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Brand check alternative drives: which manufacturer offers what?

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VW: Small but attractive natural gas offer

M ith the modular transverse toolkit (MQB), which will be introduced at VW with the next Golf generation from November, the range of alternative drive technology is to increase significantly . Whether full or plug-in hybrid, gas or electric drive - everything is provided in the MQB, and the first variants will start as early as 2013. However, currently the only hybrid in the range is the top variant of the Touareg with three-liter V6 and 380 hp (from 75,500 euros).

The factory range of LPG versions, which VW calls Bi-Fuel, is somewhat more extensive. It includes the Polo (82 hp, from 17,150 euros), Golf (98 hp) as a sedan (from 21,275 euros) and Plus (from 23,150 euros) as well as Caddy (98 hp, from 20,974 euros). All of them fall back on tried and tested naturally aspirated engines, which lag significantly behind the turbocharged diesels and gasoline engines that are usually used at VW.

For the natural gas versions of the Passat (from 30,250 euros), Passat Variant ( from 31,275 euros) and Touran (from 28,300 euros), this does not apply, as they are strongly pushed by a modern 1.4-liter TSI with 150 hp. The Caddy 2.0 Eco-Fuel (109 PS, from 22,009 euros) has to do without the turbocharger, but has more displacement and torque than the 1.6-liter in the Caddy Bi-Fuel.

In late summer the Eco Up, which significantly improves the CO2 balance of the smallest Volkswagen, extends the range downwards. Its three-cylinder engine has 68 hp and should emit just 79 grams of CO2 per kilometer in the standard cycle - no other car with a pure combustion engine emits less.

Audi: Expansion of the hybrid range

In 2011, the hybrid combination of 211 hp TFSI four-cylinder and 40 kW electric motor celebrated its premiere in the Q5 (from 53,700 euros). The full hybrid is now also available in the A6 sedan (from 53,300 euros) and in the large A8 (from 77,700 euros). In 2013 Audi launched its climate-neutral natural gas concept ('Balanced Mobility') together with the new A3 TCNG, followed a good year later by the A4. Also in 2014, the A3, as a plug-in hybrid, is once again the pioneer within the brand, followed by the A4 and Q7. At the end of this year, Audi is already launching a small series of the battery-electric powered super sports car R8 E-Tron.

Toyota: TheHybrid pioneer expands its range

While others are slowly getting their first hybrid models ready for series production, Toyota has already sold over 2.5 million Prius with the combination of gasoline and electric motors worldwide within 15 years and has continuously developed this technology . The model, now in its third generation, has recently been thoroughly modified (136 HP system output, from 26,500 euros) at dealerships and will be supplemented by two more variants this summer. The van-like Prius Plus is the first seven-seater with hybrid drive, while the Prius Plug-in can also charge the battery via a mains connection. Thanks to the increased battery capacity (4.4 instead of 1.3 kWh), the range increases with a purely electric drive (up to 25 instead of two kilometers).

In addition to the Prius, Toyota also builds this drive train in the conventional Auris ( 136 hp, from 23,300 euros), which with 4,018 new registrations in 2011 has become the hybrid bestseller in Germany. Toyota will soon be offering its full hybrid technology even more cheaply, because the new Yaris Hybrid (100 hp) will start on June 16 from 16,950 euros. For use in the small car, the electric motor, battery and gasoline engine (1.5 instead of 1.8 liters) are more compact. CO2 emissions: 79 g /km.

Opel: Electric drive without worrying about range

On A fully-fledged, fully-fledged four-seater that makes most trips electrically powered and does not necessarily have to be charged at the socket? The Ampera (150 hp, from 45,500 euros) makes it possible. An 86 hp petrol engine only drives the front wheels in exceptional cases. As a rule, it stands still or produces power as a range extender for the 111 kW electric motor if the battery power sufficient for 40 to 80 kilometers runs out. Such an electric drive is currently only available from Opel - apart from its sister model, the Chevrolet Volt. The brand is also one step ahead when it comes to the significantly cheaper LPG offers. The Meriva (120 PS, from 22,240 euros), the Astra as a sedan (140 PS, from 22,670 euros) and Sports Tourer (from 23,770 euros) are the first to use turbo gasoline engines as the basis for the LPG drive. Only the Corsa LPG (83 PS, from 14,865 euros) still has a vacuum cleaner. With the natural gas versions of the Zafira Family (150 PS, from 26,550 euros), Zafira Tourer (150 PS, from 27,950 euros) and Combo, charging is standard.

Honda: In addition to small cars, also sports coupé

Honda has also been offering models with hybrid technology for years, but is concentrating on mild hybrids, in which the electric motor and battery are smaller and cheaper. Electric starting is not possible with it, but performance and consumption benefit from the support of the electric motor.

The times when Honda only used this technology in unattractiveNotchback sedans are long gone. Entry begins today with the otherwise conventionally powered Jazz Hybrid (98 hp, from 19,290 euros), in which the system components do not reduce the size and variability of the interior. The larger Insight (98 PS, from 20,490 euros), whose drive, which is the same as the Jazz, was further optimized at the beginning of the year, and the sporty CR-Z (124 PS, from 21,990 euros) are exclusively available with hybrid drive. This 2 + 2-seater coupé has a more powerful 1.5-liter petrol engine on board in addition to the ten-kW electric motor instead of a 1.3-liter. As is typical for sports cars, power is not transmitted by automatic transmission, as is usually the case with hybrids, but by manual transmission.

BMW: waiting for BMW i

In spring 2010 BMW in the X6 and 7 Series (465 PS, from 105,900 euros) the first hybrid drives. The 5-series sedan (340 hp, from 62,900 euros) is now being added to the range, and the 3-series full hybrid with the same drive system will follow in September. The target is CO2 emissions of less than 149 g /km - not a small amount in absolute terms, but a good value for the system performance offered.

Alternative drive forms can also be BMW pay dearly. It will be no different with the models of the new sub-brand i, especially since BMW is breaking new technological ground not only in drive technology. Instead of a self-supporting body, two separate modules are used. The chassis, drive and storage battery are compactly integrated into an aluminum construction. The passenger cell, on the other hand, is made of carbon fiber for reasons of weight, which weighs half as much as steel with the same stability - this was previously only available in small-series cars. BMW has announced two models that will roll off the production line in Leipzig from next year: For the 3.80 meter short i3 an approximately 125 kW electric motor is provided in the rear, a range extender is optionally available. With the i8 designed as a plug-in hybrid as a coupé or spider, on the other hand, a genuine BMW sports car is finally about to start again, in which the fans only have to get used to the key data. A new 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbo drives the rear wheels, while the electric motor from the i3 drives the front wheels. Acceleration from zero to 100 km /h in significantly less than five seconds.

Dacia: Inexpensive LPG offer

The models of the Romanian subsidiary brand of Renault don't just failextremely low purchase prices from the frame. The LPG versions ex works are also not available from any other manufacturer for a lower surcharge. Dacia only calls for 800 euros extra. The Sandero (75 PS, 9,690 euros) is not only the cheapest LPG model from Dacia, but also on the entire German market. Logan MCV (84 hp, 11,490 euros) and Duster (105 hp, 13,590 euros) can also be refueled with cheap LPG. However, the LPG version of the popular SUV is the only engine variant not available with all-wheel drive, but only as a pure front-wheel drive.

Citroen: Special Combination

In addition to the purely electrically powered microcar C-Zero (49 kW, from 29,393 euros), which apart from a few changes is the same as the i-MiEV from Mitsubishi, the range of alternative drives is currently limited to the DS5 Hybrid4 (200 PS system output, from 37,540 euros). In the top model of the series, like Peugeot, a two-liter diesel with 163 hp drives the front wheels via an automated manual transmission, while a 27 kW electric motor acts on the rear wheels when required. The Citroen thus offers all-wheel drive without a direct mechanical connection between the axles. Different modes allow, among other things, purely electric driving over short distances. That has its price: The DS5 costs 6,500 euros less than the HDi 165 or THP 200.

Mercedes: New in the E-Class

At Mercedes, too, the developers are working intensively on a wide variety of alternative drive forms, as shown by the numerous near-series prototypes at trade fairs or the public endurance testing of fuel cell cars around the world. However, if you look at the price lists, you will only find variants for everyone in the E and S Class. In the S 400 Hybrid (299 PS, from 87,287 euros), the 15 kW electric motor only supports the six-cylinder gasoline engine.

In the brand new E 300 Bluetec Hybrid (from 51,795 euros), however, Mercedes combines the 204 hp four-cylinder diesel with a 20 kW electric motor and thus achieves a standard consumption of just 4.2 L /100 km. The E 200 NGT (163 hp, from 46,916 euros) is available to natural gas customers, also only as a sedan. A CNG version is also planned for the current B-Class, as is an electric version with a range extender (from 2014). The starting shot for a small series of the electrically powered SLS sports car, on the other hand, could be given as early as 2013.

Renault: pioneer in the electric car

No other company is pushing the purely electric drive as vehemently as Renault and its alliance partner Nissan. Both are already in productionElectric cars in mass production: Nissan the compact Leaf, Renault the full-blown and well-equipped mid-range sedan Fluence ZE (70 kW, from 25,690 euros).

Compared to the internal combustion engine powered Fluence, the electric version is 13 centimeters longer, but offers only 317 instead of 530 liters of luggage space - tribute to the batteries, their capacity (22 kWh ) is enough for 185 kilometers under normal conditions. In addition, the batteries are not included in the purchase price, depending on the rental period and annual mileage, they cost between 82 and 168 euros per month.

At the end of the year, the small car Zoe (65 kW, from 20,600 euros), which is exclusively for the battery-electric drive was developed. The tariffs for battery rental start at 79 euros per month. In order to increase the range to a maximum of 210 kilometers, the engineers have put a lot of effort into optimal energy recovery.

In addition, the ZE fleet includes Renault in addition to a commercial vehicle version of the Kangoo, the airy Twizy (from 7,690 euros) - a top speed of 80 km /h , roofed quad without luggage space, which can accommodate a maximum of two passengers in a row. The Twizy, only 2.34 meters short and 1.23 meters narrow, is of course not a full-fledged car, but an alternative worth considering for commuters.

Peugeot: Hybrid with diesel instead of gasoline engine

So far, the use of diesel engines in hybrid models has been the exception. The PSA Group carried out this combination, which in the Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 (200 hp system output 34,150 euros) celebrated its premiere, as the first in a production car. Thanks to the diesel engine, the hybrid proves to be an economical drive not only within its domain - city traffic. And anyone who has been bothered by the fact that the crossover was not available with all-wheel drive can also be satisfied, because there is a strict division of labor between the two engines. One acts on the front axle, the other on the rear axle (see Citroen). Of course they also work together, but purely electrically, a range of up to 70 km /h or a good three kilometers is possible. In the standard cycle, the combination achieves CO2 emissions of 99 g /km. The same technology is also used by Peugeot in the new, SUV-like clad 508 RXH (200 PS, from 41,900 euros), which is based on the SW Kombi with a hardly changed Mitsubishi i-MiEV. At Peugeot, the 3.48 meter short four-door model is called Ion (49 kW, from 29,393 euros).

Ford: Electric entry is ready before

The Ford offer is currently openalternative drives from several LPG variants for the sedans. The Fiesta LPG (92 hp, from 16,290 euros) has a 1.4-liter, the Focus sedan (117 hp, 22,950 euros) and the tournament (117 hp, 23,750 euros) have a 1.6-liter four-cylinder. The most powerful LPG model is the Mondeo with a displacement of 2.0 liters, which is available as a sedan (141 hp, from 28,850 euros) and tournament (141 hp, from 29,850 euros). In all cases, it is not a modern Ecoboost gasoline engine, but a tried and tested naturally aspirated engine.

Focus Electric has been announced for the end of the year as the first all-electric Ford sedan in Europe. Already launched in the USA, the version for the German market will not differ optically from the conventionally powered models. The lithium-ion battery has a capacity of 23 kWh, the electric motor has an output of 92 kW. In 2013 a C-Max will follow as a full hybrid and plug-in version.

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