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Offline AshSimmonds

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Achtung! Electric Porsches Are Mean and Green
By David Jenison

When it comes to choosing a sweet ride, eco-friendly celebs have generally had to choose between going green or going flashy. Well, Tinseltown can rejoice — new electric cars that give you both are finally hitting the market. You've probably heard about Tesla; now there's a German car maker that's merging a classic sports car design with next-gen technology.

So how would you like an electric Porsche 911 Targa? RUF is making it happen.

RUF Porsche frontNext fall, RUF expects to begin production on its new electric-powered eRUF cars that, as you probably noticed, feature Porsche shells and accessories. It's what the company calls "Emotion without Emissions." We call it pretty freakin' cool.

RUF's Marc-Andr้ Pfeifer explains that the company will offer two electric car models, or eRUFs. The all-black Model A and Greenster are both in development now, but the company is taking pre-orders. Pfeifer says both models are sold out for a year, but production is due to start in the third quarter of next year.

It's not every company that can improve upon a Porsche, but RUF has been doing it for decades. The company celebrated its 70th anniversary this year and for the last several decades, RUF has been well known for super-charging Porsches. That remains its primary focus, but now it's using that expertise to make emission-free Porsches that still have zip. And of course, that's the question on everyone's mind — namely, how fast do these puppies go?

The company supplied me with the most data on the Model A, which is the original prototype. RUF expects the electric car to accelerate from 0 to 60 in under seven seconds with a top speed of around 160 mph. In other words, yes, you can take it to the autobahn and not make it look like Mr. Magoo moved to Germany. In combustion engine terms, the 200+ hp car will generate up to 650 Nm torque output from 0 rpm onward. As far as battery life, the Model A should go 150 to 200 miles on a single charge, depending on whether or not you're testing out its performance peaks.

RUF Porsche backThere was less data on the Targa-style Greenster since it is the newer model, but it already features several improvements. Most significantly, the green-colored convertible features a new drive train designed by Siemens Corporate Technology that should juice the torque up to 950 Nm. Also, the top speed will be comparable to its coupe predecessor, but the Greenster will accelerate from 0 to 60 in just five seconds. And if you do plan to max the output, RUF actually offers high-performance driver training courses on racetracks in Germany and Austria. One can only hope that RUF will sponsor electric car races in the future!

A Porsche already costs a mint, and as you might imagine, an electric Porsche will cost even more. eRUF plans to build 35 to 50 Greensters and coupes per year, and the planned export price is 180,000 Euros (over $267,000). That's a big price tag even for someone who didn't use Nicholas Cage's investment advisor. Hopefully the price will go down if Porsche itself gets more on board.

The Tesla Roadster sport model, by comparison, reportedly tops out at 288 hp, 370 Nm torque and 120 mph (but goes 0-60 in 3.7 seconds). At about $100,000, it's also significantly cheaper than the eRUF.

"Unfortunately we have to buy a completely new car from Porsche," says Pfeifer. "If we get just the shell and just the parts we need, we could save a lot of money."

In other words, if you're already sitting on a regular Targa 911, you might want to look into shipping costs. I bet you'll get a bigger discount than Whole Foods gives you for those reusable bags.

RUF Porsche interiorLocated in the Bavarian town of Pfaffenhausen, RUF started in 1939 when founder Alois Ruf opened a service garage, and in the decades that followed, it began to specialize in upgrading Porsches. Alois Ruf, Jr., took over the company in 1974, and RUF became an official car manufacturer in 1981. The younger Ruf delved into green-powered cars after imagining the possible synergy with its other business, hydroelectric energy. In other words, the company has bigger plans for a green planet than just making electric sports cars.

"Mr. Alois Ruf, Jr. has two main passions — cars and hydroelectric power production," explains Pfeifer. "He owns three hydroelectric power stations, so one day he was wondering, 'Isn't it possible to drive our cars with our own CO2-free energy?' And so the project with the electric cars started."

These hydroelectric power plants feed 35 million kW hours of electricity into the German electrical network each year, which is enough power to drive a Greenster around the globe 3,500 times. If the company can use its hydroelectric plants to provide electric power for the eRUF automobiles, it means Germans can double their green points by driving electric sports cars on water-generated power from emission-free plants. Normally you'd have to put Shrek on a bike to get that green!

These eRUF vehicles will be the first German electric sports cars on the market, and it's a bold step forward in the fight for more mean green machines. But what exactly does RUF see as the future of eco-friendly cars? Pfeifer seems to think the possibilities are endless, but there first needs to be more growth and infrastructure. Quick-transfer electric pumps anyone?

"It is a little bit too early to speculate about the next electric car breakthroughs," Pfeifer notes. "We first have to make sure that the project of electric cars itself — and this is a very big breakthrough in human mobility — is finished."

Thanks to companies like RUF, the electric car project continues to grow, and these eRUF Porsches will certainly help us cross the finish line in style.


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