While electric vehicle technologies are beginning to become better and fuel cell designs etc look like something for the future, among currently available technologies, hybrids and diesel cars are among the most fuel efficient. However, many diesel engines available in different parts of the world are older technology ones and they have emission and NVH problems though the newest designs from Volkswagen, Mercedes etc are very advanced and both clean and smooth compared to petrol (gasoline) ones. The problem is that these engines are still in heavy cars that consume less fuel than their predecessors but not really by very much. A small British company, Axon Automotive, has come up with a cheaper way to build a lightweight car using carbon fiber and foam that is small enough to be powered by a 500 CC engine and still offer highway performance. Autoblog's entry on Axon and some recent funding that they received from the British government can be accessed at: http://www.autobloggreen.com/2009/02/07/axon-automotive-gets-uk-government-funding-for-small-city-car/ Axon have a tentative new websie at: http://www.axonautomotive.com/
This design is tailor-made for all countries with Right Hand drive road systems - this means the whole of South Asia, much of Africa, Australia and New Zealand and some small Asian countries like Singapore, Malaysia etc not to forget the British Carribbean and former Indian Ocean possessions. Yes the time now is a bad one for investments in any sector. But, Axon is a company to watch. When the world's economies improve, it will be a company to take seriously especially if it is aggressive and tries to push its tech in other parts of the world where it would do very well. I hope that they do - until cheaper ways are found to show fossil fuel the fist.