2010 Paris Motor Show: Green Car Roundup of Production Models

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2012 Range Rover Evoque

2012 Range Rover Evoque

The fall's first big European auto show, the 2010 Paris Motor Show, officially kicks off on Thursday, which is when all the press conferences happen.

But the industry has been leaking out selected images, teasers, and occasionally full details on the concepts and production cars that will appear this week.

We've rounded up all the green cars, from future hybrids to electric cars and even electric scooters from two automotive brands. We'll update this list over the week as news continues to come out.

PRODUCTION VEHICLES

Fisker Karma at Laguna Seca

Fisker Karma at Laguna Seca

2011 Fisker Karma

We've mentioned many times that Fisker is cutting it close with its launch of its 2011 Kamara range-extended sports sedan. The first cars are expected to arrive at U.S. dealers in March or April, but as yet, the company hasn't shown any production cars or let any journalists drive pre-production models.

That's about to change. Fisker will show the first car off the Finnish production line at the Paris Motor Show. Photos we've seen show few if any differences from the prototypes, so we suspect the differences are all under the hood or in the control software for the electric powertrain.

The 2011 Fisker Karma uses two 150-kilowatt electric motors to drive the rear wheels, powered by a 22-kilowatt-hour battery pack that is said to offer 50 miles of electric range. Then a range-extending 2.0-liter direct-injected four-cylinder GM Ecotec engine gives a further 250 miles by generating electricity to power the drive motors.

Fisker claims roughly 6 seconds for 0-to-60-mph acceleration, and a top speed of at least 125 miles per hour.

Mitsubishi MiEV

Mitsubishi MiEV

2011 Mitsubishi i-MiEV (European version)

Small and belaguered Japanese carmaker Mitsubishi has actually sold more highway-capable electric cars than any other manufacturer as of this moment.

Its i-MiEV minicar, an all-electric five-door hatchback, has done well in Japan and attracted global interest, leading the company to raise production targets twice, to 30,000 cars in 2012.

The company now has a licensing deal with French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen to sell the egg-shaped electric cars to be rebadged and sold through Citroen and Peugeot dealers in France.

Mitsubishi will also sell the i-MiEV itself in Europe, and it is expected to launch the Euro-spec version in Paris. That car will include side and curtain airbags, electronic stability control, and an improved and less basic interior.

Critically, the new version of the i-MiEV will also be offered in left-hand-drive form for Continental European markets. It's likely to be similar to the Japanese model, since Europe does buy minicars in noticeable numbers. 

It will retain the 49-kilowatt electric motor powered by a 16-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, which gives a range of 80 to 100 miles on European test cycles. Top speed is roughly 80 mph.

A U.S. version of the i-MiEV, expected to go on sale as a 2012 model, will be unviled at November's Los Angeles Auto Show. That model is likely to have far more modifications, among them greater width, multiple airbags and far more crash protection, and other convenience features that U.S. buyers are said to require.

2012 Holden Cruze hatchback

2012 Holden Cruze hatchback

2011 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback Concept

The Fisker Karma and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV are both electric cars destined to be sold in the U.S. as well as Europe.

The 2011 Chevy Cruze that shows up in Paris, however, is a gasoline-engined car (and in Europe, diesel too), and the concept car on display will be a model we won't get in the States: a five-door hatchback that supplements the standard four-door sedan.

While GM is labeling it a concept, the Cruze Hatchback will go into production with minimal changes. We think it's attractive, but the car companies continue to say U.S. buyers aren't interested in hatchback models, preferring four-door sedans.

That hasn't proven to be the case for the 2011 Ford Fiesta thus far, so perhaps there's a sliver of hope. After all, Ford will offer both sedan and hatchback versions of its 2012 Focus compact, which competes directly with the 2011 Cruze.

Will Chevy change its mind and bring in this handsome hatch wearing the bowtie? We suspect it'll depend on whether Focus hatchbacks sell in noticeable numbers. Stay tuned.

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Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4 diesel-electric hybrid

Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4 diesel-electric hybrid

2011 Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4

The world's first production diesel hybrid has been a long time coming, and this 2011 model will finally be the production version of a car that was shown as a lightly disguised  3008 HYbrid4 Concept at last year's Frankfurt Motor Show.

On European test cycles, this midsize SUV returns a startling 68 miles per gallon. Its 163-horsepower 2.0-liter turbodiesel is paired with a Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) that powers the front wheels. The diesel shuts off every time the vehicle stops. 

But then there's a 28-kilowatt (37-horsepower) electric motor that powers the rear wheels, meaning the 3008 HYbrid4 has two separate powertrains that can operate either separately or together. The SUV's electronic vehicle controller shifts power among engine, motor, and regenerative braking.

We won't see it in the U.S., as Peugeot hasn't sold here for two decades. And passenger car diesels are still sold in small numbers here, so this remains more of a footnote than a relevant production model for U.S. buyers. Still, it's worth noting as a new green pioneer.

2011 Mercedes-Benz A-Class E-Cell battery electric vehicle (Europe only)

2011 Mercedes-Benz A-Class E-Cell battery electric vehicle (Europe only)

2011 Mercedes-Benz A-Class E-Cell

This is another one we won't see in the States, and calling it "production" may be stretching it a bit. Mercedes-Benz plans to make 500 units of this five-door subcompact, powered by a 36-kWh battery pack provided by Tesla Motors, and offer them only in a few European countries, including Germany, France, and the Netherlands.

The goal is for Mercedes to accumulate real-world test data on how drivers actually use--and recharge--all-electric vehicles. The company hopes to put a brand-new A-Class, arriving in 2013 or so, into low-volume production with an updated battery pack, one that may not be provided by Tesla.

2012 Chevrolet Aveo Hatchback

2012 Chevrolet Aveo Hatchback

2012 Chevrolet Aveo

When it goes into production next year, the 2012 Chevrolet Aveo will be the smallest Chevy built in the U.S. in many years, if not in the brand's 100-year-history. And General Motors is determined to make this newest subcompact more appealing and competitive than its predecessor.

An Aveo RS styling concept showed at last January's Detroit Auto Show previewed the styling, which is considerably more rakish than the current model. (The first photos of an uncovered Aveo test car appeared in July, assisted by Photoshop.)

The U.S. model 2012 Aveo will probably use the same 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that powers the larger compact 2011 Chevrolet Cruze, although in the Cruze it's turbocharged, which may not be needed for the smaller subcompact.

Power is expected to run between 100 and 115 horsepower, and the little four will deliver it to the front wheels via a six-speed transmission. That's a step up for this class of car and matched only by Ford's six-speed PowerShift automatic manual, as fitted to the 2011 Fiesta that will compete directly with the Aveo.

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2012 Range Rover Evoque

2012 Range Rover Evoque

2012 Range Rover Evoque

We can hear the shrieking now: It's an SUV! It's heavy! How can you possibly call this green?

Bear with us for a moment. The 2012 Evoque three-door hatchback SUV is the smallest vehicle Range Rover has ever built--this from a maker better known for its $100,000-plus, ultra-luxurious, uber-capable all-wheel-drive full-size sport utility vehicle.

A four-cylinder engine, in a Range Rover? Quick, Charles, my flask!

Indeed, the Evoque uses a 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine sourced from Ford, which owned Jaguar Land Rover until last year. Fitted to Fords, it's part of their line of EcoBoost engines, but we don't expect Range Rover to call it that.

The 2012 Evoque will also be the first-ever Range Rover to be offered with front-wheel-drive, though of course all-wheel-drive is available and includes the company's innovative Terrain Response Control.

Why the "little" green Range Rover? To offer a more affordable entry price--below $50,000, imagine--and attract more women to the brand by offering what the Brits call a "soft-roader." That is, an SUV that's likely never to leave the pavement.

Hey, if the gas mileage proves up to par, we'll approve. Even better, there's a hybrid version coming, though the company has been tight-lipped on details and timing.

2009 Ferrari California

2009 Ferrari California

2012 Ferrari California

OK, a Range Rover was bad enough, but a ... Ferrari? Early reports indicate that Ferrari will launch a more fuel-efficient version of its California retractable hardtop sports car.

Details have been scanty, but we see two possibilities. This could be a closer-to-production model of the Ferrari hybrid system that caused such shock waves last year. Or, it could be an entire package of incremental improvements that add up to noticeable gains in efficiency.

Those would include a stop-start system that switches off the engine when the car comes to a stop. Along with cylinder deactivation, reductions in internal friction, and better tuning of the direct injection system, the overall effect could gain 1 or 2 miles per gallon on the car's official ratings.

But this is one we'll just have to wait and see about when it launches. More details to come as we get them.

Lotus Elite prototype

Lotus Elite prototype

2015 Lotus Elite Coupe KERS Hybrid

This is our biggest stretch for a "production" car, since it's not expected to land at dealers before 2014 or so.

Still, as part of a huge onslaught of new production and concept cars from Lotus, it's notable for its technology and what it says about the future of small, light, sporty cars.

The standard model of the Elite 2+2 coupe will be fitted, Lotus says, with a 620-horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8 that drives the rear wheels. That is likely a derivative of the engine Toyota uses in high-end Lexus models, as Lotus and Toyota just renewed and expanded their engine partnership.

The 3,600-pound coupe is said to do 0 to 62 mph in under 4 seconds, perhaps as little as 3.5 seconds, and have a top speed approaching 200 mph. Lotus today quotes the cost at £115,000, or about $180,000 using current exchange rates.

But the interesting model is the optional hybrid. Instead of a large and heavy lithium-ion battery pack, it uses a Formula 1-style Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) that generates electricity to power electric motors integrated into the transmission.

Recent reports note that this hybrid system will be based on a new version of Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive system, which has so far only been used with nickel-metal-hydride and lithium-ion battery packs.

If that proves to be true--and given the expansion of the Toyota-Lotus powertrain deal, we suspect it is--then it means Toyota will have notched up yet another licensee for its hybrid technology. Add Lotus to a list that already includes Nissan, Mazda, soon Subaru, and maybe Mercedes-Benz.

 

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