The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, kicked off the Go Ultra Low campaign in January 2014, celebrating bringing vehicle manufacturers together with government to encourage people to consider an ultra low emission vehicle.
The five manufacturers – BMW, Nissan, Renault, Toyota and Vauxhall – showed off their vehicles outside the Houses of Parliament and at the Ace Café in north London. Robert Goodwill, Transport Minister, supported the launch alongside Nick Clegg.
Tim Abbott from BMW called Go Ultra Low “a great example of government and the car industry coming together to educate the public about ultra low emission vehicles”, while Ken Ramirez from Renault agreed that manufacturers were “together, singing the same tune, showing that we are all working on this together for a common cause.”
Jim Wright from Nissan emphasised that as well as showing the market the benefit of ultra low emission cars, the campaign was also showing people that they drive just like any other car, while emitting ultra low levels of CO2 and being incredibly refined.
Toyota’s Matt Harrison said that the “extensive range of vehicles” available meant that Go Ultra Low cars are growing in relevance to wider audience. James Taylor from Vauxhall added that the numbers of ultra low emission vehicle models will grow, helping to build critical mass, making these cars become more normal on the roads.”
The Go Ultra Low campaign has had an undoubted impact upon vehicle sales. All Go Ultra Low models qualify for the government’s Plug-in Car Grant, which gives motorists up to £5,000 off the price of the car. Claims on the grant exceeded the annual forecast in 2014, reaching 14,500 for the year – more than quadrupling over 2013.
Since the launch, the Go Ultra Low campaign has surpassed its targets to reach potential ultra low emissions car buyers. 75% of new car buyers took some form of action as a result of seeing the campaign, from searching for information online about ultra low emission vehicles to visiting a manufacturer’s website or booking a test drive; while 50% of drivers who recognised the campaign are thinking about buying an ULEV, compared to 20% of new car buyers.
In looking at the future of the automobile, motoring journalist Tim Gibson tries out five ultra low emission vehicles: the BMW i3, Nissan Leaf, Renault ZOE, Toyota Prius Plug-In and Vauxhall Ampera. Tim looks at how electric power helps these cars achieve significant reductions in emissions as well as better fuel economy for drivers to minimise running costs.
The BMW i3 really stands out with its distinctive design and cutting-edge technology, including the intelligent energy management system that balances driver pleasure with the optimum battery charge. The i3 is available as a 100% electric or extended-range electric vehicle.
The Nissan Leaf is a 100% electric car, with eye-catching good looks and an affordable price tag. As it runs on electricity alone, its running costs are as low as 2p per mile – London to Brighton, or Manchester to Liverpool, for less than a pound.
The competitively-priced Renault ZOE proves that low cost, environmentally-friendly motoring is much more affordable than some drivers might think. It is a 100% electric car that has low running costs and can be fully charged using a domestic charging point in four hours or a rapid charger in around 30 minutes.
The Toyota Prius Plug-in combines electric power for lower speed driving with a petrol engine for higher speeds. This gives it a range of up to 700 miles and offers a conventional driving experience.
Finally, Tim looks at Vauxhall’s Ampera, an extended-range electric vehicle, which incorporates a petrol generator that can work in conjunction with the electric motor if the car needs to be driven further than the 25-50 mile battery range. Its combined fuel consumption figure is 235.4mpg, making its running costs look positively miniscule.
Of course, as Tim concludes, these ultra low emission vehicles are in no way the future of the automobile – they are its present, exciting reality.
In 2014, Go Ultra Low has seen some famous faces get behind the wheel of the latest ultra low emission cars as campaign ambassadors.
TV presenter Konnie Huq tried out the distinctive BMW i3, Skeleton Olympic gold medalist Amy Williams went fully-electric in the Nissan Leaf and designer Wayne Hemingway got to experience the Renault ZOE. Rugby star Ben Cohen went ultra low in a Toyota Prius Plug-in and Carol Vorderman crunched the numbers on the Vauxhall Ampera.
Konnie Huq said that the BMW i3 wasn’t just economical in reducing fuel costs, but also saved on the Congestion Charge and annual vehicle tax – and benefits from free parking in many places. As for charging the car, Konnie who lives in London pointed out: “You’ll find it so much harder to find a petrol station than a charge point!”
As a Skeleton gold medallist, Olympian Amy Williams is used to propelling herself around in a quick and efficient way. After trying out the Nissan Leaf, she concluded that motorists really don’t have to adapt their driving approach – they can just get in and drive.
Wayne Hemingway got behind the design-conscious Renault ZOE and was pleased about how normal the car was, just like any other car and how normally it drove. He said it was modern enough, without feeling too experimental.
Rugby star Ben Cohen was keen to stress what a good family car the Toyota Prius Plug-in made, easily able to accommodate his twins in the rear seats: “I’ve had an incredible experience with it and would absolutely recommend an ultra low emission car to anyone.”
After seeing what Vauxhall’s extended-range electric vehicle had to offer, former Countdown presenter Carol Vorderman said: “If someone was considering buying one of these cars now, I’d say do it. They are very, very simple to use and are fantastic pieces of engineering.”
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