High Performance Electric Cars and Hybrid Vehicles 2011

Do you have a little extra to spend on your next car? Do you want something with a little “extra something” under the hood? What if that “extra something” is an electric or hybrid powertrain?

Hybrid and electric cars have caught on in a major way. Most major automakers are now offering hybrid options for select models and the technology is improving all the time. It’s now possible to find high-performance electric or hybrid sports cars and luxury sedans. If you’re in the market for a car like this, keep reading. Here’s a rundown about what’s rolling off the line for 2011.

High performance electric hybrid
The SSI 65 Coupe

2011 Hybrid cars: here’s the lineup

When the first hybrid cars started to roll out several years ago, it pretty much took the world by surprise, but these days, you can drive down the highway or even side street without seeing some sort of energy efficient car. Manufacturers across the board are becoming more conscious to the needs and wants of their consumers for fuel efficient and environmentally friendly cars, trucks and SUVs.

In 2011, we’ll see more hybrid cars on the market than ever. You may recognize come industry regulars, but keep an eye out for some new models from manufacturers who are just getting started on the hybrid front.

Here we go with the 2011 hybrid cars, trucks and SUVs.

Acura – Acura does not offer a hybrid model.

Audi – According to Edmunds.com, this is finally the year for Audi to launch its long-awaited Q5 Hybrid model for 2011. Because the rumors have been circulating about their debut hybrid model 2008, we’re not holding our breath.

BMW – In last year’s 2010 hybrid lineup BMW had two completely different hybrid models. Now it seems BMW is adding to their family of hybrid cars and SUVs. The newest model in their fleet is the 4-wheel drive, ActiveHybrid X5 projected to launch in fall of this year. They’ve kept the Active Hybrid X6 model and made the ActiveHybrid 7 into two similar models: the ActiveHybrid 750Li and the ActiveHybrid 750i.


Image for the ActiveHybrid 750Li from BMW.

Image for the ActiveHybrid 750i from BMW.

Except for about a $4,000 MSRP difference for a few, minor creature comforts in the Li model (i.e., self-leveling air suspension, rear vanity mirrors, etc.), the two seem almost identical in features. Both have a 4.4 liter V-8 engine with TwinPower Turbo technology, and both use a 120-volt, lithiom-ion battery with Brake Energy Regeneration. With a 440 horsepower engine, these BMWs boast to be “The Fastest Hybrid[s] in the World.”

Buick – No Buick Hybrids for 2011.

Cadillac – No Cadillac Hybrids found for 2011.

Cheverolet – Well, it’s finally (almost) here. The Chevy Volt promises to be a game changer in the hybrid world.

Image for the Volt from Chevy.

Using the power of “more than 200 lithiom-ion battery cells,” the Volt is able to travel up to 40 miles on a single charge without using the gas-generator to create electricity to take it extra distances. Chevy claims its first-ever plug-in gas/electric hybrid car will arrive by the end of 2010.

Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep – While hybrid cars are still more popular than hybrid trucks and SUVs, that’s not stopping Dodge from trying the hybrid market (again) in 2011 with the Dodge Ram Pickup 1500 Hybrid scheduled to launch at the end of summer 2010.

Ford – With its fifth year in production, Ford is set to roll out the 2011 Ford Escape Hybrid soon.


Image for the Escape Hybrid from Edmunds.

The new Escape Hybrid will get the same fuel efficiency as the previous model of 34 mpg city and 31 mpg highway, which is still impressive in the compact crossover SUV category.


Image for the Fusion Hybrid from Edmunds.

Ford is also set to launch the 2011 model Fusion Hybrid. In its second year of production, the Fusion Hybrid is proving to be a contender in the hybrid market.

GMC – No GMC Hybrids found for 2011.

Honda – Honda describes their newest hybrid model as, “fun to drive,” and it looks it. The 2011 Honda CR-Z is sleek, sporty and dare I say a little sexy, too.


Image for the CR-Z from Honda.

This two-seater hybrid gets about the same EPA-Estimated mpg as a Smart Car but offers more storage (and more leg room?), the Honda reputation and a competitive price range.

Hyundai – Hyundai has a new Sontata Hybrid rumored to be released this year. With the non-hybrid model already launched, it may be likely that the Sonata Hybrid won’t make the list this year.

Infiniti – Whether it’s a 2011 or a 2012 model, Inifiniti is set to launch it’s first hybrid model soon along with the 2011 M class luxury line. As confusing as the release date is, it is clear that this is the auto manufacturer’s first hybrid model, and will be a welcomed change in the luxury car world.

Kia – According to a Kia press release, along with a new body style, the Kia Optima will also be available as “…the brand’s first-ever hybrid in the U.S. (available in 2011) – which deliver[s] class-leading power and fuel economy while the latest technology features and luxury amenities are available at the touch of a button or a simple voice command.”


Image for the Optima hybrid from Kia.

The body style of the new Optima is also wider, longer and lower to the ground than the previous style. With all new features and a new hybrid option, looks like Kia is getting a major upgrade.

Lexus – Apparently, some hybrids are not just about getting the best fuel efficiency possible and saving the planet. Enter the 2011 Lexus CT 200h that, while it is a hybrid, can turn on a sport mode to transform this eco-friendly wagon into a speed racer with all the normal handling Lexus is famous for.


Image for the Lexus CT 200h from Lexus.

With four different driving modes (EV, ECO, Normal and Sport), this is clearly not your average family sedan. Lexus doesn’t list the MPG on their list of Specs, but their press release does mention that it will come with a Nickel-Metal Hydride battery. Who needs to worry about MPG when you’ve at least got the hybrid battery?

Lincoln – Ok, I was starting to get skeptical when I read the first few lines on the Lincoln website about their hybrid, stating the new MKZ Hybrid is “projected to be the most fuel-efficient luxury car in America.” It seems nearly all the hybrid cars are toting similar tag lines and simply swapping out the words that allows them to legally make these claims. Anyway, I had to keep reading to get more info, and I’m glad I did.


Image for the MKZ Hybrid from Lincoln.

Not only does the MKZ Hybrid boast a 41 city mpg (36 hwy), but Lincoln also took extra steps to make this luxury car more eco-friendly. “Hand-crafted eco-conscious Bridge of Weir leather [and] olive ash wood trim from sustainably sourced forests” help this car push the standards on eco-conscious design and not to mention the fact that it’s all packaged in Lincoln luxury.

Mercedez-Benz – No Mercedez-Benz Hybrids found for 2011.

Mercury – According to Edmunds.com, there will be two new Mercury Hybrid models for the 2011 year, but it looks like Mercury is saying otherwise with the end of the Mercury brand scheduled for the end of this year.

Mitsubishi – No Mitsubishi Hybrids found for 2011.

Nissan – There are currently, no Nissan Hybrids for 2011, but the Nissan Leaf should be a huge hit.

Pontiac – No Pontiac Hybrids found for 2011.

Porsche – While Porsche is widely associated with the early history of cars, it is also associated  with the early history of hybrid cars, so it should be no surprise that finally Porsche is launching a hybrid option. It will be a hybrid model of their Cayenne S.

Image for the Cayenne S Hybrid from Porsche.

While Porsche hasn’t officially (as of this post) released this 300 horsepower hybrid crossover’s estimated fuel consumption, it will run with a V6 engine and maintain the all-wheel drive of the previous non-hybrid Cayenne models.

Saab – No Saab Hybrids found for 2011.

Saturn – No Saturn Hybrids found for 2011.

Subaru – No Subaru Hybrids found for 2011.

Toyota – Starting at a cool $19,595 (MSRP), the 2011 Camry Hybrid may be the most affordable mid-sized sedan Hybrid.


Image for the Camry Hybrid from Toyota.

Not much seems to have changed from the previous model, but hey, if “nothing’s broke, don’t fix it,” right?

Volkswagen – A noticeably lower-to-the-ground version of the previous Touaregs, the first hybrid from VW looks good.

Image for the European model Touareg Hybrid from VW.

VW is boasting more cargo space, lighter body, the largest panoramic sunroof of all SUVs and obviously, reduced fuel consumption. Add the hybrid to their expanding list of clean diesel cars, and it’s easy to see where VW is heading for the future.

Volvo – No Volvo Hybrids for 2011.

2011 Electric Cars in the USA: Here’s the Lineup

Recently, there have been great strides in not only diesel and hybrid cars, but also in electric cars. A few electric cars that we’ve seen manufactured have really put a heavy emphasis on performance, which is a nice change of pace from older cars we’ve seen that were known as “low speed.” You know, the ones you aren’t even allowed to drive on roads with a speed limit higher than 35 mph!

Here’s a list of the most promising electric cars that we should see available in the USA in 2011.


Nissan Leaf – The Nissan Leaf electric car is a 100 percent electric vehicle that requires no gasoline. It can seat up to 5 passengers, has 5 doors, and a range of 100 miles per charge. It runs on a 24 kWh lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery, and has a variety of different features, ranging from push button ignition, to navigation, and so on.

With a 100 mile per charge range, a car as such is going to be great for suburban commutes or short back and forth trips daily. It’s made in America, and will go for just under $26,000 (after all applicable tax credits are applied). More information can be found on the Nissan Leaf Website.

This one looks like it could be a Prius killer for urban drivers. I’ve heard that Lance Armstrong has one reserved already.

Chevrolet Volt – Now, technically the Chevy Volt is actually a hybrid, as it features a gas engine that recharges the battery. However, the powertrain is only powered by an electric motor, so we decided to include it to our list. The Chevy Volt will charge overnight, and when you’re ready to go will run on a charge for 40 miles, free of gas and emissions.

After that, the Volt uses a range-extending gas generator that produces energy to power it for hundreds of miles on a tank of gas. There’s more information to be found about the Chevrolet Volt electric car on their official website.


Coda – The Coda electric car can seat up to 4 passengers, and is powered by a 728 cell lithium-iron phosphate battery. This car has a range of 90-120 miles, with a top speed of 80 mph. As far as warranty is concerned, the Coda features a 3-year/36,000 mile limited vehicle warranty. In addition, the battery covered for 8 years/100,000 miles.

More information about the Coda Electric Car can be found on the official Coda website.


Fisker Karma – Much like the Chevrolet Volt, the Fisker Karma electric car is also somewhat of a hybrid that features a gas engine to recharge the battery, yet only uses an electric motor for the powertrain.

Designed by Henrik Fisker (who is known for his work on the BMW Z8, the Aston Martin DB9 and the Aston Martin V8 Vantage), the Karma boasts a 300 mile range and can go from 0-60 in less than 6 seconds, featuring a top speed 125 mph (200 km/h).

The car also features two Driving Modes: stealth drive (a quiet economy mode) and sport drive (which accesses the full power of the vehicle).

Here’s how the car works: it uses what is known as “Q-DRIVE plug-in hybrid technology.” A fully-charged Karma burns no fuel for the first 50 miles. After 50 miles, the gasoline engine turns a generator to charge the lithium ion battery. From there, the car operates as a normal hybrid vehicle.

A balance of gas and electricity as such can help the driver achieve an average fuel economy of 100 mpg (2.4L/100km) per year.

For more information on the Fisker Karma, check out the Official Fisker Karma website.

Ford Focus eV – You may have recently seen the Ford Focus electric automobiles on Jay Leno’s ‘Green Car Challenge’ where he and guests on the show go head to head in an obstacle course with one of the Focus eV Electric Cars.

Hopefully in 2011 this battery-powered version Focus should be available in a limited fashion (with at best – a possible 5,000 manufactured for the first couple of years). The drivetrain of the Focus has been engineered by Magna International, a Canadian company. The Focus will have a 100-mile range and will rely on lithium-ion batteries.


Tesla Roadster – The Tesla Roadster is a pretty hot sports car. You may have seen some of our posts here on The Practical Environmentalist that look into an ongoing back and forth exchange between Tesla and Fisker. The Roadster is a high performance machine – going from 0-60 mph in just 3.9 seconds! In addition, it can go up to 245 miles on a single charge!

So what we’ve essentially got here is high power performance in an eco-friendly fashion. The Tesla Roadster literally redefines everything that you may have thought to be true of an electric car.

Now, the price tag is pretty hefty – as the Tesla electric car rivals any high powered sports car price tag (leasing one, for example will cost you just under $1700 per month). However, for the car enthusiast and the eco-friendly connoisseur, this is the ultimate in electric powered vehicles.

Want to learn more about the Tesla? Surely your interest must be piqued! Check out the Official Tesla Motors Website for more great information on the Roadster. Tesla is evidently also working on a four door electric car that will cost in the $60K range, after tax breaks. Not sure when that one will hit the market.


Think City – The Think City electric car is slated to be available in the US for 2011. This electric car has a range of around 75-100 miles per single charge. It runs on the Zebra sodium battery and Lithium-Ion battery from EnerDel, and can be charged through a conventional socket.

The features on this car are just like you would want on any other automobile – airbags, mp3 player, bluetooth enabled, ABS – and is a two door, multiple passenger car that should perform well for city traffic, and for the daily commute. Not to mention – you’re also helping the environment.

More information about the Think City can be found on the Think Website.

Update: Toyota contracts with Tesla to bring electric RAV4 back in 2012

We’ve read reports that apparently the Toyota Corporation has contracted with Tesla to help bring back the electric Rav4. They plan to use a Tesla powertrain and battery pack with the RAV4 body.

Toyota has set a goal to release a car in the US by 2012, so it won’t be in the US in 2011. But hopefullly by 2012 we’ll see an electric car by Toyota back on the market. The electric Rav4 was made from 1997 to 2003 and had a range of 100 miles.

What about other electric cars?

There are a handful of other electric cars that have been proposed, but many of these are still “in production” phases, or are “low speed” vehicles, that are great for suburban and neighborhood travel, but aren’t ideal or ready yet for highway travel. Then there are others that look much like golf carts, which you certainly can’t take to work with you day in and day out.

Still, these are some great options, and some promising new developments in the world of electric vehicles!

Did we miss anything on the list? Let us know in the comments!

2010 Hybrid Cars: Here’s the Lineup.

The number of hybrid cars keeps increasing, and while it is definitely a step in the right direction for emission reduction and fuel economy, the real importance of the hybrid car is in the evolution of transportation in general.

Technology, when it first comes out, isn’t always immediately cheaper than existing alternatives.  The Chevy Malibu Hybrid, for example, cost more to make than it sold for.  But putting these cars in the hands of real world people has helped manufacturers improve technology to the point where they are becoming financially beneficial, both to the manufacturer and the consumer.   Several companies have actual plug-in electrics just around the corner — possibly hitting the streets this year.

So, here is this year’s list of the major automobile manufacturer offerings for hybrid cars, trucks and SUVs.

ACURA:

Acura does not offer a hybrid model.

AUDI:

Although rumors of a Q5 hybrid have been circulating since 2008, it doesn’t appear that it will make it to the 2010 roster.

BMW:

From BMW USA:

“We will introduce two hybrids in Frankfurt, the BMW ActiveHybrid 7 and BMW ActiveHybrid X6.  They are the production version of our two first gas-electric passenger vehicles.

The ActiveHybrid X6 will be the most powerful hybrid in the world and the BMW ActiveHybrid 7 is projected to be the fastest hybrid in the world and each

BMW Active Hybrid X6 Courtesy BMW
BMW Active Hybrid X6 Courtesy BMW

will feature between 15-20% increase in fuel efficiency.  The ActiveHybrid X6 is a “two mode” hybrid featuring full-electric operation up to 37mph for 1.6 miles and it goes on sale in December 2009.

BMW Active Hybrid 7 Courtesy BMW
BMW Active Hybrid 7 Courtesy BMW

The ActiveHybrid 7 is a “mild hybrid” and uses electric motors to boost the operation of a gasoline engine and recaptures energy in a lithium-ion battery and it goes on sale in Spring 2010.”

BUICK:

No Buick Hybrids for 2010

CADILLAC:

2010 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid courtesy General Motors
2010 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid courtesy General Motors

Cadillac will be selling the Escalade 2-Mode Hybrid SUV again this year, 21mpg city/22 hwy.  This is essentially a luxury version of the GMC  Yukon full size SUV, and as such the mileage is pretty respectable given the size.

CHEVROLET:

2010 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid Courtesy General Motors
2010 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid Courtesy General Motors

In all of GM the only hybrid car they list for 2010 is the Malibu Hybrid, running their Ecotec 2.4L 4 cyl.  Don’t look for it on the showroom however, because it’s been dropped from the lineup due to lack of sales of the 2009 models.  However The Silverado 2-Mode Hybrid pickup, and the Tahoe 2-Mode hybrid SUV are still

2010 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid Courtesy General Motors
2010 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid Courtesy General Motors

being produced, and we’re hopeful the Volt (GM’s new electric ) may make its debut  in 2010. The trucks feature a 6.0L V-8 engine now compatible with E85.

The Silverado and the Tahoe get 21mpg city/22 hwy.  Not terrible for a full size pickup or SUV by any means.

CHRYSLER, JEEP, and DODGE:

No hybrids this year for Chrysler brands.

FORD:

2010 Ford Escape Hybrid Courtesy Ford Motor Company
2010 Ford Escape Hybrid Courtesy Ford Motor Company

Ford offers the Escape hybrid, a compact crossover SUV,  Getting an impressive 31 mpg hwy, and 34 mpg city.  They also offer the Fusion hybrid, a midsize with an estimated 41 mpg city 36 hwy.

fsn10_pg_010_ext_med

GMC:

2010 GMC Sierra Hybrid
2010 GMC Sierra Hybrid Courtesy General Motors

The truck division of General Motors is producing  the Sierra pickup and the Yukon SUV in 2 mode hybrid form.  They both get 21mpg city/22 hwy.  Not terrible for a full size pickup or SUV by any means.  The trucks feature a 6.0L V-8

2010 GMC Yukon Hybrid Courtesy General Motors
2010 GMC Yukon Hybrid Courtesy General Motors

engine now compatible with E85. GMC also offers a full size hybrid city bus.

HONDA:

From Honda:

“For the 2010 model year, Honda already has two hybrid vehicles on sale in the US, the Civic Hybrid and the all-new Insight.  Additionally, Honda has announced that an all-new sporty hybrid called the CR-Z will come to the US sometime in the calendar year 2010.  Details about that vehicle are limited at this time, but it will be based on the CR-Z concept vehicle that has been shown at several international auto shows in the past couple of years.“

The Civic hybrid gets an estimated 40 mpg city, and 53 mpg hwy and retails for $23,650.

The Honda Insight hybrid gets 40mpg city and 43 hwy, and starts at $19,800.

HYUNDAI:

No Hybrids listed for the 2010 model year.

KIA:

No Hybrids listed for the 2010 model year.

LEXUS:

Lexus 250h Courtesy Lexus
Lexus 250h Courtesy Lexus

Lexus, a division of Toyota, offers the RX450h Luxury utility vehicle with an estimated 32 mpg  city 28 mpg hwy, the LS 600h L luxury sedan , the  GS450h “Luxury Sport Sedan, and the HS250h at 34 city and

Lexus 450h Courtesy Lexus
Lexus 450h Courtesy Lexus

35 hwy and will be the first hybrid only luxury car.

LINCOLN:

No Hybrids listed for the 2010 model year.

MAZDA:

Mazda offers the

Mazda Triubute Courtesy Mazda
Mazda Triubute Courtesy Mazda

Tribute Hybrid crossover SUV for 2010, getting an estimated 34 city and 31 hwy.

MERCEDES-BENZ:

Mercedes Benz S400 Hybrid Courtesy Mercedes Benz
Mercedes Benz S400 Hybrid Courtesy Mercedes Benz

Mercedes offers the S400 hybrid, a large luxury car getting 19 city and 26 hwy.  Not great compared to some of the other cars here, but pretty respectable for a large luxury car.

MERCURY:

2010 Mercury Mariner Hybrid courtesy Ford Motor Company
2010 Mercury Mariner Hybrid courtesy Ford Motor Company

Mercury has the Mariner hybrid SUV getting 34 city 31 hwy, and the Milan Hybrid midsize getting 41 city and 36 hwy.

MITSUBISHI:

No Hybrids listed for the 2010 model year.

NISSAN:

Nissan Leaf Electric Courtesy Nissan
Nissan Leaf Electric Courtesy Nissan

Nissan has the Altima Hybrid, at 21 mpg city 26 mpg hwy.  But the really exciting news from Nissan is the full electric Nissan Leaf.  Although it wont be available to the general public until around 2012 the Leaf will be sold to government agencies and corporate customers this year.  The leaf will have a range of around 100 miles on a single charge, and should be priced comparably with other family sedans.

PONTIAC:

The Pontiac brand has been discontinued.  Although the EPA lists a few Pontiacs for 2010, GM does not.

SUBARU:

SATURN:

Due to the tentative sale of Saturn no reliable information on what, if any, cars will bear the Saturn name.  Of the three cars that GM will produce under contract after the sale two were previously available as Hybrids, the Vue and the Aura.  The EPA lists specs for a Saturn Vue hybrid, at 25 city 32 hwy but it also lists other cars that have been canceled.

TOYOTA:

Toyota Prius Courtesy of Toyota
Toyota Prius Courtesy of Toyota

For Toyota, we have the Prius, of course, with an estimated 51 mpg city and 48 mpg hwy.  Also offered in hybrid is the larger Camry at 33 city, 34 hwy, and the Highlander midsized SUV.

VOLKSWAGEN:

Despite a lot of hype a year ago about a hybrid to be released in 2010, there is no word from Volkswagen on when it will come about.  Maybe 2011.

VOLVO:

Rumors and reports of a plug in Hybrid V70 wagon to be released by Volvo in 2010 have been circulating, but according to Volvo we are looking at 2012 before it’s a reality.

Toyota Camry Hybrid Courtesy of Toyota
Toyota Camry Hybrid Courtesy of Toyota

Still wonder what hybrid is for you? Car and driver did this showdown of 2010 famly hybrids.  They include the now-defunct Chevy.

If you would like more information about hybrids, Check out the following links:

http://www.howstuffworks.com/hybrid-car.htm

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/hybridtech.shtml

http://www.motortrend.com/new_cars/27/hybrid_cars/index.html

http://www.edmunds.com/green-cars/index.html