>> Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Our favorite kind of green is still the blur of passing scenery as we kick the accelerator pedal to the firewall, but the global implications of that sort of misbehavior have brought an industry that was less than two years ago fully engrossed in an arms race into a new kind of battle. Rather than horsepower, the figure everyone looks at now is mpg, and just as before, the highest numbers are grabbing the headlines.
As the home of the muscle car and a city built on horsepower, Detroit is still quick to draw big power numbers, but the 2009 Detroit auto show was invaded by green cars of all types: diesels, hybrids, electric, and fuel cells. While the high-tech future of motoring promises to be anything but boring, we were still thrilled to see a few high-horsepower rides debut in Detroit as well. Read on for all the greenies, or just skip to page two for the dyno smashers.
2010 Audi A3 2.0 TDI
The U.S.'s first diesel-powered Audi A3 will use basically the same engine found in the Volkswagen Jetta TDI. The 2.0-liter direct-injection turbo-diesel will send 140 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque through an S tronic dual-clutch automated manual transmission. No official fuel-economy numbers have been released, but Audi claims the TDI averaged 45 mpg in a recent coast-to-coast drive. The A3 2.0 TDI will reach showrooms in early 2010.
Cadillac Converj Concept
Essentially a Chevrolet Volt underneath supermodel skin, the Converj features a 16-kWh battery pack that feeds a 161-hp electric motor driving the front wheels. A four-cylinder engine provides range-extending juice when the batteries run dry, which happens after up to 40 miles of zero-emissions electric-only operation. The Converj is gorgeous, and being a higher-priced vehicle, a production version could help GM recoup its investment in the Volt architecture more quickly. We predict you'll see this one on the streets in 2011.
Chrysler 200C EV Concept
With its elegant and refined shape, the 200C EV concept is what we all feel the current Chrysler Sebring should have been. It is capable of running 40 miles on battery power alone and up to 400 miles using a small gasoline-powered generator to recharge the batteries. Whether or not it keeps the alternative powertrain, we are keeping our fingers crossed that the 200C design will come to us in any form, sooner rather than later.
Dodge Circuit EV Concept
The Circuit is the latest version of Dodge's Lotus Europa–based electric vehicle—no internal combustion or local emissions here—and features nearly 270 hp of battery-fueled fury. The two-seat sports car is said to reach 60 mph in under five seconds and have a terminal velocity of 125 mph. Chrysler insists it will bring one of its ENVI electrical vehicle concepts to market by 2010, and here's hoping this is the one. We'd hate to see the company, er,ground this Circuit.