UK-based Axon Automotive made its debut at the Sexy Green Car Show in Cornwall last year and they are making headlines again. They have officially debuted their upcoming Axon plug-in hybrid electric city car at the Milton Keynes Science Festival.
The element that makes this PHEV stand out is its light weight. The car is made from carbon fiber and it is paired with existing engine technology. According to test data from the company, it gets about 83.3 mpg US/100mpg UK. Tthe company’s website states that the Axon will be available to consumers in 2010 and has room for two adults and luggage. Other sources cite limited availability in 2011 with full production in 2012.
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Axon Automotive is a spin-off from Cranfield University (the chocolate car was also created from a company that was spun off from a university). The car offers two modes: a fully electric mode for neighborhood travel and a flexible fuel engine (either gasoline or bioethanol) for long distance and highway speeds. One thing that I noticed was the flex fuel component — a major shortfall of U.S. based PHEVs with the exception of the Chevy Volt.
When charging using a typical energy mix, for emissions generated during electricity generation, the Axon emits just under 50 g/km of CO2. This emission number is a mix of electric and gasoline and the tests were conducted by the government. (Emission reductions in PHEVs have been a point of contention in the U.S. as most electric vehicles are being charged using electricity produced from coal – a high emitter of CO2). To encourage the reduction of greenhouse gases, the UK has an annual road tax that drivers must pay based on estimated emissions. If the driver purchases this PHEV, they can reduce their yearly tax in half. Not a half-bad idea.
In an article published by Green Car Congress, Dr. Steve Cousins, Axon’s Managing Director said, “By designing light cars and giving them good aerodynamics you can radically lower vehicle emissions. As a plug-in hybrid we have no limitation on range but we can maximize the benefits of electrics day to day without the cost and weight of large batteries.”
The company is promoting the Axon as an “eco car.” Not only is the carbon fiber recyclable, but the seats are made from recycled fabrics (jeans and pinstriped suits) and the door panels are made from recycled carbon fiber as well.
The Axon will be manufactured and available for purchase first in the UK. From there, the company plans to roll out the PHEV in Spain, France, Ireland, Denmark, and Holland.