Major car makers unveiled their latest electric and hybrid vehicles yesterday and today at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show. As the show opens to the public tomorrow, consumers have a wide array of options to substitute for traditional gasoline-burning cars, as indicated in the accompanying slideshow. Among the highlights of the Auto Show are as follows:
BMW generated a lot of buzz with its futuristic-looking i3 electric and i8 plug-in hybrid concept cars, slated to go on sale in 2014, hopefully with nearly the same designs. In addition, BMW sells “Active Hybrid” versions of its more recognizable 3, 5 and 7 Series.
Fisker, which combines high-end luxury and high performance with sustainable materials, offers what is arguably the sexiest car of any kind at the entire show, the Karma, which just happens to be an electric car. If you’ve got plenty of cash, you can have your alt-fuel cake and eat it too.
Toyota, as usual, led the way with a vast range of hybrid and electric vehicles, including the 3rd generation Prius hybrid in 4 different body styles as well as a plug-in hybrid. Toyota also now sells its Avalon, Highlander and Camry models with optional hybrid engines, and it has brought back the RAV4 EV all-electric SUV after an absence of over two decades.
Toyota’s high-end Lexus division, synonymous with luxury for many consumers, offers numerous hybrid models, including the ES, GS and LS sedans, the RX mid-sized SUV, and the stand-alone CT.
Ford is hot on Toyota’s heels, especially among the American car companies. with an impressive list of hybrid and electric offerings, . Ford’s models include the new C-Max in hybrid or plug-in hybrid form, the Fusion, also offered in hybrid and plug-in hybrid configurations, and the Focus with all-electric power. On Thursday, the Fusion won the show’s Green Car of the Year award from Green Car Journal.
Even Ford’s Lincoln division got in the act, offering a hybrid version of its MKZ model.
At General Motors, Chevrolet led the way with its Spark urban mini car available this summer with electric power. Chevy also sells the Volt electric vehicle, as well as its big Tahoe SUV and Silverado pickup truck in hybrid versions. Chevrolet will also offer what it calls “mild hybrid” versions of its Malibu and Impala sedans, explaining that the electric motor will kick in to power things like the climate and sound systems when the cars come to a stop.
Cadillac offers its Escalade SUV in hybrid version, and expects to unveil its new ELR “electric hybrid car” in January.
Buick sells the LaCrosse and Regal sedans with “eAssist” mild hybrid technology similar to that of Chevrolet’s Malibu and Impala.
Honda is keeping pace with Toyota by offering the Insight, Civic and CR-Z hybrids, an electric version of its Fit subcompact, and the new Accord plug-in hybrid.
Nissan still sells the unique and recognizable LEAF all-electric car, and displayed a new concept, the Hi-Cross hybrid crossover vehicle.
Mercedes-Benz also opts for what it calls a “mild hybrid” option choice with its large S-Class, and next year expects to offer the mid-sized E-Class with this option.
Audi sells its Q5 SUV as a hybrid, but also focuses on a number of “TDI” diesel offerings to increase fuel efficiency.
Even smart, whose little 2-seater cars already achieve high gas mileage, now offers a new electric drive vehicle.
FIAT did something similar, bringing out an electric version of its already gas-stingy 500.
Infiniti offers its full-size M luxury model in hybrid version.
Volkswagen unveiled its new Jetta hybrid, and plans to roll out a hybrid version of its Touareg SUV by the middle of 2013.
And give some credit to Porsche, which has taken on the difficult task of adding hybrid technology to its high-performance cars for a demanding clientele. Porsche goes with “mild hybrid” options, which can propel the cars at lower speeds, in its Cayenne and Panamera models.
Gas mileage politics
In July 2011, the Obama administration announced higher fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks beginning with the 2017 model year. The higher fuel standards were worked out with auto manufacturers, auto workers and other stakeholders. As auto makers work to achieve these gas mileage results and offer vehicles that consumers like, the latest hybrid and electric cars on display at the Los Angeles Auto Show will likely play a big role.
© 2012 Matthew Emmer — All Rights Reserved
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Slideshow: latest hybrid and electric cars featured at Alt Car Expo
Electric and hybrid cars take charge at L.A. Auto Show (slideshow)
Electric and hybrid vehicles invade Los Angeles area (slideshow)
Interview with the LAcarGuy as he brings the new Fisker luxury plug-in hybrid to L.A. (slideshow)