Electrifying Rides — If You’ve Got The Green

Cars that help the environment, your image, and your wallet

Making Sense of Green Autos

Electrical-powered vehicles come several ways.  A gas/electric hybrid like the Toyota Prius has an electric motor and battery pack charged by the car’s movement and braking, but its main source of power is a gasoline-fueled internal combustion engine.  A plug-in hybrid is a hybrid that can also be charged at a household electrical outlet.  A pure electric vehicle (EV) has only an electric motor and a rechargeable battery pack.  The Tesla Roadster is the only highway-ready EV in the U.S., and Europe and has a big 244-mile range.  A range-extended electric vehicle turns its wheels with electricity, but includes a gas-fueled generator to recharge the battery on the road for longer trips than a 40-mile commute.

The last few months, a new hybrid has been giving the Prius a run for the money.  The 2010 Honda Insight moves quickly from the Boyland Honda showroom in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a part of Orlando, Florida-based Boyland Auto Group (No. 4 on the BE Auto Dealers list with $353.5 million in sales).  Sales manager Ron Bridges says the Insight is comparable to the Prius, but costs less, is simpler to use, has a more-compact battery, is lighter and gets better fuel consumption.  The $19,800 Insight is also turning heads in Akron, Ohio.  “We sold our first two as soon as they came off the truck,” says Mike Pruitt, CEO of Mike Pruitt Honda (No. 40 on the BE Auto Dealers list with $43.6 million in sales).  “It rides real smooth.  You can barely hear it running.  It’s an amazing vehicle,” he says.

Since March 2009, Ford has been selling a 2010 hybrid version of it 5-passenger Fusion sedan.  The $27,995 Ford Fusion hybrid gets 41 miles per gallon in city driving — 8 mpg better than the Toyota Camry hybrid.  Standard on the Fusion hybrid is Ford’s “SmartGauge”, two LCD screens by the speedometer that show performance and how the driver can operate the vehicle to achieve the best fuel economy.

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