US Prius sales hit one million, Monaco prince opts for hybrid wedding car and China announces EV target, and more from the motoring world this week.
If it's green, it's gold in the automotive world
US Prius sales hit one million
Toyota announced the sale of its one millionth Prius in the United States this month.
It was in 2008 Toyota reached the one million landmark for Prius sales worldwide, and in 2010 they had doubled that. Overall, the Japanese automaker has sold more than three million hybrid vehicles.
"Since the Prius went on sale 11 years ago, not a year has gone by when it hasn't been the No 1 selling hybrid vehicle in the US," said Bob Carter, the Toyota Division group vice president and general manager. "Prius has become synonymous with the word hybrid and as we see fuel prices starting to rise again, it has accounted for more than 60 per cent of hybrid passenger car sales so far this year. Prius paved the way for hybrids and, while it is still the hybrid leader in sales and fuel economy, I'm proud to say that since its introduction, 13 other auto brands have seen the benefits of hybrid technology and joined the hybrid market."
Toyota declares that, since its 2000 introduction, the Prius has saved American consumers more than an estimated 3.3 billion litres of petrol, $2.19 billion (Dh8bn) in fuel costs, and 11.2 million tonnes of CO2 emissions when compared with the average car.
Monaco monarch to use hybrid Lexus for his summer wedding
The ruling monarch of Monaco will use a specially prepared Lexus LS600h for his wedding on July 2.
The special Lexus will be complete with flashing lights, the royal insignia and the prized "MC 01" licence plate for Prince Albert II's marriage to Charlene Wittstock, a former swimmer from South Africa.
"With its pioneering state-of-the-art full hybrid technology delivering class-leading CO2 efficiency and environmental performances, Lexus is pleased to contribute to the objectives defined by His Serene Highness and to help the Principality of Monaco to become an international reference in terms of sustainable mobility," Lexus officials said.
Prince Albert leads a foundation that supports more than 150 projects monitoring environmental evolution and protecting species endangered by climate change. It also provides assistance in water management in developing regions.
The prince has defined the principality's strategic direction in terms of sustainable mobility and asked his government to develop a plan putting a clear focus on mobility with lower environmental impact. This plan will be deployed over the next decade.
BMW's €2bn lead on Daimler
BMW AG has a €2 billion (Dh10.6 billion) lead over its German rival Daimler in eco technology, according to a leading industry analyst.
The estimate, quoted by Auto News, comes from the Morgan Stanley auto analyst Stuart Pearson and is based on the gap between BMW Group's and Daimler's average fleet CO2 emissions.
Pearson said BMW's CO2 emissions lead over its German premium rival would result in improved pricing power as its main rival races to add technology to close the gap.
The BMW Group, which includes the BMW, Mini and Roll-Royce brands, finished 2010 with an average CO2 emissions of 147.9 grams per kilometre, the magazine quotes from figures by market researcher JATO Dynamics.
Daimler, which includes the Mercedes-Benz, Smart and Maybach brands, ended last year with a fleet average of 163.3g/km. The results are based on an analysis of 21 European markets.
To reach the European Union-mandated targets by 2015 and avoid stiff fines, BMW will need to reduce its fleet CO2 emissions by 7.1 per cent to 138.1g/km while Daimler needs to cut its average by 19.8 per cent to 136.4g/km.
Former Tesla staff start electric conversion company
With leading car makers leading their line-ups with electric cars, three former Tesla executives have started a company to convert petrol-guzzling cars into EVs.
ALTe Powertrain Technologies has signed a partnership with the auto auction company Manheim to perform retrofits using ALTe's powertrain kit.
John Thomas, the ALTe chief executive, told The New York Times that he hoped that the deal with Manheim would lead to new venture capital investment and they have applied for a US$65 million (Dh238m) loan from the Energy Department. ALTe hopes to deliver its powertrain kit to Manheim service locations in Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York City. The kit includes a 20kWh lithium-ion battery pack, a four-cylinder petrol engine generator designed to kick in to recharge the battery after about 65km, a hybrid controller unit and other parts. Manheim would then install the kits within a day or two. The cost will start at about $26,000 (Dh95,500).
China targets 100,000 EVs on the road within four years
China has approved special subsidies and privileges that it hopes will spur the development and sales of electric vehicles in a new five-year plan.
With the plan, Beijing is expected to have more than 100,000 electric cars by the year 2015, most of which will be passenger cars, according to the People's Daily newspaper.
Residents who are interested in an electric car will not only have substantial financial incentives and tax breaks towards the purchase, but will also be guaranteed a licence plate, instead of having to participate in the Beijing's "licence plate lottery", which is in place to try to limit the number of cars registered in the city core. Only about 20,000 plates are issued every month; a driver has about a one in 23 chance of winning.
As well, EV drivers won't have to abide by the city's traffic restrictions, which prohibit drivers from being on the road on certain days.