The automotive equivalent of pocket protectors, early electric vehicles were beneficial in purpose but made a style-crushing statement when deployed.In recent years, however, innovative marques have transformed the eco-conscious cars into truly exquisite models—both in appearance and performance. In commemoration of Earth Day, here are six zero-emission machines that are driving the industry into an environmentally friendly future.
The Renault Trezor
Perhaps what is most impressive about the Renault Trezor at first glance is not the advanced all-electric power-train or autonomous driving technology, but the innovative clamshell-like roof that raises up to admit entry. Once inside, passengers in the gorgeous grand tourer are ensconced in red, from the leather upholstery to the dash. The latter, comprising overlays of ash and integrated with a touch-screen display, has been created by the wood-framed-bicycle builders at Keim Cycles.
Along with styling that shows off France’s flair for beautiful bodywork, the Trezor also entices with powerful performance from a pair of motors. The two were developed from those used by the marque’s winning e.dams racing team competing in the FIA Formula E series. With 350 hp, the concept travels from zero to 100kmh (62 mph) in less than 4 seconds and can be operated in three modes: Neutral, Sport, and Autonomous. (group.renault.com)
The Lucid Air
The designers behind the Lucid Air (lucidmotors.com) are clear about the inspiration for their electric luxury sedan. “We wanted to create an executive-jet experience for the road,” said Peter Rawlinson, Lucid Motors’ chief technology officer, in December. Moments earlier, in a warehouse in Fremont, Calif., he had pulled a black silk cover off the Air, the company’s debut automobile. “We’re using cutting-edge technology to minimize space taken up by components and maximize the space for passengers,” he said.
The Air’s speed and cabin design certainly do evoke an executive jet. The car is powered by two electric motors—one each in front and back—that together generate 1,000 hp and enable a zero-to-60-mph time of 2.5 seconds.
The Air’s battery provides a 482km (300-mile) range that can be upgraded to 643km (400 miles). The base model is priced at about Euros 92.200 ($100,000), and the fully loaded Launch Edition costs Euros 147.500 ($160,000). Lucid Motors, which is headquartered in Menlo Park, Calif., has announced plans to build a factory in Casa Grande, Ariz., and begin delivering cars by the end of 2018. (lucidmotors.com)
The DS E-Tense
A truly green grand tourer, the DS E-Tense is an electric-powered, chartreuse coupe that represents the vehicular vision of the DS marque, a relatively new subsidiary of Citroën’s parent company Groupe PSA. Its zero-emissions motor manages to generate 402 hp (with about 380 ft lbs of torque), kicking the car from zero to 100kmh (62 mph) in 4.5 seconds on its way to a top speed of 250 kmh (155 mph). And the battery enables a range of roughly 297 km (185 miles).
The eye-catching cabin includes a steel dashboard, tulip-shaped steering wheel, upholstery that required 800 hours to develop, and a sound system that features nine Focul Utopia speakers. And further accenting the automobile is a helmet harness designed by Moynat, Paris’ leather goods legend—because in France, fashion never takes a backseat. (dsautomobiles.com)
Zeelectric’s Reimagined 1973 Porsche 911S Targa
Masters at adding voltage to vintage vehicles, the San Diego–based team at Zelectric Motors recently worked their automotive magic to present a reimagined 1973 Porsche 911S Targa with an electric power train—a classic for the environmentally conscious collector. And to ensure the car’s authenticity and aesthetic integrity, no cuts or welds were made during the painstaking 11-month process.
Transforming the air-cooled Targa entailed swapping out the example’s original 190 hp, 2.4-liter flat-six engine for a 180 hp, dual three-phase AC motor that generates up to 214 ft lbs of torque. The original 5-speed manual transmission, however, remains as part of the package. The new power train allows a top speed of 150 mph and the ability to accelerate from zero to 100kmh (60 mph) in 7 seconds.
To keep the car cruising, Zelectric plugged in to Tesla’s technology and used cells from the marque’s Model S to create a tailored 54 kWh battery pack—fully charged in nine hours or less—that allows for a range of 290km (180 miles).
The Porsche will appear at the Luftgekühlt 4 automobile event, in Los Angeles, on May 7 and the Steve McQueen Car Show, in Chino Hills, Calif., on June 3. (zelectricmotors.com)
A big cat that protects its environment, the Jaguar I-Pace SUV is the British marque’s first run at electric mobility, and its claws have certainly been sunk into the technology. The I-Pace purrs with dual motors that provide 400 hp (with 516 ft lbs of torque) and the ability to pounce from zero to 60 mph in about 4 seconds. And the lithium-ion battery, which allows an operational range of 355km (220 miles) per charge, can be brought up to 80 percent of full capacity in only 90 minutes.
The all-purpose automobile’s bodywork has been made aerodynamically efficient with a pronounced hood scoop and air ducts. The interior bolsters comfort for four passengers with individually contoured seats, while the driver benefits from a floating center console (with two touch screens) and a heads-up display on the dash. The I-Pace is expected to join the competitive hunt by the latter half of 2018. (jaguarusa.com)
Bentley EXP 12 Speed 6e Concept
Bentley surprised the crowd at Geneva with its first-ever electric concept car. Based on the gasoline-powered model of the same name, the EXP 12 Speed 6e features a mesh grille with a “6e” graphic that illuminates while the car is running and cameras that replace side-view mirrors. The interior is as plush as any Bentley. While the company isn’t saying whether it will build a production version of the EXP 12 Speed 6e, it did announce plans to offer electrified versions of select vehicles, beginning with the Bentayga in 2018. (bentleymotors.com)