Green Cars Go Global

Which global automakers are producing green cars? There’s green technology, and then there’s really green technology. On the barely green side are green cars with limited availability, very little gas mileage savings, or impractical technology. On the deep green side are advanced technologies, which produce green cars with low CO2 emissions, as well as real fuel savings.

Who’s in the green car lineup?

Currently, Japan’s Toyota Prius is right up there as the leader of the pack, with Honda’s Civic Hybrid running a close second. Toyota is planning on a newer, better, improved version of the Prius in 2009, and is also ramping up production of Camry hybrids. Honda reports their brand new FCX Clarity is a firm footstep toward the mainstreaming of fuel cell cars, since it runs on hydrogen and electricity with zero emissions. Even with few hydrogen fuel stations, a limited number of leases in California are now available. With such serious put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is goals for green cars, can anyone else catch up?

In Germany, the BMW diesel hybrid 118d gets 52 mpg and won this year’s Word Green Car award, beating out competitors like the Volkswagen Passat 1.9TDI.and the Smart ForTwo CDI. The problem is, you can’t get there from here, because these green cars aren’t being sold in the U.S. On the other hand, while we don’t know what Volkwagen’s exact plans are for their newly re-lauched One-Liter car, their Tiguan HyMotion Fuel Cell concept green car is a diesel future car that will be certified for use in all 50 states.

Some countries like France are forging global auto partnerships. Renault and Nissan are developing the Grand Scenic ZEV H2 prototype concept car, powered by fuel cells with zero emissions, aside from water vapor. In France, Citroen is reported to be developing a diesel hybrid for a 2010 production. Although they premiered the low-fuel consumption C-Cactus concept green car last year, very little is known about future green car plans.

Green cars on the other side of the pond….

Small U.S. manufacturers like Phoenix Motorcars’ and California’s ZAP (Zero Air Pollution) are giving green cars their best shot, but taking on the big U.S. three may still make for a rough ride. While Chevrolet’s 2008 Malibu Hybrid gets only slightly better gas mileage than the gas powered version, the electric Volt is scheduled for limited production by the end of 2010. According to Chevrolet’s web site, “We've placed a huge priority on getting the Volt to production as soon as possible.”

Saturn hopes to stay in the race with their VUE compact SUV and Aura green line, and taking a step in the right direction, Ford plans to retool truck plants to hopefully build green cars. DaimlerChrysler, like Canadian manufacturers ZENN Motor Co. and Dynasty ElectricCar Corp., released several low-speed, neighborhood class vehicles in 2008. Very limited mileage ranges and top speeds less than 30 mph may keep these green cars out of the race and well hidden behind the grandstands.

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