Overview: BMWs new twin-turbo V-8 is augmented here with an electric motor. This combination has a potential of 420 hp yet reduces fuel consumption and emissions by 15%, compared with an equivalent car running on a combustion engine alone. All on-board electronics take power from the brake energy regeneration/lithium-ion battery setup. An automatic start/stop feature helps ensure optimum efficiency.
Our take: The new 7 Series sedan is a joy to drive and this system, should it ever go into production (and theres a good chance it might), is a major step toward responsible consumption for a luxury car.
Overview: This crossover SUV has the same system as its 7 Series hybrid concept sibling. A twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 with an electric motor for a total of 420 hp, plus all the brake regeneration/lithium-ion battery/auto stop/start trimmings to score a 15% reduction in emissions and fuel consumption, compared to an internal-combustion-only counterpart.
Our take: Anything that saves gas and the Earths atmosphere has to be welcomed. However, it would be interesting to see how something with a surfeit of hybridized bells and whistles performs against an equivalent car with a new clean diesel engine.
Overview: More than a concept, but not quite a production vehicle, the Town & Country range-extended electric vehicle features a lithium-ion battery pack. Chrysler claims a range of 150 to 200 miles. If it could do 200, that would be impressive. All the company needs to do is to get some money from somewhere.
Our take: A minivan for the eco-conscious soccer mom. Of the three EV ideas being touted by Chrysler at the moment (theres also a Jeep Wrangler and a Dodge sports car), this stands the best chance of becoming reality.
Overview: This doesnt even have a proper name yet, but its one third of the extended-range electric vehicles being touted by Chrysler as production-intent models (once theres some cash in the corporate coffers). Range is said to be 150 to 200 miles. This two-seater sports car is based on the fiberglass-bodied Lotus Elise. An excellent choice, since the Lotus approach is all about being as light as possible. So the claimed zero-to-60 mph time of under five seconds and top speed in excess of 120 mph sound perfectly feasible from a flyweight car with 268 hp and 480 pound-feet of torque.
Our take: A Lotus-based, rear-wheel-drive electric sports car? Havent we seen something like this before? Did someone just say Tesla?
Overview: The most remarkable rear end of any car, ever. Never mind that this Honda FC concept is a fuel-cell-powered sports car, with the power plant mid-mounted, just as in Ferraris and Lamborghinis.
Our take: The chances of this becoming reality are as slim as a guitar string. But the idea of a future in which we can drive exotic machines with the carbon footprint of a gnat does seem enticing.
Overview: Still technically a concept, although we all know a production version looking a lot like this will go on sale in spring 2009. For anyone whos just come out of a coma, the Insight is Hondas answer to the ubiquitous Toyota Prius hybrid car. And yes, the original 1999 Insight (Americas first gas/electric hybrid) used to be a cramped little two-seater just before you went into that coma, but this ones a proper five-seater. It will have a 1.3-liter gasoline-powered engine and Honda wants to price it below the imminent next-generation Prius.
Our take: Competition is a good thing. And sometimes, so is imitation.
Overview: Word has it that this six-seater crossover concept has a four-cylinder 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline direct injection (GDI) engine. By using this form of fuel supply along with forced induction, an engine can be more efficient, producing greater power -- as much as 280 hp -- with reduced consumption. Hyundai claims 30 mpg. Another word has it that a production version of this vehicle will be available in North America in the not-too-distant future.
Our take: Gasoline direct injection is nothing new, but every little bit helps.
Overview: Hyundai is the latest car manufacturer to go hybrid. The company will introduce its 2011 Sonata hybrid at the L.A. Auto Show. This model has something called parallel hybrid technology (more details on this when we get them) and an array of lithium-ion batteries. The car is set to go on sale sometime in 2010.
Our take: The arrival of more hybrids means more choice, better prices and lower fuel consumption. So bring this baby on.
Overview:Chrysler seems ambitious enough with its front-drive Town & Country EV minivan and rear-drive Dodge EV sports car, but a four-wheel-drive Jeep Wrangler running solely on lithium-ion batteries? As part of the companys range-extended, um, range, the electric Jeep is another vehicle thats already quite far down the development path. Its makers claim 150 to 200 miles on a fully charged battery pack.
Our take:It would be great to see such a richness of choice in the electric vehicle market.
Overview: The Kia Borrego is already in production; its a large SUV, with the choice of a V-6 or V-8 engine under the hood. As one might surmise from those tell-tale FCEV initials, this model runs on something different. We havent heard much from Hyundai/Kia about hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, but the Borrego here uses the companys fourth-generation stack. Its a new design that is said to be able to start up in temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius and powers an electric motor rated at 154 hp. The range is put at 315 miles (on a tank of hydrogen, presumably). Kia plans to do a low-volume production run for 2010 as part of an ongoing test program. In the meantime, the Borrego FCEV makes its world debut at the L.A. Auto Show.
Our Take: The more alternative fuel vehicles, the merrier.
Overview: For the moment, well keep calling this a concept even though its maker has been touting the idea of putting it into production. The Lamborghini Estoque takes the marque away from its two-door, two-seater sports car heritage by being a sedan. Albeit with a 5.2-liter V-10 (which should be good for 560 hp) and a projected price in excess of $230,000. Also, that engine is located in the nose, as opposed to the usual mid-mount layout.
Our take: It seems Porsche and Aston Martin are coming out with super-sedans too, so perhaps this concepts time has come. And if anyone was wondering, an estoque is a kind of sword carried by a matador. No bull.
Overview: A 21st-century version of the classic shooting brake. Thats how Mercedes-Benz describes its ConceptFascination (no space there -- and M-B likes to put Fascination as all capital letters, but it looks a bit overbearing). This design study starts out as a coupe and ends up as a wagon, all the better to house a small fridge and a cigar humidor. Oh, yes, add the walnut and smoked-glass interior fixtures, along with the saddle-style leather and equestrian theme to realize that concept car excess is alive and well and visiting the L.A. Auto Show.
Our take: On a more serious note, the front part of the car hints at how the new E-class will look.