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Guest Post: Green Car Technology

December 9, 2011 by  
Filed under Green Living, Guest Posts, Top Picks

green carAs more people become more environmentally conscious they have started to expect the companies and organisations they deal with to do the same, and many companies now state their ‘green manifesto’ on their websites and promotional literature. For some companies, and indeed industries, this is more difficult, perhaps none more so than the automotive industry, who traditionally use large amounts of the Earths resource and have high energy usage and polluting industrial processes. And at the end of it their product is used to burn even more of the Earths dwindling natural resources.

However, the automotive industry has responded in the last few years with a range of technologies to help improve their own industrial processes and the cars they produce, so the vehicles we drive have less of an impact on the environment than ever before. Below are listed some of the more recent technologies and innovations being incorporated into cars we can buy today.

The electric motor

The electric motor has been around for years (on milk floats, for example) but it’s only in the last few that they have been available in cars for the general public to buy. It’s still rare to buy a car that is 100% electric due to the limited range of batteries available today, plus they tend to have a very long recharge time. Hybrid engines are more popular, combining a petrol or diesel engine and an electric motor, and the likes of the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight have become regular sights on UK roads. Plus, cars with electric motors produce such low emissions that they tend to be in bands A or B for car tax. So they cost you less money.

Efficient engines

You don’t have to buy a car with an electric motor to pay zero car tax though. Quite a few car manufacturers now produce at least one car in their range with a petrol or diesel engine that produces less than 100g/km of CO2, the level set in the UK for paying no tax. These engines take the smallest of sips at their fuel which means that you can get some astonishing fuel efficiency out of them. For example, Volvo claims you can get up to 850 miles out of one tank of petrol in the S40 with DRIVe (their eco-friendly engine technology).

Start/Stop engines

A very simple idea this: when the car stops for more than a few seconds the engine cuts out automatically, and when it is time to move again and you press the accelerator, the engine starts up really fast and away you go. When you’re driving through a city the amount of fuel saved can add up.

Brake energy charging

Some cars have a system that uses energy released when braking to help charge the battery. The battery can also be charged when coasting – useful in a hybrid or electric car.

Gear shift indicator

A lot of petrol is wasted because people don’t know the best time to change up a gear, and don’t realise they can drive in a higher gear than they do. The gear shift indicator is simply a light on the dashboard that illuminates to tell you when to change up a gear. If you drive an older car that does not have this, you can still use a higher gear for driving. As a general rule you should keep a petrol car under 2000rpm and a diesel one under 2500rpm, which usually means that, for example, instead of driving at 30mph in third gear your using fourth and at 40mph you would be using fifth. New cars will often have a sixth gear as well so that the car uses even less revs and fuel at higher speeds.

Aerodynamics

Aerodynamics aren’t just used to make a car look good and go fast, a car that cuts through the air efficiently requires less energy to move, which means less fuel used.

So there you go: several ways in which car manufacturers are helping to reduce the amount of fuel used by the vehicles they produce and the amount of CO2 they pump into the atmosphere. It’s by no means an exhaustive list and over the next few years there will probably be even better ways of saving fuel and reducing greenhouse gasses – maybe we’ll start seeing hydrogen-fuel cars soon?

This article was written by Rob Powel from Confused.com, the cheap car insurance experts.

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