Luxury cars go green


    Established luxury automotive brands can no longer afford to omit energy efficient technology from their product offerings in a market of increasingly eco-conscious buyers, where independent manufacturers likeOptimal Energy are setting the bar for green vehicle engineering.

    Pressure is also coming from higher places as governments all over the world look to support environmentally sustainable motoring initiatives and promote less indulgent and excessive living. This presents a challenge for brands which have built their reputations around high performance luxury vehicles.

    Unlike Optimal Energy’s Joule, which is an original product engineered primarily for affordable sustainability, products from brands like Mercedes Benz, BMW and Audi have traditionally held appeal because of the exclusive experience and high class status they offer consumers. Now that the market’s priorities have begun to shift, the giants of the luxury automotive industry have to adjust accordingly, while still maintaining the element of elitism which has been crucial to their traditional business models.

    Luxury brands have therefore been somewhat slow to respond to the green movement, but evidence of carbon-cutting activity from the likes of Mercedes Benz and BMW, as well as Porsche and Bentley, has begun to emerge over the past few months.

    Mercedes Benz has invested €1 billion (around R9.5 billion) in green technology development this year, and plans to roll out a four-cylinder S-Class Sedan with a diesel engine which will meet Europe’s new fleet exhaust emissions standards. Mercedes Benz has declared itself the first luxury auto manufacturer to offer a model with a CO2 emission rate of less than 150g/km.

    BMW has put €1.2 billion towards its effort to provide high end customers with a more environmentally responsible product offering. The brand plans to release its Vision Efficient Dynamics concept car onto the market in 2013. According to the manufacturer the sportscar will combine two electric motors with a three cylinder combustion engine, and will demonstrate impressive performance with CO2 emissions of 99g/km.

    Audi is also looking into the idea of combining electric motors with small, more fuel efficient motors. The brand is said to be releasing a four-cylinder petrol version of its A8 in 2012.

    One of the biggest contributors to our global carbon footprint, the automotive industry will undergo drastic change as sustainability becomes more of an urgent concern. We are moving towards an environmentally responsible way of life on Earth, and major industries have no choice but to move with us.

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