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Green Cars Steal the Show in Washington

The Washington Auto Show ran from January 28 to February 6, and showcased (as usual) a range of exciting new cars, both the wild, wacky and innovative concept cars, and the more down-to-earth production cars that were unveiled for the first time.  And down to earth is the word, as many of the feature cars were “green”.  Green seemed to be the focus of the show, especially after President Barack Obama announced a vision in his State of the Union Address to the House of Representatives for making the USA the first country to have over a million electric cars on the road by 2015 (he may mean hybrid cars rather than pure electric cars, but those count!).

The real show-stopper in this respect was the “world’s fastest electric car”. This was the Venturi Buckeye Bullet, built at the Ohio State University. This car isn’t exactly scheduled for imminent release on the roads as a production vehicle, but it is capable of getting up to 307.7 miles per hour (on those salt flats in Utah where all the land speed records tend to get set) thanks to a 600 kilowatt electric engine.

However, not all the green cars were concept cars striving to prove that electric vehicles are capable of matching the oomph of petrol vehicles. One new production car that was launched at the Washington Auto Show 2011 was the hybrid Dodge Ram ute put out by Chrysler. This hybrid ute combines a 5.7 litre V8 engine with a potent electrical motor with a 20 mile range. A test fleet of 140 vehicles is due to hit the roads in the USA thanks to a government grant. However, the car that scooped the Green Car Vision Award was the Ford Focus Electric, which is an all-electric car rather than a hybrid. This vehicle is due for general release in the USA in late 2011, and with any luck, we’ll get it over here in Australia.

The “” was the section of the show that showcased the environmentally friendly cars and technology, and exhibitors in this section included BMW, Chrysler, Honda (with the CR-Z hybrid and a range of other hybrids), Fiat, Mazda (with the RX-8 Hydrogen RE), Nissan and a host of other well-known names and some lesser-known ones who are part of developing new technologies in the area of sustainable fuels and petrol-saving technologies.

According to The Atlantic news service, the coolest green cars (electrics, hybrids and otherwise) on display at the Washington Auto Show 2011 were:

  • Honda FCX Fuel Cell
  • Honda Civic Natural Gas Vehicle (hey –we’ve had LPG powered vehicles for ages!)
  • Honda CR-Z Sport Hybrid
  • Dodge Ram 1500 Crew Plug-in Hybrid (the one mentioned above)
  • Fiat 500 Sport (petrol-powered but very, very small and frugal)
  • Li-Ion Inizio (don’t hold your breath to see this one in Australia, but it looks very hot)
  • Li-Ion Wave
  • Lexus CT 200h (due in Australia March 2011)
  • Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid
  • Toyota RAV4 Electric Vehicle
  • Toyota Camry Hybrid
  • Volkswagen Jetta Clean Diesel
  • Volkswagen Supercharged Hybrid Touareg
  • Lincoln MKZ Hybrid
  • Cadillac Escalade Hybrid
  • Chevy Silverado Hybrid
  • Chevy Volt (named Car of the Year by Motor Trend magazine)
  • Nissan Leaf
  • BMW Efficient Dynamics X5
  • BMW Active Hybrid X6

Of course, all this was in the USA. It still remains to be seen which of the showcased green cars will make it over here – certainly, some of them will and some already have – but it’s quite encouraging to see that electric and hybrid cars are not just the domain of a few tree-huggers but are respectable vehicles worthy of consideration by everybody.