Hybrid Electric Vehicles

In the past few years, hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) have been getting a lot of press, both good and bad. As with any new technology—that is, any technology newly offered to the public—there are proponents and opponents to the wide use of HEVs. Pros and cons are bandied about freely, and it can be difficult for the average person to weed out any useful information. Here is a brief, simple synopsis of the advantages and disadvantages of HEVs.

The most obvious benefit of HEVs is lowered environmental impact. A vehicle that’s powered solely by electricity produces absolutely no emissions. Admittedly, a hybrid vehicle does emit some carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, but only from the gasoline-driven engine. If your vehicle is powered by electricity 50% of the time, it will reduce harmful exhaust emissions by 50%.

Hybrid vehicles are quieter, and cause less noise pollution—an important consideration in urban areas. The engine only runs when the vehicle is being actively propelled forward. Over time, this trait also cuts down on overall energy consumption.

Another obvious benefit is that HEVs run on a fuel source that is already readily available, and that does not depend on foreign oil. The United States already has numerous electrical power plants that are already producing vast amounts of electricity.

For the most part, hybrids are easy to fuel up. The majority of hybrid vehicles on the market today have batteries that can be plugged in and recharged; an adaptor allows most hybrid owners to “fuel up” their vehicles at home. Some cities make charging stations available, as well.

However, there are downsides, as well. HEVs use a lead-acid battery. These can take a long time to charge, sometimes as long as 10 hours. This is not so much of a problem if you’re at home and plan on leaving your car to charge overnight, but it can be decidedly inconvenient when you’re traveling. In the future, as HEVs become more prevalent, you can expect charging stations with the capacity to charge batteries in a fraction of that time will to become available.

Another drawback is that while hybrids do vary somewhat in the distance that they can travel on a fully charged battery, the average is about 60 miles per charge. Again, this isn’t much of an obstacle for a hybrid vehicle, which can switch over to gasoline power at need—but decidedly inconvenient for a car with fully electrical propulsion (EV). In addition, the batteries have a limited shelf life—roughly three years—and are extremely expensive to replace.

Researchers are experimenting with other types of battery, such as nickel-metal hydride, nickel cadmium, and lithium-ion batteries. At present, these types could offer better performance, but the costs are prohibitive.

Lastly, the purchase cost of a hybrid vehicle is a major deterrent for many people who are considering “switching over.” HEVs are still more significantly more expensive that their gasoline-driven counterparts. To some degree, decreased fuel consumption, better fuel economy, and reduced maintenance costs serve as a counterbalance to the higher cost. There are also governmental tax credits, at the federal and sometimes even at the state level, for individuals who purchase hybrid vehicles.

Is it worth it to replace your current vehicle with an HEV? That depends. Only you can say. Do your research, and do the math. Look at all of the different factors involved, and make an educated decision. Only you can know if an HEV is the best choice given your life, your preferences, and your budget.

Commercial Vehicle Soundproofing

Anyone who’s ever driven a van for a living will know that they have never been the most comfortable of vehicles. In many ways it’s understandable as they’re there for a purpose, and that’s to do a job. They’re the workhorses of manufacturing and delivery drivers. What’s most important is that these vehicles need to be totally reliable and dependable. Yes they can be threadbare and a little Spartan, but that’s a small price to pay for the greater good.

But time has moved on, and things have now changed. Vehicle designers now appreciate that commercial vehicle drivers deserve a bit of peace and quiet too, so the modern breed of van is an entirely different animal these days to what we’ve been accustomed to. Unfortunately, there are still quite a lot of older vans on the road that are noisy and uncomfortable to drive. However, changes in health and safety legislation have meant that companies now have to modify these vehicles to protect their staff’s health. The Noise at Work regulations now places the responsibility on the employer to ensure that personnel are not exposed to excessive levels of noise whilst travelling in company vehicles.

Most businesses who are compelled by this legislation to make the necessary changes to fleet vehicles, probably expect the cost of soundproofing commercial vehicles to be prohibitive, but the fact of the matter is that it needn’t be. There are a number of companies that produce and manufacture a range of commercial vehicle soundproofing products that are both highly efficient and cost-effective. These companies work extensively with many responsible commercial companies, and help them to retro-fit both individual vehicles and whole company fleets. Sound proofing a commercial vehicle is easily achieved by reducing the engine noise, road noise and also the vibrations and the amplification effect generated in the rear of the vehicle. Soundproofing products are now also widely used in industrial vehicles like tractors, forklift trucks, surveillance vehicles, police dog vans, mod trucks, mini bus conversions, mini diggers, and mobile recording studios.

What sort of commercial vehicle soundproofing products are available?

Manufacturers produce a whole range of soundproofing products for commercial vans and vehicles. All of these tailored products deliver significant noise reduction and excellent thermal insulation properties. Below are just some of the typical soundproofing products available for use in retro-fitted commercial vehicles:
Engine Bay Solutions
Vibrasorb panels are applied to the bonnet lid to reduce vibrations and absorb engine noises.
Barrier Mat is applied to the bulkhead, inner wings and wheel arches where possible to reduce noise and vibration
Acoustic Engine Blankets are fitted over the engine.

Interior Cab Solutions

Barrier Mat is applied inside the cab to the seat boxes, doors, front wheel arches, and footwells.
Sound Barrier sheets are used on the front floors, under the seat boxes and between the seats.

Rear Panel and Floor Options
Barrier Mat or Egg Box vehicle soundproofing materials can be used to reduce the drumming of rear side and roof panels.
Sound Barrier can be used on the floor areas.
Lead Sandwich or Barrier Mat can be used on rear wheel arches.

Practical Car And Van Hire – Things To Know When Renting A Car

Renting car and van hire in Britain is expensive. Automatics are much more expensive than manual transmission cars. Some car hires don’t even have automatics, because every car in Britain seems to be manual.

Insurance is expensive because of the way it is handled. No matter if your insurance company coverage is adequate or not, there is a high excess (deductible). The excess is added to your rental charges until you return the car. You can pay another fee that reduces the excess, as well.
There is also Tire and Windshield Insurance that you must pay in addition to any other insurance.

The fueling is the same in Britain as in the United States; you must return your vehicle with the same amount of petrol in it as there was when you left. If you return your vehicle with less fuel than you had upon leaving it, they refill it at the current rate plus a small service charge. They do not gouge you for gas by charging the highest rate possible; it’s just the average, plus the service charge.

Most places in Britain inspect the cars rather well before handing you the keys. In any case, be certain to look over your practical car and van hire before leaving the premises, as you will be responsible for the excess should you return the vehicle damaged in any way.

If you are on vacation in Britain, and are looking for a practical car and van hire, the rental agent will want to see your passport and, possibly, your flight details in order to confirm that it is a temporary hire.

It’s best to rent with a credit card and remember that Discover Card is rarely accepted in Britain.

It’s a good idea to shop online for car hire in England. The terminology for a standard car rental is practical car and van hire. If you enter this information into a search engine, you will come up with hit after hit for car hires all over Britain, North Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. If you are visiting or on vacation, you may want to go with a major car rental firm, one whose name you recognize, as they are most adjustable to visitors and vacationers not familiar with excess charges and Tire and Windshield Insurance.

Mostly, renting a car in Britain is not so much different from renting a car in the United States, except that the steering wheel is on the other side of the car, and you must remember to drive on the left instead of the right. Car hire is commonplace at airports and hotels and the international chains like National, Enterprise, and Avis offer the same expedience services they do in the States. So, the process will not be unfamiliar to you, even if some of the charges and most of the vehicle options will be.

The best thing to remember about arranging practical car and van hire in Britain is to be patient and learn to adjust, mostly to manual transmissions and driving on the left.