Jack Taylor

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About Jack Taylor

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  1. Photo credit: lammersch The car industry is currently undergoing a green revolution, with a number of exciting new technologies vying to challenge the predominance of petrol and diesel and put an end to the internal combustion engine’s negative effects on the environment. For many years now, private cars have been a favourite target of environmental campaigners, mainly due to the harmful emissions that all internal-combustion engines release into the atmosphere. Their effect was illustrated starkly several times in the 1970s when ‘car-mad’ cities like Los Angeles and London were frequently shrouded in a thick, polluting smog. Car manufacturers have been working on improving their products’ environmental credentials for quite some time now. The most significant developments of the last quarter of a century include the rollout of unleaded fuel, as well as the mandatory fitment of catalytic converters, which remove many of the most harmful elements of vehicle exhaust fumes, to all new cars. But as the 21st century dawned, talk of diminishing oil supplies and the ongoing threat of global warming has incentivised both carmakers and governments to accelerate development of the technologies that will one day take over completely from those in the cars for sale today, which remain dependent on fossil fuels. Hybrid cars, as the name suggests, represent a half-way house between traditional petrol- and diesel-engined models and the next generation of electrically propelled vehicles. Essentially, a hybrid car is one that combines an internal-combustion engine with an electric motor, powered by large batteries, to provide propulsion. There are two distinct forms of hybrid drivetrain: parallel and series. In a parallel hybrid, both the combustion engine and electric motor are connected to the transmission. Both engines are capable of powering the car, either at the same time or separately. In a series hybrid, only the electric motor is connected to the transmission, and it is solely responsible for propulsion. The combustion engine is connected to a generator to recharge the electric motor’s batteries; it is not responsible for any motion. There are already a number of hybrid cars for sale right now from various manufacturers, with the most popular and recognisable being Toyota’s Prius, now in its third generation. Japanese rival Honda has recently launched its second-generation Insight hybrid, and Toyota’s upmarket brand Lexus offers hybrid versions of its luxury SUVs and executive saloons. These are all parallel hybrids, but General Motors in the US is currently developing the Chevrolet Volt, which should be among the first series hybrid cars to go on sale to the general public. In the longer term, however, it is likely that hybrids, which still require some fossil fuel, will be superseded by exclusively electric-powered cars. Many governments worldwide are undertaking initiatives to get electric cars for sale to the public as soon as possible. Indeed, a Norwegian minister has proposed banning the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars from 2015! The main obstacle to the growth of electric cars is the fact that their batteries need to be recharged with mains electricity, but seeing as they cannot yet store enough energy for long-distance travel, extensive recharging infrastructure will have to be put in place before the use of electric cars becomes widespread. This is something governments will have to make happen, while the manufacturers concentrate on prolonging the life of batteries and improving their recharging speed. Governments will also have to ensure that their national power grids produce electricity using environmentally friendly resources such as water, wind or the sun. But electric cars won’t have the roads of the future all to themselves. A rival technology has emerged in the shape of hydrogen fuel cells, arguably the most groundbreaking method of alternative propulsion currently being developed. A hydrogen-powered car has a fuel tank that is filled with hydrogen in the same way a petrol-engined car’s tank is filled with petrol. The hydrogen reacts with oxygen inside the engine to produce electricity and water, which in turn power the car’s electric motor. The Honda FCX Clarity is probably the most widely known hydrogen fuel-cell-powered car, as it has been on limited trial sale in the United States and Japan since late last year. It’s powered by a 134hp, 57-litre hydrogen fuel-cell stack, and also uses a 288-volt lithium-ion battery. On a full tank of hydrogen, the Clarity can travel up to 280 miles, and, most importantly, the only waste product it produces is water. As with electric vehicles, the growth of hydrogen-fuelled cars is dependent on a network of suitable refuelling points being rolled out. With development of all these innovative technologies currently proceeding at breakneck pace, it looks likely that it won’t be too long before none of the cars for sale on dealers’ forecourts have internal-combustion engines under the bonnet, something which will make a massive difference to the impact humans currently have on the planet’s environment.
  2. Hybrid Cars: Under the Bonnet

    Photo credit: Mike Babcock Hybrid cars have well and truly entered the consciousness of the car-buying public in the last few years, as ‘greener motoring’ has become a hot topic. We have all heard that these cars are more eco-friendly than ‘normal’ vehicles and recently it has became trendy to own a hybrid. But how many of us know just what is under the bonnet of a hybrid car? Let’s take a look at exactly how a hybrid works and why it’s a greener option than a regular car. Put simply, a hybrid car is one that combines an internal-combustion engine with an electric motor, powered by sizeable batteries, to propel the vehicle. There are two types of hybrid car: parallel and series (also known as serial). In the first case, both the combustion engine and electric motor are connected to the mechanical transmission, which means that both engines are capable of powering the car, at the same time or separately. In series hybrids, only the electric motor is linked to the transmission, and it alone propels the car. The combustion engine is connected to a generator and is used purely to recharge the electric motor’s batteries. Nowadays, most hybrids use a combination of both systems, with power-split devices incorporated into the CVT transmission. The electric motor and the combustion engine are used to provide propulsion and the combustion engine is also connected to a generator that charges the batteries when needed. The device decides which motor to run and how to split the available power. The application of this system allows the use of an internal combustion engine with less power, which, in turn, reduces fuel consumption and emissions. So, when you’re driving at low speed, e.g. in heavy traffic, only the electric motor is used. As speed increases and the demand on the electric motor becomes too great, the combustion engine is started to not only aid in the propulsion of the car but also to recharge the batteries. Another piece of technology that makes hybrids more efficient than regular vehicles is their ability to make use of the kinetic energy that would usually be lost while braking. When the brakes are applied in a hybrid car, the energy released is stored and used to recharge the electric motor’s batteries. Today, there is a wide range of cars that incorporate these innovative systems. Last year, there were more hybrid launches than ever before as car manufacturers went head to head to try to meet the increased demand for these vehicles. The most popular and well-known hybrid model is the Toyota Prius; however, there are other models that are also worth attention. Honda offers a hybrid version of the popular Civic and there is also a brand-new original hybrid model from the firm, the Honda Insight. Meanwhile, more luxurious options are offered by Toyota’s upmarket Lexus division, in the shape of the GS450h, LS600h and RX400h.
  3. Photo credit: Bitpicture Norway Sets 2015 Target Norway’s Finance Minster, Kristin Halvorsen, has proposed to ban petrol cars by 2015 in order to lower CO2 emissions and encourage car manufacturers to begin making more environmentally friendly models. That would mean only electric, biofuel, hydrogen or hybrid cars could be bought in the Scandinavian country by that date. Speaking about the proposal, Ms. Halvorsen said, "This is much more realistic than people think when they first hear about [it]. The financial crisis means a lot of those car producers that now have big problems know they have to develop their technology, because we also have to solve the climate crisis when this financial crisis is over." However, the ban would not apply to used cars – petrol or diesel – bought before 2015. This proposal is both interesting and surprising, as Norway is the world’s sixth-largest oil exporter. Indeed, Ms. Halvorsen 's proposition is likely to be subjected to heated debate, as the idea has some opponents, even within the government itself. Irish Parliament Pushes Government for More Action on CO2 The Irish Government stated last year that it expects 10 percent of the vehicles on Irish roads to be electric-powered by 2020. To bring this about, an agreement has been signed with the Electricity Supply Board to put recharging stations in different locations throughout the country. However, the Oireachtas (Irish national parliament) Joint Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security published a report recently in which it encourages the Government to go even further in its measures to combat CO2 emissions. The authors of the report envisage that by 2020 all new vehicles on the market should be powered by electric engines, with at least 350,000 electric cars already in use by the same date. To find out more about Norway’s proposed ban on petrol cars and Ireland’s measures to reduce C02, and to see a comprehensive list of quality used cars for sale, visit CBG.ie.
  4. Photo credit: Hamed Saber Even if you drive a petrol-engined car rather than a hybrid vehicle, you can still do your bit for the environment by using less fuel, a practice that will save you cash at the same time. You just need to pay more attention to the details... Have a look at your tyres... Did you know that a single tyre that is under-inflated by two pounds of pressure can increase your car’s fuel consumption by 1 percent? And you have four of them, so the tyres alone can increase your spending on fuel by 4 percent. So be sure to check your tyres’ air pressure at regular intervals – most garages have an air pressure gauge and pump you can use for free. Make your car lose some weight... This doesn’t mean you have to rid your car of panels, seats and your spare tyre, but you’re bound to be carrying around some unnecessary weight in your vehicle – we all do it. Take a quick look in your boot and remove anything that isn’t strictly necessary – for example, if you won’t get a chance to drop off those empty bottles at the recycling centre until the weekend, store them in your garage until then. And what about that roof box or bicycle rack which you haven’t used in a while? All these objects add more weight to your car and make it burn more fuel. For every 5kg of weight you get rid of, you can reduce the engine’s fuel consumption by an average of 0.1 percent, so give your car a spring clean-out today… Keep an eye on your speedo... Maintaining your speed on motorways is the best way to lower your car’s thirst for fuel. When you drive fast, more fuel is needed to combat the increasing air resistance. A good solution would be to keep a steady pace of 65mph (105km/h). If you decide to drive at the maximum speed of 75mph (120km/h), be aware that your fuel consumption will increase by 20 percent! Another point to consider is city driving. Speeding towards stop signs and traffic lights needlessly and then braking rapidly wastes fuel as well. By pressing the accelerator and brakes more frequently than necessary, you are using more petrol than you would if you drove at a steady pace. Let your engine rest... Turn your engine off when you are not on the move. Research shows that if you are stationary for more than 10 seconds, the car will actually burn less if you stop the engine and then restart it. So, if you are going to be sitting at a traffic light for a minute or two or you are going to wait for your passenger to arrive, you can save some fuel by turning your engine off, as an idling car can burn as much as 4 litres of fuel per hour. Listen to traffic reports... Pay closer attention to traffic reports on the radio before leaving your home or office, as these tips may enable you to choose a less congested route that will not only be more eco-friendly, but will also save you time and reduce stress. Clean your car’s air filter... The air filter prevents dirt from entering the engine of your car. Driving your vehicle with a dirty filter can reduce its fuel economy by 10 percent! Luckily, this problem can be easily avoided. The air filter is easy to clean, so you can do it yourself regularly, and it should also get cleaned each time you service the car. In time, the air filter will suffer wear and tear and need to be replaced, but this is a relatively small outlay. Get fit... And last but not least, you could walk or cycle instead of using your car, particularly if your destination is close by. As the weather improves as we come into summer, consider getting some fresh air while keeping fit, saving money and reducing your carbon footprint by avoiding unnecessary car journeys.
  5. Hybrid economy

    Photo credit: Luis Gabriel Rivas Hybrid autos were said to be expensive and this false believe which lingers on has to change. This impression was caused by the high prices the hybrid autos had when the new technology was introduced. If you were to spend more on a hybrid auto than you'd have spent otherwise, you were unlikely to ever get your money back - even if you got rid of a gigantic, fuel-sucking SUV. But this was true when hybrids were really expensive and the initial cost outweighed the gas savings. But it doesn’t seem to be true anymore. Today the petrol prices are rising, the used cars are getting cheaper and the new car industry got to lower the prices to be selling at all. Now, the hybrid autos are found just among other new and used cars when it comes to price range. Some estimate that a new hybrid may even be cheaper than the used one. The example car for costs estimation was 2009 Honda Civic Hybrid and John O'Dell claims in his article that price drop on the car market combined with the industry's ubiquitous cut-rate financing offers, has made it cheaper to buy new than used cars. The hybrid autos’ manufacturer has lowered the costs of purchasing the new cars so much that it was cheaper to buy 2009 Civic than, the same, but one year old used car. The research was based on many factors and took into account several reasons for price reductions, like the national interest rate deal when choosing between new and used car. There are many more researches that show used hybrid autos became cheaper than other cars, especially if we face oil price rise. The measured fuel cost on the distance of 676 miles has shown that 2008 Toyota Prius Hybrid with 1.5L 4-cyl engine and 75HP electric motor/generator used fuel for 39 Euros while other used cars were much less efficient. Surprisingly, driving 2008 Smart ForTwo with 1.0L 3-cyl engine cost 9.7 Euros more. The numbers do not lie. 2008 Ford Focus costs about 30 000 Euros and its over 30% more expensive while a 2008 Toyota Prius Hybrid can be found for not much more than 20 000 Euros. Owning a hybrid auto is also a step towards introduction of higher technological and ecological standards in automotive engineering. The European Commission has already adopted an action plan to achieve a 20% substitution of diesel and gasoline fuels by alternative fuels in the road transport sector by 2020. This is one of the reasons why car manufacturers are redesigning the drive train concept towards hybrid systems. To respond to the needs of our environment, with still rising number of cars, we will have to change to hybrid autos in the nearest future and probably to solar powered cars one day. Today, the hybrid autos should be no longer perceived as new technology cars. They are an integral element of everyday economic and eco lifestyle. Whether deciding to buy one of used or new cars and looking at all the costs of buying a car, not just the purchase price, you should choose a hybrid auto for the sake of both ecology and your budget.