As preparations begin for the second RAC Future Car Challenge next month, entrants are busy honing the models they hope will take class honours.
Many are looking closely at the winners list from last year, to see if it offers any clues as to which cars may set the pace again this year.
We therefore decided to do the same. Here are all the class winners from last year's RAC Future Car Challenge, with details on what made them champions in their respective classes.
Will they emerge victorious again this year, or will some new champions take the podium?
Most Economic Small Passenger EV – TATA Indica Vista Electric
The electric Tata Indica Vista EVX was a prototype car developed by Tata's European engineering HQ in the UK. It completed the route using an equivalent of £1.35 of electricity, compared to the £6.17 cost for a comparable petrol car.
The Tata also completed the route with its batteries little more than one-third depleted. This would theoretically give it a 160-mile electric range. The car performed so well it also won the title of Most Economical & Environment Friendly Small Passenger ICEV.
Most Economical Small Passenger ICEV – Gordon Murray Designs Ltd T.25 City Car
Former F1 designer Gordon Murray's T.25 model is described as a city car breakthrough. It is so small, it can park at 90 degrees to the kerb and three T.25s can fit into one parallel parking space.
The ingenious car won the internal combustion engine small passenger car category last year thanks to a genuine fuel-sipping performance: it can average nearly 75mpg yet also hit 90mph.
Most Economic & Environment Friendly Regular Passenger EV – Volkswagen Golf blue-e-motion Electric
The Golf blue-e-motion is an all-electric model that's visually hard to tell apart from a regular Golf. The batteries are located in the rear, cleverly enough to ensure it still seats five and has a 279-litre boot.
It has a range of 90 miles and produces 115hp, for 0-60mph in 11.8 seconds and an 86mph top speed. Volkswagen is running trials now and production will begin in 2013.
Most Economic & Environment Friendly Regular Passenger HEV – Toyota Auris Hybrid
The Toyota Auris Hybrid is a UK-built petrol-electric car derived from the Toyota Prius. By building it in the UK, 'car miles' are cut, while basing it in the mainstream Auris model helps keep prices low.
Toyota entered a fleet of Auris Hybrids last year and all performed well. The best was strong enough to take overall honours in the passenger hybrid car category.
Most Economic & Environment Friendly Regular Passenger ICEV – BMW 320d Efficient Dynamics Diesel
This is not only one of the most economical regular passenger cars on sale, but is also the greenest and most economical BMW 3 Series ever sold too.
The 2.0-litre diesel-engine model, thanks to features such as engine start-stop, can average 68.9mpg and emits just 109g/km CO2.
Most Economic & Environment Friendly Sports EV – Lotus Elise S1 Electric
Private engineer Russ Sciville proved that even performance cars such as the Lotus Elise can be made green, by creating his own all-electric Lotus Elise.
The Elise EV has a 60-mile range and can rocket to 60mph in 5 seconds. It performed well enough to take overall sports EV honours – but competition this year is expected to be much more intense.
Most Economic & Environment Friendly Sports HEV –Honda CR-Z Hybrid
The Future Car Challenge last year proved that sporty cars can also be green, with the sports hybrid electric vehicle category showcasing the latest in style-setting eco technology.
The Honda CR-Z emerged victorious here. The car has a petrol-electric hybrid engine for fuel economy of over 56mpg - a very strong performance overall.
Most Economic & Environment Friendly Multi-Purpose Electric vehicle – Zytek Mercedes-Benz Vito Taxi Electric
Zytek has a close association with Mercedes-Benz, providing the powertrain for the innovative all-electric smart EV. The Mercedes-Benz Vito Taxi Electric also has an all-electric powertrain designed specifically for it.
It completed the 57-mile run with 30% battery capacity still to spare, despite getting stuck in traffic – an impressive result for a large seven-seat taxi.
Best E-Rev Entry – Proton Exora Extended Range EV
The Proton Exora was another prototype car previewing a future production model. It used an advanced 400cc rotary engine to recharge the batteries once depleted: these powered two electric motors, one for each front wheel.
The big batteries and Lotus-developed engineering ensured a very strong performance, with the Proton even beating another high-profile extended range electric vehicle, the Vauxhall Ampera.
Best F-Cell Hydrogen Vehicle – Mercedes-Benz B-Class, F-Cell Hydrogen
Many people consider fuel cell cars to be the cars of the future. Instead of carrying lots of heavy batteries on board, the fuel cell creates the electricity on the move, from hydrogen, meaning the only tailpipe emission is water.
Mercedes is one of the leaders in this technology and the B-Class is a very convincing solution indeed. It won its category and then, impressively, went on to prove itself by literally driving around the world, in an epic road trip!
The Public Choice – Vauxhall Ampera Extended Range EV
Once they arrived in London from Brighton, hundreds of thousands of members of the public spent the day exploring all the entrants in last year's Future Car Challenge, in a big display on the capital's Regent Street.
The car that impressed the most people was the Vauxhall Ampera extended-range electric vehicle. This blends the reassurance of a large petrol car range with up to 50 miles' zero tailpipe emissions electric running. It finally goes on sale in the UK next year too.
Most Economic Light Commercial ICEV – Ford Fiesta Van 1.6TDCi ECOnetic Diesel
Commercial vehicles are eligible to take part in the challenge too, proving that van drivers can also do their bit in going green.
The Ford Fiesta Van triumphed last year, thanks to its super-efficient 1.6-litre turbo diesel engine. This can average over 70mpg yet the van is still also capable of lugging an ample amount of goods.
Best Overall Private Entry as chosen by the Event judges – Lotus Elise S1 Electric
Private developers were able to enter the challenge last year, alongside the big volume car manufacturers. The most impressive of all was the Lotus Elise S1 Electric designed by Russ Sciville.
Sciville ingeniously enhanced the lightweight Lotus Elise with the electric running gear, meaning it has a large range and low overall energy consumption. The creative designer produced a really impressive template for future motoring.
Best Overall Entry as chosen by the Event judges – Volkswagen Golf blue-e-motion Electric
Last year's inaugural entry was exceedingly strong with some remarkably energy-efficient entries across all sectors. However, the car that impressed the judges most of all was the Volkswagen Golf blue-e-motion.
Jim Holder, editor of Autocar magazine, drove the Volkswagen Golf Blue-e-Motion. He said: "Volkswagen UK is delighted and a little surprised to have won overall, as am I. This car does not go into production for another two years so it was wonderful to win on its UK debut. I think the whole event shows just what the motoring industry can achieve."
RAC Future Car Challange - http://www.futurecarchallenge.com/