Whilst Toyota could claim to hold the moral high ground on hybrid car technology, other manufacturers like BMW, Ford and Merdcedes-Benz are developing leading edge technologies to work in partnerhsip with the faithful internal combustion engine.
BMW’s Efficient Dynamics approach combines high-precision fuel injection, automatic stop/start (eg at traffic lights), regenerative braking (which feeds kinetic energy back to the battery), power steering that only uses energy when the wheel is being turned, and air-con that disconnects when not in use.
In the BMW 118d, this contributes to an average fuel consumption of 60.1mpg and CO2 emissions of 123g/km.
Ford’s ECOnetic combines low-friction diesel engines, low-drag body kits, tyres with a lower ‘rolling resistance’ and lowered suspension (improving air flow beneath the car) to boost efficiency. The Ford Focus 1.9-litre diesel delivers a claimed 66mpg and CO2 emissions of 115g/km.
The Mercedes F700 concept is an enormous luxury saloon powered by a compact 1.8-litre, four-cyclinder DiesOtto engine. By fusing spark-ignition with the unique compression properties of diesel, and adding a turbocharger, a hybrid-style electric motor and start/stop technology, the next-generation S-Class returns an exceptional 53mpg and pumps out 127g/km of CO2.
Mercedes is also on a mission to persuade Amercians that diesel is not just for truck drivers. ‘Bluetec’ technology eliminates the nitrous oxide emitted by diesel engines by injecting a urea (urine) solution into exhaust gases; the resulting ammonia neutralises the N2O.