Chances are that you have picked up on the fact that, in Stockholm, cars seem to be incredibly politically incorrect and totally unfashionable. The poor souls that sunk half their fortune and a second mortgage on the house into that new and hot Porsche Cayenne SUV a few years back have had to endure tyre-slashing and a selection of genitalia-related swear words keyed into the shiny paint, as well as a plummeting resale value. All this in order to enjoy the rumbling noise of a powerful V8 engine while slowly crawling forward in city traffic.
Fuelled by statistics and assumptions about global warming and a diminishing oil supply in the world, the auto industry has finally (and perhaps reluctantly) turned the ship around, creating innovative and efficient cars instead of steaming ahead in a race to make the brawniest car in the world.
Quirky-looking vehicles such as the hybrid pioneer Toyota Prius or Chevrolet Volt are the new cool, driven by environmentalists and movie stars alike. And who knows, pretty soon we might see rappers replacing their Escalades and Hummers with something more in tune with times. The modern-motorist drives a low-emission, sensible and quiet car, made of recyclable materials and takes you from A to B in splendid anonymity sans attention-grabbing exhaust noise. Or maybe not.
BMW recently presented its all-new hybrid electric model i8, a low slung sporty looking four-seater, churning out a total of 362 horsepower, propelling itself from a standstill to 100 kilometres per hour in 4.4 seconds. The magic happens via one electric motor powering the front wheels and one 231 horsepower (!) three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine for the rear wheels. Fuel consumption translates into 2.5 litres per 100 kilometres and CO2 emissions are kept at a very low 58 grams per kilometre.
Make no mistake – the BMW i8 will not be for the budget buyer. It is expected to retail at a whopping USD 135 000 when it hits US dealerships early next year, which brings it almost on par with the most expensive regular BMW models on the market. And you are still going to have to shell out another seven kronor or so for an iPhone app to simulate a cool engine roar and bring some spunk into your environmentally friendly electric commute.