Sunday, May 1, 2011

Driving an electric car

Driving an electric car is a very different experience to using a conventional (combustion engine) vehicle. Forward drive is usually selected in much the same way as in an automatic – and another similarity is that there is no clutch pedal.

On depressing the accelerator, an electric car initially moves in almost total silence, which can be a little disconcerting. As the speed picks up, the small amount of 'engine' noise that can be heard is drowned out by wind and tyre noise, which become more noticeable as the speed increases.Most electric vehicles have excellent acceleration and high torque (especially at lower speeds) and are more than capable of holding their own in city-driving conditions. Although some models are designed as city cars and are speed limited to around 40-50 mph, most of the newer high quality models can be easily reach 60-70 mph on a motorway.

Electric cars can also be high performance vehicles – the Tesla roadster is capable of 130 mph and goes from 0 to 60 mph in 4 seconds!

Current electric cars have a range and performance that is adequate for many driving applications including: city driving, commuting, regular drive cycles (such as delivery routes), short range trips (up to 100 miles per day) and where only zero or low emission vehicles are allowed access. As a result, electric cars are most suited for use as private cars for city use, for commuting trips, in commercial fleets (for small loads), and as company 'pool' cars.

Electric vehicles are zero-emission at point of use. However, emissions are produced during the generation of electricity, the amount depending on the method of generation. Therefore, the emissions need to be considered on a lifecycle basis so as to include power station emissions.

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London Mayor receives Nissan LEAF

Nissan has handed over the keys of a 100% electric Nissan LEAF to London Mayor Boris Johnson, shortly prior to the launch of London's first citywide electric vehicle membership scheme, Source London.

Boris Johnson accepted the keys on behalf of Transport for London (TfL) whose staff will trial the revolutionary, five-seater, zero-emission car during a month-long loan.

Boris Johnson is championing electric vehicles through Source London, which will deliver a new network of integrated electric charge points in the city to accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles and help cement London's position as the electric vehicle capital of Europe.

The Mayor said, "Zero-emission electric cars are perfect for city driving, not only delivering cheaper day-to-day running costs for their owners, but also helping to bear down on pollution levels. With a wider range of vehicles now available, we are shifting up a gear to provide more support through Source London for the increasing numbers of people who want to drive them."

The Nissan LEAF, this year's European Car of the Year and the first electric vehicle to ever win the title, will be used by Surface Transport staff for site visits. The compact hatchback joins the permanent fleet of electric cars used by TfL as part of their commitment to increase the number of zero and low emission vehicles and help improve air quality in the capital.

Delivered through a wide range of partners, the Mayor's Source London scheme is a new integrated citywide charging network which will provide at least 1,300 publicly accessible charge points by the end of 2013. London was in the first wave of 'Plugged in Places' locations selected by the government to help develop the infrastructure for electric vehicles.

Research has found that 80% of daily trips in Britain are less than 30 miles. With the Nissan LEAF's ability to carry five passengers approximately 110 miles on a full charge, the car marks a significant development in the environmentally-friendly, cost efficient options available for motorists.

The Nissan LEAF's advanced technology means it will be considerably cheaper to run than a conventional compact family hatchback. Depending on an individual's electricity tariff and time of charging, it will be possible to run the Nissan LEAF for around 2 pence per mile.

Additional financial benefits include reduced servicing costs, exemption from London's congestion charge, zero road tax and zero benefit-in-kind for company car drivers
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Electric i-MiEV to join Hertz hire fleet

Mitsubishi Motors to add electric i-MiEV city cars to the Hertz UK fleet, including their Connect car club service.

The rollout starts today, with two Mitsubishi i-MiEVs now available for Connect by Hertz members to zip around London. Hertz plans to add further i-MiEVs to its fleet throughout the year.

Customers will be able to charge their vehicles at Hertz charging stations located across the capital as well as at Heathrow and London City Airport. In addition, customers will have access to the Source London public charging points which are being rolled out across London by 2013, as part of the Mayor's plans for London to become the electric vehicle capital of Europe.

Engineered to be the perfect car for the urban environment, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV can park in tight spaces and breeze through traffic while comfortably accommodating four adults. It has a range of over 90 miles and can be charged up to 80% via a quick charging unit in as little as 30 minutes or fully charged overnight via a standard 3-pin domestic plug socket.

In the UK, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV was the first mass-produced fully electric vehicle to market and has been involved in official government trials since mid-December 2009. On sale officially from August 2010, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV is also the world's first ever pure-EV to have received the Euro NCAP 4-star Rating.

Hertz's electric vehicle initiative with Mitsubishi Motors in the UK further demonstrates the rental provider's commitment to providing customers with a variety of zero-emission mobility solutions.

Michel Taride, President of Hertz International comments, "Our partnership with Mitsubishi Motors in the UK to provide i-MiEV vehicles to our Connect by Hertz members and Hertz customers in the UK is a vital part of our global Electric Vehicle and sustainability initiatives. We are excited that from today, our customers can experience the joy of 100% electric driving with the i-MiEVs, which offer surprising power and a smooth, quiet ride."

All the cars in Hertz's Green Collection in Europe can be reserved by make and model, and offer a CO2 output level of less than 140g/km, making them more environmentally friendly than most other cars. The conventional cars in the Collection also achieve 45-65mpg, depending upon vehicle size, so they are more fuel-efficient too. Together, that means customers can enjoy their journey even more, safe in the knowledge that they are saving both CO2 and fuel along the way.

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Kia unveil all-electric Naimo concept

Green cars are expected to steal the limelight at this year's Seoul Motor Show in Korea, starting today. Among the line up is Kia's new all-electric concept, the Naimo.

In their home country, Kia unveiled the Naimo this morning for its world premier viewing – the model was designed to combine Korean heritage with innovative modern features.

The electric crossover utility vehicle takes its name from the Korean word "Ne-mo", meaning 'square shape' and is characterised principally by its simple lines and solid, muscular stance.

The Naimo is the third electric vehicle design to be unveiled by Kia Motors Corporation in the last year; the 3.9-metre long Naimo concept explores the practicalities of introducing a zero-emissions, five-door, four-seater city car into a future niche market.

Power comes from a Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor with a maximum output of 80 kW (109 PS) and maximum torque of 280 Nm, enabling Naimo to reach a top speed of 93 mph.

A twin-pack 27 kWh battery is located under the boot floor and uses innovative Lithium Ion Polymer technology that offers numerous advantages over other battery types. Equipped with this battery, Naimo provides a driving range of 124 miles on a single charge. To enhance range, the showcar is fitted with special low-drag 20-inch diameter alloy wheels.

Under the quick 50 kW recharging cycle, the Naimo's battery can be recharged to 80 percent of its capacity within 25 minutes, a feature which is likely to reduce the fear of running out of power for many of its users. Under the normal 3.3 kW cycle, 100 percent power is attained after five and a half hours.

Kia's design team have made use of innovative technologies to give the Naimo a premium feel, such as replacing door mirrors with miniature cameras installed into the A-pillars. The interior aethestics are also of unique quality – Korean oak is used to trim the interior door panels and the entire interior floor whilst a transparent organic light emitting diode display forms the

instrument panel.

"Naimo is a perfect balance of innovation, high-tech and Korean tradition. It was heavily inspired by the purity and grace of traditional Korean arts and crafts, but combines this with cutting edge technologies to deliver a truly premium experience," commented Kia Motors' Chief Design Officer, Peter Schreyer.

Naimo will join Kia's growing test fleet of hybrid, electric and fuel-cell vehicles being extensively driven in widely varying conditions to develop future production models with zero or significantly reduced emissions.
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Monday, December 27, 2010

Oil will run out 100 years before new fuels developed: study

The world will run out of oil around 100 years before replacement energy sources are available if oil use and development of new fuels continue at the current pace, a US study warns.

In the study, researchers at the University of California, Davis (UC-Davis) used the current share prices of oil companies and alternative energy companies to predict when replacement fuels will be ready to fill the gap left when oil runs dry.

And the findings weren't very good for the oil-hungry world.

If the world's oil reserves were the 1.332 trillion barrels they were estimated to be in 2008 and oil consumption was some 85.22 million barrels a day and growing at 1.3 percent a year, oil would be depleted by 2041, says the study published online last week in Environmental Science and Technology.

But by plugging current stock market prices into a complex equation, UC-Davis engineering professor Debbie Niemeier and postdoctoral researcher Nataliya Malyshkina calculated that a viable alternative fuel to oil won't be available before the middle of next century.

The researchers analyzed the share prices of 25 oil companies quoted on US, European and Australian stock exchanges, and of 44 alternative energy companies.

They found that the market capitalization, or total value of all stock shares, of traditional oil companies far outstripped that of the alternative energy companies.

That indicated that investors believe oil is going to do well in the near future and occupy a larger share of the energy market than alternative energy, said Malyshkina.

"To assess the time until a considerable fraction of oil is likely to be replaced by alternatives, we used advanced pricing equations to make sense of the large discrepancy between the market capitalization of traditional oil companies and the market capitalization of alternative-energy companies," Malyshkina told AFP.

The answer they came up with was that there would not be a widely available replacement for oil-based fuels before 2140, which, even if the more optimistic date of 2054 for oil depletion is retained, would mean there could be a nearly 90-year gap when it might be difficult to run a motor vehicle.

Nearly two-thirds of crude oil is used to produce gasoline and diesel to run vehicles, says Malyshkina.

The calculations used by the researchers are based on the theory that long-term investors are good predictors of when new technologies will become commonplace.

Similar calculations have been used to accurately predict the outcome of elections and the results of sports events, Malyshkina said.

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Save Energy and Money Today

Did you know that the typical U.S. family spends more than $1,600 a year on home utility bills? Unfortunately, a large portion of that energy is wasted. And electricity generated by fossil fuels for a single home puts more carbon dioxide into the air than two average cars. And as for the road, transportation accounts for 66% of all U.S. oil consumption. The good news is, there is a lot you can do to save energy and money at home and in your car.

Start making small changes today (see the tips below). To cut your energy use up to 25%, see the Long-Term Savings Tips throughout this Web site. The key to achieving these savings in your home is a whole-house energy efficiency plan. To take a whole-house approach, view your home as an energy system with interdependent parts. For example, your heating system is not just a furnace—it's a heat-delivery system that starts at the furnace and delivers heat throughout your home using a network of ducts. Even a top-of-the-line, energy-efficient furnace will burn a lot of fuel if the ducts, walls, attic, windows, and doors are not insulated and leak. Taking a whole-house approach to saving energy ensures that dollars you invest to save energy are spent wisely.

Energy-efficient improvements not only make your home more comfortable, they can yield long-term financial rewards. Reduced utility bills more than make up for the higher price of energy-efficient appliances and improvements over their lifetimes. In addition, your home could bring in a higher price when you sell. This booklet shows you how easy it is to reduce your energy use at home and on the road.

The easy, practical solutions for saving energy include tips you can use today, throughout your home—from the roof, walls, and insulation that enclose it to the appliances and lights inside. Please, take a few moments to read the valuable tips in this booklet to start saving energy and money today.

Tips to Save Energy Today

Easy low-cost and no-cost ways to save energy.

Set your thermostat comfortably low in the winter and comfortably high in the summer. Install a programmable thermostat that is compatible with your heating and cooling system.

Use compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher's drying cycle.

Turn off your computer and monitor when not in use.

Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use (TVs and DVDs in standby mode still use several watts of power).

Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120° F.

Take short showers instead of baths.

Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.

Drive sensibly. Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gasoline.

Look for the ENERGY STAR® label on home appliances and products. ENERGY STAR products meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.

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How to save on gas

The price of crude oil surged in March 2006 to $53 a barrel — 45 percent higher than one year ago.
Gasoline prices are expected to jump — as much as 24 cents per gallon as early as this week. That would put the price of unleaded regular at an all-time high of $2.16 a gallon (Gas was at $2.064 a gallon in May 2004). Currently, the average price is $1.92 a gallon, according to the AAA. However, depending on where you are, gas prices are already as high as $2.24 a gallon, as in parts of California.
The high prices can be traced to high demand in China and India, turmoil in the Middle East, and cold weather here in the United States. Oil prices are up more than $10 a barrel since the start of the year, when the oil cartel, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, officially cut its daily output by 1 million barrels. As long as demand continues to outpace supply, the price of oil will continue to increase. It would not surprise me if the price of oil rose to $60 a barrel in the coming months — especially during the summer travel season when use of air conditioning and road trips drive demand even higher.

What Can Be Done?

People can do a couple of things. First and foremost, now is the time for efficiency. Getting lost at over $2 a gallon is no longer just lost time, but lost money as well. Know where you are going.

Additionally, you should:

Pass on the premium: Premium, high-octane fuels aren't necessarily better for your car and can cost significantly more than regular fuel. In fact, such premium fuels don't provide any greater fuel efficiency and many cars are designed to use regular low-octane fuel. According to the automobile association, premium gas accounts for about 20 percent of total gasoline sales in this country, despite the fact fewer than 10 percent of cars on the road were designed to burn the higher-octane fuel.

Slow down: Gas mileage decreases rapidly above 60 mph, and if you drive 70 mph instead of 55 mph you could lose up to 17 percent of your car's fuel economy — which is how many miles a vehicle actually drives using a given amount of gas on either the highway and in the city. In fact, each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is equal to paying an additional 10 cents per gallon of gas. To maintain the speed limit and save gas, try using cruise control (if you have it) or just stick to the limit.

Keep your tires filled: Underfilled tires are not only a driving hazard, but they burn more fuel. Keeping your tires properly inflated is an easy way to improve your gas mileage up to 3 percent, which is a savings of $.05 per gallon.

Keep your car properly tuned: Keeping your car in good condition can significantly impact your gas mileage, as a poorly tuned engine burns more gas. Be sure to check and replace the air filter regularly, which can provide a fuel economy benefit of up to 10 percent, which equals approximately 15 cents per gallon.

Empty your trunk: For every 100 pounds of excess weight in your trunk, your car loses 1 percent of fuel economy.

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