Sparking interest in eco cars

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Sep 252012
 

How to Promote Green Cars

Governments and the auto industry are looking for ways to increase the demand for electric cars, as, at the moment, sales for these green cars are slow-moving. There has been plenty of debate and discussion regarding the development and promotion of eco cars.

Charging an Electric Car

Charging an Electric Car

Most of the UK’s focus has been on hybrid cars or fully electric cars that use plug-in charging systems. The Government has set-up initiatives on the supply side of things, yet consumer demand is still quite low.

Perhaps a Plug-In Car Grant

Attempts are being made to motivate demand, including the Plug-In car Grant, offering a cash incentive of up to 25 per cent to a maximum of £5,000, company car tax exemption, VED exemption and London congestion charge exemption. Still, these incentives have not caused much change in the demand of green cars.

Are they Unreliable?

One factor for slow demand of electric vehicles could be because the public thinks that they are potentially unreliable vehicles. Studies, such as by CABLED in the West Midlands, show that those willing to drive eco cars are either environmentally-conscious or technology-advanced people, while appealing to the wider public is still a challenge.

Is it Just Price?

Price remains the main problem, however, as well as the extra stress of charging a battery and the lack of selection in comparison to regular vehicles. As well, the green credential is undermined by production techniques and the electricity that is used to fuel the vehicles.

Improved Awareness

Experts and industry analysts agree that a greater political will is needed to aid in the growth of demand for green cars. Greater emphasis must be placed on the attitudes of consumers and their transport actions. A better strategy is one approach, with a strong emphasis on improved incentives and increased disincentives. However, improved awareness and a change in attitudes of vehicle owners are also essential.

More Incentive Packages

Improving the incentive packages for eco car consumers may very well help the green car market to improve if immediate benefits are considered. For example, in Norway, the government has introduced a package that includes 10 incentives, including free public parking, toll-road exemption, no congestion charges, access to bus lanes, a cut in annual road tax, free public vehicle charging, VAT and car tax exemption on purchases and a 50 per cent company car tax discount. These, together with 3,500 public charging posts, have increased the purchase of electric cars by 5,000, the highest number of green cars per capita in the world.

Improving Consumer Knowledge

Improving consumer knowledge about green cars, for example in terms of the range, performance, capacity and recharging, is also a key factor to the success of eco cars. The poor past performance of green cars has made current consumers avoid these vehicles, although they have greatly improved in recent years. Therefore, educating the public is essential, especially as many of the problems are exacerbated by bad driving habits.

Chevrolet Volt - A Car that Charges with Electric

Chevrolet Volt – A Car that Charges with Electric

Most of the journeys taken with eco cars are less than 40kms, which is well below the distance these vehicles are able to take on full charge. The government should, therefore, disclose the findings of vehicle trials to better promote the demand for electric vehicles.

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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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Audi Hybrid takes Le Mans Victory

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Jun 292012
 

Audi Hybrid Vehicle

Audi Hybrid Vehicle

Hybrid Vehicle in a Race

Audi has made history by being the first competitor to win the Le Mans race with a hybrid vehicle. The 24-hour race, held annually at Circuit de la Sarthe in the north of France, enjoyed its 80th anniversary on March 21st this year, so it was a particularly spectacular win.

4×4 hybrid the R18 e-tron Quattro

This victory for the all-wheel drive 4×4 hybrid the R18 e-tron Quattro is the 11th for Audi. All of Audi’s previous victories have been achieved with gasoline and diesel-powered models, but this year, the automotive giant chose to use a hybrid model to showcase its leading innovative and eco-friendly technology. Audi also entered two diesel vehicles, which took third and fifth places.

Speed and Low Noise

The R18 e-tron Quattro uses a V6 TDI diesel engine, along with an electric motor, which work together to provide power to the front wheels. This gave it an extra boost of torque and traction when taking corners at high-speeds, enabling it to shoot past all other competitors with a surprisingly low level of noise.

Audi AWD Hybrid (R18 E-Tron Quattro)

Audi AWD Hybrid (R18 E-Tron Quattro)

Toyota Hybrid TSO30

Audi wasn’t the only competitor to enter a hybrid vehicle into the event. Toyota entered two of its TS030 models, which were set to be the main competitors. However, problems occurred with both vehicles, and driver Anthony Davidson had to be taken to hospital after his car collided with a lapped vehicle, causing it to flip before hurtling into the crash barriers. Davidson suffered from two cracked vertebrae, but luckily was able to walk away from the accident.

Toyota Collides

Toyota’s other vehicle left on a less dramatic note after a collision with the Deltawing vehicle, which was an experimental product of collaboration between Nissan and Highcroft Racing. As a result, Nissan was also taken out of the event.

Toyota TS030 Hybrid Car

Toyota TS030 Hybrid Car

The Deltawing was powered by a 1.6 litre engine, much smaller than those used in most other models. The aim of this was to make the vehicle as lightweight as possible, therefore increasing speed and energy-efficiency. This could have made it a real competitor for Audi.

Audi e-tron System for all Cars

Consumers are familiar with Audi’s Quattro and TDI technology, as these are already available with their current road cars. According to Audi, plans are already in place to implement the e-tron system into future models for the public. There’s been talk of replacing drive shafts with electric cables and transferring the ultra-low weight technology to road cars. This will pass on huge benefits to consumers by considerably lowering fuel consumption and cutting running costs by extending tyre-life, as less wear and tear will occur.

Ninth Win for Audi

It wasn’t an easy victory for Audi, as each of its entries had some sort of accident or technical difficulty. However, it has secured its place as the dominant team with a third consecutive win. In fact, this is the ninth time that Audi has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans since 2000.

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