Hybrid cars have been on the market for a number of years now but it is only recently that they have begun to make a real impact, driven partly by a growing awareness amongst car buyers of the importance of going green.
In Leith, even though we are blessed with a very good public transport system, several streets in the neighbourhood are at risk of breaking EU air quality laws – and the largest source of this air pollution is petrol and diesel powered vehicles.
But car owners are not just becoming more conscious of the impact that their daily travel habits are having on the environment. Difficult economic times have pushed us to consider cheaper alternatives of fuel.
With the introduction of petrol prices sitting at an all time high, the motivation for road users to look to green transport has never been as strong as it is today.
One result of this has been a sharp rise in sales of hybrid cars. And with a developing market, hybrid car manufacturers are looking to the future to understand what factors of design could help put them ahead of the competition.
What is a hybrid vehicle?
A hybrid vehicle is loosely defined as any which operates on more than one fuel type – most commonly, one which fuses a conventional combustion engine with an electrical motor. The result can be a dramatic reduction in emissions and a reduced need for fuel.
Not only are the combustion engines typically far more economical to run than their standard counterparts but users are able to cut their fuel bills because electricity is cheaper than petrol.
What is next for hybrid cars?
Historically, an entrance barrier to the hybrid car market for most people has been the cost. With relatively new technology, hybrid cars have not been cheap in the past. But manufacturers such as Lexus UK are now making a move to make their hybrid models more affordable.
And hybrid cars are getting closer and closer to achieving the same levels of performance and practicality that people have come to expect from conventional petrol fuelled cars.
The most significant design improvements have been focussed on the batteries that the cars use to store electricity.
More efficient battery designs are able to offer even better fuel economy as vehicles are able to rely more heavily upon the electrical part of the engine.
While most road users can be easily persuaded of the economic and ecological benefits of hybrid cars, few are yet willing to compromise on performance. But as both the batteries and the electrical systems that manage them improve, manufacturers have begun to overcome the performance problem too, offering superior fuel economy, lower emissions and equivalent performance to their dirty petrol predecessors.
And looking even further into the future, engineers are starting to sketch out the futuristic infrastructure that could make electrically powered vehicles really competitive by solving the ‘range issue.’
It would appear that the technology is pretty much there to allow electric veihcles to charge almost continuously through wireless charging points embedded in main roads and driveways.
The stuff of science fiction? Well no – they’ve been charging trams in Turin and Genoa in Italy like this for the last 10 years.
and by the wasy, if you’re scrapping you’re old car you can help raise funds for Greener Leith, by donating all, or half, of the proceeds to us via Giveacar.com
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