BMW, Porsche go green with newest hybrids

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BMW's newest model is exotic, with features like swing-up doors. And it has another interesting feature: It plugs in.

BMW's newest model looks very exotic, with design features like swing-up doors. And it has another interesting feature: It plugs in.

The new $135,000 i8 is a plug-in hybrid.

"No one is doing this combination of performance, design, technology. So we're really off on our own," said Paul Farraiolo with BMW of North America.

It's green driving, BMW style. A battery pack lets it drive electrically for up to 20 miles. But if you want to go farther or faster, a gasoline engine helps out. A turbo-charged three cylinder engine. And everything's wrapped up in a lightweight carbon fiber chassis.

This is both an exotic car and a green car in one. Perfect for California, where many buyers will pay good money for the combination.

"There are a significant amount of buyers out here who can afford luxury cars and they're very happy to not just have to be stuck with a plebian product like a Volt or a Leaf," said Paul Eisenstein with TheDetroitBureau.com.

So say hello to the future of performance driving. Super-car acceleration and handling, combined with an equivalent fuel economy of well over 50 miles per gallon.

Cars that plug in to recharge are a growing trend in the auto industry, and it would stand to reason that for upscale cars, that trend is going to continue as well.

Porsche is doing it. The latest version of the Panamera S Hybrid has a battery that lets it become an EV for about 13 miles, and a supercharged V6 engine ensures that performance remains. Add the electric motor and gas engine, and this Porsche is almost two cars in one.

"For those who want to be environmentally conscious, but they also want that 416 horse power as well, they can have that with the SE Hybrid," said Cristina Cheever with Porsce Cars North America.

Look for more plug-in Porsches, including an exotic sports car that's the highest performing and most expensive, street-legal Porsche ever. And look for the BMW i8 to hit the road in September. You might hear it roaring by you -- or, whirring by.


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