Some of the most innovative alternative powered and high mileage cars available gather in the circle drive west of the Capital building this afternoon as a sure sign the 2013 Denver Auto Show must be close at hand.
Stars of this years event seemed to be both the oldest and newest alternative power trains in the form of the Honda Civic GX and the Mitsubishi MiEV, though a bevy of celebrated and green automotive choices were certainly on hand.
The Honda Civic GX is the oldest commercially produced vehicle to utilize compressed natural gas as a combustion fuel. It was first introduced in Japan during 1998 and is now available in 35 states.
Built in the US since its introduction here, the Honda Civic GX in now produced in Honda's Greensburg IN plant, along with conventional models, since late 2009. Previously, the vehicles were built in an East Liberty OH plant.
We also spoke with Pat Dwyer of J.W. Power, a firm that installs commercial gas compressors for fleet operations. He said a resident could get a compressor installed so they could fill up at home for around $3,000. After the compressor was paid for, fuel you car with CNG would be roughly equivalent to paying $2.10 per gallon for gasoline.
Art Erwin, representing Christopher Mitsubishi on West Colfax in Golden, told us the MiEV has a range of roughly 60 miles, depending upon conditions. When he drove this one to the Capital from Golden, the range indicator read 58 miles upon arrival, a function of the fact it is a slow descent into the valley of Denver.
Electric cars gain range and charge when they descend. Gasoline cars get better mileage but still use gas going downhill.
The MiEV gets an EPA rating of 116 mpge. It will charge overnight with 110V current and faster with 220V or 240V. Some of the 10 local buyers have reported getting up to 80 miles per charge, according to Erwin.
He said the dealer had just arranged a lease for a local resident that came out to less than $150 per month. Projecting the cost of charging the car nightly, the buyer’s total transportation costs for two full years were $2500 – excluding insurance for a car that ranges from $28 to $38K with all the bells and whistles.
Also in the picture above is a Chevrolet Tahoe converted to use both CNG and gasoline seamlessly. The big V8 engine provides massive power, considerable towing capacity and expansive cargo space while burning cleaner, lower emission CNG. If a source for that is not readily available it can work with ordinary unleaded fuel.
Other viable green transportation solutions included the Scion iQ, the highest city mileage combustion engine available, in a vehicle costing less than $20K.
The Nissan Leaf also has an EPA rating of 116 mpge and boasts a greater range and quicker charging in the 2013 model at a price around $31K.
Also on hand for the public’s inspection was a Ford F-150 converted to CNG. Jobbers and construction workers can submit more competitive bids for remote sites with the savings realized by CNG fueling.
Another internal combustion engine with a smidgeon of green cachet is the Dodge Dart SE, rating 24-mpg city and 34-mpg highway. Scoring a respectable 7 of 10 for greenhouse emissions and 6 or 10 for particulates, the Dodge Dart retains the added bonus of being fun to drive – not always the long suit of green cars.
Chrysler was further represented by the Ram 3500 Heavy Duty turbo diesel pick-up. Clean diesel vehicles burn low sulfur diesel, which required diesel engines to be completely redesigned from 2009 to 2010. The resulting engines are far cleaner than any diesel engine built as little as five years ago.
Chevrolet, not to be outdone, had an example of the Silverado Z71 4X4 King Cab on hand. This vehicle was configured for dual fuel also, gasoline or CNG, and had the compression tank hidden beneath the bed cover.
The Fisker Karma, the hybrid vehicle with the checkered record, was also on display – it’s a beautifully designed vehicle so we hope the firm works out its various challenges.
The roomy Prius V stood next to the new C-Max Energi, Ford’s plug-in hybrid contender for Toyota’s title as the king of hybrid vehicles.
Other green cars included the Fusion Energi, another plug-in hybrid from Ford, and the all-new BMW Active Hybrid 3.
This new hybrid line from the makers of the Ultimate Driving Machine, takes the conventional vehicle series, and adds an electric motor and battery. This adds both horsepower and, along with stop/start technology, combines to greatly enhance the economy of the performance oriented line.
In conclusion, what could me more appropriate for a Green Car Parade than St. Patrick’s Day in Denver. The Denver Auto Show will open March 20 and runs through March 24.
On the 19th an exclusive Charity Preview will be held benefitting three highly deserving Denver non-profits. For more information visit CharityPreviewParty.com.