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Tales from the Road…

It’s Not Easy Being Green

By Laurel B. Miranda

Today’s car buyers are confronted with a dizzying array of environmentally-friendly or so-called “green” car choices, offered by a wide spectrum of car manufactures, ranging from start-up companies like Tesla Motors and Commuter Cars, to established house-hold names, like Toyota, Lexus and Ford.

As manufacturers scramble to get a toe-hold in the emerging green car market, consumers who want to be environmentally conscious have to make a lot of decisions. Should they buy a high-mileage gasoline-powered mini car, a gas and electric motor combination known as a “hybrid”, or should they select a car that doesn’t need gasoline at all? If they choose the latter, should they buy an electric, hydrogen or natural gas fueled vehicle?

With so many options available and concerns about what technology will become the industry standard, the average buyer who wants to “go green” may decide to wait until the winners and losers are more clearly defined over the next few years.

While many wait on the sidelines, however, there is a small group of car buyers who prefer to be in the game. These early adopters have often braved long waitlists and in many cases assumed hefty price tags to obtain their preferred vehicles. Nevertheless, these pioneers are driving their new green cars in 2009, before many of the established manufacturers have moved their green cars from concept into production.

The following is a summary of the purchasing choices made by three early adopters of green cars. Be sure to look for examples of their head-turning cars – the Smart Fortwo mini car, the all-electric Tesla Roadster sports car, and Commuter Car’s electric Tango – as you visit the special displays on the upper field at the Hillsborough Concours d’Elegance this year.