Hybrid News and Notes

All the hybrid news you can handle. Maybe more.

Chrysler Stops Calling the Pacific Hybrid a “Plug-in” Because Of Range Anxiety

Chrysler has dropped the plug-in from the name of their Pacifica Hybrid, even though you can still very much plug it in. Why? Well as Jamie Butters on AutomotiveNews.com explains, it’s because we’re all kind of idiot sandwiches.

The omission is a deliberate one by the automaker’s marketing team because so many Americans still associate the word “plug-in” with risk of running out of battery … _Fiat Chrysler’s approach to marketing Pacific nationally reflects the reality that many Americans remain wary of cars with plugs.

Turns out we're all kind of idiot sandwiches

The name change will be made in every US state except for California – home of Tesla and people that realize that plug-in hybrids run like a pure EV when the battery is charged, and have a hybrid engine as a backup.

“Five years from now ‘plug-in’ will not be scary to anybody,” said Tim Kuniskis head of FCA brands “But for now, it’s still outside of the comfort range of the typical customer shopping for a Pacifica.

I’d be more worried about how the Pacifica Plug-in Hybrid can suddenly shut down because of faulty diodes. Now there’s something to have anxiety about.

The Pacifica Hybrid Has Been Known to Just Shut Down and Diode

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica has been recalled for a sudden lack of propulsion thanks to some faulty diodes. The semiconductors are part of a module, and although Chrysler won’t say which one, it’s presumably connected to the van’s battery somehow.

The Pacifica Hybrid Has Been Known to Just Shut Down and Diode

Regardless, once the diode fails your vehicle will stop moving forward. That could range from being inconvenient to being an OMG save yourselves problem, depending on your situation.

The recall affects about 1,700 vans in the USA and Canada. More recall details are available on CarComplaints.com.

Plug-in Hybrids Out Selling Battery EVs in the USA

Tesla may grab a lot of the headlines, but right now Plug-in Hybrids (PHEV) are outpacing EVs in the US market. As John Goreham points out on BestRide.com:

Electric vehicles with an on-board gasoline engine have remained more popular among affordable EVs, and for the first two months of 2017, the top two EVs in sales overall are the Chevy Volt extended-range electric vehicle (EREV) and the Prius Prime Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).

Chevy Volt (from BestRide.com)

It’s interesting, but not unexpected.

  1. Range anxiety is still a real thing. Any road-tripping family with a set of screaming toddlers in the back seat will feel more comfortable knowing they can easily find a gas station.
  2. Americans like bigger cars, and there are better PHEV options like the Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in.

Also the Pacifica works a loop-hole:

Interestingly, the Pacifica minivan will earn the full $7,500 federal discount eligibility due to its large battery size, despite being a plug-in hybrid.

Now the question is – can Tesla deliver on its Model 3 promises? And will their competition with the Bolt bring about a shift in the market?

Volvo Wins Motion to Dismiss XC90 Hybrid Lawsuit

Xavier Laurens paid $72,000 for his Volvo XC90 T8, in part because he expected it would save him money driving to and from work. Instead, Mr. Laurens found his fancy new SUV only got 18 miles on a single battery charge.

He filed a lawsuit in July 2016 saying he never would have paid an extra $20,000 for a hybrid SUV if Volvo hadn’t claimed the vehicle getting up-to 25 miles per charge.

Volvo argued that the plaintiff misunderstood the information provided about the battery. Plus – and this is the big one – Volvo offered Mr. Laurens a complete refund. After that, the judge agreed to Volvo’s motion to dismiss the case.

Secretly Save the Earth in Chrysler's Pacifica PHEV

Some people make fun of minivans, but those people most likely don’t have kids. The more screaming, cheerio-spraying, booger-makers you bring into this world, the more you realize the benefits of a minivan.

If you’re in the market for one, Chrysler just announced a new Pacifica PHEV that may be of interest to you.

  • This van gets 30 miles of gas-free range, even with the A/C on and the radio blasting to drown out the sound of your child screaming at you for who-knows-what-this-time.
  • Think of all the trips that you make that are under 30 miles – a grocery store run, pickup the kids from school, drop the kids off at soccer practice, back to the store for that one ingredient you forgot, etc. The point is, you can do most of your daily driving without a drop of gas.
  • There’s no ugly PHEV badging anywhere on the van. That means you can drive around while secretly knowing how much better you are than everyone else.
  • The battery qualifies for a $7,500 tax credit. Although that could be a limited time offer depending on what the next administration does.
  • There’s a big touchscreen in the center console, but you know what else it has? Buttons and knobs. Real controls for when you want to adjust the heat without taking off your gloves.
  • Now we just have to hope it doesn’t have a hard time shifting into park like the regular ole’ 2017 Pacifica.

BestRide.com First Look: The 2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid

The midsize sedan has been shown the curb, at least in the USA. All hail, your crossover-lords (see what I did there). So it’s no surprise that automakers are looking to expand their crossover offerings. Take Nissan, for example, which recently announced the 2017 Rogue Hybrid.

2017 Rogue Hybrid Image From BestRide.com

The fine folks over at BestRide.com have a first look at the new hybrid crossover that is well worth your time. Here’s a few things that jumped out at us.

On fuel economy:

The EPA says posts a 31 mpg city rating for the tested Rogue Hybrid SL AWD, but I didn’t get that. San Francisco’s hills can kill a vehicle’s mileage, so this should be seen as worst-case, but it was surprising to find a hybrid’s trip computer measuring 14-16 mpg on the daily errand run – sometimes less than half the EPA’s rating.

San Francisco or not, those are some disappointing numbers.

On Nissan’s Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)

You learn over time that the Rogue Hybrid has two zones of acceleration – an initial brief period when everything seems to click into place, followed by the delivery of ample power to get you up to speed.

This is not unique to the hybrid. Here’s a sampling of CVT related complaints from Rogue owners:

  1. 2008 Rogue: CVT failure
  2. 2014 Rogue: Most annoying shake when put into drive
  3. 2014 Rogue: Engine revs to 5,000 RPM while driving
  4. 2011 Rogue: Won’t accelerate and stops while driving
  5. 2013 Rogue: Loss of acceleration

Nissan’s CVT doesn’t have a trouble-free past.

Sonata Hybrid Sunroof Taking Flight

The panoramic sunroofs in 2015-2016 Sonata Hybrids are detaching and taking flight. No, that is not a feature.

From CarComplaints.com:

It was finally determined the sunroof can bind if the windscreen is out of position or if it’s loose, and forcing the sunroof to close can cause the sunroof glass to detach from the Sonata.

The recall won’t begin until early December 2016. So if you’re having trouble closing your sunroof, or hear a strange noise when you do, chances are you’re about to give someone behind you a nasty surprise.

Chevy Cruze Diesel, a Hybrid Competitor?

Some people buy hybrids because they want to do their part to help the planet. But make no mistake — others buy hybrids so they can help their wallets over time by getting maximum MPGs. That hasn’t worked out recently with gas prices so low, and now there might be a new competitor on the horizon.

From Automotive News:

Chevrolet’s diesel-powered Cruze hatchback – the brand’s first compact hatchback available in North America – could be the first nonhybrid car this century to achieve 50 mpg on the highway.

Hybrids have historically had the upper hand in MPGs against diesels which on average, have improved fuel economy by 20 percent over gasoline engines. But 50MPG? Well, them’s fightin’ words.

Busted Parking Brakes in Prius

Toyota is being skimpy on the details, but they did announce a parking brake recall for the 2016 and 2017 Prius.

Toyota is recalling about 340,000 Prius cars worldwide, including about 92,000 located in the U.S. The 2016-2017 Toyota Prius sedans have parking brakes that could fail, leading to a higher chance of rollaway incidents.

Dealers will add some clips to the top of the brake cable dust boots to hold things in place. Owners should start getting notices in November 2016.