A certain luxurious Aston Martin Volante rumbles with glamorous secret under the hood that makes James Bond’s wheels look standard. When the Prince of Wales tours the countryside, he does so on the power of English grapes. Prince Charles’ 38-year old convertible was a 21st birthday present from the Queen. To this day, he clocks about 300 miles a year on this jewel of English autoworks. He gave it the princely touch when he converted the engine to run on bioethanol made from English wine: alternative fuel with a Royal flourish.
No one is tipping half-empty crystal glasses into the tank, but the wine used to power the convertible would go to waste otherwise by law. The European Union places strict regulations on wine production, both to ensure quality and also to prop up prices by limiting production. Once a country has filled its quota in wine production, the rest is labeled surplus and cannot be sold. When England reaches this legal limit, some of the excess vino is turned into vroom. Bioethanol can also be made from sugar cane, corn and other crops and generally boasts 21% less CO2 emissions than regular gasoline. Unfortunately, tradeoffs like higher production costs and lower fuel efficiency (between 15% and 30%) offset some of the benefits.
None the less, the Heir Apparent has had his Audi and all his Jaguars and Range Rovers converted to run on 100% biodiesel made from used cooking oil. This is part of the royal family’s effort to reduce the environmental and fiscal cost of their own transportation, an example for the nation and the world.