Saturday, July 01, 2006

Eco-friendly hybrid car unveiled

A new environmentally friendly hybrid car has been launched, although its manufacturer admits half of UK drivers know little about this type of vehicle.

The Honda car has a petrol engine supplemented by an electric motor which takes over when the car is idling.

(Picture right: Hybrid cars have a combined petrol and electric engine)

BBC Transport Correspondent Tom Symonds said sales of such cars were growing.

Of the drivers who said they knew about hybrids, more than 40% did not know that it was a vehicle which operated using a combination of petrol and electric power.

The findings were based on the responses of British drivers who were questioned by market research company TNS on behalf of Honda in January.

Hybrid cars are more environmentally friendly than standard vehicles because the integrated electric motor aids the engine by giving it a boost during acceleration in order to improve fuel economy.

It also runs the car at idle in order to minimise emissions.

In addition to this, the battery that powers the car's electric motor charges itself up with e energy recovered during deceleration.

'Fuel economy'

Honda is just one of a number of automobile firms which are working on green technology.

Toyota's top-end subsidiary Lexus was the first company to unveil a luxury saloon equipped with a hybrid petrol-electric engine.

And Toyota hopes to see worldwide Prius sales of one million a year by 2010.

Meanwhile a Ford Focus car is available which runs on bioethanol.

Bioethanol made from grain produces 65% fewer greenhouse gases than petrol, according to the UK government agency Central Science Laboratory.

Commenting on its new car, Honda said: "The result is a car that behaves like a petrol-engined car in terms of performance, emits less CO2 than an equivalent diesel and delivers mind-boggling fuel economy."

The company said its scientists and engineers were attempting to develop a car that runs on hydrogen and does not emit nitrogen oxides or carbon dioxide.

Car tax

"Car manufacturers are worried that lack of awareness is putting car buyers off hybrids, because they're seen as difficult to fill up, drive and maintain - and expensive to buy," said the BBC's Tom Symonds.

He went on: "It is hoped cuts to car tax announced by the chancellor last week will help, though a system of grants to encourage more people to buy hybrid vehicles has been delayed."

Honda's research revealed that 70% believed that the government should be responsible for encouraging better take up of environmentally friendly vehicles.

And 35% of those questioned said the responsibility lay with car manufacturers.
Less than a fifth - 17% - felt it was the driver's responsibility to reduce the environmental impact of their vehicle.

Honda said it had sold more than 130,000 hybrid vehicles worldwide, including more than 2,000 in Europe.

1 comments:

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