Four Second-hand Hybrids to Avoid

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Sep 252012

And one to keep an eye on

The Toyota Prius is by far the most popular eco car, and one of the best on the market. When looking at second-hand green cars this is the one to keep your eye open for but, since the rise in popularity of eco cars, there have been plenty of others showing up throughout the country.

Toyota Prius - Plug In Hybrid Eco Car

Toyota Prius – Plug In Hybrid Eco Car

Just because a car is labelled as a hybrid, does not particularly mean it is a good car or is fuel-efficient. If this is important got you, here are four second-hand hybrids on the market to steer clear from, or at least think twice about before heading to the bank.

2010-2011 BMW ActiveHybrid X6

It has the BMW name and looks like a regular BMW X6, but this now-discontinued car used a tailored two-mode hybrid system that was designed for a large truck, together with a custom 4.4-litre twin turbo V8 engine that resulted in an output of 407hp. Although the efficiency was better than BMW’s conventional X6, it still used 19mpg of fuel.

BMW ActivE - Electric Car

BMW ActivE – Electric Car

The idea behind BMW’s green car was to design a vehicle that would mimic a seven-speed transmission using four gears and three electric assists. This way the car would feel like a regular BMW when behind the wheel. The problem with this green car was that the two-mode hybrid system ended up costing more than $10,000 per vehicle. Now that this car is discontinued, it is very pricey to fix as parts are unavailable, which is something to consider before purchasing.

2008-2009 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid

GM launched this green car a few years ago using a mid-hybrid Belt-Alternator-Starter system. It was only offered for two years and was paired with a 164hp 2.4-litre Ecotec four-cylinder engine. The problem was that its EPA ratings were only marginally better than a regular six-speed automatic transmission Malibu, which cost $2,000 less than the Hybrid.

The Malibu Hybrid does not offer drivers a smooth ride due to the rotation of the electric motor switching over to regenerate the battery charging. When GM declared bankruptcy in 2009, the Malibu Hybrid disappeared.

2009 Dodge Durango Hybrid / 2009 Chrysler Aspen Hybrid

A Hybrid SUV sounded like a fantastic idea, but it only took Chrysler a few months to realise that this was not the case. After making less than 1,000 Dodge Durango Hybrids and Chrysler Aspen Hybrids, production of this eco car ceased.

Since then, these hybrids are the only green cars Chrysler has manufactured using the two-mode hybrid system that it developed with BMW. Like the BMW ActiveHybrid X6, that system is extremely expensive, not only to manufacture, but also to repair.

2005-2007 Honda Accord Hybrid

This was the only time Honda used its Integrated Motor Assist mild-hybrid system with a 3.0-litre V-6 engine, and it was quite confusing to consumers who saw eco cars as fuel-efficient. Due to its unpopularity, this green car was only made for three years, selling a total of only 28,500 units.

Honda Accord Hybrid Eco Car

Honda Accord Hybrid Eco Car

The Accord Hybrid was 20 per cent better on petrol than the conventional Accord, but it did not only drive by using electric.  Luckily Honda  made other hybrid cars that are high-mileage compacts, but the Accord Hybrid fell short.

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Emissions to be cut in Europe on New Cars

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Sep 132012

New Rule – Less Emissions

Under a new proposed rule set out on July 11 in Brussels, within the next eight years new cars and vans throughout Europe will generate one-third less carbon dioxide. With the rule in place, new cars will have to have a maximum carbon dioxide level of 95g per kilometre by 2020. If these regulations are accepted, it will cut today’s emission levels by more than 40g per kilometre.

Will We and Car Manufacturers Accept

If these goals can be achieved it will greatly cut fuel consumption, thus saving money for European consumers, says Connie Hedegaard the climate chief of the European commission. But for this new regulation to be in place, it will have to be accepted by members of state and the European parliament, something that may be a bit tricky with car manufacturers backing up key politicians.

Billions Saved

If the rule is accepted, drivers of new cars in Europe would save on fuel costs, increasing the EU GDP as well as saving about 160m tonnes of imported oil. As a result, new jobs would be created.

Research and Development Cost

Car manufacturers protesting against the new emissions proposals say that it would mean spending heaps on research and development to adapt its production lines. The same was true when the new emissions rules were set for 2015, yet most manufacturers have met these targets, and ahead of schedule.

We want Cheaper Eco-Cars

Consumers today are actually taking notice that their cars are more fuel efficient thanks to the 2015 targets, says Hedegaard. Europeans today want cheaper, eco cars. Green campaigners agree with Hedegaard and even feel that the 2015 targets are too weak.

Green and Inefficient Car Balance

Greenpeace has offered a solution to car manufacturers to make the switch to green cars more cost efficient. The organisation proposes that if manufacturers could continue to make big, heavier cars with high emissions, this could be offset by also manufacturing a selection of more efficient eco cars. This way they could continue to make inefficient cars while actually saving on emissions through the production of these green cars.

Greenpeace Opinion

Greenpeace EU’s transport policy director Franziska Achterberg said that there is much to be gained by implementing high efficiency targets, not only for drivers but also for the climate. In order for this to happen, emissions from vans will have to drop from the 2010 limit of 181.4g to 147g/km in 2020. Greenpeace thinks that this will unfortunately also not be enough to have a major impact.

All in all a Positive Proposal

Having fuel economy and emissions standards is good for jobs and the European economy, says Greg Archer, programme manager for clean vehicles at Transport and Environment. He also says that it is good for the planet, and is a positive proposal. If the commission had shown more ambition, the benefits of these new targets could have been much greater, he added.

Hedegaard reported that the commission is currently working on targets for 2020. A target of 80g/km is definitely realistic and would save drivers about €650 (£510 ish) a year.

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Ford History with NASCAR Electric Debut

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May 232012

Charging Electric Car

Charging Electric Car

This year for the first time ever, NASCAR will feature electric vehicles as pace cars in a Sprint Cup Event. Ford Motor Co. has announced that Virginia’s Richmond International Raceway will have two of their 2012 Focus electric vehicles at the event, and they’ll also be seen at the Capital City 400 race. Earlier this month, Ford had stated that they would have an electric car at NASCAR this year, but only now has the model been revealed.

Big Step for EVs

This is a big step for electric vehicles, indicating that the future for them is bright. Ford often uses its NASCAR sponsorship as a way of advertising up-and-coming models that are likely to be very popular in the mass market, and this shows that they are confident that the electric Focus model will sell. It also gives Ford a chance to prove that electric cars can offer the same high performance as traditional cars while being efficient and eco-friendly. This strategy was previously used with the Taurus Sedan and the Fusion Hybrid.

Fuel Economy and Efficiency as Important

The first entirely electric pace car in NASCAR is a sign of a turn in the market, showing that fuel economy and efficiency are becoming increasingly more important in the motor industry, whereas horsepower and speed were previously among the most desired features.

Ford have Seven EcoBoost Engines

In 2011, Ford had seven fuel-saving EcoBoost engines on the market, but has promised to increase that to eleven this year. The Focus Electric is currently only available in North America, but Bob Graziano has confirmed plans for electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid models to be available in Australia in 2015. The Ford Australia boss also confirmed the importance of fuel efficiency by saying they wanted people to buy Ford because they were fuel-efficient.

Ford Focus Electric performance

The Focus Electric is powered by an electric motor that produces 91kW and 245Nm of torque, giving it a 43Nm advantage on the current Focus 2.0 litre petrol engine. According to Ford, a single charge will take you approximately 160Kms (100 miles), which makes it equal to Nissan’s electric Leaf model.

Ford’s Hybrid Range

Recent additions to Ford’s hybrid range include the C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi. Both of these models feature an Atkinson cycle 2.0 litre petrol engine with a lithium-ion battery, which are usually used in pure electric vehicles.
Use of the hybrid system allows the electric motor to drive the car on its own at low speeds and work with the petrol engine at high speeds. While the electric motor works, the petrol engine can provide power to the wheels when required, or charge the batteries.

Ford Focus Electric

Ford Focus Electric

Hybrid and Plug-Ins technology used across range

Sinead Phipps, spokesperson of Ford, recently stated that their hybrid and hybrid plug-in technology will soon be used in other models across the range. Ford’s increasing use of electric technology shows its commitment to a future of pure electric vehicles, and suggests that we should look forward to seeing more models like the Focus Electric on the market soon.