Luxury used to mean sacrificing fuel economy and earth-friendly features, but automakers are striving now to meet increasing demand for vehicles that have it all. An example is the 2014 Cadillac ELR, which combines plug in electric power with the same type of extended-range technology in the more familiar Chevy Volt. The Cadillac ELR can drive about 37 miles on pure electric power or a total of up to 340 miles with the extended range generator system. The ELR takes a five-hour charge with a 240-volt charger or 12-18 hours plugged into a standard household current (120 volts).
Also worth consideration is the most efficient electric vehicle available today: the 2014 Chevrolet Spark BEV from GM. The all-electric Spark boasts 119 MPGe (mile-per-gallon equivalency) and can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than 7.6 seconds using only electric power. It charges in about 17 hours using standard household current or seven hours on a 240-volt charger. Using DC fast-charging, drivers can get an 80% charge in only 20 minutes.
The Fiat 500 has always been a stylish favorite, and now you can own one equipped with a plug-in electric powertrain capable of 100 MPGe. The 111-horsepower engine charges in 4 hours or less with the on-board Level 2 (240-volt) charger. Power is stored in a lithium ion high-voltage battery, giving the Fiat a range of about 87 miles/charge. Fiat estimates the cost of ownership at about $500 per year based on an average of 15,000 miles driven. The Fiat 500e is only available in California.
Three models from Ford are also available: the C-Max Energi PHEV, Focus Electric BEV and Fusion Energi PHEV. The C-Max Energi is a roomy five-passenger model and has a range of 500 miles using the battery and engine power, which is more than any other vehicle available. It takes an overnight charge on 120 or 240 volts.
The Focus Electric BEV offers more reliable driving ranges in a wider range of temperatures than other green vehicles with its liquid cooled and heated battery pack. It offers 110 MPGe and a range of 76 miles using combined power on a single charge. It charges quickly on 240 volts, reaching full power in four hours.
Finally, Ford claims that its Fusion Energi PHEV is the most fuel-efficient midsize car in the world, offering more than 100 MPGe. That beats the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid. Drivers can monitor and schedule the charging of the Fusion to maximize driving range, with status updates given by the vehicle’s monitoring system along with locations of nearby charging stations.
These are just a few of the many offerings available this year. By the end of 2014, automakers will be selling additional new models with exciting features will be available in a variety of price ranges to appeal to every green car buyer.
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