New Advanced Technology Vehicles Offer More Options to Consumers
Winter is the season of snow. cold, and oddly enough, auto shows. Reporters and consumers alike flock to these showcases of the latest and greatest in vehicles to find out what will be on the road this year and in the future. While low gas prices are driving many people to larger, less fuel-efficient vehicles, there are still a number of alternative fuel and advanced technology ones on display. The hottest vehicles are a mix of those that are available at dealerships now and not for a few more months.
For plug-in electric vehicles, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt nabbed the Green Car of the Year honor at the L.A. Auto Show, with its expanded all-electric range, five passenger capacity, lower price and new ability to use non-premium gasoline. While the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle was versatile before, these new features make more affordable and convenient for a wider range of people. It even sports technology developed as a result of Energy Department investments, with an inverter and battery improved through Energy Department-sponsored research. Similarly, the 2016 all-electric Nissan Leaf offers the option to upgrade to a larger battery pack with a 107 mile range. Another recently announced plug-in electric vehicle is the Hyundai Sonata plug-in hybrid, which has a 27 mile all-electric range and is available in "select markets." Later this year, the Cehvrolet Bolt could be a major game changer with its 200 mile all-electric range, crossover style, and relatively low price. In addition, Audi, Hyundai, Chevrolet, and BMW have announced new plug-in electric models in the coming years.
On the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle side, the 2016 Toyotta Mirai and Hyundai Tucson are available at select dealers in California, with the Mirai for sale and the Tucson for lease. The Tucson is one of the few advanced technology SUVs on the market and was featured in a video taken at the Department of Energy. In addition to these, Honda is debuting the Clarity Fuel Cell in the U.S. later this year.
Although generally not highlighted at the consumer auto shows, there are also increasing options available in propane and natural gas. Chevrolet now has a bi-fuel CNG Impala that can have more flexibility for fleets than a dedicated vehicle may. In addition, an increasing number of original engine manufacturers are making propane and natural gas prep packages available.