Luxury Cars Go Greener And Meaner

It used to mean that green cars meant gutless little grocery getters that had about as much power as a sewing machine. Well, the technology has changed significantly, and we're seeing it move up into the luxury brands who pride themselves on power and performance.

More and more, we're seeing the luxury segment adapt to green technology, cutting vehicle weight, adding muscle and running on alternative powertrains.

At this year's Frankfurt auto show, running September 9 and 10, , green will be the dominant theme, as premium brands, particularly the German ones, show off models that manage to blend electric or hybrid powertrains with high performance.

One of the highlights of this show is BMW's long awaited debut of the i8, their plug-in hybrid sports coupe that gets 362 horses and a very impressive 94 miles to the gallon. It's the second vehicle in BMW's i subbrand, following the i3 electric vehicle. The i8, made of carbon fibre and aluminum, ties an electric motor to a three cylinder gasoline engine. It's expected to launch mid-2014.

They've also got a new X5 crossover concept with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain that should go on sale in 2015. It gets about 89 mpg and can travel for 19 miles under pure-electric power.

Audi is bringing it's Quattro plug-in hybrid all wheel drive concept to the show. This hybrid supercar boasts a 4.0-litre V8 twin turbo mated to an electric motor, generating a whopping 800 HP. It's still only in concept stage, but expect to see a limited production of it available in 2016 placed above the R8 as a halo model.

Mercedes-Benz will offer up it's most recent version of the S-Class flagship car, this time with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain that delivers about 78 mpg. The S500 mates a V6 3.0-litre gasoline engine to an 80 kw electric motor, and can travel 18 miles on a single battery charge.

Land Rover is planning to introduce diesel-hybrid versions of it's Range Rover and Range Rover Sport vehicles, combining a 3-litre V6 diesel engine with an electric motor to improve fuel economy and cut emissions.

Green technology is improving, and fast. It won't be long before the stigma of alternative powered cars is erased, and they become an option for even the most power hungry drivers.

By Linda Aylesworth -


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