Car manufacturers showed off their leanest, greenest mass-market models at the ongoing Geneva International Motor Show, which started on Thursday and runs until March 16. In anticipation of stricter European emissions controls, a host of small cars are also celebrating their debut, including production versions of Ford’s new, fuel-stingy Fiesta and Toyota’s three-seater iQ, plus a concept version of Fiat’s 500 Aria.
All three boast carbon dioxide emissions of under 100 grams per kilometre, which will help manufacturers beat an EU proposal for a fleet average of 130 grams by 2012.
Europeans also got their first glimpse of Indian manufacturer Tata’s Nano, hailed as the world’s cheapest car and due to begin rolling off the production line by the end of this year. The pint-sized five-seater will cost $2,500 (Dh9,175) plus tax and delivery, but will initially only be available in India while Tata works on improving the car’s emissions ratio and safety features.
Chevrolet too will be appealing to Europeans accustomed to driving smaller vehicles than their trans-Atlantic cousins.
GM’s top-selling brand is unveiling a three-door version of the Aveo, which debuted in Europe at last year’s IAA exhibition in Frankfurt, Germany, with a five-door model.
One of the loopholes to the emissions proposal currently being discussed in Brussels lets car makers pool their fleets with those of companies producing more efficient vehicles.
Almost every major manufacturer is showing off hybrid versions that use electricity or hydrogen in addition to conventional fuels. Lighter materials, electricity-generating brakes and even solar panels will be on show by the 260 exhibitors.
No single technology has yet emerged as the definitive way of reducing emissions, but manufacturers including General Motors and Daimler have put their weight behind developing more efficient lithium-ion batteries for use in hybrid vehicles. The German car maker said its Mercedes-Benz flagship S-class luxury sedan will be available in a gas-electricity hybrid version next year.
But at a time when car sales are falling in the United States, stagnating in Europe and growth is slowing elsewhere, the car manufacturing industry is coming out with a bumper crop of new models.
The industry presented 94 new models at the show, 17 of which run on alternative technology designed to emit fewer pollutants. The Geneva show is traditionally regarded as the most level playing field for car manufacturers because Switzerland lacks its own industry. (Agencies)
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