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Hot Greens: Wired Names the 10 Fastest Environmental Conscious Cars on Earth

August 28, 2007

SAN FRANCISCOWired magazine, arbiter of all things nerd, has compiled a list of the fastest "green" cars in the world. They range from 200-plus-mph supercars like the Ford Fusion Hydrogen 999 and the Audi R10 TDI to not terribly swift oddball transports like the FM4 HumanCar and the Volvo Aria, neither of which has what anyone would call an "engine” reported

Top of the list is the Dodge Viper as tuned by Chicago's SVS Power. This one has a twin-turbocharged, ethanol-powered version of the Viper's 8.3L V10 with 1,200 horsepower. The SVS Power Viper holds the standing-mile speed record and boasts a top speed of 220.7 mph, Wiredsays.

Next, and possibly tops on the list of oddballs, is British Steam Car Challenge's one-seater Challenge Inspiration, which runs off a liquid-propane steam generator with a two-stage Curtis turbine and makes 300-plus hp. Estimated top speed is 215 mph.

Right behind it are the Ford Fusion Hydrogen 999 hydrogen fuel-cell car with a 770-hp electric motor and a top speed of 207.3 mph, and the Le Mans-winning Audi R10 TDI, with its 650-hp 5.5-liter twin-turbo V12 and top speed of 204.5 mph.

In the 130-mph category are the Toyota Landspeed Prius and the Tesla Roadster. This Prius beat the hybrid speed record at Bonneville and has a modified transmission, lowered suspension and roll cage. Wired notes that Toyota's Lexus LS 600h L has a higher top speed — 170 mph — but it's electronically limited to 130 mph in the U.S. The Tesla Roadster, which runs on a 248-hp electric motor and lithium-ion batteries, is claimed to reach a top speed of 130 mph and estimated to get 135 mpg.

The remaining four are firmly in "road less traveled" territory. There's the Nuon Solar Team's Nuna4 single-seater, which runs on 2,318 photovoltaic cells, a lithium-polymer battery pack and a 7.5-hp direct-drive electric motor in the rear wheel. Top speed is 80 mph. It was built by Holland's Delft University of Technology for this fall's Panasonic World Solar Challenge.

There's the Volvo Aria fiberglass bullet-shaped one-seater (made for a fully recumbent driver), which is 9 feet long, 3 feet wide and reaches 54 mph while being powered only by gravity. There's the FM-4 HumanCar, a fully human-powered vehicle from inventor Charles Greenwood of Seattle, basically a steel-tube-chassis high-tech rowing machine that hits 30 mph — or 50-plus, if you are going downhill.

Finally, the Venturi Eclectic from France is a wind/solar-powered vehicle with a 22-hp electric motor driving the rear wheels. Roof-mounted wind turbine and photovoltaic cells in the roof charge its nickel-metal-hydride batteries, and it also plugs into a standard household electrical outlet. Top speed is limited to 31 mph, and there's a 30-mile range between charges.

What this means to you: It's fun to look at all the possibilities and wonder which, if any, of these technologies will become commonplace on production vehicles in the decades to come commented Wired.

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Charles Bowen has been retired from the transportation industry since Sept. 15, 2011.

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