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High-Performance Hybrids

There's electricity in the air as experimental technologies redefine high performance, both on and off the track
Paul A. Eisenstein
From the Print Edition:
Saturday Night Live: How it Shapes Our Politics & Culture, September/October 2011

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Mercedes-Benz: As noted earlier, Mercedes is heavily committed to battery power, with hybrid versions of the flagship S-Class sedan and ML SUV already on sale. It has a variety of other electrified offerings in the works, though none quite as outrageous as the SLS E-Cell, the battery version of its gull-winged supercar. Other BEVs will follow. The maker remains committed to fuel-cell technology and recently started leasing its F-Cell hydrogen car in limited volume in Southern California.
Mini: One of the first to test the market for battery power, Mini has gotten good feedback for the Mini E despite its limitations. The prototype could soon be followed by a battery-electric version of a concept vehicle revealed earlier this year, the Mini Rocketman.

Porsche: Porsche has a wide range of hybrids and plug-ins coming to market, all the way up to the $845,000 918 Spyder. Porsche also plans to campaign its hybrid technologies, with an emphasis on flybrids, or flywheel-based hybrids, on the racetrack.

Rolls-Royce: This marque delivered a shocker when it revealed its 102EX, a Phantom-based, all-electric concept designed to test owner response to battery power. So far, the response has been mixed, at best, but some form of battery propulsion, perhaps a hybrid, could follow.

Tesla: Tesla has made a name for itself as a proponent of pure battery-electric vehicles starting with the two-seat Roadster. Next up is a mid-range luxury sedan dubbed Model S that aims to overcome so-called “range anxiety” by offering buyers a choice of three battery packs.

Volvo: The Swedish automaker, now Chinese-owned, has long focused on safety, but is increasing its emphasis on environmentally friendly technology.  It recently launched a low-volume version of its small coupe, dubbed the C30 Electric, but it has particularly high hopes for the upcoming V60 plug-in launching in Europe. Expect similar technology in the U.S. but on what model and when is uncertain.

Paul A. Eisenstein is publisher of on the Internet.

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