Monday, October 13, 2014

At summit of automobile writers, hybrid and all-electric cars were scarce

The spectacular BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sounds and drives like a sports car, but scissor doors and a high sill make it difficult to get into and out of. And it lists for nearly twice the price of an all-electric Tesla Model S with a 60 kWh battery and an EPA range of 208 miles. The BMW i8 was available for test drives last month at a meeting of automobile writers in Monticello, N.Y.

Another new car from BMW, the i3, is the polar opposite of the hybrid sports car. The i3 is a stylish, all-electric four-door sedan with a range of 70 to 110 miles per charge. It proved so popular with writers and other participants, I not only didn't get to drive it; I didn't get a photo.



By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Where are the hybrids? 

I scanned the rows of cars lined up last month in a parking lot at the Monticello Motor Club, a 4.1-mile racing circuit in New York State's Catskill Mountains, looking for green cars.

Where is Tesla, maker of the world's most advanced all-electric production car?

There weren't any Teslas to drive on beautiful, two lane country roads, and hybrids were scarce. 

At an annual East Coast summit meeting of automobile writers last month, the emphasis seemed to be on raw, naked horsepower from the internal -- or infernal --combustion engine.

Despite a legacy of unsafe and inefficient cars -- and polluted air that kills tens of thousands of people each year -- the major automakers remain firmly invested in the conventional.

Toyota, which introduced the Prius to the U.S. in 2000, now sells hybrid versions of many models, including those offered by its Lexus luxury division, and a plug-in version of the Prius.

But its all-electric RAV4 has a Tesla powertrain, and is available only in California.

Toyota has more green cars than any other major manufacturer.


BMW shows two i models


BMW made two new green cars available for test drives on public roads, the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car and the more practical i3 all-electric sedan.

It's hard to believe the two cars come from the same manufacturer.

The i3 has a base price of $41,350, and a range of up to 110 miles when fully charged.

Another version of the i3, with a "range extender" (a gasoline generator with 1.9-gallon tank), goes up to 185 miles on a full charge, BMW says. 

Think of it as a security blanket.

The base MSRP is $45,200.



The 707-horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat was at the top of the heap in terms of raw horsepower. Another reborn muscle car, the Chevy Camaro, also was represented, but no Ford Mustangs were on hand to drive.