We've heard much about the Tata Nano, India's $2,000 car that has over 200,000 Indians lining up to own one. We've also well aware that General Motors USA has filed for bankruptcy, although many of its international subsidiaries, like in China, are hanging tough, particularly those offering small cars. Well just the other day GM Chevrolet India unveiled their Spark LPG vehicle.
Not to infer that LPG represents any long term solution to resource depletion. LPG is still a finite fossil fuel that will also reach its peak. But LPG does offer some significant short term benefits.As LPG Australia explain, LPG offers a 15 - 20% reduction in tailpipe emissionsof carbon dioxide, with the added bonus of 50 - 60% reduction in carbon monoxide emissions and 30 - 40% in the volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen that contribute to Smog.
GM India's Spark, contrary to what its model name might suggest, is not an electric hybrid, but a four door, five person car that runs on Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG), as well as petrol (gasoline.) But tbis is no exhibition concept car. It is a real live hybrid version of a car that has already sold over 3.5 million units as a petrol model. (Wikipedia suggest that LPG is the "third most widely used motor fuel in the world," with some 13 million vehicles are fueled by the stuff around the globe.)
The Spark LPG's specs suggest that it's fuel economy should be about 18.29 (~44 mpg) kilometres per litre in Petrol mode and 13.72 km/l (32.3 mpg) when using LPG. (The Spark has a fuel tank capacity 38 litres for petrol and 26.2 litres for LPG.) And although not as fuel efficient as petrol, the LPG is generally much cheaper and does had the benefit of lower emissions.
With regard to grunt it scores roughly the same in LPG mode as for petrol. GM suggest a power of PS ("Pferde Starke", German for Horse Power) of 63 petrol mode, and 60 for LPG mode. And for torque, the figures are 90.3 nm petrol and 88.4 LPG at 4200 revolutions.
The Spark LPG won't, on its own, save the world. This is clear. But it does indicate that alternatives do exist which can significantly reduce carbon and related emissions, whilst providing comparable performance. It's but a stepping stone to better transport options.
Reuters India have video of the launch event.
::GM India Spark via The Hundu and Autos Maxabout
Photos: GM India and Autos Maxabout
More Hybrid Cars
• Retooling the Auto Industry for a Smaller (Yet Profitable) Future
• Toyota to Sell a Diesel-Electric Hybrid... Forklift
• MiniCat - air powered car!
• A 45 MPG Minivan with Turbocharging and Direct Injection that Runs on CNG and Gasoline
• Survey Finds Most Americans Support Hybrid Cars But Won't Buy Them