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Green Luxury

By Ted Nelson ecomii.com
August 8, 2010
File under: Alternative Fuels, Auto Industry, Electric, Hybrid

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While, personally, it gets my heart racing a little to see hot new fuel efficient models on the street, fuel efficiency is not generally associated with sexiness. Green cars can, however, be engineering marvels both visually and in terms of performance.

Whether you’re looking for an eye-catching sports car or a safe, reliable way to transport your family, some high-end models are more fuel efficient than others. This efficiency will save you money on gas, and is an easy way to lower your ecological footprint.

Below is a list of  some green luxury options, organized by fuel source. Of course, some of the fuel sources themselves are greener than others. Some key stats accompany each model, or click on the model name itself for a link to the product page on the manufacturer’s website.

Only currently available models are covered. Many other luxurious green models are still in the pipeline, ready to push the envelope even further in the next few years.

Regular Gasoline

This category doesn’t offer the same fuel efficiency as other more novel technologies. However, even if you’re in the market for a plain old gas powered luxury car it’s still important to consider fuel economy and your carbon footprint.

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2010 Volvo S40 

Gas Mileage: 21 city / 30 highway

Annual Fuel Cost: $1,526

Carbon Footprint: 7.7

MSRP: $28,550

Safe as well as luxurious, Volvo is a leader in high-end fuel efficiency with traditional gasoline powered models.

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2010 Volvo V50

Gas Mileage: 21 city / 30 highway

Annual Fuel Cost: $1,526

Carbon Footprint: 7.7

MSRP: $29,800

If you have a big family you might feel doomed to a gas guzzling SUV or minivan. This Volvo station wagon, however, is a safe, comfortable, and relatively fuel efficient way to get the kids and their friends to school, practice, and all their other activities.

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2010 Saab 93 Sports Sedan

Gas Mileage: 21 city / 31 highway

Annual Fuel Cost: $1,526

Carbon Footprint: 7.7

MSRP: $30,360 2.0T $43,605 Aero

Scandinavian brands seem to dominate this category. The 93 Sports Sedan delivers both efficiency and performance with the classic Saab design.

Premium Gasoline

You’ll pay a little more to fill up with premium, but luxury comes at a price.  This is basically a sub-category of regular gasoline, premium is just the recommended grade for these models. As with the last category the fuel efficiency isn’t great in absolute terms, but these models beat out the competition.

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2010 Audi A5 Cabriolet

Gas Mileage: 23 city / 30 highway

Annual Fuel Cost: $1,536

Carbon Footprint: 7.1

MSRP: $42,000

As global temperatures rise you can stay cool in this Audi convertible.

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2010 Audi A4

Gas Mileage: 23 city / 30 highway

Annual Fuel Cost: $1,536

Carbon Footprint: 7.1

MSRP: $31,450

One of a few Audi sedans that take premium in this same fuel economy range.

Diesel

Once known as the dirty fuel, diesel has cleaned up its act. Today, many of the most efficient models on the road employ clean diesel technology. German carmakers have focused on diesel ahead of hybrids and other green technologies, and now manufacture vehicles that get hybrid-like fuel efficiency.

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2010 Audi A3 TDI

Gas Mileage: 30 city / 42 highway

Annual Fuel Cost:$1,001

Carbon Footprint: 6.2

MSRP:$29,950

Audi is owned by Volkswagon, and together they have developed a leadership position in the clean diesel market. Audi and Volkswagon have several models that lead the clean diesel pack in terms of fuel efficiency.

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2009 BMW 335d

Gas Mileage: 23 city / 36 highway

Annual Fuel Cost: $1,260

Carbon Footprint: 7.8

MSRP: $43,900

BMW has joined fellow German automaker Volkswagon in the  clean diesel market. The 335d doesn’t match the fuel economy of the Audi A3 or several other Audi and VW diesel models, and comes at a higher sticker price. All things considered, 36 mpg on the highway is great for a luxury sedan, though.

Hybrid

The best known green cars on the road are hybrids. They get great gas mileage and the price premium hybrids command over traditional models is declining. More and more hybrid models are available, but Lexus still dominates the luxury end of the market. The competition should heat up as Porsche enters the hybrid market.

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2010 Lexus HS Hybrid

Gas Mileage: 35 city / 34 highway

Annual Fuel Cost: $1,047

Carbon Footprint: 5.3

MSRP: $34,200

Building on its success with the Prius, Toyota has introduced four hybrid models through its luxury brand, Lexus. The HS, a sedan, is both the most affordable and most fuel efficient of the four.

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2010 Lexus RX Hybrid

Gas Mileage: 32 city / 28 highway

Annual Fuel Cost: $1,329

Carbon Footprint: 6.1

MSRP: $44,125 all wheel drive $42,535 front wheel drive

The RX is a crossover model, which manages to be both efficient and spacious. Great if you have a lot of stuff to cart around, whether it’s kayaks or kids.

Electric

This category should grow quickly as more electric vehicles become available. Fully electric vehicles (EVs)–as opposed to plug in hybrids (PHEVs)–produce zero localized emissions: no pollution is pumped out of the tailpipe. However, since the majority of electricity in the United States is generated using fossil fuels EVs are not carbon nuetral unless they’re charged from a renewable energy source. Driving an EV will still take a huge chunk out of your carbon footprint, though.

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Tesla Roadster

Range: 220 miles

Top Speed: 120 mph

Price: $101,500

This quick sports car is a must have for green A-listers. It’s power and handling are currently unmatched among commercially available EVs, and Tesla plans to extend into the luxury sedan market in the near future.

 
Comments (3) Email Link
 
3  Comments
  1. Steve Frazer
    September 9, 2010 3am UTC

    Yet again, Mr. Nelson’s perspective needs some tweaking. Very few hybrids can be considered Green – most burn fossil fuels. The most Green vehicles burn renewable fuels sourced from high yield, 2nd or 3rd generation crops – jatropha or micro algae sourced B100.

    There are 30 advance diesel engines (private passenger vehicles) on the planet that are engineered to run on this B100. GM and Ford are in production manufacturing 8 of them.

    Also, if the vehicle includes an advance diesel engine and runs on B100 then the MPG virtually does not matter as the emissions coming out of the tailpipe are likely cleaner than what went into the air intake.

    Unless we start mining the minerals of Mars, the EV segment will not grow quickly as Mr. Nelson suggests. Actually, this market segment will likely evolve into some small sub-market of the automobile industry.

    You people do understand that within 6-8 years you will likely not be able to purchase a gallon of gasoline in the US for less than $7 while B100 will only cost about $3 gallon and has a higher energy density to take you 30% further with 30% less emissions?

    etcgreen.com

    Are you driving your last gasoline powered car?

  2. Mike W
    September 10, 2010 1pm UTC

    I think Audi is really leading the way in this area. Even their clean diesel is a notch above, but everyone is going in this direction which is good to see.

  3. Eric
    February 13, 2011 2pm UTC

    I like the 2010 Audi A5 Cabriolet and the Lexus HS Hybrid. I’m really considering going green.

 
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