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Latest Hybrid Car News

HYBRID CAR NEWS

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WHAT IS A HYBRID CAR?

A lot of people do not know what a hybrid car is, how it runs, how it helps the environment. We will do our best to explain the difference between hybrid cars and normal petrol or diesel engines. We will show you the savings that you can make on your fuel costs by leasing a hybrid car. Not only will you be helping your wallet or purse but you will also be helping to preserve the world that we live in.

Hybrid cars generally use a combination of two power sources. The most common hybrids currently available on the market use both electric motors and the petrol combustion engines. Batteries charge and act as a storage device to power an electric motor, usually working when the vehicle is travelling at low speed or in traffic, therefore ideal for city driving. The petrol engine, usually a small efficient unit then powers the car when more power is needed such as at higher speeds allowing the combustion engine to only operate at its more optimum efficient speeds. A number of manufactures have announced plans for diesel-electric hybrids which could be available a soon as 2008. The combustion engine is used to recharge the battery cells along with regenerative braking, therefore hybrid cars do not need to be plugged into an external power supply. This combination of battery power and internal combustion engine produces less pollution and CO2 as no gases are released when the electric motor is running.

ALTERNATIVE FUEL TYPES

Ethanol - FlexiFuel VehiclesEthanol, also known as grain alcohol is produced from plants, usually sugar cane. The fuel has a high octane rating which in turn means increased engine efficiency. Ethanol is widely used globally as a fuel and is increasing in popularity in Europe. A number of manufactures have developed flexi-fuel vehicles (FFVs) currently available on from Ford, Saab and shortly Volvo cars. Flexi-Fuel vehicles can run on a blend of ethanol and petrol, usually up to E85 (85% Ethanol, 15% Petrol) which is the most common blend in the UK or just petrol. This gives drivers flexibility as the current ethanol filling station in the UK is limited. Bioethanol is green as it has the potential to be carbon-neutral, that is to say all the carbon dioxide emitted during use of the fuel when emitted from the vehicle is balanced by the absorption from the atmosphere during the fuel crop’s growth.

Compressed Natural Gas - CNGCompressed Natural Gas is a fossil fuel sourced from reserves deep under the Earth's surface. It has lower CO2 emissions compared to petrol/diesel but is still a greenhouse gas. Similarly to LPG it requires a conversion so that the car can be switched between gas and petrol. The gas is compressed in a cylinder rather than being stored as a liquid form. The gas mixes well with air prior to combustion and has a high octane rating and therefore is fuel efficient. CNG is popular worldwide and increasing in popularity in the UK. There are a number of aftermarket conversions available and options also available from the factory from manufacturers such as Volvo. BioDieselBiodiesel is produced from renewable energy sources such as rapeseed, sunflower or soybean oil. Biodiesel is green as it has the potential to be carbon-neutral, that is to say all the carbon dioxide emitted during use of the fuel when emitted from the vehicle is balanced by the absorption from the atmosphere during the fuel crop’s growth. Biodiesel in some instances can be a direct replacement for diesel, however most manufacturers remain cautious about engine wear and recommend a blend of between 5% to 30% biodiesel although some modern engines are capable of running on 100% biodiesel.

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) is a natural hydrocarbon fuel made up of propane and butane. LPG produces far less carbon dioxide than petrol and fewer particulates and nitrogen oxides than diesel. It can be used within a modified internal combustion engine after conversions which cost around £1,500-£2,000. A conversion includes the installation of a second fuel tank for the LPG which means the vehicle can switch between petrol or LPG. LPG has the special property of becoming liquid when under pressure, and reverting to gases at atmospheric pressure. This means it can be easily and conveniently stored as a liquid. About 60% of the world supply of LPG comes from the separation of natural gas products, and 40% is a by-product from the refining of crude oil. In the past, LPG has been considered as waste and flared off; now it is recognised as a major energy source and currently offered by about 10% of refuelling stations.

WHAT IS AVAILABLE NOW?

The Japanese companies have been leading the way with Toyota, Nissan and Honda at the forefront. The German car companies are closely following. The European manufacturers have recently been fined for supplying the USA for emission bursting cars, so they have taken note and are working towards hydrogen powered vehicles. The French car producers are also working flat out to find a sustainable fuel source with next to zero emissions.

The Toyota Prius and the Honda Civic GX are the two favourites at the moment.

WHY A HYBRID?

Hybrid vehicles are hitting the scene in a positive way. They are becoming the choice vehicle for many consumers. Hybrids are trendy in both style and reputation. With more consumers being focused on the ongoing problem of air pollution, it is not a surprise they are drawn to hybrid vehicle models. Hybrids are easy on the environment as well as your bank account. The fact that they are designed to be kind to the environment is getting the attention of many consumers, businesses, and governments.

The efficient system under the hood of a hybrid contributes to its environmentally friendly label. Hybrids operate using both a small petrol engine and an electric engine. The two work independently and together to create one of the most efficient methods of transportation. The smaller petrol engine uses much less petrol  to operate the hybrid than a conventional petrol  powered vehicles uses.

Therefore, owners of hybrids can enjoy lower fees at the fuel pump. In addition, since the hybrids use less fuel, they emit fewer pollutants. In fact, experts agree that a typical hybrid will emit up to 90% fewer pollutants than a typical conventional vehicle. These statistics are amazing and are the cause of many new developments and incentives being offered to consumers. With so many incentives being offered, the hybrid cannot be refused. Businesses are beginning to offer incentives to those employees who are planning to buy, or already own hybrids. Some businesses, such as Google, are offering £2500 for each employee toward the purchase of a new hybrid. Hyperion, the software company based in Santa Clara, California is also offering this cash incentive. Most corporations set aside millions in the yearly budget in order to compensate for these incentives. When asked, the corporations state they are giving their employees this opportunity in order to give back to the community.

They feel that their locations have given to them through sales and in return they should give back to their community by providing cleaner air. Companies like Google even go so far to offer extensive group transportation schedules as well to further the positive effects on the community's air. The fact that hybrids are environmentally friendly is also getting the attention of  governments across the world. Governments are beginning to offer free parking to hybrid drivers and also free routes through congestion charging zones. This kind ofincentive is showing consumers that government is supporting smart and environmentally wise shopping.

With everyone in a community focused on being environmentally responsible, there is a common goal that leads to a better overall community. In addition to the employers and government incentives, a few insurance companies are also offering incentives to hybrid drivers, in order to reward them for their smart choice. Although it would seem that the insurance companies were offering these discounts because statistics have shown hybrid drivers are less likely to file claims, it is not the case. At this time there is not enough evidence, according to experts, to be able to determine the risks hybrid drivers may or may not pose for an insurance company. The companies offering incentives are simply doing so to promote smart environmental decisions by consumers. Consumers hear on the news and weather channel daily about the risks of global warming and air pollution. When you live in a large city, there are even days when smog alerts are as serious as a tornado. It is not fiction that air pollution damages humans and the Earth. Therefore, it is our responsibility to make wise choices when it comes to pollutants. Anything consumers can possibly do to cut down on their own personal pollution levels is a great thing. With our daily lives being busier than ever, it is not likely everyone can forgo their vehicle for the greater good of the planet. However, hybrids are now offering a nice middle ground that allows everyone to profit. Consumers, corporations, and local governments are realising the benefits.

 

With long waiting lists in place for the newest hybrid arrivals, it is likely the hybrid will be the vehicle of the future!

LATEST HYBRID NEWS

BMW, PEUGEOT/CITROEN MOVING FORWARD.

PSA Peugeot Citroen says by 2010 the cost of diesel-hybrid technology, although already proven for reliability, will be available once the cost of components has reached affordable levels. After that we will see the introduction of fuel-cell powered passenger and commercial vehicles and the most common form of power looks likely to be hydrogen. This fuel is ideally suited for use in emission free zones as only water vapour is emitted from the vehicles exhaust system.

Most major car manufacturers are up and running with the use of hydrogen as a fuel which can be used in modified petrol engines but one of the leaders BMW estimate it will take between 10 and 15 years for this technology to become available to the general public. The reason, there is no legislation in place to set the standards required for manufacturing hydrogen using vehicles or the criteria set for hydrogen fuel to be supplied for general use. However in other countries outside the EU hydrogen fuelled vehicles are much closer to reality.

For the 2008 Beijing Olympics up to 3,000 passenger cars and 100 buses are to run on hydrogen and for the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai the plan is to deploy 1,000 taxis or buses, all hydrogen powered.

In California they will have a Hydrogen Highway in place by 2010 with a network for 150 to 200 hydrogen fuel stations spaced every 20 miles on major highways throughout the state.

BMW takes the future use of hydrogen as a fuel seriously. They are partnering with fuel companies in setting up liquid hydrogen fuelling stations in the USA and Europe. Drivers of liquid hydrogen-powered vehicles in Germany can now fill up at five stations, two in Berlin, two in Munich and one in Frankfurt. An additional hydrogen fuelling station is under construction in Brussels, the home of the European union and in the UK there is a source of this fuel at Wembley, London. Two more outlets are expected in London next year.

As part of the public education programme as to the benefits of hydrogen as an alternative fuel for petrol type combustion engines, BMW is doing more than most. Their .Clean Energy. initiative came to the UK this week at the annual SMMT Test Day held a the Millbrook Proving Ground. The event is held so that motoring journalists can test and drive the latest in passenger car automotive technology and this year hydrogen power was on the agenda and BMW debuted their Hydrogen 7 cars. BMW in the UK has taken delivery off eight Hydrogen 7 cars, part of a total fleet of 100 such cars built by BMW in Germany to showcase their hydrogen power technology around the world. The virtually emissions-free luxury saloons have been produced on the .standard. 7 Series production line and will be used in normal day-to-day driving conditions in the UK. Jim O.Donnell, BMW UK.s managing director, summed up this important step in BMW.s history: .The arrival of our Hydrogen 7 cars could not have come at a better time. "Politicians, business leaders, the media and consumers are engaged in healthy debate on the future of energy supply and use. "Meanwhile, the automotive industry is committed to cleaner motoring, with a host of possible solutions available today and being developed for the mid- and long-term. " BMW is at the core of the future of motoring with tremendous developments in petrol and diesel engines, hybrid powertrains and hydrogen technologies.. The fleet of liquid hydrogen powered cars is set to continue its programme of driving activities on UK roads. They will be in active service as support vehicles at a number of high profile events over the summer as well as transporting key participants at industrial, business and political conferences. A select group of high-profile VIP users will also take delivery of a car for short periods of time in order to experience the .normality. of emissions-free motoring.

LEASE2U AND HYBRID VEHICLES

At lease2u we believe that protecting the environment is paramount, yes we have children too! The importance of switching to alternative fuels for cars and vans is paramount. Whilst our business is leasing vehicles we belive that by advising customers on the best kind of car/van for the miles they do is very important. Not just because of fuel costs but to protect this dear green place that we live, breathe it's air and walk upon.


TIME TO APPLY THE PRESSURE?

If you feel strongly about the issues of pollution that are affecting us all then feel free to contact your local MP and make your feelings known to them.

CONGESTION CHARGE BUSTERS?

We give you some cool ways to avoid the congestion charge and still drive in London. Eight pounds doesn't sound like a lot of money, does it? However, the recently increased price of the congestion charge for the inner-London area makes a trip into the capital in your car an expensive day that will also include extortionate parking prices. That's bad enough for a one-off journey; what if you have to do it every day? Here's some ways to avoid the congestion charge.

Drivers of hybrid cars are exempt from paying the dreaded congestion charge in London. The choice of hybrid cars is still fairly limited, though expanding slowly. Toyota and Honda are at the forefront of the technology and in fact Honda was the first car maker to put a petrol/electric hybrid car on sale in Britain with the little Insight coupe. Unfortunately, the Insight is no longer on sale in Honda showrooms (there is a new Honda Civic Hybrid), but there are examples available on the second-hand market and such was the expenditure on the engineering of the Insight that you shouldn't have to worry about the reliability of the car, even five years after it was launched. Today, the Insight cuts quite a dash on any city street, with compact coupe looks and a nippy gait. It is also small enough to park in sensibly-sized spaces, though don't forget that you won't fit the family in!

An alternative to the hybrid car is well, an alternative-fuel car. Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is not a new fuel, but a moderately modified petrol car can quite happily run on it and the best of the breed have the capability to run on either petrol or CNG.

The London authorities will allow such a car to enter the congestion charging zone for free so long as the conversion to CNG has been carried out and homologated according to strict regulations. Lucky for you Volvo sells a car fresh from the showroom with all this business taken car of for you.

A powerful 2.4-litre bi-fuel engine is available in either the S60 saloon or the eminently practical V70 estate. The only external clue to these cars' bi-fuel capability is the existence of an extra filling cap for CNG. Not only does the driver of this car avoid the congestion charge, CNG is significantly cheaper than petrol.

UK BUDGET NEWS

The duty differentials given to biofuels will be abolished in 2010/11. The intention is that the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation will support biofuels.

LEASE2U Comment: The RTFO is targeted at ensuring that biofuels remain cost effective whilst ensuring the fuels are ethically produced and in an environmentally sensitive way, although there is no detail as to how this will happen or what the effect will be at the pumps

Duty rates discounts for Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) will remain, whilst for Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) the discount is to be eroded by 1%, both taking effect from 1st October 2008.

LEASE2U Comment: This rate reduction will have very little effect as LPG vehicles are a very small niche market and in decline

SAVING POUNDS AND EMISSIONS

Drivers of gas-guzzling, carbon-emitting 4x4s may consider buying hybrid vehicles instead once their road tax doubles next year. In Gordon Brown's last Budget earlier this year, he announced that drivers of the most polluting vehicles would have to pay £400 a year to tax them, while vehicle excise duty on low carbon-emitting cars would be reduced by 30 per cent. Some cars, such as electric ones, which emit less than 100g of carbon dioxide per kilometre, would be tax-exempt.

When they appeared about seven years ago, hybrid cars cost almost £4,000 more than petrol models. But, says Honda, they are now cheaper to buy and run. 'Hybrids are becoming more mainstream,' says John Kingston, Honda environment manager.

The latest Honda Civic Hybrid (which costs about £16,600) is just over £200 cheaper than its 1.8-litre petrol-only counterpart (at £16,840) - and when the lower running costs of a hybrid are taken into account, the savings are considerable.

Road tax on the Honda hybrid will be just £15 a year, compared with £140 on the petrol version; hybrid drivers are exempt from the £8 a day central London congestion charge; and some boroughs, such as Westminster, charge hybrid drivers less for parking permits.

Kingston says few people understand how a [Honda] hybrid works - and often think they are less powerful. 'The engine is smaller in a hybrid car - a 1.1 litre - but it's supported with a motor which helps the petrol last longer and gives it extra strength, making it exactly the same powerwise as a 1.8-litre petrol engine. It drives like any normal vehicle, with the added benefit that the engine turns itself off when you stop at traffic lights - and while you're braking, energy is being channelled to recharge the motor battery.' He adds that servicing costs for a petrol Civic and hybrid Civic are identical. '

Other main hybrid vehicles are the Toyota Prius (from £17,777 to £20,677) and the Lexus hybrid (from £30,000). But there are cheaper alternatives.

According to Which? Car magazine, new diesel-powered 'superminis' might not be totally carbon neutral, but they can be a greener choice than petrol-engined cars. However, they are about £1,500 more expensive. 'Diesel is still a conventional fuel, but diesel cars have lower CO2 emissions because they don't use so much of it,' says Richard Headland, motoring editor at Which? Car. Toyota's diesel-engined Yaris, which costs about £8,800, emits 2.49 tonnes of CO2 annually, compared with 2.84 tonnes from a Fiat Punto. The road tax on the diesel Yaris is £35 a year.

Meanwhile, the new Bluemotion diesel version of the Volkswagen Polo (from £11,995) is exempt from road tax because it emits less than 100g of CO2 per kilometre (less than the Prius, which emits 104g/km).

Prius

MEET THE FISKERS?

Meet the sports car that only needs refuelling ONCE A YEAR. The makers of the Fisker Karma say that level of fuel efficiency is possible if you only drive the car up to 50 miles a day, using just the battery, and recharge it at night.

No let down on drive either; 0-60mph in just six seconds and a top speed of 125mph when in sport mode, which admittedly is petrol powered.

The four-door plug-in hybrid, launched at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show, features a small petrol engine and a lithium ion battery pack. It also has an optional solar panel roof that helps charge the car and provides cooling for the interior cabin.


Henrik Fisker, the chief executive of Fisker Automotive said: “It is a plug-in hybrid so you can plug it in at home like you plug in a cellphone or any electrical device and charge it overnight. Then you can drive the first 50 miles without using any gas. After that there is a gasoline engine that turns the generator that charges the lithium ion battery.” Mr Fisker, a Dane who designed the Aston Martin DB9 and BMW Z8, also claimed that his lithium ion battery used different chemistry to its rivals, giving it a much longer lifespan.

We’ve solved the overheating problem and also the lifespan of the battery is over ten years. We’re going to be the first ones on the market with a plug-in hybrid with this configuration, he said. It is a rear wheel drive, the car is always being pushed by the rear wheels and the electric motor so the gasoline engine never drives the car, which is the big difference to the normal hybrid of today. The proprietary design will make the car emission-free for the first 50 miles driven before recharge, except for a tiny amount on ignition.

The premium sports sedan will have a starting price of $80,000 (with an estimated cost of approximately   £55,000 when it is made available in the UK). Expected deliveries of the Karma will commence towards the end of 2009. Annual production is projected to reach 15,000 cars. The car is already sold out for 2009.

http://www.fiskerautomotive.com/

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