Slowly, ever so slowly, the image of green cars is expanding beyond tiny tin-box hatchbacks and nerdy Toyota Prius hybrids to encompass a broader spectrum of the car scene.
Take, for instance, this 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid show car, customized by Jonathan Garcia of M&J Enterprises in Phillips Ranch, California.
Garcia saw "a need to help shift the public's perception that alternative-powered vehicles are boring." He picked the 2010 Fusion Hybrid for its larger size, more traditional styling, and potential to attract mainstream buyers.
He also wanted to show hybrid owners that customizing was an option for them, too. Many hybrid drivers, he said, view their cars as "totally utilitarian, not caring about their vehicle and just using it as a mode of transportation."
The reaction to the custom Fusion Hybrid has been "very positive," Garcia said, "especially after they see that all the mods are aligned" with its hybrid powertrain. "I can park it at a restaurant and people stop," he said, "They stare, and take closer looks. Many take out their phones and snap pictures."
Garcia and his team didn't touch the Fusion Hybrid's high-voltage electrical components or the powertrain. This is purely a cosmetic custom that, as he points out, "doesn't void the warranty" as modifying the powertrain would.
Among the many modifications were aero add-ons, lowered suspension, new wheels, the custom paint job, a reupholstered interior, and a major stereo system.
2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid IPEnlarge Photo
One of the design guidelines was that any new part had to weigh no more--hopefully less-than the one it replaced, so as not to affect the Ford's gas mileage, which is rated by the EPA at 41 mpg city, 36 mpg highway.
If you're curious, here's the complete list of modifications that Garcia sent us:
M & J Enterprises has shown their custom Fusion Hybrid at the huge SEMA custom show in Las Vegas, at green-car events, and in various other venues.
Have you customized your green car, whether it's a hybrid, a clean diesel, or a highly fuel-efficient gasoline car?
If so, feel free to drop us a note (just as Garcia did) and we'll run some of the other green customs out there.