Suzuki's jumped on the treehugging bandwagon with the Kizashi EcoCharge concept. It's a cleaned-up version of its four-seater Kizashi, a name which translates to 'omen' or 'warning'.
That's hardly the friendliest name for a car but, if Suzuki is to be believed, the Kizashi EcoCharge should end up being pretty pally with Ma Nature. It uses asystem that consists of a 2-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine, a 15kW (20bhp) motor and generator, and a 115V lithium-ion battery pack, all of which boosts fuel economy by 25 per cent compared to the existing, non-hybrid Kizashi, according to Suzuki.
Before we break out the champagne and ethically sourced canapés, it's important to note that the greenest non-hybrid Kizashi only delivers 31 highway miles per gallon (US). By our calculations, an extra 25 per cent only equates to 39mpg. The, for reference, has a 60kW (80bhp) electric motor, which helps to deliver 48 highway mpg.
We'll refrain from being too harsh on the Kizashi EcoCharge concept, as it does get many things right. It features a regenerative-braking system that recharges the battery when you lift off the go pedal, a system that cuts off fuel supply during deceleration, engine stop-start and low-rolling-resistance tyres. It even uses recycled materials for the seats. These seats, Suzuki tells us, require 84 per cent less energy to produce than normal seats, and create 80 per cent fewer emissions during the production process.
If Suzuki does decide to build the Kizashi EcoCharge and can keep its price low enough, it could be a decent alternative to hybrids that aren't the Prius.