Top 10 Green Cars at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show

Here are the Top 10 Green Cars from the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, with performance plug-in hybrids from the likes of Porsche and BMW being the big news.

frankfurt-2013-porsche 918 spyder.JPG 1. Porsche 918 Spyder

Here are some numbers for the plug-in hybrid Porsche 918 Spyder: 887hp, 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds, and 94mpg. These figures are achieved by a 4.6-litre, V8 engine with an output of 608 hp, mated to a seven-speed Porsche PDK transmission, combined with an electric motor and battery with plug-in capability. So it can be a green car – but most of the time it will be a supercar. The 918 Spyder has its combustion engine and electric motor drive system powering the rear axle, and a second electric motor on the front axle, so providing all-wheel drive. There are five driving modes: E-Power, giving 10-20 miles purely on electric power; Hybrid mode, when the electric motors and combustion engine work alternately to give the best economy; Sport Hybrid, where the combustion engine and electric motors provide more dynamic performance; Race Hybrid gives maximum performance with the electric motors providing additional support in the form of boosting; and a ‘Hot Lap’ button releases the final reserves of the battery. At around $1,000,000 it’s not cheap, but the 918 Spyder shows what is possible.

frankfurt-2013-bmw-i8.JPG 2. BMW i8

A fraction of the price of the Porsche 918 Spyder, the BMW i8 concept has been previewed for a few years now, but the production version was revealed at Frankfurt. The i8 a 2+2 mid-engined sports car with a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid drivetrain, capable of 155mph, 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds, 113mpg and 25g/km CO2. The petrol engine is BMW’s new 3-cylinder, 1.5-litre unit, which produces 228 bhp by itself, or 356bhp when combined with the hybrid system. The i8 can be driven at up to 75mph in pure electric mode, with an electric range of 22 miles, and a total range of 310 miles in hybrid mode. The engine drives the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic gearbox but the electric motor can drive the front wheels, so providing all-wheel drive. The battery pack is in the centre tunnel and the i8 is said to have the trademark BMW 50/50 weight distribution. The BMW i8 will cost around £86,800.

frankfurt-2013-bmw-i3.JPG 3. BMW i3

The BMW i3 will be here before the i8 and will give us a taste of what BMW’s carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) vehicles will be like to drive. The i3 is an all-new, ultra-low carbon premium vehicle. The battery is in the floor of the car, with the resultant low centre of gravity promising impressive handling. Even with a 230 Kg lithium ion battery, the i3 weighs just 1250 Kg. The i3 can accelerate from 0-62mph in just 7.2 seconds, while the lithium-ion battery gives a range of 80-100 miles. This rises by approximately 15 per cent in ECO PRO mode and by the same again in ECO PRO+ mode. The BMW i3 is also available with a range extender, a 650cc two-cylinder four-stroke petrol engine. The range extender increases the car’s maximum range in day-to-day driving to around 180 miles on one tank of fuel. The BMW i3 starts at £25,680, and at £28,830 for the Range Extender (after the £5,000 OLEV Government grant), or it can be leased from £369 per month. The i3 launches in the UK on 16 November 2013.

Find out more about the BMW i3

frankfurt-2013-tesla-model-s.JPG 4. Tesla Model S

We’ve recently driven the Tesla Model S and can confirm that it is an outstanding car. It’s a pure electric vehicle with a 300-mile range, a 0-60mph time of 4.2 seconds and a top speed of 132mph. It also has seven seats, it looks fantastic – including on the inside where the dashboard is dominated by a huge 17-inch diameter iPad-like touchscreen – and it has an excellent safety rating. There are no tailpipe emissions, and refuelling the car with sufficient electricity to cover 300 miles is likely to cost less than £5. In comparison, refuelling a large petrol-engined sports saloon to cover a similar range would cost around £100. Such incredibly low running costs help to make up for the somewhat expensive purchase price of the car, which in the UK is likely to be between £70,000 and £100,000 depending upon specification, although ‘attractive’ leasing deals are promised.

frankfurt-2013-volkswagen xl1.jpg 5. Volkswagen XL1

The Volkswagen XL1 two-seat diesel-electric hybrid – the world’s most fuel-efficient production hybrid car – has a fuel consumption figure of 313 mpg with emissions of just 21g/km CO2. This is achieved by a two-cylinder 800 cc diesel engine with an electric motor and an aerodynamic and lightweight body made largely of carbon-fibre reinforced polymer. An initial production run of just 250 XL1 vehicles will be made.

frankfurt-2013-volkswagen e-golf e-up.JPG 6. Volkswagen e-Golf & e-up!

Volkswagen, unlike BMW with the i3, but like Ford with the Focus Electric, is giving us conventional electric cars in the form of the e-Golf and the e-up! The e-Golf has a 115 PS electric motor with torque of 270 Nm, helping it to accelerate from 0-62mph in 10.4 seconds. It has a range of 118 miles. The e-up! produces 82 PS with 210 Nm of torque and a 0-62mph time of 12.4 seconds, with a range of 100 miles. An e-load up! van was even on display.

frankfurt-2013-audi a3 e-tron.JPG 7. Audi A3 e-tron

The Audi A3 e-tron is a plug-in petrol/electric hybrid with a modified 1.4-litre TFSI engine which is capable of 188mpg with 35g/km CO2 emissions. It has a top speed of 81mph, with a 31-mile maximum range in electric mode, and a 0-62mph time of 7.6 seconds, with 204PS and 350 Nm of system torque. The Audi A3 e-tron can run on electric power for up to 31 miles at speeds of up to 80mph. The car is designed to give some insight into how the technology will take shape in the Audi models of the future.

frankfurt-2013-range-rover-sport-hybrid.JPG.JPG 8. Range Rover Sport Hybrid

Even Land Rover is now bringing hybrids to market in the form of the Range Rover Hybrid and Range Rover Sport Hybrid models, which, with their diesel-hybrid powertrains, will be capable of 26 per cent lower CO2 emissions, at 169g/km, and 44.1mpg (combined). The new Range Rover Hybrid powertrain combines Land Rover’s 3-litre SDV6 diesel engine with an electric motor integrated with the 8-speed ZF automatic transmission. Order books in the UK are open from 10 September with first deliveries in early 2014.

peugeot-208HYbridFE.jpg 9. Peugeot 208 HYbrid FE

The Peugeot 208 HYbrid FE Concept is a full petrol-electric hybrid with company’s the 3-cylinder, 1.0-litre VTi 68bhp engine which combines a 0 to 62mph time of 8.0 seconds with 141mpg and just 49g/km CO2. The vehicle has a 25% improvement in aerodynamics, a reduction of 20% in weight, the powertrain has a 10% improvement in fuel economy and it achieves 25% energy recovery over one drive cycle thanks to the hybrid system.

frankfurt-2013-vauxhall-monza.jpg 10. Vauxhall Monza

Think of the Vauxhall Monza as a concept for the next generation of the Ampera Extended-Range Electric Vehicle – but with a smaller and lighter range-extender engine. Although the concept is designed to accommodate a range of powertrain choices, the Frankfurt show car has an electric drivetrain with a CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) range extender. The new-generation three-cylinder 1.0 turbo acts as the range extender, with natural gas instead of petrol, further improving the car’s CO2 footprint.

Paul Clarke

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Read about the top green cars at the UK’s leading low carbon vehicle event, LCV2013