Following is a guest post from Rachel MacDonald, a freelance writer specialising in the automotive industry. She likes to keep up to date with new trends and releases in the industry as published on http://www.motoring.com.au/
When compared to other countries’ interest in hybrid cars, Australia has always lagged a bit behind. The bestselling Toyota Prius has sold a whopping 2.5 million models worldwide between 1995 and 2010, but only 17,000 of these have been sold in Australia. In 2011, of the 300,000 private passenger cars sold, only 2212 were hybrids. However, with the advances in hybrid technology over the past few years and the onslaught of sportier new models evident in this year’s auto shows, it’s estimated that this could be turned around. It’s helpful to take a look at some of the current and future technologies used in today’s green car production to understand where this market is headed.
The daily car news is awash with both reviews of new hybrid models and the forms of technology used to power them. Green cars are becoming smarter, more intuitive, and increasingly efficient. Brake energy regeneration is a feature now available in many models, harnessing the energy that is lost when pressing the brake pedal and transforming it into electric power. This is one way to extend an electric car’s range without the need to recharge it as frequently.
Stop-start systems have also become more widespread in both hybrid and conventional vehicles. For example, you’ll see this technology mentioned in both Prius and Ford Fiesta reviews. This is a method of shutting the engine off at a stoplight, and switching it back on when the driver is ready to move again. Stop-start technology has helped make today’s vehicles significantly more efficient for drivers.
More and more automakers are interested in the concept of using hydrogen fuel cells to create zero-emissions vehicles, powered by liquid hydrogen. With this technology, an electric car can be powered by an electric motor and batteries along with a hydrogen fuel cell to provide power. The electricity is generated from the reaction between the liquid hydrogen and oxygen, extending the electric car’s range. An example of this can be seen in the Renault Grand Scenic ZEV H2 concept car, which gives a range of 250 miles without any need for recharging.
The advancements in technology have made the latest green car models more practical and fun to drive, drawing in a new audience. As new eco-friendly models enter the market and fuel prices rise, it’s expected that the popularity of hybrid vehicles will correspondingly increase. Already, sales figures from 2012 showed a marked uptick in interest. Australian motorists purchased 13,919 hybrid vehicles last year, with over 44% of these purchased by private consumers.
Still, some questions remain. Consumers are primarily interested in the economics of hybrid or electric cars. At the moment, green cars still carry a higher price tag than conventional vehicles, and may not provide high enough savings on fuel for consumers on a budget. As production increases, prices may fall to a level that pushes them into the mainstream. Another common concern is the range of these vehicles. If new technology such as hydrogen fuel cells can be adopted, this could eliminate this concern as well. Although initial figures look promising, it remains to be seen whether the car of the future will be electric.
What WILL the future look like?