2010 Geneva Motor Show: Green Car Concepts Roundup

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2010 Opel Flextreme GT-E Concept

2010 Opel Flextreme GT-E Concept

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Yesterday we covered the new green production cars at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, now underway in snowy Switzerland. Today, we get to cover the cooler, sexier side of the show: concept cars!

So, here's our roundup of notable green and advanced-technology concept cars at Geneva.

Audi A1 e-tron design study live in Geneva. Photos © United Pictures, Int'l.

Audi A1 e-tron design study live in Geneva. Photos © United Pictures, Int'l.

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Audi A1 e-tron concept

It seems safe to consider Audi's conversion complete. The company whose U.S. head called buyers of electric cars "idiots" only a year ago has launched the third model in its series of e-tron electric-car concepts at Geneva, all of them headed for low-volume production.

Their latest e-Tron is based on the A1 mini-car also launched at the show; it's an extended-range electric vehicle with a far smaller lithium-ion battery pack than the two e-Tron electric supercar coupes, which are based on the R8 and upcoming R4.

The front wheels are driven by a 76-kilowatt (102-hp) electric motor, and its pure electric range is quoted as 31 miles. Then a range-extending rotary engine kicks in to power a generator that powers the engine for an additional 124 miles.

Audi limits top speed to 81 miles per hour to preserve battery life, and quotes a 0-to-62-mph acceleration time of 10.2 seconds.

We'll write more on this unusual plug-in car separately. For now, it's our favorite concept. Stay tuned.

Ferrari 599 HY-KERS vettura laboratorio

Rumors began last summer, and now Ferrari has released the first complete concept showing its hybrid system in a 599 GTB Fiorano body. It claims a reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of as much as 35 percent compared to the standard model.

The Maranello company uses a lithium-ion battery pack of unspecified size built into the floor of the car, though it claims no compromise in cabin room or luggage space.  The car's center of gravity is actually lower, and front-to-rear weight distribution remains the same.

A compact 75-kilowatt (100-hp) electric motor bolts onto the rear of the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox used in its Grand Prix race cars. It adds torque to the 6.0-liter V-12 engine under acceleration, and can also operate on electricity only in low-speed urban driving.

The motor sends torque through a clutch to one of the transmission's two primary shafts. It also acts as a generator to recapture energy from braking, using it to recharge the battery. Accessories including power steering and air conditioning are fully electric, to operate even when the engine is switched off.

While the Ferrari hybrid is far from production ready, the company notes that it offers one potential path for energy savings in the future and it expects to apply the system to all of its models, whether V-8 or V-12, front- or mid-engine.

2010 Lotus Evora 414E Hybrid Concept

2010 Lotus Evora 414E Hybrid Concept

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Lotus Evora 414E Hybrid

British firm Lotus Cars is known for building light, lithe, minimal sports cars, but its Lotus Engineering arm consults for carmakers all over the world and develops technology of its own. Now, both groups have come together to build a concept car.

The Lotus Evora 414E Hybrid is named for the total of 414 horsepower provided by a pair of electric motors that drive each rear wheel independently. The traction control system can vector torque to each rear wheel as needed to maximize stability.

Each motor puts out 295 foot-pounds of torque, resulting in 0-to-60-mph acceleration times that Lotus expects will be below 4 seconds. That's right in Tesla Roadster range. Drivers can also play with a "pseudo sports mode" system simulating a seven-speed paddle shifter.

The pair of motors are powered by a lithium-ion battery pack that is recharged by the 1.2-liter, three-cylinder Range Extender engine-and-generator set designed by Lotus Engineering and revealed at last fall's Frankfurt Motor Show.

Lotus says all-electric range is a commute-friendly 35 miles, plus another 300 miles using the range extender. Recharging is possible at any household outlet, similar to the 2010 Chevrolet Volt.

The Evora 414E Hybrid also features the Lotus HALOsonic vehicle sound generators, which are meant to improve pedestrian safety by directing sounds outside the vehicle while keeping it silent inside.

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