BYD F3DM PHEV in Detroit, a Chinese plug-in hybrid electric

Chinese automaker BYD, which stands for ‘Build Your Dreams’, has just presented what they claim as the world’s first mass-produced plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Sales actually began last month in China, and the company is planning to offer the car in North America in 2011. Powered by a 102-hp electric motor, the F3DM can travel up to 100 km on battery power. After that, a 1.0-litre gasoline engine kicks in to replenish the battery pack.

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BYD F3DM PHEV in Detroit, a Chinese plug-in hybrid electric

Chinese automaker BYD, which stands for ‘Build Your Dreams’, has just presented what they claim as the world’s first mass-produced plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Sales actually began last month in China, and the company is planning to offer the car in North America in 2011. Powered by a 102-hp electric motor, the F3DM can travel up to 100 km on battery power. After that, a 1.0-litre gasoline engine kicks in to replenish the battery pack.

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2010 Honda Insight

2010 Honda Insight
2010 Honda Insight - Fuel Efficient Cars, Hybrids and Reviews - Automobile Magazine
Honda heads for the hybrid mainstream, with no apologies to the toyota prius.

So, I’m afraid I’m one of those people to whom our design editor, Robert Cumberford, refers in his column this month (page 16). You see, since I drove the new Insight in Arizona in early December, I’ve been telling my colleagues that Honda “copied the Prius” for the design of its new, second-generation Insight. Although I certainly defer to Cumberford’s erudition (the man is a walking, talking encyclopedia of automotive history, especially as it pertains to car styling) and his assertion that designs for both the Prius and the Insight are in fact informed by research conducted in Germany some seven decades ago, I will still state this obvious fact: since its debut five years ago, the second-generation Prius has become the definitive shape for a hybrid car in America. It’s little surprise, then, that Honda chose to ape the Prius’s basic exterior design and packaging philosophy. After all, the first-generation Insight, which debuted in 1999, was an oddity: a tiny, side-skirted, skinny-tired two-seater that even fervent Honda fans could not wrap their heads around. Lesson learned, Honda wanted its new, second-generation Insight to be friendly rather than freaky, useful rather than nearly useless, and, most important, a sales winner. So, like both the existing Prius and the all-new, 2010 model seen in the following pages, the Insight is an aerodynamically optimized, four-door, five-passenger hatchback sedan.

Photo Gallery: 2010 Honda Insight – Fuel Efficient Cars, Hybrids and Reviews – Automobile Magazine

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2009 Mercedes Benz CL550 4Matic

2009 Mercedes Benz CL550 4Matic
2009 Mercedes Benz CL550 4Matic - Mercedes Benz Luxury Sedan Review - Automobile Magazine
The CL550’s sumptuous saddle-on-black leather-trimmed cabin wowed every passenger who crawled inside.

This CL550 is very old-school Mercedes. It is large, feels heavy, and is extremely cosseting. I’m generally not a big fan of large coupes as they always seem to lack interior space for their substantial exterior dimensions but at least the CL can hold adults in the back if needed. That feature sets the Benz apart from the much less spacious BMW 6-series.

Photo Gallery: 2009 Mercedes Benz CL550 4Matic – Mercedes Benz Luxury Sedan Review – Automobile Magazine

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2010 Toyota Prius

2010 Toyota Prius
2010 Toyota Prius - Fuel Efficient News, Hybrid Cars and Reviews - Automobile Magazine
Can one million owners be wrong? Not likely, and that’s why engineers were careful in creating the 2010 Toyota Prius.

Can one million owners be wrong? Not likely, and that’s why engineers were careful in creating the 2010 Toyota Prius. Toyota‘s honed its recipe for a successful hybrid sedan over the past ten years, and there’s little need to stray wildly from it – some slight refinements are all that’s needed.

Photo Gallery: 2010 Toyota Prius – Fuel Efficient News, Hybrid Cars and Reviews – Automobile Magazine

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2010 Lincoln MKT

2010 Lincoln MKT
2010 Lincoln MKT - 2009 Detroit Auto Show Coverage, New Car Reviews, Concept Cars - Automobile Magazine
When it goes on sale late this summer, the Ontario-built, glass-roofed, seven-passenger crossover will be offered in front- or all-wheel-drive guise, powered by a 267-hp, 268-lb-ft, 3.7-liter V-6 mated to a six-speed paddleshift transmission.

“The MKT is fully differentiated from the Flex,” claims chief engineer Ron Heiser. That’s a bit of hyperbole, since they share the same platform (one which Heiser points out has superb crash performance) and basic chassis tuning. But his point is well-taken, because everything you see and touch both inside and outside the MKT – which closely hews to the MKT Concept from last year’s Detroit show – has little to nothing in common with the Flex. Indeed, chief designer Gordon Platto takes visible pleasure from pointing out the MKT’s features: “This is the first time we’ve actually fully integrated the grille from the MKR Concept. We’ve combined it with zero-offset bumpers for a smooth exterior. Inside, we use the same cut-and-sew leather and wood trim as in the MKS sedan, and our ‘floating armrest’ is also from the MKR and allows us to offer contrast-color inserts later.”

Photo Gallery: 2010 Lincoln MKT – 2009 Detroit Auto Show Coverage, New Car Reviews, Concept Cars – Automobile Magazine

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