AJAC EcoRun 2018 showcases latest green vehicles


AJAC EcoRun sign This year’s EcoRun featured 19 green vehicles and several hundred kilometres of driving through New Brunswick. Photos by Benjamin Yong.

The wave of pure electric, hybrid and other fuel efficient vehicles continues to get bigger, as evidenced by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada seventh annual EcoRun event held in June.

Taking place for the first time in Atlantic Canada, the intention of EcoRun is to showcase the newest green wheels on sale in dealerships, as well as comparing real-world fuel consumption to statistics published by manufacturers and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).

AJAC EcoRun 2018 opening ceremony

“It’s a true joy to be in Moncton today, as this event wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago. New Brunswick has obviously embraced eco-friendly vehicles with a lot of charging infrastructure throughout — it’s been the fastest growing electric vehicle market in the country, and one that’s fully connected,” says co-chair David Miller, referencing the availability of not only Level 2 but also Level 3 fast chargers capable of bringing battery energy level from zero to 80 per cent in 30 minutes.

“But this event isn’t just about pure electrics and plug in hybrids. Automakers are doing an admirable job in lowering fuel economy throughout their product lineups, and that’s despite a lot more SUVs and trucks.”

Indeed, the segments represented ran the gamut and included a total of 19 entries comprised of subcompacts, full-size sedans, crossovers and even a minivan. Journalists were assigned six models each, one for every leg of the 570-kilometre journey taking participants from the starting point in Moncton, through several cities, and eventually to Fredericton. Below are three standout examples I had a chance to drive over two days.

2018 Lexus LS 500h

2018 Lexus LS 500h

Lexus’ flagship entered its fifth generation this year, more luxurious than any iteration previous. The hybrid version is especially cutting edge, using a powertrain derived from the LC 500h coupe combining a 3.5-litre V6 gasoline mill and two electric motors to produce a net 354 horsepower.

NRCan rates the LS 500h at 9.1 L/100 km in mixed city and highway conditions, and drivers cumulatively managed 8.0 L/100 km.

2018 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid

2018 Hyundai Ioniq Electric Plus

The plug-in was the third and final piece to arrive in Hyundai’s trio of Ioniq cars that also feature standard hybrid and pure electric offerings. The 1.6-litre internal combustion engine and electric motor are mated to a sporty six-speed double-clutch transmission with optional paddle shifters, giving a bit of an extra kick to the combined 104 horsepower and 109 lb-ft of torque output. In zero emissions mode, this Ioniq can travel nearly 50 kilometres on a full charge.

NRCan rates the plug-in at 3.35 Le/100 km in mixed city and highway conditions, and drivers cumulatively managed 3.0 Le/100 km.

2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid

2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid

Transformed from sensibly styled to sexy new four-door for 2018, the Camry is lower and wider than before and highlighted by a fresh lower grille dominating most of the front fascia. The next-gen Toyota Hybrid System and 2.5-litre four-cylinder Dynamic Force Engine work together to generate 208 total horsepower, and a continuously variable transmission boasts a sport setting that can use battery reserves to boost performance.

NRCan rates the Camry Hybrid at 5.1 L/100 km in mixed city and highway conditions, and drivers cumulatively managed 4.8 L/100 km.

Overall, among all the vehicles journalists managed to achieve an average of 1.59 L/100 km better than NRCan’s official numbers.

All-new 2019 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid to arrive early next year

2019 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid front three quarter

The SUV enters its third generation for 2019, which includes another S E-Hybrid model with a higher output gasoline engine and electric motor.

Porsche recently announced early next year, a new partially electrified version of its best-selling SUV will be rolling off the assembly line: the 2019 Cayenne S E-hybrid. And the best part? It’s a whole lot more powerful.

The powertrain is composed of a 3.0-litre V6 gasoline engine and a significantly upgraded electric motor together generating a net 462 horsepower — an additional 43 horses compared to before — and 516 lb-ft of torque. That’s good for a 0 to 100 km/h time in a scant 5 seconds, not bad considering the mid-size crossover weighs 2,295 kilograms. As with the rest of the model range, a Tiptronic S eight-speed transmission has been adopted.

2019 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybridrear

Borrowing technology from the 918 Spyder hypercar, the S E-Hybrid can use virtually all of the now larger 14.1 kilowatt-hour onboard battery’s stored energy to provide extra acceleration boost in Sport and Sport Plus modes. Comprised of eight cell modules mounted beneath the floor of the rear cargo area, the battery is fluid-cooled to optimize performance.

Using the standard 3.6-kilowatt charger and a 230-volt, 10-amp connection, a full charge takes approximately eight hours. A 7.2-kilowatt unit is available for use with a 230-volt, 32-amp power source reducing the top-up time to 2.3 hours. Similar to other products in the segment, the process is remotely manageable through the Porsche Connect smartphone app allowing the use to pre-set climate control, turn the car on or off and find nearby charging stations.

2019 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid interior

Drivers looking to tow recreational equipment or a trailer, this Cayenne has an add-on trailer connection and is rated for loads up to 3.5 tonnes. Like the 911 range, an “active hang-on” all-wheel drive system is employed whereby power is permanently distributed to the rear wheels while the front is variable depending on load and road conditions.

Also optional are Porsche Active Suspension Management, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control roll stabilization, and a couple of firsts for the brand, a head-up display projected to the front windscreen showing pertinent driving information and lightweight 22-inch alloy wheels.

Beijing Auto Show 2018 gets electrified


With over 200 million cars on the road in China, it is represents the largest auto market in the world. Unsurprisingly as a result, greenhouse gas emissions are a major issue. At the 2018 Beijing Auto Show, vehicle manufacturers tried to offer up solutions in the form of fresh hybrid and electric options. We take a look at three of them in today’s blog post.

BMW Concept iX3 front

BMW Concept iX3

Recently, BMW has really ramped up its plug-in portfolio, offering models like the 330e, 530e, X5 Xdrive40e and, of course, the i3 and i8. In China, the company announced its first zero-emissions SUV: the Concept iX3, which introduces the fifth generation of eDrive technology. The 270-horsepower electric motor, transmission and electronics are all bundled in a separate compartment to optimize weight, performance and space.

BMW Concept iX3

The crossover wears a reinterpreted and sealed kidney grille, and unlike other concepts, looks remarkably road ready. A high-voltage battery yields an estimated driving range of more than 400 kilometres.

Honda Everus

Honda Everus EV Concept

Looking a little like an HR-V from another world, this concept teases the first mass-production EV by Honda for Chinese consumption. No specs have been released, but the car is expected to land in dealerships before the end of the year. The automaker has also revealed car-sharing plans for the Everus through a partnership with China-based business Reachstar.

Toyota Corolla PHEV

Toyota Corolla PHEV

A plug-in version of the Corolla is bound for the PRC in the near future, part of Toyota’s bid to have 10 new electrified on sale there before 2021 — the Prius, Corolla Hybrid and six other hybrid Lexus vehicles are currently already available. The PHEV sedan can travel approximately 50 kilometres off the battery alone, and is rumoured to utilize a 1.8-litre gasoline engine for additional assistance.

Toyota Prius Prime technology wins AJAC Best Green Innovation award

Toyota Prius Prime Best Green Innovation award AJAC

The Toyota Prius Prime uses a unique energy-saving heat pump design helping extend cold-weather driving range by 21 per cent.

The Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) Innovation Awards — recognizing the very best examples of new automotive technology available to Canadian drivers — have just been announced, and the winner of Best Green Innovation? A heat pump.

Toyota’s Gas Injection Heat Pump System, to be exact, designed for the automaker’s lineup of electrified vehicles. It reduces the need to rely solely on a gasoline engine or onboard battery to provide heat, the latter significantly cutting down the amount of pure electric range. Traditional heat pumps do not operate in freezing temperatures, however this particular example utilizes what is called a Cyclone Separator integrated valve that bolsters performance and allows operation even in -10 C environments.

“Creating the world’s best-selling family of fuel-efficient, low-emissions hybrid vehicles means developing new, advanced technologies that ensure the ownership and driving experience is the same as that of a conventional automobile,” said Toyota Canada vice president Cyril Dimitris.

Toyota Prius Prime

“The Gas Injection Heat Pump System, a world-first developed for the Prius Prime, helps this plug-in hybrid achieve remarkable range, year-round. We’re honoured that the members of AJAC have recognized our commitment to cleaner motoring with this important award.”

The Prius Prime uses approximately 63 per cent less energy than a traditional heating setup, helping extend the range of the plug-in hybrid by 21 per cent during cold weather driving. First launched in Quebec last year, it is now available to the rest of Canada and has an advertised combined city and highway fuel economy rating of 1.8 Le/100 km.

Sister brand Lexus was also recognized, receiving the Best Safety Innovation award for its Lexus Safety System+, a suite of integrated safety tech such as collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, automatic high-beams, radar cruise control and more.

Toyota Lexus AJAC award winners