We would say that the electric-car revolution is kicking into high gear for 2012, but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate. The majority of this burgeoning crop of gasoline-free vehicles puts the power to the road via single-speed transmissions.
They are, however, at the cutting edge of the green car segment so what’s behind this sudden surge in electrically-powered cars?
Battery technology is advancing rapidly, and while the range of a battery electric vehicle (BEV) still can’t come close to that of a gasoline-powered car, increasing availability is making electrics into viable commuters in urban areas.
Green cars are not all electrics, of course. In 2012, few new hybrids will enter the market that’s still dominated by the Toyota Prius line-up, which multiplies by four by the end of the year.
For Latino car buyers who want to reduce their carbon footprint, Decisive Latino‘s 2012 Green Car Guide offers a selection of models that increase miles per gallon (mpgs) or kilowatt hours (kW/hs), a sus ordenes.
2013 Honda Fit EV: The diminutive Fit (left) makes an ideal candidate for electrification, as it’s already designed to be a hyper-efficient commuter. Honda says the battery-powered Fit can travel up to 76 miles on a single charge. Its 20 kW/h lithium-ion battery powers a 92-kW high-density coaxial electric motor similar to that used in the FCX Clarity fuel-cell vehicle. Honda claims a three-hour recharge time using 240-volt power. TheFit EV’s biggest challenge may be a steep MSRP. At $36,625, it’s coming close to the price of the more versatile and much larger Chevrolet Volt.
2012 Honda Civic Hybrid, Civic HF and Civic Natural Gas: The Civic’s two alternative-fuel variants return with the model’s redesign for ’12, and benefit from all of the upgrades to the venerable subcompact, including electronic power steering, stability control, and Honda’s Eco Assist system that offers feedback on maximizing fuel economy while driving. The Civic Hybrid gets a larger displacement 1.5-liter engine and is converted to a lithium-ion battery. Additionally, the gasoline-poweredCivic HF is on hand to challenge cars like the Chevrolet Cruze ECO, with additional aerodynamics that bump freeway fuel economy to 41 mpg. The Civic Natural Gas is on sale now with an MSRP of $26,155.
Audi Q5 hybrid: By the end of the year, Audi plans to have a hybrid version of its Q5 crossover available for sale. A 211-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is coupled with an electric motor in parallel, a combination that provides 245 total horsepower and returns over 33 mpg. TheQ5 hybrid uses lithium-ion batteries and the stop-start capability and deceleration-recharging that are common on hybrids. Audi has kept the weight close to that of the conventional Q5, so performance and handling are not affected by the additional equipment.
2013 Mercedes-Benz E400 Hybrid: Mercedes adds a new dimension to the E-Class for 2012, the lineup’s first hybrid. With its 302-horsepower direct-injection V6 supplemented by an electric motor, the E400 Hybrid returns 24/31 mpgs. That’s respectable, but the real fun starts when you consider that the E400’s combined torque is almost 400 ft.–lbs. That’s some serious grunt. Additionally, a “sail” function allows the gasoline engine to shut off at freeway speeds, letting the electric motors take over when acceleration isn’t needed.
It’ll be available in the second half of 2012.
2012 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid: Volkswagen’s traditionally gone with diesel when it comes to alternative-fuel vehicles, but have no fear; the hybrid Jetta doesn’t replace the much-loved Jetta TDI. The Jetta Hybrid does stand out with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and a compact 1.4-liter turbocharged engine that produces 150 horsepower. A 20-kW electric motor adds another 27 horses. Stop-start technology and an aggressive “coasting” mode shut the engine down whenever it’s not needed for additional fuel savings.
Ford Focus Electric: The fully-electric Focus goes on sale this winter. Apart from the styling tweaks, the Focus Electric is almost indistinguishable from the gas-powered version thanks to shared amenities including the MyFord Touch system and an available navigation system. For further “green” cred, the Focus Electric uses Repreve fabric in the seats. The material is an innovative blend of recycled plastic water bottles and other post-industrial materials.
Scion iQ EV: Given the diminutive size of many electric cars, the Scion iQ EV would seem like a no-brainer. Only a bit larger than a smart fortwo, the iQ already has many onlookers thinking it’s electric. The gasoline-free version debuts in 2012, but it’s only available through fleet and car-share programs.
Tesla Model S: While BYD seems to be dragging its feet, Tesla is moving full steam ahead with its all-new electric sedan. The Model S is an all grown-up, ready-for-prime-time version of the concept first shown in 2010. Slated to go on sale in mid-2012, the rear-wheel drive Model S features Jaguar-like styling, luxurious interior appointments and a choice of battery packs providing 160, 230 or 300 miles of range according to the manufacturer.
2013 Chevrolet Malibu ECO: The name may remind you of the aero-tricked Chevy Cruze ECO, which relies on lightness and aerodynamic aids to improve its fuel economy, but the new Malibu ECO (pictured at top) goes a step further with GM’s new eAssist electric assistance. The air-cheating tricks are here as well: underbody panels, shutters in the lower grille that close to improve aerodynamics at high speed—but the Malibu ECO also sports a compact motor-generator and a lithium-ion battery to store power during braking and give the relatively small 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine a 15-horsepower push when it’s needed. The result? An EPA estimated 26/38 mpg from a full-sized car.
2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist: GM’s eAssist system shows up on the Buick LaCrosse for 2012 as well–with the added bonus of being standard equipment. The luxurious sedan’s light-hybrid system combines a 2.4-liter gasoline engine with a 15-kW motor-generator that boosts the engine under acceleration and enables stop-start operation to save gas in congested urban areas. It’s hard to argue with 36mpg on the freeway and Buick’s signature style and comfort besides. The LaCrosse is a true budget luxury sedan, featuring available blind-spot monitoring and a full-color touch-screen radio. Prices start at $29,960.
Toyota Prius c: The smallest member of the Prius family makes its U.S. debut in January. This entry-level hybrid rolls out with a 1.5-liter gasoline engine hooked up to Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system, and it’s expected to top 50 mpg in the city. Being significantly smaller than the Prius, it’ll be more urban-friendly as well. ThePrius c is also available with Toyota’s Entune infotainment system that connects to online navigation and other services via smartphone links.
Source: Decisive Magazine Latino