than non-hybrid models.
Heftier Price Tags. Although price tags may vary from state to state, average increase for cost for a Hybrid option may run well up to $3,000. The GM versions of Hybrid engine are soft-hybrids, which mean that an electric motor provides a boost up on accelerations. The GM version of a hybrid large vehicle has a stop-start system that turns off gasoline engine at traffic lights. It possesses a 120-volt, 2,400-watt generator system that can provide power for electrical equipments. The Silverado and Sierra hybrids also serves as power generators, with two conventional, three-prong plug-ins that can be found under rear seat, two extra plug-ins can also be found in rear bed of trucks. The four 120-volt, 20 amp electrical supplementary power outlets can supply power for electric coolers, electric ranges, sound systems video consoles and other electrical equipments that can be lugged around. The power supply can be utilized while engine is running or even after engine is cut and keys are taken out of ignition. Ground fault detection systems are installed in power supply circuits so that overloads and short circuits can be prevented. According to General Motors, new hybrid pickups could sustain enough power to last for up to 32 hours non-stop before needing to fill tank again. This function new feature proved to be very useful when GM loaned some of their new Hybrids’ to hurricane stricken Florida when they were used for some relief operations, they were vital in some areas were electricity was incapacitated. The hybrid models of Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks are foreseen to develop fuel savings of up to 10% over analogous trucks without hybrid benefit.
Suzuki Forenza Wagon 2005: The Weekly Driver ReviewWritten by James Raia
As an entry level wagon, 2005 Suzuki Forenza offers budget-minded buyers a spacious wagon with a good supply of standard features. But as a debut vehicle, it's also unproven in resale market and has shortcomings that ideally define its position in marketplace.
My weekly test drive was LX wagon, one of 10 available Forenza models in 2005. The 2.0-liter, 16-value, 126-horsepower engine has a four-speed automatic transmission, only option.
The vehicle has good mileage estimates for its class, and wagon accelerates adequately in city driving scenarios. But it's sluggish and needs a full-throttle jolt on steady highway inclines or in a quickly needed lane-change situation.
The Forenza wagon isn't particularly quiet on open road and ride quality is marginal, with bumps easily felt and overall feel a little stiff. But as an economically priced wagon, Forenza also has several features that warrant its consideration.
The vehicle's exterior is designed nicely, with a contoured body, alloy wheels, fog lamps, and a power tilt slide sunroof. My test vehicle's test color was listed as "Fantasy Black," and exterior was complemented by cloth light gray seats.
Several passengers mentioned that while Forenza looks small from outside, they were surprised by interior spaciousness. One 6-foot-2 friend sat in back seat and had more than a one-inch clearance. He said headroom was more than he's had in back seats of some SUVs.
The same is true from driver's seat perspective. As a 6-foot driver, I had good head clearance and leg room. The spacious interior extends to cargo area, which is wide, easily accessible from back seat and has a convenient hatchback style entry.
The interior of Forenza seemingly has one general theme - simplicity. Radio controls and other instrumentation are easy to use and have a straightforward design. The instrument panel numbers have retro-style lettering, and back panel has an attractive light green tone when illuminated. Another nice feature is dashboard design. Its textured pattern looks like (and feels like) surface of golf balls - if they were black.