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Buyers better off if they go green

Vauxhall is to take a pollution-beating initiative that has been Government-funded in France but not in the UK.

Chairman Jonathan Browning is now hoping that the UK Government will match the cash his company is putting up as an incentive to remove old bangers from British roads.

The decision to offer £1,000 to motorists who buy one of Vauxhall’s most fuel efficient cars is part of a wide-ranging General Motors commitment to clean up the cars it sells. The package of measures being implemented internationally was announced by Browning in a presentation at London’s Institute of Directors last week (on Tuesday June 5).

British dealers will pay £1,000 to motorists who trade in an old car for scrapping when they buy new.

Dealers will have to check the car has been owned by the customer for at least 90 days and there will have to be a certificate of scrappage issued so that all parties are confident an old car has been destroyed.

Vauxhall’s programme is part of a Europe-wide initiative which will be known as Ecoflex. Browning, a vice president of GM Europe and in charge of marketing, reveals that eventually there will be a range of vehicles sold under the Ecoflex brand.

For now the cars getting support are the lowest emission versions of Corsa, Meriva, Astra and Zafira.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders there are four million cars in the UK over 12 years old, none of which have the latest emission control equipment. These cars are also far less fuel efficient than today’s equivalents: Vauxhall’s own Astra 1.7D sold in 1995 did 44.2mpg whereas the 1.7 CDTi returns 56.5mpg in the current Astra.

The big technology change announcement from Browning was that GM has now awarded two development contracts for the production of lithium-ion batteries.

The US contract has gone to Korean company, LG Chem which has a subsidiary in Troy, Michigan. Continental Automotive Systems has won the European business.

These contracts are vital for getting the Chevrolet Volt into production. There has been doubt in the industry as to whether GM can deliver this car on schedule or provide the performance that has been claimed. The batteries are key to both.

Chevrolet Volt is an electric car capable of 120mph and 0-60mph in 8.5 seconds. If all goes well GM expects the technology to be ready by 2010, and the Volt itself by 2014.

GM also announced it will have a fuel cell technology down to the cost of the internal combustion engine by 2009.

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