Of the myriad varieties of hybrid, electric, natural gas and hydrogen cars that have sprouted up in recent memory, some of the most promising advances towards cleaner vehicles and greater fuel efficiency are in the form of diesel technology; such as those found in the SEAT Concept displayed here. And if you were to bet on one company succeeding at making and selling a diesel car to the masses, it would be Volkswagen, a company Spanish automaker SEAT belongs to.
One of the first things that turns people off with hybrid or other eco-friendly transportation is styling, which is why “normal” looking cars like the Ford Fusion Hybrid have succeeded with consumers where others have not. In that respect, the SEAT Leon Ecomotive concept just looks like any other car. But where a car like the Fusion Hybrid gets nice fuel efficiency of 39 mpg in combined driving, the SEAT concept and its TwinDrive technology borrowed from VW delivers a whopping 62 mpg while emitting just 99 grams of CO2 per kilometer. That’s less than a Prius if you are keeping track.
The high fuel efficiency and low emissions come from a TDI common rail engine that coupled with a particulate filter and automatic stop-start technology that is heavily borrowed from VW concepts unveiled last year. The stop-start feature requires that the driver put the car into neutral at a stop and take their foot off the clutch. The Start/Stop function automatically switches off the engine. Once the clutch is re-engaged, the engine is re-started and the car can be driven again.
To aid the car’s eco-friendliness, the vehicle constantly checks the state of the filter and will activate regeneration to burn soot remnants if needed which eliminates the need to change the particulate filter during the car’s lifetime. Like other hybrids the car relies on brake regenerative technology to help charge lithium ion batteries that operate similarly to current hybrids in city driving. SEAT’s aim as a company is to gradually eliminate combustion-only vehicles and move completely towards either hybrid or plug-in cars in the future. SEAT hopes to have something like the Ecomotive on the road possibly by 2011.