Automobile Designs for the Future

Though TreeHugger tends to prefer things like walking and electric bicycles [] to car-centric transportation, automobiles are a way of life for many of us. While burning gasoline and creating emissions are not a good thing for the planet, thankfully, there are some forward-looking automakers and cars that are testing prototypes that have the potential to change our collective driving from dirty and polluting to clean and green.

Technologies like plug-in hybrids, diesel-electric hybrids, all electric cars and fuel cell-powered vehicles have turned a lot of heads to this point, and for good reason; they represent a future in which petroleum-based fuels are no longer viable and car powerplants produce little or zero emissions.

Here are some of TreeHugger’s favorites:

    [*]The one making the biggest splash during the past year or so is the Tesla Roadster [] (top image, left), the all electric convertible two-seater that’ll do 0-60 in about four seconds, gets 250 miles per charge, and costs about one penny per mile to operate — that’s the equivalent of 135 miles per gallon! Perhaps the best news is that the first ones will hit the road later this year.
    [*] Honda’s FCX fuel cell vehicle [] (top, center) has been making headlines and turning heads for awhile, but word on the street is that it’ll go into production in two-three years.
    [*] Not to be outdone, General Motors will lease 100 fuel cell vehicles [] to lucky customers this year, to get the technology some practical, real-world experience.
    [*] Earlier this year, Chevy introduced the prototype for the Volt [] (top, right), a plug-in hybrid with an all-electric range of 40 miles and the option to switch out the gasoline-driven generator engine for an engine that runs on E85, diesel, bio-diesel, pure ethanol or even a hydrogen fuel cell; this gives buyers the choice of different engines based on fuel availability and prices in their region.
    [*] The XR3 hybrid [] (above, left) is a three-wheeled diesel/electric hybrid “motorcycle” that will supposedly get 125 mpg, top out at 85 mph and be available in just a few months [].
    [*] Similarly, the Aptera [] prototype (above, right) was recently unveiled [] with drool-inducing performance numbers, including fuel efficiency of 230 miles per gallon while humming along at 55 miles per hour. Of course, biodiesel [] is the way to go when it comes to these diesel-powered beauties.

TreeHugger is fond of saying that “the future is green.” As long as we see some of these rides on the roads before too long, there’s no limit to how green the future will be.