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Volkswagen Polo Bluemotion a 72MPG Wonder of Fine-Tuning

Volkswagen's new line of fuel sipping alternatives to their most popular body-styles marks what will hopefully become a common trend for auto-makers in the coming years. The traditional combustion engine allows for 150% the fuel economy of a Toyota Prius, which has quickly become the American standard for a 'green' car.

The BlueMotion Polo, a slightly smaller alternative to the popular Golf, is powered by a 5 speed manual transmission and has a modified engine, a more aerodynamic body, and longer shift translations. This results in a much more fuel-efficient car which Volkswagen claims in prime conditions can get 72 miles to the gallon with significantly lower co2 emissions, 16g/kg lower than the standard model. The BlueMotion line seeks to make more eco-friendly alternatives to popular cars without sacrificing the experience of driving.

In a recent test of the car’s range, a BlueMotion Polo was filled up in Wolfsburg, Germany and traveled to Geneva a distance of around 600 miles, a decent improvement over the Hybrid Prius’ 550, not a car heralded for its performance or for being fun to drive.

The significance of cars like the BlueMotion line is their plain cars. Not hybrids, plug-ins, fuel cell, solar panel or vegetable oil powered; they run off of an energy source that is accommodated for in current infrastructure. By refining the standard diesel combustion engine to a point where it uses a low amount of fuel while keeping the convenience of getting a refill from the local gas station there is no problem refueling/recharging the engine. Taking into account the development of algal fuel sources, which are high enough grade to run in current diesel engines it isn’t hard to believe in a few years whilst the spread of even greener technologies, like the fuel cell, continue at what will inevitably be a slow rate, we could be using renewable and biodegradable materials with much less of a harmful effect on our planet to power normal-handling cars filling up the tank anywhere instead of waiting for a recharge or hunting down a hydrogen pump.

In fact, Volkswagen aren’t the only people refining standard engines to unexpectedly high efficiencies other efforts alike will soon begin popping up in parking lots and on highways everywhere. Unlike another new exciting concept the Loremo which is scheuled to go on sale in 2010 the BlueMotion Volkswagens are already available in many of the body styles for sale in Europe ranging from the smallest the Polo to the sporty Passat. The Loremo however its current unavailability, may be packing more surprises under the hood than you’d expect out of your average 20hp engine. Loremo, or low-resistance mobile, is designed around a light steel frame optimized to be as rigid and small as possible, the same principal behind formula one frame design. With all factors combined the Loremo’s light engine, high-tech frame, and modern design allow it to reach speeds just over 100mph but when driven economically get up to 120mpg.

But in the race for the car of the future today Japanese manufacturer Honda believe that zero emission hydrogen fuel cells aren’t confined to futuristic prototype and concept cars in fact the FCX Clarity recently went on sale not in Asia or Europe, but here in North America. Currently confined to California in a limited release some say Honda have built the most revolutionary production car since the Model T. The FXC was recently tested on Top Gear, a popular British car show known for an obsession with cars like the 1000hp Bugatti Veyron and wallet smashing Lamborghini Murcielago which get under 5 miles to the gallon; and surprisingly they said car is no less fun to drive than your average sedan not as robotic or as boring as skeptics anticipated.

The car features an electric engine with one moving part and a hydrogen and oxygen electricity generator to power the car which outputs, as its only emission, a little excess water. Sadly, we don’t expect the FCX to quickly take over the roads although its more practically refilled than a plug-in electric car which takes hours between trips to recharge, it requires a refill from a hydrogen pump. This does allow the freedom to take multiple engine capacity journeys without having to sit overnight and let the car recharge but herein lies the problem, how many local gas stations have hydrogen pumps? How many stations can be expected to upgrade to hydrogen storage facilities without many people driving the cars? A cyclic and a stubbornly slow issue, the infrastructure that would make hydrogen, ironically the most abundant thing in the universe, available as commonly as petroleum gas.

It is because of this significant issue of an ill prepared infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles, which will hopefully be soon resolved, that we think despite its fuel source’s current flaws cars like the BlueMotion which maintain the fun to drive and classic feeling of a car coupled with the engine efficiency and production of algae based biofuels that many cars could become better for the environment which could be a stepping stone in the direction of clean fuels from here on out.

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