Independent, Expert EV Reviews & Advice Since 2006

Merseyside’s First Green Vehicle Show

A selection of the best green cars currently available were on display at Merseyside’s first green vehicle show which took place on Monday 17th July at Knowsley Hall.

ECOtravel REVS 2006

ECOtravel REVS (Reduced Emissions Vehicle Show) 2006 also featured seminars throughout the day which provided information about a range of topics ranging from British Sugar’s entry into biofuel production to greening the company car fleet. It was organised by Merseytravel’s ECOtravel bureau ( ), a one-stop information service providing free and impartial information and advice to both the public and business communities on Merseyside. The bureau aims to encourage the use of reduced emissions vehicles to improve local air quality and reduce emissions of CO2.

Green Cars with reduced emissions

All cars on display all had to demonstrate that they were doing their bit to reduce emissions to improve local air quality and reduce emissions of CO2. The models included hybrids, petrol and diesels (but only if they featured particulate filters).
In fact, emissions, efficiency and fuel consumption all played a part in the choice of cars that were present. Whilst diesel engines are more efficient than petrol engines, combusting 1 litre of diesel produces 13% more CO2 than combusting 1 litre of petrol. Larger diesel engines enjoy a big enough efficiency advantage that they will still produce significantly less CO2 than the equivalent petrol. However below about 1.4 litres, petrol engines can often match diesel engine CO2 emissions despite using more fuel. So whilst in general less fuel means less CO2, both the fuel consumption and the CO2 emissions need to be checked when comparing smaller engined petrol and diesel models. The emissions that lead to poor local air quality are not related to fuel consumption as they are managed by the use of after treatment devices.

Car Manufacturers at the Show

Citroen – Reduced Emission Diesel Vehicles

Citroen has arguable done more than anybody to advance the development of reduced emission diesel vehicles. Alongside the development of cleaner diesel engines through the introduction of the HDi engine range, Citroen has pioneered the widespread adoption of Diesel Particulate Filters, known here by the French acronym FAP. The PSA Peugeot Citroen group first introduced FAP in 1999 and by 2004 more than 1.1 million vehicles had been sold with FAP.

Diesel engines can reduce CO2 emissions when compared to petrol, but they have substantially higher emissions of Particulate Matter (PM) and Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) both of which contribute to poor local air quality. Fitting FAP virtually eliminates PM emissions, bringing them down to levels comparable with that of petrol engines.

Citroen have continued to increase the availability of FAP by offering the system as standard on selected C4, C5 and Xsara Picasso models. In 2004 the third generation of FAP was introduced which captures even more PM and is maintenance free.

Citroen have also introduced innovative petrol designs in recent years. In December 2004 Citroen introduced the C3 Stop & Start, which enables the petrol engine to be turned off when the car is stationary. The system provides the engine stop/start functionality of a full hybrid system but without the need for many of the additional components. This enables Citroen to fit the system into the limited space available in smaller cars and at a price which is still competitive.

At the beginning of 2006 the C2 also gained Stop & Start. Both models benefit from reduced fuel consumption in urban driving where the system operates. Compared to the standard models, fuel consumption and therefore CO2 emissions are reduced by around10% in urban areas. When the system is functioning all emissions are eliminated thus reducing noise and pollution in congested urban areas, where the C2 and C3 are designed to spend most of their time.

In the C1, Citroen produce the lowest CO2 emitting non hybrid car in the UK. The petrol C1 combines very low CO2 emissions with very low regulated emissions (the emissions that lead to poor local air quality). At just £6,000 it is also one of the cheapest cars currently available, proving that being green doesn’t have to cost more.

Lexus – Redefining the Hybrid

With two class leading hybrid models already on sale, Lexus could be forgiven for concentrating on hybrid technology. However this is not the case as Lexus has also developed a reduced emissions diesel model, showing that they are committed to reducing emissions wherever they can.

A year after its launch, the RX400h remains the UK’s only hybrid SUV. This demonstrates just how far ahead of the pack Lexus are with hybrid technology. By combining a 3.3 litre V6 petrol engine with two electric motors, the RX400h achieves very low regulated emissions and CO2 emissions. This is in contrast to diesel competitors, which have good CO2 emissions but at the expensive of elevated regulated emissions (the emissions that lead to poor local air quality). The second electric motor powers the rear wheels bestowing the RX400h with the benefits of 4 wheel drive.

The recently launched GS450h moves hybrid technology into another new arena. By combining a 3.5 litre V6 petrol engine with a 199bhp electric motor, Lexus has created the world’s first hybrid luxury sports saloon. The GS450h manages a previously unimaginable balance of power, pace, refinement and frugality thanks to the highly advanced hybrid system. Compared to diesel competitors it is faster, costs less to buy, emits less CO2 and has much lower regulated emissions. In fact the GS450h emits no NOx, an amazing achievement which puts all of its diesel rivals in the shade. It is also far quieter in urban areas where it can operate in electric zero emissions mode for extended periods.

The IS220d is proof that Lexus are eager to produce cleaner diesel vehicles too. Lexus has developed an innovative 4 way catalytic converter called DPNR. Unlike the conventional 3 way systems, DPNR also reduces Particulate Matter emissions. This system allows the IS220d to achieve very low PM emissions, and replaces the need for a Diesel Particulate Filter. This provides a further demonstration of Lexus’s determination to develop new technologies which reduce emissions.

Mitsubishi – the Colt and the i car

Mitsubishi may be best known in this country for their iconic rally bred EVO’s but the company also recognise the importance of producing reduced emissions vehicles. In 2004 Mitsubishi launched the Colt, which has done more than any of their other models to change public perception of the company. With three major European car awards to its name, the Colt has been well received by public and journalists alike.

The 1.1 litre petrol Colt features a highly efficient, 3 cylinder engine jointly developed with Daimler Chrysler. The characteristics of the 3 cylinder engine are perfectly matched to the Colt. The reduced weight improves handling and reduces fuel consumption whilst also reducing internal inertia, producing a responsive, free revving engine.

Equipped with Mitsubishi’s variable valve timing (MIVEC – Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control) 4 valves per cylinder and Double Overhead Camshafts it has everything that you would expect of a modern engine. The result is 0-62 mph in under 13 seconds and a hugely impressive 51.4 mpg on the combined cycle rising to 61.4 for the extra urban cycle. Thanks to the excellent fuel consumption CO2 emissions are low at just 130 g/km.

In January 2006 Mitsubishi introduced the i car to the Japanese market. Following strong sales they are now investigating bringing the i car to the UK. At just 3395 mm in length the i car is even shorter than the modern breed of city cars and yet, due to a very compact mid mounted 660 cc 3 cylinder engine and a cab over design, it has 5 doors, room for 4 adults and cabin space to rival cars from the class above.

If customer feedback is positive the i car could be on sale here this year with CO2 emissions expected to be under 120 g/km.

Toyota – Pioneering Hybrids

Toyota has been at the forefront of developing reduced emissions vehicles for some time now, and are probably best recognised for their pioneering use of hybrids. By combining a powerful electric motor with an efficient and clean petrol engine, Toyota has produced vehicles which greatly reduce both CO2 emissions and emissions that lead to poor local air quality.

Toyota launched the first petrol electric hybrid in 1997. Prius I was only available in Japan, as Toyota wanted to make sure that reliability would not be compromised by the addition of the hybrid components. In just three years 33,000 were sold and real world experience was gained.

In 2000 Prius I was ready to be launched to a global market. Between 2000 and 2003, 76,000 were sold and thanks to the lessons learned reliability was up to Toyota’s very high standards. The batteries were now capable of 180,000 miles with no deterioration.

When Prius I production ended, 110,000 had been sold worldwide and Toyota was ready to launch the Prius II. Between 2003 and 2005, 344,000 Prius II found homes. In April 2006 the landmark of 500,000 sales was passed proving that hybrid technology is here to stay. Indeed Toyota aims to double the number of hybrid models that it offers worldwide within the next 10 years to 14.

However Toyota’s environmental credentials do extend beyond their work with hybrids, as is proven by the breadth of reduced emissions petrol and diesel models within their line up. Alongside the Prius selected Aygo, Yaris, Avensis and Corolla Verso models achieve some of the lowest emissions in their class.

Toyota currently produce the UK’s lowest CO2 car in the form of the hybrid Prius but they also produce the lowest CO2 non hybrid car with the petrol Aygo. Costing just £6,730 the Aygo demonstrates a commitment to building environmentally class leading vehicles for all budgets.

Volkswagen – Injection Petrol Engines for reduced petrol consumption

Volkswagen has long been associated with solid German dependability and this has won them many friends in the fleet sector where downtime is to be avoided at all costs.

Launched in 2005 the 5th generation Passat won critical acclaim by being crowned best family car by Auto Express, a title which it successfully defended in 2006. The availability of a Diesel Particulate Filter on the 2.0 TDi reduces particulate emissions by 18 times compared to the non DPF version. This shows how effective DPF is, reducing the emissions to virtually nothing. In combination with the good CO2 emissions from this engine the 2.0 TDi with DPF is the best environmental option in the Passat range.

The Passat range also features an innovative sunroof with solar panels built in. By collecting solar energy a cooling system can be powered whilst the car is turned off. This helps to ensure that the car doesn’t become uncomfortably hot whilst parked on sunny days. The system is available is an option.

Volkswagen has been active in introducing direct injection petrol engines (FSI) into the range. FSI helps to reduce fuel consumption and therefore CO2 emissions in petrol engines, by controlling the fuel distribution more effectively. Building on the success of FSI, Volkswagen has now introduced a whole new engine concept with FSI as the starting point.

The TSI engine is the first engine to be offered in a mass market car with both a turbocharger and a supercharger. Whilst in itself these additions may not sound like an environmental dream, Volkswagen has used the systems to enable a dramatic downsizing of the unit. Available in the Golf, the 1.4 TSI betters the 2.0 which it replaces on all fronts. Power is up by more than 10% and torque by 20%, whilst CO2 emissions and fuel consumption are reduced by 8%.

The supercharger and turbocharger compliment each other perfectly with each playing to their strengths. The supercharger enables maximum torque to be available from just 1750 rpm, long before the turbocharger can get into its stride. At higher revs a turbocharger is more efficient and so the supercharger is deactivated with the turbocharger enabling peak torque to be maintained until 4,500 rpm. This mixture of low range responsiveness and higher range efficiency and power can only be achieved by the combination of the two systems.

TSI engines will be extended to other models in time with the possibility of further aggressive engine downsizing for smaller models. In recognition of the units capabilities the TSI won the Best New Engine in the 1.0 to 1.4 category and took overall honours as Best New Engine of 2006 at the prestigious International Engine of the Year Awards 2006.