Many drivers around the world have opted to join the hybrid-car technology because of the fact that these cars are very environmentally friendly. However, research has shown that most drivers are buying hybrid vehicles because they are more economical and help them save money. With the ever-increasing prices of gasoline and the increasing number of consumers who are buying more gas, there has been the need to devise an alternative. The hybrid technology comes to the rescue because of its proven cost savings. Since their inception, hybrid vehicles have been on an upward trend in popularity.
So how exactly does a hybrid vehicle help in saving you money? First, maintaining a hybrid vehicle will not cost you more money than it would cost to maintain your conventional car. Maintaining a hybrid car is actually likely to cost much less because of the reduced level of wear and tear on the braking system and brakes of the car. Most hybrid car dealers have good warrantee deals on car parts and they offer maintenance services to their customers as well. There have been programs over the years that teach mechanics on the skills required to maintain these hybrid cars. With the increasing number of hybrid vehicles in the market, there is sure to be a surge of more qualified and experienced mechanics to provide maintenance services.
The other good factor about hybrid vehicles is the fact that they have better and much longer lasting batteries. The batteries of most hybrid vehicles in the market are designed to last for the expected useful life of the vehicle. Most of the batteries last between 150,000 to about 200,000 miles. Some have been known to last longer than this. Depending of the type of manufacturer that you purchase the car from, the batteries are usually covered by a warrantee that runs for about eight to 12 years. This means that you can get free services and replacement in case the battery malfunctions during normal use. Hybrid cars use the NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) batteries. These are rechargeable and are environmentally friendly. The other big advantage of these batteries is the fact that they can be recycled. Car manufacturers such as Toyota have helped in encouraging the recycling of these batteries by putting a toll free number on all of its hybrid car batteries so that you can contact them in case you would like to dispose of your battery. They pay about $200 for each battery replaced.
May 11, 2013
Hybrid vehicles have grown in popularity in most parts of the world. However, this new technology has brought with it new challenges and poses new threats to the users. There have been devised standard operating procedures in an attempt to eliminate some of these dangers. The biggest concern for hybrid vehicles is the high-voltage electric system of the car, and the possibility of unexpected movement of the vehicle. So far, these have been the biggest causes of most of the accidents involving hybrid vehicles. We will highlight these in an effort to shed more light on the problem and create more public awareness.
The voltage of the batteries used in hybrid vehicles often ranges from between 144 to 330 volts. Some manufacturers such as Toyota and Nissan, among others, have devised mechanisms to step up this voltage to about 650 volts. This power is used to power the electric-drive motors of the car. If a person comes into contact with this voltage by mistake, the person is sure to suffer serious injuries. In case there is a collision, most hybrid vehicles have been devised with a safety feature that shuts down the electric system of the vehicle. This is to ensure that the victims are not killed by the high voltage from the vehicle. In the case that the electrical system comes into contact with the chassis, there is likely to be a short and the system fuse will cut the high-power voltage.
The second biggest hazard of hybrid vehicles is the absence of an open and visible indicator to help show whether the ignition of the vehicle is engaged or when it is in ready mode. Unlike most conventional gasoline-powered vehicles in the market, most hybrid vehicles have the ability to shut down their engines and start them instantaneously whenever it is needed by the vehicle. Some hybrid vehicles have been observed to move silently in speeds of between 20 and 25 mph. This can be very dangerous to the other road users. Emergency personnel dealing with such an incident should attempt to approach the vehicle from the side and avoid any potential path of travel such as the front or the rear of the vehicle. This is to avoid being run over by the vehicle. These problems pose serious hazards to the emergency response units responsible for overseeing these kinds of emergencies. Regulations and standards are being pushed and formulated in an attempt to curve some of these hazards.
May 11, 2013
Earlier in the week, it was announced that two new BYD (Build Your Dreams) Auto Co. manufacturing locations would be set up in Lancaster, California.
The company would commence the manufacturing of electric buses for the city, as well as the manufacture of large-scale batteries in the new facilities. The projects are expected to start in a few months.
The First Manufacturing Facility
These facilities are the first in the U.S. for the Chinese company, which has a subsidiary in Los Angeles. According to Lancaster Mayor, Rex Parris, these new ventures would be very beneficial to the community at large. He looks forward to the numerous new jobs that would be created by the globally recognized technology company. The contribution, he also added, to the local and national economy by these two facilities would be quite significant. BYD currently has an employee base of over 160,000 workers globally, with operations in Europe, Asia and India. Its corporate headquarters is based in Los Angeles.
Long Standing Relationship Between the Two Partners
The relationship leading to this venture started in 2009 and in 2010, Parris and other representatives of the city were invited to China on a trade mission. The major aim of this trip was to introduce Lancaster to major firms as a good location for investment. The team then went on to visit the BYD major headquarters to cement the relationship. Responsible for initiating the relationship, Michael Antonovich, LA County supervisor, said that he was pleased with the fruits of the new relationship and was quite optimistic that the new facilities would further enhance the economic standing of the Antelope Valley.
The first BYD-Lancaster project was the ‘Home of the Future’ a project that set up affordable green homes. KB Home, a building giant partnered with BYD to come up with the new homes. Parris was rather impressed with the project, which only served to convince him that the BYD partnership should continue. He felt that their innovative technologies fit perfectly within the vision for the city in terms of energy goals, while at the same time creating sustainable employment for the city residents.
Last month, the Chinese company received a $12.1 contract to manufacture the zero-emissions buses. On one charge, the buses can cover up to 155 miles, among the highest ranges in the e-bus sector. The company took over the Rexhall Industries manufacturing plant after low RV demands has led to a decrease in operations. There are also a number of Rexhall employees at the plant who will retain their jobs despite the takeover.
May 4, 2013
A month of the sales of two similarly designed hybrids was compared, the all-electric Leaf and the Volt, which the automakers term as an ‘extended range electric.’ The Leaf in total made 1,937 sales, while 1,306 customers bought Chevrolet’s Volt.
The Nissan Leaf
Nissan may be slightly advantaged because the assemblage of its plug-in model is now in Tennessee and they are offering attractive discounts to potential customers. Up to date the last month recorded the second highest number of Leaf sales, with the record being set in March of this year. The Volt also experienced a drop in sales between the month of March and April and also sold far fewer units than they were selling last year, where the number was almost double its current sales figure.
Volt has had a good run so far with some months experiencing sales of about 3,000 units. However, it seems that its ‘unofficial’ competitor is having its moment to shine. The same time last year saw Nissan sell 160% less Leafs than they are currently doing. However, the unrelenting Volt has not yet completely lost its touch with 5,550 purchases being made between January and April, as compared to the 5,476 units that the Leaf managed to deliver. However, Nissan attribute their slow start to the switch of the production location from Japan to the U.S. Their claims are indeed turning out to be correct, as the Leaf continues to quietly edge out the Volt from the comparatively small market size.
Volt’s Design Slightly Advantageous
While comparing the EPA ratings for the two models, which although strikingly similar, the Volt happens to have a slight advantage, since a second engine has been included to power the electric motor. Therefore, the car can run on EV mode for some time before the gasoline powered motor kicks in. As of 2013, the Volt has a rating of 38 mpg. The Leaf’s figures for 2013 have not yet been released, although it can exceed 80 miles powered by electricity. It however, falls short on the fact that it is not a practical car for long-distance driving since it would require multiple charges along the way.
Volt’s declined sales could be because of the 2014 model, which is being awaited with eager anticipation. Another model that should also be mentioned is the Tesla S, whose April figures have not yet been released, but as of March, 4,750 units had already been bought. Though the Tesla’s price range is a bit higher as compared to the other two electric models, there is still a long list of customers awaiting the delivery of their own cars.
May 4, 2013
China is finally taking into serious consideration delving into the manufacture of plug-in hybrids as it struggles to ease up pressure on its fossil fuels deposits. Finally, they are entering a turf largely dominated by their rivals in Japan, including Toyota, whose models have gained popularity the world over.
Breathing Life into the Chinese Hybrid Market
Already, Chinese Automakers SAIC Motor and Brilliance Automotive have started development on the gasoline-electric car system that was first introduced to the world by Toyota. BYD, another car manufacturer based in the Asian superpower, where Warren Buffet also has controlling stakes, have already self-engineered technology that will be unveiled at the much-hyped Shanghai Auto Show. The administration is also kicking life into the car policies it introduced, with the aim of conserving energy, by subsidising the traditional hybrids. With the policy in full effect, it is expected that nearly 500 thousand cars will be on the road, specifically cars that have been defined as all electric, heavily electrifies or near all electric by the end of 2015. Their goal is to raise this figure to 5 million by the end of 2020.
In the past year, about 12,000 hybrid pieces were purchased in total. Experts in the Chinese car industry find that the goals set will be a little too lofty for the government unless the administration is willing to adjust itself when it comes to the redefinition of hybrid cars and also begins to embrace the current hybrid technology as the more sustainable options. After all, said Peter Huang, an IHS associate director, all electric technology is not likely to be realised in the foreseeable future.
A New Perspective on Hybrid Models
Further efforts stemming from Beijing included attractive incentive plans on new purchases that were concluded last year. The program, fortunately, is up for renewal with whispers within the industry leaking that the government will most likely increase hybrid subsidies. As it tries to claw off the firm grip that China has on fossil fuels, the government will incentivise as much as it can. Previously alternative energy car owners received a $490 rebate on their initial purchase, which when compared to the $9800 rebate that was received upon the purchase of all electric models, was not at all attractive. For the government to realise its goals for much cleaner air, for the billion plus citizens it has to provide for, they will have to revise their policies. The money set aside for rebate upon purchase of all electric cars goes to waste since only few people buy them anyway. They would much rather direct the money to the purchase of the traditional hybrid models.
April 27, 2013
A directive by the European Union will require that carbon emissions by new cars be regulated to less than 95g for every kilometer, much less than the current 135g/km. At the Shanghai Auto Show, this message seems to have been received loud and clear where an assortment of eco-friendly cars is on display. There are 91 models that rely on new energy on display with 35 of them being manufactured in China.
Luxury Automakers’ Contribution to the Hybrid World
Luxury carmakers at the event also showed off their prowess when it comes to green technology, with the German Automakers, BMW, displaying their active hybrid concept. Mercedes also showed off their BluEfficiency technology at the show that is currently on-going. Audi and Lexus showed that they were ready to seize the hybrid world with their models, the Audi Q5 hybrid and the Lexus GS300h and ES300h, which are on for mass production.
Sports car makers that usually have their interests leaning towards churning out race cars for off the track driving, also delved into the greener era with Ferrari unveiling the LeFerrari and the Lamborghini Veneno as some of hyper-hybrids on the market. British carmaker Aston Martin, is also receiving orders for its very own alternative sports car. Maybe all these efforts have been sparked by the sudden urge to save mother Earth, or perhaps it is the driving credits that these manufacturers earn should they produce cars with less than 50g/km emission ratings. The law however, exempts car makers that produce fewer than 1000 cars annually and that would therefore mean that the Rolls-Royce manufacturers, as wells as the Bentley can rest easy.
There are also other manufacturers who are taking the entire hybrid concept to a completely new level with the production of all-electric cars. Volvo seems to really believe in the pay off of their efforts in this sector, but they confess they will be realized much further into the future. They have a number of joint ventures including the BMW’s mini E and the Zinoro from the BMW-Brilliance Automotive, as well. If the infrastructure of electric cars is fully developed however, the future will be a witness to zero-emissions and 100% clean driving. Detroit Electric, a sports car manufacturer based in the U.S., share in Volvo’s vision and has its future neatly placed upon the success of electric cars. They exclusively manufacture electric luxury cars. Other advantages that come with the electricity powered cars include fast acceleration, agile response and quiet and smooth engine operation.
April 27, 2013
In attempts to be the most environmentally sustainable automaker in the world by 2018, the Volkswagen group earlier announced that it was taking a newer approach to more eco-friendly air conditioning systems. At the Geneva motor show, the company said that it was planning to introduce CO2 into its air conditioning systems as a refrigerant.
Low Global Warming Potential
CO2 (carbon dioxide) was chosen as the refrigerant for its MAC systems (Mobile Air Conditioning) and would be incorporated in its entire fleet of vehicles through phases. The company said it would invest a lot of capital since it is geared towards manufacturing vehicles that are truly eco-friendly. Until recently, the most common refrigerant used in A/C systems was Tetrafluoroethane (R-134a) until it was declared hazardous and damaging to the environment by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). In fact, use of the cooling agent has begun fading out. CO2 is preferred because it has a low global warming potential (GWP) of a figure of one, compared to 1300, which is the GWP of R-134a. This generally means that it does not devastatingly affect the ozone layer. Tetrafluoroethane contains CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) that have poked worrying holes on the ozone layer over the decades.
Earlier R1234yf, a coolant, had also been put under review for use in the A/C systems. However, after investigations in 2009, it was found to be flammable and there would have to be serious technological advancements done on the car before the coolant could be used. R744 refers to CO2 and for the mean time seems to be the preferred choice. However, to incorporate the refrigerant, car manufacture cost issues, as well durability of the MAC systems, would have to be looked into carefully. This is because use of CO2 would require that extremely high-quality hoses operating under very high pressure be introduced to the systems. In addition, a CO2 leak could prove very dangerous since it can significantly displace the amount of oxygen in the car, raising concerns about how safe it is to use it. Another refrigerant that is under consideration is the R-152a with a higher GWP of 124, but is advantageous since it does not require complex technology to ignite and thus would be much cheaper to implement in the A/Cs.
Volkswagen is committed to attaining their goal of being the most environmentally conscious automaker. So far, it has decided to put aside about two-thirds of the company’s capital, which will be used in the design and implementation of climate-friendly technologies.
April 22, 2013
EPA ratings of the newly introduced Chevrolet 2014 Cruze were 46 MPG at highway speeds and 27 mpg within residential areas. In combined driving, the rating was at 33 mpg. The turbo-powered, clean-diesel engine was stated to be more efficient than other engines that power passenger cars with onventional sources of energy. The diesel design will be available for purchase in some select regions this spring season, while it will hit the Canadian market at the start of fall.
The tech specs of the car include a 6-speed transmission gear, which is automatic and on a full tank of gas, the car is estimated to cover about 700 miles (about 10 driving hours). Chief Engineer of the Cruze, Gary Altman, said that the 2-liter engine was designed using expert experience that has been accumulated over the years. It has also been made to adapt to the conditions of the North American market. He praised the Cruze engine, saying that it is undoubtedly the best in the current market and will reshape consumers’ view on efficient fuel consumption.
Compared to the Jetta
The car’s minimum price is $ 25,695 and the carmaker, General Motors, say that the car is a much better value for money than the VW Jetta TDI automatic. Jetta comes with an engine power of 140 hp and its highway speed rating is at 42 mpg. In comparison, the Cruze has larger wheels, a longer car warranty, a better infotainment system and even a maintenance plan for two years. While looking at its performance, the Cruze challenges its rivals with a bhp (basic horsepower) of 148 and can start from a complete stop to 60 miles per hour in 8.6 seconds. The Jetta however, outshines the Chevy when it comes to residential driving since it is rated higher at 30 mpg. Currently, the automatic Jetta can be purchased with $24,885
The compact, four-door sedan is also more environmentally friendly as compared to its predecessors, since its nitrogen oxide and other harmful particle emissions is 90% less. The cars mpg rating and fuel economy matches that of the Toyota Prius C subcompact, a hybrid car. As it stands, over two million cars of the entire Cruze family have been bought worldwide since the first in the line was introduced in 2010. The turbo diesel had been unveiled at the recent Chicago motor show and the rating was actually 4 mpg higher than the earlier estimations and predictions.
April 21, 2013
In an announcement made by Toyota Motor Corporation, it was revealed that the company had made over 5 million worldwide sales of its hybrid models.
In the United States alone, over 2 million hybrids had been purchased under the company’s Lexus and Toyota versions. More than 61,600 of the company’s hybrids have been purchased in the Canadian market, accounting for over 80% of the total hybrid sales in the North American region. The brands under the Toyota and Lexus logos compose 70% of the hybrid sales in the U.S. auto market, and comprise 16% of all sales made under the same logos. Currently, the hybrid market takes up 3% of the auto industry in the United States. Globally, there are 19 alternative powered Toyota and Lexus models and a plug-in version that is on sale in over 80 countries. Of these models, there are seven Toyota hybrid versions and five Lexus versions being driven in the United States. The Prius model was the company’s first hybrid car, and since its first sale in 2000, it continues to gain a loyal following in the U.S.
Beneficial to the Economy
Further information included in the statement showed that the sales made by Toyota helped save the environment from a total of 34 million tons on emissions in the form of carbon monoxide. For a long time, environmental watchdogs have been demanding that carmakers improve their products such that they do not harm the environment as much. As is stands, gasoline powered engines emit high levels of carbon monoxide, which is harmful to the ozone layer. Projections made by the company estimate there will be 18 new, greener models before 2016 and the sales will be around 1 million units yearly, with a third of those sales being in the U.S.
In terms of fuel economy, the automakers were proud to announce that their sales have saved the consumer over 3 billion gallons of gas. With the ever rising cost of fuel and the hazy outlook of the economy, this is indeed good news. In the U.S. alone, it was reported that the consumer was saving close to 500 million petroleum gallons as a result of more than 50 hybrid model cars on the roads. An engineer with a senior position at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory under the Department of Energy (DOE) was quoted saying that hybrid engines have come a long way since their initial development twenty years ago, after research conducted by the department in conjunction with the automotive industry.
April 21, 2013
At this year’s New York Auto Show, the best green car of 2013 will be announced. So far, the finalists are the Renault Zoe, the Tesla model S, both of which are all-electric cars, or the plug-in Volvo hybrid. The list was compiled at the very elegant Geneva Auto Show after rigorous scrutiny of the ‘green’ cars that are available on the market. Handing over the crown will be the Mercedes S 250, which edged out competition from the likes of the Peugeot 3008 and the Ford Focus electric.
This car definitely deserves its spot at the top. The car, which has already received high ratings from Euro NCAP is small in size, but does not disappoint in terms of performance. Although it might dispense a basic power of only 88 hp from its motor pack, the car does not feel sluggish while driving. On the contrary, its lightweight construction improves the agility of the model, assuring the driver of a smooth ride. Understandably, its top speed is limited to 84 mph and can accelerate briskly, clocking 13.5 seconds from stand still to 62 mph. The Zoe also has an appealing exterior look, where its chic design is fused with some futuristic concepts making it a very eye catching car.
Tesla Model S
Also an electric car, this model is unique and very attractive when compared to other cars including the contemporary models. With 362 hp for the standard Tesla models and 413 hp for the premium version,s this car is well worth every of the $ 62,000, on average, that it costs. Other performance features for the model include its 0-60 mph acceleration time of 4.4 seconds, translating to a car that is terrifyingly exciting to drive. The interior will give you something to squeal about with an integrated touch-screen almost the size of an i-Pad. All eyes will be on this zero-emissions car, which looks as suave as it drives.
Plug-in Volvo Hybrid
Car enthusiasts and auto journalists alike have dissected the Volvo and have come to one conclusion: it’s pretty awesome. The ground breaking design of the model is such that it can be driven in three different modes: pure, power and hybrid, all which can be accessed by the touch of a button. In electric mode, the car can do 31 miles, while in the hybrid mode it consumes fuel at 135 mpg and carbon dioxide emissions of 48g/km. The Volvo’s ultimate power is experienced when the diesel engine and electric motor are combined in the power mode translating to an output of around 285 hp, which generally means that this is not your ordinary car.
March 29, 2013