2010 Hybrid Cars: Here’s the Lineup.

The number of hybrid cars keeps increasing, and while it is definitely a step in the right direction for emission reduction and fuel economy, the real importance of the hybrid car is in the evolution of transportation in general.

Technology, when it first comes out, isn’t always immediately cheaper than existing alternatives.  The Chevy Malibu Hybrid, for example, cost more to make than it sold for.  But putting these cars in the hands of real world people has helped manufacturers improve technology to the point where they are becoming financially beneficial, both to the manufacturer and the consumer.   Several companies have actual plug-in electrics just around the corner — possibly hitting the streets this year.

So, here is this year’s list of the major automobile manufacturer offerings for hybrid cars, trucks and SUVs.

ACURA:

Acura does not offer a hybrid model.

AUDI:

Although rumors of a Q5 hybrid have been circulating since 2008, it doesn’t appear that it will make it to the 2010 roster.

BMW:

From BMW USA:

“We will introduce two hybrids in Frankfurt, the BMW ActiveHybrid 7 and BMW ActiveHybrid X6.  They are the production version of our two first gas-electric passenger vehicles.

The ActiveHybrid X6 will be the most powerful hybrid in the world and the BMW ActiveHybrid 7 is projected to be the fastest hybrid in the world and each

BMW Active Hybrid X6 Courtesy BMW
BMW Active Hybrid X6 Courtesy BMW

will feature between 15-20% increase in fuel efficiency.  The ActiveHybrid X6 is a “two mode” hybrid featuring full-electric operation up to 37mph for 1.6 miles and it goes on sale in December 2009.

BMW Active Hybrid 7 Courtesy BMW
BMW Active Hybrid 7 Courtesy BMW

The ActiveHybrid 7 is a “mild hybrid” and uses electric motors to boost the operation of a gasoline engine and recaptures energy in a lithium-ion battery and it goes on sale in Spring 2010.”

BUICK:

No Buick Hybrids for 2010

CADILLAC:

2010 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid courtesy General Motors
2010 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid courtesy General Motors

Cadillac will be selling the Escalade 2-Mode Hybrid SUV again this year, 21mpg city/22 hwy.  This is essentially a luxury version of the GMC  Yukon full size SUV, and as such the mileage is pretty respectable given the size.

CHEVROLET:

2010 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid Courtesy General Motors
2010 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid Courtesy General Motors

In all of GM the only hybrid car they list for 2010 is the Malibu Hybrid, running their Ecotec 2.4L 4 cyl.  Don’t look for it on the showroom however, because it’s been dropped from the lineup due to lack of sales of the 2009 models.  However The Silverado 2-Mode Hybrid pickup, and the Tahoe 2-Mode hybrid SUV are still

2010 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid Courtesy General Motors
2010 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid Courtesy General Motors

being produced, and we’re hopeful the Volt (GM’s new electric ) may make its debut  in 2010. The trucks feature a 6.0L V-8 engine now compatible with E85.

The Silverado and the Tahoe get 21mpg city/22 hwy.  Not terrible for a full size pickup or SUV by any means.

CHRYSLER, JEEP, and DODGE:

No hybrids this year for Chrysler brands.

FORD:

2010 Ford Escape Hybrid Courtesy Ford Motor Company
2010 Ford Escape Hybrid Courtesy Ford Motor Company

Ford offers the Escape hybrid, a compact crossover SUV,  Getting an impressive 31 mpg hwy, and 34 mpg city.  They also offer the Fusion hybrid, a midsize with an estimated 41 mpg city 36 hwy.

fsn10_pg_010_ext_med

GMC:

2010 GMC Sierra Hybrid
2010 GMC Sierra Hybrid Courtesy General Motors

The truck division of General Motors is producing  the Sierra pickup and the Yukon SUV in 2 mode hybrid form.  They both get 21mpg city/22 hwy.  Not terrible for a full size pickup or SUV by any means.  The trucks feature a 6.0L V-8

2010 GMC Yukon Hybrid Courtesy General Motors
2010 GMC Yukon Hybrid Courtesy General Motors

engine now compatible with E85. GMC also offers a full size hybrid city bus.

HONDA:

From Honda:

“For the 2010 model year, Honda already has two hybrid vehicles on sale in the US, the Civic Hybrid and the all-new Insight.  Additionally, Honda has announced that an all-new sporty hybrid called the CR-Z will come to the US sometime in the calendar year 2010.  Details about that vehicle are limited at this time, but it will be based on the CR-Z concept vehicle that has been shown at several international auto shows in the past couple of years.“

The Civic hybrid gets an estimated 40 mpg city, and 53 mpg hwy and retails for $23,650.

The Honda Insight hybrid gets 40mpg city and 43 hwy, and starts at $19,800.

HYUNDAI:

No Hybrids listed for the 2010 model year.

KIA:

No Hybrids listed for the 2010 model year.

LEXUS:

Lexus 250h Courtesy Lexus
Lexus 250h Courtesy Lexus

Lexus, a division of Toyota, offers the RX450h Luxury utility vehicle with an estimated 32 mpg  city 28 mpg hwy, the LS 600h L luxury sedan , the  GS450h “Luxury Sport Sedan, and the HS250h at 34 city and

Lexus 450h Courtesy Lexus
Lexus 450h Courtesy Lexus

35 hwy and will be the first hybrid only luxury car.

LINCOLN:

No Hybrids listed for the 2010 model year.

MAZDA:

Mazda offers the

Mazda Triubute Courtesy Mazda
Mazda Triubute Courtesy Mazda

Tribute Hybrid crossover SUV for 2010, getting an estimated 34 city and 31 hwy.

MERCEDES-BENZ:

Mercedes Benz S400 Hybrid Courtesy Mercedes Benz
Mercedes Benz S400 Hybrid Courtesy Mercedes Benz

Mercedes offers the S400 hybrid, a large luxury car getting 19 city and 26 hwy.  Not great compared to some of the other cars here, but pretty respectable for a large luxury car.

MERCURY:

2010 Mercury Mariner Hybrid courtesy Ford Motor Company
2010 Mercury Mariner Hybrid courtesy Ford Motor Company

Mercury has the Mariner hybrid SUV getting 34 city 31 hwy, and the Milan Hybrid midsize getting 41 city and 36 hwy.

MITSUBISHI:

No Hybrids listed for the 2010 model year.

NISSAN:

Nissan Leaf Electric Courtesy Nissan
Nissan Leaf Electric Courtesy Nissan

Nissan has the Altima Hybrid, at 21 mpg city 26 mpg hwy.  But the really exciting news from Nissan is the full electric Nissan Leaf.  Although it wont be available to the general public until around 2012 the Leaf will be sold to government agencies and corporate customers this year.  The leaf will have a range of around 100 miles on a single charge, and should be priced comparably with other family sedans.

PONTIAC:

The Pontiac brand has been discontinued.  Although the EPA lists a few Pontiacs for 2010, GM does not.

SUBARU:

SATURN:

Due to the tentative sale of Saturn no reliable information on what, if any, cars will bear the Saturn name.  Of the three cars that GM will produce under contract after the sale two were previously available as Hybrids, the Vue and the Aura.  The EPA lists specs for a Saturn Vue hybrid, at 25 city 32 hwy but it also lists other cars that have been canceled.

TOYOTA:

Toyota Prius Courtesy of Toyota
Toyota Prius Courtesy of Toyota

For Toyota, we have the Prius, of course, with an estimated 51 mpg city and 48 mpg hwy.  Also offered in hybrid is the larger Camry at 33 city, 34 hwy, and the Highlander midsized SUV.

VOLKSWAGEN:

Despite a lot of hype a year ago about a hybrid to be released in 2010, there is no word from Volkswagen on when it will come about.  Maybe 2011.

VOLVO:

Rumors and reports of a plug in Hybrid V70 wagon to be released by Volvo in 2010 have been circulating, but according to Volvo we are looking at 2012 before it’s a reality.

Toyota Camry Hybrid Courtesy of Toyota
Toyota Camry Hybrid Courtesy of Toyota

Still wonder what hybrid is for you? Car and driver did this showdown of 2010 famly hybrids.  They include the now-defunct Chevy.

If you would like more information about hybrids, Check out the following links:

http://www.howstuffworks.com/hybrid-car.htm

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/hybridtech.shtml

http://www.motortrend.com/new_cars/27/hybrid_cars/index.html

http://www.edmunds.com/green-cars/index.html

How to clean a solar panel

PE - how to clean a solar panel - naturalturn FL resized
Photo courtesy of naturalturn at Flickr.com

Over time, solar panels will get covered with dust, grime, and even bird droppings. These obstructions block sunlight and will reduce power production. The solution is simple though – clean your solar panel when it gets dirty!

Each solar panel is different, so make sure to review the instructions from the manufacturer before cleaning the panel. Some panels are sensitive to certain chemicals, and others may have fragile components that you should be aware of. So, read those manuals first.

If your panel is a standard design, then cleaning a solar panel is just like cleaning a window. The “live” electrical components are isolated behind glass or plastic shielding, and all that needs to be cleaned is the outside. Before washing the glass, make sure that there aren’t any cracks or loose wiring. If there are, it might be a good idea to call a technician instead!

Here are the supplies you’ll need:

  • *A bucket full of water
  • *A soft sponge or towel
  • *A drying cloth that wont scratch the panels
  • *Cleaning soap (optional)
  • Green cleaning supplies do a great job on glass and solar panels. There are several varieties of streak free glass cleaner available commercially. You can also cook up non-toxic cleaning solution at home. Here’s a simple recipe for eco-friendly glass cleaner:

    Make a great all-purpose window cleaner by combining 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent, and 2 cups of water in a spray bottle.

    Use the soapy water to wash the surface of the solar panels, and brush away any visible dust or streaks. Gentle scrubbing may be necessary. After wiping away dirt, it’s a good idea to dry the panels off. Dissolved grime has a tendency to move around rather than wash away. Wiping up the wet areas does a thorough job of removing all of the silt and it also prevents water spots.

    That’s it! Compare the output of your solar panels before and after cleaning. When output starts to fall again, it’s probably time for another quick rinse.

    PE - how to clean a solar panel - bkusler FL resized
    Photo courtesy of bkusler at Flickr.com

    For solar panels in hard to reach areas (ie; on the roof of an isolated lighthouse or attached to a satellite in space) automatic cleaning systems are a popular option. Most of these automatic systems work like windshield wipers, brushing dust away from the solar panels with a spray hose and mechanical arm. Automatic cleaning devices add a little bit of cost to a solar panel system, but they may be worthwhile in dirty or hazardous settings.

    Just a side note – roof mounted solar panels are sometimes laid out to be self cleaning. There’s less need to clean a solar panel if it isn’t dirty!

    Interested in building your own solar panels to save money? Check this out.