Hybrid Cars Mean a Luxurious Drive
By Alex Koritz
September 1, 2009
With green being the new thing, hybrid cars are making their way to Utah’s roads. And that includes top-of-the-line hybrid cars, fit for anyone looking for a luxurious, but environmentally-friendly, drive. And though the economy has proven to be worse than a bumpy road for the U.S. auto industry, many experts are touting that hybrid cars will play a role in moving the economy forward. That includes Toyota’s Chief Prius engineer, Akihiko Otsuka, who recently told The New York Times that he expects hybrid sales to “push up the entire car market.”
Jim Brown, senior vice president of the Larry Miller Auto Group agrees, adding, “Environmentally-conscious consumers are buying the luxury hybrids, along with people that want the latest technology and are looking for greater efficiency out of the vehicles.”
Certain luxury hybrids are making inroads in the U.S. despite the economic hurdles and low gas prices. Here are a few green machines topping the list:
2009 Lexus LS600hL
This high-tech hybrid focuses on fuel economy and speed. The Lexus LS600hL is the only luxury V8 hybrid car on the market. Competing brands offer a V12 edition of their luxury hybrids, but the Lexus model offers a V8 seamlessly integrated with an electric motor. This gas-electric hybrid is rated at 20 mile per gallon in the city, and can hit 60 miles per hour in 5.5 seconds. Sleek and silent, the LS600hL starts at roughly $106,000.
The Mercedes-Benz S400 BlueHybrid
The new Mercedes hybrid is a “mid-hybrid” that engages the engine after it’s switched off and then idle. It has a 15-kilowatt electric motor that sits between a 275-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine and achieves 30 miles per gallon. The BlueHybrid is planned for later this year and isn’t priced yet, although it is expected to sell for around $88,000. It is the very first electric hybrid in the world that uses a battery with lithium ion cells.
Toyota Prius V
Toyota has improved its Prius gasoline-electric hybrid, making it a little bigger, more powerful, luxurious and fuel-efficient. Enhanced with solar roof panels, lane-keeping, radar cruise control and an innovative navigation system, the new Prius gets three to four miles per gallon more than the old one. The hybrid starts at roughly $27,000.
Down the Road
Despite rollercoaster-like sales pro-jections, hybrid technology will begin to filter into mid-priced cars, bringing green technology prices down. However, at the same time luxury manufactures will continue to incorporate hybrid technology into their lines, which will have the opposite effect—boosting their prices. But most experts agree, the hybrid market, whether in a recession or in a growth economy, will continue to expand.