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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Motorsport Promotes Eco-Cars

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May 232012
 

Formula 1 - Reduce Emissions

Formula 1 - Reduce Emissions

It’s hard to imagine low emission eco-cars replacing the fuel-guzzling super cars that we see in motorsport, but with global warming concerns growing, the US government is pushing for the motor industry to develop and introduce environmentally-friendly cars that have the same high performance level as their petrol counterparts. As a platform for new vehicles and technologies, the motorsport industry is able to influence the market, and therefore has a level of responsibility to join in the switch to eco-cars.

Formula 1 use how much fuel

The official Formula 1 website states that a single team use approximately 200,000 litres in petrol in just one season, and that this needs to be reduced in order to cut down emissions. Therefore, within the next two years, Formula 1 will be implementing V6 engines that use energy recovery technology. This is expected to make vehicles 35 per cent more fuel-efficient, while still providing the same high performance. This is a sign of things to come, and the start of a more responsible Formula 1.

Student Create Race Car

There is also an annual Formula Student competition, whereby students from universities worldwide are invited to design and manufacture their own vehicle and compete in a race at Silverstone. With this competition, Formula 1 bosses intend to nurture the creativity of young automotive engineers and help to develop new technologies. Last year’s event proved a success, as 13 electric cars took place in the race, one of them outperforming the majority of even the petrol cars.

Future Car Challenge

Other motorsport events are also taking a greener outlook. There have even been races dedicated to eco-cars alone. For example, three years ago, RAC introduced its Future Car Challenge, a 60 mile race from Brighton to London for new eco-cars, including those that have yet to go into production. The winner is not the car that finishes first, but the one that consumes the least of amount of energy. A similar event is the Revolve Eco-Rally, a race from Oxford to London for new fuel-efficient eco-cars.

Solar Powered Cars

There’s also an event for solar-powered cars. The World Solar Challenge in Australia requires teams from all different countries to travel 3000kms from the Darwin to Adelaide using only solar power and kinetic recovered energy.

Le Mans Motor Event

Even Le Mans, which has been running since 1923, is looking to introduce eco-cars. As the world’s oldest endurance sports car event, Le Mans has often been responsible for influencing changes in the automotive industry. The event focuses on the endurance of vehicles, so sustainability and efficiency are important factors in competing vehicles. This is a good incentive for manufacturers to create and develop more environmentally-friendly models, and Audi and Toyota are among those that have announced plans to use electric and hybrid models in this event soon.

NASCAR Event

The famous NASCAR events have also demonstrated a change towards greener technology by using an electric vehicle as a pace car for the first time ever. The Ford Focus Electric will have its NASCAR debut at the Virginia Sprint Cup Series this year.

Fuel Prices and Green Cars

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May 032012
 

Pump Prices Hit an all time High

New figures from the AA, which reveal that UK families are now spending more on petrol than their weekly food shopping, could help to point more towards the green car revolution. Pump prices hit an all-time high this week, with diesel settling at around 147.88p a litre and petrol hovering around 142.48p.

New Kia Picanto 2012 - 68MPG Combined - Very Economical Car

New Kia Picanto 2012 - 68MPG Combined - Very Economical Car

Average Weekly Shop

So while the average weekly shop for a family in the UK currently stands at £70.10, it costs £71.24 to fill up a 50-litre car, according to the AA report. In addition, those families with two cars – a very common occurrence – now have to shell out £22 more each week than they did at the beginning of 2011.

New Car C02 Report

Going hand-in-hand with the high fuel prices is the mission by both the world’s governments and the auto industry to find new ways of powering vehicles. Taking the good news and the bad together, the gloom associated with the high petrol prices can perhaps be remedied with the positive news this week coming in the form of the Society of MotorManufacturers and Traders annual New Car CO2 report.

More Fuel-Efficient Cars

The report finds that new cars are now rolling off the production line more environmentally-friendly and fuel-efficient than ever before. For the cost-conscious consumer, this also means a brand new spanker will be way more cost-effective than the old gas-guzzling banger in the garage, at least in the long run.

Huge Savings with New Cars

Huge savings on fuel can be made after investing in a new car, even if it isn’t an electric vehicle or a hybrid. In fact, the survey found that the average car in Britain today is 18 per cent less fuel efficient than its hot-off-the-press counterpart.

Economical and Green

As well as increased fuel-efficiency, which makes our pockets healthier, the report also found that new cars are giving off less CO2 emissions, which makes our planet healthier as well. According to the Society, the average car sold in 2000 emits 23 per cent more carbon emissions than those that were registered in 2011.

Diesels Account for Half New Registrations

But clearly car consumers in the UK are not driven solely by money and concern for the planet. Although electric cars are the cheapest and greenest to run, they only made up a tiny portion of the market last year (1.3 per cent). What really puts this into perspective, however, is that this laughable market share is actually a record for electric vehicles. Instead, motorists are still opting for the most costly cars to run, with diesel vehicles making up half of the new registrations in the UK last year.

Electric and Diesel Running Costs

The economical sense of investing in an electric car is undeniable, even if they are more expensive at the off. According to a SMMT report last year, it would cost just £881 for an average-sized electric car to cover a distance of 30,000 in three years. This minimal figure compares to a whopping £3,374 for a similarly-sized diesel vehicle under the same circumstances.

Savings on Congestion Charges

In addition, extra savings can be made from free or subsidised parking, and those living in the capital can save as much as £2,278 a year on congestion charge fees. Clearly, therefore, this issue is not all about money, but we’re left wondering what must be done for consumers to see the real worth of green cars?