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Ecovelocity review - Hybrids excel

Ecovelocity review - Hybrids excel

Ecovelocity was the first low carbon motor festival in London, September 2001 . Click here to go to the website

Most manufactureres of Electric Vehicles and other hybrids were there, together with smaller vehicles, charging points, magazines and the chance to test drive the majority of new production and concept cars.

This was a very impressive motor show, where it was possible to get a full picture of the current state of the market, and to see the vehicles 'in the flesh'. It soon became clear that the new breed of electric vehicles, although expensive are well designed and superbly constructed. It was only by in depth questioning that the various shortcomings became apparent - the shortage of charging points and the short distance that the pure EV's can travel before requiring a complete re- charge.

All the manufacturers employed specialists who were able to discuss the virtues of their own model. The majority were vehicle testers and demonstrators rather than sales people and were therefore soon to give their own frank opinions, which in general accepted that the current battery technology presented a fundamental flaw to widescale uptake, and that until the range of these vehicles could be extended to 200 miles, the inconvenience of short journeys only would prove fatal to most potential purchasers at present. 

As expected 'the sales patter' has had to move with the times! Instead of saying 'its a good little runner, I'll bet my life on it' , the chorus seems to be 'if your driving down the motorway, why not stop for a cup of tea at Leicester Forrest and recharge', forgetting that a full low cost recharge can take up to 8 hours.

The same cannont be said however for the new style hybrid vehicles that have clearly come a long way since the introduction of the Lexus RX series in 2007. The Vauxhall Ampera won the What Car Green car of the year award, and should be available in early 2012. This was the an impressive car to drive, despite the arkward driving position and unusual looks!

There is a sophisticated computer that balances the type of power with the speed and style of driving, made easy by a tremendous graphic display that explains all and helps the driver discover the optimum setting at any given time. The combination of battery power and diesel gives a tremendous capacity. It still has the feel of a 'concept car' about it, something that may well prevent the anticipated sales that are predicted.

 Also featured in this class is the Volvo V60 hydbrid, shown at the header of this article, that is anticipated in the new year at a cost of around £35,000. It was not at Ecovelocity, but the sales team were quick to draw it to my attention as the only 4 wheel drive hybrid available. The great advantage of these vehicles is that with their combination of diesel and electricity, they can return stunning results, with the Volvo predicting 148.6 mpg and just 49 g/km of CO2.This plug in  hybrid can drive 30 miles on battery power alone ( the distance of a reasonable commuter run) and should get to 0- 60 in 6.8 seconds.

Click here for a clip from a review of the V60 hybrid on 'Fully Charged' that makes the point that a car to be truly 'eco friendly' not only has to use less fossil fuels than before, but must be manufactured in a sustainable manner, as Volvo are at pains to point out.

 

My personal favourite was the Mitshubishi i-MiEV that is now on sale at £23,990 to include the £5,000 government subsidy. Over 3000 have been sold worldwide, and lives up to the manufacturers claims that it combines suprising power with a smooth and quiet ride. The interior can properly be described as 'funky' and clearly makes for an attractive purchase for short commuter journies, especially in London where the congestion tax and other parking benefits are available.

The Nissan Leaf, one of the leading EV's for some time was also on display. The sales team were keen to stress the easy to use fast charge or cheaper overnight charging options which seemed well engineered. The interior was remarkably spacious and attractive, but the lack of capacity made for a very expensive commuting option, despite the advantatges of no congestion charge, no road tax and free parking in some London boroughs - yet another form of modern transport benefit not open to those who chose to reside in Leeds. The cost of £26k ( including the government subsidy) looks steep, but the performance looks fine with a range of 109 miles and a top speed of 90 mph.

 

Just announced Jaguar Hybrid C-X16

 

Jaguar have just announced a supercharged 3 litre v.6 engine that produces a fantastic 376 horsepower and 332 pound- feet of tourque. The C- X16 is a pre production concept that introduces the 'push to pass' hybrid on demand button. It packs an electric motor that is intergrated into the 8 speed gearbox  to produce a further 92 horspower and 173 pound-feet of tourque at the push of a button which supports a claimed 0 -60 mph in 4.3 seconds and a top speed of 186 mph.

The C-x16 is due to make it's debut at the Frankfurt motorshow in less than a week's time - we are yet to see the full range and mpg figures, but this exceptional hybrid promises to be a winner!

Click here for a tremendous video of the new Jag

For any advice and assistance for issues like these please do call Jeremy on 0844 2722322 or submit a comment below. Jeremy will come back to you at the earliest convenience.

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