With the price of petrol rising rapidly and ever increasing concerns over the effects of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere, the motives for producing environmentally friendly cars are as obvious as they are compelling. So far, the most commercially successful car to utilise electricity as a supplementary source of power is the Toyota Prius. However, much has been written about the Prius questioning the environmental benefits the manufacturers claim it offers. One thing is for certain, although the little car has divided the automotive industry like marmite, it has underlined the growing customer demand for cars such as these and pointed to a possible future trend in car purchasing habits.
You can pretty much guarantee that the first company to come up with a truly environmentally-friendly car, one which performs on a similar level to petrol and diesel cars, looks good, doesn’t have issues with short battery life and is relatively affordably, will make a lot of money!
Volkswagen are the next manufacturer who are hoping to gain some of the market by releasing their version of a fuel efficient hybrid, the XL1. VW claim that the XL1 will be able to achieve 313 miles per gallon and although it has yet to be seen whether it will reach this figure away from controlled testing, if the real life figure is anywhere close to this it will be an astounding achievement.
As well as the innovative drive-train that combines an 800cc diesel engine with a 20kW electric motor, one of the main reasons the car is so efficient is because of the almost obsessive attention to detail. Every possible effort has been made to reduce the weight of the car and to increase the efficiency as it moves through the air. Steel components have been replaced be carbon fibre wherever possible. Other advances such as using cameras instead of conventional rear view mirrors to reduce the drag of the car also help to increase the potential miles per gallon. The quest to reduce the air resistance has resulted in a car that looks more like a sports car than the more practical existing hybrid cars with the sleek shape helping the car to glide through the air without wasting precious energy as heat created by friction.
The unique styling certainly grabs attention when driving past, although it is difficult to say whether this will be viewed by customers as a novelty rather than a progressive and forward-thinking design statement. However, the biggest hurdle this car must overcome is the price. Starting at £92,000 it sits firmly in the super car price bracket which certainly limits the number of people able to purchase it. One thing is certain though; whoever buys this car will be buying into a unique piece of history and will be making one more step towards a greener future.
Of course, as environmentally-friendly cars become ever more present in our future, it is vitally important that consideration is taken for the disposal of old vehicles and that the gains of the efficiency of these cars is not negated by poor disposal methods. If you need to scrap an old car, it should be done ethically and following all waste regulations by taking it to a reputable scrap yard.