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Watch out, Tesla and Fisker! More luxury carmakers go electric

Electric cars are getting blinged out.

We’ve written before about how major automakers like Nissan, Ford and GM are plowing forth with electric car and hybrid offerings. Nissan, in particular, wants to grab 20 percent of the global electric cars market. But luxury automakers are getting into the game, too. Could it mean competition for luxury electric car startups like Tesla and Fisker?

Big news on this came from BMW recently. First, the company is launching an entire eco-friendly sub-brand of its cars, called “i.” The lineup includes the i3 all-electric city car and the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car. It is also piloting 1,000 ActiveE electrified BMW coupes, testing out a car sharing service and just said it would launch a $100 million venture capital fund to invest in transportation-related services. It has already backed My City Way, which makes a smartphone application that helps users find nearby services like bathrooms and restaurants.

Rolls Royce also plans to trot out a plug-in hybrid, the Phantom 102EX, which the company’s chief executive called the “first battery electric vehicle for the ultra-luxury segment.”

Mercedes-Benz has also been dabbling with green cars. It has been leasing fuel-cell powered vehicles (the F-Cell) and recently showed a very sexy electric sports car at an auto show in Detroit. SLS AMG (pictured, above) goes from zero to 62 in 3.8 seconds, is due out in 2013 and will likely cost around $307,000.

While Nissan is best known in the electric car world for its all-electric Leaf hatchback that went on sale in December, it’s also launching a sporty electric car. The Esflow, pictured on the right, can do zero to 62 miles per hour in less than five seconds and the company is promising 150 miles of range on a fully charged battery.


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