at least that’s what they say. everyone has had fantasies rolling down the street in some sort of crazy ride. so what’s yours? audi r8? nissan gt-r? porsche 911? all three are amazing pieces of design and examples of hi-tech engineering, and i’m sure all of you would love to have one in your driveway, if it wasn’t for that nagging problem:
r8: 19mpg highway
gt-r: 21mpg highway
911: 23mpg highway
and near me, while it’s way down from what it was at its peak last year, i’m still looking at around $3.00 per gallon, and that’s for 87 octane, or 89 if the folks pricing gasoline are feeling generous. the premium fuels that the aforementioned cars use, of course, is markedly higher in price for a 92 or 93 octane rating. now granted, if you’re shelling out the $114k (base) for an r8, the extra $3k per year for gas (@ about 15k miles a year) probably isn’t breaking the bank, but while the U.S. consumes over 20 billion barrels of oil per day, it might be a good idea to try to dial that back a bit. that doesn’t mean you have to trade style and power to be eco-friendly. trust me, i understand your dilemma. while the thought of earth friendly cars is nice, i absolutely hate the designs of a lot of hybrid / zero emission / high mpg vehicles too – that “smart” little hatchback styling just doesn’t appeal to me. fortunately, advances in hybrid and electric technology are bringing us a pretty strong wave of sporty vehicles that pack a whole lot of m’s per g, but without any of the harmful side effects of high gas consumption or emissions. some early models and concepts run on pure electric power, switchable gas-electric, and even some on good ol’ hydrogen. take a look at the tesla roadster:
single speed fixed gear, 288 horsepower, 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds (3.7 on the sport model). whew. and the fun part – not a drop of gasoline. the tesla pulls this kind of performance through a 375 volt motor with variable frequency drive, and provides 236 miles of electric cruising on a short charge plugged into your garage. and if you’re in the market for one of the cars mentioned at the top of this article, the roadster comes in at a modest $101,500, and $121,000 for the sport model versus something in the r8 arena.
now i know what you’re thinking – $100k+ for this vehicle is ridiculous (they’ve only delivered about 1000 orders anyway), when you can buy a hybrid from one of the big brands for less than half of that. well, tesla now has their “S” roadsters, at a more modest $50k (and still goes 0-60 in 5.6, which ain’t bad).
tesla’s roadsters are part of a larger, very welcome trend in the automotive field. other brands are starting to wake up with alternative fuel vehicle concepts that not only consume less, but have the power and styling to make people who are on the fence want to drive them. BMW, for instance, is going full speed ahead with it’s electric car program, currently working on the active e – a compact electric hybrid version of their speedy little 1-series, not to mention audi’s e-tron, a kind of smaller electric version of their current TT. as far as non-electric fuels, mazda has recently shown a lot of promise with its rx-8 hydrogen RE in europe, actually delivering their limited production run of 30 cars in norway.
|mazda rx-8 hydrogen RE|
i really hope this isn’t just a passing phase, because if this keeps moving in the current direction you’re going to see a lot more people seriously considering hybrids, electrics, and alternative fuel vehicles. even the “major” brands, who manufactured cars like the prius and hybrid versions of existing small to mid-sized sedans are following suit, with toyota touting their FT-HS hybrid concept, which is a pretty mean looking beast that burns 0-60 in 4 seconds. honda seems to be going the same route as mazda, with its FC hydrogen. i’m looking forward to what the next couple years will bring.
i mean hell, even the zambonis in the 2010 vancouver olympics were electric. they didn’t always work… but they were electric.