New cars will snub fuel fill ups

Threatened tanker strikes, Jerry can gaffes, queues at fuel stations as drivers rushed to fill up, changing government advice…and that’s before we even had a strike.

What a strange, frothed up concoction the recent fuel ‘crisis’ was.

Despite the ephemeral basis for the run on fuel, drivers’ fears of being caught short of fuel was very real. Who would want to be a company car driver, with at least 1,000 miles a week to cover, facing the prospect of not being able to refuel? No fuel = no job.

For drivers in more remote regions, where the car is the only transport option, cutting off the fuel of their mobility would be disastrous. It would also have a calamitous effect on public services, too.

But instead of looking backwards to the fuel blockade of 2000, which caused widespread fuel shortages, I started wondering how much longer fuel tanker drivers will have to exert such fear.

Already the average fuel economy of cars sold in the UK is 52.5mpg – that’s a 29.3% improvement over the last 10 years, according to the SMMT.

Hyundai’s new i40 saloon has a potential range of 1,011 miles on a single tank.

To carry on at that rate, in another 10 years we could expect a few mpg short of 70mpg. But the focus on CO2 emissions and fuel economy is so intense at the moment, with innovative new engine technology and lightweight construction techniques, that we can expect huge leaps in average fuel economy.

For example, I was testing Hyundai’s new i40 saloon recently. With a combined figure of 65.7mpg, the potential range is 1,011 miles on a single tank. In actual driving I saw an indicated range of 800 miles between fill ups – that’s impressive for a large, family-sized saloon.

Meanwhile, BMW is continuing to show us its vision of the future under its green BMWi brand – the latest is the plug-in hybrid i8 Concept Spyder which combines a high performance electric motor with a turbocharged, three-cylinder petrol engine. Thanks to its lightweight construction, the i8 Syder reaches 62mph in just 5.0 seconds, yet delivers an outstanding combined fuel consumption of 94mpg.

But you don’t have to wait for the future. The future is already here – or will be in July when the Toyota plug-in Prius goes on sale. With company car tax at 5% and an astonishing 134.9mpg fuel economy, this is the sort of car that simply snubs fuel stations (and company car tax) with its blend of zero emission electric drive and petrol engine.

So whatever the rights or wrongs of the threatened tanker driver strike, in the future, the very near future, it may not matter – because our cars will keep on running. And running. And running…