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RAC Future Car Challenge: the winners

06 Nov 2012 at 17:01

The RAC’s Future Car Challenge might be about raising awareness for upcoming green technology in the automotive industry – the cars you will be driving in the not so distant future – but without something to play for there’s no incentive, no competitive edge to push the boundaries.

Fortunately, the Future Car Challenge is just that: a challenge, to see which team can achieve the most fuel efficient run in a number of different categories over the 63 miles between Brighton and London.

Drum roll please: this year’s overall winners were the Renault Zoe and the Windreich AG – ME 2012 in the production and prototype classes respectively. But it’s the former’s victory that proves an important point.

The all-electric French supermini is on sale in the UK now, with customer deliveries beginning in spring next year. That a production-spec hatchback can achieve such great efficiency results over real-world driving conditions proves how far alternative propulsion systems have developed even in the three years the RAC Future Car Challenge has been running.

There were plenty of production vehicles that recorded stellar fuel economy for the run, too. The Vauxhall Ampera won the Most Energy Efficient Regular Car award, while the Mercedes-Benz E300 Hybrid received the accolade of Most Energy Efficient Luxury Car.

Experimental prototype machinery was also well represented by the Jaguar XJ_e (Most Energy Efficient Luxury Car in the prototype category), as well as the Windreich AG – ME 2012 (an EV powered by sustainably generated electricity) and the Cree SAM Moto-e3 – both privately entered alternatively propelled prototype machines.

It’s events like the RAC’s Future Car Challenge that is pushing the boundaries of technology – forcing manufacturers to take note of what the motorists requires from a car, combined with a focus on efficiency and real world practicality.

The more awareness generated, the better these machines become and the easier it is to live with an electric car, hybrid or range extender on a day-to-day basis.

Even in three years, the Future Car Challenge has spurred entrants on to become more efficient, faster and more practical. It’s got to a point where vehicles offering an alternative to conventional diesel or petrol power are inspiring the public with a combination of range, efficiency and flexibility. The industry is only going to head in one direction from here.