GreenFleet Arrive ‘N’ Drive
The GreenFleet Arrive ‘N’ Drive event, in association with TRACKER, aims to allow fleet buyers to test a range of the latest green cars in a somewhat unusual setting, around a racetrack; so what were the top low emission choices on offer for fleets?
Held on the historic day when David Cameron and Nick Clegg came together to lead the country, a broad range of manufacturers also came together to offer private and public sector fleets low carbon solutions for the future. You can be forgiven for completely missing any references about the low carbon economy in the run-up to the election, but now that the Lib Dems are in office, more progress in this area is exactly what’s on the cards. Combine that with what is likely to be huge pressure on the public sector to save money on running fleets, together with ever-rising petrol and diesel prices, and highly efficient fleet vehicles appear to be an obvious way to play a part in helping to cut the deficit.
It should be noted that although the venue for the GreenFleet Arrive ‘N’ Drive event is a race track, more specifically Rockingham, near Corby in Northants, the idea is not to actually race the cars. Although this is obviously a natural tendency, especially when you get situations such as electric cars trying to prove their capabilities against conventional petrol and diesels. But a race track is actually a great way to see how vehicles handle themselves compared to a 20 minute test drive through slow city traffic from a local dealership.
The GreenFleet Arrive ‘N’ Drive event provided fleet buyers with a chance to try some cars that may not be the most obvious fleet choices. So what were the star cars? Here’s a selection of interesting green fleet choices from the event…
Being a brand new model, the sporty Honda CR-Z hybrid was fully booked up for drives from very early in the event. It features a 1.5-litre petrol engine mated to Honda’s hybrid system in a small 2+2 coupe. It can manage 56.4 mpg with emissions of 117 g/km CO2. We think the best news is that, uniquely for a hybrid at the moment, it comes with a 6-speed manual gearbox rather than the normal CVT. Prices start from £16,999. Read our full review next week. Honda’s hybrid Insight was also available for drives.
Next up in terms of popularity was the Peugeot RCZ (no relation to the Honda CR-Z). Again, maybe not an obvious choice for a company car, but with emissions of just 139 g/km CO2, the RCZ is very attractive from a tax point of view. However it also shows that Peugeot is capable of great design, and it performed very well around the track, especially for a 139g/km car.
The new Citroën DS3 was one of the highlights of Citroën’s stand. In particular, the new 99 g/km CO2 model was excellent to take around the track. It combined entertaining handling with a compliant ride, and it didn’t feel at all like a 99 g/km car in terms of performance. Even better, it also looks fun and funky. The C Zero electric car, basically a rebadged Mitsubishi i-MiEV, was also there and out on the track, but only with one of Citroën’s drivers at the wheel.
Alfa Romeo MiTO
The new Alfa Romeo MiTO was also available to drive, providing another option that fleet managers may not normally consider. MultiAir engines, featured on the Alfa MiTO, ensure an increase in power (up to 10%) and torque (up to 15%), as well as a considerable reduction in consumption levels (up to 10%) and CO2 emissions (up to 10%), of particulates (up to 40%) and NOx (up to 60%). The MiTO provided fun around the track, more so than other members of the Fiat family. This was helped by the Alfa’s ‘DNA’ switch, ie. the ability to change the car’s settings to provide more dynamic, sporty responses.
SEAT Leon SE 1.6 Ecomotive
The new Leon SE 1.6 Ecomotive was on show, with emissions of just 99 g/km CO2, which is excellent for this size of car. You’d imagine that it would be very dull to take for a spin around the Rockingham track, but it was actually excellent to drive for a large sub-100g car, with good performance and an entertaining chassis. Even more suited to the track was the diesel SEAT Ibiza FR, which combined performance, economy and sporty handling.
Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion
Volkswagen had its BlueMotion technology on show in the form of the Passat. With very long gearing, it’s certainly an ideal low emission solution for drivers who spend lots of time up and down the UK’s motorways. Meanwhile the Golf BlueMotion is an incredibly refined car that really doesn’t have any drawbacks over the standard model. The super-efficient Polo BlueMotion will be here soon.
Ford’s ECOnetic range was on display, in the form of a Fiesta, Focus and Mondeo. All these cars combine sharp driving dynamics with low emissions, but the newest and sharpest of them all is the Fiesta, which combines an excellent driving experience with 98 g/km CO2 and 76.3 mpg. As it is sub-100 g/km, it has a 100% Writing Down Allowance, as well as zero road tax.
Toyota had the new Prius available for drives, which surely must be near the top of the shortlist for any fleet that needs a large five-seater hatchback for use in urban areas, with its very low emissions of 89 g/km CO2, and 74.3 mpg. Toyota’s second hybrid model will be available in the UK this year, the Auris HSD, and it will even be built in Britain. A particularly shiny iQ city car was also on show at Rockingham.
The Lexus RX450h and GS450h were both available for drives. Hybrid technology results in the RX450h SUV emitting 148 g/km CO2 and achieving an official 44.8 mpg. As a result, Benefit In Kind is just 14%, impressive indeed for a car in this class. The GS450h sports saloon combines performance, hybrid efficiency and luxury, but perhaps the big news is the forthcoming CT200h, the world’s first premium C segment hybrid, which will be here in 2011.
One of the main items of news on the Fiat stand was that eco:Drive, the software programme that allows drivers to analyse personal driving styles and optimise consumption and emissions, will soon be launched as a fleet version. This means that fleet managers will have the ability to be much more informed about the actual emissions of their fleet cars in real life driving, for no extra cost. And remember that Fiat’s average CO2 emissions figure on cars sold in Europe are only 129.1 g/km, making it the only mainstream car brand to achieve the European average goal, of 130 g/km by 2015, five years early.
Hyundai’s fleet average emissions were just 133 g/km in 2009, which is only just behind Fiat. Manual i30 models are currently available with Intelligent Stop & Go technology (ISG) to help reduce emissions, but the big news is the arrival of Blue Drive vehicles. Four new cars wearing the Blue Drive badge will appear in 2011 – the i10, i20 and i30 blue, all of which will produce less than 100g/km of CO2.
With similar products and technology to Hyundai, Kia labels its ‘green’ range ‘EcoDynamics’. Intelligent Stop and Go technology on the cee’d 1.6 CRDi EcoDynamics results in CO2 emissions of 110 g/km and 67.3 mpg. And of course all Kias come with a seven year warranty.
The Mazda3 2.0 Sport aims to combine an entertaining driving experience with respectable emissions. With i-stop smart idling technology fitted as standard, it means that its 159 g/km CO2 emissions just bring it under the 160g/km capital allowance threshold. Of course the Mazda2 is based on the same platform as the Fiesta, so it has excellent driving dynamics, and cleaner styling than the Fiesta.
Energy Saving Trust Smarter Driving
The more observant attendees at the event would have spied some BMW Group vehicles, including the new and incredibly efficient
109 g/km CO2 BMW 320D EfficientDynamics (see our full story)
. These BMW Group products were being used out on ‘real roads’ for the Energy Saving Trust’s Smarter Driving Training, which helps people to drive more economically and more safely. The potential fuel and cost savings when magnified on a fleet scale can be significant. See our full story about the
Energy Saving Trust’s Smarter Driving Training here
The GreenFleet Arrive ‘N’ Drive event also featured efficient vans from Ford, Fiat, Volkswagen, Citroen and Peugeot. In addition a small electric ‘tipper’ van was on display from Aixam Mega. Aixam Mega took over the assets of its London dealership the NICE Car Company at the start of this year, and now operates the NICE Car dealership under its direct control.
Solar Powered Cars
Also on display were solar-powered cars. These can travel thousands of miles without any power from petrol, diesel or electricity. Unfortunately they’re not yet available for fleets, but are instead projects of two universities.
Cambridge University Eco Racing (CUER) is taking part in the Global Green Challenge, a marathon of 3000 km across Australia. Competing for the first time in 2009 as the only UK entry and finishing 14th out of 26 teams, the project is now focused on the vehicle design for the next race in 2011 – and on the look out for sponsors.
The Durham University Solar Car, DUSC, is being developed to compete in the World Solar Challenge; see more at
Keywords: GreenFleet Arrive ‘N’ Drive event 2010, Rockingham, Energy Saving Trust Smarter Driving, Cambridge University Eco Racing (CUER), Durham University Solar Car, DUSC