Did you miss the electric vehicle debuts in New York Auto Show news? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Despite the presence of every top automaker, there were no headlines in the EV space from the Big Apple this year. Neither Ford nor Nissan revealed an answer to the Chevy Bolt EV, and Tesla didn’t seem to be aware the event was taking place. (Out in Fremont, April Fool’s jokes were all Tesla had to coincide with the show’s opening day.)
Press previews did feature hybrid models debuting as part of vehicle lines, but in most cases you had to search hard to find the green vehicles. (In some cases, you had to comb through the basement of the Javits Center to find a plug-in making noise.) Yet look closely enough and you will be rewarded. Here are five intriguing green cars hiding in the shadows at the New York Auto Show.
1. Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid
If you happened to be in Seoul for the auto show taking place the same days as New York’s, you would have seen the Sonata plug-in hybrid getting the rock star treatment. At the Hyundai stand in New York, visitors breezed by the first plug-in model in Hyundai brand history in anticipation of the North American debut of the 2016 Tucson. In the shadows of the photographer stand (literally) sat this earnest entry to the midsize plug-in segment currently controlled by the Ford Fusion. Hyundai says the Sonata plug-in will get 22 miles of electric range when it appears in the fall. It deserved at least the attention of a few models like it got in Seoul.
If you haven’t heard of Elio Motors, the car with 86 miles per gallon capabilities and an $6,800 price tag showed up for its first auto show in New York. To be clear, Elio did have a press conference with the company’s chief executive in attendance. It just happened to be toward the close of the second day of NYIAS events, which is a very low-profile spot on the schedule. (Check out the press conference here.) Despite lacking funding to put its efficient three-wheel car into production, Elio is taking deposits on its future green car.
3. Mercedes GLE 550e
In contrast to Elio, well-heeled Mercedes-Benz came to New York armed with a host of gorgeous products including the new GLE sport utility vehicle line. AMG models promise massive horsepower without much in the way of fuel economy, but the GLE 550e plug-in fills the green car slot for the 2016 SUV line. Along with 426 horsepower and 479 pounds-feet of torque, it delivers up to 19 miles of electric-only driving. Mercedes is bringing several plug-in hybrids to the U.S. in 2016, and this hybrid should be one of the most anticipated arrivals of the fall. Its electric range tops that of the upcoming BMW X5 plug-in.
4. Kia Trail’ster
Down in the basement of New York’s Javits Center — way in the back corner — green car manufacturers were giving rides in plug-in EVs and fuel cell vehicles for auto show visitors. There, you could find the Hyundai Tucson fuel cell vehicle, Kia Soul EV, and BMW i3, among others. Up on the Kia stand, you could see the Trail’ster electric all-wheel drive concept fresh off its Chicago Auto Show debut. While the hoopla surrounded the debut of the new Optima, this efficient concept based on the Soul can get 34 miles per gallon on the highway. It was a welcome sight in its East Coast debut.
5. Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
By the afternoon of Day Two of the New York show, most press teams were hustling to the airport to get back to their home bases, but there was still an important hybrid set to debut from Toyota. Those in attendance got a glimpse at the first RAV4 electric-gas model, the eighth hybrid in the Toyota family to date. (In the splashy opening NYIAS press conference, Lexus also unveiled the RX hybrid.) Unfortunately, Toyota was mum about the miles per gallon quotes for its new hybrid, but there is reason to expect good things ahead of the fall launch.