HAUTE AUTO: THE GREEN ANTHEM – Luxury Sustainable Vehicles

BMW’s new i brand may just be the closest connotation to an oil-free society to date. The German carmaker from Bavaria has made concerted efforts to showcase the global intentions of the brand, clearly pinpointing their mission statement. Equating to “sustainable vehicles and mobility solutions,” the brand is not only sexy, it’s innovative.

BMW also launched venture capital company BMW i Ventures in New York, which will invest up to $100 million to advance the project for a 2013 debut. New plant facilities will also be built to house the production of the vehicle. Devised as a plug-in hybrid, the i8 is the next evolution of BMW’s Vision EfficientDynamics concept. The company calls their new auto invention LifeDrive Architecture, comprised of an aluminium frame that houses the drive module, with electric motors at the front wheels, a lithium-ion battery to power those motors and an internal combustion engine placed over the rear axle. The passenger compartment is engineered from high-strength and lightweight carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP). Incorporating ConnectedDrive forms their current product lineup, a range of advanced telematics and navigational features will enhance driver information with public transportation, parking availability and local entertainment.

Fisker Surf: Electric Fortitude

 The Karma’s 22-inch designer wheels rotate with no hesitation and the Brembo brakes served their role well in the wet conditions.

There are only a select few oddities in society that make absolute sense. Manufacturing a luxurious and attractive sports wagon with plug-in hybrid technology is one of them. Introducing Fisker’s new Surf, the “flying carpet” of the automotive eco-friendly movement. Porsche pulled it off with the Panamera, Ferrari is making strides with its FF model, and now the Surf adds another performance utility option to the luxury elite class. It’s absolutely amazing that this American auto manufacturer was non-existent just 4 years ago, yet they continue to add to their cadre of fascinating green energy vehicles including vehicles such as the Karma. Sharing the same platform, design scheme and technologies, both the Surf and Karma have a 50-mile all-electric range (stealth mode) and a 250-mile gasoline range (sport mode) from the 265-horsepower and turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. With a single gear, there is no conventional transmission. The gasoline engine will continuously charge the electric battery, but no more than 50 percent, at which point one must plug in to attain full charge. Switching the thumb input on the steering wheel allows blipping between modes with only a very slight notice of transition. Sport mode automatically kicks in should the battery die.

The Karma’s 22-inch designer wheels rotate with no hesitation and the Brembo brakes served their role well in the wet conditions.  In Stealth mode, a set of speakers set on the vehicle’s rear bumper engages the Pedestrian Warning System so it can be heard when approaching. A solar panel on the roof provides an additional source of charging and cockpit materials incorporate high-end natural ingredients such as wood from fire-damaged trees and not from the living forest for added eco-friendliness. Expect a price tag of $100,000 at one of 45 dealers in the United States for the Karma or Surf.

Jaguar C-X75: Immaculate Conception

Jaguar led a preemptive strike recently with the unveiling of their electric supercar concept. Forget the mandatory and celebratory mandates set forth for the British automaker’s 75th anniversary. The reflective moment at hand is that the C-X75 is the most ostentatious vehicle ever theorized and manifested by Jaguar since the XJ13. And the concept has been cleared for production, permitting the brand to attack with forceful ambition. The C-X75 features a 580kW propulsion system utilizing an electric motor at each of the wheels along with mini gas turbines. The futuristic vehicle is able to reach a top speed of 205 mph, travel a distance of 560 miles, while producing 778 horsepower and with 1,180 pound-feet of torque churning through its all-wheel drive system. An aerodynamic aluminium frame and staggered 21-inch front and 22-inch rear tires encasing aluminium rims with a “fan bladed” theme, allows the C-X75 to accelerate from 0-62 mph in a mere 3.4 seconds.  Use Jaguar Sense to open the forward-hinged doors and take a seat inside while the touchscreen Jaguar Co-Pilot interface assists the journey by predicting all your wants and needs.