How to create a greener car (Part 1)

Cars are getting greener. This is a simple fact, and the latest figures from Clean Green Cars shows a steady improvement in average CO2 emissions for nearly every car manufacturer which currently sells cars in Europe.

However, some manufacturers are doing more than others. While many are investigating electric cars (or in the case of Peugeot and Citroen, actually releasing them), others have hybrid models in their ranges.

Some are also focusing on their current range of petrol and diesel cars and attempting to cut down on the amount of CO2 emissions they emit.

Stop-Start, regenerative breaking and more aerodynamics all help to improve CO2, and other technology, such as Diesel Particulate Filters, cleverly reduce other emissions such as particulates.

We thought we’d list ten ways – in two parts – car manufacturers are currently making their cars greener and as a result, cheaper to run, and the models they have created in their attempts to be as environmentally friendly as possible.

1) Build an electric car

Citroen and Peugeot have both gone down the electric car route. While questions have been asked about the source of the electricity needed to run them, there is no doubt they boast zero tailpipe emissions and are incredibly cheap to run.

The Peugeot iOn and Citroen C-Zero are available as lease-only, and provide low-cost, eco-friendly city driving. They can be charged in 30 minutes to 80 per cent capacity from fast charge stations and boast a range of 93 miles – enough for most drivers in city areas.

Renault and Ford will be the next two manufacturers to enter the electric car segment with the Renault Fluence and Ford Focus Electric respectively.

2) Build a hybrid

Surprisingly, Land Rover is currently developing a hybrid version of its Range Rover Sport. The benefits are obvious, a hybrid can run on petrol, but an electric motor provides an extra boost when overtaking.

In the case of plug-in hybrids, the cars are even capable of driving on electric power alone for short distances, reducing fuel economy further.

Peugeot is one of the leaders in hybrid technology, and its Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4, due for release at the end of 2011, will be the first ever mass produced diesel hybrid on the market in Europe.

3) Add Start-Stop technology.

Our handy guide tells you everything you need to know about Stop/Start technology, but in short it refers to the system that stops the engine when the car is stationary in traffic in order to save fuel.

Most recently, Vauxhall has added Start/Stop to the Astra ecoFLEX version. The result is CO2 emissions below 100g/km – and free road tax for buyers who choose the car. The Vauxhall Astra joins the Corsa in using the technology to lower emissions and boost fuel economy on long journeys.

4) Downsize the engine

Engines don’t get more downsized than in the Fiat 500 TwinAir, where Fiat has made a major breakthrough in petrol technology with the two-cylinder TwinAir engine.

One of the smallest engines on the market, improvements in efficiency mean the engine is more than capable around the city, and it will save the driver plenty of cash because it is the only petrol engine to boast CO2 emissions below 100g/km. This means it is exempt from the congestion charge.

However, it isn’t just small car manufacturers. Jaguar recently announced one of its most efficient models ever when it revealed the XF executive saloon will boast a 2.2-litre diesel engine delivering sub-150g/km thanks to improvements in efficiency.

5) Add two-wheel drive

Land Rover, the king of the off-road 4×4, has long enjoyed a reputation as a maker of no-nonsense gas-guzzlers, but in 2011 it has gone against that image by releasing its first ever two-wheel drive model.

The result is the Land Rover Freelander 2 eD4. Available from only £22,000, the two-wheel drive SUV features some cosmetic upgrades, but the real benefits come in terms of 47.2mpg – the lowest of any Land Rover car (until the arrival of the Range Rover Evoque later in the year).

CO2 emissions are equally impressive at 158g/km – one of the lowest in the large off-road segment and a new low for the best-selling Freelander range.

The Range Rover Evoque, the smallest, most economical model in the luxury Range Rover range, will be released in November in 4WD and 2WD options. The latter will offer sub-130g/km of CO2 emissions, making it one of the cheapest to run and greenest Land Rover cars ever made.