Monday, June 9, 2008

Demand for hybrids: It's hot

This weekend, I happened to be hunting for a used hybrid online... and finding almost nothing available within 100 miles of Cambridge. (Our one vehicle right now is a great Honda Civic Hybrid, which averages about 38 mpg.)

Today, Rob Weisman of the Globe has a great story about how the demand for new hybrids is also insane. From the piece:

    "We can't get them in fast enough," said auto dealer Herb Chambers, owner of Herb Chambers Cos., based in Somerville. Chambers said hybrid orders are running ahead of last year at his Massachusetts and Rhode Island dealerships. "We could sell six or eight times as many Priuses if we could get the product from the manufacturer," he said.

    Industry analysts attribute the backup to supply-chain problems. Manufacturers have finally deployed hybrid technology on a wider scale, but they have failed to create a global supplier and transport network that can get parts to assembly lines and vehicles to dealerships in time to satisfy consumers spooked by $4-a-gallon gas prices.

Here's a fun historical piece I wrote for Salon four years ago about why GM thought hybrids weren't worth investing in.

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Monday, December 3, 2007

'Shocks and awe': Bose's new auto suspension system

I wrote about Bose's secret project to reinvent automobile suspension systems back in June of 2004. Three and a half years later, my Globe colleague Jeff Krasner reports, Bose is still not willing to let journalists drive the demo car outfitted with the heavenly shocks...and Bose still hasn't landed an automaker partner to put the shocks into actual cars.

I guess that if I were to look on the bright side, I'd say that it's a nice thing that 78-year old Amar Bose, the company's founder, still believes in long-range R&D.

A bit from Krasner's piece:

    Bose said a high-end Cadillac would be an ideal platform for his system, and acknowledges that General Motors gave Bose Corp. a big boost when it became the first car company to install its sound system (in a Cadillac) in 1981. But though the suspension system was a success when it was demonstrated to General Motors, he said, talks haven't progressed.

    "When we get ready, we'll give them an opportunity," he said.

    Another possibility, according to analysts, is Audi, the luxury arm of Volkswagen AG, Europe's largest automaker. Audi offers Bose sound systems on its models, and its large A8 luxury sedan has a reputation for employing advanced technology - it has an aluminum frame, unique among large cars.

    "We've shown the system to all of the major manufacturers and Audi has not expressed much interest at this point," said Bose.

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