Archives – April, 2014

Car Companies Take Their Expertise Past the Garage

fitMost people are increasingly looking for alternative sources of energy to meet their daily energy consumption. One of the most popular energy sources at the moment is solar energy. The drawback to this is that the device may not store enough energy to carry you through the night in case you have high-energy consumption. Motor vehicle manufacturers have come up with a solution to this problem. They have developed carbon-free energy stored in car batteries that can also serve as an energy reserve for electric devices within the home.

Buildings and the transport industry account for about 44% of greenhouse emissions in the United States. There has been increased awareness regarding the importance of keeping the environment safe by developing alternative sources of energy.

Honda has been in the forefront of the development of this technology. At the center of the Honda headquarters is a room that contains a black house that holds a 10-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. Next to the battery is a bigger white box referred to as the home-energy management system. This is the intelligence center for the house. It makes intelligent decisions such as when to tap the renewable electric power produced by the 9.5-kilowatt solar panel placed on the home’s roof to charge the battery or put the energy into storage.

The home transfers the excess energy into the grid. When the utility becomes overloaded, which often happens during the summer, the local electric power provider simply sends a signal to the home to make the home direct its solar power to the grid and help avoid blackouts. A similar house will consume up to 1.3 megawatt-hours of electricity yearly. This smart house can generate energy of up to .6-megawatt hours in a year.

The Honda Fit EV in the garage has also been configured to accept energy directly from a solar array. The company also looked into ways of reducing the power consumption of the overall technology. They installed a geothermal system that traps the heat in the ground under the house to cool or heat the house. There is also an automated light adjustment that seeks to mimic natural daylight conditions and thus reduces the actual energy consumption on lighting.

Car companies that have so far been focusing on the production of hybrid cars in an attempt to conserver the environment are also going a step further in investing in alternative sources of energy. This is a complimentary move that helps them meet the overall vision behind the development of hybrid cars.


Leave a Comment April 25, 2014

Hybrid Cars More Fuel Efficient In India than the United States

electric-cars-395According to research carried out by a group of scientists in the United States, the hybrid cars in the United States consume relatively more fuel compared to their counterparts in India and China. This was mostly attributed to the difference in the traffic conditions of the two countries. The heavy traffic, aggressive driving, and freeways in India and China make these roads quite difficult to drive on. These conditions make them ideal for the fuel efficient hybrid cars.

According to the researchers, these findings were likely to have a great impact in the countries that were experiencing an explosion in the sale of personal vehicles. The research shows that the fuel savings in countries such as India are greatly understated. There is over 29% savings realized over the conventional vehicles.

At the moment, the amounts of greenhouse gases produced by India are relatively low when compared to those produced by other developing countries. The worrying trend however, is the fact that the emission of these gases has been on the increase over the past few years. Scientists estimate that in the next five years the rate of emissions of these harmful gases would equal that produced by a developed country. The realization that the hybrid cars can help in the reduction of emission of these harmful gases is sure to have a positive reception in the country. As much as the hybrid cars have not been very efficient in the United States, they have played some role in the reduction of the amount of greenhouse gases released into the environment annually.

The researchers used the power train simulation model to carry out their research. This model created a hypothetical hybrid version of some of the top selling vehicles in the market of each country. The researchers then went ahead and simulated drive cycles in two cities in India. The researchers also used the modified Indian drive cycle. This is the test for the official fuel economy rating.

The researchers simulated drives in 11 cities and used three types of hybrid power trains. The researchers also performed the same test in the United States. This included 55% city driving and 45% highway driving.

The findings were that the hybrid car would achieve about a 48% fuel saving in India and about 55% fuel savings in China. The results in the United States showed that the hybrid cars achieved 40% fuel savings. These results prove the hypothesis that hybrids are relatively more suited for these emerging markets. The hybrid car explosion in these countries is sure going to be justified.


Leave a Comment April 25, 2014

General Motors’ Investment in the Manufacture of Plants for Hybrid Cars

cadillac elrGeneral Motors gave an official statement this past week confirming its plan to manufacture plants for hybrid cars. The automaker will invest $450 million dollars in establishing two plants for the cars in Michigan. The first plant is the Hamtramck plant, which will specialize in car assembly. The second plant is the Township factory, which will focus in the production of batteries for hybrid cars manufactured by General Motors. As expected, the investment is likely to increase the employee headcount of GM by about 1,400. The investment will also result in key modifications of two hybrid cars of GM, the Cadillac ELR and the 2016 Chevrolet Volt.

Although the unit price of Volt was reduced in March by $5,000, there was no significant change in unit sales. In the 2014 first quarter, only 3,606 car models were sold by GM. This was a fifteen percent decrease from the previous years. The same issues were encountered by the Cadillac ELR. For instance, there was a recall of 656 units of the 2014 model requiring a need to repair the electric system. It is expected that Volt’s new model will have a battery that is not only more powerful, but that will run for longer before it needs to convert to fluid fuel. The current Volt model has battery packs that provide a battery power worth 40 miles.

GM’s intention to invest in affordable electric vehicles has a high likelihood of stirring immense competition with its competitors. For example, Tesla Motors Inc. has plans of revising its electric car prices in the coming years. The revision will begin with the company’s E car that will be sold for at least $35,000. This means that GM’s plans will create stiff competition between the two companies in the near future.

Based on the current state and times, it would be fundamental for GM to be ahead of other competitors, especially the hybrid car makers. The competitors in question include Toyota Prius. It is reported that 11% of Toyota Motor Company revenue in financial year 2013, was accounted for by the Toyota Prius sales. Through that fiscal year, more than 230,000 car units were sold. Toyota has announced of its plans to further modify the design of its Prius. This means that its sales are more likely to increase in the coming years. Analysts have asserted that the investment by GM to revive its hybrid vehicles could play a key role in increasing the company’s competitive edge.


Leave a Comment April 18, 2014

Plug-In Hybrid for Chinese Market Launched by Audi and FAW Group Partnership

The latest foreign auto maker whose aim is to assist China in achieving its clean-car ambitions is the Audi AG. This is following an announcement that the car maker had plans of building plug-in hybrid car in collaboration with its neighboring partner. A unit of Volkswagen AG, the German luxury car maker claimed that it would begin the production of a China-based plug in sedan. The car maker would work in collaboration with FAW Group, its Chinese partner. The new hybrid car model will be referred to as Audi A6 e-tron, whose basis will be the Audi A6 sedan’s long-wheel version.

China has, for a long time, pushed for pure electric cars as a means for the country to achieve its auto industry’s long-term vision. The country views electric cars as attractive and beneficial because they can play a major role in addressing environmental issues. Additionally, electric cars can help in reducing the extent at which the nation depends on imported gasoline.

Pure electric cars have been promoted by Chinese auto companies such as SAIC Motor Company and BYD Company. In recent months, a marketing drive in China was launched by a United States car maker, Tesla Motors Inc. in China. A major setback that has been reported by industry observers and auto makers is lack of essential charging infrastructure. For this reason, it has been challenging to attain large-scale electric car sales.

Several auto makers are of a different opinion or stance, in that, they are laying emphasis on plug-in hybrids. They are advocating for vehicles that allow users to plug into electric outlets. Such vehicles can operate on either electricity or gasoline. Plug-in hybrids slightly differ from complete hybrids. The most popular model is the Toyota Prius, which has batteries to support traditional engines.

According to the managing director of consulting firm Automotive Foresight, Yale Zhang, the popularity of plug-in hybrids is still low in China’s car market. Approximately 11, 410 electric and 1,500 plug-in hybrid cars were sold in China in 2013. The plans to roll out more models have been announced by other companies including Volkswagen. In November, Volkswagen made clear its intentions to launch 15 electric and plug-in hybrid car models by the year 2018 in China. The government of China hopes to have at least five hundred thousand electric and plug-in hybrid cars by next year on its road. The country aims at having five million of such car models by the year 2020.


Leave a Comment April 18, 2014

A Simple Password Hack May be a Key to Hijacking Tesla Electric Cars

Experts have warned that there is a possibility for Tesla electric cars worth $100,000 to be hijacked using a simple password hack. A six-digit password can be used for accessing the car’s system. Security experts have further claimed that the six digits can be cracked easily and this would allow hackers to access the electronic systems of a car. In this way, these hackers can use a remote sensor to not only track, but also unlock cars.

During a presentation at a security conference in Singapore, a corporate security consultant, Nitesh Dhanjani, said that cars cannot be protected in the same way as computers or workstations. Dhanjani went to further claim that the findings obtained had been passed on to Tesla. Patrick Jones, the Tesla spokesman did not give any comment regarding the findings. However, he said that the automaker would make a thorough review on the research and findings regarding security issues.

Jones said that the automaker is committed towards protecting its systems and products against vulnerabilities. It has an experienced team comprising of information security experts. The automaker continues to work collaboratively with security researchers while encouraging them to communicate via a reporting process that is responsible. To drive Tesla’s Model S, a key fob has to be present. The car can however, be unlocked through a signal that is transmitted over the Internet wirelessly.

Dhanjani further added that in case there is hacking or stealing of a password, a person could not only locate, but also access the car and steal contents. Other than that, the car cannot be driven by a hacker. It is fundamental for users to open an account using a six-character password as the security. The account needs to be set up when the car is ordered. The password in question is used for unlocking a phone application and accessing the user’s Tesla account over the Internet.

The mobile application is freely available and serves a remote sensor for locating and unlocking the car. The application can also control other car functions. Evidence has shown that the password is susceptible to a wide range of attacks that are the same as those used to access an online account or computer. An attacker can easily make password guesses through the online Tesla website. Apparently, there are no restrictions to the number of wrong login trials. Password-stealing viruses can be used by attackers in attempting to access the password from the user’s computer. Dhanjani concluded by saying that the fact that $100,000 car should be depending on a six-character password is a big issue of security concern.



Leave a Comment April 11, 2014

A Review of Ford Fusion Hybrid

One sentence that best describes the Ford Fusion hybrid is “a combination of beauty and brains.” A general assumption is that there is no fun in driving gas-electric hybrid trucks and cars. This is precluded by the very nature of such vehicles. Hybrid cars are manufactured in such a way that there is maximization of conservation at the expense of stimulation. The joy of owning or driving a hybrid car is when the mpg indicator, rather than the speedometer creeps higher. As an example, the Toyota Prius has achieved its mission despite its lack of aesthetic value. However, who said that a fuel-sipper has to be ugly for it to have high efficiency? To get both efficiency and beauty, you should choose the Ford Fusion Hybrid.

The Ford Fusion has a high aesthetic value and could easily be mistaken for a non-hybrid car. The car was redesigned in 2013 and has a face with a grille that is nearly identical to the one on an Aston Martin. The car’s body is not only sleek, but also athletic with a flair of uniqueness. Combining all the features, the car can easily be compared to a standard average sedan. One of the most beautiful features of the Ford Fusion Hybrid is the EPA rating. The rating is apparently at 47 mpg highway and 47 mpg city. A 310-mile test drive that was conducted revealed that the car had a rating that is much better compared to most traditional compact vehicles.

Gas-electric vehicles have both a gasoline engine and an electric motor. In this way, the electricity will run some chores and hence, the car would burn limited gas. Conceptually, Ford has been there for more than one hundred years. It is about 15-years old in terms of a realistic transportation solution. The Fusion hybrid evidently provides this realistic solution.

The impressive agility of Fusion has not been changed by its efficiency. The car can be handled as well as any other standard Fusion car. Ford has a combination of a two -liter four-cylinder engine and 141-horsepower. The horsepower’s rating is 188, which is adequate to give the car an extraordinary speed. In terms of its outlook, Ford Fusion Hybrid has a feel that is solid, as well as a perfectly weighted steering. When tackling corners, the body roll is maintained at a minimal. Braking is less grabby compared to other hybrid cars.

It is undoubtedly clear that Ford Fusion is one of the perfect hybrid cars for fuel economy. It is easy to save fuel with such a car that also has a high aesthetic value.



Leave a Comment April 11, 2014

Efficiency of Hybrid Cars

One of the decisions that most consumers make that has a huge impact on the environment is the type of car they buy. This is because over the past decade the greatest percentage of pollution has been from car emissions. The invention of hybrid cars has assisted a great deal in the attempts to curb this worrying trend. Hybrid cars provide consumers with the option of creating less pollution on the part of the consumer. The invention of hybrid cars comes after decades of road developments and experimentation. After 13 years in the market, the Toyota Prius remains the most successful hybrid car in the market. Other car manufacturing companies have steadily followed suit and companies are now manufacturing a wide range of hybrid cars for the different market levels.

The basic mechanics behind the working of hybrid cars is the fact that they have relatively higher fuel efficient gas engines. This is because they combine the power of the electric motor that assists the engine it is accelerating. The fascinating thing is that with most models, the electric motor is recharged when the car is driven. This means that you don’t have to recharge the batteries.

There are two major varieties of hybrid cars in the market. These are the parallel hybrid cars and the series hybrid cars. In the parallel hybrid car, the gasoline powered engine and the electric motor work together in propelling the car. In the series type, a small gasoline engine continuously charges the batteries that power the electric motor, which propels the vehicle.

Hybrid cars usually gain their efficiency from the following aspects:

Smaller and more fuel efficient engines. This is perhaps their biggest advantage for consumers who prefer to cut down the fuel consumption as much as possible. These vehicles gain this advantage from the fact that they make use of both gas and electric power. This means that it makes less use of fuel, thus less space is needed for the gasoline engine.

The other advantage this car has over the conventional vehicle is the fact that they have the regenerative braking technology. This means that the electric motor that drives the vehicle forward is the same motor that will be used in stopping the car. In this position the electric motor acts as the generator and charges the batteries as the car is slowing down. This reduces the rate at which the batteries are charged. This is a big advantage in terms of efficiency.



Leave a Comment April 6, 2014

Tesla Upgrades Battery Protection

From extensive research on what most consumers would prefer Tesla to improve on, most users preferred to have an improvement on the armor of the vehicle. The good news is that Tesla recently announced that they had taken steps towards implementing this. The electric sedans that are produced now by the company come equipped with a triple-shield aluminium and titanium shield. These are designed in a way that makes it easy to protect the under body and prevent puncturing of the underside and precipitate fires. Despite the vehicle being under investigation earlier for its failure to prevent battery fires, the transportation agency eventually dropped their charges after the release of this upgrade.

This new shield has been reported to deflect a wide range of objects in the artificially controlled simulations that have been conducted on the car. One of the most notable tests carried out on the Tesla was letting it run over a spear implanted on the road and the body did not display any sparks during the contact. Other objects used in the test include concrete blocks, and an automotive alternator, all of which were deflected from the vehicle.

The vehicle boasts of triple shield architecture. The first layer of the shield is a rounded hollow bar that is made from aluminium. This is meant to completely deflect objects with the magnitude of a three ball trailer. The next layer in the shield is a high strength titanium plate that protects the front under body components. These two layers alone are enough to deflect 80% of the objects that come into contact with the vehicle most of the time.

The third shield is the solid aluminium extrusion that further absorbs the impact energy and gives an additional layer of protection. This layer was added to take care of the rare debris that often remains intact after contact. In general, these shields have about 0.1% impact on the range of the car and have no effect on the ride or handling of the car. Further tests carried out indicated that the additional protection does not have any effect on the drag or lift of the car.

Despite the blown out headline coverage that suggested that the Model S was not safe, the company states that the chances of Model S actually catching fire are 1 in 8000. This is five times lower the chances of an average gasoline powered car catching fire. This means that we can comfortably say that the car is by far safer than most of the gas powered cars running along our roads.


Leave a Comment April 6, 2014

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