Ecovelocity 2011 - the Low-Carbon Motor Show

The first of its kind in the UK, Ecovelocity is the brave green successor to the now defunct British Motor Show.  The British Motor Show disappeared in the face of the recent recession and also perhaps due to a lack of plain outdated product placement.  2008 was in fact an important year for change in the automotive industry and the car companies who participated in the show realized that the consumer was no longer interested in just speed, design, and performance but also in ecology and economy.  This is why the Greener Driving Pavilion of the British Motor Show 2008 was the only real successful part of the show.  As feedback got back to Giles Brown, organiser and founder of Ecovelocity, he quickly realized that the current motor show format was dead and it was time, in true British spirit, to up-cyle the show.  Together with a friend at Metro, UK’s most read free newspaper, they came up with a cunning plan.

Ecovelocity, the low carbon motor show featuring the latest in eco vehicles, held place this September in London’s iconic Battersea Power Station.  The contrast between new and old energy was palpable with not only the disused power station in view but also the gas psylos and overground trains in the background.  To add to the fun the organizers arranged a test track around the event so that visitors could test the cars on show.  Whilst a good section of the show consisted of big car names the likes of Ford, Renault, Mitsubishi, and Lexus there were a few local players such as AtoB, Zero Cars, and Eco Motion.  The sweetheart of the show had to be Mia-Electric.  Never seen in the UK before the little pop icon with centre drive position was stealing people’s imaginations left right and centre.

What Car Green Car Awards were also announced on the eve of the show at a special event sponsored by Warranty Direct and EDF Energy.  Although everyone knew already what award they had won it was interesting to see how there was pride beyond the mere fact of winning another accolade.  In the room there was a sense that this is the right direction that perhaps there is a positive way forward.

And the winners were…

Superminis - Kia Picanto 1.0 1 Air

Small Family Cars - Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI 105 Bluemotion 5dr

Family Cars - Ford Mondeo 1.6 TDCi 115 Eco Zetec S/S

Executive Cars - BMW 3 Series 318d ES

MPVs - Renault Grand Scenic 1.6 dCi 130 I-Music S/S

Alternative-fuel Cars - Vauxhall Ampera

SUVs - Peugeot 3008 2.0 HDi Hybrid4

Fun Cars - Mini 1.6D Cooper

Overall Winner – Vauxhall Ampera

Two neat features about the show was a focus on young drivers and the Super Eco Car Paddock. SEAT offered driving lessons to drivers aged 11-16 on the inside of the show where they could be taught about eco-driving and understand the cars of the future.  Right next to that was xxx young driver eco driving school The Green Supercar Paddock housed about a dozen high performance eco cars such as the Tesla Roadster, the EV-Cup iRacer, the Bluebird, the Extra-Terrestrial Car, the Delta, and British newcomer Evelio.  Although they were not available for test-driving they paraded around the track every few hours and then only twice on the last day because there were so many people!

EV Cup iRacer weighs in at 770kg!

Evelio 0-60mph of 3.2 seconds!

I was driving…

As one of the winners of the What Car Green Car Awards in the Family Car category with the Mondeo 1.6 TDCi 115 Eco Zetec S/S, Ford offered the press some test cars to drive for the week.  I chose the new Ford Fiesta Econectic Titanium as my test car for the week with the following specs:

Titanium ECOnetic

1.6-litre Duratorq TDCi

Price £15,045

Target Price £13,989

CO2 95g/km (this will be reduced to 89g/km next year!)

NOx 0.152g/km

Particulate emissions 0.16mg/km

Average economy 76.3mpg

With 14” Energy Saving Michelin tyres and the Duratorq Diesel engine my Fiesta was as clean as they come in the Ford line-up.  Not only is this uber-refined engine efficient in performance it is also produced in a facility that derives all its energy from renewable resources with two dedicated wind turbines.  Cool! Still, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot of diversity from the Fiesta compared to other hot-hatches, they tend to blend, so I was pleasantly surprised when upon receiving the car it put a smile on my face.  It has personality, and where the Focus might have failed in trying to please everyone the Fiesta totally makes up for that in character.  Another misconception was immediately put to bed for me when I took it out for a spin.  Like most people interested in keeping the planet in the green I assume that I have to make compromises, especially when it comes to driving performance.  However, I am finding where that might have been the case 5 years ago, it certainly isn’t today; the Fiesta was not boring, it didn’t drag, and it didn’t suck.  Much to the contrary…

The manual drive Fiesta I had kept up with city driving with punchy departures from the lights and whilst second gear was not my favourite once in 3rd you feel that this is truly a good car.  I only came to this conclusion after I got over the gob-smackingly amazing quality that runs throughout the Fiesta.  I challenge anyone to find an exposed ‘part’.  Every corner is considered and dealt with from subtle rouge lighting around the glove box to the soft sense steering wheel down to the generous trim and discreet nook where the rear seatbelt buckle gets housed.  If you want to get picky there were too many different grain patterns between the dashboard, door and centre console trim for my taste, but otherwise I wouldn’t complain. 

My design highlights would have to be the bijoux headlights, always there to welcome you with a smile (that’s what put a smile on my face!).  Also the Fiesta has the most animated side view mirrors I have seen in a while…they even close automatically when you lock the car acting as a subtle reminder that ‘yes, I locked the car!’  The dash is simple and functional yet has all the goodies you expect from a car in a higher class; connections to your handheld devices and eco-drive assist software included.  As always I am amazed at the Ford quality of build, design, and drive when it comes to their truly global range of cars.  Next time I would like to see a little more daring and provocative designs though, it feels like the Fiesta could teeter along and become too bland, specially in the wake of the Award-winning Kia Picanto, in its need to satisfy global markets at a local price.

Kia Picanto