Categorized | Auto Shows

The Future Car Challenge

The Future Car Challenge

The first weekend in November sees the third annual running of the Future Car Challenge, organised by the RAC. It’s a sort of reverse version of the long established London to Brighton Vintage Car Run. It’s an opportunity for manufacturers to show their new automotive technologies, including fully electric, hybrids, hydrogen power and the very latest in ultra-frugal internal combustion engines. They can also put them through their paces on the 63 mile economy run to the Capital.

Clearly, the idea is, in the long term, to convince the buying public that these alternative methods of getting around are worth considering. The snag is that electric cars have hit the major stumbling block of range. Sales are flat and very disappointing. The cars are generally considered to be too expensive and it’s that initial outlay that puts buyers off.

Renault are countering this by offering to sell the cars more cheaply but lease the batteries. On the face of it this seems like a good idea but it raises the spectre of costing in this additional expense to the motorist, thereby eating into the savings made at the plug, as it were.

In a bid to reduce motoring costs generally, drivers are pretty willing to try these alternative power sources which explain the current popularity of hybrids. These cars offer the best of both worlds and the science behind it is becoming established. Jaguar, for example, are showing three of their prestige saloons – the XJ-ePHEV – fitted with 2.0L turbo engines coupled with 69kW motors instead of the stonking great power-plants of old. The company reckon that 80+mpg is possible with emissions slashed by 70%.

Couple these developments with the massive strides forward made by the engine builders who now produce clean, green and very frugal internal combustion engines that are capable of 100mpg and it’s hard to see where – at the present time – fully electric cars can get a look in.

Nevertheless, the Future Car Challenge is an important and interesting event. It has become abundantly clear that the alternative power bandwagon is an unstoppable force and we might as well get on board. Even if electric car technology is not yet sufficiently developed to suit the mainstream buyer, there are plenty of other cars that are meeting the increasingly stringent regulations. Hybrids are rapidly gaining popularity and cash-strapped motorists are turning to the small, fuel-sipping motors now available. This RAC event is a great showcase opportunity for manufacturers. Next year you might even see a hybrid Ferrari!

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- who has written 474 posts on Motor Blogger.

Geoff is a freelance writer and photographer.

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bG9nZ2VyX0xvZ28uanBnIjtpOjI7czo3MzoiaHR0cDovL21vdG9yYmxvZ2dlci5jby51ay93cC1jb250ZW50L3dvb191cGxvYWRzLzMtTW90b3JfQmxvZ2dlcl9Mb2dvLnBuZyI7fTwvbGk+PGxpPjxzdHJvbmc+d29vX3ZpZGVvX2NhdGVnb3J5PC9zdHJvbmc+IC0gQXV0byBOZXdzPC9saT48L3VsPg==