My friends who know I’m a Car Guy, often ask about new engine technologies, when they shop for high-mileage cars. In the old days (10 years ago), any kind of alternate fuel- or hybrid vehicle would announce itself with giant lettering on the back deck. No more. The technology has come so far, a lot of it’s invisible. You just get behind the wheel, and drive. One of my favorite examples is the Chevy Volt, which I really, really like. And I’m sorry to see it turned into a political football (to use a frustrated GM exec’s term) by both major parties. No car could survive the microscopic examination that the Volt has undergone, unscathed.
Cars that involve electric power do still seem to draw attention. That’ll happen, when you plug into a wall socket, instead of stop at the gas station. The Nissan Leaf (+/- $35K) is a fun city car to drive. The styling is …um… unique . And remember: you’re getting a car that gets the equivalent of 100 mpg.
Mitsubishi’s i-Miev is a 5-door hatch that works on the same principle (all electric… all… um … unique), and costs as little as $22K! You wouldn’t want to take it on the 5 to San Francisco, but that’s not what these cars are designed for.
Still, if unconventional powerplants intimidate you, it’s pretty amazing what manufacturers are doing now with more recognizable powerplants. Read the next three entries, for examples.