Auto Manufacturers Moving to High-End Electric/Hybrid Vehicles

For the last decade, electric and hybrid automobiles have been designed as smaller models, typically the size and design of subcompact cars. But recent developments in the auto industry have led to the release or planned release of a variety of luxury models and SUVs, offering evidence that electric cars will eventually replace gasoline-powered models. Among the models soon to be released are the Cadillac ELR, a luxury coupe that will come ready for the Smart Grid, meaning that owners will be able to schedule their charging during utility companies’ off-peak hours. It is expected to have a fuel economy rating of 82 mpg.

Volvo plans to deploy its XC90 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid in 2014, a gasoline-electric luxury SUV with at least 300 horsepower, yet carbon dioxide emissions as low 50g/km. The company believes fuel economy could potentially surpass 100 mpg in the U.S.

Infiniti’s Q50 hybrid was recently awarded five stars in the latest round of Euro NCAP safety testing. The luxury sedan uses a 3.5-litre V6 paired with an electric motor to produce a total of 354hp, yet return an anticipated 36 mpg highway.

All these models and several others are expected to compete with BMW’s very successful i8 plug-in hybrid, which has sold out in its first year of availability. Ten thousand i8s were planned for 2014, going on sale by next June, and despite the price tag starting at $136,625, car buyers snapped them up. It uses a three-cylinder, turbocharged gasoline engine rated at 231 horsepower, mated to a 131-hp electric motor. To keep weight down, the i8 uses carbon-fiber construction. The car will go from standstill to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, BMW says.