Do luxury green cars really exist? Premium motors and the environment might be odd bedfellows but in the world of motoring it’s high-end cars like the Porsche 918 Spyder and the BMW i8 that are driving greener motoring technology. Adrian Maul reports on green engineering in premium vehicles.
Believe it or not, the manufacturers of luxury supercars and high performance cars are spearheading much of the research and development that is resulting in more fuel-efficient vehicles on the world’s roads.
A number of manufacturers have started to produce hybrid cars. This includes Porsche, BMW, Ferrari and McLaren. We’re not saying all of these manufacturers are motivated by a desire to tread more lightly on the planet – what most of them are concerned about is building faster cars that use less fuel but this mission has a happy by product. All of these manufacturers are using hybrid technology and energy recovery systems to boost their efficiency and performance, and eventually this technology filters into standard production cars for the rest of us.
- C02 emissions: 49g/km
- Fuel consumption: 2.1L/100km
- All electric range: 37km
BMW have just released their new i8 in the UAE, not quite a supercar but very pretty and fairly quick all the same. BMW have gone a different route from most of the high end manufactures in that they have used a very small engine at 1.5l 3 cylinder in their hybrid offering coupled with twin turbo chargers. This is coupled to a 96kW motor to give a combined power of over 350 bhp. This is also a plug-in hybrid and battery life is preserved using brake energy regeneration technology to top up the battery whilst braking and coasting. This car can accelerate from 0 to 100 kmh in 4.4s, has CO2 emission of just 49g/km and an impressive fuel consumption of 2.1l/100km. The all electric range for this car is 37km. BMW have pulled out the stops here and produced a car that I think is beautiful to look at, is plenty fast enough and has stunning eco friendly statistics.
Porsche 918 Spyder
- C02 emissions: 79g/km
- Fuel consumption: 3L/100km
- All electric range: 29km
Porsche have been making modern hybrid cars for a few years now, and the hybrid Panamera S has been featured in previous issues of this magazine for its eco-friendly statistics. The hybrid Panamera S has a new sibling though, the 918 Spyder, a hybrid supercar with a 4.6l V8 engine combined with a 115kW electric motor. Lets face it though, this is a supercar and the technology in this car is primarily there to make it go faster, the upside of this is that as a result it is also easier on the environment due to its lightness plus the fact that it uses plug-in hybrid technology and energy recovery systems. The statistics for this car are 0-100 kmh in 2.6s, CO2 emissions of 79g/km, average fuel consumption of 3l/100km and an all electric range of 29km. This car also currently has the record as the third fastest lap time for a production car at the Nurburgring race track of six minutes 57 seconds, beaten only by two variants of the Radical SR8 British sports car.
- C02 emissions: 194g/km
- Fuel consumption: 6.9L/100km
- All electric range: None
The all new McLaren P1 was described by Jeremy Clarkson on motoring television show Top Gear UK as a “game changer” due to the way that it uses technology to boost its performance. The P1 has a 3.8l twin turbocharged V8 engine coupled to a 131kW electric motor to give a combined power output of 903 bhp. It uses similar technology to the other cars here using extremely lightweight materials in its construction; the windscreen is only 3.2mm thick and made of acrylic which repels water meaning it does not require the weight or drag of windscreen wipers. The energy recovery system in the P1 is called Instant Power Access System (IPAS) and is capable of giving twice the power that the old F1 KERS system produced, and all packaged in an extremely light 26kg electric motor. So Mclaren brings lightness technology seriously to the table, its statistics are fairly good too with 0 to 100km of 2.8 seconds, slower than the Porsche 918 but it is faster to 200 kmh than it, CO2 emissions of 194 g/km and fuel consumption of 6.9l/100km.
- C02 emissions: 330g/km
- Fuel consumption: 14.2L/100km
- All electric range: None
Ferrari have brought their LaFerrari offering to the table. This is all supercar and has no pretentions of trying to help the environment. A 6.3l V12 engine is coupled with a 120kW motor produces a staggering combined power of 950 bhp. This car uses all of its technology for power and speed and therefore does not perform nearly as well as the other offerings on the environmental side, its electric motor is purely a device to boost the power delivered to the wheels, and it has no capability to drive solely with its electric motor. It accelerates from 0 to 100 kmh in under three seconds, has CO2 emissions of 330g/km, fuel consumption of 14.2l/100km and an all electric range of 0km. The technology in this car should not be discounted though as it uses energy recovery technology, and the technology of using an electric motor to boost power can be used by other manufacturers to reduce engine size subsequently reducing consumption and emissions figures for their cars.
These cars are outside of the pay packets for most of us, and most are not particularly eco friendly either. What we need to remember though is that they are bringing to the table technology that will be used in time for everyday production cars. The eco statistics for the Porsche and BMW are exceptionally impressive and would be in cars with only a fraction of their performance.
Bentley goes electric
By 2017, Bentley plans to be joining the hybrid club with its first plug-in hybrid model, a dedicated version of the all-new SUV. The Bentley Hybrid Concept was launched at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition in April.
Dr Wolfgang Schreiber, Chairman and Chief Executive of Bentley Motors, said: “There is no doubt that plug-in hybrid technology is true to Bentley’s values of outstanding luxury and effortless performance. Combining our renowned engines with electric power reinforces and enhances both principles, and so we will gradually introduce this powertrain across our model range. By the end of the decade, at least 90 per cent of our production will be available as a plug-in hybrid. We are proud to be pioneering these developments in the luxury sector.”
“Honey I just wonder what you do there in back of your green Cadillac…”
That’s right, even iconic US brand Cadillac are going electric with the launch of the 2014 ELR, a luxury coupe.