FACTBOX - Major automakers\' eco-friendly efforts
TOKYO - Tighter emission rules and worries about dependency on fossil fuels are spurring automakers around the world to develop environment-friendly vehicles.
Following are short explanations of key technologies and major automakers\' efforts in the field.
GASOLINE - Automakers are working to improve the traditional internal combustion engine, using technologies like direct injection for fuel delivery that gives better combustion and more fuel-efficient automatic transmissions.
DIESEL - Emitting 20 to 30 percent less carbon dioxide than gasoline engines, diesel engines are popular in Europe. But they emit more nitrogen oxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, although improved catalysts and particulate filters help.
HYBRID VEHICLES - Cars with a gasoline engine plus a battery-powered motor deliver from 1.5 times to twice the fuel efficiency of vehicles the same size with an internal combustion engine, cutting carbon dioxide emissions. Unlike pure electric vehicles they do not need to be plugged in to be recharged.
FUEL CELL VEHICLES - Fuel cells use an electrochemical process to create electricity by mixing hydrogen with oxygen, only emitting water and heat as by-products. But hydrogen in its natural gaseous state is difficult to store and distribute.
TOYOTA MOTOR CORP - Widely seen as the leader in enviromentally-friendly auto technology, it put the first hybrid gas-electric vehicle, the Prius sedan, on the market in 1997.
It aims to put a fuel cell vehicle on the market in 2003 and is strengthening its diesel engine technology. It is also developing auto parts made from bioplastics.
GENERAL MOTORS CORP - The world\'s largest automaker expects to have market-ready fuel cells by mid-decade. The first applications will be outside the car industry, with fuel cell-powered vehicles for the retail market not due until 2010.
It has outlined plans to offer gasoline-electric engines in cars, trucks and buses, beginning with a pick-up truck in 2004.
DAIMLERCHRYSLER AG - Is focusing on fuel cells and unveiled its first New Electric Car (NECAR) in 1994.
In 2000 it brought to market the first limited series of fuel cell vehicles - Mercedes-Benz hydrogen city buses. It expects to market its first fuel cell passenger cars in 2004.
In 1998 it introduced the two-seater Smart car, which sharply reduced carbon dioxide emissions. It has developed a hybrid version of the Smart car.
HONDA MOTOR CO - The only automaker apart from Toyota to mass-market hybrid vehicles, it has sold some 13,000 hybrids since late 1999.
Japan\'s second-largest automaker plans to put a fuel cell vehicle on the market next year, although it will be using a fuel cell stack from Ballard Power Systems Inc It says, however, that its own stack is nearing completion.
VOLKSWAGEN AG - A pioneer of diesel technology, in 1978 it put its first diesel engine in a passenger car and at the end of the 1980s introduced the more efficient turbo diesel direct injection method.
In 1999 VW introduced what it claimed was the world\'s first 3-liter car - a Lupo that drove 100km on three litres of fuel. In April 2002 it unveiled the world\'s first 1-liter car - a prototype which drives 100 km on one liter of fuel.
FORD MOTOR CO - Will release a hybrid Escape sports utility vehicle (SUV) next year and pledged in 2000 to improve the fuel economy on its SUVs by 25 percent by 2005.
In fuel cells, the U.S. automaker has a close relationship with Canadian fuel cell developer Ballard.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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