Archives – May, 2013

Reasons to Purchase a Hybrid Vehicle

There has been a lot of talk about hybrid cars since their invention a several years ago. Their popularity has been on the rise since the successful introduction of the Toyota Prius hybrid car to the market. The popularity of hybrid cars has further been fueled by the increasing fuel prices and the declining economy. Are these the only reasons why you should go to a car show room and decide to purchase a hybrid vehicle? Let us explore some of the reasons that you might consider in making such a decision.

Federal Incentives

The government has taken steps to encourage the increased use of hybrid vehicles in the country. This is because these vehicles use less gas. This helps in freeing up the gas that is used in driving the other industries in the economy. The government offers tax credits of between $250 and $3,400 for the purchase of hybrid vehicles. The amount of credit given is dependent on a number of factors that include the fuel economy of the car and the popularity of car.

State and City Incentives

Some states and cities have also stepped up their campaign on the use of hybrid vehicles by providing incentives for the purchase of a hybrid car. Such incentives include tax credit and the permission to drive alone in the car pool lane. Some cities offer free or discounted parking fees for hybrid car owners. Try finding out if your city offers as incentives for the use of hybrid vehicles.

Repair Cost and Brakes

Engineers and car manufacturers say that most hybrid cars don’t require as much regular maintenance as their conventional counterparts. This means that hybrid car owners have more cost savings from the maintenance and repair of their cars. Most of the manufacturers also offer at least a three-year warranty and an additional warranty for special hybrid technologies. This means that you get free maintenance for the hybrid car parts for the first three years. This is too good an offer to forego. The technology used by hybrid cars of recouping energy during braking means that the brake pads of hybrid vehicles are able to last at least three times as long as those in the conventional vehicles in the market. This reduces the frequency of their replacement.

Gas Savings

It goes without saying that you save gas with the use of a hybrid car. With the ever-increasing cost of gas, there is need to devise a way of cushioning yourself against this fluctuation. The hybrid car provides a perfect cushion.




Leave a Comment May 26, 2013

Money Saving Perks of Hybrid Vehicles

With the deteriorating economy and the looming climate crisis, most people around the world are looking for ways they can save money and conserve the environment at the same time. This means driving less, using public transport more, and using bicycles. The members of Green America have led the way in this venture through their campaign for the increased use of hybrid vehicles in the world. This is because of their known energy and cost saving perks.

Though it takes a lot of commitment and finances to purchase a new hybrid car, the energy that is wasted in driving around an inefficient car overshadows most of this cost. Engineers in this field support the idea that it is much greener and more efficient to trade in your old car for a much more efficient hybrid option. Hybrid cars get at least 40 miles per gallon. The plug in hybrid car is even more efficient because you get at least 100 mpg. With the state of the economy, most of the buyers will claim that they can’t justify the extra $5000 that they have to pay to get a hybrid car compared to a conventional vehicle. The reality on the ground is that most of these hybrid vehicles bring in great financial savings for the users. These savings go beyond the gas savings.

Save Money and Save the Earth

The modern hybrid cars are designed in a way that the battery provides an electric assist to the gas-powered engine. This helps the vehicles to achieve 20-35 percent better mileage compared to most conventional vehicles. The Toyota Prius for instance, has 44mpg in the real world driving. The Honda hybrid has 41 mpg.

Green America put in place a 12-step climate control plan that aims at increasing the fuel economy of motor vehicles to at least 60 mpg by 2050. The plan also aims at reducing driving and increasing the use of mass transport, walking and cycling. Drivers who choose to use hybrid cars on the roads are helping Green America achieve this goal and attempt to avert the possible adverse effects of climate change. Hybrid cars have been proven to produce 29% less of the nitrogen oxide gas that is responsible for the formation of smog. Hybrid cars have also been proven to cause less ground level air pollution compared to most of the conventional vehicles in the market. Therefore, even if most of these conventional vehicles achieve the fuel mileage as that of hybrid vehicles, they still cannot control the harmful effects of environmental pollution.



Leave a Comment May 26, 2013

Toxicity of Hybrid Batteries

America can boast of over one million hybrid cars on its roads. Most of the hybrid car users today celebrate the fact that their cars are able to consume less petroleum because of their use of rechargeable batteries. Most environmentally conscious people around the world are beginning to worry whether we are trading one type of problem for another. This is because many people worry that the hybrid car utopia may change into a toxic nightmare when most of the nickel metal found in hybrid batteries today ends up in landfills. After all, conventional lead-acid batteries and hybrid batteries are much the same because they are filled with carcinogenic ooze.

Lead is naturally known to be toxic. Long-term exposure to lead has been proven to cause kidney and brain damage, learning problems, and hearing impairments, especially for the children. The motor vehicle industry is said to make use of over one million tons of lead annually. Ninety percent of this amount goes into the manufacture of the lead-acid batteries. The recycling of lead is relatively easy, but this is a immature industry. It is still not possible to rescue every battery from the dumps. The federal toxic release inventory says that over 700,000 tons of lead is released during the manufacturing and mining process.

Eliminating the use of lead is not an easy process. This is because lead is cheap compared to most of the alternative metals that may be used to fulfill the same purpose. The emergence of hybrid vehicles in the market seems to have reignited the debate about the use of lead in car batteries. This is because of the environmental consciousness with which these types of vehicles have been taken with.

There has been extensive research into the use of nickel-metal hydroxide and lithium ion. These have long been considered as the alternative battery of choice in the near future. The researchers working on this projected compared the environmental effects of nickel with those of lead. The results showed that lead had worse environmental effects. Though nickel proved to be less environmentally harmful, it does not mean that this option is completely safe. Nickel has been proven to be a possible carcinogen. There have also been some concerns about nickel mining. There are visible challenges that have clearly emerged during the recycling process of nickel for the use in hybrid batteries. Despite these challenges, most of the researchers agree that until a better alternative is discovered, there should be more awareness about the environmental effects of disposed batteries.



Leave a Comment May 17, 2013

Top Reasons to Wait to Buy a Hybrid

With the ever-increasing hype about hybrid vehicles, many people are getting into fray and buying hybrids. The hype about hybrid vehicles has been increased by the fact that hybrid vehicles are known to be more economical with fuel. As much as the reason to get into the trend and purchase a hybrid vehicle for yourself, there are a number of reasons that can justify why you should not buy a hybrid car now. Here are some of the reasons.

Hybrid car mileage is good now, but there is still room for plenty of improvements in the future.

Hybrid vehicles improve energy consumption over the various phases of the driving cycle. This helps to avoid fuel burn whenever the vehicle does not need to consume energy and the recovery energy that is often needed during braking. When you consider the fast acceleration that most people like and the inevitable laws of physics, you will realize that there are some impractical limits for fuel efficiency. The efficiency of hybrid vehicles is expected to increase gradually over time. This means that there is reason to wait to buy the future hybrid.

There are news that future hybrids will be running on electricity, hydrogen, and compressed air.

When these technologies are fully realized, the cars developed will be what most innovators call eight-track automobiles. These are promising developments in the world of green energy. The plug-in hybrid has already been rolled into the market. The hydrogen-powered vehicles are expected to make it into the market by 2020. This means that the cars using compressed air are also on schedule to be released in the near future. These types of cars are promising better performance, energy saving, and longer mileage.

Hybrid cars are still expensive, waiting for the prices to fall.

The biggest thing that makes hybrid cars expensive is their battery. With extensive time and research being put into developing better performing and safer battery alternatives, the prices are expected to drop significantly. The best hybrids in the market today are valued at around $20,000, yet they are still selling like hot cakes. There has been an increase in the demand for hybrid vehicles. This has resulted in an increase in the number of manufacturers in this field. With the number of manufacturers increasing by the day, the supply of hybrid vehicles is going multiply. The law of supply and demand will take effect and the prices for hybrids will definitely drop.




Leave a Comment May 17, 2013

How Hybrids Save You Money

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.



Leave a Comment May 11, 2013

Hazards of Hybrid Vehicles

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.




Leave a Comment May 11, 2013

BYD Electric Buses in California

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.




Leave a Comment May 4, 2013

April Sales: The Leaf vs. the Volt

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.



Leave a Comment May 4, 2013

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