Honda says manufacturers can do more than build cars that are more efficient and produce fewer CO2 emissions. And to prove their point, they covered a Civic in oxygen-producing grass.2 emissions. And to prove their point, they covered a Civic in oxygen-producing grass.content here

Honda says manufacturers can do more than build cars that are more efficient and produce fewer CO2 emissions. And to prove their point, they covered a Civic in oxygen-producing grass.

Outspoken Chilean tennis player Marcello Rios once remarked that he did not want to play on the hallowed turf of Wimbledon because, he said: "I don't like grass; grass is for cows".

But Honda said: "Sod that, we'll demonstrate our commitment to the environment in the most dramatic way possible by creating a grass Honda Civic". And is grass for cars and not cows, as Honda suggests?

Lorna, (or 'Lawn-a' as it was dubbed by its creators at Chiswick Honda in Britain) is an ultra-low emission car that makes use of photosynthesis to produce free oxygen from airborne carbon dioxide, thus negating exhaust CO2 emissions.

It was created by bonding 30 m2 of high grade turf to the Civic's steel body. Three dozen 500ml cans of industrial grade impact adhesive were used for the purpose, with a paint shop curing oven used to partially dry the grass to get it to fix to the car. The process took two people two days to complete.

The layer of turf adds an estimated 280 kg to the weight of the Honda Civic, rising to around 700kg when watered (a daily task to preserve the new bodywork). The car's performance is also adversely affected by an increase in aerodynamic drag - particularly if the grass is allowed to grow long.

Despite these difficulties, the grass car might still catch on. But if there is a demand for it, Honda might just be persuaded to offer grass as an optional extra.

Seriously though, the Civic is equipped with an IMA powerplant, a development of the petrol electric system pioneered with the Honda Insight. The system comprises a 1,4-litre petrol engine teamed with a powerful electric motor/generator sandwiched between the engine and gearbox. The main battery is maintenance free and located in the boot behind the rear seat.

The electric motor boosts engine power during acceleration or hill climbing, enabling the car to perform like a bigger-engined model. The motor acts as a generator when braking or descending hills - the idea being to store energy released during braking, to be re-used during later acceleration. So instead of energy being lost in the form of heat when the car's brakes are applied, the energy is stored as electrical energy in the battery.

The self-charging nature of the IMA system means that the car never has to be "plugged in" to an electric supply. Furthermore, the electronic control system assures that there is no risk of the main battery becoming completely discharged.

The electric motor only provides "assistance" to the petrol engine and a small battery takes up little boot space. Its drawback, however, is that the Civic cannot be driven on battery power alone - both petrol and electric engines always work together.