2012 Paris Auto Show: Electric and Plug-In Preview
Everything from plug-in supercars to electric-powered SUVs will greet visitors to the 2012 Paris Motor Show when the doors are opened to the public on September 29. We’ve gathered a quick preview to satiate your curiosity. Vehicle appearances are still being confirmed. As the time approaches, we will update the (growing) list of EVs and plug-ins set to make a debut in The City of Lights.
If you want plug-in-powered performance, few vehicles can top the sublime Jaguar C-X75 that appeared during the 2010 Paris show. When it first debuted two years ago, the C-X75 featured an impressive 68-mile electric-only driving range aided by micro-turbines. Electric motors located in each wheel delivered the equivalent of 780 hp and 1100 lb.-ft. of torque. Production models lose the experimental turbines, though a range-extended 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4 offers supercar levels of speed, with economy and EV range unheard of in this stratosphere of the automotive world.
It’s possible Jaguar could show the car in near-production trim, since the British automaker has confirmed its intentions to build a limited run of the C-X75 at more than $1-million apiece. If that doesn’t quite fit your budget, we’ve come up with a few more affordable options that should sate your EV desires at a fraction of the cost.
Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In Hybrid
Mitsubishi is looking to reinvent itself as a brand focused on economy and electric powertrains. Slow sales indicate the jury is still out on the company’s i-MiEV (sold in the U.S. as the “i”), but the upcoming Outlander Plug-In Hybrid could hit the sweet spot of everyday practicality and plug-in efficiency. The Outlander PHEV will offer three different 4WD modes: Pure (twin-motor electric-only drive), Series (twin-motor electric drive supported by range-extending generator) and Parallel (ICE engine supported by twin-motor electric drive). And unlike the i, which is limited to approximately 60 miles of EV range, the Outlander PHEV should offer a total driving range approaching 500 miles.
Volkswagen Golf Plug-In Hybrid
Routinely the best-selling car in Europe, the Golf is finally going green—perhaps to match the profits it reaps for the VW brand? The VW Golf Plug-In Hybrid will be based on the German automaker’s flexible MQB architecture, which allows for a vast range of powertrains and body styles. Online rumblings hint at an EV driving range of roughly 30 miles, which puts the car right in the thick of competitors such as the Ford C-Max Energi and Chevrolet Volt. Coupled to VW’s TwinCharger 1.4-liter inline-4, performance should be peppy and the Golf’s practical hatchback design could make it a strong contender. One big question mark is pricing. If VW can keep costs in check, the Golf PHEV could be a winner.
Nissan Electric SUV Concept
Nissan is not about to give up its head start in the EV market. The Japanese automaker will show an electric SUV concept at this year’s Paris auto show. Computer generated images of the concept show a smooth and clean-looking sport-utility that, at a glance, looks about the size of the current Rogue crossover. There are clear signs that electric powertrains will migrate to the world of SUVs. The only problem might be range, given that sport-utes and crossovers routinely weigh more than sedans and station wagons. We won’t throw a number in the air, but our guess is that Nissan’s SUV concept offers substantially more range than the current LEAF. (There is more room for larger battery packs.) A production version should arrive within one to two years.
The biggest challenge facing the Renault ZOE EV is the dismal state of the European economy. This French hatchback is scheduled to go into production late this year, or early in 2013 if Europe’s fiscal problems remain dire. After all, even the best EV isn’t going to find buyers if no one can afford to buy a new car. While we’ve seen the ZOE before, most recently at the Geneva Auto Show, it will be interesting to gauge local reaction to this sleek little city-car. The exterior is clean and contemporary, while the promised EV range falls in line with other small electric-powered vehicles, about 70 to 100 miles, depending on weather and driving conditions. In France, the ZOE’s base price is approximately $19,500, with EV tax incentives factored in.
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