Constructors are battling to be the greenest

May 26th, 20126:03 pm @


Matt Joy rounds up all the latest news from the world of motoring, including a look at how Formula One bosses are trying to make the sport more eco-friendly Motorsport is rarely given any credit for eco-consciousness, particularly not the highoctane, big-budget arena of Formula One.

Yet since 1997, long before the possible damage of CO2 gases was really in the public consciousness, the FIA (F1’s governing body) was buying carbon credits to offset F1’s greenhouse gas emissions.

It seemed a daunting task; turning the glamour of the Grand Prix circuit into an ecoefficient sport with a social conscience. However, the FIA’s long-term commitment to achieving a 100 per cent carbon offset is now paying off, with a little help from companies such as the London-based Carbon Neutral Investments (CNI).

And the message is still being drummed home to the rest of the motorsport. At last year’s Motorsport Industry Association Cleaner Racing Conference at the NEC in Birmingham, members were told: “Motorsport must go low carbon.”

Of course, one of the main sources of CO2 emissions from F1 teams is not the race itself but rather the movement of the fleet of trucks used to transport the cars, crew and other equipment around the world. In 2009, the total CO2 emissions for F1 teams were 215,588 tonnes, of which only 0.3 per cent came from fuel emissions during racing and testing.

To claim to be totally ‘carbon neutral’, teams such as Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and Sauber have formed a partnership agreement with CNI to assist in reducing their net emissions to zero.

CNI, with access to more than six million VER (Verified Emissions Reduction) credits globally, is now the world’s largest carbon credit broker – a perfect fit for F1.

By working closely with its partners, CNI analysed the minutiae of each and every diverse stage of each team’s F1 operation; from the research and development of new race cars to the waste management of spent tyres. Once it had accumulated all the relevant data, it could then calculate exactly how many carbon credits were needed to offset and neutralise the CO2 emissions.

These credits then fund environmentally friendly projects worldwide, such as a hydro-electric plant in India, or the preservation of the Brazilian rain forests, or the plantation of sustainable timber for local African tribesman.

Not only are these projects hugely eco-friendly, they also offer job opportunities in areas with high unemployment; plus they encourage further investment for schools and hospitals.

CNI’s head of UK operations Edward Carlton says: “Vo d a -fone McLaren Mercedes leads the way across F1, and certainly does so in terms of environmental initiatives: the first F1 team to achieve the Carbon Trust Standard, recognition by the Government’s Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme and a whole host of initiatives at the McLaren Technology Centre.

“In working with us at CNI, the team has closed the gap between being carbon efficient and carbon neutral.”

F1 and its leaders may still court a certain amount of controversy, but in terms of its green ethics, it is setting an very high standard for others to follow.

Used car scene Classic and historic vehicles are to be exempted from the annual MoT test, the Government has announced. From November 18 this year, owners of vehicles manufactured before 1960 will not have to take them in for an MoT, Roads Minister Mike Penning said.

Pre-1960 licensed vehicles make up about 0.6 per cent of the total number of licensed vehicles in Britain, but are involved in just 0.03 per cent of road casualties and accidents.

Penning says: “We are committed to cutting out red tape which costs motorists money without providing significant overall benefits. Owners of classic cars and motorbikes tend to be enthusiasts who maintain their vehicles well – they don’t need to be told to look after them, they’re out there in all weathers checking the condition of the engine, tyres and bodywork. Owners of classic vehicles will still be legally required to ensure that they are safe and in a proper condition to be on the road, but scrapping the MoT test for these vehicles will save motorists money.”

Wheels and deals Car-sharing company Zipcar has announced a pilot partnership with Vauxhall that sees the all-new electric Ampera join its fleet of self-service, payas-you-go vehicles for the next six months.

It’s the first time in the UK that a car-sharing club has offered access to an Extended-Range Electric Vehicle (EREV), and Zipcar members will be able to reserve the Ampera online or using their smartphones.

European Car of the Year for 2012, the Ampera is a full-performance Extended-Range Electric Vehicle, which can travel free of tailpipe emissions for up to 50 miles, after which it shifts to a petrol generator that produces electricity to keep it going an additional 310 miles on a full tank of petrol.

Because many trips taken by Zipcar members are less than 35 miles, it is anticipated that a large number of journeys will use electric power only.

Stewart Gibbs, Vauxhall’s new business fleet sales manager, says: “With the Ampera, Vauxhall has brought to market the first electric vehicle that can go anywhere anytime. “It’s a vehicle designed to lower emissions and boost fuel economy, and partnering with an innovative company like Zipcar, who is committed to helping the environment, is a partnership we’re delighted to be involved with.”

¦ Two new special edition convertibles have been unveiled by Peugeot, based on the 207 CC and 308 CC.

Both share the ‘Roland Garros’ name that’s famously linked with the venue for the French Open tennis tournament.

The two new models will have unique trim details and be available only in black or white. Key upgrades for the 207 CC, which is based on the Allure trim level and will cost from £18,795, include leather seats, a Roland Garros wind break behind the seats and Roland Garros-embroidered carpet mats.

Other nice features to grace the 207 CC will be aluminium door sills, 17in ‘melbourne’ alloy wheels, dual-zone air conditioning, an automatically dimming rear view mirror, automatic headlights, cruise control with a speed limiter, Peugeot Connect with Bluetooth connectivity, rear parking sensors, electric folding door mirrors and tinted rear windows.

There are two engines available to power this special 207: the 1.6-litre VTi 120 petrol and the 1.6-litre HDi 112 diesel.

The larger 308 CC Roland Garros comes in a slightly different choice of black or white. It also comes with more power, with the three available engines being a 1.6-litre THP duo with either 156 or 200 horsepower, or a 2.0-litre HDi 163 diesel.

It features blue and grey leather seats, 18in wheels taken from the GT hatchback, Bluetooth, front and rear parking sensors, automatic headlights and automatic windscreen wipers. Like the 207 CC Roland Garros, it features the wind break and carpet mats with Roland Garros logos.

The 308 CC is a lot more expensive than its smaller cousin, though, at £25,845. Both will carry Roland Garros exterior badging and can be viewed at

¦ DAB radio will be standard on almost all Volkswagen cars from next year, the company has confirmed.

Every model from the Polo supermini right up to the Phaeton luxury saloon will have DAB as standard, on top of traditional AM/FM tuners, MP3 input sockets and CD players. Only the smallest Volkswagen, the Up, will be left out. It will continue with its selection of normal radio channels and media inputs.

On top of the improved radio quality, all models from the Polo S upwards will feature at least six speakers, with most having eight.

Upgrade options will be available including the MDI Multi Device Interface that allows quick and easy connection of iPods and other MP3 players via a USB input port. Users can then control track selection via the car’s audio controls. Bluetooth connectivity will be an option on some models and standard equipment on others, mainly highend models. A high-performance Dynaudio speaker and amplifier upgrade will be available on some models as well. Some Beetle models will be offered with an audio system developed with famous guitar and amplifier manufacturer Fender.

The details apply to 2013 model year Volkswagens, so towards the end of this year buyers should be sure to check whether the car they’re looking at is 2012- or 2013-spec.

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