26 October 2007

Honda Accord Diesel and New Hybrid Coming for 2009 Model Year

At the Tokyo Auto Show, Honda confirmed that the 2009 US Accord will have an optional 2.2 liter diesel engine. Boost levels, and therefore output, have not yet been finalized, but it's expected to make at least 150 horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque, while likely eclipsing the fuel economy of both the old V6 Accord Hybrid and the current Toyota Camry Hybrid.

This will be an impressive engine for several reasons. Other than the respectable power and torque for a four cylinder and expected strong fuel efficiency (likely well over 40 miles per gallon in the real world), the engine will mark the debut of Honda's Clean Diesel technology in the US. The engine will be 50 state-legal (unlike many 2007 model year diesels), and unique to Honda, the engine will not require a urea injection as Mercedes and larger VW diesels to remove harmful NOx from the exhaust (Mercedes calls their diesels BlueTec, and the urea injection liquid, which must be periodically refilled at the dealer, is called AdBlue). Instead, Honda's solution is a NOx converter that - without adding any chemicals - produces its own ammonia through a chemical reaction that reacts with the NOx to produce harmless nitrogen and water.

Honda is also planning to begin sales of its new dedicated hybrid model, likely to compete directly with the popular Toyota Prius. The new Honda hybrid (which still does not have a name) will be a five passenger vehicle. This vehicle may be followed later by a smaller, sportier hybrid model similar to the Honda CR-Z concept (shown to the left) previously shown by Honda.

The best news about these new engines and vehicles is that Honda has directly addressed one of the biggest criticisms of hybrid and diesel vehicles: that is, diesels and hybrids typically save fuel, but the added complexity and components makes the vehicles too expensive to have any kind of economic benefit. Instead, Honda expects that the breakeven point (where fuel savings have equaled the additional price premium for a diesel or hybrid) will be two years for these new models. An earlier rumor on the Accord Diesel's pricing was that it would slot somewhere in the middle of the lineup, so it certainly seems plausible. If Honda keeps the pricing in that sweet spot, 2009 Accord Diesel sales should take off.

24 October 2007

Autoblog Wants To Marry General Motors

John Neff at Autoblog reported on comments made by Honda chief executive Takeo Fukui about the concept Chevy Volt in a post today. Seems that Honda doesn't think there is much of a future in technology like the Volt, and is letting it be known. A few months ago, Toyota more or less said the same thing. Whether they're right or not isn't the point of MY post however. This is:

What bothers us about Toyota and Honda going after General Motors and its plans for the Chevy Volt is simply the fact that they're bothering to address the Volt at all. Stop worrying about what the other guy's doing and get to work on your own plan for saving the Earth from the evil of the internal combustion engine. We get it, you both aren't down with doing a plug-in series hybrid like the Volt. Then what are you going to do and where is it? Rather than claiming consumers aren't going to respond well to a hybrid that has to be plugged in everyday (yeah, who wants to get their fuel from the outlet in their garage rather than driving down the street for it?), quit yer yappin' and show us a better solution!
Umm, John? See those 15,000 or so copies of the Prius being sold every month? Or the Highlander hybrid? Or the Camry hybrid? Or the GS400h? Or the LS600h? Or the RX350h? What about the Civic and Accord hybrids? What about the Honda hydrogen concept cars that are actually being driven on roads? The stupidity of asking what Honda and Toyota are going to do regarding fuel consumption looms large over this article, considering the fact that both companies are world leaders in fuel economy and technology related to increasing it. Meanwhile, GM is only now rolling out the Two Mode hybrid system, and for years has bastardized the hybrid badge by using BAS crap. One good idea that has not come close to fruition does not make GM a leader in any sense of the word.

23 October 2007


For the first time this fall, the weather was cool enough today that the exhaust fumes of most cars on the road were visible. Waiting in traffic, I noticed something very odd with the Mazda 6 in front of me- only one of the exhaust tips was blowing out water vapour. What's up with that? Curious, I then started keeping an eye out for it- a Mazdaspeed 6 did not have this happening... a Saturn Aura did not have this happening... a Ford Fusion V6 did have this happening. I even made it a point to check out the twin pipes on the Altima I drive, a 4 banger, and saw that both pipes had visible vapour.

So what's up with that? Are some vehicles with dual pipes actually just doing it more for show than anything else? If there's no visible vapour, does that mean that the one pipe doesn't have exhaust fumes going through it?

Inquiring minds want to know.

22 October 2007


Picture and the following quote courtesy of Tundra Solutions-

Some of you on here may see me as a Toyota Zealist but even with my loyalty towards Toyota I'll throw a BS flag at them as fast as anyone else, so here it is. Well its pretty obvious that the tailgates on these new tundras have some issues. There have been multiple threads of folks loading 4 wheelers, golf carts and damaging their tailgates in the process. I was following a thread on a tailgate failure on TT and it was about a guy who tried to load his atv in the back of his Tundra and the tailgate bent and buckled in the process. So I went out to look at mine since I have loaded mine quite a few times without a problem and noticed that my tailgate is gonna do the same thing his did. The shell is 2 thin azz pieces with a chinsy seam that appears to be bonded with something I cant even say that its welded cuz it doesn't look like a weld. Anyway heres a few pics and the link to this guys post where his failed to support the weight of his wheeler the first time he attempted to load it This is gonna be a mess up here in AK, cuz thats how most people transport their wheelers. This same wheeler has been loaded in the bed of 2 of my Tacomas and a T-100 with no problem over the last 10 years and now Toyotas biggest truck ever has a tailgate that wont support what a 1996 Tacoma, 1999 Tacoma , and a 97 T-100 could. This is gonna be a fun one, thankfully I dont have to load the quad again until May so I have some time to figure this out. I dont know if the spring loaded easy drop feature for suburban moms is the reason for this lightweight chinsy tailgate but its not gonna fly for those of us who actually use their truck as a truck.

Heres the pics of another tundra owners tailgate that is what mine will eventually look like. This was the first time he ever loaded his quad.
It gets better from there as a whole bunch of other Tundra owners proceed to run out of their dens to go and check on their trucks, and discover that the very same thing is happening to them.

Quite obviously, Toyota did not design the tailgate properly on the Tundra. Not only that- they hyped how light and easy to close it was when they launched the Tundra- seems like it's that way because it's made of tinfoil. On the heels of the camshaft failures and the transmission problems they've experienced, I am only left to ponder one question- what's for lunch tomorrow?

Snap Judgement Monday

The 2008 Chevrolet Malibu is the blandest and most boring new vehicle I have ever set my eyes on.

The Surreal Life

Flicking through the channels tonight, and happen upon a show on Speed called 'Car Crazy'.

The host? None other than Barry Meguiar, whose name I'm sure you've seen on various car polish products. This is Barry Meguiar:

Old Barry here is the quintessential old guy. A little befuddled, and generally upbeat about cars. Not a bad host. Think kindly old grandfather and you wouldn't be too far from the truth. Car Crazy had Barry at the Dub Car Show during the particular episode I was watching.

This is Dub Magazine:

Dub Magazine likes 24 inch slammed Escalades, big sound systems, and ass. Lots of ass if the above cover is any indication. So it would only stand to reason that Car Crazy would send Barry Meguiar out to the event so he could reminisce fondly with all attending about the Model T he used to drive as a teenager.

But it gets better.

This is who Barry Meguiar gets to interview:

Atlanta's own Lil' Scrappy. Or as he put it, 'Money In The Bank'. Lil' Scrappy used his airtime to tell us about his upcoming album and to shout out half of his boys back home watching on TV. During all this, Barry nodded enthusiastically, almost lost his dentures several times, and kept emitting a low grunt like chuckle at infrequent intervals

Basically, I'm pretty sure I'd watch anything with Barry Meguiar in it at this point. I hope they send him to SEMA next.