Infineon Technologies AG, the semiconductor and system solutions for automotive, industrial and multimarket sectors, held their annual North America Media Day Conference in Sonoma, California on Monday. The panel highlighted the technologies that they want to bring to the market. The question for all of them is; if the baseline is a Toyota Prius, is there another technology – currently on the market- that can meet the fuel economy and emissions standard for only $4,000?
Karina Morley, Director of Powertrain Control Electronics, Visteon Corporation, rattled off a group of technologies, including Variable Valve Timing (VVT), cylinder deactivation and direct injection. All those together would give you only about 20 percent better fuel economy. The real argument was between Pinson and Hermance, or diesel and hybrids.
John Pinson, Group Manager, Diesel Engine Research, General Motors Research, and Development Center, said: “Diesel fuel, over the entire cycle, is always going to be more efficient than gasoline,”. Pinson thinks the next most viable hybridization will be in heavy SUVs, with diesel. Diesel is widely popular in Europe where the fuel is 15ppm of sulfur, but in the United States, our fuel doesn’t have to meet those standards till 2007.
Dave Hermance, Executive Engineer, Advanced Technology Vehicles, Toyota Technical Center, says that for vehicles over 8,500 pounds clean diesel engines and fuel are the way to go. Howe’ver, Hermance believes that for now, and the foreseeable future, hybrids are the means for better fuel economy with better emissions.
Toyotas President Jim Press has already said that by the year 2012 Toyota will be selling 1,000,000 hybrids, with 60 percent of those being sold in the United States. Hermance hopes there will be better sales in Europe in the coming years, “there are particulate matter emissions in diesel fuel, which makes up 25 percent of Europe’s energy fuel, and the tax structure in Europe is changing.” How are sales of all hybrids going and what are the real numbers?
The hybrids currently available on the market are;
- Ford Escape
- Mercury Mariner Hybrid
- Honda Accord
- Honda Civic
- Honda Insight
- General Motors:
- Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra
- New Flyer hybrid buses using Allison Electric Drive (Cities in the U.S. & Yosemite)
- Mazda Demio (Japan)
- Renault Kangoo (France)
- Toyota Prius
- Lexus RX 400h (Harrier in Japan)
- Toyota Highlander (Kluger in Japan)
- 24 passenger Coaster Bus (Japan)
- Toyota Crown (Japan)
- Toyota Estima (a 3/4 Previa) (Japan)
- Alfard (Japan)
- HINO diesel/hybrid 2 variants of package delivery trucks (Japan)Honda was first to market, in 1999, with their Honda Insight, the practically hand-built aluminum hybrid, but the numbers go to Toyota.Toyota caught the buzz in 2000 and hybrid is practically synonymous with Toyota these days. The Prius alone has sold more vehicles since July of 2004 then all of the years of Honda and Ford sales combined. Since the 2004 Prius came out Toyota is supposed to be bringing out an LS 460, which will be enlarged from a 4.3-liter to a 4.6-liter engine.Later in the model year, the LS could be offered as a hybrid version called the LS 600hL. The RX 400h has a 3.3 liter and the GS 450h has a 3.5 liter, so an LS 600h would probably have the performance of a 6-liter engine, but would have a less than a 6-liter engine with a V-8 engine. Look for the hybrid sedan to come out sometime in 2006 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been pushing for more hybrids and Toyota has been responding with a mixture of vehicles.Honda has responded with sedans, while Ford is focusing on light SUVs. The one-vehicle missing from the mix is a van. The Toyota Sienna is built on the same platform as the RX400h and the Toyota Highlander. It would make sense that Toyota would make it’s top-selling V-6 Toyota Sienna a hybrid, increasing it’s 27 mpg to around 40mpg.
Look for the hybrid van sometime in 2007