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Top 5 Safe Cars of 2017

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The modern car is built with safety very much in mind. Endless tests are done to help prevent accidents from happening in the first place, and if they do, protecting the driver and passengers in the vehicle is a priority. Though all manufacturers now make safety their aim, some cars are better than others. So, let’s take a look at some of the safest cars on the market these days and what it is that makes them so great.

Hyundai Ioniq

When it comes to small family cars, the Ioniq stands up there with some of the very best on the market. Many people will be impressed to read that it boasts a five-star Euro NCAP rating which is very difficult to obtain. It is available in three distinct models: standard hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure electric model. The looks are fairly standard, but beneath the surface, it is a car that has safety at its very core.

Toyota Prius

It would be hard to write an article about the safest cars on the market without giving the Toyota Prius a mention. The original car that popularised the hybrid trend, the Prius is now in its fourth generation and safety is very much a priority. The main advantage of the Prius is that it is packed with the latest technological features including an autonomous braking system and lane-keeping assist. Not only this, it was voted Euro NCAP’s safest large family car in 2016.

Honda Jazz

If you are looking for a small vehicle that is also very safe, look no further than the latest Honda Jazz. Though this is a car that is targeted at a younger market, it may well be parents who are impressed by the safety features and suggest this as a perfect first car. For added peace of mind, it is worth having them take a defensive driving traffic school online. Spaciousness and practicality are two features that have always been focused on, but now the five star Euro NCAP crash test rating is an added bonus.

VW Touran

With a comfortable interior and good level of driveability, the VW Touran is an excellent choice for family buyers. The engine is economical, meaning that running costs are relatively low. And with regards to safety, it has scored well across the board. It scored particularly highly in the Child Occupant category which means that children ride in the safest seats possible.

Ford Galaxy

Those who after a large vehicle that is also safe, the Ford Galaxy comes right near the top of the list. It performed very well across all categories of the Euro NCAP which means that it is a very safe car indeed. New additions include better quality materials and a touchscreen infotainment system. Despite its large size, the steering and suspension are good which means that it is fun to drive as well as being practical and safe.
These are just five of the top safe cars on the market. The general rule of thumb is that the newer the vehicle, the safer the car tends to be.     

Beijing to Replace All Taxis with Electric Vehicles


This is news very near and dear to my heart and lungs. Reducing toxic air pollution in urban environments is crucial to improving public health. If you live in an urban city, you may or may not be familiar with AQI, the air quality index. This measures the amount of ground-level ozone, particulates, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide in the air. Depending on where you live, the AQI will exclude some of these measures. But ground level inhaled particulate matter and other toxins spewed from internal combustion vehicles have adverse affects on local lives, including asthma, bronchitis, sinus infections, cancer, and death. Especially in Asia, which has developed so much industrially and socioeconomically, pollution is a very big, very visible problem. Many months of the year, citizens are encouraged to wear face masks, and you can forget about exercising outside unprotected. So it is great to see China taking action against localized deadly pollution.

China will begin to replace all taxis in Beijing with electric vehicles. All new replacement models for decommissioned taxis will have to be electric starting in 2017. Hopefully, China will make a serious push to lower their toxic emissions, because as of right now, the smog can reach as far as the west coast of the United States, thanks to prevailing wind patterns. But the most harmful pollutants are happening on the streets, as localized emissions are trapped between buildings and hover on the sidewalks and windows where people live, work, and play. This type of pollution is usually not expressed by AQI indexes because of where the monitors are set up, so the harmful effects are much worse than indicated.  Electric vehicles are the best way to reduce localized air pollution in urban environments.

New Battery Technology will transform the Electric Car Market

Imagine a future where electric cars are normal. Petrol and diesel pumps will be a thing of the past and instead fuel stations will simply be recharging points. There will be far less pollution resulting in better health and fitness levels in the population. There will also be far less noise, with the quiet, serene hum of the electric car all you can hear. There are of course many people who already drive electric vehicles. The Tesla, Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf are all examples of cars that have either electric or hybrid technology and they are already being driven about the roads.

 

Porsche 2016 NAIAS

If the vision is so good however, why don’t we all have electric cars? Are we missing out on a perfect reality already, simply because we are all too lazy to make the switch?In reality, there are still several problems with electric car technology. First and foremost is the battery technology.

The future of car battery technology

Batteries on the market today are so big that they take up much of the car. The Tesla Model S, for example, has a battery pack that is 1.2m wide and yet it will only last about 300 miles (482km) before it needs to be plugged in and recharged again. Recharging is a bit of a pain also and takes a long time. Filling the tank up with petrol and then being able to use the car straight away seems, for many of us, a much better deal.

However, we are at the dawn of a new age when it comes to battery technology, the key thing that is holding the electric vehicle market back. Researchers from the MIT and from Peking University in China have suggested the industry moves towards a new kind of lithium oxygen batteries that are up to 15 times more efficient than current batteries.

What’s the problem at the moment?

Currently, although lithium-oxygen batteries are used in the industry, they require a reaction that involves carbon dioxide and water in addition to oxygen. When a battery is running it takes in air which causes a reaction to take place and then there is a need for an outflow so that the battery can recharge. This requires the battery to be very large and results in the charging process being quite long and tedious.

Porsche 2016 NAIAS

How do the researchers solve the problem?

The researchers have come up with a method which means that oxygen does not ever have to revert to a gas in the charging process. This means that there is no need for a two way flow in the charging system and so the battery size needn’t be so large. Instead, oxygen transforms directly within the enclosed battery. In the current system, most of the energy is wasted as heat, due to the chemical reaction resulting in carbon dioxide and water. This results in the batteries being far less efficient than their potential. In the new system the heat is not generated to such an extent and so the batteries can run for much longer.

No risk of overcharging

Because there is no risk of overheating and because it is an internal reactive process, there is no risk that the batteries will overcharge. The research team experimented with overcharging and found that there was almost no risk of this happening.

Conclusion – the future is bright

It seems that the future for the electric car is much brighter thanks to this new battery technology. The researchers aim to get it out to the real world within a number of months so that manufacturers can move the technology forwards. Once this happens, it is only a matter of time before the electric car can manage long journeys without the need to recharge. A future with electric car technology seeming normal now looks far more likely.

2016 Ford GT

Today’s top car manufacturers are striving for perfection. Just look at Porsche Boxster parts or at the newest Tesla. It’s only normal for things to get better with every year that goes by. However, even if these two are currently at the top, it doesn’t mean that less known manufacturers won’t come to the surface. Because they will, and their batteries might be more ground-breaking.

On the Volkswagen I.D.

You know, I really don’t want to drive anymore.  I used to love it,  as a teenager drag racing my hunk of junk hand-me-down Saab like it was a souped up ’69 Mustang, I had a lot of fun behind the wheel.  But now that I’m older, I really just want to get from point B to point A, safely, quickly, with the least amount of distractions.  With the introduction of ride sharing services like Uber, autonomous drive technology, and better public transit in many places, driving is sort of becoming a pastime, rather than a necessity.  I never thought I would say this, but I’m all for it.  I would love to just plop down in my car, check the news, prepare for work, learn a new language, and boom, be at point B, without looking up from my iPhone.

American drivers spend an average of more than 17,600 minutes behind the wheel each year, according to a new survey. -AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

Let’s get out my calculator here.  That is about 48 minutes a day that we spend concentrating, worrying, stressing, and reacting to whatever the road throws our way.  I never really noticed how much I don’t want to be driving until one day I was chauffeuring my wife and father in law, in my father in law’s car, through a busy, foreign super metropolis.

Which bring me to the Volkwagon I.D., VW’s first foray into the electric vehicle market.  The car has an expected release date in 2020 and has specs that seem pretty optimistic right now.  It will be an affordable all-electric hatchback priced at about $30,000.  The range, 375 miles per charge, is truly astounding at that price point. The I.D. has a 168 HP electric motor which is pretty strong for the small hatchback that it is and the instant torque that electric motors are capable of.  The I.D. will be equipped with hardware for autonomous driving called I.D. pilot mode.  But VW says the full-autopilot feature won’t be completely ready until 2025.

The I.D. represents that fact that major manufacturers are starting to take innovative  automotive seriously.  So it is great to hear that VW has finally loosened it’s grip on the diesel passenger car, and is making an effort to participate in the all-electric drive market. But something tells me that they might be late to the autonomous drive market by 2025, with many major players like Uber, Hyundai, Tesla and more already putting autonomous vehicles on asphalt.

The Volkswagen I.D. is an exciting prospect as and affordable everyday electric driver with autonomous capability.  Let’s hope it won’t be too late for VW to take advantage of of revolutionary transportation technology will be moving very fast before 2025.

CarbonCounter.com has a great app where you can compare prices and carbon emissions

You’ve gotta check this out! The folks over at MIT have crunched the numbers and found overwhelming support that not only do electric vehicles emit less pollution over their lifespans, but many are also cheaper after tax rebates. The results are surprisingly obvious. If you need help understanding, the points to the left on the chart are cars that cost less (initial price, maintenance, and fuel), and points that are lower on the chart have less lifecycle emissions (production, tailpipe, electricity generation, ett.). So don’t worry, these MIT guys have factored in all of the assumptions to make your choice easier. You can also customize the app by changing variables such as the cost and sources of electricity and gasoline prices. This is a fascinating app and I hope they keep it updated for future makes and models. Electric vehicles are orangish yellow.

Carboncounter was created by Marco Miotti, Geoffrey J. Supran, and Jessika E. Trancik at the MIT Trancik Lab, based on reference [1], and programmed by Marco Miotti using AngularJS and D3.

Costs are given in 2014 USD. Vehicle specifications were obtained from manufacturer websites and cars.com, and are based on 2014 models (except for the Toyota Mirai, Chevrolet Bolt, and Tesla Model 3). Emissions were calculated based on the Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation (GREET) model, developed by Argonne National Laboratory. Fuel economies reflect the official EPA ratings, which are based on a standardized test procedure specified by U.S. federal law.

Details on the calculation of costs, greenhouse gas emissions, and emission targets can be found in the Supporting Information of reference [1].

[1]: M. Miotti, G.J. Supran, E.J. Kim, J.E. Trancik, Environmental Science & Technology, 2016.

Seven magical societal benefits that driverless cars might deliver

The driverless car is becoming more than just a possibility. Google already use autonomous cars within a designated zone around their business and several manufacturers are extremely close to developing the true driverless vehicle. It is safe to say it is merely a matter of time before it becomes a reality. There are several benefits associated with driver less cars. Some of them are meant to provide better safety when behind the wheel; others are eco-friendly and a lot more secure to the environment. Let’s have a closer look:

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  1. Safety

The most obvious benefit from driverless cars taking over the road is the decreased risk of accidents. As every driverless car knows the position and speed of the other vehicles on the road it is able to predict and avoid accidents. This is coupled with some major advancements in safety measures which will increase the ability of any vehicle to stop quickly. Fewer accidents will mean fewer injuries and a potential huge saving to medical costs around the world as well as reduced insurance premiums.

  1. Traffic

Theoretically there will actually be fewer vehicles on the road as a driverless car can be sent back to your house to be used by a family member or even used by someone else commuting to work. In effect, the car could become less personal.  In addition to this a car which knows where all the other vehicles are on the road will easily be able to plot and navigate the best possible route to any destination without needing to encounter traffic.

  1. Free time

Whether you are a salesperson or just a regular commuter you will spend many hours every week behind the wheel of your car driving. In the future this will not be necessary. Instead you will be able to use this time to get important paperwork or other issues resolved. The cars of the future will be wirelessly linked to the internet making it possible to do anything while commuting. The result is more free time, either in the car to get stuff done, or, at home when you would normally have to complete you paperwork and other tasks.

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  1. Emissions

Despite a variety if control mechanisms emissions are still steadily increasing. Much of this is actually connected with the increase in the number of cars on the road. Increased vehicles increases traffic and the need to start and stop. This dramatically increases emissions. However, an autonomous car will be able to work out the right speed and route to take to get to a destination without actually needing to stop, dramatically reducing emissions. In addition it is likely that many of the next generation of vehicles will be electric and have zero emissions.

  1. Improved Transport Links

As mentioned the driverless car is likely to be a less personal possession and ore about simply getting to where you need to go. In effect there will be massive car sharing pools. Buses will no longer be necessary in towns; the electric car will simply turn up at your door and drop you off. It is even possible that a car charge could be made to every household which would cover the cost f keeping the car pool charged. A car could then be dispatched in seconds to any house via an electronic link.  Transport would be available for everyone!

  1. New Job Creation

The driverless car will result in job mosses as there will no longer be a need for long distance lorry drivers, taxi drivers, or eve, pizza delivery drivers. However, the other side of this is that there is likely to be an increase in software jobs and wireless technologies and support for the infrastructure of the autonomous car.

Acura Precision Concept

  1. Better Health

Traffic jams are said to be extremely bad for people’s health as they increase blood pressure and the risk of strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems. If driverless cars eliminate traffic jams they will also eliminate a large amount of stress! Now that’s definitely good news, since most drives today are pretty angry when they’re behind the wheel.

Wouldn’t you agree that driverless cars might make our lives easier? Everyone wants to get from point A to B in due time, and never be late. Driverless cars might actually improve our lifestyles. We could get anywhere, anytime and without having to worry about accidents or other drivers on the street.

 

By Christopher Austin and PPCGB.com!