Next Green Car, the UK’s leading green car website, has compiled its definitive list of the greenest and most innovative low carbon cars due for launch in 2012.
In 2012, purchase incentives for plug-in electric vehicles continue to be available, including the Plug-in Car Grant, which is worth up to £5,000 on selected models.
The coming year also promises a second electric revolution with the launch of the first two plug-in hybrids, which join the pure electric models launched in 2011.
However, not all the focus will be on electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, as new ‘conventional’ hybrid models will also make their way to the showrooms. While petrol hybrids have been available for over a decade (including the iconic Toyota Prius), 2012 will see the first diesel hybrids come to market offering even better fuel economy than existing petrol hybrid models.
As noted by Dr Ben Lane, Managing Editor of Next Green Car: “Not only are high quality fully electric models now available in the UK, more drivers will find their motoring needs met by a hybrid, or by a plug-in hybrid which offers the ultimate combination of conventional and electric drive-trains. The good news is that all these options offer a new and improved driving experience, and can reduce running costs as well as emissions.”
To mark a year which will bring many technologically ground breaking models to the showrooms, the following ‘Top 10’ list highlights some of the most important models across all vehicle classes due for launch in 2012.
While we usually provide a Green Car Rating for all models listed, as most of the cars listed have yet to be launched, only published CO2 emissions are available. Models are therefore rated using tailpipe CO2 and are listed in order of increasing (official) CO2 emissions.
Smart fortwo ed (electric drive) – CO2: 0 g/km, Green Car Rating: 24
A 55 kW electric motor, powered by a 17.6 kWh battery will enable the 3rd generation fortwo ed to return a top speed in excess of 80 mph and provide acceleration of 0 to 60 in 13 seconds – making the new model more suitable to motorway driving as well as urban trips. The battery will be capable of providing a range up to 85 miles of city driving – well within the average daily trip distance of most motorists. Using a standard domestic 13A supply, the fortwo ED takes 6-8 hours to receive a full charge – although a fast charging option will allow the battery to be fully charged in under an hour. With zero tailpipe emissions, the fortwo ed will be zero tax rated (VED) and receives the full Greener Vehicle Discount from the London Congestion Charge.
Availability: Spring 2012
Renault Fluence Z.E. – CO2: 0 g/km, Green Car Rating: 26
The largest of Renault’s electric car offerings – the others are the Kangoo van, Twizy tandem, and the Zoe supermini – the Fluence is a zero-emission fully electric family saloon. If powered using the UK’s average grid mix, the Next Green Car rating is 26 (life cycle CO2 around 66 g/km) – if renewably powered, this is reduced to 14. Away from the lights, the Fluence is close on two seconds quicker to 30 mph than the petrol version, but acceleration to 62 mph takes a more prosaic 13.7 seconds, despite the 166 lbs ft of torque from the 95 bhp electric motor. Drive carefully and the battery provides a more than adequate 115 mile range (6-8 hour standard charge time).
Price: From £22,850 plus £70 monthly battery lease
Availability: Summer 2012
Vauxhall Ampera RE-EV – CO2: 27 g/km, Green Car Rating: 33
The Ampera is the first mass produced Range-Extended Electric Vehicle (RE-EV) – which means it’s essentially a battery electric car with an on-board generator. The 16 kWh lithium-ion battery pack gives an electric-only range of around 40 miles, after which the 1.4 litre petrol engine extends the range by 310 miles. The combined test fuel economy is an incredible 235 mpg with CO2 emissions of only 27 g/km – by our reckoning its around 100 mpg on real world driving assuming you use as much electricity as conventional fuel. Oh yes, it was our Gold Award Winner in 2011.
Price: From £28,995 (including £5,000 Plug-In Car Grant)
Available: spring 2012 (can order now)
Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid – CO2: 49 g/km (estimate)
The front wheels of the V60, the first ever diesel plug-in hybrid, are powered by a five-cylinder 2.4-litre turbo diesel producing 215 bhp, and the rear axle is powered by an electric motor producing 70 bhp, powered by an 11.2 kWh lithium-ion battery. Three driving modes are available: In ‘pure’, the car runs only on electricity with a range of 32 miles; in ‘hybrid’, the diesel engine and electric motor interact to provide a balance between performance and efficiency, with CO2 emissions of 49 g/km and 150 mpg; and ’power’ uses the five-cylinder 2.4-litre turbo diesel engine and electric motor to give a combined power output 285 bhp.
Price: From around £30,000 (tbc)
Availability: Summer 2012
Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid – CO2: 49 g/km (estimate)
While this car has been a long time coming, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid represents the latest development of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD) system, which has more than proved itself a reliable technology with over two million conventional Prius hybrids sold worldwide. The Plug-in Prius features a 100 kW electric motor and a more compact 5.2 kWh lithium-ion battery which can provide 14 miles on electric-only mode – almost 10 times the zero-emission capability of the standard Prius. Initial claims for official fuel economy are around 128 mpg with CO2 emissions of only 49 g/km. Performance stats include: 0-60 in 13.7 seconds, top speed of 112 mph (62 mph in EV mode), and a battery recharge time of 1.5 hours.
Price: From around £23,000 (including Plug-in Car Grant)
Availability: Summer 2012
Kia Rio 1.1 CRDi EcoDynamics – CO2: 85 g/km, Green Car Rating: 26
The new Kia Rio line up will include an EcoDynamics model fitted with a 1.1-litre three-cylinder turbo diesel engine; providing lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions than any other non electric car on sale in the world, including hybrids and eco specials from rival companies. Fitted with the full range of EcoDynamics technologies – including start-stop, low rolling resistance tyres, a drag-reducing front grille, gearshift indicator and rear spoiler – this model is capable of 88.3 mpg (official combined), with CO2 emissions of only 85 g/km. Its sub-100 gCO2/km emissions also provide zero-rated car tax, a BIK rate of only 13% and exemption from the London Congestion Charge.
Price: From £11,095
Volkswagen Up! BlueMotion – CO2: 97 g/km
A familiar package of relatively light weight materials, good attention to aerodynamics, a rapid responding automatic start-stop system (claimed to save up to 6% fuel in city traffic), kinetic energy recovery when braking and low rolling resistance tyres. VW claims the environmental impact of the Up! is 21% less than its predecessor model – the result is a test fuel economy of 67.2 mpg and CO2 emissions of under 100 g/km. This means there’s no car tax licence to pay and no congestion charge in central London. An electric car version, the zero emission Up! Blue-e-Motion, arrives in 2013.
Price: From £9,330
Availability: March 2012
Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4 – CO2: 99 g/km
The Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4, the world’s first diesel-electric hybrid, offers a fusion of vehicle classes, with SUV, MPV and hatchback attributes. Considering the size and weight of the vehicle, fuel economy figures of 74.4 mpg and CO2 emissions of just 99 g/km are impressive. The two power sources (a 2.0 HDi diesel engine and electric motor) can operate independently or in tandem – the electric motor powers the rear wheels, and the diesel engine powers the front. Although it will not qualify for the Plug-in Car Grant, incentives include zero road tax, full discount from the Congestion Charge and reduced fuel costs.
Price: Around £25,000
Availability: early 2012
Citroen DS5 HYbrid4 – CO2: 99 g/km
The DS5 HYbrid4 will be the second in PSA Peugeot-Citroen’s diesel hybrid line up – this time in the premium executive class. The DS5 will use the same tandem system as the Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 – a 2.0 HDi diesel engine powering the front wheels and an electric motor driving the rear. Fuel economy figures are expected around 74 mpg with CO2 emissions of under 100 g/km. Incentives include zero road tax, full discount from the Congestion Charge and reduced fuel costs.
Availability: First quarter of 2012
BMW 5 Series ActiveHybrid – CO2: 149 g/km
The BMW ActiveHybrid 5 delivers similar performance to a 535i, but with 16% lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The car’s drivetrain combines the 306 bhp 3.0-litre TwinPower Turbo petrol engine of the 535i with a 54 hp electric motor and an eight-speed automatic gearbox; the first time an in-line six-cylinder engine has been part of a BMW ActiveHybrid system. At speeds of up to 37 mph the BMW ActiveHybrid 5 can travel up to 2.4 miles on electric power supplied by the lithium-ion battery stored in the boot. The new hybrid has a clear edge in economy and emissions with a combined consumption figure of 44.1 mpg and a CO2 output of 149 g/km. This equates to a benefit-in-kind tax rate of only 19% and annual VED road tax of £130.
Price: From £46,860
Availability: February 2012