Ford, Renault-Nissan, and Daimler have announced that they are joining their knowledge, technology and resources to create the world’s first mass-produced, affordable fuel cell car. The big three have set themselves a deadline of 2017 to have the model and its technology up to scratch and ready for the market.
This news brings with it the proof that the auto industry are finally becoming more environmentally aware, working with governments and scientists to create a green driving experience that doesn’t have its revolution lodged firmly in a space-age future.
Fuel cell cars work by replacing petrol with hydrogen. The fuel cells convert the chemical energy produced from combining hydrogen and oxygen in the engine to electrical energy to power the motor. You may be surprised to learn that fuel cell cars are not a new concept. In fact, the first fuel cell car came about in 1959. Unfortunately, due to the cost of developing the technology, fuel cell cars have never really become much more than a distant ideal.
Getting fuel cell cars on the road is not as simple as it seems. Yes, the car-makers are on board, and this is fantastic news. But we’ll have to wait for the technology to create re-fuelling stations for these vehicles. If each petrol station were to fit one hydrogen pump, the fuel cell movement could gain a quicker momentum. This, however, is an expensive undertaking, and not one that any fuel company has confirmed they will put their effort and money towards.
Still, electric driving is a very real and very current opportunity. Plug-in electric vehicles (EVs), which can be charged from an electrical point in your own home, are experiencing a slow growth in popularity. With the technology surrounding these types of EVs ever evolving, electric driving is becoming a certainty in modern transport.
Electric vehicles create half the amount of CO2 emissions than that of petrol and diesel cars, but their environmental benefits are not their only plus. The average yearly saving for an electric car owner is £952 ($1,435). In Britain, electric cars are completely exempt from road tax and congestion charging zones, and the majority of insurance companies offer a 5% discount to those who drive electric. Also, compared to petrol and diesel engines, EVs are practically maintenance free, as they require no oil changes, servicing or timing belt replacements. The advancements in the batteries used in these types of vehicles is confirming their reliability, giving them a longer life span than that of a regular petrol or diesel vehicle.
The money saving does not only involve taxes and maintenance with electric vehicles. The British government have vowed to pay 25% of every electric car purchase, meaning you could receive up to £5,000 for a brand new car. British Gas will install a charging point in your home for free, along with the advice to charge your vehicle at night when electricity prices are at their lowest, meaning you could run your brand new car for as little as 2p a mile.
With electric auto technology constantly improving, creating shorter charging times and longer mileage ranges, it could be wiser to look into different green car-leasing deals. With a car lease, you could benefit from green driving savings now, whilst being able to trade the vehicle for a newer model as technology develops and improves.
One hundred years ago, it was Henry Ford’s internal combustion engine that pushed electric cars out of production. Ford is now one of the three hugely influential car makers championing the development of a technology that has the ability to cut auto emissions in half. The fact that the automotive industry is now focusing resources towards making environmentally friendly driving affordable is proof that there are fewer obstacles regarding green motoring than first believed. But most importantly, it is allowing consumers to make a conscious decision regarding their motoring lifestyle.
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Ashleigh-Rose Harman writes on behalf of car leasing experts Tilsun Group. Her main focus is environmentally friendly driving, particularly electric vehicles. She monitors the automotive industries progression into greener motoring.
As we learn more about the details of the new economic stimulus package, consumers are finding that there’s help available for those of us who want to make our homes more energy efficient. It’s no surprise, of course, that utilities companies and businesses selling energy-efficient products would be among the first to spread this information.
Blue Planet Green Living received an email yesterday telling us that Andy Armstrong at Johnson Controls had posted a blog, “So What’s In the Stimulus Package for You and Me?” detailing some of the advantages of the new legislation. We were pleased to discover that Armstrong’s blog is both helpful and informative. But, if you’re seriously considering new appliance purchases or alternative energy installations, you won’t want to stop there.
As you investigate which product(s) to purchase for your home or business, be sure to check the ENERGY STAR website, sponsored jointly by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Department of Energy (DOE). “Energy efficient choices can save families about a third on their energy bill with similar savings of greenhouse gas emissions, without sacrificing features, style or comfort. ENERGY STAR helps you make the energy efficient choice,” according to the EPA/DOE’s website.
For information on state-specific tax incentives and rebates that might help you pay for energy-efficient products or alternative energy for your home or business, one place to look is the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) website. Be sure to check on the page to see when the site was updated for your local information; it’s different for each program.
For example, in looking up Iowa, I found that the posted announcement about our local utility company’s program had expired. After calling the utility company, I found they have a page on their site that tells about “rebates for each newly installed energy-efficient natural gas furnace, natural gas boiler, natural gas water heater, central air conditioner, air-source heat pump, ground-source heat pump, refrigerator, freezer, clothes washer and dishwasher.” And that expiration date, like many other states’, is 12/31/09.
You may find that your energy company is offering reduced-rate financing for energy-efficiency improvements. But make sure you understand what you’re offered before you make a purchase. In our case, what at first glance appeared to be a sweet combination of loan and rebates turned out to be either a low-interest loan or six-months-same-as-cash terms or a product rebate. Consumers have to make the choice.
Whether you decide to purchase an energy-efficient appliance from Johnson Controls or someone else, as Andy Armstrong says, “The bottom line is this: add up the tax credits, rebates and the money you’ll be saving on your utility bills, and you could end up paying back the cost of a new furnace in as little as two years.”
If you can afford the initial investment, this is an opportune time to do it. Replacing old, inefficient appliances or installing alternative energy systems makes economic sense for your family and ecologic sense for the planet.
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