Wednesday 2 March 2011

What is the next generation of cars?

Guest post by Moneysupermarket

Advances in motoring technology have made 2011 a crucial year in the emergence of a new breed of cars that harness the power of electricity, often in combination with traditional fuels, to create new driving experiences that are more sustainable for the planet.

The introduction of lithium-ion batteries has led to petrol-free cars hitting the streets, while others feature electric engines with reserve petrol engines.

Here are three of the front-runners in the race to become the first true eco car to be a mainstream favourite.

Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid:

Billed by makers Volvo as “the world’s first diesel plug-in hybrid”, the V60 will offer drivers three different driving experiences in one car when it becomes available in 2012.

The V60 will feature three switchable modes of operation. At the press of a button, it will go from being a fully electric car with a range of 50 kilometres and no CO2 emissions whatsoever, to a hybrid car that runs on the diesel engine and an electric motor combined, providing a range of 1,200km and the best possible performance for the least possible emissions – 49g of C02 per km. A third press of the button turns the V60 into a more powerful beast. The optimum performance of the V60 uses the combined power of the two engines to produce 215 plus 70 horsepower and a maximum torque of 440 plus 200Nm.

As Volvo’s Stefan Jacoby puts it: “In order to get true car enthusiasts to think green, you have to offer them the opportunity to drive with low carbon dioxide emissions without taking away the adrenaline rush that promotes genuine driving pleasure.”

The V60 can be recharged using a regular power socket at home or in a car park and it has yet to be announced which car insurance bands the car will fall into.

Mitsubishi MiEV:

MiEV stands for Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle and this zero-emissions car is heralded by the

Japanese manufacturer as “the future chosen by Mitsubishi Motors”.

As well as being extremely environmentally friendly, the MiEV claims to be cheaper to run than petrol or diesel-fuelled cars as well as being quiet and chargeable at home or at a fuel station. The lithium-ion battery system and small, highly efficient motor occupy such a small space in the car that, despite being a compact unit, four adults can comfortably sit in the car together.

The MiEV’s practicality and eco friendliness is not all that will attract buyers. It boasts high torque due to its efficient permanent magnet synchronous motor, which generates impressive acceleration from low speeds. This little gem will zip around town, costing you very little and doing the environment no harm in the process!

Though a major consideration for prospective buyers will doubtless be the cost of car insurance UK drivers can expect to benefit from financial incentives government incentives if they choose to buy the MiEV.

Nissan Leaf:

Another futuristic car named after an acronym, the Nissan Leaf (Leading, Environmentally friendly, Affordable, Family car) is already making its way into showrooms around the world, much to the excitement of next generation car drivers.

The Leaf produces no exhaust emissions and has a top speed of 93 miles per hour, taking its power from a front-mounted electric motor that is in turn powered by a lithium-ion battery pack.

The striking V-shape design of the Leaf encases a car so easy to drive and so recognisably mainstream in its functionality that it is hotly tipped to be the first electric vehicle to win the hearts of the public. It has already won the 2011 European Car of the Year award.

The UK is set to become the third country in which Nissan’s electric vehicles are manufactured. By comparing car insurance online, UK drivers interested in the Leaf should be able to find affordable options for insuring this impressive new Nissan.

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