Well the long wait is finally over. Formula 1 is back after its usual winter break. Last year was the closest in the sports half century history, with the whole championship being decided on the last corner of the last lap of the last race.
This year sees a sweeping set of rule changes that are changing the sport, including one very interesting piece of environmental tech that allows me to write about it here. The Kinetic Energy Recovery System or KERS is a system that allows a car to recover energy lost during breaking and convert that energy into horsepower. For 6.6 seconds per lap, cars equipped with this new system can deliver a boost of up to 85 additional horsepower.
The downside is the extra weight. The batteries and equipment adds a significant amount of weight to the cars, not to mention the rigors of heat and g forces acting on the systems threaten to lower the reliability of the cars.
Why does any of this matter? Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport. The best drivers, coaches and engineers from around the world come to F1 to show off their talents. With F1 developing hybrid technology, the systems will become stronger, lighter, more dependable and most importantly; more accessible for the road cars of the future.
My prediction? Look for KERS equipped hybrid Ferrari road cars in the next 2-5 years. When that happens, hybrids won’t just be for wet blankets and posers, having a fuel efficient car might actually be cool.
Those of you who follow The Cat Scan loyally have probably read my article on trains as a green alternative transportation option. I talked on and on about the experience, how much fun it was and how it evoked a different time when travel was something to be enjoyed.
I concluded that you need to asses train travel as an adventure rather than an alternative right now, and there are a few really good reasons why all of these great ideas fail in the wake of the almighty car. First of all, we Americans have built our societies around the car, pavement spans the distances of every major continent in the world. Even in places like the arctic tundras and the deserts of Africa, a car properly equipped can soldier on with no roads. The car brings a freedom to it’s driver, holding the wheel means that if one wanted to, he could drive anywhere.
If I felt like it, while on a drive to school I could change my mind and set off on a trip for Argentina if I wanted to, and a car could bring me there. That’s freedom. For around $2,000 a person could purchase a incredibly reliable car that could accomplish the same thing. People spend that much on rugs. Even if you take into account the carbon angle, cars are still pretty clean.
As I mention in my other story, compared with plane travel, the car does alright. Pick up another traveler before you set off and you instantly half it’s per passenger carbon output. The fact of the matter is that, while it’s fun too look at things like trains, and Segways as an alternative to cars, nothing will be as usable for transportation.
The future of this world rests with them, engines will change, but the car will always be there for us. For competition, for transportation or for an object of our lust and desire, the car will be at our side as we move into the future. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
For years, cars have added to the air pollution problem that we have in this country. Whether it’s the volume of the cars on the road or how much they emit in the air, cars have been a problem for the environment. Car manufacturers like General Motors, Ford and Toyota have been making more environmentally friendly cars as of late and making them more accessible to the public. They have made cars more fuel efficient and have started making more hybrid cars to help have an impact on the air we breathe.
The top 3 environmental friendly cars, according to Best Auto Review are the Acura RSX, the Chevy Cobalt and the Chevy Aveo. All three cars are sporty cars and have evolved over the years from high fuel high polluting cars to more efficient cars.
My roommate owns an Acura RSX and agrees that the car is very eco-friendly. It doesn’t require much maintenance and the fuel capacity(28 miles per gallon) is really good. Although it isn’t a hybrid, the emissions from the car, compared to others in the same class, is top notch.
The Chevy Cobalt and Aveo are interesting choices for environmental cars. I just didn’t think of these kinds of cars as being good for the environment. The Cobalt is low on gas consumption and some of the models come in gas-electric combo so that helps on the fuel intake. A couple of years ago, the Aveo was one of Chevy’s car that was lost in the mix with other compact cars, now with a few upgrades it has distinguished itself by being one of the most cost efficient and eco-friendly car out on the market today.
With the way technology continues to grow and the ongoing initiative to help keep the air clean, I’m sure there are going to be more and more cars to add to the list of best cars for the environment. With the hybrid becoming a more popular option, that time could be just around the corner.
Mugen has made a name for itself among the Gran Turismo video game crowd over the past few years by providing aftermarket tuning accessories for Honda cars over the years. This time around, Mugen brings a performance package for Honda’s new version of the Insight hybrid.
The most notable change to the car is its new body kit. Most passenger cars actually create lift as they travel through the air. They do this in exactly the same way as an airplane wing would. Mugen claims its “Zero-lift” body kit completely eliminates this effect, making the car feel more solid and helping it hold the road better at higher speeds.
This all might sound like a big joke to a lot of people, but with Formula 1 racing hybrids at the start of their season this year, expect to see a lot more of these fast environment friendly cars in the future.