Over the last few years there has been a massive increase in demand for eco-friendly cars and other vehicles, with the environment becoming a major point of concern for many governments and many people around the world. So what eco-friendly cars are available today and what can you we expect in the future?
The environment has become a major concern for many people around the world and cars, as well as other vehicles, have been blamed for pumping CO2 omissions into the atmosphere and the effects this could have on environments around the world. However, it is not only CO2 which is a problem at the moment with a whole host of other issues associated with traditional vehicles, from the disposal of car batteries to the energy which can often be wasted by traditional vehicles.
As a consequence, more and more eco-friendly cars are now becoming commonplace on roads and highways around the world.
What types of eco-friendly cars are available?
The term eco-friendly car literally covers a whole host of different types of vehicles which offer attractions to the environment and attractions to motorists. They include:
The electric car is being put forward by many people as the ultimate in efficiency and environmentally friendly travel. While there are some issues which attract attention and arguments, including batteries, how they are disposed of, and how they are produced, there is no doubt that electrical cars have a lot to offer not only consumers but the environment.
Aside from the fact they are more efficient than traditional petrol and diesel powered vehicles, there is the ability to recharge batteries time and time again which is catching the eye of many people and many governments. This not only reduces wastage, such as car batteries, but has also introduced a number of novel battery recharging method which include :-
Solar panel roofs
While solar panels have been commonplace in houses around the world for many years, they are now becoming commonplace on a number of high-profile electric cars. During daylight hours it is now possible to recharge the batteries of an electric vehicle as you are moving simply by using solar panels which are positioned on the car roof. The ability to harness the power of nature is something of a holy grail for the electric car industry but this is something which is coming to fruition and will become more and more prominent in the months and years ahead.
The ability to harness the power and energy which in many cases has been wasted in the past, such as solar panels above, is an effective bonus for the electric car industry. One such method of harvesting "waste power" is regenerative braking which effectively translates the power produced when braking into a system, which allows the electric car battery to be recharged on an ongoing basis. When you consider how often you brake and how much energy and power is used to slow down your vehicle, the ability to literally harness this waste energy can make a significant difference to the efficiency of your vehicle and the impact on the environment.
Recharging stations are something of a contentious point because there is a requirement to produce the electricity required to recharge your vehicle and the potential impact upon the environment which this may have. Obviously, this will depend upon where the electricity comes from and how it is produced because solar panels and other environmentally friendly systems are in use around the world. However, there is no doubt that electric recharging stations are much more efficient and pose less of a danger to the environment compared to your traditional petrol station.
There is no doubt that electric vehicles are here to stay despite a somewhat lackluster beginning back in the 1990s where political interference appears to have been at its highest. The various add-ons such as solar panel recharging systems are also offering something of another bonus to those looking to protect the environment while maintaining an efficient vehicle on the road. However, the pure electric car is not the only eco-friendly vehicle on the road although it is by far and away the most eco-friendly.
In simple terms a hybrid vehicle is a vehicle that uses a traditional internal combustion engine together with an electric backup system which can either take the lead or backup the more traditional engine fuel system. So what types of hybrid are available?
The series hybrid engine is one which uses a traditional internal combustion engine to power electric motors which are used to power the wheels of a vehicle. Even though the internal combustion engine is a major part of the vehicle, there are many benefits for the environment including reduced emissions and more efficient transfer of power from the generation system to the wheels.
A parallel hybrid system is one which can be powered by either a traditional internal combustion engine or else an electric powered drive train. One of the main benefits of this particular system is the ability to "store additional energy" for times such as acceleration and where additional power is required. At this point either one of the two systems can kick in to give that extra boost and make maximum use of energy which is stored within the vehicle.
Are hybrid systems different to drive?
While there may well be differences in the dashboard and the displays available in a hybrid vehicle, to show both fuel and energy capacity available, in simple terms your driving experience will be improved if anything. Depending upon what type of hybrid engine is available in your vehicle you will notice a distinct difference in the noise when you drive and also in the efficiency of your vehicle which is likely to offer significantly greater mileage over a traditional vehicle.
Are hybrid vehicles more environmentally friendly?
A number of tests have been carried out with regards to hybrid vehicles and their impact on the environment which seem to show a reduction of around 25% in pollution. While this may not be as high as electric cars, which are far more environmentally friendly, it is certainly a step in the right direction and one which has been embraced and appreciated by motorists around the world. In many ways this is a "half way house" between the pollution gushing cars of yesteryear and the extremely environmentally friendly cars of the future.
In many ways hybrid cars have been used to "break the back" of consumers who are concerned about the reliability and cost of electric cars. Hybrids also offer a significant improvement on environmental damage when compared to more traditional cars and can in many ways improve not only the efficiency of driving on the roads of today but also maximum journey lengths. There have also been major developments with the technology associated with hybrid cars, which are fast becoming the car of choice for many environmentally conscious drivers of today.
Over the last few years there has been an increase in the number of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vehicles on the market although this particular sector has not increased in size as quickly as many had expected. In simple terms there is now the option to convert the vast majority of traditional fuel cars to LPG via a fairly simple conversion kit which offers a number of benefits which include:
LPG is a low carbon emitting, hydrocarbon fuel which is said to produce 19% less CO2 than oil, 30% less than coal and 50% less than coal generated electricity transferred via the national grid. The benefits to the environment are there for all to see and when you consider the millions of cars on the road today it is not difficult to see why governments around the world have embraced this particular type of fuel.
Cost of LPG
While the cost of LPG has increased slightly over the last couple of years there is still a discount in the region of 40% to 50% compared to traditional petrol and diesel. It is this benefit to motorists which is likely to hopefully increase the number of LPG fuelled vehicles on the roads in the future, therefore reducing CO2 emissions around the world. The UK government has in some ways assisted with the relatively low price comparison against more traditional fuels although it is certainly in the interests of governments around the world to continue this for the foreseeable future.
Is LPG available on a large scale?
While there's no doubt that countries such as the UK have recognised the benefits of LPG powered vehicles it is also evident that we still need to work on the number of LPG fuel stations available. This is a fuel system which has been promoted by the government and motoring organisations but ultimately, it has not yet reached the mass market. We need to see more tax benefits introduced by the UK government in the short to medium term, a more aggressive promotional campaign and we also need car manufacturers in the UK to promote the product more aggressively.
While LPG is something which has been around for some time now, it has not yet caught the attention of the mass market and there is still much work to be done by the UK government and motoring organisations around the UK. However, the benefits to not only motorists but the environment are there for all to see and it is hoped, that along with electric cars, the UK authorities will now step up to the mark and push this particular fuel more aggressively.
It is also worth noting that there are benefits to your actual vehicle from using LPG which is much cleaner and less wearing on car engines.
Eco-friendly vehicles of the future
There is no doubt that electric vehicles will form the major gang plank of the eco-friendly vehicle market going forward. However, as we have seen in the hybrid market, where traditional internal combustion engines are combined with electric battery power, we may see a number of hybrids evolve in the future. It is only over the last few years that governments around the world have woken up to the potential damage which vehicles are doing to the environment and at last agreed to offer significant tax incentives to businesses and consumers to become more involved.
The recent increase in the price of oil has also focused the minds of many consumers on this most volatile of commodities and indeed only a few days ago Pres. Obama seemed to suggest that the U.S. would, not within his lifetime, transfer from an oil based economy to something more environmentally friendly. Some may see this as a direct reaction to the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico but ultimately governments around the world are now finding it more and more difficult to push against the wave of demand for eco-friendly vehicles and more eco-friendly lifestyles.
While the benefits of electric cars, hybrid cars and those fuelled by LPG are there for all to see if you take the time to research them, many consumers still need to be spoon fed this information. As a consequence, the success of the electric car market, hybrid car market and the LPG market will hinge upon the attitudes and strategies of governments around the world. Tax incentives may be required to kickstart these markets, and indeed many governments are already introducing these, but there is still significant consumer skepticism regarding eco-friendly vehicles, with a suggestion they are often "nothing but a fad".
However, despite the fact that eco-friendly vehicles are here to stay, consumer skepticism is still there, even if there is no doubt that technological advances in this area has been enormous of late. Billions upon billions of pounds are being pumped into the eco-friendly car market with more vehicles being sold each and every year. It is this recognisable return on investment which will ultimately push more and more businesses down this particular route so hopefully recent progress will continue for some time to come.