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RAC Future Car Challenge to use on-board car data loggers

10 Oct 2011 at 14:00

By Richard Aucock

This year's RAC Future Car Challenge, which showcases low energy vehicles in a run between Brighton and London, will use onboard data loggers for all cars to enable exact measurement of total energy used.

The data-logging equipment will measure fuel consumption and CO2 levels on petrol and diesel cars, or current and voltage on electric vehicles. This means that, for the first time, a level playing field will be given to all cars entered – meaning, for the first time, all types of car can be compared alongside one another.

The organisers of the Future Car Challenge, which runs next month, have introduced the new data-logging equipment to bring parity across the many different classes in the challenge. It is open to Pure Electric, Extended-Range/Plug-in Hybrid, Hybrid, Hydrogen and Internal Combustion Engine cars – five different categories, all showcasing the latest in alternative energy developments.

All have potential to power the cars of the future – however, comparing and contrasting the advantages of each has to now been next to impossible. In a combustion engine car, you compare fuel consumption. In an electric car, however, you can only assess electricity consumed. On hybrid cars, the electrical consumption AND the amount of fuel consumed has to be compared. Things quickly get very complicated.

This is why the decision by the RAC Future Car Challenge organisers to fit the data logging gear to each car is so noteworthy.

Every entrant will be aiming to use as little energy as possible, so it will be a level playing field in that respect. The course driven between Brighton and London will be the same for each entrant too.

Here, then, is a rare opportunity to directly compare the actual energy consumption of a range of future fuel technologies with one another, in real-world driving situations faced by UK motorists every day.

The results are likely to prove fascinating. Will the energy use of an electric car be greater than a petrol supermini, because of its heavier weight? Could this mean a regular petrol car could beat an electric car despite not offering zero emissions status?

How will a hybrid model compare with a turbo diesel? Will a plug-in hybrid prove better overall than a plug-in electric car – and how will petrol-electric hybrids compare to diesel-electric hybrids?

Next month, we will find out. The RAC Future Car Challenge runs on 5 November, with more than 50 cars entered to date. London Mayor Boris Johnson has already supported the event: “The RAC Future Car Challenge is set to show off a fantastic range of greener transport choices. I want London to be leaders in the take up of vehicles fuelled by low polluting technologies.

“This is why we are working hard to make London the electric vehicle capital of Europe to improve our air quality, reduce traffic noise and contribute significantly to cutting carbon emissions.”

With the introduction of data loggers, the event will offer a greater insight into future fuels than ever before. Next month, the future of motoring may become that little bit clearer.

Links

Future Car Challenge on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/RACFutureCarChallenge

Future Car Challenge official website - http://www.futurecarchallenge.com/