A roundup of automotive news bites from around the world:
Hybrid Lexus supercar bows down under: Supercar awesomeness was due to meet real-world efficiency when Lexus said it would unveil the second iteration of its rakish LF-LC concept in Sydney at the Australian International Motor Show, Oct. 22. The LF-LC Blue, inspired by the semiprecious opal stone found in the Australian outback, is uniquely styled and powered by a hybrid drivetrain that features a gasoline engine combined with an "advanced, high-energy battery pack and an electric motor at each front wheel. While the power split between gas and electric is not specified, Lexus said the hybrid combination would produce in excess of 500 horsepower. Lexus Australia official Tony Cramb said the LF-LC Blue "hints at what's to come" from Toyota's luxury division.
Taxis will exchange batteries rather than recharge: Battery-swapping company Better Place has teamed up with Coda Automotive to launch a fleet of six electric taxicabs starting next year in San Francisco. Two years in the making, the service will be the result of a $7-million US regional grant awarded to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
Better Place spokesman John Proctor said delays were caused by the lack of private-public partnerships with the cities of San Francisco and San Jose, without which the project could not proceed. Better Place also needed to find an electric-car manufacturer whose vehicles could be fitted to use its swappable batteries, and has settled on California-based Coda's $38,145 US (before retrofitting) sedan. The original proposal called for 61 cars.
Honda sells a million hybrids: Honda marked a major milestone at the end of September when it notched its one-millionth hybrid vehicle sale, making it only the second automaker - after archrival Toyota - to do so. It crossed the million-vehicle line one month short of 13 years to the day its first-generation Insight went on sale. Starting in late 1999 with the first Insight, a tiny two-seat hatchback, Honda has steadily boosted production of a dozen different vehicles that have used eight generations of its Integrated Motor Assist hybrid system, notes alternate energy website Green Car Reports. Honda's next hybrids will be on the high end of its production range: the Accord Hybrid and Accord Plug-In hybrid that go on sale early next year.
"Active" shutter vents raise fuel economy: Every month, it seems, there's another automaker touting its use of "active" shutter grille vents to boost their vehicles' fuel economy. These work by closing at higher speeds, forcing air around a vehicle's bodywork instead of allowing it to rush through the engine compartment and its various components and along the car's underbody, which adds significant aerodynamic drag. The shutters make the car slips through the air more cleanly, reducing the amount of energy needed to move it along. Should the engine get too hot, active shutters can automatically re-open the grille, allowing cooling air to reach the radiator to prevent overheating.
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