Archives – February 13, 2015

NHTSA Delays Pedestrian-Alert Noises for Hybrid and Electric Cars

Quiet_Car_--Toyota-Google_ImagesOne of the reasons why electric and hybrid cars are preferred by most people is their calm operation. Regulators have however, noted that this may pose a risk to pedestrians. Following this, numerous attempts have been made to incorporate noise-making devices into new electric and hybrid vehicles. The role of such devices is alerting unaware or blind pedestrians of approaching cars. In 2011, there was the signing of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act into law for the sole purpose of attaining the mentioned objective. Implementation of the law has apparently stopped. The final ruling date for the proposed standards has been postponed until the end of this year by the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA). This implies that the proposed rule will be implemented in the year 2018.

The delay in question has further prolonged a debate that has been ongoing since the launch of the first hybrid cars more than ten years ago. Some groups, including the administration have raised numerous concerns following the rise of electric and hybrid cars. The administration has raised fears that pedestrians who are visually impaired or blind may be unaware of approaching cars in the absence of normal engine noises. In 2008, a conference was convened by NHTSA following the issue’s publicity. Two successive research studies were also conducted.

The first study was conducted in 2009 and it led to the finding that in comparison to conventional gasoline-fueled cars, electric and hybrid cars were twice as likely to cause pedestrian collision. The second study, conducted in 2011, led to the finding that there was a 35% higher probability of pedestrian collision in hybrid cars compared to conventional gasoline-fueled vehicles. In the first study, only data from twelve states was used. Additionally, the study included injuries from the year 2000, when hybrid cars were few on the roads. This was also ten years prior to the launch of the current electric cars’ generation. Nonetheless, there was the signing of Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act into law, with NHTSA gearing its efforts towards implementing it.

The rules proposed by the agency have been criticized by carmakers on the grounds of the sounds’ loudness. They have proposed for such devices to be put on cars that are quietest and not only on hybrid and electric cars. Some electric and hybrid drivers have also been reported to oppose the devices in question. This is because they like their cars to operate silently. A standard feature that has been provided by several electric car manufacturers is the alert noise.

 

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Going Green City-Wide in Fort Collins, Colorado

44238099001_4028682761001_video-still-for-video-4028843547001The municipalities of Northern Colorado could financially benefit from electric and hybrid car technology. This could be the case if such municipalities are patient enough to reap the savings the technology brings. Although it is initially costly to purchase green vehicles, cities such as Fort Collins have claimed that this cost is eventually worth the payoff. Hybrid car’s on average cost between $3,000 and $4,000 more compared to a gasoline-fueled counterpart. An electric car may cost between $5,000 and $7,000 more. These figures were given by the Fort Collins Operation Services’ Assistant Director, Tracy Ochsner.

Electric and hybrid cars make just more than 5% of the street-legal fleet in Fort Collins. Based on lifetime costs of the vehicle, a Ford Fusion bought in 2012 by Fort Collins will be cheaper than its gasoline fueled counterpart bought by the city in the same year by $11, 460. A Nissan Leaf bought in 2013 by the same city will result to projected savings of $21,625 over the gasoline fueled Ford Fusion. Because of the mentioned savings, Ochsner noted that when the city plans to replace a city vehicle it considers an electric, hybrid or other fuel cars. Fort Collins government started buying hybrid cars in 2000 and currently, there are 37 hybrid cars. The city started buying electric vehicles in 2013 and currently owns seven.

Ochsner said that the city is always in search of vehicles that are fuel-efficient and that operate efficiently. In this way, money will not only be saved on fuel, but the city will depend less on foreign fuel. Emissions are completely eliminated or greatly reduced. The major goal of the city is minimizing greenhouse gases. Fuel-efficient cars can achieve this goal of minimizing greenhouse gases. There are seven fleet-specific charging spots in Fort Collins city. Three more charging stations will be put up this year. Another notable fact about the city is that all its cars are run to approximately 90,000 miles prior to putting them up for sale in an auction. A gasoline fueled car lasts 7 to 8 years in the city while a hybrid car lasts ten to twelve years. Electric cars last ten to fifteen years, partly because of battery limitations associated with an electric car’s mileage. Ochsner added that the city plans on buying more hybrid cars as there are many vehicles that need replacements. As battery ranges increase the distances covered in travel, additional pure-electric cars will be bought. Many of the hybrid and electric cars in question are for in-town and daily tasks.

 

 

 

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