Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Geneva Shows a Fancy Fleet

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Geneva Shows a Fancy Fleet

Article excerpt

Byline: RUSSON

CAST your mind back only three years and it appeared the world's car makers would have us all driving odd-looking battery powered cars by now.

But a fusillade of automotive firepower and some stunning designs are on the horizon if this year's Geneva Motor Show is anything to go by.

Europe's fanciest motoring spectacular kicked off with almost 200 new models having their world debut or making their first appearance outside Asia or America. And the latest trend is all about space, quality and economy. Shifting out of fossil fuelled vehicles was never going to happen overnight and the new breed of cars in Geneva is very much a technological taster of what is to come.

Petrol and diesel engines are becoming more and more fuel efficient but what is in the wings are cars like the Vauxhall Ampera and its sister model the Chevrolet Volt which combine traditional combustion with electric power. It was little surprise that the pair from the General Motors stable - due on sale in only a matter of weeks - scooped the European Car of the Year award announced on the eve of the show.

The Volt and Ampera are so-called range extenders which can travel for around 50 miles on battery power before a 1.4-litre petrol engine cuts in to generate more electricity to drive the wheels.

The result is a car with a theoretical fuel consumption of more than 200 miles per gallon in a car which does not have to be recharged as soon as the battery goes flat - the problem which bugs the handful of EV cars which have so far made it into production. Plug-in hybrids operate in a similar vein and those are on the way too. Notably at Geneva VW revealed a plug-in diesel called the Cross Coupe which can manage more than 150 to the gallon and with CO2 emissions slashed to below 50g/km. Yet as a demonstration of how far combustion engines have come in the past few years are the likes of the Hyundai i20 - revealed at the show as the cleanest conventionally powered car in the world. Its 1.1-litre three cylinder diesel engine emits just 84g/km and the little city car is said to average more than 80mpg.

Closer to home, Bentley revealed its first SUV - a concept codenamed EXP 9 F - with a six-litre, 12 cylinder engine under the bonnet - and then announced it was considering a plug-in hybrid system to make its new luxurious monster very eco-friendly. …

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