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The Best Environmentally ‘Green’ Cars on the Market – Part II

Posted on April 3, 2017

When people think about electric cars, they still visualise an oversized yogurt pot with a tiny trunk and a cabin only fit for a large dog. Sure, they might be good for running errands around town, but you won’t stand a chance with your weekly grocery shopping, let alone suitcases. So when people are buying a family car, they often dismiss electric and hybrid cars instantly.

Yet, as we saw in our first article on electric and hybrid cars, vehicles have evolved a lot and many well-known manufacturers have developed models that combine decent driving range, good performance, enough room for the whole family and fuel efficiency.

In our second instalment, we look at a few other cars that are environmentally friendly vehicles with a lot to like.

Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTi ecoFLEX

The Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTi ecoFLEX is a perfect example of a green car that doesn’t compromise on practicality and will definitely be suitable for families.

A compact hatchback, it is inexpensive to run, as you would expect, but what really sets it apart from other electric cars is the ecoFLEX technology it relies on, designed to improve fuel efficiency: direct injection and sophisticated electronic control units manage the combustion process producing, it claims, economies of 85.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 88g/km.

The Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTi also uses the company’s state-of-the-art Whisper Diesel engine. Built in aluminium to keep weight down, its incredible quietness it due to the clever use of acoustic covers that reduce the diesel’s rattle.

Although the cabin space is perfectly honourable, there is an alternative if you fancy something a bit larger: the Sports Tourer estate. Economy starts at 83.1mpg while emissions are slightly higher than the hatchback at 89g/km.

Whichever version you buy, the Astra is a great purchase. It is powerful enough to carry a full load of passengers and it is also very pleasant to drive, with good corner handling.

Nissan Leaf

The Nissan Leaf is perhaps one of the better known electric cars due to its longevity as it has been on the market since 2009.

Until then, electric cars were seen as a bit of an oddity reserved for people who had witnessed the hippies 60s. The Nissan Leaf dispelled this misconception and made electric vehicles mainstream. Apart from the flap covering the charging socket on its sleek nose and its absence of exhaust, it look mostly like a regular hatchback, with all the appeal of a well-built car showing just a touch of futuristic design to firmly establish its green credentials.

A five-door car with the capacity to transport five passengers, it was produced for everyday use and soon showed the world that it could do everything a combustion-engine car could. Inside, the cabin is spacious enough and the hi-tech display on the dashboard will help you monitor the electric charge.

Originally powered by an 80-kWatt engine running on energy stored in a lithium-ion battery pack, its first iteration was capable of a 160-km driving range. It could be recharged using 120V, 240V or via a quick charge port that could restore up to 80% of the battery’s power in about 25 minutes.

However, through a committed programme of upgrades, the Nissan Leaf has continued improving, imposing itself as an incredibly popular electric car, one of the best sellers available today.

One factor that contributed to its democratisation is a drop on the base price – money often being an obstacle to purchase for all electric cars. Optimised performance has also placed it firmly at the forefront of people’s mind. Not only does it emit zero pollutant, its current battery, available in 24 and 30 KWh gives it a maximum autonomy range of 250km. Of course, those numbers are achieved in test conditions so you are unlikely to really get that far on a single charge but it will still cover most trips.

Volvo XC90 T8

If you are a purist, you may want to look away as we talk about the Volvo XC90 T8, a hybrid combining an electric motor with a 2.0-litre petrol engine.

This Volvo is another vehicle suitable for families and small groups as it can sit seven people thanks to its third row of seats in the boot. From the outside, only the charging flap hints at its electric nature, which makes its performance all the more surprising: Volvo claims that the T8's twin engine drive enables you to reach 100kmh from 0 in 5.3 seconds. Not figures you hear very often when it comes to SUVs.

The cabin is well designed, of great quality and of generous proportions due to the clever fitting of the hybrid system and battery pack under the floor next to a fuel tank smaller than standard – the idea being that you won’t need as big a tank as part of your driving is powered by the electric battery.

The car is advertised as having a 40km range on its electric battery alone although we would always recommend to leave the car in hybrid mode and let it decide when to switch to the fuel engine.

The Volvo XC90 T8 claims emissions of 49g/km and economy of 134.5mpg, although, like with any hybrid car, those numbers will vary depending on your driving.

At McCullough, we have noticed that electric cars have become more commonplace, which is great news for our planet. As far as transporting them is concerned, they are no different from combustion-engine cars and they require the same level of care. Compliance with NZ standards, bio-security and Customs clearance are all steps we can help you with in addition. We have been in international shipping for over two decades and our wealth of experience ensures that things go smoothly. If you would like to discuss international transport for your car, call us on +64 9 303 0075, send us an email or get a quote online


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