There’s an increasing clamour from the powers-that-be for new cars to be cutting CO2 emissions and over the next few years legislation demanding cleaner engines will begin to come in.Major car manufacturers have not missed this point and over the next few years the industry will see a huge rise in the number of alt-fuel vehicles available to buy.This will also benefit motorists as low CO2 emissions usually go hand-in-hand with more frugal engines.As such we thought it best to come up with a top five list – again we’re not saying they’re necessarily the best – of alt-fuel cars set for release in the next year.First though, what is alt-fuel?
Alt-fuel stands for alternative fuel-as I’m sure you’d already established- which basically means a vehicle that doesn’t just run purely on diesel or petrol. That means hybrids, electric vehicles and hydrogen powered cars are all applicable.Nissan Leaf
The Nissan Leaf is the first electric vehicle (EV) to scoop the European Car of the Year award; a much sought after accolade that confirms the quality of the car and should banish a lot of the fears regarding something ‘new’.The Leaf is powered by a 107bhp 80KW electric motor that channels its power to the front wheels of the five door hatchback. It also has a range of 100 miles.Nissan’s EV is simple to choose in the sense that it has just one specification and only one additional extra- if an EV isn’t enough to quell your green conscience then a £250 solar charger for your boot lid can also be requested.Inside, the EV is spacious and comfortable however its headline feature (as well as its ‘zero emissions’) is the Leaf’s noise, or lack of.The Leaf is so quiet that Nissan has been forced to add noise at speeds of up to 15mph just to warn pedestrians of its serene presence, upwards of that speed and the EV is near-silent.Mitsubishi i-MiEV
The i-MiEV is something of a trailblazer as it has provided the design platform for two other EV’s set for release in 2011 in the form of the Peugeot iOn and the Citroën C-Zero.Yet the i-MiEV itself is based on Mitsubishi’s i city car. As such it carries on much of the good work of its predecessor yet with obviously improved CO2 emissions.The inclusion of an electric engine doesn’t just benefit emissions however. The large combustion engine has been replaced by a thin bed of lithium-ion batteries that sit beneath the floor of the car; this saves space and also lowers the centre of gravity of the vehicle which has obvious advantages in terms of satability whilst driving.The electric motor itself has a range of 100 miles and makes the i-MiEV ideally suited to urban driving.Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4
Peugeot’s hybrid will be the first full production diesel hybrid when it goes on sale in 2011.It is a development of the hugely popular and successful 3008 crossover that was released in 2009 and in that time has been lavished with awards.Resultantly there are a number of features from the original crossover that have, well, crossed over onto the hybrid version.This includes space and practicality that are certainties with any crossover and when this level of practicality is coupled with low CO2 emissions and VED annual tax exemption the 3008 Hybrid4 becomes all the more desirable.BMW 5 Series Hybrid
The 5 Series hybrid promises a ten per cent reduction in emissions and fuel consumptions from the award-winning, standard engine 5 Series.The BMW hybrid will house a 3.0-litre petrol engine that will work alongside an electric motor which does nothing for weight but a huge amount for CO2 emissions.BMW are yet to release the official figures for the petrol-electric exec however one thing that is certain is an outstanding level of drive and performance befitting of the German manufacturer and its heritage.Honda Jazz Hybrid
The Jazz supermini has proved something of a success for Honda, so much so that the Japanese manufacturer is expanding its line-up to include a petrol-electric hybrid model.The Jazz will be one of the first hybrid superminis available in the UK upon its release in 2011 with its CO2 emissions already expected to be at the front of the class.Improvements for the Jazz are not limited to its powertrain but also its design and interior levels of refinement.Inside the supermini will receive leather upholstery and more executive finishes while externally the Jazz has received a redesigned front-end and rear bumper; for a more muscular appearance.