The scene could not have been more perfect. It was late October on Long Island, and the rustling of leaves mingled with the sound of tiny waves tumbling onto the deserted shoreline. As we traveled west on Old Montauk Highway toward Hither Hills, we noticed what seemed to be the Batmobile on our right. It pulled out of a driveway and followed behind us. Sensing it was a certain elusive supercar, we pulled over and let it pass while lowering the window for a listen.
As we had guessed, it was the Porsche 918 Spyder passing by, and it did so in the most extraordinary way: silently, in electric-drive mode. For a brand known for zip-code-rattling engines that provide the soundtrack to enthusiasts’ dreams, it was a perplexing kind of noiselessness. The leaves and waves continued dominating the Montauk airwaves that afternoon.
Porsche isn’t the only manufacturer producing a supercar that can become an emissions-free vehicle with the flick of a switch or upon recognizing low cruising speeds. In fact, sports car designers have been perfecting the electric motor boost for several years. Used in conjunction with kinetic energy recovery systems, the new technology helps compensate for the occasional lag your 700-horsepower, turbocharged V8 might stumble through on the way to 220 miles per hour.
But are these plug-in hybrids, most of which cost well over $1 million, in any way green vehicles (if only for the 1%)? That depends how you use one, and how far you are going. Here’s a look at the priciest, most exclusive electrified cars and how their zero-emissions driving specs stack up against one another.
1. Ferrari LaFerrari
To be “LaFerrari,” a car must embody everything past and present about the auto brand. Ferrari believes that’s exactly what this limited-edition, 950-horsepower model from 2014 did. According to AutoWeek, which ran a first drive of LaFerrari upon its debut, electric mode became a part of the project “at the request of some customers” and is capable of plugging in to get some emissions-free driving.
The EPA did not give it any all-electric range and rated it at a measly 14 miles per gallon combined. That number is likely the lowest for any hybrid ever produced, so there is nothing green in the slightest about this car. You might be surprised by a few electric miles when moving it from your airplane hangar to your helipad, but other than that it’s your average supercar with a little electric boost. For interested parties, one was spotted selling for $4.7 million early in 2016.
2. McLaren P1
The EPA gave the stiff-arm to the McLaren P1 as well, denying the English rocket any all-electric miles, though it did acknowledge its status as a plug-in hybrid offering the equivalent of 18 miles per gallon from miles one through 18. (Beyond that, economy dips to 17 miles per gallon.) However, there is more than met DOE testers’ eyes in this 903-horsepower force originally priced around $1.15 million.
In a review for Automobile Magazine, Todd Lassa noted the car could get as many as 6.8 miles in EV mode, and it can be recharged in two hours using the onboard charger. Like LaFerrari, this one is a tough sell as a green car on any level, even when the competition is other supercars listed well above $1 million.
3. Koenigsegg Regera
In terms of brawn, there are few cars that have ever compared to the Koenigsegg Regera that was rated at 1,489 horsepower. With this explosive plug-in hybrid, the automaker decided to one-up everyone in hypercar world with 22 miles of electric range to go along with the bluster. If that translates to the same number once the EPA tests it (a big “if”), Regera would have more EV range than the majority of plug-ins on sale in America.
Of course, its $1.9 million price tag is important to note, as is the sheer impossibility of owning one of the 80 that will be built. However, let’s say you lived in a world where you drove around Manhattan during the week turning heads on every corner, then on Sundays you let Regera rip in the countryside for the afternoon. We suppose that would be a fairly green lifestyle, or at least a wash compared to the average car.
4. Porsche 918 Spyder
Does it sound crazy for these supercars to pretend to be green somehow? Here is how Porsche frames it when discussing its E-Performance line: “Porsche E-Performance provides answers. Right here and now. Because we need to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions worldwide.” Hence the automaker’s product line…
In the context of the 918 Spyder that starts at $929,000 with the Weissach package, the concept goes from crazy to bat-dung ludicrous. Yet there are several things to back up its green specs, beginning with EPA’s take on fueleconomy.gov. According to the feds, this 887-horsepower Porsche is the automaker’s most economical car at 67 miles per gallon equivalent in electric mode. Since it can get you 12 miles without switching over to its beast-like engine, there are green days of driving to be had.
The 918 Spyder does better than the Cayenne and Panamera E-Hybrids, not to mention the Mercedes GLE 550e SUV (12 miles, 43 miles per gallon equivalent). Once you kick into gas mode, the 22 miles per gallon is what you expect from a Porsche, though it’s several ticks better than the average hypercar out there.