There have been breakthrough innovations when it comes to automobiles, mostly involving cleaner alternatives, like electric and hybrid cars. Every year there is something new to show in the market of these fascinating machines that has been assisted us for more than a century. Below are some examples of what has been presented recently.
#5 Nissan Leaf (Nissan)
Considered the first successful electric car in mass production, Leaf has brought a mix of criticism and praises since its debut in 2011. Now it is one of the most adopted EV vehicles out there, with over 180 thousand units sold worldwide so far. It is a family car model, and the most recent (2015) is equipped with a front-wheel drive of over 100 horsepower and a built-in electric battery that allows you to travel over 100 miles on a single charge. It has stability control, front and side airbags and an ample interior space to put a lot of stuff and still leave the passenger comfortable.
The Nissan Leaf is a vehicle with zero emission, and can be charged in any standard power outlet. The charge time takes a few hours, that may be as much as four in the fast charging units for a full charge. You can expect to find the most recent model for around $30,000 to $40,000. It comes with three trim levels: S is the basic, and the extra and premium models SV and SL offer extra add-ons like navigation system, faster battery charges accessories and remote access through your smartphone.
#4 Chevy Volt (Chevrolet)
First revealed as a prototype in the beginning of 2006, the Volt is now the second most sold plug-in car in the world, right after Nissan Leaf. Unlike the Leaf, Volt is a hybrid, using both gas and electricity to work and allow good terms of travel distance on the road and better use of electric drive for low-speed trips. The tech improvements of the most recent model (2016) allowed and extension in range and better efficiency. It also attended to public complaints, like a three-place backseat and better engine torque control.
Other improvements of the new model include standard rear view camera, a new four-cylinder engine, better use of the main electric engine for short distances (up to 50 miles, using gas as a backup) and more intuitive dashboard and integrated systems. A full charge can take from 5 to 15 hours, depending on the settings and voltage of the source. It is expected a price around $35,000, which is actually cheaper than the previous model in some aspects.
#3 BMW i3 (BMW)
This is the most recent investment from BMW for the adoption and widespread of EVs. The i3 is a pure electric four-door city car, composed of resistant and recycled material. The out of ordinary structure composition with carbon fiber and aluminum makes it very lightweight, stable and efficient on the road. It has a good interior space for luggage and comfortable sitting for passengers. The car offers a very safe and reliable ride with its six airbags and stability control system, along with a regenerative braking system and an instant torque that tops 60mps in just 7 seconds.
The Eco models of the i3 provide a more efficient use of its potential and operational functioning, adjusting the acceleration and power accordingly, thanks to a good balance of its battery pack and drive module. The full range is where it really falls short, offering only up to 90 miles in a full charge. This can be partially fixed with the help of a gasoline range extender, available on alternative models for an extra price. This REx version can ensure extra 80-100 miles of range, providing the usage in more practical and emergent situations for longer journeys.
#2 Tesla S (Tesla Motors)
Considered by many the most revolutionary gas alternatives at the moment, Tesla S have earned much attention recently, thanks to its EV engineering and technology. It is by far the best one when it comes to full-EV range distance, offering a maximum of 300 miles on a full charge. The newest model released this year brings new possibilities and a promising future for a greater EV adoption. It has an attractive interior, with comfortable seats and an informative 17-inch dashboard for drive navigation controls, monitoring, and media.
When it comes electrics cars, the Tesla S torque and 691 horsepower are extraordinary, competing with many performance gas cars out there. With its Dual Drift drive unit, the four-wheels drive performance model P85D can reach 60mph in just over 3 seconds. The 85 kWh battery is a top-notch tech when it comes to efficiency and . You don’t have to worry about recharging your Tesla, with a network of almost 200 supercharging stations in North America, Tesla Motors makes recharging available for you, free of charge for life.
#1 Toyota Mirai (Toyota)
Mirai comes as the first attempt for a pure hydrogen car for mass production and adoption. It offers hydrogen an alternative for polluting gas fuel and inconveniently limited range for electric vehicles, allowing to refuel in just a few minutes and guaranteeing up to 300 miles of travel range. Mirai is a heavy car with 1850Kgs of weight, 247 lb-ft of torque and 153 horsepower, which Toyota mentions to reaches 60 mph in about 9 seconds. It is equipped with carbon fiber and safely sealed hydrogen tanks, located under the rear sits for a better weight balance, as they power the car in conjunction with electricity and some hydrogen-oxygen chemical reaction magic.
It comes with an initial price that floats around $60,000, but can be dropped to as much as $45,000 through incentives, particularly in California. Toyota also guarantees you refueling for 3 years on any of its hydrogen fuel stations. The concerning limitation is the availability of these stations, with only 9 currently, a number that won’t surpass 30 until a few years, which is a pretty low number for long range trips around the country. Already available in Japan, Toyota Mirai will arrive this year in the US and some European markets by the end of September, following the steps of the hybrid Prius as a viable and cleaner option.
These cars only give us a glimpse of the future for the incredible inventions that are yet to come. Technology never fails to surprise us, and every step will make us closer to excellence in many sectors, and in the automobile industry wouldn’t be any different.
photo credit: Toyota (Japan)