Green Update–>When Lotus Goes Hybrid, Something’s Happening

The luxury/sports hybrids just keep on coming, and if you wondered why, we’ll tell you after the break.

Lotus has committed to two new hybrid models: One will be a four-door hatchback like the Panamera; the other is the Evora 414E hybrid (above); both will be powered by the “Omnivore” system—two electric motors in the rear (590 lb-ft of torque!) and a three-cylinder gas-engine recharger—like the Volt‘s. The combination, along with a fancy new transmission, produces 407 hp and moves the 414E to 62 mph in less than 4 seconds.

It will be at the Paris Motor Show in October, surrounded by adoring Lotus fans. We hope they turn on the car’s sound synthesizer, designed to warn off unaware pedestrians. The new Evora premiered in Geneva and apparently got the U.K.-government financing Lotus was seeking.

Back in May, when Land Rover probably lost potential customers by announcing front-wheel drive for the Range Rover line, it also may have gained some by committing to hybrid technology and diesels for 2012-2013.

Range-e Hybrid Range RoverThe “Range-e” diesel-electric (right) has now been confirmed as coming in 2013, and a special project plug-in hybrid Range Rover should surface in 2015. The RR-Sport and the big RR will be the first of the company’s hybrids; the Land Rover Discovery will follow.

There are a few good reasons why luxury and high-end sports car makers keep coming on with hybrid models. One is that the extra cost of these cars will be accepted by high-end buyers who want to go green, reduce their carbon footprint, be good global citizens, and so forth. They are making a statement the rest of us can’t afford to make.

Second, the luxury SUV segment is where much of the sales action is right now. Third, like most new automotive technologies, the best hybrid tech starts in high-end cars and finally will filter down to the mainstream. The impact on oil consumption is nil, but there are signs that lower-priced hybrids are catching on.

August sales of Ford’s Fusion Hybrid were nearly double (3,010 cars sold) those in July. The Prius is still the dominator in the segment: 11,799 sold in August—which, however, is way down from the 19,000 sold in August 2009.

Mercedes, Lincoln, and Hyundai are also going to show new hybrid models this year. Do you know of other high-end automakers that are getting on board with hybrids?

—jgoods

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