This is your guide to the most important green cars that are likely to be coming your way over the next few months and years, all of which are being showcased at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show.
We’re talking about zero-tailpipe emission sports cars, plug-in hybrid Range Rovers, and even an electric Rolls-Royce; yes, we’ve moved from green city cars to green cars in all shapes and sizes.
With petrol and diesel prices at an all-time high, it may come as a relief that you’ll soon be able to drive a 4×4 Volvo estate that can manage 150 mpg, or supercars that don’t need any fossil fuels at all to power them.
The crazy figures such as 150 mpg are based on the New European Driving Cycle conducted over a short distance, when cars such as plug-in hybrids can operate on electric power for most of the time; you won’t get these figures in your real-life driving over 12,000 miles per year unless you drive in a way similar to this test cycle every time you go anywhere. However, these new green cars still promise higher mpg and lower emissions than previous generations of models.
So read on to get a clear, user-friendly summary of the most significant green cars at Geneva. Some cars are here and on sale now, others are coming soon, and some are just concepts that may or may not see the light of day.
If we’re all going to be driving around in cars like this in a few years’ time, then the low carbon economy is going to be an exciting place to be. The all-electric Nissan LEAF hatchback is barely on sale, but the company is already showing us an electric sports car concept in the form of the ESFLOW. It’s a rear-wheel drive, two-seater pure EV sports car concept that can accelerate from 0-62 mph in less than 5 seconds and can manage 150 miles on one charge.
The all-electric Nissan LEAF is here now and you can buy one for £25,990 (a rise of £2,000 over the initial price). This is after the £5,000 UK government electric car grant has been deducted. The LEAF is the world’s first mass-produced all-electric five-seat hatchback. It’s very refined to drive, can reach 90 mph, has a range of 100 miles, and the electricity to cover this distance costs just £2. It’s also recently won the European Car of the Year award.
If you want a more practical electric car than the LEAF hatchback or the ESFLOW sports car, then the Nissan Townpod could be for you. The Townpod is a concept for another Nissan electric vehicle that is supposed to combine the best features of a car and a van for ‘urban business people’. It comes with easy accessibility as there is no pillar between the front and rear doors. Unlike the LEAF, this is an EV that you won’t be able to buy soon.
Renault ZOE Preview
Renault has an alliance with Nissan for the development of electric vehicles, with the two companies sharing technologies. Renault has produced a car that is smaller than the Nissan LEAF, in the form of the ZOE. The ZOE Preview on show at Geneva is around a 90 per cent accurate likeness of the final production version. It’s a Clio-sized car designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle, and featuring Renault’s new design style. It has a top speed of 84 mph and a range of 100 miles, together with a 0-62 mph time of 8.1 seconds. The ZOE will be available from mid-2012 and Renault claims that it will be a similar price to a Clio diesel, in other words, around £15,000 after the UK government grant (if it still exists), so it will be much cheaper than the LEAF.
The Twizy is basically a four-wheeled electric scooter, with better occupant protection than a two-wheeled version. The Twizy on display at Geneva has the same design of the production version that is due to go on sale in the UK in early 2012 alongside the Fluence ZE. The Twizy weighs 450 kg, including the 100 kg batteries, has a 60-mile range, and a top speed of 47 mph. A full charge of Twizy’s batteries takes three and a half hours using a domestic supply. The Twizy will go on sale at the end of 2011 and will be priced from 6,900 euros. Like Fluence Z.E. and Kangoo Z.E. buyers, Twizy customers will lease the battery. The monthly subscription in Europe will be €45 inclusive of taxes for an annual distance travelled of 7,500 km (UK pricing and mileage available at a later date).
Renault Fluence ZE
The Fluence ZE – together with the Kangoo Van ZE – is derived from an existing internal combustion-engined vehicle. The Fluence has a (limited) top speed of 84 mph and a range of 100 miles. Prices for the Fluence ZE will start from approximately €26,000 (depending on local VAT rates) in Europe excluding the battery. Customers will also subscribe to a monthly lease starting from €79 (including VAT) to cover the battery. The Fluence ZE will be available in the UK in 2012.
Renault Kangoo Van ZE
The Renault Kangoo Van ZE will go on sale at the end of 2011. The Kangoo Van Maxi Z.E, the long wheelbase version that is on show at Geneva, will cost £17,990 excluding VAT for the two-seat version, and £18,690 for the five-seat crew van. Light commercial vehicles are not currently eligible for the UK’s Plug-In Car Grant. There will also be a battery lease cost of £59 per month (based on 9,000 miles per year, over 4 years). The battery can be charged in between six and eight hours and the vehicle has a combined-cycle range of 105 miles.
The Renault DeZir proves that electric cars can look fantastic. The DeZir is powered by an electric motor mounted in a mid-rear position to optimize weight distribution over the front and rear wheels. The vertically-mounted 24kWh lithium-ion battery is located behind the bench seat and provides the car with a range of 100 miles. The basic motor is the same as the unit used for Renault’s production electric cars, but with more power (150 hp). The DeZir’s body is made from Kevlar, while its tubular steel frame is similar to that employed for the Mégane Trophy race car. It has a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.25, with acceleration from rest to 30 mph in just two seconds and a top speed of 112 mph. The very bad news is that you can’t buy one.
The electric Mitsubishi i-MiEV has been around for a while but only now is it officially becoming available in the UK. It’s based on a petrol car rather than being a clean-sheet electric design. It’s almost as refined to drive as the Nissan LEAF, but it’s not as big. Its narrow width makes it great for driving in urban areas, but doesn’t make it great for family use. However it can still seat four people, can reach 81 mph, and has a range of 93 miles. It’s priced at £23,990 (after the £5,000 government electric car grant).
The electric Citroen C-Zero is a Mitsubishi i-MiEV with a Citroen badge. So see the details for the i-MiEV above…
The electric Peugeot iOn is also a Mitsubishi i-MiEV with a Peugeot badge (sounds familiar?). So see the details for the i-MiEV above…
The Vauxhall Ampera (the UK version of the Chevrolet Volt) is an extended-range electric vehicle (E-REV). This means that compared to pure electric vehicles which have a limited range before you need to stop and recharge, the Ampera can keep on driving. The car can be driven with zero tailpipe emissions on the battery and electric motor alone for around 50 miles. If the battery runs low, the car switches to an on-board petrol range-extender engine. The petrol engine provides a range of a further 310 miles, or until you get to an electric charging point or petrol station to fill up. GM originally said that the Ampera was an electric car at all times, ie. the petrol engine never directly powers the wheels, but this now turns out not to be quite true. We drove the Ampera at Geneva and in electric mode it’s as refined as the LEAF. The petrol engine cuts in seamlessly when required, but it is a little weird having the engine revving away at a certain rpm regardless of road speed and demand on the engine. First UK deliveries are due in early 2012, and after the £5000 grant, the car will cost £28,995, ie. £3000 more than the LEAF.
Tata has kept a fairly low profile so far about its Vista EV while it’s been in development, yet by the end of this month, a total of 25 Vista EV vehicles are due to be supplied for a 12 month trial programme. The Vista EV is a fully electric four-seater family car with a 110 mile range and a top speed of 71 mph. It will initially be available to fleet customers in limited numbers in advance of a more comprehensive launch in 2012. Green-Car-Guide drove the Vista EV at Geneva. Its performance seemed adequate, although it’s more in the league of the smart fortwo ed than the LEAF, but the steering was very heavy, which is something that will need to be improved to make it a user-friendly city car. Tata also revealed the Pixel concept car at the show, a version of the Tata Nano for European markets, which is also likely to get electric power at some stage – the Vista EV is effectively a testbed for this technology.
smart fortwo electric drive
The smart fortwo looks like it should have been an electric car from the start. Its miniature size mates well with an electric powertrain – in our view it’s better to drive than the petrol and diesel-powered versions with their frustrating gearboxes. The fortwo ed has been around as a trial for over two years, with 100 cars leased to a very limited audience. The ed can travel up to 72 miles between charges, which typically take around 8 hours for a full charge. It achieves the equivalent of 300 mpg and has an electronically-limited top speed of 60 mph. The smart fortwo ed is fine for city use, but it doesn’t have the performance or range to drive it outside of city limits.
Whereas the smart fortwo electric drive is a car that currently exists and is undergoing trials, the smart forspeed is a two-seater electric concept. It has no roof or side windows and it features a low wind deflector instead of a windscreen. Smart says that the rear-mounted electric drive has been further developed and features a boost function – based on our experience of living with a fortwo ed, the performance would have to be improved if smart wanted to avoid coming under fire from the Trades Description Act for using the name ‘forspeed’ – as speedy is certainly one thing that the smart fortwo ed is not.
Range Rover Range_e
Right, now that we’ve covered vehicles such as electric city cars that you can buy now, let’s look at a Range Rover that emits just 89 g/km CO2 – which equates to 85 mpg. The electric ‘Range_e’ diesel hybrid plug-in prototype made its motor show debut at Geneva and is one of several working prototypes currently being developed at Land Rover’s design and engineering centre in the UK. The ‘Range_e’ is based on a Range Rover Sport and features a 3.0-litre TDV6 diesel with an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. Matched with a plug-in parallel diesel hybrid system it offers a premium SUV that can run as a pure electric vehicle. The ‘Range_e’ is the first capable 4WD model from Land Rover to achieve 89 g/km CO2. It has an EV range of 20 miles, a top speed of around 120 mph and a range of 690 miles. Range_e is also engineered with the same full 4WD capability as the standard Range Rover Sport, with high and low range in the transmission, front and rear differentials, and a mechanical locking centre differential. Dependant on the driver demand, the car’s intelligent system decides the most efficient method to deliver the power required, whether this is by electric, diesel or both.
Range Rover Evoque
You can’t buy a plug-in Range Rover Sport yet, but you can place an order for the new Range Rover Evoque. It will be the smallest, lightest and most fuel-efficient Range Rover ever. For the first ever time on a Range Rover, a front-wheel drive variant will be offered. With the 150 PS 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine, this model achieves 58 mpg and sub 130g/km CO2. The four-wheel-drive version with a 2.2-litre 150 PS turbodiesel engine delivers 50 mpg and sub-145 g/km CO2. The car will go on sale in more than 160 markets worldwide from summer 2011. Prices will start from £30,000 in the UK.
Volvo V60 plug-in hybrid
Green-Car-Guide was present at the unveiling of the V60 plug-in diesel hybrid estate Geneva show car at Volvo’s Gothenburg HQ. It’s a significant car because it’s a Volvo estate with great performance, all-wheel drive, and 49 g/km CO2 emissions, equating to 150 mpg. It also has 640 Nm torque, 285 hp, a 0-62 mph time of just 6.9 seconds, and a top speed of 124 mph. It offers around 30 miles zero-emission driving range. The V60 plug-in hybrid is due to go on sale in the UK in 2012.
Peugeot 3008 HYbrid 4
The Peugeot 3008 Crossover, with HYbrid4 technology, is also a diesel-electric hybrid, like the Volvo, but there’s no plug-in capability. It’s also due to be the first diesel ‘full hybrid’ production car to go on sale. It combines a diesel engine rather than a petrol unit (for better economy in normal driving) with the potential of zero emissions in urban areas. Powered by a 2.0 litre 163 bhp HDi diesel engine and a 37 bhp electric motor, it can return 74.4 mpg with 99 g/km of CO2. The 3008 HYbrid4 will be marketed in the spring of 2011 in Europe.
Peugeot HR1 Concept
The Peugeot HR1 Concept is a combination of different types of vehicles – a city run-around, coupé and SUV. It uses Peugeot’s HYbrid4 technology, but this time with a new three-cylinder 1.2 litre THP 110 petrol engine at the front and a 37 bhp electric motor at the rear, resulting in a maximum potential power output of 147 bhp, with a combined fuel consumption of 81 mpg and CO2 emissions of just 80 g/km. It can be driven in ‘zero emissions’ mode in town at low speed, or with both ‘engines’ together, providing four-wheel drive capability.
BMW Vision ConnectedDrive
The BMW Vision ConnectedDrive is designed to showcase the future direction of BMW’s performance-enhancing and emissions-lowering innovations. The result is excellent performance combined with low emissions. Although this is a concept, the good news is that the concept’s technologies – likely to include a diesel-electric hybrid system – are likely to appear on a BMW in a showroom near you in the not-too distant future.
The BMW ActiveE (although there was a previous concept version) had its world premier at the Geneva Motor Show. A test fleet of over 1,000 BMW ActiveE vehicles will be trialled from this year. Based on the current BMW 1 Series Coupé, the BMW ActiveE is the second electric test vehicle to be created by the BMW Group (the MINI E being the first). Findings from the field trials of the BMW ActiveE will be fed back for the future development of the Megacity Vehicle, due to go into production in 2013. The BMW ActiveE can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in just nine seconds, delivering 168 hp and maximum torque of 250 Nm from a standing start. Its top speed is electronically limited to 90 mph. BMW UK will be leasing BMW ActiveEs to selected customers.
MINI Rocketman Concept
The MINI Rocketman Concept is a 94 mpg study car that has been revealed to the public worldwide for the first time at the Geneva Motor Show. The Rocketman shows how a future MINI city car could look, combining high fuel economy, low emissions and driving fun, all in compact dimensions. The Rocketman is a 3+1-seater with 3 doors and a length of just over 3 metres (approx. 10 ft.). It has a lightweight carbon spaceframe construction which is visible at the front end of the car, around its doors and in the interior.
Rolls-Royce Phantom 102EX
The Rolls-Royce 102EX, also known as the Phantom Experimental Electric (EE), is a one-off, fully electric-powered Phantom. The car will tour during 2011, serving as a test-bed to gather research data which will be crucial in informing future decisions on alternative drivetrains for Rolls-Royce. Through test drives, owners will be given the opportunity to experience alternative drivetrain technology and to provide feedback to Rolls-Royce. Rolls-Royce says that there are no plans to develop a production version at the moment.
The four-door, four-passenger Fisker Karma premium plug-in hybrid electric vehicle develops 403 hp, reaches 62 mph in 5.9 seconds, has a top speed of 125 mph, yet it can achieve an average economy of 100 mpg and CO2 emissions of just 83 g/km. Driven only by electric motors at all times, the Karma delivers the zero-tailpipe-emissions of an all-electric vehicle and eliminates range anxiety with the 300 mile (480 km) range of a traditionally powered car thanks to its 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder range-extender petrol engine. The Karma can achieve 50 miles electric-only when powered by its 20 kWh lithium ion battery. The Karma features the world’s largest continuous solar panel roof for a car and is the first car to be equipped with 22-inch wheels as standard equipment.
Porsche Panamera S Hybrid
The Porsche Panamera S Hybrid has CO2 emissions of just 159 g/km together with 41.5 mpg combined fuel economy – highly impressive figures for a 380 hp car. This results in a ratio of 2.39 hp per g/CO2, which Porsche says is unbeaten in the UK car market. The Panamera S Hybrid can also achieve 0-62 mph in 6.0 seconds and a top speed of 168 mph. The range in purely electric mode is approximately 1.25 miles, with driving in this mode possible up to 53 mph, depending on the road and traffic conditions. The Panamera S Hybrid goes on sale in the UK in June 2011, priced from £86,146.
Mercedes SLS AMG E-CELL
The Mercedes SLS AMG E-CELL is a zero-emission electric prototype featuring four synchronous electric motors with a combined peak output of 525 hp and a maximum torque of 880 Nm. The motors each achieve maximum revs of 12,000 rpm and are positioned near the wheels, meaning that compared with wheel-hub motors the unsprung masses are substantially reduced. The gullwing model also accelerates from zero to 62 mph in 4 seconds – which almost puts it on the same level as the SLS AMG with its 6.3-litre V8 engine developing 571 hp, which can accelerate to 62 mph in 3.8 seconds. And of course four motors and four wheels means permanent all-wheel drive. Mercedes says that the SLS AMG E-CELL offers the prospect of a possible small series production run.
Infiniti M35 Hybrid
The new Infiniti M35h hybrid combines 364 PS with a 0-62 mph time of 5.5 seconds together with 40.4 mpg and 162 g/km CO2. The 155 mph 3.5-litre V6 M35h is Infiniti’s first hybrid and the most powerful model in the luxury Infiniti M range. The Infiniti M35h has a hybrid system comprising of one electric motor and two clutches. It also has low drag – the Cd is just 0.26 – and lighter weight, the M35h weighing less than the M30d diesel model at 1830kg. The 68 PS (50 kW) electric motor can power the Infiniti M35h more often, at higher speeds and for longer periods than rival hybrids. The M35h will be available throughout Europe from the spring.
Lexus CT 200h
The CT 200h hybrid is a new full hybrid luxury compact model that emits just 94 g/km CO2 emissions and can manage 68.9 mpg combined cycle fuel economy. The CT 200h earns a Band A rating for Vehicle Excise Duty – hence a zero annual road tax bill and a 10 per cent Benefit-in-Kind charge for company car tax payers. It’s available in three equipment grades, SE-I, SE-L and SE-L Premier, and costs from £23,485. It’s on sale now.
Toyota Yaris HSD hybrid concept
The Yaris HSD hybrid concept has its world debut at Geneva. The car previews an actual production model that will bring Toyota full hybrid power to the B-segment, Europe’s largest market sector, in 2012. In all-electric EV mode the car produces zero CO2, NOx and particulates tailpipe emissions. The Yaris HSD’s roof is entirely covered with solar panels, to provide independent powering of the car’s air conditioning unit, thus reducing fuel consumption. The Yaris HSD is the next step in Toyota’s roll-out of full hybrid versions of its complete model range in Europe.
The Prius+, Europe’s first seven-seat full hybrid MPV, has also been unveiled at Geneva. The Prius+, similar to the Prius v that was unveiled in North America, is a new vehicle designed from the ground up, and provides significantly more passenger accommodation and loadspace than its sister hatchback model. It will be the first non-plug-in Toyota hybrid to use a lithium-ion battery pack and it will offer the lowest fuel consumption and emissions of any seven-seat vehicle on the market. The Prius+ is due for a European market launch in first half of 2012.
Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid
The Prius hybrid primarily runs on its petrol engine rather than an electric motor. However the difference with this version is that you can plug it in to the mains to recharge it. This gives you a much larger zero-emission range – up to 12.5 miles at speeds up to 62 mph – on its batteries and electric motor before the petrol engine kicks in. The result is 108.6 mpg and 59 g/km CO2. You can’t buy it yet but first UK deliveries are due in early 2012. In preparation for this, around 600 vehicles are currently taking part in demonstration lease programmes worldwide, including 20 in London. The car’s EV driving range in real-world testing has exceeded nine miles.
Toyota EV prototype
Toyota’s iQ-based electric prototype made its European debut at Geneva. Based on the current iQ model used by both Toyota, the EV prototype has an electric powertrain based on Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive. The vehicle integrates its all-electric system within the compact four-seat iQ package thanks to a newly developed, flat and compact lithium-ion battery that has been accommodated beneath the vehicle floor, without compromising loadspace or passenger accommodation. It provides enough charge to give the car a range of up to 65 miles and a maximum speed of 78 mph. The EV prototype is being put through testing on European roads this year, with a potential market introduction through a leasing programme in 2012.
Honda Jazz hybrid
Honda’s Jazz hybrid features the same 1.3 litre i-VTEC as the Insight hybrid and will have similar CO2 emissions of 104 g/km – 21 g/km less than the current lowest-emitting 1.2-litre petrol Jazz. Like the Insight and Civic Hybrid models, the hybrid version of the Jazz will be capable of running on the electric motor alone under some medium and low speed conditions and this contributes to a combined fuel consumption figure of 64.2 mpg. The hybrid Jazz is on sale now.
Honda’s EV Concept electric vehicle
Honda says its EV Concept electric vehicle hints strongly at the direction and styling for Honda’s upcoming production battery electric vehicle, the Fit EV, which will be introduced to the U.S. and Japan in 2012. The EV Concept is designed to meet the daily driving needs of the average urban commuter and utilises the same 5-passenger layout found in the Fit hatchback (known as Jazz in the UK). The Honda EV Concept will achieve an estimated 100-mile driving range per charge.