The MoT testing station had to check their equipment when a rally car turned up and their emissions testing equipment couldn’t register any emissions at all. But this was no ordinary rally car – this was the Oaktec Honda Insight. This is a petrol-electric hybrid vehicle, and to make it even more green, it now runs on E85, ie. 85% bioethanol and 15% petrol. By significantly over-revving the car, the testing centre finally managed to record a result for the emissions, but they said it was the lowest emissions reading they had ever recorded.
The official emissions of the Insight are 85g/km CO2 – the lowest of any production car in the UK (since the model was discontinued in the UK no other conventional car has yet come close to these sub-100g/km emission levels). However running on E85 should mean that the emissions drop by around a further 20%.
And just to prove that green cars don’t have to be slow, the Insight won its Formula 1000 class in the rallies it competed in during this season.
The car was available to the UK’s motoring journalists to try out for themselves at the Millbrook Proving Ground this week. The team’s two cars were on display, one of which was available to be driven, and Paul Andrews, the man behind the project and the driver of the rally car, treated journalists to a high speed demonstration of the capabilities in the other car around Millbrook’s high speed circuit.
An interesting difference between the two cars was that the main rally car has a CVT gearbox, whereas the car that is closer to production car form has the standard manual gearbox. This manual gearbox was designed for maximum fuel economy in the production car, however because of this the gear ratios are spread far apart and the entire Millbrook route was driven in just first and second gear – exactly the experience Paul had on rallies. Therefore the manual gearbox was substituted for the CVT in the rally car which provided much better results – in fact it was 20 seconds faster over a 3.5 mile stage, which in rallying terms, is a lifetime!
Oaktec, in conjunction with Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), have also been doing significant research work on the hybrid system, and are optimising the way in which the electric motor stores and delivers power, and linking this in with the car’s engine management system. In practical terms this means that more charge is extracted from braking, and more assist is provided when accelerating. Developments of this system in America have resulted in Insights delivering over 100mpg. At the end of the morning session at Millbrook, the Oaktec Insight’s onboard fuel economy readout was registering over 62mpg, despite having been on high speed test all morning.
In partnership with Energy Efficient Motorsport (EEMS), the Oaktec Honda Insight rally car is pioneering a greener future for motorsport. Formula 1 cars will be going down the hybrid route in 2009 – which will be a further showcase proving that cars can be green and sexy at the same time.
If you’re interested in sponsoring the Oaktec Honda Insight rally car next season, e-mail us.
For more information about Energy Efficient Motorsport (EEMS), visit the EEMS website at www.eemsonline.co.uk