Old cars and all-electric drivetrains generally don't mix. The ZelectricBug bug is out to fix all of that. This determined shop takes classic Volkswagen Beetles from the '58-'66 era and converts them completely over to electric, saving the vintage looks while updating the drivetrain with an eye on the future. Features include a range of 80-110 miles, ceramic heaters, a top speed of over 90 mph, and restored and/or well maintained exteriors and interiors that keep that original look without sacrificing function.
The BMW i8 ($136,000) provides an emphatic counterpoint to everyone out there who says a hybrid can't possibly be a fun car to drive — like it or not, this is the future. At its heart is a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine, capable of generating 231 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. That power is delivered to the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. Up front an electric engine generates additional horsepower and torque, boosting the figures to 362 and 320 respectively. It'll get up to 62 mph in just 4.4 seconds, all while maintaining an average fuel economy of 94 mpg (which is nothing short of unbelievable). Oh, and the swan-winged coupe is absolutely gorgeous, but we didn't have to tell you that.
Look out Tesla: there's a new company claiming to have the fastest all-electric car on the block. The Detroit Electric SP:01 ($TBA) packs a 200 hp motor into the middle of its carbon fiber body, channeling the power through the rear wheels. The roughly 2,350 lb. vehicle can rocket from 0-62 in just 3.7 seconds, reaches a top speed of 155 mph, and thanks to some patented technology can also act like an enormous battery pack, powering by itself — but unlike the other features, we're guessing that's one you'd really rather not ever have to use.
Get all the performance of a Porsche with all the benefits of a totally electric ride with the 2014 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid ($99,000). A follow up on the prior Panamera S Hybrid, the E-Hybrid sports a 95hp electric motor — up from 47hp in the prior model — and a larger lithium-ion battery that can recharge in 2.5 hours via a 240V power source. Running totally off the battery, it has a range of roughly 20 miles and a top speed of 84 mph, but engage the twin-turbo 3.0L V6 and you'll have access to 416 horses, a 0-60 time of 5.2 seconds, and a top speed of 167 mph. Arriving in late 2013.
When you first saw the Chevy Volt, did you think "man, that'd make for a nice Cadillac coupe"? If so, give yourself a pat on the back because that's very much what the Cadillac ELR ($TBA) is. This extended range electric combines a pure electric drive system and a range-extending 1.4L gas engine for 207 horsepower and a driving range exceeding 300 miles. Outside, you'll find aggressive body work, 20-inch wheels, and LED headlamps and taillamps, while inside you'll find a 2+2 layout, a cut & sew interior, and Cadillac CUE with navigation. Sales start in early 2014.
Its Karma didn't exactly set the world on fire — in fact, some of its batteries kept the car from even moving — but that hasn't stopped Fisker from carrying on. The Fisker Atlantic ($TBA) is a new, sporty four-door plug-in hybrid that packs both a host of lithium-ion batteries to drive either the rear or all four wheels and a four-cylinder gas engine that acts like a generator to recharge the cells when you're driving long distance. Few specifics are known beyond its drivetrain, glass roof, LED tail lamps, and hyper-aggressive looks, but you can rest assured that it won't be cheap.
Tesla has unveiled its third electric car, and this time they're aiming for something with a little more utility. The crossover-style Tesla Model X ($50,000-$90,000) can go 0-60 in 4.4 seconds, and sports falcon-wing doors for rear passengers. Speaking of your human cargo, the Model X will hold seven passengers and their luggage, thanks to battery placement that lets you put your junk in a rear trunk and a front trunk. The Model X, which is pretty heavily based on the Model S, also has all-wheel drive and should let you go 160-300 miles on a full charge, depending on which battery configuration you spring for. Tesla plans to start production in 2013. Pre-orders start at noon today.
The electric-powered revolution continues with the Fisker Surf ($TBA). The crossover cousin of the gorgeous Karma, the Surf is a five-door affair, offering plenty of room for passengers and luggage on the inside, a range of 50 miles operating solely on the 175kW generator and 300 when using both it and the 260 hp turbocharged gas engine, a 0-60 mph time of just just 5.9 seconds (7.9 in electric-only mode), a top speed of 125 mph, 22 inch Circuit Blade wheels, bright orange Brembo brakes, an LED brake light, an incorporated roof spoiler, and an optional roof-mounted solar panel that also functions as a sunroof thanks to its dark-tinted translucence. Just think of it as a Chevy Volt with an added dose of class.
The trend towards retro car designs continues with the Imperia GP (€80,000; roughly $110,000). Resurrecting a brand name that's been dead for over half a century, the GP is a plug-in hybrid with a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder combustion engine and a perky electric engine for a range of around 44 miles on battery power alone, a 0 to 100 km/h time of six seconds in electric mode — and only four seconds when in hybrid mode — and exterior styling that recalls the company's past glories, while bringing the design language into the 21st century.
When it debuted in 2008, we were intrigued — a guy with Bimmer and Aston Martin credentials building his very own hybrid. Now it's 2010, and the very first factory-built Fisker Karma Plug-in Hybrid ($80,000) is rolling off the line. It still makes it from 0-62 in 5.9 seconds and hits a top speed of 125 mph thanks to its 403hp powerplant, while offering fuel economy of 100 mpg and looks worthy of a luxury car design legend.
Lexus would have been about the last company we'd expect to debut a new compact hatchback, but that definitely describes the new 2011 Lexus CT 200h ($TBA). Aimed at the gas-sipping instead of tire-burning crowd, the 200h sports a total output of 134 hp, a rather pokey 0-60 time of 9.8 seconds, impressive 42mpg fuel economy, eco-friendly features like LED lighting, bamboo charcoal speakers, and bio-sourced materials throughout the cabin, no less than seven driving modes — including a snore-inducing "relaxing" setting — and a bespoke suspension design with a MacPherson strut front system and a new, fully-independent double wishbone architecture for superior handling should you ever get the car up to a speed at which you can actually take advantage of it.
After one of the biggest IPOs in industry history, it's about time Tesla got serious about capturing whatever market they were aiming for — and they're doing just that with the Tesla Roadster 2.5 ($TBA). The previous incredible performance of the all-electric engine is enhanced by a new look, new forged wheels, new, more comfortable seats, an optional backside camera and a 7-inch touchscreen, and improved sound reduction — as if you need it with a motor that makes no noise.
It's not often we get to cover a concept vehicle that actually makes it to market, but that's exactly the case with the 2011 Honda CR-Z ($TBA; Late Summer 2010). Based on the company's prior CR-Z concept, the production CR-Z is a sport hybrid coupe, combining a four-cylinder i-VTEC engine with a 10-kilowatt electric motor and 100-volt IMA nickel-metal hydride battery pack to offer 122 hp and fuel economy up to 38 mpg. Other features include a three-mode drive system that allows the driver to select between sport, normal, and economy driving styles as needed, a front MacPherson strut suspension, 16-inch aluminum wheels standard with 17-inchers as an option, a futuristic blue-themed instrument panel, and available HID headlights, a 360-Watt AM/FM/CD seven-speaker audio system, Bluetooth HandsFreeLink, and more.
Say hello to the most powerful hybrid yet. The 2010 BMW X6 ActiveHybrid ($TBA) features a gas-electric system comprised of twin electric motors and a twin-turbo, 4.4L V8, all paired to a seven-speed dual mode transmission, good for a 0-60 time of just 5.4 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph. The stylish crossover also features BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system, sensotronic brake actuation, dynamic traction control, 20-inch light-alloy Aero wheels, BMW Assist with GPS and Bluetooth, and much more.
We've never wanted a car so badly. The just-unveiled Tesla Model S ($50,000 after tax breaks) is literally the reinvention of the automobile. This electric sedan will offer a 300-mile range and 45-minute QuickCharge capability, all while sporting some of the most beautiful styling you'll find. With seating for five adults and two children, the Model S has it all. Its powertrain includes a liquid-cooled 9-inch motor combined with a single-speed gearbox (just gun it — no shifting required) that's good for a 0-60 time of 5.6 seconds and a top speed of 120 mph. It offers a 5-minute battery swap and charges from any outlet, with charges costing as little as $4 to "fill up." Features include (taking deep breath) a 17-inch infotainment touchscreen with all-time 3G connectivity, 21-inch wheels, Brembo brakes, panoramic roof with sliding moon roof, retracting door handles, a hatch for large items and a 2nd trunk under the hood, a fully digital instrument cluster, LED and neon headlight and taillights, and a pretty crazy RFID keyless entry and ignition system. Sadly, this beauty won't go into production until 2011. It's going to be a long two years.
Quieter, roomier, and greener — there's a lot to like in the all-new 2010 Toyota Prius ($TBA). The mid-size hybrid sedan promises fuel efficiency of 50 mpg, with a new 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine combining with the electric motor for 134hp. Options range from eco-friendly to just plain cool, and include LED lamps, a sliding glass moonroof with solar panels that hooks to a battery-powered air-conditioning system that uses sunlight to keep the car cool — complete with remote temperature adjustment — a dynamic radar cruise control system, and intelligent parking assist. The world's most popular hybrid just got better.
It's not like MINI's automobiles were gas guzzlers to begin with, but if you're looking for the greenest MINI you can get, check out the new MINI E ($TBA). Limited to just 500 vehicles to be leased in SoCal, New York, and New Jersey early next year, the E employ a single-speed, 204hp electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery, offering a 0-62mph time of 8.5 seconds and a driving range of 150 miles. Think of it as a civilized electric go-cart.
The future is almost here. Chevrolet today unveiled the production version of the Chevy Volt ($TBA; 2010). Powered by a 16-kWh, lithium-ion battery, the Detroit savior lets you go up to 40 miles without using a drop of gas. And when your battery's dead, a gasoline/E85-powered engine generator seamlessly picks up to keep you going. Back at home, the Volt can be plugged into a standard outlet for charging. The battery's more than 220 lithium-ion cells produce the equivalent of 150 horsepower, 273 lb-ft. of instant torque, and a top speed of 100 miles per hour. Inside, you'll find a 7-inch touch screen display with quick access to all major controls.
End your dependency on gasoline with the Honda FCX Clarity ($600/month; Summer 2008). This next-generation fuel cell vehicle runs on hydrogen, which allows it to emit only water instead of nasty fumes. It has a driving range of up to 280 miles, and offers the equivalent of 74 mpg thanks to the entirely-new Honda V Flow fuel cell platform on which its based. Unfortunately, hydrogen stations aren't exactly commonplace, which is why sales of the vehicle are limited to SoCal for now. Still, if you're looking to do your part for the environment, it's about as green as you can get.