Go-Green Metallic Chariots

Story By
Kyle Gregorio

Electric or plug-in vehicles (eco-friendly cars) come in all shapes and sizes with a wide assortment of technologies making up this segment. Read on and learn more about where the future of automobiles is heading.

An energy efficient car (also known as a green car, or eco-friendly car) is a vehicle that emits low carbon compounds when it runs. The low emission makes the environment safer because changes in climate and health hazards that result from the inhalation of carbon compounds are greatly reduced. They use less toxic fuels such as ethanol, biodiesel and natural gas.

Apart from being environmentally friendly, green cars also have the advantage of saving money since the alternative fuels they use do not burn as fast as the conventional types.

These features are the major reasons why many people are now opting to drive one and there are plenty of choices out there. Before we go on and talk about different kinds of eco-friendly cars, let’s take a closer look at the technology behind them.

► EVs
Battery electric vehicles, or EVs, use electricity stored in a battery pack to power an electric motor and turn the wheels. When they run out, the batteries are recharged using grid electricity, either from a wall socket or a dedicated charging unit. Since they don’t run on gasoline or diesel and are powered entirely by electricity, battery electric cars and trucks are considered ‘all-electric’ vehicles.

► Hybrids
Hybrid cars use a rechargeable energy storage system to supplement fossil fuel energy for vehicle propulsion. Hybrid engines are smaller and more efficient than traditional fuel engines. Some hybrid vehicles use regenerative braking to generate electricity while travelling. The term ‘Hybrid Vehicle’ can also refer to a vehicle engine that uses a combination of different fuels such as petroleum and ethanol.

► Differences between EVs and other hybrid cars
Fuel cell electric vehicles convert hydrogen gas into electricity to power an electric motor and battery. Fuel cell vehicles are a relatively new technology in passenger vehicles but have a substantial carbon-cutting role to play alongside other all-electric vehicles.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles have both an electric motor and a conventional gasoline or diesel engine. Compared to a battery electric vehicle, this extends the total driving range but lowers the all-electric range. Conventional hybrids, which can’t be plugged in, aren’t considered electric vehicles.

Carmakers are investing billions of dollars to bring more electric vehicle models to market.With sales leaders Tesla, Nissan and Toyota threatening to run away with the EV market, other companies are playing catch-up.Whether you are looking for a compact car, a mid-sized sedan or a sports car, the eco-friendly car segment is slowly catering to everyone’s wants and needs. Even with low oil prices, the future for electric vehicles is bright. Plummeting battery prices, longer-range models, and more charging stations are driving forward electric vehicle sales. And with the auto industry investing a lot to meet strong pollution standards globally, the oil industry has good reason to be nervous.

⇒ Toyota Prius

The Toyota Prius has become the poster boy of the green revolution. The fourth-generation model features a refined version of the petrol-electric technology, and is built on an all-new platform. As with older Prius models, it promises low running costs and emissions, including none of the lung-damaging pollution that you get with diesel rivals. Plus it’s a practical choice, with a roomy interior and a big boot. The Prius rates at 25-km/l city driving and 23-km/l highway driving.

⇒ Honda CR-Z
The CR-Z is an ambitious attempt at making a sporty hybrid, but its performance doesn’t match its adventurous styling. The good news is that it’s the only hybrid sold with a manual, six-speed, transmission. A 1.5-liter four-cylinder pairs with an electric motor; the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) rates it for 15-km/l city driving and 17-km/L highway driving.

⇒ Nissan Leaf

The Leaf’s earth-friendly image, relaxed ride, and spacious cabin make it an affordable EV with everyday usability. SL and SV trims get a 30-kWh battery that offers an EPA-rated 172-kilometers range; base S models make do with a 24-kWh battery and a135-kilometers range. The electric motor has great low-end power for around-town driving and canaverage around 48-km/l. Although its supple ride and quiet interior make it easy to live with, its design and technology needs to be updated and Nissan will surely do that in the near future.

⇒ Tesla Model S

Boasting up to 507kilometers of range, the Model S is the all-electric dream car envied by many. The icing on the cake is theLudicrous mode that blasts the Model S to 100 km/h in a claimed 2.5 seconds. The lower-spec models offer reduced driving ranges and features, but the base 60 model can hit 100 km/h in 5.5 seconds. Luxury items such as an air filter that Tesla says can protect occupants from bioweapons and pollutants—plus available high-tech features including Tesla’s Autopilot—seal the deal for many buyers.