Saving the planet is all the rage
Welcome to the green side of Los Angeles
If anyone asks what the theme of the 2009 L.A. Auto show was, you’d have to answer “green.” Almost all of the debuts were electrics, clean diesels, or hybrids. In fact, even vehicles with regular gas motors focused on phenomenal fuel economy or cleanliness. We’re all about saving fuel and polar bears, so here are some of our favorite green cars from this year’s Los Angeles Auto show.
What it is: How Audi builds an electric sports car.What we like about it: Claimed 3,319 pound-feet of torque ought to make it quite the tire burner. Better tires than oil, right?
Bottom line: Audi has reported that the e-Tron is headed for production in 2012. Let’s hope the production e-Tron looks this awesome.Page 3
BMW Vision Efficientdynamics Concept
What it is: BMW’s take on a green car. Naturally, it keeps performance in mind.
What we like about it: You can have your cake and eat it too. Stellar performance in a radical wrapper that’s actually good for the planet.
Bottom line: While it’s a concept of a car that’ll probably never be produced, it’s exciting to see tree hugging and road hugging become one.Page 4
What it is: GM’s all-in bet on plug-in electric technology
What we like about it: A hatchback that can drive up to 40 miles without a drop of gas, and up to 300 miles with the gas engine-generator running.
Bottom line: An electric car designed and priced for the masses. What took so long?Page 5
What it is: An $87,900 plug-in electric hybrid 4-door luxury wonder car.
What we like about it: It’s really, really, ridiculously good looking…minus maybe the cheshire cat smile. Aside from that, a 0-60 mph time of 5.8 seconds, top speed of 125 mph, and a 300 mile range in sport mode (with the aide of the gas engine generator) makes this one of the coolest electric cars in the pipeline.
Bottom line: The future of electric cars is very bright.Page 6
What it is: An expansion of Toyota’s wildly popular hybrid technology…this time, in a menacing 5-door luxury concept.
What we like about it: Combines the best Lexus has to offer. Styling clearly inspired by the LFA, practical hatchback layout, and a well sorted-out hybrid drivetrain.
Bottom line: Hot hatches never looked so good, luxurious, or efficient.Page 7
What it is: World’s first hybrid-only luxury vehicle.
What we like about it: Hybrid vehicle with no compromises. The HS allows buyers to enjoy the finer things in life while saving the planet.
Bottom line: If the Prius just isn’t fancy enough for you, head over to the Lexus dealer.Page 8
Mitsubishi Concept PX-MiEV
What it is: Concept crossover hybrid featuring Mitsubishi’s all-new plug-in hybrid drivetrain.
What we like about it: Until now, most plug-in electric vehicles have been small city cars, hatchbacks, or sports cars. The PX-MiEV shows what a 4-wheel-drive crossover suv featuring plug-in hybrid technology could look like.
Bottom line: Plug-in hybrid technology applied to one of America’s hottest segments.Page 9
Subaru Hybrid Tourer
What it is: Subaru’s DNA (all-wheel drive, flat 4-cylinder engine, station wagon body style) greened-up quite a bit.
What we like about it: Technically a three-door, the gullwing side doors open upwards for access to both the front and rear seats. Electric motors reside in the front and rear to aide the gas engine. The rear motor is the sole provider of power for the rear wheels, negating the need for a rear driveshaft, creating a flat floor for passengers.
Bottom line: Using hybrid technology to enhance an already great formula. Just build it, Subaru.Page 10
Toyota Prius Plug-in
What it is: A regular Prius with a beefed up battery pack that allows for higher speed and longer range electric-only operation. Plug it in for extended electric operation.
What we like about it: The Prius PHV (Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle) achieves an estimated 13-mile electric-only operating range and can reach highway speeds of 60 mph. After which, it operates like any normal Prius.
Bottom line: Commuting appliance to plug-in next to your home appliances. At least it’s more stylish than your dryer (hopefully).Page 11
Volkswagen Golf TDI
What it is: New MKVI Golf (replaces Rabbit, which replaced the Golf, which replaced the Rabbit) featuring an athletic though efficient TDI clean diesel engine.
What we like about it: Not only does the Golf TDI receive the 42 mpg hwy clean diesel motor, but also an upgraded sport suspension and Premium VIII touchscreen sound system.
Bottom line: The TDI model is a step-up from the base Golf making the extra cost of the TDI drivetrain much easier to stomach…if the fuel efficiency wasn’t enough in itself.Page 12
Volkswagen Up! Lite Concept
What it is: Future of Volkswagen design and technology. Volkswagen also claims the Up! Lite to be the world’s most fuel efficient car achieving 70 mpg on the highway.
What we like about it: Through use of aluminum, high-strength steel and carbon fiber, the Up! Lite tips the scales at a feathery 1,530 pounds. To further help with efficiency, the navigation system has a built-in “eco” mode which plots a route that favors downhill coasting.
Bottom line: Volkswagen doesn’t mess around when building a concept hybrid.