The World’s Six Fastest Eco-Cars

Goodbye econoboxes. Hello green scream machines.

The days of fuel economy only coming in small, slow and stripped-down cars are over. Every major auto show these days brings the unveiling of another green super car using hybrid or electric car technology to conserve fuel while delivering Ferrari-like performance. Do any of these wild concepts have a real shot at becoming cost-effective realities? Not so much. And yet, with each new green racer, the appeal of hybrids and electric cars to mainstream drivers grows a little stronger. Here are our all-time fantasy favorites that could leave the Tesla Roadster and Fisker Karma—two screaming fast and quite real production cars—curled up on the pavement coughing dust.

Let’s not forget that, in the real world, one of the most practical and immediate ways to conserve fuel is to drive at the legal speed limit.

1Shelby Ultimate Aero EV

(Zero-to-60 in 2.5 seconds / 1,000 Horsepower)

Shelby Supercars, the firm that manufactures the world’s fastest production car, unveiled the world’s fastest electric car in January 2009. The Ultimate Aero EV can reach speeds of 208 mph and can accelerate to 60 mph in just 2.5 seconds. It is powered by a twin motor system, producing a staggering 1,000-horsepower and 800 lb-ft of torque. According to Shelby, the Ultimate Aero EV will have a range of between 150 and 200 miles. The manufacturer expects to roll out pre-production versions of the vehicle by June—and then plans to use its technology to produce small and more practical electric cars.

2Namir Hybrid

(Zero-to-62 mpg in 3.5 seconds / 362 Horsepower)

The most recent addition to the green super car club is the Namir Concept, a striking new hybrid supercar developed jointly by Italdesign Giugiaro and the iconic British automotive engineering firm, Fraser-Nash Research. Unveiled at last week’s Geneva Motor Show, the exotic vehicle boasts output of 362 horsepower, a top-speed of 187 miles per hour, and fuel economy as high as 110 miles per gallon. The secret is a hybrid system that utilizes a gas-powered endothermic rotary engine, a 400-volt lithium polymer battery pack, and four electric motors—two at the front axle, two at the rear. And perhaps most importantly, the chassis weighs only 250 pounds. By the way, Namir means ‘tiger’ in Arabic. Very fitting.

3Toyota Alessandro Volta

(Zero-to-60 in Under 4 seconds / 408 Horsepower)

Toyota Alessandro Volta

A collaboration between Toyota, and again, Italdesign Giugiaro, this concept from a few years back bears the name of the iconic physicist and inventor of the battery. Built on a carbon fiber chassis, the sleek three-seater is powered by the same four-wheel-drive hybrid system as the one found in the upcoming Lexus RX 450h—and its predecessor, the RX 400h. The Volta combines a V6 gas engine and two electric motors, one at each axle. Total output is a 408 horsepower, which results in a sub-four second zero-to-60 sprint, and a top-speed of 155 miles per hour.

4Toyota Supra HV-R

(Zero-to-60 in Under 4 seconds / 700 Horsepower)

Toyota Alessandro Volta

Designed by Parisian firm Sacha Lakic, this hybrid racecar feeds power to all four wheels thanks to a 4.5-liter 480-horsepower Super GT V8 engine combined with three electric motors—one at the rear-axle, and two in each of the front-wheels. Total output is a Nascar-like 700 horsepower. Due to a mostly stripped-out interior, the car weighs about 2,400 pounds. The HV-R was the first hybrid racecar ever to win a major racing event when it finished first place at the 616-lap Tokachi 24 in Japan in 2007.

5BMW Formula 1 KERS

(Approximately 750 Horsepower)

BMW Formula 1 KERS

Taking Formula 1 into a more eco-friendly direction, the BMW unveiled the Sauber F1.09 in January 2009. The Sauber team is employing the braking technology called Kinetic Energy Recovery System, or KERS. A kind of high-powered variant of regenerative braking, KERS captures energy created during braking and stores it for use by the hybrid powertrain. The Sauber F1 racecar uses this technology in much the same way standard BMW production vehicles utilize ActiveHybrid technology. BMW hopes to learn more from the F1 experiment in order to make advancements in the consumer market. BMW Sauber still hasn’t decided whether it will race with its kinetic energy recovery system in this year’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

6Wrightspeed X1

(Zero-to-60 in About 3 Seconds / 300 Horsepower)

Wrightspeed X1

Built by Ian Wright, a former Tesla engineer, the Wrightspeed X1 is a rear-drive open-wheel roadster outfitted with an all-electric powertrain. The system unites an electric motor from AC Propulsion, lithium ion batteries from A123, and a Honda transmission. Its compact Ariel Atom body features lightweight components and an aerodynamic design. The Atom was the perfect candidate due to its lightweight and efficient design. The little racer attracted a lot of attention when it entered a drag race and beat out a Porsche Carrera GT in front of news cameras in 2006. Wright promises a production version of the X1, but it will be heavily modified in order to meet on-road safety standards.

What did we miss? What other green scream machines would you put on the list?

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  • Jo
  • evan

    hybrid car in a 24 hour race= win

  • ex-EV1 driver

    The Tesla Roadster Sport, of course. It’s quicker than the Toyota Alessandro Volta and it’s actually available for purchase. See

  • Michael Kadie

    2SSIC worlds fastest extreme street vehicle and dead sexy.

  • Ross Nicholson

    Please do not call these clunkers aerodynamic. 60% of the energy needed by automobiles is just to push the air out of the way. My goodness! None of these machines are truly aerodynamic. All have open wheel wells, one doesn’t even have a body. None have boat tails, the easiest way to boost efficiency. The wheels look pretty, though, don’t they? Well, you sacrifice any aerodynamic efficiency with draggy open wheel wells and big fat back ends, sorry. You also zoom up power requirements and diminish range just for prettiness. When you call this junk aerodynamic, you only encourage employment of ‘stylists’ instead of aerodynamics engineers.
    Bending sheet metal right to lower drag and increase efficiency are easy and cheap technologies. If our automobile fleet could be truly aerodynamic, we wouldn’t need foreign oil and we could all breath better, too.

  • sean t

    Ross again. Same comments.
    Car companies don’t make cars just for efficiency. Remember 1st gen of Insight? Only 2 seats, ugly and couldn’t sell much. The new Insight shows how Honda has learnt from that.

  • Mr Greeny

    It if of course very nice but at the moment we cannot switch to electric cars because there’s not enough electricity.
    We need other solutions. Although I love the idea, I wouldn’t personally invest in electric cars.

  • greece43

    Yes Mr Greene but we have only to switch
    to CFLs or LEDs to get about 800MW continuous here in Greece
    that’s enough for half of the current fleet (2.6mil cars)
    (If EVs are 85% efficient(from the source to wheels))

  • Tina Juarez

    Let’s see, Killacycle, Current Eliminator, White Zombie, that Electric Pinto from Alaska, Tesla roadster…. I plan on going to Portland International Speedway July 24-26 to find out who is fastest..

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Mr Greeny,
    That article is nonsense from a badly biased source with obvious ulterior motives against electric cars (the corn lobby). Most electric car charging is done at night when the electric grid is under utilized. Additionally, by switching to electric cars, less electricity will be used to refine oil into gasoline.
    Since all of the ecological ills of gasoline will be reduced, the benefit will be a resounding net positive.

  • Old Man Crowder

    Ross: The first 4 cars look pretty aerodynamic to me. You seem pretty hell-bent on this aerodynamics stuff. Let’s not lose sight of the point of the article — fast, pretty cars can be green too.

  • lektwik

    Geez I wish folks would do their research. You obviously have a computer because you have made a website. Computers are also good for doing research. Try it sometime. First, learn the difference between fastest and quickest. 0-60 times=quick. Bonneville=fast.
    Second, you can’t buy any of the cars you have shown here (Tesla not even mentioned), and… Third, they are not -even- the quickest nor fastest EVs. For fast try “Buckeye Bullet”.
    For quick try KillaCycle (0-60 in -less than- one second), Current Eliminator, or White Zombie. If you were to -use the google- you would have discovered NEDRA. Go check it out- Twelve years of sanctioned EV drag racing.

  • Sean Daily

    Great article. You missed the Fisker Karma and Fisker Karma S, as well as the UK’s Lightning Electric car and the Tesla has already been mentioned.. I just completed an interview with Henrik Fisker about the Karma that should be up on our site within the next week or so — fascinating guy.

    Sean Daily
    Host, GreenTalk Radio Podcast

  • Jared

    I don’t see how you could miss the Tesla Roadster Sport. Not only is quick/fast, but its available for the average person to purchase and probably the most likely breakthrough for electric cars (in the U.S.). Even if these 6 are faster, why not make the list 7 cars, 6 is already such an arbitrary number.

    Tesla was trying to plan a $60k car and $30k car within the next 5 years, but now that they had to close their big plant and scrap one in San Diego, who knows where that is going.

  • alvaro311
  • Kevin Wilson

    That Toyota Supra concept looks pretty bitchin. They should bring that to fruition for sure.

  • drew

    Right right if they was really trin to save

  • BR

    All they would do is come up with a quick relaese for the batery and change them out as they go. I’m sure you could get it down to 30-60 seconds.

  • NCWA

    These cars a great to dream about! Maybe someday one of my hybrids will will 1/2 as fast! Good-luck!

  • Rick.

    first of all junk and clunkers dont apply to any of these cars
    second aerodynamics is not the only goal you can go for pure aerodynamic design for an econo-box but with a high-proformance car you need enough downforce to push the car down and keep it on the road
    third most people are not going to want to drive a car shaped like a tear-drop which though being the most aerodynamic shape does not a pretty car make and when your paying $200K or more you want it to look good also the tear drop shape doesnt not generate down force in fact it generates some lift

    so though i agree that these are not truly aerodynamic being as thats not the main point i see no reason to insult the cars or the designers

  • Anonymous