Nowadays it is de rigueur to discuss ‘going green’ with almost any topic imaginable. Here in the UK we have our first ‘Green’ party MP – the first of many I am sure. But in the emotive area of vehicle development, what is the availability of environmentally efficient cars, trucks and vans? With the price of petrol (gasoline) rising all the time, it becomes more and more important to conserve fuel consumption, because ultimately this means more money in our pockets. So how do you define a ‘green van? According to petrol prices.com: “a green van is a vehicle that is considered to be environmentally-friendly and to be less damaging to the environment compared with conventional vans”. So who cares, and why should anyone be bothered to ‘go green’ the next time they buy or lease a van?
The UK government (Department for Transport) is actively involved in encouraging the development of zero carbon and low carbon emission vans. Following competitive procurement, a process of selecting potential supplier, 4 companies were invited to submit proposals that showed new levels of performance, technical innovation and the potential for mass market commercialization.
Adrian Vinsome, Head of Programmes for Cenex (Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon and Fuel Cell Technologies): “Van use in the UK is rising more rapidly than for any other vehicle category, and van journeys are getting longer. As a result, CO2 emissions from vans are projected to rise rapidly over the next 10 to 15 years. A number of manufacturers have developed lower carbon and all-electric technologies, but these tend to be expensive in low production volumes and it is difficult for fleet operators to justify the additional cost. The LCVPP is helping overcome these initial cost barriers, paving the way for market development.”
‘Green’ vehicle technologies
Hybrid Vehicles: The current craze is for hybrid vehicles which were first released in the US markets by Honda with its ‘Insight’ model. The insight was able to boast 61 mpg in urban areas and up to 70mpg on the open roads. This vehicle was soon followed by Toyota’s version, the Prius. The hybrid technology uses a combination of a petrol motor and an electric motor that are connected via battery pack, featuring state-of-the-art energy saving measures such as regenerative braking.
Regenerative braking takes over some of the stopping duties from the friction brakes and instead uses the electric motor to help stop the car. To do this, the electric motor operates as a generator, recovering some of the kinetic energy and converting it into electricity that is stored in the battery so it can be used later to help drive the vehicle down the road. In order for the system to actually improve fuel economy, however, the vehicle must have a large enough electric motor operating at a high enough voltage to efficiently capture the braking energy.
Hybrid vehicle and SUV’s are now offered by virtually every major automaker. Unfortunately, all the extra equipment involved in building a hybrid engine means that they are often more costly to buy than conventional vans and cars. That means that you may be driving for a few years before the money you realize the potential savings from the traditional method of transport.
High Efficiency fuel: In comparison to conventional combustion engines, high efficiency engines use much less fuel and therefore release less harmful emissions into the atmosphere. It is predicted that major advances in the technology of these engines will occur during the next few years, with potential increases of up to 30% in fuel economy. There is a cross over here with hybrid vehicles, as many are already using the highly efficient engines.
Going green is getting more important to a lot of people every year. As vans get better and better at conserving fuel, we all see the benefits: both to our environment ultimately in our pockets.
Clean Diesel: The ‘Greenest’ technology on the road at the moment is a variation of the diesel power plant that has been in production for a number of years. Known as ‘clean diesels’, these engines can average 50mpg under normal driving conditions. One of the advantages of this improved technology is that you do not have to sacrifice performance for efficiency. Clean diesel cars and trucks are now offered by Volkswagen, BMW, Audi, Cadillac, Saturn, Honda and Ford.
Peter is an internet marketer and enjoys writing about SEO and automotive topics, specializing in van leasing.