Thursday, September 19, 2013

Guest Post - Hybrid Cars–A Step Towards A Greener World

What is the future of the car industry? Whilst electric powered cars used to be nothing more than a pipe-dream, as we watched vehicles like the ill fated Sinclair C5 fail to capture the UK public's imagination, it now seems like advances in battery technology are providing the public with the means to use electrically powered engines in the same way in which they've used petrol engines for decades. However, it seems like we're not quite ready for an overall switch to electrically powered cars – as batteries appear to limit the range of these vehicles to around 100 miles, making them only suitable for local journeys. Instead we're seeing a large number of manufacturers producing hybrid cars, which combine petrol and electric engines as a step towards more ecologically sound transportation.

Hybrid Technologies On The Rise

Although it might not seem like a big number, according to the Society of Motoring Manufacturers and Traders, hybrids accounted for 1.4% of all new cars sold in 2012, representing a 0.1% increase on the 2011 figure. When you consider however that 2012 saw a record high of around 2,050,000 new vehicle registrations in the UK this figure is not so insignificant, coming in at just under 30,000 new hybrid cars. This shows that as a nation we are beginning to make the moves needed to cut emissions to EU (European Union) proposed target of 95g/km in 2020 – it is estimated that if we are to achieve this drop, then the number of hybrids will need to rise to account for 16% of the new car market.

Everyone's Doing It

It's not just the economy and mid-range car manufacturers who're producing hybrid vehicles – even some of the world's most prestigious companies are now developing cars that work with petrol and electric power. Take for instance the Ferrari LaFerrari, which uses an engine that's primarily driven by petrol with an electric drive system that adds to the power available from the car at high speeds. Although this isn't the conventional form of hybrid engine – it does show the advances that are being made in this field. Porsche, the well known German sports car company, have gone one step further than Ferrari, and have actually produced a fully functioning electric motor and clutch hybrid unit that will be used to power a large number of their cars in the future.


Everyone knows that traditional petrol and diesel run engines produce a large amount of harmful emissions, which not only add to the UK's greenhouse gas and CO2 emissions, but also produce a number of other harmful gases, such as sulphur dioxide, which is responsible for acid rain, carbon monoxide, an odourless, colourless poison and even unused hydrocarbon fumes that are toxic to the environment. Although hybrid cars don't completely stop the expulsion of such gases, they do reduce emissions of these dangerous substances significantly.

Renewable Energy

There was a time when people would argue against hybrid engines, claiming that all electricity is generated by the consumption of fossil fuels. However, with a growing renewable energy culture in the UK, it is now actually greener to use electricity than petrol to power our cars. It's even possible to get some of this environmentally friendly technology yourself in the form of solar panels, wind turbines, or even micro CHP (Combined Heat & Power) systems, which actually turn spare energy from your home's heating system into usable power.

Regenerative Braking

Many hybrid cars use a special system that allows the car to transfer kinetic energy that's lost in the braking process back into electricity that's used to top up the battery with a little charge. Not only does this make the car more energy efficient, cutting down on the amount of power needed by the car, but it also reduces the amount of wear on the brake shoes, which means that the part doesn't have to be changed as often – cutting down on the consumption of this disposable part and the overall carbon footprint of the car.

Safer Cars... Or Better For The Environment?

Whilst these vehicles might cost a little more than their petrol driven counterparts, a survey performed in the US by the Highway Loss Data Institute has found out that hybrid car drivers are 25% less likely to suffer an injury in a crash. They believe the reason for this is that hybrid cars tend to be heavier than normal cars and therefore absorb more momentum in a vehicle on vehicle collision or scrapes, although this may not be the case in the future, as many manufacturers are now trying to make their hybrids even more energy efficient by using lighter alloys and less materials in their composition, reducing the amount of emission generated in the production of the car.

And Finally...

Of course, the last thing to mention is that, in the UK, you generally have to pay less road tax on cars with hybrid engines, as your tax band is worked out by the amount of CO2 produced by your car, together with the type of engine. Obviously you can use all this cash you save to plant a tree in your garden or shop for some organic vegetables. However, it is also worth noting that even though as a nation there are more cars on UK roads than ever before, the report we mentioned earlier in this article from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has noted that last year car emissions fell by 3.6% since 2011 and a whopping 26.5% from the 2000 figures. They cite the use of AFVs (alternatively fuelled vehicles) such as hybrids as a large part in this large reduction of emissions, showing that all the individual decisions to purchase one of these slightly more expensive cars has actually added up to a big change in the environment.

This article was supplied by the second hand car part location service –