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Taking a look at Fuel efficient cars in 2017

By Danielle van Wyk

With the volatile cost of fuel and the recent announcement of the general fuel levy increase to take effect this April, having a fuel efficient car has become a necessity. Should you be looking to purchase a car this year Justmoney chats to experts about some fuel efficient options for you.

“To put it in layman’s terms, a vehicle is fuel efficient when it uses less fuel to travel further at satisfactory performance levels,” states Veralda Schmidt, a representative from Nissan.

Fuel efficient criteria
Fuel efficiency is dependent on the manufacturer, as each litre of fuel has a specific quantity of energy, explains Rocco Strydom, energy and fuel retail expert from Elegant Fuel. “Typically, elements such as design, weight, aerodynamics, combustion and mechanical efficiency must work together to allow for the least amount of friction and heat loss. Manufacturers will make claims to fuel efficiency, but it is important to note that driving style and real world conditions will have the final say, for example using your air-conditioning will use 10% more fuel.”

Another point to keep in mind is traffic. If you spend a long time in traffic to and from work each day, you will use more fuel even if you are only driving a short distance, simply because your car is idling for a long period, using fuel to keep the engine running.

Manufacturers, however, have made significant investments in research and development in bringing vehicles to market that not only answer customer needs but also fit their pockets. “The regular customer is budget conscious and fuel efficiency is certainly a key aspect of the buying decision as it has a direct effect on the customer’s pocket for as long as he/she owns the vehicle,” Schmidt says.

Another trend that has emerged has been the move to smaller vehicle engines with higher output.

Are fuel efficient cars more expensive?
The most fuel-efficient cars now are hybrid and electric cars and even though companies like Toyota are making giant leaps in bringing more affordable fuel efficient cars to market, the consumer can still expect to pay around R300, 000 for an entry level hybrid, Strydom remarks.

“Fuel efficient cars are more expensive, because they cost more to design and engineer. Companies like Tesla are disrupting this space, however, and as technology becomes cheaper, we can expect prices to fall drastically within the next 15 – 20 years,” notes Strydom.

Vehicle pricing is not determined in terms of fuel efficiency. “In the case of imported vehicles the rate of exchange will have a major impact. Diesel technology tends to be more expensive than their petrol counterparts, but they tend to be more fuel efficient,” Schmidt explains.

“However, it is important to bear in mind that in order to make a vehicle fuel efficient it needs more technology and needs to be designed more sophisticated to make it more fuel efficient, and these technologies cost money.”

Fuel efficient vehicle options

Below are the cost estimates of the base-models of each of the vehicle options available.

1.Nissan LEAF: “Nissan is the first manufacturer to introduce a 100% electric vehicle, namely the Nissan LEAF. The Nissan LEAF runs on electricity and does not even have a fuel tank or engine. It needs 24 kW to charge the battery which will take you a distance of up to 190 km. It has as much power as a regular passenger vehicle with superior features and technology. Charging it will cost about R30. R30 worth of power will take you roughly as far as R300 worth of fuel, definitely far more cost effective. However the initial investment is higher,” Schmidt points out.
Cost: R474, 900

2.Nissan Qasqai diesel: “The Nissan Qashqai diesel has a 1.5 diesel engine pushing out 81kw and 260 Nm torque at 4000 RPM. But the fuel consumption is where the magic happens, the Qashqai diesel offers a combined cycle of 4.2 l/100km which kicks dust in the eyes of many competitors,” Schmidt advises.
Cost: R317, 900

3.Toyota Prius: “The next generation of Toyota’s iconic hybrid, the new Prius, was designed as one of the newest entrants to the fuel efficient market,” states Toyota. A good drive that will also take care of your pocket.
Cost: R457, 600

4.Ford Fiesta 1.5 TDCi: “The Fiesta helps you save on fuel, so you have more money for other things. With a 1.0L EcoBoost, which delivers impressive fuel economy. But that’s what you’d expect from an engine this small, right? What you don’t expect is its power. In fact, this turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol engine delivers 92kW of power and 170 Nm of torque,” says Ford.
Cost: R225, 300 - R325, 900

5.Ford Figo 1.5 TDCi: “The Ford Figo is a popular choice among first-time car buyers and in terms of efficiency, the 1.5-litre turbodiesel derivative is a star performer with a claimed fuel consumption figure of 4.1 L/100km. This motor offers 74 kW and 215 Nm of torque through a five-speed manual gearbox. Two trim levels, Ambiente and Trend, are available with pricing starting at R193 900 for the Figo 1.5TDCi Ambiente and R203 900 for the Trend derivative,” highlights Cars.co.za.
Cost: R175, 700 - R217, 900

6.BMW i3 (Electric powered): “The BMW i3 design defines the automobile of tomorrow. Its innovative BMW eDrive power train was designed in the scope of the BMW EfficientDynamics technology and is not only locally emission-free, but also offers an incomparable and nearly silent driving experience. The intelligent BMW ConnectedDrive Services bring you easily and conveniently to your destination,” reveals BMW.
Cost: R597 800

While purchasing a fuel efficient car will prove to be better, economically, in the long run, some of the above mentioned models are on the higher end of the price scale. So while fuel efficiency is what one would essentially want to strive towards, it seems it has the potential to come at a steep price.

The cheapest option on the market at present seems to be the base model Ford Figo starting at R175, 700. Remember when looking at a vehicle that the extras you may want could cost you more, as well as certain safety features, such as anti-smash and grab on your windows.

“Since the start of the year fuel prices have gone up consistently and they will continue to do so with the fuel levy being implemented in April. Since January, it costs a family with two cars roughly R500 per month more to fill up, assuming you use one tank per week. My advice would be to look at a small, economical diesel engine as they offer better fuel consumption, while still producing enough torque,” advises Strydom.

Handy tip: If you are in need of car insurance, why not apply through Justmoney today.

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