Interested in a preview glimpse of some of the low-carbon cars to hit the market over the next couple of years? Some of the most promising new models recently enjoyed a test run on Britain’s roads as part of the Royal Automobile Club’s first-ever Brighton to London Future Car Challenge.
The inaugural event was held the day before the RAC’s traditional London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. The Future Car Challenge featured competitions in three categories — electric, hybrid and internal combustion engine — with more than 60 entries making the 60-mile trek.
Among the vehicles highlighted during the day were:
The Tata Indica Vista
Taking titles for Most Economic Small Passenger EV and Most Economical & Environment Friendly Small Passenger EV, Tata Motors’ Indica Vista (pictured at top) is an electric car due to launch in the Indian market next year. Tata is still testing the vehicle’s lithium-ion batteries, made by Electrovaya, and expects the Indica Vista will be able to travel up to 200 kilometres on one charge. The vehicle is already available in parts of Europe. In fact, the UK last year announced a loan of £10 million loan to Tata to help the company create electric-car manufacturing capabilities in Britain. The Indica Vista also made it to the third of four rounds in Progressive Insurance’s Automotive X Prize competition.
Veteran Formula One car designer Gordon Murray is tackling the efficient city car challenge through his three-year-old venture, Gordon Murray Design. He describes the firm’s T.25 — which won the awards for Most Economical Small Passenger ICEV and Most Economical & Environment Friendly Small Passenger ICEV (internal combustion engine vehicle) — as a “major breakthrough” in city car design. Smaller than a Smart Fortwo car, the T.25 has the potential to dramatically reduce road congestion, according to Murray: as many as three of the vehicles can fit in one standard parking space, and two could fit side by side in on conventional traffic lane.
Furthermore, because of the T.25’s size and weight, the car requires far fewer materials to produce — meaning a reduced environmental impact — and is more fuel-efficient than heavier vehicles. At the same time, the use of Formula One-derived materials makes the T.25 both strong and safe, according to Murray.
Set to enter the market in late 2013, Volkwagen’s electric Golf blue-e-motion took the title for Most Economic & Environment Friendly Regular Passenger EV. The concept model of the five-seat vehicle can reach a top speed of 84 mph and can travel up to 93 miles on a single charge. The car features a kilowatt gauge that lets drivers see how much energy they’re using when pressing their foot on the electric pedal. Volkswagen says the meter will help motorists intuitively strive to keep the kilowatt reading as low as possibly, thereby conserving energy. The blue-e-motion also captures kinetic energy while braking and feeds it back into the battery.
Winner of the Future Car Challenge’s Public Choice award, the five-door, four-seat Vauxhall Ampera will offer an extended range of 310 miles. According to Vauxhall, that will make the car the first extended-range electric vehicle to come to market in the UK. The extended range is made possible with the aid of a petrol- or ethanol-blend-powered electric generator that kicks in when the battery becomes depleted. The electric Ampera is set to go into production in early 2012.