The rechargeable lead-acid battery has existed since the 19th century, and it was trusted to power early motor vehicles. In fact, these electric models made up a majority of early motor vehicles and were especially popular in cities due to their lack of smoky exhaust. Eventually, advancements in the internal combustion engine resulted in a gradual takeover of the vehicle market by gasoline-powered cars.
Beginning with the oil crisis in the 1970s, Americans have become far more aware of the efficiency of their vehicles and the cost of transportation. This initial price fluctuation resulted in the shift from the classic muscle cars of America’s past to the compact and efficient vehicles found in Germany and Japan. This represented the first major blow to American vehicle manufacturing and a major change in the way people looked at oil-based products.
At first, the focus was solely on achieving the greatest fuel economy, but over time, Americans became more aware of the oil industry’s effects on the world. The combination of these economic concerns and growing environmentalism led to the development of alternative-energy vehicles like the electric car. The crisis of the 70s ended, so alternative energy was briefly shelved again. The 1990s began a true resurgence in research for alternative energy or higher-efficiency vehicles. The first popular attempt was the hybrid vehicle, which uses both a traditional gasoline engine and an extended storage battery.
The largest obstacle to creating an appealing alternative energy vehicle has been attaining high speeds and long-range capabilities comparable to a gasoline engine. Another obstacle has been creating a high-speed electric car charger. In order to compete with the traditional internal combustion engine, these new vehicles needed to be able to recharge quickly for long-distance driving. Drivers needed an electric equivalent to the gas station in order to drive long distances for work or travel, so consumers were hesitant to purchase all-electric vehicles until a rapid electric car charger was created.
With the current cultural movements focusing on climate conservation, anti-pollution, and environmentalism, it is likely that non-gasoline vehicles will continue to develop and improve through innovation in battery and manufacturing technology.
There are currently models that are being developed to run off of biodiesel, which is made from recycled cooking oil. Other prototypes run off of solar energy or tanks of compressed air. However, the newest electric models show the most promise, as they have now surpassed engine power and performance limits that had significantly hindered the market. With government incentives now available in a number of states and at the federal level, it is likely that charging stations will become more common across the nation. These new vehicles are here to stay, and as our planet begins to run low on the oil we need, they are poised to quickly become the most popular form of personal transportation.
While some complain that used cars are more expensive due to poor fuel economy, this is not always the case. There are forces at work in your favor. Most drivers have noticed that gas prices are beginning to dip lower than the national average, which has been above $3.00 per gallon since 2010. To add to these savings, there are several things you can do to save money on gas. With fewer dollars going to gas, set the extra money aside for car maintenance. Additionally, adjust your driving habits to save fuel.
Under the Hood
The experts agree: a properly tuned engine increases the fuel economy in used cars. Use the money you’ve been saving at the pump to correct any serious problems under the hood. For example, a bad oxygen sensor can destroy your fuel economy. Fixing this issue will save you a lot of cash.
Tire Pressure & Oil
One do-it-yourself tip is to check the air pressure in your tires. Your used car’s owner’s manual should state how much pressure is needed for each season. While you’re at it, be sure you or your mechanic have been putting the correct type of oil into the engine. Additionally, when you have your oil changed, ask the technician to show you the air filter. If it’s dirty, purchase a replacement. Many people don’t realize this common mistake is costing them extra money.
While you’re at the gas station, check your gas cap. If it’s loose, cracked or appears leaky, it’s time for a new one. Another clue may be that your check engine light is on. This is often remedied by replacing the gas cap. If you need a new cap, try visiting your local auto supplies store, or order one from an auto parts warehouse online.
Still not getting the mileage you want? Check your driving habits! Are you always speeding? Do you stop and start quickly? Do you do a lot of city driving? These could all be culprits. Give yourself plenty of time to get from point A to point B. Go easy on your gas and brake pedal. Take highways when available instead of city streets. Call your fellow co-workers and suggest carpooling to cut down on your driving time. Never sit with your car idling for long. If you’re waiting, turn off the engine. While you’re working on your driving habits, you may want to consider the weight of items in your car. A trunk full of unnecessary objects makes the engine work harder and use more gas.
As you can see, with the right strategy, you can get great gas mileage out of used cars. It could well be worth your time to heed the tips offered above to save at the pump.
According to the EPA, a majority of greenhouse gas emissions come from cars and trucks. In past years, gas from transportation is the second largest contributor. The United States’ average commute is roughly 20 miles which translates to a 0.01 metric ton of carbon dioxide emitted for just one trip. Though seemingly small, this adds up fast throughout the year as everyone commutes. Out of all transportation, about 1,750,000 metric tons is emitted in a year. This statistic only includes the United States and is a dangerously high number.
The consequences of all the air pollutants does not come at no risk. The large amount of carbon dioxide emitted every year is what experts believe is the cause of global warming. The warming can endanger our health and can cause extreme weather such as higher sea levels due to flooding and droughts. Because oil is a non-renewable resource, it will only become more difficult to obtain, which will make the burning of gasoline even worse.
With all the seemingly negative effects of traditional car engines, there are some positives. Engines that run on gas will travel much further than an electric engine. All electric cars will only travel up to 100 miles on a full charge before needing to be plugged in again. If a consumer is not near somewhere they can charge, this can be a cause for concern to the individual. Charging stations have not become a commodity that is everywhere yet. Also, the price for a car with a combustion engine will be priced lower than that of a pure hybrid vehicle. The average price to buy the hybrid car brand new can reach up to $30,000, but a regular midsize sedan has an average price of around $18,000.
Although electric vehicles are priced significantly higher than the others, they will typically last several years longer than a gasoline based car. A battery in the electric car will last up to 100,000 miles before needing to be replaced. With no engine to give maintenance to, money is saved through the lack of oil changes and upkeep. In addition, brakes will last notably longer therefore making it even more cost efficient. Lastly, and most important, zero emissions will flow out from the electric vehicle. Some emissions are exuded to make the electricity to charge the car, but it does not compare to the greenhouses gases put into the air through combustion engines.
The demand for an all hybrid car has increased within the past decade, yet traditional cars still sell better. According to the EIA, electric cars sell at a very small fraction compared to gas cars. Yet, by 2040, the growth rate of electric cars is expected to be 11%, whereas conventional cars will only grow by 0.1%. Most family households are presumed to have the two types of vehicles in the future, one for traveling far distances and the other for riding around town. If these predictions are correct, transportation will no longer be a tremendous contributor of greenhouse gases and each individual’s carbon footprint will not have as much of an impact on the environment.