Variety of eco-friendly vehicles on display at annual auto expo

Posted at 6:51 PM, Jan 18, 2015

SANDY, Utah -- The Utah International Auto Expo attracts those in the market for a new car--and even some of those who are not.

All of the top dealers bring out their newest and best models, and with air quality being such an important issue for Utahns, FOX 13 News took a look at some of eco-friendly vehicles on display.

When it comes to eco-friendly cars these days, manufacturers are going way beyond the gas pump.

“That small solar panel in the rear charges your accessory battery,” said Karina Marquez, who is a Nissan product specialist.

Nissan’s eco-friendly LEAF will take you up to 84 miles on a full charge. The base model is made from mostly recycled products and costs about $22,000. It uses no oil, so forget about oil changes or tune ups.

If you’re looking for a little more luxury in your electric car, you might be surprised to learn BMW offers two models. The i3 is completely electric, and the futuristic i8 is a hybrid.

“So it’s still one of the fastest cars we make, which is pretty cool, but, again: You’re getting 74 miles per gallon because it is a combination of an electric motor and gasoline engine,” said Ryan Roosendaal, a BMW client adviser.

The i8 will set you back about $140,000. The completely electric i3 retails at about $43,000.

“The coverings on the i3, for example, and even some of the i8s are from recycled plastic bottles,” Roosendaal said. “And like the door panels, when you’re looking at them are actually made of hemp. The car is almost completely recyclable--down to even the batteries.”

Toyota was the first to offer a hybrid, and the Prius has remained one of the leaders in eco-friendly cars since its release.

“We have the Prius family, which in Utah includes the Prius C, which is the small version; the Prius Liftback, which is the medium size; and the Prius V,” said Josh Drennen of Toyota.

But with Toyota , the hybrid options go far beyond the Prius. They now offer Camrys, Avalons and the family-friendly Highlander--which gets 28 miles to the gallon and seats seven. They are having trouble keeping these on the lots in Utah, as they've become a top seller.

“So it’s great gas mileage, can seat seven passengers, so it’s moving up to the whole family can get that environmentally friendly vehicle instead of just the smaller four or five-seater,” Drennen said.

The Utah International Auto Expo runs through Monday and is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Click here to visit their website for details and ticketing information.