Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Petrol, Diesel or Electric?

It's the age old argument of car fuel efficiency. Years ago, diesel fuel was more expensive, but lasted longer and gave you more miles per gallon. Petrol, whilst less efficient was quite substantially cheaper and the cars themselves were less expensive to buy. Now? Well let's be honest, both fuel prices are far above what they were in the good old days. We have to pray to the motoring Gods for a crash in the oil market or a Black Friday sale (thanks Asda) to get either below the pound.

Enter the Toyota Prius. In 1997 the Japanese manufacturers developed the world's first mass-produced hybrid car, with a combination of gasoline and electric capabilities. Contrary to popular belief, the minds at Toyota didn't create the hybrid concept, with vehicles that contained both an internal combustion engine and electric motor dating back as far as 1898, but this was the first instance in which it was mass produced and readily available. In truth, it was a car for the green-fingered driver, offering low-emissions as well as efficiency, but by todays standards it has struggled to keep up with the likes of BMW, Mercedes-Benz (minus last years emissions hiccup) and Audi for cost-effective travel that combines style and power at the same time. The Prius averages at between 40-50 mpg for standard highway mileage, whereas a BMW 620d will get you upwards of 60mpg. And if I'm honest, you'll look a bit cooler doing it.

All this was new, unfettered ground until 2003. In the background lurked Elon Musk and his crew at Tesla Motors. Utilising technology from Nikola Tesla's 1882 AC motor design, in 2008 they released the all-electric Roadster, the first production automobile to offer a fully electric car with a range greater than 200 miles, and since then the technology available has come on leaps and bounds. This is all at a somewhat greater cost to the consumer, as the initial base-price for a Roadster was £86,950 compared to the Prius. As time has gone on, and other manufacturers have got involved (Nissan Leaf or Renault Wind, anyone?) however, this price has decreased substantially, and the appeal to the average car-buyer has increased as a result. Their forecast for the next US release is scheduled to be at just $35,000!

So what does this mean? Could we see the fall of motoring giants like BMW and Mercedes in favour of the new kids on the block Tesla and their fierce rivals Farraday Future? Or will we see a sudden increase in new car releases as other companies try and keep up with new tech? And for those of us left behind with classic combustion engines, will we finally get a fuel price like we did 10 years ago? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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