Driving a car and saving the planet aren’t two activities that comfortably go hand-in-hand. When noises about a switch to eco-motoring were first made, the future for ultra-quick, gas-guzzling supercars looked bleak, but car makers have taken up the challenge and are in the process of proving that powerful cars can also be climate friendly. Start saving now and you could soon be the owner of a gorgeously green mean machine. Honda unveiled its zero-emissions fuel cell supercar concept, the FC Sport, at last year’s Los Angeles Auto Show. It’s a glimpse at how supercars of the future might look. Beautifully designed, the three-seater car is also hydrogen-powered and uses Honda's fuel cell technology. This removes the need for bulky components like an internal combustion engine and gearbox. The lightweight FC Sport has both zero emissions and supercar performance levels, achieved by employing a powerful electric motor and giving the concept an ultra-low centre of gravity. Honda says its futuristic, fast car was "inspired by, and built for, people who love sports cars", adding that it explores how to satisfy performance enthusiasts in a world beyond petrol and diesel engines. "This concept is a great example of how the development of fuel cells could revolutionise car design," says John Kingston, environment manager of Honda UK. "The fuel cell stack is smaller than the average power plant and, without the restrictions of having to accommodate a big engine and transmission, designers are free to explore much more radical styling directions to reflect the performance of the car." Honda has distributed the majority of the FC Sport's drive components low down between the axles, creating the balanced weight distribution that top supercars need. The interior focuses on the driver, with a race car-like centre driving position, with two rear passenger seats flanking the driver's seat. Honda has given the design study a Glacier White body colour to illustrate its clean environmental credentials. Green technology is also used in the body construction, with exterior panels formed from plant-derived bio-plastics. Honda says there are no plans for the concept to go into production yet. At the moment they are simply exploring what could happen in years to come. And they’re not the only ones.

The bandwagon

Porsche has famously few eco credentials, but that could all be about to change. In response to calls for environmentally-friendly vehicles, Porsche will introduce the new Panamera, a four-door, four-seater grand touring sports car. When it goes on sale this summer, it will become the fourth Porsche model series joining the 911, Boxster and Cayman sports cars and the four-wheel drive Cayenne. It will feature a choice of six and eight-cylinder petrol engines, which range in power from 300 to 500bhp. The batteries will be in the rear of the car with the electric motor and other drive hardware in a module between the petrol engine and gearbox. This allows the Panamera Hybrid to run via the electric motor alone, purely petrol power or a combination of the two. Porsche will reveal full pricing details when the first models are officially unveiled in February. The Panamera will be built at the Porsche plant in Leipzig, Germany, and the painted bodyshells will be supplied by Volkswagen’s Plant in Hanover. The firm hopes to sell around 20,000 Panameras a year. And if that wasn’t enough, from February 2009, Porsche will sell the Cayenne with a diesel engine and automatic gearbox as standard, which will cost from £40,250. With innovations such as these, slick supercars could have an environmentally-friendly future. But cars like this don’t come cheap. So, before you start saving the planet, make sure you’re saving pennies by choosing the right car insurance policy.