When most people imagine a green car, the last image they usually perceive from such vehicles is that of performance. The image of the diminutive machine barely capable of getting out of its own way, once personified by hybrid and electric cars like GM’s EV-1 and the Toyota Prius, has fallen by the wayside in favor of gutsy machines from both mainstream and boutique automakers.
State of Green Motoring
So far, car buyers throughout the U.S. managed to put over 416,000 hybrids, plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in their driveways as of August 2013, according to recent statistics from the Electric Drive Transportation Association. Out of the 10.6 million vehicles currently sold so far in 2013, this gives electric drive vehicles less than four percent of U.S. automotive market share – a comparative drop in the bucket.
From the Racetrack to the Roads
Much of today’s automotive technology – improvements in aerodynamics, forced induction and improved engine cooling – evolved from their use on the race track. It’s not surprising to see prominent race teams throughout the motorsports industry take notice of green technology.
To companies like Audi and Renault, green technology isn’t just an advantage when it comes to fuel economy – it’s also a boon when it comes to horsepower. For instance, Audi’s R18 e-tron quattro LMP race car combines a 3.7-liter turbodiesel engine with a Williams Hybrid Power-designed flywheel accumulator system for added power at speeds above 75 mph. The diesel-electric combination has so far led to victory in the 2012 FIA World Endurance championship
Mean Green Machines
Off the track, there are plenty of green sports cars to be found at various price points. At the lower end of the economic scale is Honda’s CR-Z, a sporty two-seater compact hybrid. Honda’s latest small hybrid is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, combined with Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid-electric system. The system offers a combined 130 horsepower and an EPA-estimated 36 mpg city and 39 mpg highway.
On the opposite end of the economic scale are Tesla’s current electric offerings. The company currently offers the Model S sedan. With a price tag of $62,400, this particular vehicle features all-aluminum construction and a potent 362-horsepower electric motor that sits between the rear wheels, giving the vehicle a remarkable 47/53 weight distribution. The motor’s output and range depends largely on its two lithium-ion battery choices.
Base models receive a 60-kilowatt hour battery with a range of 230 miles, while the performance model offers a larger 85-kilowatt hour battery that lasts for 300 miles, according to the manufacturer. The performance model also receives a 416-horsepower electric motor that brings its 0-60 mph acceleration times down to a heady 4.2 seconds.
At the 2010 Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas, Zero South unveiled a heavily modified Hummer H1 outfitted for exploration duties at the South Pole. Each of the vehicle’s four tracks is individually powered by electric motors, with a four-cylinder diesel Volkswagen engine acting as a generator.
This article was provided by Rob Jensen, car enthusiast and self-proclaimed environmentalist. If you’re a Texas resident looking for a car that fits your needs and lifestyle. Rob recommends Auto USA.