‘The car of tomorrow – today’ runs one of the most famous clichés in advertising. Back in the days when science was promising a future of endless leisure time and electricity ‘too cheap to meter’, a leap forward in time was an attractive prospect. Nowadays the scientists’ predictions are a great deal less optimistic: a world challenged by climate change and diminishing resources.

But paradoxically ‘the car of the future’ is a symbol of hope. Carbon emissions and reliance on fossil fuels may have contributed to global warming, but the industry is waking up to its responsibilities. Investment in new technology to maximise efficiency and minimise environmental damage is not only cleaning up the automobile manufacturers’ act but is also setting an example for other industries.

It’s said that most cars of today run at about 15 per cent efficiency.

That’s a pretty depressing admission, but it does highlight the enormous potential for improvement. Get it right, and we could continue to enjoy the freedom that comes with owning a car, without the worries that currently come with it. Ways forward include alternative fuels, different construction materials and recycling of everything from the heat generated by braking to exhaust gases.

Of course, many advances have already been made. Despite the continuing debate about the higher purchase prices of hybrid cars and the devil in the detail of emission and mileage statistics, there’s overwhelming evidence that the buying public is keen to switch to cleaner, greener cars.

And with petrol and diesel prices soaring there is no doubt that economical, efficient engines are going to be in ever greater demand.

The good news is that we can all drive the car of tomorrow, today, without having to worry about the purchase premium. By choosing our holiday hire cars wisely we can cut down on our fuel costs and experience an eco-friendly drive whether or not we have already made the commitment back home. What’s more, we are caring for the beautiful, unspoilt places we love to holiday in. Hire a green car and you make a difference to the environment and to what you pay at the pump.

Designers and dreamers will always enjoy capturing our imagination with ‘concept cars’ that look more like miniature spaceships than anything you see on the highway. Whether vehicles as radical as these exotic creations will eventually become family cars remains to be seen. But, for the moment, there’s no doubt at all what the ‘car of tomorrow’ will be, and it’s here today: something familiar and friendly that does its job with considerably less fuss and much greater efficiency than the car of yesterday.

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