• 05.06.11

Going Really Green: The Nissan Leaf Hybrid And Other Electric Cars

Do the names of electric cars tell us about what we have or what we want? And where are the flying cars they promised us?

I’m more interested in the name, of course. Talk about being environmentally friendly! What could be better than a leaf? Maybe a volt? Ouch! Or bio-power – that sounds “natural”! Or maybe a converj… Wait, what?


In case you haven’t been paying attention, those are the names of the recent (and future) hybrid and electric cars to hit the market. Here’s a rundown:

  • Aptera (electric vehicle coming out at end of 2011)
  • BMW Hydrogen 7 (hydrogen)
  • BMW ActiveHybrid (hybrid)
  • Cadillac Converj (plug-in hybrid–in 2010 GM decided to drop this concept)
  • Cadillac Provoq (plug-in hybrid in development)
  • Chevrolet Volt (plug-in hybrid)
  • Ferrari Hy-Kers (hybrid in development)
  • Fisker Carma (plug-in hybrid)
  • GEM (Chrysler Group Global Electric Motorcars–low speed vehicle LSV)
  • Honda FCX Clarity (hydrogen)
  • Honda Insight (hybrid)
  • Mercedes BlueHybrid (hybrid)
  • Opel Ampera (European variant of the Chevrolet Volt)
  • Saab BioPower (ethanol)
  • Saturn Green Line (stop-start and hybrid – now dead)
  • Smart ForTwo (electric–more commonly known as smart car)
  • Tesla (electric)
  • Toyota Prius (hybrid)
  • Volkswagen XL1 (hybrid in development)
  • Volvo DRIVe (clean diesel – Europe)
  • Zap Xebra (electric–sounds like a video game set in a zoo)
  • Zenn (electric low speed vehicle)

Wow, those are some fancy names!

Of course, many of these are concept cars, and they may never make it to market – as was the case with the Cadillac Converj. I think my favorite is Tesla. Nikola Tesla, as you might know, was the original handsome bad-ass crazy scientist who was basically responsible for the AC power system, among scores of inventions and discoveries. Tesla and Thomas Edison famously hated each other; one of the reasons that the Tesla name works so well for the car company is that it stands in opposition to the known, the old, the tried and true. It’s the anti-Edison. Tesla was European, brilliant, maverick, fashionable, and quite the showman – all attributes that Tesla Motors has embraced.