Laura K. Cowan

Top 7 New Electric Vehicles and Hybrid Cars Hitting the Streets in 2012

by , 01/16/12

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Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid

Volkswagen is late to the hybrid party, but they’re trying to make up for lost time by focusing on hybrid tech inside their new Jetta Hybrid instead of designing a new car around the green powertrain. The Jetta Hybrid will look almost identical to its non-hybrid counterpart but will feature a 1.1-kW lithium-ion battery tucked behind the rear bench seat that weighs less than 80 pounds. A 1.4-liter turbocharged engine with 150 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque will be paired with a 20-kW electric motor with a lithium-ion battery – a combination which will be enough to allow the car to hit 44 miles per hour on electric power alone. The engine and motor’s combined horsepower will be 170 with a 0-60 time of less than 9 seconds. This comes out to 45 miles per gallon, which is a decent first try from an automaker.

Pricing has yet to be announced, but Volkswagen won’t make us wait long. The Jetta Hybrid will hit production in the fall of 2012 with 3 different trim levels. Volkswagen promises many standard features, including Bluetooth, SiriusXM satellite radio, special 15-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, LED tail lights, bi-xenon headlights and LED Daytime Running Lights, heated front seats, navigation, and a rear-view camera.

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Ford Fusion Hybrid

Ford has been working hard to integrate its hybrid vehicles into a wide range of product offerings. The new Ford Fusion Hybrid typifies this strategy: the fastback sedan will be offered with three different 4-cylinder gas engines, a standard hybrid, or a plug-in hybrid setup to create a complete range of vehicles for every customer. The Fusion hybrid will feature a turbocharged, direct-injection 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, and both hybrids will use lithium-ion batteries and continuously variable transmissions (CVT). The conventional hybrid can go up to 62 miles per hour on all-electric power, but Ford is not releasing range or 0-60 times on the plug-in Fusion Energi hybrid yet. The conventional hybrid will also get 47 city and 44 highway mpg, and the Fusion Energi plug-in will get the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon.

Pricing has yet to be announced, but Ford promises the Fusion Hybrid range will be available for purchase in the fall of 2012, so we won’t have long to wait. Available features will include automatic cruise control, pre-collision sensing and automatic lane-keeping, plus start-stop tech at stop lights. That means Ford is bringing these sedans up to the level of luxury tech of a few years ago, so expect a versatile vehicle with lots of high-tech comfort and efficiency features.

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Tesla Model S

Tesla‘s Model S has been tempting EV enthusiasts with its sexy curves for the past year, and this all-electric sedan is finally ready to hit the road this fall. The Model S starts at $49,900 after a $7,500 federal tax credit, and the baseline model is capable of going from zero to sixty in 6.5 seconds, has a top speed of 110 mph, and can travel up to 160 miles without needing a recharge. The electric sedan is comes with an impressive array of options including souped-up signature and performance models, an all-glass panoramic roof, and 40, 60, and 85 kWh battery options that can extend the range up to 300 miles.

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