BMW Goes Electric
Like Prof. Ferdinand Porsche's 1900 Lohner Porsche Semper Vivus, Porsche's latest high-performance vehicle – the Panamera S Hybrid – combines battery power and gasoline. Unveiled this week, the Panamera S Hybrid is a luxury-class automobile that the company says will be the most economical Porsche of all time. But the initial cost won't be easy on most wallets. When it goes on sale later this year, it will come with a $95,000 price tag.
BMW, the world's biggest luxury-vehicle maker is going green. The company announced April 18, 2011, that will offer 700 ActiveE electric cars for lease in the New York area and other U.S. markets, Bloomberg reported. The more fuel-efficient cars run on lithium-ion batteries and have a range of about 100 miles on a single charge. BMW said it will start taking reservations in August.
The latest iteration of Volkswagen's classic Beetle doesn't just boast a new design but a cleaner way to drive. The sportier car, unveiled April 18, 2011, features a Clean Diesel engine, which the company says makes it the "most fuel-efficient Beetle ever."
Calling it a "game changer," Motor Trend Magazine named the Chevy Volt its 2011 Car of the Year. The electric car travels for about 35 miles on one battery charge alone and then a gas generator provides enough power for an additional 340 miles on a full tank of gas, the company says. If you have a smartphone, you can download a Volt mobile app and remotely check the battery charge level, available range and more. You can even remotely heat or cool your car to your temperature of choice.
Ranked No. 1 on Kelley Blue Book's list of the greenest cars of 2011, Nissan's Leaf is not only 100 percent electric but is made from recycled materials. It travels about 73 miles per charge (which can be a limitation for some drivers) but promises good, cleaning driving.
Unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2011, the Rolls-Royce 102EX Phantom Experimental Electric is the ultimate in green luxury. It looks like any Rolls you might find parked in the garage of a millionaire, but includes a battery that be charged in 8 to 20 hours. Unlike most electric cars on the market, the 102EX can charge wirelessly. But you won't be spotting this car on the road any time soon. The 102EX is just an experimental car meant to test the market.
Considered one of the "greenest vehicles" by the AAA, the smart fortwo electric drive is one of the most compact zero-emission cars on the road. The original fuel-efficient smart car was developed by Mercedes-Benz and made its debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 1997. The new battery-powered electric drive smart car can travel up to 98 miles on a full charge and was delivered to the first U.S. retail customer in January. The company is planning to deliver 250 smart fortwo vehicles across the United States this year.
One of the earliest available clean cars in the United States, Toyota's Prius runs on both gasoline and battery power. The company announced in April that it sold its 1 millionth vehicle in the United States. The 2011 version was recently ranked No. 3 on Kelley Blue Book's list of the greenest cars of 2011.
If you want to be truly cutting edge, take a look at Honda's FCX Clarity Fuel-Cell Electric Vehicle. The sedan runs on a fuel cell stack that converts hydrogen and oxygen from the air into electricity. The company says that over the next three years, it will lease about 200 vehicles to customers in the United States, primarily in Southern California.