Unless we’re all dead in two years—more likely for some of us than others—we can expect to see the Audi e-tron on the road, another entry into the silly EV supercar sweepstakes. Roomier, bigger, heavier, and very likely much more expensive than the Tesla Roadster (one of its presumed competitors), the e-tron is another excuse for Audi to get press on a car that few will buy and whose technology will filter down to the real world in perhaps six years, if it filters at all. The e-tron is a two-seater carrying lots of batteries and four electric motors. The press machine says it gets up to 62 mph in 4.8 seconds with a range of about 150 miles.
Back in the real world of developing hybrids, there is other, more relevant news. Ford has got a bunch of hybrid Escape and Fusion taxis on the streets of San Francisco, and they seem to be doing well, plus gaining customer approval. Take a look.
If you’re not sure and need reasons to consider buying a hybrid, here are five reasons to buy and five reasons not to buy. Basically, the financial benefits aren’t really here yet, even with hefty government tax rebates. But the environmental benefits will outweigh that factor for some, perhaps many. We hope so.
Mazda is late to the green ballgame and hopes to play catch-up by raising up to $1.1 billion in capital for new, presumably hybrid, technology. The company is way behind the curve, since Ford has sold its controlling interest, and Mazda, despite work to make its IC engines more efficient, can’t compete on those alone. If the company wants to zoom-zoom in future Japanese and U.S. markets, it needs this investment badly.
BMW must be awash in money, since it creates more crazy experimental vehicles (look at the Vision EfficientDynamics concept it showed in Frankfurt) than most any other automaker. This one, called the Lovos, has 260 photovoltaic cells in scaly flaps that are positioned down to absorb solar power, up to air-brake the car. Designed by a 24-year-old grad student in Germany, it looks like something that could have come from Hasbro’s R&D lab. Or from a mutant alligator.
On a somewhat more practical note, we have the Coda, an all-electric sedan that seats five, has an 85-mph top speed, and will sell for under $30,000. This one won’t win any beauty contests, but its selling point is a “revolutionary” battery system, developed with a Chinese firm. The full story is here. Look for delivery in late 2010. These guys sound serious.
Finally, here’s a city car called the Option 1, just shown by Toronto Electric, that looks not only functional but stylish. And the specs sound good. It’s more than your typical plug-in neighborhood cruiser,
with a top speed of about 60 mph and a roll cage under the fiberglass skin in case the worst should happen. Equipped with 27 kWh of batteries from Valence, range is calculated to be 130 miles. Its Azure Dynamics 49kW AC motor can bring it from a standstill to 37 mph (60 kph) in four seconds, quick enough for the environment its [sic] meant to be driven in. As with many of its recent electric friends, the Option 1 has an LED touch-screen to offer GPS services and Google maps while a separate LED is used to serve as the instrument panel.
As with so many other entrants in this segment, the route to full financing, development, and distribution (not to mention marketing), will be fraught with stumbling blocks, hazards, and potholes. But this little EV, we think, is one to watch.
Have you seen or heard about any other EVs that look promising? Put in a comment and tell us about it.