First up, great news from Audi via Rueters:
Audi, the luxury unit of Volkswagen, will make cars with no exhaust emissions within ten years, its top executive has told a German weekly. Rupert Stadler told Welt am Sonntag in an interview published on Sunday that he saw great opportunities in electric cars and expected diesel and battery technology to dominate in the coming five to ten years.
Wait, what? Ten years? Is this the same company that built the adorable and well-equipped hydrogen powered A1?
You really have to wonder why Audi would wait that long... and announce so early. An announcement like this can't do anything to affect current sales (which don't need help anyways). Why even comment?
Audi, a subsidiary of Volkswagen (am I saying that right?), is the upscale arm of that corporate juggernaut. Product offerings at both companies take into account the existence of the other. As such, it's unlikely you'll see Audi competing for the sub-$20K market, especially here in America; that's what VW is for. So this announcement begs the question: is Volkswagen planning a real push into the hybrid or electric market?
Volkswagen holds a funny place in the alternative fuel world. They have the cult (but very real) following of the TDI, their turbo diesel engine. This champion of compression and combustion has been reported to get around 50 MPG and run on biodiesel without a hitch. There's also the new TDI, reported to be a big improvement on the original in terms of emissions.
Then again, they have no hybrid offering on the market and just killed the concept that might have changed that. Current MPG figures have a broad range but average out at 25 or so, which is exactly what I got in my GTI (past tense :) guess what I bought?) that is almost 9 years old. 25 isn't bad (just as long as it's not under 15) but it could definitely use some improvement - especially these days.
I think it's going to be very interesting to see what comes out of VAG in the near future (that's Volkswagen Auto Group in case you sounded it out and become confused).
This one is via Inhabitat:
Created by noted car designer Henrik Fisker, the ultra cool Karma is a sleek, power packed eco-luxury ride. The Karma’s performance specs rev out at 0-60 mph in 6 seconds, and a top speed of 125 mph. At $80,000 USD, The car is a plug-in hybrid based on technology of Quantum Technologies. The Q DRIVE consists of a small gasoline engine which in turn charges the lithium battery packs in the car. According to Fisker, if charged properly, the hybrid would need to use no more than a fuel tank per year, quite a claim!
From the side, this thing is HOT!
The front? I'm not a huge fan...
Pictures are from Inhabitat, FYI.
As I've said before, I LOVE bold moves like this from the alternative fuel sector. I think the attention it grabs, the limits it pushes, and the contrarians it puts to rest are vital to making fuel economy less of a fringe issue and more of a standard.
One more picture... looks way better here (from The Car Lounge):