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Green car glossary

2007-10-15 09:37
We're all encouraged to adopt greener motoring habits. Take a scroll through our jargon-buster to find out what the terms really mean.

Volkswagen's name for the fuel-saving versions of its Polo, Passat and Golf models. The savings are made thanks to narrower tyres and lighter bodywork.

Mercedes uses Bluetec to describe the technology that makes diesel cars just as clean as petrol engines. The system reduces diesel particles by up to 80 percent with an oxidizing catalytic converter and particulate filter combined with other systems to reduce nitrogen oxide.

Energy which is normally lost through heat while braking is used to recharge the battery. BMW introduced the system.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are seen as one way to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions. The hydrogen used in the cells is extracted from petrol or natural gas, and a chemical reaction with oxygen produces energy. The only by-product is water. The main drawbacks are the amount of energy needed to produce hydrogen and the infrastructure needed to make it widely available.

The most common hybrid engine is a combination of electric and petrol, but some producers favour an electric-diesel hybrid because diesel engines uses less fuel.

A petrol engine offering the high torque and fuel economy of a diesel paired with extremely clean emissions. Mercedes is highly optimistic, calling it "the future of the petrol engine."

Opel's name for low-consumption, low-polluting models with small electric and diesel engines that were launched at the 2007 Frankfurt show.

Ford's name for a new range of cars with lowered suspension, aerodynamic profiles and narrow tyres that help reduce both emissions and fuel consumption. The first model is expected to hit the market in 2008.

BMW's umbrella term for its environmentally friendly cars, which use Brake Energy Recuperation and Stop-Start Technology.

Electric cars are particularly environmentally friendly because they do not produce any emissions. But early attempts to master the technology faltered because of limited battery life. Enormous progress has been made recently to improve this.

Currently used in cars such as the Toyota Prius and by Honda, hybrid is a combination of a petrol and electric engine. In urban areas, hybrid cars mainly use the electric function, cutting down on emissions. For longer-distance driving, the petrol function can be turned on.

The engine cuts out when the vehicle comes to a halt and automatically starts again when it needs to drive off, saving fuel and cutting emissions.


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