It seems like a car has to be dull and plodding to be green. But that may be about to change.
The BMW i8 is a plug-in hybrid that was unveiled at the New York International Auto Show, and it displays a new trend among green cars: performance, luxury, style, and class.
“We call ourselves the ultimate driving machine,” said Matt Russell of BMW North America. “Preserving that driving experience is everything to us. We sell to those who really love driving, and we needed a way to build a sports car that was also energy efficient.
“We needed a sports car that can go from 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds, top out at 155 miles an hour and has a fuel efficiency rating of 72 miles per gallon. And that’s the BMW i8.”
You ride on a cushion of air and hear nothing from the world outside, states newjerseynewsroom.com.
Not to be outdone Porsche has taken its Cayenne, the 150-miles per hour SUV, and retooled a plug-in hybrid version as a family-friendly companion to its hybrid Panamera four-door sports car.
“It’s our feeling that electric motors are the wave of the future,” said Porsche spokesman Thomas Hagg.
“But the technology isn’t quite there yet and the infrastructure and market aren’t ready for completely electric vehicles. But we feel it is certainly coming, so we have begun moving in that direction with the plug-in hybrid.”
Plug-in hybrids eliminate the problem of “range anxiety” associated with all-electric vehicles, states Wikipedia. The owner plugs in the car at night, but the combustion engine works as a backup when the batteries are depleted. This gives plug-ins driving range comparable to other vehicles with gasoline tanks.
“The Panamera proved that we can have an electric hybrid that meets the quality demands of Porsche in terms of performance and handling,” said Hagg.
Car And Driver Magazine states “there is a fundamental shift occurring in the engineering rooms of luxury- and sports-car makers: Fuel efficiency and carbon footprints are being treated with the same consideration as stitch designs and horsepower numbers.”
There are new sports and luxury hybrid cars from McLaren, Ferrari, and Porsche as well as the hybrid version of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
“The rich want to flaunt their wealth, per usual, but they also want to cruise emissions-regulated city centers like London without getting eggs lobbed at them by eco-activists,” states Car and Driver.
For people who want hybrid technology that is a better fit for their wallet, there are many to choose from. The most inexpensive seems to be the Toyota Prius model “c,” starting at about $19,000, according to U.S. News and World Report.
Other reasonably-priced models include the Honda Accord Hybrid, full-size Toyota Avalon Hybrid, the Ford Fusion Hybrid, the Toyota Camry Hybrid, the Ford C-Max Hybrid, Ford C-Max Energi, Nissan Leaf, Ford Fusion Energi, and Honda CR-Z.
Also, in the U.S., there is a tax credit that you get from the federal government for new plug-in hybrids.
The tax credit applies to nearly every electric car and plug-in hybrid on the market and it can, in some cases, effectively reduce your cost for such a model to that of an ordinary gasoline vehicle (or even less).
How does it work?
The tax credit is “up to” $7,500, and it is confusing from the get-go.
The federal government gives information on it from a ‘Tax Incentives Resource Center,’ states the Washington Post. However, it isn’t like an “incentive” or “rebate” to consumers, so you don’t get it at the time of purchase.
It’s not a tax “deduction” (a reduction in taxable income), either. With a tax credit, you reduce the amount of income tax you owe.
You claim it by making IRS Form 8936 part of your tax return. The form is simple and straightforward, but there are a lot of other pieces of information you should be aware of.
Perhaps the biggest thing to know is you have a tax credit – for one year – of “up to” $7,500.
However, if you owe less than that amount for the tax year, you don’t get the rest of the credit. (It isn’t an additional ‘refund,’ and any left over can not be applied to your personal taxes the following year).
The vehicle must be on the federal list of vehicles that qualify, which means the vehicle must be made by a manufacturer (it can’t be a conversion), it must comply with the legal definition of a motor vehicle per the Clean Air Act, title II, and it must also have a gross vehicle weight rating of 14,000 pounds or less. (However, most cars are only 4,000 or 5,000 pounds.)
You must buy the vehicle new, for your own use. It can’t be for resale, and if it is sold, it’s a used car.