Green Update–>Audi, Ford, Mazda, BMW, Coda, and Toronto Electric

Audi e-tron

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 LovosBMW 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.

Toronto Electric Option 1Finally, 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.



  1. panayoti, you sound like a high level GM employee to me. You know, one of the people that wants everyone to keep buying gas burning junk from them so they can keep filling their pockets w/more & more money? If I’m someone looking to buy a vehicle, I’d rather have the one that needs no maintenance and never breaks, and that’s the electric one, not the gas one. Makes perfect economic sense to me. Mechanics & automotive factory drones can get jobs doing things that are far more valuable to the world. What you’re suggesting is the same thing as saying that criminals are necessary to keep cops employed. Would the world be better w/no criminals? Most cops are pretty dumb, but they could still be doing something else, something better, for everyone. Fossil fueled vehicles are as bad for us as criminals are & producing, selling & driving them should be a crime.

  2. @Jaime
    Jaime, thanks for putting in these positive words. It has to be more than just a numbers game, this Green thing, or we’ll never get there. Changing habits of drivers who have been reinforced for years in their behavior will take time. But if we know anything about mass behavior, it’s that we don’t really know what moves people in their buying decisions–despite all the marketing and group psychology studies. I think the technology will indeed get better, and just maybe buyers will find motivation in something more than numbers, ego and consumption.

  3. The range of “green” vehicles being made is exciting. To have both luxury vehicles like Tesla and Fisker…and now Audi, BMW dabbling and then comparing with the Coda or Option 1 its opening up the market to consumers. In response to panayoti’s comment: Its not about saving the planet at this moment, but its about getting to that place. If we can get people who can spend a ton of money on a luxury car and have them buy an electric luxury vehicle instead then we are one step closer to lowering our footprints. And why should it be limited to people who can afford that Tesla roadster? Someone who would buy a car for $30,000 should be able to participate and not just own the hybrid. Now if only they could get the cars to travel 500 miles before having to plug-in. Its worth staying positive, even Tesla is making a sedan that is more affordable than their roadster, so prices will drop as the technology gets better and more people start buying these electric cars. Its with everything…keep on, keepin’ on…Green.

  4. Only the looniest of the environmentalists will make an economic decision to buy a vehicle that that makes no economic sense. Even the most devoted altruist will admit that purchasing any kind of “green” car will ultimately not save the Planet nor reduce emissions unless, the whole Planet does so.

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