James R. Cochran


Hybrid cars aren’t only good for the environment. They are easy on your pocket too when it comes to car insurance premiums. The newest fuel craze can help you save much more than you would ever expect with a normal car. Combined with fuel efficiency, you have much to cheer about if you own a hybrid car. These cars help save fuel since they alternate between an electric motor and conventional gasoline engine.

Hybrid cars are considered ‘low risk’ by auto insurance companies, thereby attracting lower premiums. Most auto insurance companies offer a 10% discount to owners of hybrid vehicles. These drivers are more likely to be mature drivers who drive carefully and are less likely to end up in an accident with the need to file claims. Being in the ‘preferred insurance category’ qualifies hybrid car owners for lower insurance rates. Most of these drivers are between the ages of 41 to 60, a group that is considered finically stable and less likely to participate in reckless activities. Some insurance companies are involved in special carbon offsetting programs, where a portion of your insurance premium goes towards the manufacture of environmentally friendly products.

Hybrid car owners are likely to receive cash back incentives, which once again leads to great savings. Besides, it balances out the initial cost of buying a hybrid car. It is advisable to do a bit of comparison shopping for hybrid car insurance. Not every insurance provider offers discounts to hybrid car owners since the repairs in the event of an accident can add up to a significant sum. It is prudent to compare quotes online in order to make a well informed decision prior to purchasing hybrid auto insurance. The bottom line is to save as much as you can and reap the benefits of tax credits along with affordable hybrid auto insurance. Don’t wait for an insurance company to offer you discounts, instead, make sure you ask for them.

In a bid to bring cleaner air to London’s millions of residents and visitors, the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) was introduced in 2008, and it has proved to be a successful initiative. At the beginning of 2012, the parameters of the requirements will be changing, and many companies have so far failed to heed the warnings from Transport for London (TfL).

The city has had a major pollution issue for many decades, and even into the 21st century things didn’t seem to be getting any better. Therefore, the scheme was instigated with a view to encouraging companies of all shapes and sizes to be more aware of their vehicle emissions. Those that failed to meet the requirements would be charged a fee to enter London.

Definitely time for a change

According to TfL, pollution accounts for around 1,000 premature deaths every year in and around London, a staggering statistic when you consider there has been some degree of clean air legislation in place for many decades. Even those who were against the establishment of the zone realised that something really had to be done.

The implementation of the zone was a major project in itself, requiring vast quantities of road signs, leaflets and a major advertising campaign. As is always the case in such matters, the public, as well as the business community, took a little time to get used to the idea. Nowadays, regular visitors to London are all too aware of what’s required of them.

Are you in the zone?

Virtually the whole of Greater London is included in the scheme, which is now the world’s largest low emission zone. The M25 motorway, however, is not part of it, even on the sections that are within the borders of the Greater London region. Some sections of the M1 and M4, as well as parts of Heathrow, also come under the agreement.

In 2012, the scheme will be extended to include such vehicles as larger vans and minibuses, so if your company is likely to be affected by this you should be checking TfL’s website to see what to do next. Failing to meet the requirements of London’s low emission zone could be a seriously expensive mistake.

David Rice is a UK-based writer who travels into London on a regular basis. He writes for car leasing company Nationwide Vehicle Contracts .

Green cars are now hitting production lines, and the waves are hitting the marketplace. Every major manufacturer is developing electric cars, most are looking at hybrids in some form. If you’re a driver, this could be the best thing to happen to your wallet since customizable car insurance.

Ideas are now the big issue in auto technology. The old petrol monsters are definitely on the way out, and the race is now to see which technology triumphs. The main criteria are range, performance, battery efficiency and recharging.

The new species of cars are providing a running commentary on the transport of the future:

Peugeot iOn: electric car

This is a full size family car, with a CO2 output of 0. Created in partnership with Mitsubishi, the iOn is a suburban runabout, with a range of 100km, or to the local mall and back 20 times, on one charge. Recharge of lithium batteries is a 3 point pin system, and takes 6 hours. Top speed is said to be 110kmh.

What’s important about this design is that it’s clearly a purpose built design working on an obvious market segment. This is the family workhorse, the shopping cart and kid’s taxi. Functional designs like this are always successful, and form a huge part of the retail market.

Nissan LEAF electric car

In the same demographic, but with extras and expected to be expensive, the LEAF is a high response vehicle which behaves like a “normal” car. It has a quick charge capability which means it can be 80% recharged in half an hour.

Range and performance are similar to the iOn, and design factors indicate it’s targeted to the same market. The technology has been ramped up a lot, to include the performance factors. The LEAF will be the suburban showcase type of electric car when it hits the market.

(It will be noted that “features” and “extras” are already creating a dichotomy in high and low range electric cars. This is a typical branding approach to vehicles, and you can expect a lot more of these additions in future.)

Audi 1- First full conversion from diesel to electric?

The Audi 1 is a new diesel car which is being realistically touted as the basis of an electric version. This is a particularly important design technology issue for electric cars. The Audi 1 is a direct challenger to the new Mini. Its frame is therefore very well suited for conversion to both electric and hybrid designs. That also minimizes retooling for manufacturing purposes, reducing cost to produce.

That’s a particularly relevant issue in the production of green cars, reducing the need for outlay on specialized production. Car manufacturers have been understandably unenthusiastic about the possible costs of tooling up to produce the new electric cars, and this is definitely one of the solutions. Don’t be surprised to find Audi 1 electric and hybrid models coming onstream soon, because this car is an obvious prototype for future production.

Carbon dioxide emissions from the new cars are continuously reducing. This has been possible thanks to the continous efforts of the vehicle manufacturers who have contributed to the fall of 4.7% of new car CO2 emissions in the first half of 2010 itself compared to the previous year. This data has been released by the Society of Motor manufacturers and Traders.

In June, the data shows that the average for the new vehicles emissions were reduced to 145.2 grams/kilometers. The increase in sales of alternatively fuelled cars and hybrids have a major role in the achievement of this figure.

Manufacturers have developed engines that produces less CO2 emissions and provide more efficiency. The rise is fuel prices and the concern to the global climatic issues are the main reasons for consumers to want cars which run more and smoke less.

“Continued vehicle manufacturer efforts to improve fuel efficiency and cut emissions has further reduced average CO2 output during a better than anticipated first half of 2010,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive

More and more cars are on the road every day, and it is estimated that more than a billion cars will be on the roads by the year 2020. With more and more cars hitting the roads each year, many people are beginning to look for greener options for their vehicles; in fact, governments are even beginning to put pressure on car manufacturers to develop cars that are friendlier to the environment.

While in the past green cars were something that most people only dreamed about, today there are a variety of options available for those who are looking for a car that is environmentally friendly.

Several Different Technology Choices

Today as more and more people become environmentally conscious, there are a variety of greener alternatives that are beginning to show up in show rooms in the United States and even in Europe. For those looking for a car that runs green, there are now several different technology choices to consider, including alternative fuels, battery cars, and of courses the ever popular hybrids.

  • Alternate Fuels – Perhaps the most futuristic technology when it comes to vehicle propulsion is alternative fuels used in fuel cells, which actually happens to be the cleanest form of vehicle transportation. Several car manufacturers are investigating hydrogen powered vehicles as well as cars that are powered by ethanol instead of gasoline. Vehicles with fuel cells have great potential, although it has not been fully explored. In the past infrastructure for these fuels have been a barrier to their product, but Honda has recently opened a station in California that actually is a hydrogen fueling station. Their goal is to show how alternative fuels can perform, offering consumers a new way to look at transportation.
  • Battery Cars – Another type of technology that is employed when it comes to green cars is the electric battery. Actually battery cars have a long and extensive history, and they have been researched for some time. However, it has only been recently that they have shown to be viable in the mass vehicle market. As battery technology continues to improve, more cars are being introduced into the market with battery technology. There are many green advantages to battery operated cars, including great energy efficiency and no pollution; however, until recently they have been very limited, both in speed and electric charging.
  • Hybrids – When it comes to cars that are friendly to the environment, the most popular and promising technology is the hybrid technology. Hybrids are unique, in that they use electric motors and an internal combustion engine as well. Fuel efficiency is boosted, since the electric motor can take over and help to lower the usage of fuel. Since the electric motor offers support, the gasoline engine is a lot smaller and much more efficient as well. In fact, in parts of travel, the gasoline engine may shut down altogether. The energy from the gas engine also helps to charge the battery, so you don’t have to worry about recharging it, like you have to with electric battery cars, and the emissions are significantly lower than other gas powered vehicles. Probably the two most popular hybrid cars on the market today include the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight.

Greener Cars for 2007 and 2008

Today there are a variety of options available when it comes to green cars. There are far more options than there were a few years ago. So, let’s take a closer look at some of the cars that have the best green performance in 2007 and 2008.

One of the greenest cars out there on the market today is the Toyota Prius. This car has a pair of electric motors along with a four cylinder engine. The Prius has the best fuel economy of any mass market car in the United States. The Honda Insight is fairly close to the Prius as well, and also has a lot to offer. You’ll also find that another great car for the environment is the Smart For Two car. It is a small car that only needs a very small motor – a 3 cylinder engine, which gets about 33 mpg around town.

The Nissan Altima Hybrid is also an excellent car which is friendly to the environment and is tuned to get great fuel economy in the city.

Of course these are just a few of the environmental cars that are now available on the market for purchase. It is easy to see that the technology around greener vehicles is ever expanding, and no doubt in the next few years, you will continue to see great strides made in this area of technology as well.

The domination of petrol variants will soon come to an end. A new era of highly efficient and less emission diesel engines are developed which will soon help the diesel variants dominate. The BlueMotion technology from Volkswagen is one of those technologies that have helped reduce emissions.

Volkswagen new MPV, the VW Touran has hit British shores and it looks promising. The Touran was first unveiled at the Leipzig Motor show in April. The Touran comes with a range of petrol and innovative diesel engines. It also comes in the BlueMotion technology form.

The Touran is priced between 17,585 – 25,535 Euros. The new Touran is bigger, better and has a lot of new features. The Touran derives the design from the new Polo, Golf and Touareg. The new Touran gets alloy wheels and touches of chrome everywhere.

The VW Touran comes with a range of new engines. The Petrol variants are the 1.2L TSI giving 105 bhp and the 1.4L TSI giving 140bhp or a greater 170 bhp. The diesel variants are the 1.6L TDI that produces 90bhp and 105bhp and a 2.0L TDI engine that produces 140bhp or 170bhp.

Only the 1.6L TDI and the 1.2L TSI engine is capable in BlueMotion Trim. The 1.2L is capable of returning 47.9 mpg while emitting 139 g/km of CO2. The 1.6L TDI is capable of returning 58.8 mpg while emitting only 121 g/km of CO2.

The Volkswagen Touran have been selling really well in the Europe. With the introduction of the new one, it will hope to sell more and perform better while harming the enviromnent less. This is exactly what Volkswagen wants the Touran to do. Only time will tell us if it does live up to its expectations.

Unique portrait of the 2008 FIA Formula OneTM World Drivers Champion commissioned for National Oil Check Week

Reigning 2008 FIA Formula OneTM World Drivers’ Champion, Lewis Hamilton, became one of the most pictured British sportsmen in the world when he became the youngest driver to win the title.

But none of the portraits of the 24-year old links him so completely to his sport as this stunning portrait in oil, commissioned to kick off National Oil Check Week….Because the twist is that the oil used is Mobil 1 race oil taken directly from the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes car in which Lewis won last year’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Mobil 1, technology partner to Hamilton’s Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team, charged US artist David Macaluso with the creation of the picture of Lewis in typically triumphant pose to celebrate his title success and highlight Mobil’s role in the UK-wide car maintenance initiative (, which kicks off next Monday, June 15.

A limited run of 50 prints of the painting has also been made and one of these special pieces of memorabilia can be won in a competition at in the run-up to the British GP.

The painting will have its first public outing at the ExxonMobil VIP customer event, on the eve of Hamilton’s home Grand Prix at Silverstone.

2008 FIA Formula OneTM World Drivers’ Champion Lewis Hamilton comments: “I’m very impressed with the oil painting. I’ve always known that the Mobil 1 in my race car is an important component that can give us an edge over our rivals in some circumstances, but I’d never have guessed you could use it to paint with; the oil gives this picture a unique look and feel…”

Macaluso, an expert in the use of motor oil as a painting medium, said: “I’ve been recycling used motor oil into paintings since 2005, so it was exciting to do a portrait of Lewis, and it was a privilege. When people look at my portrait of Lewis Hamilton, I want them to know it contains the Mobil 1 that circulated inside his Mercedes-Benz engine. History was made by Hamilton with this oil, and to experience this painting is to be eye-to-eye with that history.

“Painting with the Mobil 1 used motor oil offered a wide range of tones and was obviously a very refined product from its texture. It was extremely smooth and very particle-rich, with all the engine dirt in perpetual suspension, making for a great painting medium.”

Mobil 1 UK marketing manager, Gary Plumridge, said: “Lewis’s World Championship win last season was the fifth Formula 1 drivers’ title Mobil has won but it was perhaps the most satisfying because of the thrilling manner in which the title was decided.

“We wanted to create something that celebrates Lewis’s spectacular triumph but also highlights the vital role that Mobil 1 plays in the performance and protection of any engine.”

National Oil Check Week ( was set up by Comma Oil, owned by ExxonMobil, to encourage the UK’s 35 million motorists to carry out basic car maintenance tasks like checking oil levels, after it was revealed that 17% of UK drivers were risking an average repair bill of £1,413 by never checking their oil, while a staggering 1 in 5 cars on the road has so little oil in the engine that it is perilously close to suffering a catastrophic breakdown.

Mobil 1 pledged its support to the National Oil Check Week campaign along with Esso service stations and Halfords, the UK’s leading car parts and accessories store.

Volkswagen’s technologically advanced 2.0 Liter turbodiesel was recognized as a 2009 10 Best Engine by Ward’s Automotive Group. The all-new 2.0L clean diesel TDI engine features common rail injection and is the first of a new generation of dynamic and efficient diesel engines from Volkswagen.

“We’re pleased that Ward’s has recognized our advanced 2.0-liter clean diesel engine as one of their 2009 10 Best Engines,” said Stefan Jacoby, CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. “The all-new 2.0L turbodiesel engine is not only the first of its kind to be emissions-compliant in all 50 states, but perhaps the most technically refined powerplant of its kind in the world.”

As the pioneering entry in the new era of clean diesel in North America, the new TDI engine technology in the Jetta sedan and SportWagen meets the United States most stringent emissions control standard — California’s Tier II/Bin 5 — without the use of urea injection. Additionally, the technology enables 20- to 40-percent better fuel efficiency than gasoline engines with comparable acceleration and significantly better torque.

When compared with gasoline/electric hybrid applications, the new clean diesel TDI enables comparable fuel efficiency with better performance and proven long-term durability. In terms of cost, the clean diesel TDI-equipped Jetta sedan — which went on sale in September of 2008 in the U.S. — has a starting price that’s significantly less than the most popular similar-sized gas/electric hybrids sold, and there are no batteries to replace over the life of the vehicle.

“The TDI clean diesel technology truly enables a no compromises alternative fuel driving experience,” said Jacoby. “They’re clean, efficient, quiet and affordable without sacrificing what every driver wants: performance that makes motoring flat-out fun.

“The joy of driving — along with affordable technology — has always been part of the Volkswagen promise, and these new clean diesel TDIs are just the latest example of how we’ll continue to fulfill that promise.”

In response to the U.S. federal mandate for Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD), Volkswagen has been able to greatly reduce nitrous oxide (NOx) and particulate emissions on its clean diesel TDI engines through use of three key technologies: a common rail direct injection system; piezo fuel injectors; and an advanced exhaust system aftertreatment system. The result is a reduction of NOx and particulate emissions by up to 90-percent; exceptional noise and vibration harshness performance; and fuel efficiency on par with more complex and expensive gas/electric hybrid systems.

Unlike other clean diesel engines which use a urea injection system to convert NOx to nitrogen and water, the TDI Clean Diesel uses a NOx-storage catalyst, which is basically a reservoir that temporarily holds the noxious emissions, like a particulate filter, until they can be burned off during one of the engine cycles. A common-rail direct-injection system — used instead of a traditional mechanical system — incorporates piezoelectric fuel injectors. Combined, this technology permits higher injection pressures, which better atomize the fuel and make it easier to control pollution with a leaner, more efficient burn within the combustion chamber.

The piezoelectric injectors also enable a quick on/off feature that enables engineers greater leeway in spray timing and density, which in turn greatly reduces noise and vibration — e.g. “knock” — commonly associated with diesel engines of the last century.

Volkswagen of America, Inc.

Founded in 1955, Volkswagen of America, Inc. is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia. It is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. Volkswagen is one of the world’s largest producers of passenger cars and Europe’s largest automaker. Volkswagen sells the Eos, Rabbit, New Beetle, New Beetle convertible, GTI, Jetta, Jetta SportWagen, GLI, Passat, Passat wagon, CC, Tiguan, Touareg 2 and Routan through approximately 600 independent U.S. dealers. All 2009 Volkswagens come standard-equipped with Electronic Stabilization Program. This is important because the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has called ESC the most effective new vehicle safety technology since the safety belt. Visit Volkswagen of America online at or to learn more.

UK’s first hydrogen fuel station has opened at Birmingham University, despite a shortage of potential customers.

The station is the first of 12 outlets planned to open nationwide by 2010 and will serve a campus fleet of five fuel-cell cars. It’s the first part of the infrastructure needed to support the far-off prospect of hydrogen-powered cars in the UK.

The vehicles are part of the university’s own fleet, and will allow engineering researchers to learn more about their efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Professor Kevin Kendall from the University explained the reasoning behind the station: “It is absolutely necessary that we have the means to refuel our fleet of hydrogen-powered cars so that we can carry out our research into the feasibility of hydrogen in a transport context.”

Air Products installed the fuel station and also recently announced that it is working with Transport for London (TfL) to build fuel stations for a fleet of 70 hydrogen-powered vehicles being introduced from next year.

Meanwhile, the hydrogen itself will be provided by Green Gases Ltd, which manufactures the gas using renewable biomass energy, an approach the university claims will ensure that both the manufacturing process and use of the fuel cells will result in no carbon emissions.

Further growth is expected, with perhaps 12 hydrogen filling stations around the UK by 2010, raising the possibility of commercial production of cars powered by fuel cells.

The folks over at PlanetThoughts are sponsoring Super-Cars Shout Out Competition as a way to recognize eco-conscious citizens fight against climate change by driving a high-mileage car.

The concept is simple:

  1. Find high mileage cars in your area. PT has a list of high-mileage cars (>40 mpg…)
  2. Place the PlanetThoughts flyer on the windshield and take a picture of the car.
  3. Send it in to PlanetThoughts.
  4. Click here for full details.

We all want to do what we can to reduce the global warming gases that get emitted, especially in our own areas of living and working, where we have the most direct influence. To add another dimension, it would be great to congratulate others who are doing something to help the environment.

To offer your congratulations, print off one of the contest’s flyers, place on a high-mileage car you encounter in your day-to-day activities, take a picture, and upload it to PlanetThoughts. The winner will receive a cash prize of at least $500 (see below). Car owners whose vehicles appear on the site also have a chance at some cash: contact the folks at PT if your car appears in a contest photo, and you’ll be entered into a monthly drawing for $50. The contest runs through the Labor Day.


Despite the recent increase in news coverage of global warming, main stream media generally provides their audience with little more than surface information addressing global environmental issues. Further, the vital issues of energy availability, “peak oil” and of resource depletion are rarely mentioned. This failure has real consequences in a world that must immediately confront and plan for these mounting challenges. It is essential that the vast majority of the citizenry be informed on these issues as they are unprecedented in the scope and depth of their impact on daily life. is organized around the environmental aspects of this converging crisis. These issues underlie many of the immediate challenges that global society faces. believes that the path to a solution lies first in better understanding of the environmental basis for these conditions, followed by and in parallel with collective action to change government policies and societal attitudes.

Their Web site ( provides focused environment information with positive energy and insight, for concerned individuals around the world. The specific means for this include news items, blog entries, quotes, reviews, stories, and tips. They refer to these items as “PlanetThoughts”.

We hope you will join their community early and often, with an eye towards a positive future for us all. Clear information is the first step toward creating a population of citizen leaders committed to protecting and bettering the world’s environment