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The automotive industry is constantly developing new technologies for entertainment, comfort and safety. One particular segment that is always in mind of the auto makers is increased safety on the roads. Many innovative car technologies that have been introduced recently or have been tested are specifically designed to offer increased safety. All these new safety features are exciting and promising and will introduce revolutionary changes in the automotive industry and transportation in general. So what’s available for your car today? Here’s a short list of some of the technologies that are either implemented or will come as a standard safety feature for cars in the years to come.
The Intelligent Speed Assist (ISA) is a safety device that is specially designed and programmed to alert drivers every time they go over the speed limit. The ISA uses the information provided by the Global Positioning System (GPS) to determine the type of road the car is on. It compares the information from the GPS with a digital map that contains information about the speed limits for that particular road. If the car is driving fast and above the speed limit, the ISA device will notify the driver by audio or visual warning message. The Intelligent Speed Assist can significantly reduce speed-related safety risks, thus minimize the number of car crashes.
Blind spot warning systems come with electronic devices like sensors and cameras, installed on the sides of the car. These electronic devices provide information for the driver about the objects which are outside of his vision range. If the car is getting too close to certain objects or other vehicles on a parking lot, the blind spot system notifies the driver either by warning sounds or by flashing lights, or with a combination of both. Some Blind Spot Warning Systems come with innovative technologies and can tell the difference between small and big objects. They can even digitally show the distance between the car and other objects.
The safety regulations and traffic laws strongly forbid the usage of cell phones when driving. For example, in Victoria, the fines for using cell phones while driving range from $430 to $500. recent reports show that majority of car accidents on the roads occur due to cell phone usage while driving. A major contribution towards increased safety on the roads is the introduction of the Bluetooth Smartphone Hands Free Connection. Many car models today are now being designed with Bluetooth-enabled devices that can establish connection with Bluetooth-enabled smart phones. These devices provide drivers a useful and excellent hands-free way of cell phone communications while driving. Drivers can use or talk on their cell phones without even touching the phone. It’s a matter of time when these hands-free automatic connection devices will become a standard feature in every car model and make.
One new technology that is being widely adopted today in new car models is the Automatic Breaking System. This system provides additional breaking support for the drivers in emergency situations. There are many types of Automatic Breaking Systems, all designed to prevent the car from hitting another car or something else on the road by reducing the speed of the vehicle automatically. These systems come with special sensors which are programmed to monitor the situation in front of the car, and to activate the breaking system automatically if something unexpected happens on the road. Since high speed car crashes are likely to be more fatal than low speed car crashes, the Automatic Breaking System can reduce the number of accidents on the roads and save many lives.
Parallel parking is a difficult operation for many drivers, especially for learners. And with limited parking spaces in bigger cities, the ability of parking a vehicle into a tiny space quickly and without any damages is a vital skill not all drivers have. Fortunately, the technology has an answer to this problem as well – the Automatic Parking or Self-Parking System. This system transforms the car into a self-parking vehicle with little or no assistance from the driver. Many car makers like Ford, Toyota and Lexus are implementing the Automatic Parking Systems into their car models since it allows drivers to park their cars with a single press on a button without using the steering wheel, clutch or brakes.
There are many ways to stay on a planned budget and increase the value of your dollar – clipping out coupons or waiting for store sales and discounts are very popular for this purpose. But, not everything goes on sale. Fuel is one of them. Yes, in these recession times, most auto dealers offer various car models at discounted rate or low interest rate packages, but paying less for a vehicle will not minimise your fuel cost (unless you purchase a hybrid model). Fuel prices are constantly fluctuating depending on the availability and so will your monthly expenses. To reduce the impact that fuel price has on your wallet, you will need to modify and change your driving habits. Here are several tips on how to increase the fuel efficiency of your vehicle when driving and save money.
Regardless of the type of your vehicle, small passenger car or a big SUV, reducing the load in your trunk can significantly decrease your car fuel efficiency. The weight of the vehicle is one of the most important factors which has great impact on the fuel consumption, and is one of the easiest to address. Therefore, organise your car and remove anything you do not use on a daily basis such as winter equipment, kids bicycles, various tools, etc. Also, the number of passengers and even the driver’s weight affects the fuel consumption.
Idling causes not only air pollution, but also reduces fuel economy. If you are in a traffic jam or parked and waiting for a friend, family member or a spouse, it is best to turn off idling engine. In fact, it is recommended to turn off the engine every time you you’re waiting parked for more than 30 seconds. Also, and this is a common misconception, especially during winter, you do not need to “warm up” the engine before driving. Your car unnecessarily wastes fuel. Instead, drive your car to warm it up and increase the fuel efficiency.
The weight and idling are not only culprits to increased fuel consumption; worn tires can also significantly reduce the fuel efficiency of your car. Proper tire maintenance is a key to an optimal fuel economy. Make sure they are properly inflated and inspect for any cracks, blisters or uneven wear. Also, using appropriate tires for every season. Do not use summer tires during winter and vice versa. or simply buy all-season tires. Tires support the whole vehicle as well as engine, thus proper tires and regular maintenance will ensure greater fuel economy.
Aside from reducing safety risks, driving responsibly can significantly impact the fuel consumption. Therefore, do not drive over the speed limit. Increasing the speed from 90 km/h to 120 km/h will increase the fuel consumption as well. Also, avoid aggressive driving. The so called “jackrabbit” start and hard braking can also result in higher fuel consumption.
Make sure you always drive in the right gear. When driving in a lower gear, the engine uses more fuel. The same is true when driving in top gear up the hill or when approaching sharp curves on the road. If your vehicles have manual transmission, change the gear as soon as possible, but avoid accelerating too quickly. The automatic transmission changes gears more smoothly and quicker.
The air conditioning system also has significant impact on the fuel consumption, especially when idling in a traffic jam. Once the air in the vehicle has cooled enough, use the fan feature instead of the air conditioning system to reduce the fuel consumption. When driving at lower speed, open the windows instead of using the air conditioning system to save fuel.
If your current car has poor fuel efficiency, it may be more reasonable to consider purchasing a new one with a better fuel economy. Although this may seem an expensive thing to do, the long term savings will outweigh the short term investment and costs.
A decision to buy a car has been made. However you are on a crossroad and not sure which path to choose – the one that’s been freshly paved with a new car scent or a less costly used car. Well it’s really simple – get your finances in order and decide on your budget. It will give you a sense of how far you can stretch. Also note that a new car loses its value for about 20% as soon as you drive it off a dealer’s lot. And besides, there are many used cars on the market kept in such good condition that they almost resemble new ones. Thus, a used car is probably the most optimal solution if your budget is lower.
But if you think buying a used car is simple, you’re greatly mistaken. It’s just a bit less confusing then solving a crosswords puzzle. A 30-minute test drive is not satisfactory. Putting those 100-plus horses through an intense cardio workout will not paint a true picture of the car’s real condition and value. You must diligently follow these three major rules when buying a used car:
Inspect, inspect and inspect.
Additionally, regardless of whether you’re buying from a licensed dealer, a private individual or an car yard, make sure the car is on a level ground before you ‘interrogate’ it and always do this in daylight. Read our guide below to get an idea on what you should look out for when buying a used car.
Roadworthy – Every time you buy a used car in Australia, make sure that the car will be sold with a Roadworthy Certificate from a licensed vehicle service. Any excuses like “I’m going overseas, there’s not enough time to get Roadworthy” are a sign that there are significant problems with the car that the owner is hiding from you, so walk away. Never buy a Used car without Roadworthy Certificate, or your car’s mechanical repairs to transfer the ownership or to re-register the car may cost you even more than the car itself.
Car hood – Inspect the car’s engine for possible fluid leaks; check all hoses for any defects; and check oil and other fluids level using the markings on a dipstick. In order to be certain that the engine has been inspected regularly and has been cared for according to manufacturer’s specifications, check the colour of the engine oil. If it’s brown, you’re good to go.
Bodywork – Inspect the car’s body for any mismatched and unevenly applied paint since this is usually a sign of dent cover-ups. Also pay attention to detail – to be precise, make sure there isn’t a single rust blemish, especially on the bottom of the doors, wing panels, tailgates and around the headlights. This usually means that beneath it, a severe corrosion ‘nibbles’ the car’s body and know that this is a costly fix-up.
Tires – Make sure you pay special attention to the tires. They are crucial for your car’s impeccable performance and safety. Inspect for any cracks, cuts, blisters and tread wear as these are the signs of worn-out tires which may have been caused by improper tire inflation and/or misalignment of the wheels.
Brakes – Since brakes play an important role in your safety and safety of your passengers, even a minor defect may lead to a collision and significantly increases a risk of injury or death. The best way to test the brakes is during a test drive. If, when you apply force to it, the brake pedal does not provide good resistance or sinks to the floor, then the brakes may need to be replaced right away.
Interior – And finally, inspect the interior of a car. Check the air-conditioning system, the car’s upholstery and make sure there are no tears, stubborn stains and other defects. Also, check the odometer. If numbers are not lined up and if the condition of the car’s upholstery does not match the total kilometres driven, then you might consider that perhaps some odometer alteration has happened.
Of course, test driving a used car will give you the best idea of its performance and condition. However, do not overlook the car’s service history and thoroughly inspect the owner’s records to be sure that the car has been inspected regularly and to get info on all repairs done on it. If, however, you are not certain how to check if a car is in good condition and if it’s worth your money, have a licensed mechanic conduct a pre purchase vehicle inspection and point out any cost estimates on possible problems with the vehicle.
‘Cheaper than walking‘ was the slogan for the Peel P50 back in 1960s, when it was and today it still is the world’s smallest car ever to go into production.
The quest for a more fuel efficient vehicle has led companies to produce smaller and smaller car models, such as the Toyota iQ, the Tata Nano and Volkswagen up! However, all these cars look like giants compared next to the Peel P50. Measuring just 137 cm in length and 104 cm in width, you won’t have trouble finding a parking space for this car, or better yet – bringing it into the office with you, as BBC’s Jeremy Clarkson famously did in an episode of Top Gear.
The P50 was originally produced by the Peel Engineering company on the British Isle of Man from 1962 to 1965. Each car was handmade and only 50 of them have ever seen the light of day. It is a three wheeled car with only one door, one seat, one headlight and one windscreen wiper. It was marketed as a car that could carry one person and a shopping bag, and it could barely hold that much, weighing just less than 60 kg. The engine is in the cabin alongside the driver, with a three speed manual transmission and no reverse gear. Its top speed goes up to 61 km/h and it was priced at $315. Though lacking in some areas like safety, speed and manoeuvrability, owners have claimed consumption of 2.8l/100 km which makes the Peel P50 a credible replacement for walking.
Good news for the lovers of micro-cars. The model has been resurrected by the new Peel Engineering company in 2010 together with its slightly bigger brother – the Peel Trident, which has two seats and a pod-like futuristic sunroof.
The new P50 will be slightly modernised, with both gas and electric version, and it will come with a price tag of $16.000 – not quite cheaper than walking even by today’s standards. In comparison, the original P50 would have cost $2.200 in today’s money. The car will be in limited production, so if you want something eccentric that you can drive to your office as well as inside it, you can make your reservation on the company’s website www.peelengineering.co.uk
Choosing a “greener” car has a direct financial and environmental benefit for you as well as for Australia’s future generations. Buying a more fuel efficient vehicle might be a bigger financial investment at first, but down the road it can save you thousands of dollars on fuel bills. You need to consider all of your transportation requirements and choose a model that best meets your needs. Larger cars and those with bigger engines often consume more fuel.
The greenest car on the Australian roads is the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, topping the Green Vehicle Guide rankings ahead of the Toyota Prius. It runs entirely on battery power which is renewed from an electricity socket. It doesn’t even have an exhaust pipe. However, this car might not be for everyone. It has a tiny body with less than ideal safety rankings and it might not be suitable for longer drives. Following closely on fuel-economy in the entire electric cars category are the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Roadster.
If you mainly drive within the city a hybrid-electric car might best suit your needs. They have a conventional engine plus an electric motor. When you press the brakes the car harnesses the energy and feeds it to the battery of the electric motor. The most fuel-efficient model in this category is the Toyota Prius.
If you mainly drive on the highway a new generation turbo-diesel might better suit your needs. Even though diesel cars emit more nitrous oxide and particulate matter (PM), better fuel-efficiency compensates for the demerits. The Volkswagen Passat Diesel leads the pack in this category as the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid for highway drive.
When it comes to fuel efficiency and greenhouse gases emission, the car industry is getting better and better. Or should we say greener and greener.
The automotive industry is at an early stage of radical changes. As the consciousness about the environmental impact of cars increases, the automotive industry is rapidly changing and introducing efficiency improvements to most new vehicle models. Hybrid cars are common these days and electric cars are starting to emerge on the market. Manufacturers are also introducing efficiency improvements to internal combustion and diesel engines.
Even though a fuel consumption rate of 7-9 litres per 100 km is considered good, some of the latest fuel efficient models are achieving results better than 4 litres per 100km.
There is more than one incentive to the increased focus on lowering fuel consumption. On the long term, the price of oil is expected to rise, as the world’s oil reserves are running low. The growing concern of people for the environment has raised public awareness and governments demand increasing the fuel economy standards. Less fuel burnt per kilometre means less exhaust emissions and less harm on the environment.
In Australia, the growth of road transport has led to an increase in fuel consumption and consequently an increase in greenhouse gases emission, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide and methane, which are linked to the type and amount of fuel used. Greenhouse gas emissions have been increasing at a rate of 1.7% per year since 1990.
For Australia’s official emission ratings and fuel economy on the top performing vehicles please visit the Green Vehicle Guide Website.
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