What will be the options for green-minded motorists with an eye on the future? Here are some green cars to look out for...
Peugeot 3008 Hy4
Peugeot has confirmed that it is to make a diesel hybrid version of its 3008. It will have a front-mounted 163bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine and a 37bhp electric motor in the rear, which can function independently or together. The car - with an expected price tag of at least £27,000 - can therefore be front-, rear- or four-wheel drive.
The French company is currently honing the software that controls the drive system, and faces the challenge of making the transition between the two propulsion systems smooth. Peugeot expects the Hy4 to give around 35% better average mpg than a comparable petrol car, and 50% in town. The aim is to limit average CO2 emissions to a maximum of 100g/km – impressive in a five-seater four-wheel-drive car weighing 1600kg – by the time it goes on sale in 2011.
Toyota Auris hybrid
A hybrid Auris is due to be launched in autumn 2009, using the same powertrain as the Prius. However, because of the Auris' smaller size and lighter weight, it should better the Prius' 89g/km emissions and average of 72.4mpg. It is also expected to be less well equipped and therefore cheaper.
When Nissan's luxury brand launches its rival to the BMW 5 Series in 2011, there will be both diesel and hybrid versions of the car in the range. That will make Infiniti the first to offer both diesel- and hybrid-powered versions of the same car.
BMW X6 hybrid
It’s not a huge surprise that, of the company's two hybrid concepts at the 2008 Paris Motor Show, the first to be turned into a production reality – and BMW's first foray into hybrid technology – will be the X6.
BMW promises its ActiveHybrid set-up will offer a better drive than other systems, as well as a performance boost over a broad speed range, thanks to its use of two electric motors rather than just one.
Fuel consumption and emissions are down by 20%, so the X6 could offer powerful V8 performance for around 30mpg on average.
Honda has confirmed that its CR-Z concept will go into production. The hybrid concept was revealed at the 2007 Tokyo motor show, and the real thing is expected to use a version of the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid powertrain from the Insight.
A 1.3-litre petrol engine, supplemented by an electric motor, a stop-start system and eco mode will help to generate sub-110g/km CO2 emissions. Sales are due to start in Japan in 2010, but the company is yet to confirm when it will reach the UK.
Honda has also revealed that it will increase the number of hybrid models it makes. A Jazz IMA will arrive first, but development is under way on a new hybrid system that will be used for larger vehicles.
The good news is that there will be a hybrid version of the current S Class, mating a 20bhp electric motor to the 3.5-litre V6 engine; the bad news is that it won't be coming to the UK, as Mercedes says it's prohibitively expensive to re-engineer right-hand drive cars to take the technology. Howveer, the company says that, when the next-generation car appears, a hybrid version will go on sale in the UK.
Volvo has announced it will have a plug-in hybrid model on sale by the end of 2012. The car will be developed in a joint venture with Swedish energy company Vattenfall and will be powered by both an electric motor and a diesel engine. Volvo says that carbon dioxide emissions will be lower than 50g/km.
Kia Rio Hybrid
The Kia Rio Hybrid saloon features a 1.4-litre petrol engine mated to an electric motor. During steady cruising, the electric motor switches off, and a stop-start function cuts the petrol engine whenever the car comes to a standstill.
The Rio does 53.4mpg and its C02 figure is 126 g/km. Kia is planning to sell about 100 Rio Hybrids to the South Korean Government as part of a test fleet, but the model may not make it to the UK.
The Ampera is Vauxhall's version of the much-heralded Chevrolet Volt, a four-seat car about the size of a Vauxhall Astra that uses electric drive with a small-capacity engine to act as a generator to keep the batteries charged.
The engine could run on petrol, diesel, bioethanol or, in future, a hydrogen fuel-cell. The current plan is for the Volt to go on sale first in America, before reaching Europe as the Ampera in 2012, with an expected price tag of more than £25,000.
Honda has developed a flexi-fuel system that enables petrol engine-based powerplants to operate on either 100% ethanol or ethanol-petrol mixtures. The company’s plan is to sell cars with such systems in Brazil, but we may not see them in the UK.
Saab 9-3 BioPower Hybrid
The Saab BioPower Hybrid Concept uses pure bioethanol and electric power. E100 bioethanol emits zero fossil-fuel C02 emissions, and the car has an electric-only mode for city driving.
VW's Bluemotion range
We already have Bluemotion versions of the bulk of Volkswagen's range, and 2009 will see the arrival of an equivalent version of the new Golf. The concept vehicle that previews it has a 103bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine and emits just 99g/km of CO2.
The company also showed off a Twin-Drive Golf hybrid concept in 2008, but a production version of that car is only expected to appear much further - possibly as much as three or four years – in the future, depending on progress in battery trechnology.
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