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Electric Car Guide
Green Cars at the Geneva Motor Show
The Geneva Motor Show gets green
The Geneva Motor Show has a 'Green Pavilion' but there's really no point having this area because there are green cars on all the manufacturers' stands, ranging from electric city cars to highly efficient performance cars. There are in fact far too many green cars to mention them all, so here's Green-Car-Guide's Top 20 Green Cars at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, in order of importance and/or coolness.
In summary, Geneva shows that electric cars will be a key part of the way forward, however extended-range electric vehicles - in other words an electric car that has some form of range-extending generator, in most cases a small petrol engine - will be an even more useful proposition for people. There will also be more hybrids coming, ie. cars that are primarily combustion-engined - significantly, for the first time we'll see diesel hybrids as well as petrol, and at last, high-performance hybrid models. The advent of plug-in hybrids will provide a greater range on battery power. So the immediate future really is a combination of petrol/diesel and electric power in some form. The 2010 Geneva Motor Show really demonstrates how the importance of green cars has risen up the agenda with all manufacturers over the last few years.
1. Nissan Leaf
Nissan is hardly seen as a leader in the area of green cars at the moment, however the company is planning to miss out the current phase of tinkering with conventional cars to make them greener, and head straight for being a market leader in electric vehicles. The Leaf is due to be the world's first electric vehicle designed for large-scale volume production, and is scheduled for global launch in late 2010. It's a five-seat, five-door hatchback with a range of more than 100 miles on one full charge.
2. Vauxhall Ampera
The Vauxhall Ampera, the European version of the Chevrolet Volt, is driven by an electric motor at all times. When the motor is powered by the battery, this will give a range of around 40 miles. If you can recharge the battery you can continue driving on electric power. If you want to drive more than 40 miles, and aren't able to recharge the car, you simply put in petrol and you can drive as far as you want thanks to the petrol engine that acts as a generator - it's got a range of more than 300 miles on one tank of petrol before you need to refuel. The Ampera is an E-REV - an Extended-Range Electric Vehicle - and this means that people can have one car that is an electric car in urban areas, but if you want to drive from London to Scotland you can also do that, so it makes real sense. Under the current European Test Cycle the emissions are forecast to average out at less than 40g/km CO2. Sales will start in the UK in 2012. The (dirty) Ampera in the photo is the one that was driven 500km from Opel/Vauxhall's European HQ, with the last leg being driven by Nick Reilly, Opel/Vauxhall CEO.
3. Vauxhall Flextreme GT/E
The Vauxhall Flextreme GT/E is a four-seat, five-door extended-range electric coupé concept based on the forthcoming Ampera, and is capable of 125mph, 175mpg, and CO2 emissions of less than 40g/km. The concept is designed to show that the extended-range electric vehicle (E-REV) system can be applied to vehicles across all market segments. The Flextreme GT/E achieves a projected drag co-efficient of just 0.22, allowing it to reach an estimated top speed of 125mph-plus, while conserving energy and extending the driving range.
4. Lotus Evora 414E Hybrid concept
With this concept, Lotus has made a real effort to address many of the things that drivers don't like about electric cars - from the range limitation issue to the lack of involvement without a conventional gearbox. The Evora has an electric motor that is normally powered by a battery, but, as with the Vauxhall Ampera, if the battery runs low, then the 1.2 litre, three-cylinder petrol engine comes into use and this acts as a generator, so there is no range limitation. It's called the 414E Hybrid because it produces 414 PS of power, and it gets from 0-60 mph in less than 4 seconds. It also comes with a sports mode with a 7-speed paddle shift - an interesting and innovative concept for an electric car. Unfortunately it's just a high performance technology demonstrator and Lotus says that there are no plans for production - yet.
5. Fisker Karma
California-based Fisker Automotive has been developing the Karma to be the first production Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV). The Fisker Karma is a full-size saloon that can reach 60mph in six seconds and a top speed of 125mph as well as achieving well over 100mpg. The Karma has a range of 50 emission-free miles on a full charge of its lithium-ion battery, and a total range of 300 miles thanks to an on-board generator powered by a 260hp, four-cylinder petrol engine, which is used when the battery runs low. Combined with two powerful electric motors, these components make up the 403hp powertrain. Fisker Automotive is scheduled to start customer deliveries in summer 2010 - initially in America, however the company says that there are plans to make it available in the UK.
6. Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4
We've got petrol hybrids at the moment but no diesel hybrids. Peugeot plans to change this with its HYbrid4 hybrid diesel technology. It has parallel architecture, in other words the system will use the diesel engine when it's at its best on long runs, and it will use the electric motor around town. When used together, the two power units offer increased performance and CO2 emissions around 35% lower compared to engines of an equivalent power output, and the electric motor at the rear of the vehicle offers four-wheel drive without the drawback of a mechanical connection. The diesel hybrid 3008 HYbrid4 is set to emit 99g/km CO2 and is due for launch in the spring of 2011.
7. Peugeot RCZ HYbrid4 2+2 coupé
The RCZ HYbrid4 2+2 coupé is due to emit just 95g/km CO2 but is experimental only. However the non-hybrid RCZ 2+2 coupé, with lines reminiscent of the original Audi TT, is due on sale in the spring of 2010. The hybrid diesel technology means the HYbrid4 cars have a potential of 200bhp performance, yet can also run in 'zero emissions' mode. Peugeot intends to eventually develop a range of HYbrid4 vehicles, together with the rollout of the second-generation 'Stop & Start' system on production vehicles in 2011.
8. Renault Fluence ZE concept
You may have noticed that Renault is heavily advertising the fact that it will soon have a range of electric cars on sale, and three of its concepts are at Geneva. The Renault Fluence ZE will be released for sale in the first half of 2011 in Israel, Denmark and the rest of Europe, and will be the C segment's first production three-box electric vehicle, as well as the world's first car to be compatible with the Quick Drop rapid battery exchange system. It's designed for both private and fleet use. Renault estimates that electric vehicles will account for 10 per cent of the world market by 2020. The Renault-Nissan Alliance is investing â‚¬4 billion in its zero-emissions programme and a 2,000-strong team (1,000 at Renault, and 1,000 at Nissan) is working on electric vehicle programmes.
9. Renault Zoe ZE concept
The Renault Zoe ZE concept may be radical-looking, but it will influence an electric supermini that will go on sale in 2012. The concept has gullwing doors at the front and 'butterfly' doors at the back. The lithium-ion batteries power a 95hp electric motor allowing the Zoe ZE to reach 88mph, with a 100-mile range. It even has a special roof with photovoltaic cells to capture energy from the sun.
10. Renault Twizy ZE Concept
The Twizy ZE Concept is a city car and it will be manufactured at Renault's Valladolid plant in Spain from 2011. The driver and passenger are seated one behind the other in an all-electric means of transport which produces no CO2 emissions. It has four wheels but it's just 1.13m wide with a turning circle of just three metres and a footprint barely larger than that of a scooter. The Twizy ZE Concept is powered by a 15kW (20hp) electric motor developing 70Nm of torque and capable of a top speed of around 50mph.
11. Citroen Survolt
The Citroen Survolt, pictured on the right, is a new electric concept based on the Revolte concept, on the left. It's supposed to be a supermini but it's just a two-seater and there's a definite racing car influence. The Revolte on which it's based is a plug-in hybrid, with styling inspired by the 2CV. The hybrid powertrain features a small-capacity conventional combustion engine combined with an electric motor, and a battery under the rear seats. Citroën says it can run in zero emission mode but beyond that few details are confirmed. Anyway despite the lack of detail, we think the Survolt looks great and Citroen should build it!
12. Honda CR-Z
The Honda CR-Z is a compact 2+2 hybrid sports coupe that comes with a 1.5 litre i-VTEC engine coupled to Honda's IMA hybrid system and emissions are expected to be 117g/km with fuel economy of 56.4mpg. More good news is that its hybrid system is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission rather than the normal CVT gearbox, which will be welcome relief for drivers who don't like CVTs. In fact the CR-Z is the world's first 6-speed manual hybrid car. The European version of the CR-Z goes on sale in the UK in summer 2010. Pricing has just been confirmed as starting from £16,999 and the CR-Z can be ordered from Honda dealers now.
13. Lexus CT 200h
The Lexus CT 200h is a new premium compact full hybrid which has its debut at the Geneva Motor Show prior to a worldwide sales launch in late 2010. Mechanically it will be similar to the Prius, with a 1.8-litre VVT-i petrol engine, electric motor and nickel-metal hydride (NiMh) battery. The full hybrid system will have a selectable EV mode for emissions-free electric running, along with selectable ECO, NORMAL and SPORT driving modes. The CT 200h comes with the familar Lexus/Toyota electrically controlled continuously variable transmission (E-CVT) and front-wheel drive.
14. Toyota Auris HSD
The new Toyota Auris HSD (Hybrid Synergy Drive) will have two versions, one delivering 89g/km emissions and 74.3mpg combined fuel economy, and the second emitting 93g/km CO2 with 70.6mpg combined fuel economy. The Auris HSD is a full hybrid capable of operating in petrol and electric modes alone, or a combination of both. It uses the same 1.8-litre VVT-i petrol engine found in the Prius - and the forthcoming Lexus CT 200h - together with an electric motor, generator, battery and a power control unit. It comes with E-CVT electric continuously variable transmission. It will be built in Britain and the UK sales launch is scheduled for July.
15. Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid
Toyota has confirmed the introduction of the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, which can be charged from an electricity supply to give a greater range on its batteries and emissions of just 59 g/km CO2. Approximately 600 units will be introduced in Japan, the United States, and Europe over the first half of 2010. Twenty will come to the UK for trials in mid-2010. Toyota says that the Plug-in Prius will be commercially available in two years. The Prius Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHV) offers greater range on electric power, significantly reducing fuel consumption and emissions. The PHV uses lithium-ion batteries - a first for Toyota - which can be charged from an external source as well as by the car's own hybrid drive system.
16. Audi A1
The new Audi A1 has been launched at Geneva, but the big green news is the A1 e-tron, an electric car that has a Wankel rotary engine as a range extender. The small, single-rotor Wankel engine, a technology normally found in Mazdas, is used to increase the range of the electric drive. This 'range extender' powers a generator that produces 15 kW of charging power. If the range extender is used to recharge the battery, the A1 e-tron can cover an additional 124 miles of range, in addition to its 31 miles on electric power alone. According to a draft standard for the computation of fuel consumption for range extender vehicles, this represents a fuel consumption of 148.7mpg - a CO2 equivalent of only 45 g/km. Audi calls the A1 e-tron a Mega City Vehicle (MCV) and says that it's nearly production-ready.
17. Audi A8 hybrid
The Audi A8 hybrid, with a 2.0 TFSI petrol engine and an electric power unit, delivers 45.6 mpg with emissions of 144g/km CO2. It's just a technology concept at the moment, however the technology will be used in the Audi Q5 hybrid, which will be introduced later this year. The A8 concept is a full hybrid. This means that it can be powered by either the petrol engine or the electric motor alone - or by the combined power of both. During coasting or braking, the electric motor acts as a generator that converts kinetic into electric energy and recharges the lithium-ion battery. The hybrid drive can propel the car solely on electric power at up to 40mph with a range of over a mile. In city traffic, the hybrid drive uses about 20 percent less fuel than a petrol model.
18. BMW 320d 'EfficientDynamics' Saloon
BMW has managed to lower the emissions of the new 320d saloon to 109g/km CO2, which equates to 68.9mpg. In addition to the existing suite of BMW EfficientDynamics technologies, including Auto Start Stop, Brake Energy Regeneration and Electric Power Steering for optimum performance, that have featured on all four-cylinder BMW 3 Series models since September 2007, the new 320d 'EfficientDynamics' Saloon has a longer rear axle transmission ratio, lowered suspension and the use of specially designed aerodynamic alloy wheels with Michelin EnergySaver tyres. The BMW 320d EfficientDynamics Saloon is on sale now.
19. BMW Concept ActiveE
The MINI E is already undergoing trials in the UK, so BMW's next step is the Concept ActiveE, a rear-wheel drive electric 1 Series Coupe. The BMW Concept ActiveE is the BMW Group's second vehicle after the MINI E to be developed as part of project i, and is another field test of electric vehicles for private and selected fleet users. The BMW Concept ActiveE has rear-wheel-drive, a powerful drive system for dynamic acceleration, and a high level of efficiency so it can be used beyond city limits. The arrangement of the drive components also makes it possible to provide four full-size seats and a 200-litre boot volume.
20. Mercedes F 800 Style
The F 800 Style is a concept for a Plug-in Hybrid luxury car with CO2 emissions of 68 g/km, or it can also be powered by a fuel cell. In Plug-in Hybrid drive form, it comes with a V6 petrol engine with an output of 300 hp and a hybrid module with an output of 109 hp, giving a total power output of 409 hp. The lithium-ion battery can be recharged either at a charging station or a household power socket and the F 800 Style can run exclusively on electricity and therefore without generating any local emissions. Mercedes claims that the car has the same driving performance as a car with a V6 petrol engine even when operating in electric mode, due to the torque of the system. It can also manage 0-62 mph in 4.8 seconds and a top speed of 150 mph. When in electric mode, the F 800 Style can run purely on electricity for around 20 miles and has a top speed of around 75 mph. Mercedes-Benz will begin series production of the S 500 Plug-in Hybrid with the introduction of the next-generation S-Class.
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- Paul Clarke