The top 10 eco fuel technologies (continued)
16 May 2007
Author: Guy Bird
3. Full electric
Eco fuel rating 68%
What is it? An electric motor powered by a battery that must be plugged in like any other electrical appliance to recharge.
For Zero CO2 emissions at tailpipe; No local air pollutants; If original electricity source is renewable (hydro-electric or solar) the whole equation, bar production and disposal, becomes virtually CO2-free; Numerous tax, parking and congestion charging breaks.
Against Very limited average mileage range; Long recharge plug-in times, so limited fit-for-use applications plus potential downtime.
Who are the market leaders? Bar Smart's trial production Fortwos, there are small independents like G-Wiz and NICE. Mitsubishi with its MIEV tech and Nissan are looking into fully electric cars in the next five years, while GM recently showed a 'plug-in hybrid' concept that uses bioethanol to create additional electricity to extend its range beyond plugging in at the mains.
2. Modern diesel
Eco fuel rating 68%
What is it? Common-rail, turbodiesel and particulate diesel filters (PDFs) have all advanced modern diesel technology. First ultra-low sulphur diesel and soon sulphur-free diesel fuel (an EU directive specifies all pumps should be sulphur-free by 2009 or earlier) will allow even cleaner diesel engine tech to be sold and help meet tough Euro5 and Euro6 emissions standards.
For Lower CO2 and higher mpg than petrol and LPG; Longer range than any commercially available fuel; Best for higher mileage drivers; Availability, ease of use for business and constantly improving tech see it beat full electric power.
Against Generally higher list prices and fuel cost at the pumps than petrol.
Who are the market leaders? VW, Merc and Audi (collectively under Bluetec brand in US), BMW, Fiat, PSA Citroen/Peugeot, Renault, Ford Group and GM Group.
Eco fuel rating 72%
What is it? An electric motor either part-powers or permanently assists a small petrol (and in the future, diesel) engine to allow it to go further on a tank of conventional fuel.
For The battery that powers the electric motor is recharged by regenerative braking so avoiding potentially awkward and time-consuming static plug-ins; Tailpipe CO2 emissions can be lowered to sub-diesel levels; Numerous tax, parking and congestion charging breaks.
Against High initial tech price; Weak mpg proposition compared to diesel in out-of-town driving.
Who are the market leaders? In the UK, Toyota, Lexus and Honda, but most carmakers are planning hybrids for the UK in the near future including Ford, Kia/Hyundai, VW, Porsche and Audi plus a GM/BMW/DaimlerChrysler alliance.