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LA Goes Electric

By Richard Koman
November 23, 2008

The cool, green car at the LA Auto Show appears to be the Cooper Mini E – a zero-emissions car designed to comply with California’s zero-emissions standards. According to AFP, the car will go 150 miles on a charge (that gets me just about to San Francisco and back) and recharges in less than three hours with a special wall unit. The Mini E runs on lithium ion batteries.

Oh, there will be 500 test leases – at $850 a month! – in LA and NY only. The car is slated to be available only in California, on a one-year lease.

Power for the electric Cooper is supplied via a front-mounted electric motor, producing 201 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. Those figures are good enough to keep the Cooper’s sporting nature, with a 0-62 time of 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 94 mph.

While the Mini runs lithium ion batteries, Hyundai is using lithium polymer for a new gen of hybrid vehicles, deemed “Blue Drive. ” By 2015, Hyundai says its entire fleet will do 35mpg. And in a green gimmick, Hyundai will link donations to reforestation efforts in Brazil’s rainforest to sales of its luxury Genesis Sedan.

Even more gimmicky, Ford Fusion drivers will get a tree icon on their dashboards, which sprouts leaves when you drive modestly and loses leaves when floor it.

Not everything in LA is electric, though. Check out the Nisssan 370Z, with a V6 displacing 3.7 liter engine, 322 horsepower and a seven-speed auto or six-speed manual trans. It gets 26mpg on the highway.

“There is no substitute for the automobile, and as soon as the economy stabilizes and people regain purchasing power, the first thing they will want to do is buy a car, ” Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn said. (NY Times)

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