Saturday, November 22, 2008

5 Fresh Car Concepts

Extreme concepts with an eye on the future.

By Matt DeLorenzo | Photos by John Lamm and Marc Urbano

2008 LA Auto Show Honda FC Sport Concept
Honda FC Sport Concept

Auto shows rely on concept cars to generate excitement and the Los Angeles show is no different — its loaded with fresh ideas ranging from futuristic sports cars to alternative takes on everyday transportation. Here are five top picks that someday may make it from show stand to showroom floor.

Honda FC Sport Concept

Showing that there will be a sporting life beyond internal combustion engines, the Honda FC Sport Concept is a design study that shows what a high-performance fuel-cell car may look like. This unique package seats three with the driver in the center, flanked on each side in back by a passenger. The fuel-cell powertrain components are packaged in the center of the vehicle for a low center of gravity and ideal weight distribution. While only a show car today, the FC Sport Concept is evidence that Honda believes fuel-cells will offer serious performance in the future.

Dodge EV concept

Chrysler's vision of the future has the electric car providing more than a modicum of performance. The Dodge EV show car takes a page from the Tesla playbook in calling on the expertise of British sports car maker Lotus as a chassis partner in its electric dreams. Dodge has modified the European-market Lotus Europa to take a lithium-ion battery pack and a 268-hp electric motor to provide 0–60 mph acceleration of less than 5 seconds.

Jeep Wrangler EV

Alternative power isn't just for the street, as the Jeep EV demonstrates. Based on the terrain-eating Wrangler, the EV is a range-extended electric vehicle that uses lithium-ion batteries that can provide up to 40 miles of pure electric range before a small gasoline engine takes over to drive the electric motor and extend the range to 400 miles. As in the Dodge EV, the electric motor has 268 horsepower, giving the EV a top speed of more than 90 mph.

2010 Mini E

2008 LA Auto Show 2010 Mini E
2010 Mini E

BMW's Mini will further burnish its image as a hip urban car with the introduction of the Mini E, an electric version of its 3-door hatchback, which the company will deploy in a fleet of about 500 units for private use in daily traffic. The Mini E is powered by a 204-hp electric motor connected to a lithium-ion battery pack. Mini says the car has a range of 156 miles and will be demonstrated in selected markets in New York, New Jersey and California.

Toyota CNG Camry Hybrid

While pure electric vehicles are garnering a lot of attention, another fuel, Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), is beginning to come to the fore as an alternative to traditional gasoline and diesel fuels, especially when used in combination with a hybrid powerplant. To explore that potential, the Toyota CNG Camry Hybrid relies on clean-burning CNG in a conventional internal combustion powerplant teamed with the company's hybrid synergy drive technology to provide yet another choice on the green car menu.

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