The Baltimore Sun reported last week that Ford Motor Co. has taken a license to the technology of Paice, a Baltimore-based technology company. Lorraine Mirabella for the newspaper writes, “Ending a long-running legal battle, Ford Motor Co. agreed to pay a Baltimore-based technology firm and the Abell Foundation to use a hybrid engine technology. The value of the licensing deal, announced Thursday, was not disclosed.”
“Paice filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission against Ford in February 2017, accusing the automaker of patent infringement in vehicles imported into the United States. Paice asked the commission to ban the company from importing vehicles such as the Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ hybrids. A bench trial was held the first week in November, and the settlement and licensing agreement, reached earlier this year, was finalized Monday by a trade commission judge.”
Frances Keenan, Paice’s Chairman, was quoted as saying “We believe in the near future that hybrids will still be extremely important in the world of electrification… Hybrids are critical to the mix of electrification and will continue to be for years to come.” Read more.
Green Car Reports has released its monthly round-up of the best deals in hybrids for April 2018. The Ford C-Max, Kia Niro, and Kia Optima LX Hybrid are all offering specials this month, with significant discounts across the board.
Kia is offering its Niro PHEV with special pricing, including a cash bonus for leasers. The Chevrolet Volt, the PHEV with the longest electric range, is also on special this month.
For electrics, the Ford Focus and Kia Soul offer the most compelling pricing among their peers. Read more.
Subaru has registered the name Evoltis, potentially hinting at a near-term rollout for the automaker’s newest hybrid: a plug-in. According to a report by Green Car Reports, Subaru has trademarked the name and will apply it to the PHEV, to be released as early as 2019.
Previously, Subaru came to market with the Crosstrek hybrid in the U.S., and has sold other electrified cars around the world. The Evoltis, if a PHEV, would be the first Subaru plug-in sold in the U.S. The technology behind the PHEV likely originates from Subaru’s technology partnership with Toyota. Read more.
Leading the pack for automakers, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai / Kia and other Japanese and South Korean OEMs sold over two million hybrid and plug-in cars in 2017. Toyota, as is the trend, sold the most hybrid vehicles for the year, contributing to the industry’s fourteen percent growth over 2016. As Ward’s Auto points out, Toyota “dwarfs all other brands including Honda, Kia, Ford and Hyundai, ranked two, three, four and five, while maintaining a nearly 50% share of 2017 sales.”
Electric vehicles represent a growing portion of the total market for electrified vehicles, but remain less than 1% of all sales in the major markets except China. Hybrids continued to make up a greater portion of sales in the United States and Europe in 2017. Read more.
Range Rover’s new 400e PHEV is out for review. The model employs an 85 kWh electric motor generating 31 miles of all-electric range, and a total of 398 horsepower. The Range Rover 400e maintains the automaker’s traditional styling, but accelerates faster than its gasoline counterpart. As Reese Counts notes for Auto Blog, “Visually, the only things that give away the PHEV from its siblings are the 400e badge on the back and the panel in the grille that hides the charging port. That’s it.”
Range Rover has given the 400e PHEV other enviable features as well: high quality sound isolation, all-electric four-wheel drive, and impressive wading capabilities. Auto Blog took the PHEV for a test ride. Read more.
Hybrid Cars has released its March 2018 monthly sales report, with March sales increasing off of February’s numbers, and coming in stronger than March of last year. PHEVs and EVs contributed to the year on year increase in sales, while hybrid sales fell off of last year.
There were 28,518 hybrids sold in March, a 10.7% decline off of last year. However, the almost 30k models sold represented a more than 14% increase off of February.
10,882 PHEVs were sold in March, with the Toyota Prius and Chevy Volt leading the pack. As Hybrid Cars notes, the Prius had its best month ever. The Honda Clarity Plug-in also sold well with over one thousand vehicles sold.
The Tesla Model 3 and Chevy Bolt led electric vehicle sales to 14,480 models in total, a 42.4% increase compared to March of 2017. Though Tesla is still struggling to catch up to its planned production numbers, it is selling well. Read more.
At last week’s New York Auto Show, Ford debuted its Responder Hybrid, the “first pursuit-rated hybrid police vehicle.” The model employs a 2.0 liter Atkinson engine alongside an 88 kW motor and 7.6kWh battery. The Responder Hybrid also has law enforcement-specific features including heavy duty versions of its tires, brakes, suspension, and cooling system.
The Responder Hybrid will be produced alongside a Special Service PHEV sedan. The latter model is intended for “plain-clothes” law enforcement, and is not pursuit rated. Rather, the car is meant for other specialized uses, with a 7.6 kWh lithium-ion battery offering up to 33.8 km of all electric range. Read more.
Honda has debuted its 2018 Clarity PHEV, a combination car offering 47 miles all electric, with 340 miles of total range. The PHEV employs a 181hp electric motor and a 17kWh lithium-ion battery and can operate as either a series or parallel hybrid, depending on the mode the driver selects. The model is offered with five modes in total.
Tim Healey with TTAC took the 2018 Clarity for a test drive and gave the Clarity’s driving “nice” as its descriptor. He notes, “The overall package is impressive…clearly, the Clarity is nice, but at a price, at least compared to the competition.” Read more.
Ford is set to release a mild hybrid of its popular Focus model in 2020. The Focus hybrid will employ a 48-volt mild hybrid system according to Motor Trend. The hybrid system will also contribute to a strong upgrade in horsepower for the Focus, with the new model coming in at more than 400hp. When combined with up to 425 lb-ft of torque, the Ford Focus hybrid will accelerate quicker than previous models.
The Focus hybrid is part of an overall strategy shift by Ford. The automaker has redistributed investment capital, with a greater portion going toward electrified vehicles than ICE. Read more.
The 2019 Honda Insight has debuted this week in New York, and the new model is rated at up to 55mpg for city driving. The Insight employs Honda’s trademark two-motor hybrid system and a 151 hp Atkinson engine.
Honda is set to offer the Insight hybrid in three different trims, with various features, and will produce the model in Indiana. The 2019 hybrid will go on sale sometime in the next year, with more details forthcoming. Hybrid Cars has the story. Read more.