Seven major vehicle manufacturers are now part of the Go Ultra Low campaign, which seeks to raise awareness of ultra-low emission vehicles and encourage British motorists to consider one when choosing their next car.
Audi, Mitsubishi and Volkswagen have joined BMW, Nissan, Renault and Toyota to work with government to raise awareness of the benefits of such vehicles – including reduced running costs and lower emissions.
Between them, the seven manufacturers offer 15 ultra-low emission vehicles, from city cars to SUVs and from sports cars to family hatchbacks.
The launch of the 2015 Go Ultra Low campaign coincides with news that registrations of ultra-low emission vehicles quadrupled in 2014 compared to the previous year, and in the last quarter of 2014 alone, more than 6,000 of them were registered in the UK. In total, more than 25,000 are now on UK roads, saving motorists money and reducing their emissions.
As well as tax benefits, especially for company car drivers, ultra-low emission vehicles can cost as little as 2p per mile to run, compared to at least 10p per mile for a typical petrol or diesel car.
Along with the seven vehicle manufacturers, the Go Ultra Low campaign brings together the Department for Transport, the Office for Low Emission Vehicles and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Toyota has produced hybrid cars since 1997, and the Plug-in Prius takes this technology even further – with CO2 emissions as low as 49g/km and average fuel economy as high as 134.5mpg.
Interior designer, Naomi Cleaver, took a spin in the plug-in hybrid Toyota, which can do more than 15 miles on electric power alone and around 700 miles if the efficient petrol engine is brought into action.
The writer and presenter, who is usually found behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 Cabriolet, confessed, “I don’t drive a huge amount, but when I do it’s got to be a good experience.” The Prius Plug-in impressed though, with its “lovely smooth and quiet drive around town”.
Beyond the fuel savings, Naomi could see that the free parking offered in many areas for ultra low emission vehicles and the 100% discount from the London Congestion Charge were both “a huge benefit.”
Telegraph reader Stephanie Davies was also impressed by the performance of the Prius Plug-in, which she found was “ready and willing to eat up the hills and miles when in hybrid mode.”
Apart from its performance, Stephanie also found the Toyota very enjoyable inside. “The sat nav is easy to use and the in-car system connects easily with your smartphone via Bluetooth. There is also space-age flair in the shape of a head-up display projecting data on to the windscreen.”
“The central control constantly monitors the battery charge and power usage. In eco mode it tweaks the on-board systems to get more from the batteries. It was satisfying driving down hills and braking as steeper declines filled up the batteries.”
On a descent down Box Hill in Surrey, Sophie explains “the car charged itself with free power thanks solely to the beautiful landscape and gravity. What’s not to like about that?”
Blogger Mummy Barrow also tried out a Prius Plug-in, specifically to see whether an ultra low emission vehicle can fit in with family life. So what was her response after trying one out? “A big fat ‘yes they can’.”
She achieved some amazing fuel savings. “I have worked out that my fuel bill for the school run has dropped to about £20 a week. In my 4×4 it was around £100. My school run in the morning, I could do on the electric charge, having charged it over night. I could do the same going to school in the afternoon.”
She was also very taken by its performance: “I was worried that it would be like driving a milk float. I couldn’t have been more wrong. In urban traffic the car handled brilliantly… Accelerating to get away at the lights, overtaking lorries, coasting at 80mph on French motorways were all a dream.”
The ultra low emission Toyota clearly had a big impact, as she ended her time with the car saying: “My next car will definitely be a Toyota Prius Plug-in.”
Skeleton gold medallist and Go Ultra Low ambassador Amy Williams, someone who is used to propelling herself along in an efficient way, got behind the wheel of the ultra low emission Nissan LEAF.
The Olympian was surprised at how simple and normal the car was to drive: “I’ve been completely bowled over. It’s just a normal car. You don’t have to adapt your driving, you don’t have to do anything different.”
While the Nissan LEAF might be simple to drive, that doesn’t mean it’s basic. “It’s got every mod con and every gadget you need in the car”, says Amy. She also loved the practicality and performance of the all-electric Nissan: “The boot is huge and it’s so lovely to drive – it’s smooth and so quiet, you can’t even hear it.”
The Winter Olympics champion found charging the LEAF incredibly easy. “You have to get it into your daily routine and it’s easy – I just plug it in overnight. You don’t even have to think about it.” The LEAF is also very cheap to drive, costing as little as 2p per mile.
Volkswagen has joined the Go Ultra Low campaign with three ultra-low emission models currently on sale to UK buyers – the all-electric e-up! and e-Golf, and the plug-in hybrid Golf GTE.
The all-electric e-up! achieves a range of up to 93 miles and a maximum power output of 60kW alongside 210 Nm of torque, so it’s no slouch on the road. The electric motor is capable of propelling the small city car along easily at motorway speeds.
The e-Golf is a 100% electric car and has a range of up to 118 miles on a single charge. Its electric motor can produce up to 85kW with 270 Nm of torque. Like its smaller sibling, it can be charged using both AC power from domestic outlets and lower speed public charge points, and DC power on public rapid chargers.
The plug-in hybrid Golf GTE offers performance to echo that of the legendary Golf GTI. Its drivetrain incorporating an electric motor and a petrol engine delivers a combined power output of up to 150kW with 350 Nm of torque. It can also drive at motorway speeds on electric power and accelerate from 0-62mph in just 7.6 seconds. All of this while still being able to achieve an electric range of 31 miles, suitable for most daily journeys in the UK. If the petrol engine is used, the GTE can travel up to 580 miles.
The Volkswagen range of ultra-low emission vehicles provides a mixture of practicality and performance and offers drivers plenty of choice. As well as the ultra-low emission models themselves, Volkswagen’s Car-Net e-Remote provides easy access to their main functions, from checking the battery charge to remotely operating the climate control.
The Renault ZOE is a five-seat all-electric small city car that has impressed those who have got behind the wheel. It is joined in the Renault Z.E. (‘zero emission’) range by the Twizy and the electric Kangoo Z.E. van.
London florist Derek Isaac, who is used to running a large diesel van and a smaller petrol van got into a Kangoo Z.E. to see what electric deliveries would be like. He was instantly impressed with how normal it was: “The Kangoo is every inch an ordinary van, inside and out, except for its amazing quietness.”
Derek, who spends around £2,000 per year on Congestion Charge payments, was also very pleased that the Kangoo Z.E. received a 100% discount from the charge and that he was saving much of his £80 per week parking costs, too. “Then there’s the cost of fuel. Recharging is around six times cheaper than refilling, at 2p or so per mile”, Derek added.
Journalist and TV presenter, Lucy Siegle, tried out a Renault ZOE to help her on shorter trips in between her long rail journeys travelling for BBC One’s ‘The One Show’. Her friend said the ZOE “sounds like the future” and she felt like she was driving the future, too – only doing so today.
The electric Renault satisfied Lucy’s desire to be as ‘eco’ as possible, too. “There’s no spluttering or engine roar, and no tail-pipe emissions. In the inevitable jam we sit smugly, not emitting any toxic gas.”
She even plotted a route from London to her family home in Devon using rapid chargers at Membury and Cullompton, which could charge the ZOE while she grabbed a coffee at the services. The ZOE certainly impressed Lucy, who called it “a real charmer.”
Someone else equally enamoured by the ZOE was Telegraph reader Andrew Fretwell, who turned up at his golf club among the premium executive models proudly in his ultra low emission Renault.
Andrew runs two cars and thought a plug-in vehicle might be a sensible idea. “Together the vehicles cost us around £350 a month in fuel. I drive fewer than 80 miles a day. Electric looked like a sensible option.”
When he finally got behind the wheel, Andrew was very impressed: “The performance was shockingly good. Several friends had been ribbing me about the ‘‘milk float’’ I was due to drive. I took them out and they were amazed by the power the little hatchback possessed.”
After spending time with the ZOE, he was completely won over: “It really is a gorgeous machine to drive: a little turbine that packs a real punch… For me it makes complete sense.” In fact, he liked it so much, he bought one of the zero emission Renaults!
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