No car show these days would be complete without a sufficient helping of green car news, and this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit does not disappoint.
Several concept cars and actual products pending were rolled out this week during media previews to show that automakers wish to be taken seriously about what they’re doing to green their fleets.
Under various regulations governing their product lines’ emissions and mpg averages around the world, carmakers otherwise are in a race against the rules, and increasingly against one another.
Although there have been ripples of fear among electrified car advocates about what the Trump administration might do to roll back U.S. efficiency and emission laws, automakers are catering to a global market.
At this stage, U.S. EPA rules call for fleet average window stickers to improve from about 26 mpg to the high 30s by 2025. Even if those rules were weakened, California retains legal right to set rules for its market dictating ever-decreasing emissions. Other states comprising more than a quarter of the U.S. market following California zero-emission rules thus indicate that until further notice the electrification agenda is still on.
Meanwhile, among noteworthy stories this year was that two out of three of the Detroit show’s car of the year awards included an all-electric car – 2017 Chevy Bolt EV – and a plug-in hybrid – the 2017 Pacifica Hybrid, a jewel within the awarded entire Pacifica line.
These cars, and so many others are also merging technologies leading toward autonomous and connected capabilities which go hand in glove with plug-in tech – and non plug-in as well.
Following are takeaway points from green cars revealed at Detroit 2017 along with links for each to the rest of the story.
More-Efficient 2018 Camry Hybrid
For those who’ve criticized Toyota’s styling for creations like the Mirai fuel cell vehicle and 2016 Prius, the carmaker is earning praise this time for its redesigned Camry lineup which includes a Hybrid version with “Prius-like” efficiency.
That would be good for the car whose 2.5-liter hybrid powertrain was last updated in 2012, and whose 40/41 mpg was in need of improvement next to newcomers like the 46 mpg Chevy Malibu Hybrid and 48 mpg Honda Accord Hybrid.
The Prius is EPA rated for 52 mpg in base trims, and if the popular Camry Hybrid gets anything close to that, it could refresh that model’s sales.
Audi Q8 Plug-in Hybrid
When you imagine Audi’s Q8 PHEV slated for production next year, think: powerful, sleek, and not bad at all in the efficiency department.
Under the liberal European NEDC test cycle, the 3.0-liter turbo is rated for 60 kilometers (37.3 miles) electric range and 2.3 liters of fuel per 100 km/62.1 miles for the equivalent of 102.3 in U.S. mpg.
The U.S. EPA will surely add some sobriety to those exuberant numbers but electric range may still wind up in the 20s which by today’s standards is OK – and better than other German plug-in hybrids to date.
And, the coupe-like SUV is otherwise a cool ride with potent 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 5.4 seconds, and top speed of 155.3 mph.
Purpose-Built Honda Hybrid ‘Truck’
Honda is preparing to shoehorn a derivative of the Accord Hybrid’s superb powertrain into an as-yet unseen 2018 truck made ground up as a new hybrid-only model.
As viewed by the Ridgeline pickup – a vehicle of the year winner this year in Detroit – Honda does trucks differently, but the notion of a dedicated hybrid platform with maybe more than 40 mpg is a step in the right direction.
Why the carmaker is not also yet hybridizing its popular CR-V, HR-V, and others is not known, but given high mpg trucks are a veritable oxymoron in the U.S., no doubt consumers will approve if Honda applies its usual attention to detail to the new model.
Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Concept
How’s a stylized neo-retro version of VW’s classic bus with from 200 to 270 miles EPA-rated range in a dedicated EV platform grab you?
For now it is a concept, but VW Group – trying to undo image damage from its diesel cheating – promises 30 new EVs by 2025 and this could be a precursor to one of them.
Under the floor of the microbus is a 110-kWh lithium-ion battery pack sized to fit the 129-inch wheelbase.
The all-wheel-drive concept utilizes a 200-horsepower electric motor for each set of wheels with 370 total horsepower – enough for 0 to 60 mph in around five seconds.
What do you think? Should they build it?
Other Green Car News
The CES 2017 show in Las Vegas a week before Detroit witnessed a few green cars that will also make an appearance this week in the motor city.
Included is the Chrysler Portal Concept, an all-electric minivan with six-passenger seating, range estimated up to 250 miles, and semi-autonomous driving.
Given Chrysler was brave enough to enter the plug-in market where other carmakers have yet not tread with its Pacifica Hybrid (PHEV), enthusiasts can only hope the Portal design exercise may lead to something consumers can buy.
Meanwhile, BMW’s 530e plug-in hybrid is for sale – this is known because the carmaker put a $52,395 price (with destination) on this already anticipated PHEV with 9.2-kWh battery and available in an AWD xDrive version for $54,695 (including destination).
And, another novelty that stands to save lots of fuel is Ford’s Transit Connect hybrid taxi prototype.
This is part of Ford’s announcement at the beginning of this year of seven new electrified models on their way out of 13 planned.
The Transit Connect’s powertrain was not specified, but it may be a mid-sized four-cylinder in the vehicle that at this point is being evaluated.
Ford also is showing its second-generation Fusion Hybrid autonomous vehicle scheduled for ride-sharing service on public roads by 2021.