Like that of the Vue Green Line, the Aura Green Line's instrument cluster contains four clear and bright dials, two of which give clues to its hybrid identity: instead of beginning at 0rpm, the tachometer has a setting called Autostop, which serves to shut off the engine when the car is stationary, and a charge/assist meter, which lets the driver know when the car's hybrid system is being either charged (by regenerative braking or deceleration) or discharged in response to increased engine load demand.
The Altima Hybrid features regenerative braking, which enables the car to charge its 245-volt nickel-metal-hydride battery. The Altima Hybrid uses the same 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine as the gasoline-only Altima augmented by a 148-kilowatt motor/generator.
In line with its fuel-efficient drivetrain technology, all seat covering materials in the 2008 Escape Hybrid come from 100-percent postindustrial recycled materials. Ford describes the interior cabin controls and switch gear on the 2008 Escape hybrid as "poking through" the center console. An auxiliary-input jack is standard on the car, and heated seats and an in-dash navigation system are available as options.
The Green Line just got longer. The 2008 Aura Green Line Hybrid is the second car to make use of the belt-alternator system (BAS) hybrid-assist technology that GM pioneered in the Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid. The car will offer a 25-percent increase in fuel economy over the gasoline-only Aura, according to Saturn. Production of the Aura Green Line Hybrid is scheduled to begin in March 2007, and the car is expected to have a base price of less than $23,000.
Rather than developing its own hybrid technology, Nissan is licensing Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive for its 2007 Altima Hybrid. Like the 2007 Toyota Camry, which will be its major competitor, the Altima Hybrid has a two-mode gasoline-electric drivetrain that enables it to run solely on battery power when engine demand is low.
The 2008 Escape Hybrid gets an exterior redesign that emulates its big brothers in Ford's SUV lineup, with the front grille and headlights serving to emphasize the Ford-truck look. Like the Altima Hybrid, the 2008 Escape Hybrid is a full hybrid and can run on 100 percent electric power up to about 30mph. The Escape packs a 70-kilowatt permanent-magnet AC synchronous electric motor and a 2.3-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine mated to a continuously variable transmission. With the two propulsion sources working in concert, the Escape Hybrid post 0-to-60mph times comparable with the V-6 Escape. In the city, Ford says that the electric-only mode gives the Escape a fuel-economy improvement of nearly 75 percent.
The Altima Hybrid offers three equipment packages: convenience, connection, and technology. Our fully wired test vehicle at the LA show came with an impressive lineup of cabin tech, including an as-standard Intelligent Key with push-button ignition; a nine-speaker Bose audio system with Bluetooth hands-free calling; a GPS navigation system; satellite radio; and a rearview camera. The Altima Hybrid goes on sale in January 2007.
Look out, Toyota. The hybrid car market is getting more crowded with each auto show we go to. LA sees the coming-out party for four new hybrids from GM, Ford, and Nissan as the major automakers react to growing customer demand for high-tech, fuel-efficient engines.
The 2008 GMC Yukon Hybrid will be the second production car to use GM's two-mode hybrid system that lets cars operate entirely on electric, entirely on gasoline, or on a combination of both. The V-8 Yukon Hybrid will offer drivers a 25-percent increase in fuel economy over the gasoline-only Yukon and will arrive at dealers toward the end of 2007.
Drivers of the GMC Yukon Hybrid can expect to see a 25-percent increase in fuel efficiency compared with the gasoline-only version. The two-mode hybrid system works by switching between first mode, for low speed and light loads, and second mode for highway driving. When in the first mode, the car is able to run solely on electric power or on a combination of electric and gasoline. In highway driving, the electric motor can be used to assist the gasoline engine.