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“CCC test-drives the next generation of low carbon vehicles”

By Assistant Economist, Jonathan Haynes

CCC transport analysts had the opportunity to test-drive the latest low-carbon vehicles fast-approaching the UK market, at Ecovelocity, the low-carbon motor festival.

Improving the fuel-efficiency of conventional vehicles and promoting the development of electric vehicles are key to achieving the deep cuts in transport emissions required to meet the Government’s carbon budgets.

This year has seen the arrival of electric cars, such as the Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi iMiev with a number of other models due to come to market in the near future, and for which a £5,000 plug-in car grant is available from Government.

The Nissan Leaf has had a particularly successful launch year, picking up a number of awards, such as the ‘2011 European car of the year’ and ‘2011 world car of the year.’

Low carbon vehicles on display and available to test drive at eco-velocity were:

  • Prototype electric cars due to appear on the market in the near future (such as the Renualt Fluence).
  • Electric vans currently on the market (such as the Renault Kangoo).
  • Demo nstration hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (such as the Vauxhall Hydrogen4, Hyundai ix35 and the Honda FCX Clarity)
Vauxhall Ampera

Vauxhall Ampera

Also on display was the award-winning Vauxhall Ampera which will deliver longer range than currently available with pure electric vehicles. This will be Europe’s first extended-range electric vehicle, meaning:

* The wheelsof the car are electrically driven at all times.

* The lithium-ion battery feeds an electric drive unit, delivering 50 miles of pure electric driving.

* Beyond this limit, a sm all petrol-fuelled engine kicks in, delivering a total range of 350 miles.

inside the Vauxhall Ampera

inside the Vauxhall Ampera

As a first-timer driving an electric vehicle, I was pleasantly surprised.  With an electric vehicle there is no mad revving of the engine.  Instead, a smooth, quiet and calm driving experience treats the driver without comprising the performance of the vehicle, which can deliver a remarkably quick and responsive acceleration.  Next step is for the costs to come down, so I can afford one.

CCC analysis suggests it is both feasible and desirable that there are up to 1.7 million electric cars on the road here in the UK, by 2020.