This week Team Inhabitat reported live from the scene of the 2011 North American International Auto Show to bring you an exclusive first look at the future of green transportation. The skyrocketing cost of carbon fuels and the environmental impact of gas-guzzling autos have cleared the way for a sea change on the show floor, and this year's event is awash in efficient green vehicles of all shapes and sizes. From exotic all-electric supercars to practical plug-in hybrids, futuristic personal ev's, and everything in between, read on for our top 7 green vehicles from the Detroit Auto Show!
Porsche kicked off the Detroit Auto Show with a bang as they unveiled the pulse-pounding 918 RSR, a brand new powerhouse hybrid racer. The smoothly sculpted 767 horsepower behemoth builds upon Porsche’s award-winning 911 GT3 R Hybrid with a flywheel speed booster, two electric front-wheel drive motors, and an ultra lightweight carbon fiber monocoque shell.
Not to be outshone in the luxury auto market, Mercedes-Benz rolled out the SLS AMG E-Cell, a supercharged gull-wing ev with an electric paint job to match. This emission-free speed demon is propelled by four electric motors that produce a whopping 526 horsepower and 649 lb-ft of torque. Unlike the race-ready Porsche 918 RSR, you may actually see the E-Cell on city streets – it’s set to hit dealerships in 2013.
Although it was introduced earlier last week at CES, Ford’s Focus Electric vehicle still turned heads left and right at the Detroit Auto Show. The company’s first production EV will have a higher mile-per-gallon equivalent than the Chevy Volt and can charge in half the time of the Nissan Leaf. Added bonus: the vehicle’s display panel rewards energy-efficient driving by bursting forth in blue butterflies.
Li-Ion’s svelte Inizio supercar boasts a sexy set of curves and a 145kW electric motor that leaves frumpier EVs in the dust. The red-hot ride rockets from 0-60 in just 3.4 seconds, and its 250 mile range means you can hit the road for hours without having to recharge. But the best part is that you may soon see this speed demon on the streets – Li-Ion just started taking pre-orders for the production vehicle at the Detroit Auto Show, so reserve yours today!
What do you get when you blend an exotic electric sports car with a rough-and-ready all-terrain vehicle? The unlikely combination has spawned the Venturi America concept car, a beast of an EV that can charge over unforgiving terrain without breaking a sweat. The vehicle’s muscular chassis conceals a 300 horsepower electric engine that can carry the souped-up electric buggy for up to 190 miles.
Not every car at the Detroit Auto Show was a steroidal super-EV; GM unveiled a set of EN-V pod cars that explore the future of efficient personal transportation. These ultra-mobile two-seater electric vehicles are about half the length of a smart car and they’re kitted out with cameras, high-tech sensors that detect pedestrians and cars, gps, and a sonar system that allows each car to drive itself! The drive system is similar to a Segway insofar as it utilizes gyroscopic sensors to balance the car’s weight as you tilt forwards or back.
Glitz, glam, and futuristic EV’s aside, the Detroit Auto Show also offered up a heaping serving of practical green vehicles suited for everyday driving — and the C-Max Energi is a shining example. As a plug-in hybrid, the vehicle affords drivers a great deal of versatility: it has a battery that allows for emission-free driving over short distances in addition to a gas-powered hybrid engine that extends its range up to 500 miles. This versatility has earned plug-ins a lot of popularity with consumers looking to go green but anxious about the range limitations of fully-electric vehicles.
All photos by Mike Chino and Jill Fehrenbacher