Monday, January 16, 2012

So Many Eco Cars, So Little Time #FordNAIAS

In addition to checking out the new 2013 Ford Fusion at the North American International Auto Show last week in Detroit, I also spent some time walking around looking for other electric cars. There were actually a lot of them, which is a very good thing. Are car companies finally embracing the fact that alternative fuels are the future for the automobile? I certainly hope so. I wish I had more time to see them all and read more about their details. Unfortunately I never made it over to the Nissan Leaf, which I would have loved to see. Here is a quick peak at a few of the other eco cars I spotted.

The 2012 Ford Focus Electric is gas free and 100% electric. It is powered by an advanced high-voltage, lithium-ion battery system and boasts 100 MPGe. But the eco-friendly aspect of this car doesn't stop at the engine. Inside the Ford Focus Electric are cloth seats with fabric made with REPREVE® fiber, which is produced from 100% recycled materials. In fact one seat is made from 22 recycled plastic bottles. The foam in the seat cushions is derived from plant oils. Starting MSRP of $39,200.

The BMW i3 electric vehicle is a five door hatchback made from mostly aluminum and carbon-fiber reinforced plastic. This futuristic concept car has a liquid cooled lithium-ion battery and on a full charge can drive between 80 and 100 miles.

The Toyota Prius Hybrid is one of Toyota's top selling models in the United States. It is not surprising with its 51 MPG and affordable starting price of $23,520. In Spring 2012 look for the Prius Plug-In Hybrid model.

The Smart Car Electric Drive is a cute little eco car. This two passenger electric car also has a lithium-ion battery and has a range of about 63 miles. It can be charged in any home socket. Obviously not ideal for a large family like ours, but could be a good commuter car. If I had to drive to work every day again, I wouldn't mind using something like this instead of my minivan.

The Hyundai ix35 FCEV is really cool in that it is hydrogen powered. (FCEV = Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle) I didn't even know that car manufacturers were making hydrogen powered vehicles so this was a fun find. The ix35 has a driving range of 360 miles and my favorite part is that the only emissions are water vapors. I would love to get behind the wheel of one of these for a test drive.

The 2013 C-Max Energi is yet another green car from Ford, who really impressed me with their range of alternative fuel cars at the show. This plug-in hybrid has a combined range of 500+ miles and in pure electric mode can reach a top speed of 47 mph.

The Honda Civic Natural Gas took me by surprise. How do they get a vehicle to run on natural gas? All I could envision was a propane tank sitting under the hood, which probably wouldn't be very safe. Though I do love my Honda Odyssey minivan, I'm not all that impressed with this vehicle. Switching from oil to natural gas really isn't all that eco in my opinion, and the Civic Natural Gas only gets 27 MPG city and 38 MPG highway. On the plus side, because natural gas is clean burning, this vehicle produces near zero emissions.

The all electric CODA won "Best Green Vehicle" at the San Diego Auto Show in December and certainly caught my attention in Detroit. While it doesn't have the flash and pizazz that some of the other green cars do, it is what it does that matters. The CODA features a Lithium Iron Phosphate battery, has a range of 150 miles and can reach a maximum speed of 85 MPH. This five passenger vehicle also has an interior fabric option made of recycled materials. Starts at $39,900.

The Chevrolet Volt starts at $31,645 and features a battery that allows you to drive 35 miles gas free. There is also an onboard gas generator that produces electricity so you can go up to 375 additional miles on a full tank of gas.

Toyota once again provides an affordable hybrid option with the 2012 Camry Hybrid. Starting at $25,900, this vehicle gets 43 MPG. This hybrid system consists of teams a four-cylinder engine, a high torque electric motor and nickel-metal hydride batteries.

Finally we have the Tata eMO. Tata Technologies is based in India and had a few green concept cars to show off. This electric vehicle has a range of 100 miles and a top speed of 65 MPH. While this is just a concept car, Tata says that it would start at $20,000.

So that was a quick tour of some of the green cars that I was able to see at NAIAS 2012. Some of these are already on the road or will hit the roads soon while other may never ever see the road. But they are all pretty cool in their own way and I hope that the auto industry continues to make huge strides with alternative fuel vehicles. I'd love to see some solar powered concept cars next year. And yes, someone please make a green minivan for me!

What do you think? Do any of these cars catch your eye or spark your interest?

I was not monetarily compensated for this post. Ford flew me to Detroit, housed me, fed me and showed me a bunch of cool stuff in hopes that I would share what I learned with my readers. I am under no obligation to post. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.


  1. If I had the BMW I'd have to keep my car clean on the inside for sure!

  2. Cars of the "future" might not be flying yet, but they are still pretty fly!



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