Polo Beats Prius Green Factor

by : Anthony Fontanelle

A diesel car has beaten the world's hot-selling hybrid - Toyota Prius - to the top spot in a new government guide to greener motoring, reported Alastair Dalton, a transport correspondent at Scotsman.

The new Volkswagen Polo, which will be rolled out in Britain this October, emits just 99 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer, five grams fewer than the petrol-electric hybrid, Prius. The Prius has become synonymous with environmentally minded celebrities, such as Jennifer Aniston and Leonardo DiCaprio. But the new Polo Blue Motion could prove even greener.

The Prius, the first hybrid to be mass-produced, has won a number of awards including the Year Japan from 1997 to 1998, the North American Car of the Year in 2004, and the European Car of the Year in 2005. EPA has rated the hybrid at 48 mpg in city driving and 45 mpg on the highway. By far, it is the most economical car sold in the United States.

The Toyota Motor Corp.'s third generation Hybrid Synergy Drive is expected to slash costs and weight. Additionally, a plug-in version of the hybrid will be engineered to tout increased gas mileage with larger engine. It has also been suggested that a range of different sized models are planned, rather than a single model. The first of these new models is set to be introduced in 2009. This new Prius may carry the Lexus brand.

Diesel cars top the government's new 'Act on' list, with officials advising motorists who drive predominantly outside towns and cities to choose them over gasoline cars. The number of diesel cars on Britain's roads has nearly tripled over the last ten years to 6.1 million in 2006. Now they account for 22 percent of cars.

"The Polo Blue Motion 1.4 TDI 80PS, which includes a diesel particulate filter system, is among the first conventional-engine cars to be exempt from road tax because of its low emissions," Dalton reported. "The Prius is joint runner-up in the tables with the diesel Mini Cooper D hatchback, which also has a particulate filter and will be available next month." There must be something about the ? Or is it the package?

The government rankings, compiled with What Car? magazine, feature the ten lowest emission vehicles in 14 categories - from superminis to luxury cars. The rankings use the government's Vehicle Certification Agency's emissions data. The agency is responsible for conducting the official tests to determine the emissions from cars.

Stuart Hay, the head of policy at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "Unfortunately, no account is taken of other local air pollutants that come from diesel cars, so the public might not necessarily be buying the most environmentally friendly car overall."

"If most of your driving is in cities, diesel cars might not be as good for the environment as you might think. Particulates and NOX increase lung cancer and cardiac diseases, and make existing conditions, like asthma, worse," said Ed Dearnley, a policy officer with the National Society for Clean Air and Environmental Protection.

Jim Fitzpatrick, a UK transport minister who is due to launch the list today, said: "By choosing the car with the most fuel-efficient engine in its class, drivers could reduce their engine emissions by 24 per cent and potentially save a quarter on fuel costs. The car you choose can help reduce your impact on the environment, and save money."

Steve Fowler, editor of What Car?, has this to say: "These rankings are exactly what consumers need to make an informed choice about the car to buy to minimize fuel consumption, save money and help tackle climate change."