U.S. Department of Energy - Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Geneva motor show spotlights plug-ins, electric vehicles, and hybrids

The 80th Geneva International Motor Show opened to the public on March 4 and features new hybrids and plug-in electric vehicles from such high-powered automakers as Porsche, Ferrari, and Lotus. Porsche wowed audiences by unveiling the 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid prototype concept, a super sports car with performance rivaling the Porsche Carrera GT, but also able to achieve 78 miles per gallon (mpg) of gasoline (that's on the New European Driving Cycle, which generally yields higher fuel economies than U.S. testing standards). Porsche achieves the high performance with a 500-horsepower (hp) V8 engine, front- and rear-axle motors that together generate 160 kilowatts (kW), or 218 hp, and a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack. The vehicle can also operate in four modes: E-Drive, for electric power only, with a 16-mile range; Hybrid mode; Sport Hybrid mode; and Race Hybrid mode. The latter three modes place increasing emphasis on performance. Of course, drivers can't expect to achieve 78 mpg in Race Hybrid mode. Drivers probably won't find the concept car in showrooms anytime soon, although they will be able to buy another car that Porsche debuted in Geneva: the Cayenne S Hybrid sport utility vehicle, the automaker's first hybrid model. The new hybrid combines a supercharged V6 with a 34-kW electric motor to achieve a fuel efficiency of 34.4 miles per gallon on the European cycle. Porsche also debuted the 911 GT3 R Hybrid racing car, which uses a flywheel for energy storage and has an electric drive on its front axle. See the Porsche press releases on the 918 Spyder and the Cayenne S Hybrid.

While Porsche unexpectedly held the limelight among electrified vehicles, General Motors Corporation (GM) also contributed to the Geneva Motor Show, with its Opel brand displaying the Ampera, an extended-range electric vehicle similar to the Chevy Volt, and the Flextreme GT/E concept, which is a sportier version. Audi unveiled the A1 e-tron, a compact, four-passenger, plug-in hybrid with a 45-kW (61 hp) motor that has a peak power output of 75 kW (102 hp). The car has an all-electric range of 31 miles and is recharged on the go using a small Wankel engine. Lotus unveiled the Evora 414E Hybrid, a plug-in hybrid concept with two 152-kW electric motors driving the rear wheels independently, powered by a lithium polymer battery pack. The vehicle achieves an all-electric range of 35 miles and draws on a 1.2-liter, three-cylinder, flex-fueled engine for recharging. And the Kia Ray, a plug-in hybrid that made its world debut at the Chicago Auto Show, made its European debut in Geneva. This four-door sedan can run for more than 50 miles solely on electric power, or 746 miles on a single tank of fuel. Kia also premiered the all-electric Kia Venga EV concept car, and Tata Motors unveiled the Tata Nano Electric Vehicle, both of which achieve a range of about 100 miles. See the press releases from GM, Audi, Lotus, Kia, and Tata.

Among more traditional hybrid vehicles, the most non-traditional entry is the HY-KERS vettura laboratorio (experimental vehicle) from Ferrari. That's right, Ferrari. Based on the 599 GTB Fiorano, the vehicle tucks flat lithium-ion batteries below its floor and adds an electric motor to the back of its F1 transmission, cutting its carbon dioxide emissions by 35%. Ferrari is now offering a hybrid-like 'Stop & Start' system for the engine on its Ferrari California. Audi also unveiled a hybrid concept, the A8 hybrid, which mates a four-cylinder engine to a 33-kW motor with a lithium-ion battery to achieve 38 mpg. Infiniti showcased its first production hybrid, the M35, which combines a V6 engine with a 50-kW electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack. The vehicle goes on sale in Europe in spring 2011. Volkswagen unveiled the Toureg Hybrid and used it to introduce the company's electrification plan, which includes a hybrid Jetta for the U.S. market in 2012. Other hybrids unveiled at the show include the BMW Concept 5 Series ActiveHybrid; the Toyota Auris Hybrid, slated for a European release this year; and the Lexus CT200h, a premium compact hybrid slated for release in Japan in 2011. The Geneva Auto Show is open to the public through March 14. See the press releases from Ferrari, Audi, Infiniti, Volkswagen, and BMW; the Toyota announcements of the Auris Hybrid and the Lexus CT200h; and the Web site for the Geneva International Motor Show.

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