Category Archives: Transportation

EV Batteries Already Cheaper than Expected

The major obstacle to incorporating eco-friendly electric vehicles into the larger market of more conventional, gas-fueled automobiles has been price. The batteries used for electric cars are often made of rare materials that are difficult to mine, and the cost of obtaining the materials generally transfers to the consumer. On top of that, batteries can be expensive to maintain in the long term, so not do consumers face a higher initial price but they also have to be prepared for pricey fixes down the road.

bats cheaperWhile the price of electric vehicles and their batteries in particular has been expected to remain a major issue for years to come, a new study published by the Climate Change section of Nature found that electric car batteries have actually decreased in price much faster than industry experts estimated. In fact, the batteries for electric vehicles already cost significantly less than what analysts believed the prices would be in 2020.

In 2013, the International Energy Agency made a famous estimate that it would take until 2020 for lithium cell batteries to sink below $300 per kilowatt-hour. However, researchers have stated that the electric car industry has already reached that goal, or at least some companies have. On an industry-wide level, costs were floating around $1,000 per kWh in 2007, but dropped to as low as $140 per kWh by 2014. The study has aslso claimed that some “market-leading firms” like Nissan, which has sold the most EV models to date and Tesla, which has hundreds of thousands of orders lined up for its much-awaited Model 3, have beaten the $300-per-kWh expectation by a long shot.

The study backed up its findings with 85 cost estimates from peer-reviewed academic publications in addition to reports from analysts, the media, and those taken from battery and car manufacturers. While the authors have done a fair amount of research, they were also quick to note that they still aren’t working with a complete body of data in that companies rarely disclose their true costs of manufacturing to the public.

tesla2The authors were also straight-forward about the fact that battery costs still need to drop a good deal further in order to attract the mass appeal of cheaper, gas-fueled cars. They stated that in the United States, for example, the costs must drop to less than $150 per kWh for electric cars to move “beyond niche applications.”

The exact threshold at which point EVs will become price-competitive with internal-combustion models remains difficult to isolate, but many guess that cells would need to run at somewhere around $100 per kWh.

Huge efforts are currently underway in terms of finding alternatives to today’s lithium-ion chemistries. Volkswagen is considering investing in the development of solid-state batteries for future electric cars, though many developments on car batteries remain purely experimental and fairly distant from actual release in the auto market.

Tesla Motors has gained a fair amount of attention for attempting to bring battery prices down by entering economies of scale. It has created an enormous “Gigafactory” in Nevada, where it hopes to create a factory large enough to realize the $35,000 base price for its Model 3 sedan.

The Uber Fleet is Ready

This week Uber revealed its initial self driving car on Thursday, and announced that it has begun testing the autonomous vehicle on the streets of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. “If you’re driving around Pittsburgh in the coming weeks you might see a strange sight: a car that looks like it should be driven by a superhero,” said someone in the know for the auto industry. 

“But this is not movie prop–it’s a test car from Uber’s advanced technologies center in Pittsburgh.”

Uber believes it was still in the early days of the self driving efforts and was still attempting to focus on getting the tech just right to ensure its safe for everyone on the road including people, cyclists and of coarse other cars.

While Uber has maintained little transparency up unto this point, its plans in the the sector seem promising. The California based company had its first group meet last month amidst mixed understanding.

Uber has a big research team in Pittsburgh and it believes it chose the location because, “its an ideal environment to develop and test  our tech across a wide variety of read types and traffic patterns in addition to weather conditions.”

What remains to be seen is what the legislative effects will be for this and what we can expect for the work force going forward. If Uber goes completely autonomous where does all the cash flow go. This is probably the first act of an inevitability that people have feared for some time. This is going to have a hugely adverse economic effect and an argument could be made that legislation could go in place that would block the potential for autonomous vehicles in a commercial sense. Now this could still in principle allow for the application of driverless cars for the majority of citizens but would save a huge life line for individuals who rely on the service. That said it is likely the case that if this goes according to plan and the autonomous vehicle is responsible for the reduction in accidents and increases the safety in line with what the numbers predict then it may go without saying that this should be mandated. Either way that would take several years to ever potentially be even talked about, and from there it would take an additional few years to be put into place. At any rate, it would allow the majority of employees ample time to transition to other career paths.

As it stands now whatever legal action, or lack there of, will set an important and crucial precedent going forwards as we see the increase of autonomous tasks taking over many jobs away from the american work place. That said there is going to be a huge backlash against the company from liberal thinking individuals and workers rights advocates. But, everyone is still going to use Uber, the only alternative is that you take a Lyft but if you are close to the industry you know that they have plans in the works for their own fleet.

How is Fuel Economy Tested?

You’ve likely noticed that a car’s fuel economy is one of its most important features in today’s car market. The unstable prices of gas and growing concerns about the environment have all contributed to this rise in importance. But how does a car’s MPG actually get measured, and can you trust the rating given to it? Read on to find out.

Auto manufacturers are legally required to post their vehicle’s fuel-economy ratings, as certified by the federal government agency, the Environmental Protection Agency. These ratings are generally posted on a new car’s window stickers in dealerships. The only vehicles that don’t need to post these ratings are those with gross-vehicle-weight ratings over 8,500 pounds.

fuel economy2That said, these EPA accredited, “official” ratings don’t always reflect a driver’s reality. Depending on what you drive, where you drive it, and how you drive in general, you can find some major differences in terms of fuel economy.

The most common complaint is that even the most cautious drivers are not getting as high of a fuel economy as they expected. This is largely due to the fact that new cars and trucks are evaluated for their energy consumption. While that would seem somewhat logical to figure out a vehicle’s fuel economy simply by filling up the tank and seeing how far you can get, driving it on a road or a test track for a set number of city or highway miles, refilling the tank, and dividing the number of miles driven by the number of gallons consumed, this is not how the “experts” see fit to measure a car’s MPG.

Cars tested for mileage don’t touch the pavement in any way. A car or truck’s fuel economy is instead measured under very particular, rigidly controlled circumstances that could only be maintained in a laboratory. This is mandated by federal law, but automakers actually do their own fuel economy testing and submit the results to the EPA. The EPA only reviews 10 to 15 percent of the ratings at the National Vehicles and Fuel Emissions Laboratory, after which it confirms most.

prepaHow does the EPA manage this process? It doesn’t drive the vehicle, that’s for sure. Instead, it tests the vehicle on a device called the dynamometer, which is basically a giant treadmill. While the engine and transmission drive the wheels, the vehicle never moves out of its position in whatever laboratory; instead, the rollers upon which the wheels are placed are what ends up moving. A professional driver runs the vehicle through two standard driving schedules; one is meant to mimic the strains of city driving and the other is supposed to mimic the stressors of highway driving.

The city program is supposed to mimic rush hour situations, whereas the highway program is meant to emulate rural and interstate freeway driving.

As a model undergoes the test, a hose is connected to the vehicle’s tailpipe that collects its engine’s exhaust. The amount of carbon present in what’s been emitted from the pipe is then measured to calculate the amount of fuel that was burned.

 

Eco-Friendly is the New Status Symbol

Although of course luxury cars will always have a special place in our hearts, the tides are changing and the sign of status, elitism, and education isn’t just having money anymore.

Economists claim that ostentatious displays of wealth have actually fallen out of fashion, to the point that they’re seen as crass by most people.

Instead, conspicuous donations to charity, buying second-hand clothes, collecting ‘useless’ university degrees, using politically correct language and making a point of not watching television are all the newest signs of social status.

tesla3Some attribute this change to the increased affordability of cars, foreign holidays and the buys. Now to do these things isn’t such an amazing feat in the eyes of others.

According to a spokesman for London’s Adam Smith Institute, “Rather than trying to one-up one another by buying Bentleys, Rolexes and fur coats, the modern social climber is more likely to try and show off their ‘authenticity’ by having the correct opinions on music and politics and making sure their coffee is sourced ethically.”

According to the institute’s head of research Ben Southward, “More or less everyone can afford goods that were a show of status int he 1960s and so the competition has gone and we’ve had to move on to something else. It is much harder to learn which products are Fair-trade or which kind of cashmere you should buy, which makes it a much more fertile race to run in.”

Ryan Murphy is an economist that received research on the topic. He claims that fast cars, gaudy diamonds and grand parties have fallen way out of fashion, to the point that they’re actually being seen as somewhat distasteful.

“A wife adorning herself with a fistful of diamonds perhaps could once convince herself that she wears the diamonds because they look beautiful and she loves her husband but, broadly speaking, most of her dinner companions would see it as crass,” explained Professor Murphy, who teaches at the southern Methodist University in Texas.

“In other words, most elements of Western society have moved beyond associating ostentatious displays of wealth with high status.”

The unethical, petty nature of these relatively see-through demonstrations of wealth have been commented on by artists and thinkers for decades and perhaps even centuries, but it seems the elite classes are just catching up.

“If anything, it is simply considered rude; one could say you must signal you are not signaling,” concluded Murphy.

rich person in a teslaOne major demonstration of this; useless university degrees about trendy subjects. According to Sam Bowman, the Adam Smith’s Institute’s executive director, “We all know that people with money try to show it off but focusing on flashy cars and fancy clothes actually misses that, in an era of abundance, the  new ‘aristocrats’ prefer to show off their privilege with hard-to-get retro clothes and objects, studying obscure subjects at university of even taking loud outrage-driven political positions or making conspicuous donations to sometimes wasteful charities.”

Although this spells the beginning of another form of enraging elitism, it’s likely a cultural change for the best. At least there will be more eco-friendly cars on the road.

Safety Tips for Cautious Drivers

Driving is the leading cause of accidental death in America, and most people don’t realize how possible it is to get into an accident until it happens to them. Unfortunately, despite constant warnings and steep fines, people tend to drive dangerously, drive under the influence, and text while driving all the time, sometimes leading to expensive tickets, and sometimes leading to tragic bodily harm to themselves and others.

You can be one step ahead of vehicle-related disaster by being a defensive driver and always having driving caution be your number one priority (over answering that text, finishing up that phone call, getting there on time, and teaching that other driver a thing or two). But how can you practice safe driving on the road? What do you need to keep in mind? Here’s  a quick list of the 5 most important facts any safe driver will never forget:

driving5. If you’re skidding, turn into it.

Even the safest drivers can find themselves unexpectedly hydroplaning on a highway or skidding to a stop when another driver in front of them does something unexpected. If you find that you’ve lost control of your vehicle, remember to look and turn in the direction that you want to go.

Sounds simple, but it’s often difficult in panic-ridden situations to look away from the oncoming tree, car, or whatever you might be about to have a close-call with. Just point with all your might towards the safest path and hope that your traction will catch in time; it’s honestly the best you can do.

4. Leave enough space between you and the car in front of you.

Oldest trick in the book, and perhaps the most ignored as well. Tailgating is commonplace and extremely dangerous and is responsible for everything from fender benders to major accidents on heavily populated roads. Your reaction time is going to have a certain human limit, so be sure to leave some car lengths between you and the vehicle in front of you  to make up for that.

3. Look ahead.

It’s easy to be short-sighted when driving and look only at the space a few hundred feet in front of you. If you pay attention to what’s really coming up ahead instead of only the merge, intersection, or block where you’re driving, you’re more likely to notice any possible issues and have more time to react accordingly. The key to reacting in time is noticing dangerous situations as early as possible.

2. Don’t multitask.

Texting, drinking, reading, eating and all kinds of other activities shouldn’t be done while one is behind the wheel… period. A huge proportion of accidents are caused by inattentive drivers who finally chose to pay attention to the wrong thing at the wrong time.

elderly driver1. Remember how stupid everyone else is.

Unfortunately, all you can assume in this world is that the people around you are inattentive, careless, incompetent, distracted, and overly aggressive drivers. That means it’s up to you, and you alone, to not get hit by another car and suffer whatever traumatic injury comes with it. Defensive driving perspectives are especially important to remember when that jerk cuts you off…

7 Handy Tips for Drivers

Any vehicle owner can benefit from these easy tips for keeping their car running properly and looking great:

toilet plunger1. Use a toilet plunger to fix dents on your car

What? That’s right: If you plunge a car dent, you can create a vacuum that actually pulls small sections of dented metal out into their original shape. Just make sure to wash the plunger first.

2. Applying clear nail polish to windshield cracks can keep them from spreading.

It will only work as a temporary patch (the elements wear down nail polish pretty quickly), but it’s a lot better than nothing. If you need to get to work or are out on a road trip, it may just save you some time and money to patch up your cracks with nail polish until you get to a trusted mechanic.

3. Shoe organizers double as trunk organizers.

Makes sense, right? Set those bad boys up so that they hang from the back of the back seat; you’ll have a variety of see-through pouches that sort out all the supplies you need.

4. Make a cup-holder-suited tissue dispenser.

Easier than its sounds; all you have to do is remove the rolled up tissues out of a tissue box and put it inside a (clean) portable coffee cup; bust a hole in the lid and you’ve got yourself a nice little dispenser perfect for car use.

rubber band phone holder5. Hold your phone exactly where you need it (without your hands).

This one’s crazy awesome: just loop a rubber band through a couple grates in your air conditioning vent and you’ve got a rig that will mount your phone right up near the windshield. This can keep you from risking hands free tickets and is in general safer than looking down into your lap for directions.

6. Extend your car remote’s range by becoming a human antenna.

I’ve never tried this one, but apparently if you put a car remote against your head, it can then use your body as a larger, extended antennae which can then pick up and send frequencies a further range than before. If it’s true, this could definitely come in handy when you’re looking for your car in a huge parking lot.

6. Treat frozen cars with household products.

If your lock is frozen, you can effectively melt it with a generous dab of hand sanitizer. If you’re worried about your doors freezing shut, simply apply some pam cooking spray to the inner rubber before the snow sets in; those doors should open right up!

7. Reduce your blindspot.

Surprisingly, most drivers don’t understand how to adjust their mirrors to be safest and most effective. This is in part due to the fact that the mirrors are set at regulation standards by dealerships before they are sold. To minimize your blindspot, widen your side mirrors to the point that you just barely cannot see the side of your car. It would seem self-explanatory that seeing your car in the mirror does not help you remain more aware of the road, but most of us don’t even think about it.

Make Your Car Safer in Bad Weather Conditions

According to the American Journal of Public Health, bad weather is a factor in up to 30% of all car crashes in the United States each year. This can add to the general displeasure of driving in the rain, sleet, or snow: you’re way more likely than before to end up in an accident and become hurt or hurt someone else. Accordingly, it makes sense to do your best to lower these risks as much as possible. Now that we’ve worked through the Why, here’s an article that can walk you through how to do this:

bad driving conditionsIt all starts with basic maintenance; keep your brakes working at top capabilities, keep your oil changed, make sure you have enough brake fluid, all that stuff. In general, a tune-up before each winter is a good, if expensive idea. That extra money could go towards saving your life… you never know. What you do know is, you don’t want to be broken down at the side of the road when the weather is poor and visibility is bad for fellow drivers. As we already learned, their chances of colliding with you are tripled in these conditions. So yeah, check your oil, transmission, coolant/antifreeze and brake fluids. Get your windshield wipers replaced if they’re looking old or you’ve noticed that they’re not as effective as they used to be. Check your tires and be sure to rotate them and replace them if and when they need it. Balding tires can increase your chances of skidding and/or hydroplaning in bad weather or getting a flat tire and ending up on the side of the road in the same dangerous situation we already discussed earlier.

If you’re wondering how to inspect your vehicle’s car for road-readiness, you’ve got a good question brewing. Tire inspections allow drivers to diagnose problems like lodged sharp objects, worn treads and poor tire pressure before they become dangerous problems. To check the tread, find where it looks most worn and slip a penny into a groove with Lincoln’s head facing down. If you can see the top of his head (because the treads are too worn down and short to extend any further), you may want to buy new tires.

If you’re living in the snow, you need to invest in snow chains. Make sure you understand how to fit them onto your tires and which ones are your drive tires so that you put them on the right pair. They’re not meant to be used on dry surfaces or to be used at high speeds, so make to use them appropriately and safely!

snow chainsKeep road salt, sand or kitty litter at hand. If your tires can’t get traction on an icy surface, a healthy dose of any of these three products ought to either melt the ice or provide enough traction to get you off and moving.

Keep an Emergency Car Kit on hand. You can buy these complete in stores or online, or assemble them yourselves. Just make sure to have bandages, gauze, antibiotic ointment, tape, an instant cell phone battery recharger, reflective triangles, road flares, a distress sign, a small tool kit with basic tools like a crescent wrench and adjustable screwdriver, jumper cables, a battery recharger, an ice scraper, a small shovel, a tow rope, an emergency radio, a blanket or sleeping bag, winter clothing, high-energy foods, etc.

Are Secondary Batteries Right for You?

Today’s RVs are more decked out with charge-hungry appliances than ever before; people are hauling around refrigerators, TVs, blenders, washer/dryers, and all kinds of other technological tools that never knew the nomadic lifestyle until very recently. How do they supply the necessary power for all this stuff? Originally people would sap the precious energy from their car’s starting battery, but now the needed power is so substantial that people would quickly drain the starting battery completely.

The solution? Purchase an auxiliary battery that can be charged using your car’s alternator.  Although you may have never heard of it, the alternator is the your car battery’s right hand man, and they are a package deal.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

The alternator is named in reference to the term alternating current (AC). They are generally installed near the front of the engine and are driven by the crankshaft, and create AC power through electromagnetism, which is then channeled into the battery so it can provide voltage to run your car’s electrical components.

An automotive charging system is actually made up of three major parts consisting of the battery, the alternator, and the voltage regulator. The alternator helps the battery to generate power for services like the lights in your dashboard and the power that comes from your cigarette lighter when you plug in a phone-charging adaptor.

Back to alternating currents: your car battery emits direct current (DC) power, which isn’t as powerful or far-reaching as alternating current power. The alternator uses diodes to convert AC power to DC power so that your car battery can use it.

Ok great, so how do you use it to charge your auxiliary battery? First off, you have to find the right sized auxiliary battery; generally it’s recommended to find the largest one that can fit in your engine so that it can provide the most possible power while also lasting for the longest possible time.

So you get one of those, and then you buy a battery isolator, which is a device that allows your car’s alternator to recharge the auxiliary battery while protecting your car’s starting battery from discharging. Without this, you’re likely to discharge energy from both batteries at once which can eventually leave you in a situation in which your car won’t start and you have no way to power your cell phone or any other appliance to be used in that emergency situation.

battery isolatorBattery isolators are generally made of solenoid, which is a coil wound into a tightly packed helix so that it can create a nearly uniform magnetic field. There are many ways to operate the battery isolators, and the most highly recommended tends to be the VSR (Voltage Sensitive Relay). VSR battery isolators can sense what level of voltage implies that your car is on and what level implies its off and automatically links the batteries for charging purposes when your car is on and isolates your auxiliary battery when the car is off, keeping you from accidentally draining your starting battery.

With the proper equipment, you can charge your auxiliary battery just as you drive along, and with no risk to your car’s function.

The Importance of Transportation in Life

In life you would need transport in so many ways. You already have a car but if there’s breakdown then you either have to rely on public transport or private vehicles. In one way you can see that there would be many different vehicles’ around and each and everyone has its own better deals. When it comes to trucks they help the businessmen for transporting the goods from one place to other. Thus there are many options when it comes to vehicles and each and everyone is important in some or the other way.

The improved infrastructure

Thanks to the better infrastructure that today things have really become very easy. You can move from one place to the other and there won’t be any issues in that. Vehicles really offer you the best way to get your things done. Like if you want to go to office or small work then you can opt for your own car or a small cab. You can also lease the cars if you need. If there is requirement to go far then you can opt for train, air mode or something else. Thus when you have to transit you will get so many choices and every choice would have some reason.

Life is full of options and the choice that you make would depend on many different factors. The first factor is whether your budget is good or not. The second thing is that whether you really are looking for the transport option. If you wish the luxurious mode or simple mode, the cots will become as per that. If you have to move all the goods then you will have to opt for trucks. 

The competition makes a difference 

The reason why you are getting the best deals when it comes to the means of transport is that you have lot of competition around and this is capable of giving you all the very best deals. If you ask one person and if you feel he is quite expensive then again you have ten more choices. Thus the options would surely remain unexhausted. In the times when things are really great you should take advantage of all this. It will take you a long way.

You should always remain alert and vigilant and search for the most competitive deals as available either online or in news papers or around. There was a time when the people who did not afford cars always remain without cars. But thanks to the leasing and renting options that things have literally changed and you can surely take help of many options as available to you.

Just search for the options online. If you book things online then you will also get the benefits of coupon codes. It will surely make a lot of difference. The online shopping has also improved and people can make the best out of all that is available. You just need to be open to things and that will surely make you the smart buyer or the smart consumer.