The Geneva Motor Show might be famous for supercars and concept vehicles that make petrolheads weak at the knees but it’s also a forum for the latest in energy-efficient transport technology – and increasingly so. This year saw plenty of buzz around – with much of the noise coming from well-known motor brands trying to put themselves at the centre of the emerging market.
There was, though, a bit of a change of emphasis this year. Historically, the show has been an important platform for automakers to publicise their latest hybrid or electric models however this year, there was a focus on bridging the gap between traditional engines and their energy-efficient cousins.
Mazda, for example, were proudly showing off how the capacitor technology that provides regenerative breaking used in their electric vehicles can be applied to their fuel-powered engines. A sign of the sector’s drive towards squeezing as much efficiency out of common petrol- or diesel-powered engines, which can only be a good thing.
Vauxhall’s Ampera electric car with a newly extended range of 500km gained recognition from automotive journalists from 23 countries when it was named European Car of the Year. This is another feather in General Motors cap as the Ampera’s sister car, the Chevrolet Volt, has already won North American Car of the Year award in 2011. In fact, all of the finalists for the prestigious award were smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. A triumph for greener driving.
Meanwhile, Ford was giving visitors the chance to don their driving gloves and get behind the wheel of their first electric passenger car. The Focus Electric has tons of gadgetry on the dashboard – including voice control and more device integration than you can shake a smartphone at – as well as under the bonnet. I can’t say I’m entirely convinced by the SmartGauge with EcoGuide, which represents its charge level with a screen of blue butterflies, but each to their own I suppose.
For those of you who, like me, can’t bear to ditch the thrill of a stick shift, Morgan displayed their prototype Plus E model – the first production electric car with a manual gearbox. With a 160bhp engine and a range of 120 miles, this might be a good option for green speed freaks when it goes into production.
But of course, there was still time for a big-league show-off – and the Infiniti Emerg-E concept car delivered. The machine promises 0-60 in 4.0 seconds, more than 400bhp of electric urge, and weighs only 1,600kg. At that speed, your battery isn’t going to last the longest, so fuel-efficiency is imperative. No probs on this one – after the electric range is depleted, it can do 300 miles on a tank of fuel. All good news, if you’ve got a fair few grand to spare and are prepared to wait for when concept hits road. Given the cutting-edge nature of this Japanese model, the Telegraph made pains to point out its British life history.
If all this seems a little too trailblazing and you’re still debating whether to get rid of the old banger, no worries. Make a start by visiting our transport advice pages.