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What's the easiest way to get a kid to eat broccoli? Just tell them they can't have any. It's one of the tried and true tricks of parenting, because wanting what we can't have is one of those primal human instincts. But desiring something that's been forbidden to us is made all that much worse when it's something good, like cake and ice cream. In this case, feel free to decide for yourself whether the following list of cars are green veggies or dessert, but know that you can't buy any of them. These are real cars, ones that get amazing fuel economy, but for a variety of reasons none are available for purchase in the United States – at least not yet. Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion

VW's Polo was named World Car of The Year for 2010 and its BlueMotion diesel models were named this year's World Green Car. The accolades are unsurprising, given that the Polo BlueMotion is capable of over 73 miles per gallon and can go 846 miles on a single tank of diesel fuel.

This high-mileage version of the five-passenger subcompact is powered by a turbocharged, direct-injection, 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine making just 74 horsepower. To conserve fuel, the engine shuts off when the vehicle comes to a stop, like in a hybrid. Other fuel-saving features include low rolling resistance tires and a rear spoiler to improve aerodynamics. The Polo BlueMotion also has a limited type of regenerative braking system that uses the alternator to eke out further economies.

The Polo is available as a three-door or five-door hatchback in Europe, where it's a popular seller, and a new sedan version was recently introduced in Russia. So far VW has been coy about its plans to sell any model of Polo here in the U.S. We think that if the German brain trust is to be convinced that we'd like a nattily attired subcompact stateside, pressure may come in the form of the recently-reintroduced-to-America Ford Fiesta, one of the Polo's chief overseas rivals.

The chances of VW offering the BlueMotion diesel seem slim, however, as it's a costly model. In the U.K., for example, it sells for over eight percent more than the regular diesel Polo, and only the Polo GTI sits atop it in the model range. Americans are not usually too keen on buying expensive small cars, so if we get a Polo, it's much more likely that it will be one of the gasoline-engine versions, which would be a shame.



Mini E


BMW just wrapped up a yearlong trial that saw 450 of these electric Mini Coopers zipping around New York, New Jersey and Los Angeles. While many were leased to private individuals, and by all accounts the Mini E is ready for prime time, BMW does not plan to make it available anytime soon. It's a shame, really, as the 35 kWh lithium-ion battery pack gave the Mini E a reported range of 70-100 miles per charge, according to results of a survey of drivers conducted by the University of California Davis.

"What they shared with us is that, for the most part, the MINI E suits their daily driving needs and that they really enjoy driving it. This makes us optimistic that electric vehicles have a role in the future of mobility in America by being a part of the overall vehicle mix," said a statement by Rich Steinberg, Manager – EV Operations and Strategy for BMW of North America.

The Mini E uses the standard production vehicle as its basis, but its internal combustion engine is replaced by a 201-hp electric motor. BMW installed 220-volt charging systems in the garages of its trial participants, which allowed for a full charge in less than three hours. The downside to the Mini E is that the rear seat had to be jettisoned to make way for the battery pack.

BMW has said it will offer some Mini E drivers lease extensions, but the company's electric vehicle plans do not seem to include Mini, at least not in the near future. BMW will hold another, larger EV trial in 2011, but this new model will wear a BMW badge. The ActiveE is based on the 1-Series, and represents the next step in BMW's EV strategy, which is directed at producing a city vehicle. Set to launch in 2013, we bet it won't be nearly as charming as the Mini E.



Audi A1 e-tron

With the A1 going on sale this summer in Europe, it will no doubt attract plenty of attention from those fans of Minis and Fiestas who wish there were more subcompacts in the U.S. market. Based on VW's Polo, the A1 is a lot like the Audi A3 writ even smaller, which means it's a premium small car, the likes of which Americans have shown little appetite for. So Audi has no plans to bring it to the U.S. anytime soon, and while that's unfortunate, even more galling is that Audi seems just as unlikely to ever produce the A1 e-tron concept it showed this year's Geneva Motor Show.

Like the forthcoming Chevy Volt, the A1 e-tron is an electric vehicle that also carries a gasoline-powered internal combustion engine aboard, to recharge the batteries once their range is exhausted. The A1 e-tron is novel among this growing field of plug-in, series-hybrid vehicles in that it employs a Wankel engine as its "range extender." The Wankel is a rotary engine design popularized in the 1980's by Mazda in its RX-7 sports car. While the current Mazda RX-8 also uses a rotary engine, the technology has never really caught on in the mass market, despite packaging advantages including the engine assembly's low weight and compact size.

Those qualities would seem to make the Wankel a good fit for a subcompact hybrid like the A1 e-tron. In the concept, the 61-hp electric drive motor was fitted under the hood in place of the gasoline engine, while the Wankel engine was mounted in the rear, behind the under-seat battery pack. Audi says the battery pack's 12 kWh capacity would be good for a 30-mile range before the gas engine kicks in, extending the range another 100 miles.



Fiat Panda Natural Power

Earlier this year, when the German Automobilclub (ADAC) set out to determine the most economical car to own, it emerged with might seem an unlikely victor: The Fiat Panda Natural Power, a bi-fuel car that runs on either gasoline or compressed natural gas (CNG). The test was about as simple as it gets: How far can you drive on 30 Euros of fuel (about $37)? The club tested 241 cars, including both high-mileage stalwarts like the Toyota Prius, and gas-guzzling performance machines like the Chevy Corvette. The Panda Natural Power managed 450 miles on its allotment of CNG, handily beating the Prius' 290 miles and going nearly four times as far as the Corvette, which managed just 112 miles.

If you're scratching your head trying to picture the Panda, understand that this is one of those European vehicles the likes of which we just don't see in the U.S. market, sort of a subcompact crossover like the Suzuki SX4. But the Panda is highly successful overseas, winning European Car Of The Year in 2004. Because of its high roof and considerable cargo capacity for its size, the Panda is often employed as a commercial vehicle, including use by police and postal services. Fiat sells a four-wheel-drive version of the Panda, and it's that chassis that's used for the Natural Power model, with the natural gas tanks taking up residence in the rear, where the extra drivetrain pieces would normally reside.

As to the Fiat Panda Natural Power's prospects for finding a path to the U.S., don't hold your breath. Fiat is highly unlikely to market this car here, regardless of plans to sell its European cars through the Chrysler dealer network. While there was a big push to deploy CNG fleet vehicles by the federal government in the 1990s, there's only one CNG car left for sale in the U.S. market today (the Honda Civic GX), meaning the technology is basically a nonstarter here. This can be partly explained by our gasoline prices, which are low when compared to Europe, where gasoline routinely sells for over $6 a gallon -- one of the factors that helped the Panda Natural Power achieve its victory in the ADAC test.



Porsche 918 Spyder

Let's start by saying that Porsche is claiming 78 miles per gallon from this 718-horsepower beast, a number that seems to defy the laws of physics. But the hybrid 918 Spyder is still a concept car, so perhaps we need to take the engineers in Stuttgart at their word. Given that the car would easily be the most expensive hybrid ever created, perhaps the 918 Spyder will answer the "What if money were no object?" question that many green car fans, no doubt, think about as they drift off to sleep each night.

Porsche showed the 918 Spyder at this year's Geneva show, teasing gearheads with some impressive claims: 3.2-seconds from 0-62 mph and a top speed of 198 mph. Even more tantalizing is that Porsche claims this hybrid racer can lap the Nurburgring racecourse faster than its Carrera GT supercar ever did. Motive power is provided by a mid-mounted V8 and two electric motors, one for each axle. Porsche claims when driven in electric mode the 918 Spyder will have a range of 16 miles, in addition to three distinct hybrid modes, including a race mode that uses the lithium-ion battery pack to provide an immediate power surge that's activated by a "push to pass" button on the steering wheel.

Porsche has said it will only build the 918 Spyder if it can get 1,000 takers, and recent reports say it's close. At the risk of sounding like a public radio station during its summer pledge drive, we would urge those who can afford it to please call now.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 216 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      how come yall say that america is so flawed i understand that some are up set that the vw blue motion is not available in the states but im sure if enough people go to vw and say they want it yall can get it and the new mustang gets 31 mpg and has 305hp its much better than in the past and it seems like people are realy trying to make electric cars cevrolet is comming out with the volt soon they have more than one hybrid model in their fleet but to be honest there arent many fun cars that are hybrid you dont hear anyone saying dude my prius is so fast in the corners but instead of complaining do something get people together start a petition call your local government but you need to understand even though car companies arent jumping on the bandwagon all at once doesnt mean that no one cares or that the oil companies control the auto market it just means that they dont see it as a profitable business venture plus so many people buy suvs pickups and high performance cars that it doesnt make sence to get rid of them because if they do then they lose even more money than they are now so better to keep making money and keep the economy from getting anyworse than it is now but all that being said there is more that can be done but give it sometime eventualy european automakers may see that people in the U.S want these cars but no one will know unless you tell them.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Reality Check" has it right. This is not a frivolous "lament" by spoiled children about what we can't have. It's about the absolute power the oil companies hold over our country. Were any of your around during the gas crisis of the '70s? The US response at that time was to build and sell Hummers! Here we are about 40 years later. Where are the electric cars?
      Debbie and Derek
      • 5 Years Ago
      All the politians are in Big Oil pockets. Where do you think they invest their money? And the US big oil is tied to foreign oil. You just can't imagine how deep this goes. So, the politians are all making tons of dough on Oil, why should they strive for less dependence? I know for a fact that oil companies are paying people to not pump oil. The mother of a friend lives in OK, and they discovered oil on her property. The company came, drilled and capped the well and is paying her mother to keep it capped. And there are hundreds if not thousands of wells like this one.
      So, some of you people who act like they know everyting explain that one to me.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It is time that the American people who have in the past rose up to invent milestones in technology (think the space race of the late 50's and 60's)do so again and start producing (whether privately or publicly funded) the technology that is and has been available(for years), to advance our transportation systems out of early 20th century mindset that we have been seduced into believing is as far as our current technology can take us of which we have been lied to for the last thirty years. With or without government approval, we need a technological revolution that will show our elected officials that we will no longer cow-tow to them and or the oil industry. If cars are available that get 60 to 75 miles a gallon, then they should be here in the U.S. If technology exists to create economical and efficient mass transit systems such as those that are abundant in Europe (high speed mag-lev trains etc.) then they should be here in the U.S. also. Why has America fallen to second, or third or worst in the development and distribution of affordable technology? Read: Oil Companies/Oil company profits/Government controlled by oil. America it is time to take our country back, and do what is right for our job prospects, advancement of America in the world, the environment, and a new and brighter outlook for our future generations. Let's get'er done!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Green energy is for fools. So are these so-called "green cars." The cheapest, safest, most reliable energy source available to us which can be stored for long time periods is nuclear energy. Why not develop a vehicle that is powered with a small nuclear energy cell? Until then, I'm happy with my reliable toyota tacoma.
      • 5 Years Ago
      About the above Union comments.....UNIONS SUCK! Job Banks (sitting in the breakroom playing dominos for $70 and hour(.......that thinkin IS stinkin....high wages low quality....while Gettlefinger sits up there at the big Union Resort spending your dues money..
      My South American built Fiesta is tighter, has a quieter ride and handles much better than my 08 WAYNE MICHIGAN UAW built Focus did.....although never any mechanical problems.....it was not tight, the build quality sucked (there was a piece of grass in the speedometer) My wife's O9 WAYNE MICHIGAN UAW built Focus is much better than the 08 but not the quality that my non union...low wage.....mexican built 2011 Fiesta is. At least the mexicans have pride in what they do, and are proud that they have a job, not an "Entitlement" like the UAW scum do. The UAW killed the General Motors we used to know and love. I used to be an all GM man.....I now buy only Ford's since they are the only Automaker not to pay their UAW employees with my tax money. Maybe the UAW SCUM that works for Ford cares a little more...I don't know though, Hapeville Georgia cranked out some shitty Taurus's back in the 80's a whole lot of "cripples" came out of that plant...(any UAW worker knows what a "cripple" is.....) Yep Gettlefinger, his ethnic replacement and all the UAW workers on the dole can kiss my you know what!
      • 5 Years Ago
      @ Jeff Sabatini

      You forget the new Fiat diesel engines;

      - almost as fuel efficient as the 1.2tdi of VW
      - four cylinder (more stable than 1.2tdi 3 cylinder)
      - 10 horsepowers more
      - cheaper :-)
      - implemented in different European Fiat models


      furthermore, the 1.2 tdi VW engine is also installed in the Seat and Skoda.

      Reasons for its popularity for example in the Netherlands is the tax-benefits (no road-tax etc).
      • 5 Years Ago
      I am constantly amazed at the reasons our govt treats us the way they do. I guess we ask for it. we keep electing the same type idiots.
      ajschrod
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why lament the cars we CAN'T buy when Europe's BEST model: the Ford Fiesta is available? To say noting about the Volt being ready soon.
        • 6 Months Ago
        @ajschrod
        We still can't get the best Fiesta model available in Europe. The 1.6L ECOnetic diesel version, that gets 65 US mpg (78 imp mpg), won't be available in the states. In fact, the models available in the US will only feature the 1.6L gas engine.
        • 6 Months Ago
        @ajschrod
        I suspect why Americans can not buy high-mpg-diesel-powered vehicles here in the US has more to do with the US based petroleum industry and their strong lobby in Washington, DC and not the "lack of demand" for these better-built, high efficiency vehicles. There is a reason Exxon-Mobile's headquarters was relocated to the Washington, DC suburbs in Northern Virginia. At this point VW has nothing to fear from a much weakened US automobile industry. The threat to market penetration comes from the US petroleum industry, fearing drastic drops in US oil consumption with the wide-spread adoption of more highly efficient diesel powered cars and trucks. The US petroleum industry is lobbying hard to keep-out or slow the introduction of these vehicles.
        • 6 Months Ago
        @ajschrod
        we the people will never let them in.if you all knew what it cost to just built a car it would shock the hell out of you. for instance in 2004 to built a ford focus it cost $2,700 and then they turn right around and sell it for like $27,000. look and we paid it with out question. i mean go back and look at the older car and see what they went for and what it cost to make them. we are the one letting them tell us what we can and cant buy. we the people need to stop being afraid of our government and make our government afriad of us the people. there to work for us and there not so we need to change that and make them work for us like it use to be. thx
        alfredschrader
        • 6 Months Ago
        @ajschrod
        That 73 MPG car would be perfect for errands & grocery shopping.
        I want one.....Al-
        • 6 Months Ago
        @ajschrod
        I don't understand why we Americans continue to have such poor choices when it comes to selecting a car. For example, in Germany if you buy a C class Benz or a 3 series BMW you have a choice of 10 different engines including 3 different diesel engines. In the US you have a choice of two engines none of which are diesels or 4 cylinders. We are forsed to buy poor mpg cars. I'm sick of it! Give us some high mileage car choices!!
        • 6 Months Ago
        @ajschrod
        The reason why we wont get those (BLUEMotion Passsat and Polo, Diesel Fiesta) is because there are too many closed minded people over here in the states who cringe when they even hear the word Diesel. Despite the advances that Diesel technology has made in the last 20 years (even in the last decade) there are too many morons that completely shut out the idea of clean diesel because all they can think of is the dirty, underpowered diesels of the 80's. The other problem is the new "green" people dont like them because they still use fossil fuel technology and again, all they can think of when they hear the word diesel is a big semi billowing clouds of black smoke as it rolls down the road. Thankfully though, TDI technology seems to be slowly gaining popularity in the states.
        • 6 Months Ago
        @ajschrod
        I have driven Fiestas and Polos. The difference is incredible and definitly does not reflects the price difference. The Polo has far superior handling. Fiestas feel like cheap bycicles in comparison.
        • 6 Months Ago
        @ajschrod
        ur=porscha 918 spider=needs the nostrils below the headlights filled in it looks goofy=it subtracts from the headlights u need only the head lights to be admired =thanks have a great day
        • 6 Months Ago
        @ajschrod
        I used to have an imported VW Rabbit, which was inexpensive to buy and maintain, fuel injected, sturdy, and got 36 MPG. I got rid of it when it had 150,000 miles and had rusted out to the point that I was afraid I would stub my toe on the highway. When I recently priced VW's, I was suprised that the MPG was so much lower than before, and most models were way out of my price range. The used models had abysmal ratings in consumer magazines and websites too. I ended up buying another Nissan, a reliable, comfortable car, but too large and cumbersome for manual transmission, something I trusted and miss.
        • 6 Months Ago
        @ajschrod
        Why lament it? Because we don't have anything close to the mileage of European cars, e.g., I rented a VW Passat Blue Motion in the UK this past year. I routinely got over 60 mpg in that car. Comfort, mileage, reliability. Until we get the Renaults and the Citroens, etc. with mileage well over the 50 mpg mark, we can lament all we want!
        Get real.
        • 6 Months Ago
        @ajschrod
        The REAL reason you can't get these cars is that America is owned by oil companies. Low gas mileage is not in their interest.
        huffmans05
        • 6 Months Ago
        @ajschrod
        Susan is and idiot, like so many union bashers. Unions have NOTHING to do with what cars are built, like engineers, lab techs, CEO's etc. Of course it's the fault of the poor slob working the line, and the union that represents him. Your think'in is stink'in
        rsewill
        • 6 Months Ago
        @ajschrod
        If only one American car maker would build an econodiesel the rest would be forced to follow because of demand. Only one. Please, please, please.
        • 6 Months Ago
        @ajschrod
        @MAX - Assuming you drive only the standard 12k miles a year in your '79 Bronco, you would pay 2-3 times more for gas in one year than your vehicle is even worth. Yeah, makes sense to me...
        Bob
        • 6 Months Ago
        @ajschrod
        The main reason we can not get the popular cars the rest of the world has, is our polution and safety standards. I was in Canada a year before we got the Mini here and saw lots of them, but they had a diesel engine that never made it to the US. the rest of the world is not all that concerned about these things.
        rampscallion
        • 6 Months Ago
        @ajschrod
        WHY CANT WE HAVE GOOD CARS???? WHY DO OUR CRAPPY UNIONS MAKE CRAPPY CARS?
        Rotten Eggs
        • 6 Months Ago
        @ajschrod
        To hell with all these stupid cars and to hell with all you earth saving cry babies!!! Give me a '79 Ford Bronco with a 460 and I'll be picking pieces of your stupid little cars out of my knobby tires!!! The earth will survive and us self important humans are nothing more than minor surface irritation.... Go eat some damn tofu or something
        • 6 Months Ago
        @ajschrod
        Actually years ago the Ford Fiesta was available here but was withdrawn by the company because of many, many problems with quality control. It basically was a lemon. Look it up from the late 80's. So they disgraced the name early on. And the U.S has stricter emission and safety standards, (like California's notoriously tough emission ratings) than Europe. Many diesel engines made in europe would never cut it at the exhaust. Thats the reason it took so long to get the Mercedes BlueTec engines here. Generally European car makers have always had the more powerful and better fuel economy cars available only over there since the early 70's. Its no suprise.
        ty
        • 6 Months Ago
        @ajschrod
        The problem is our ridiculous standards. Just because California adopts emission controls doesn't mean it's the best thing for the rest of the country. They have a high population center in a desert, this means there is very little biomass to absorb and break down pollutants. Car models that elsewhere get 70mpg can get only 50 due to their californication. Another problem with their emissions measurements is it's just a straight measurement of parts per million. You can drive an f350 superduty 4x4 or an H1 as a daily commuter and meet emissions rather than the 70 mpg car that fails, even though the 70mpg car will put out 1/5 of the pollution due to volume differences. Stupidity rules, common sense drools apparently.
        • 6 Months Ago
        @ajschrod
        its the government that controls what goes on. the technology was there over 10 yrs ago to achieve extraordinary fuel economy. what's this crap about car models available now as a hybrid too.(and get charged more also!) just build the hybrid version only to keep the costs down. it won't change, welcome to America................
        xhawk2
        • 6 Months Ago
        @ajschrod
        The one Fiesta model that Ford won't bring to the US is a diesel model that can get 65 miles per gallon.
        • 6 Months Ago
        @ajschrod
        the Chevt volt is far too expensive for any average person.
        • 6 Months Ago
        @ajschrod
        The Ford Fiesta in Europe is a big seller but that does not imply that is the best: there are plenty of other cars that are better. Car surveys carried out in Europe testify to this, for example in the UK the reputable JD Power car satisfaction survey.
        Diesel technology such as common rail injection has made diesel engines very popular here in the UK as their mileage is significantly better then their gas equivalent. The introduction of gas particulate filters and reduced carbon emissions technology has also enhanced the reputation of diesels even more. Integrate that with the low cost of diesel fuel and you will end up with a very economical car.
        With reference to posters who commented on the lack of diesel cars in the US: the automakers have built cars that they believe that you will buy with the result that the consumer has had a limited choice in the market; here in the UK the market is driven by the consumer and the automakers have had to make cars to meet consumer demands because the car market is very competitive. The high price of fuel and European legislation has made the automakers improve their cars to be able to have a major market advantage.
      Bill
      • 5 Years Ago
      Diesels aren't the noisy, stinky vehicles of 10 years ago. Even the fuel is now low-sulfur and pollutes less. B20 biodiesel will lower the pollution even more and works well in older vehicles. Diesels will work towards energy independance until new technologies come along and can take over.
      Elvis
      • 5 Years Ago
      America doesn't want garbage that will break down & cost twice as much to fix!
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Elvis
        Never seen to many VW's broke down and they sure don't cost much to have them fixed...
        The majority who have commented seem to see the same thing, our government, has beendancing to the music of Lobbyists...
        Obama said NO MORE LOBBYISTS... has that happened? We can't even fix an oil leak (they say)Do you believe that? I know this is true America is deeper in debt than ever before in it's history and Washington has spent more money with this serving Congress than all the other years of congress combined... More money spent and approved by Americas sitting President in just a few months than all the other Presidents combined in Americas History. Change, well America got change... now America is getting ready to make change come this Nov. Someone needs to listen to the people... I understand that these life time senators (seemingly so) in the controling Congress, had better start looking for work... not that any of them need money... America has had enough... even us registered Democrates
        Dale
        ajschrod
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Elvis
        There are no longer any dogs on the market, so te worry of getting a lemon or the car having a built-in flaw is almost non-existant. Occasionally a faulty part is discovered like the Toyota surge problem and Chevy brakes,but it's no longer a "you against the system" problem.
        Mikerat42
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Elvis
        Detroit puts that out on a regular basis...
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Elvis
        Which is why they aren't that anxious to buy American.
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Elvis
        The reason the US builds automobiles that aren't garbage and don't break down all the time is due to the popularity of reliable foreign built cars. People speak with their wallets. Detroit shaped up to (try to) stay in business. And the reason those foreign cars cost so much to repair is because they are metric. The US is still in the stone age using the old British imperial measurement system which the rest of the world, including Britain, abandoned long ago.
      recoater
      • 4 Years Ago
      STOP COMPLAINING roll your own thats what im doing i want a diesel 4 door truck with a electric motor and a 4cyl turbo diesel build your own or hire someone to build it dont wait forever and not get what you want be a man
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