• Evolution of Hybrid Cars

    Rising in popularity in recent years, you could easily mistake hybrid cars as one the latest trend of mod cons to hit our roads! With cars such as Toyota Prius taking place in popular culture, it may surprise you to learn how long inventors have been exploring the idea of Hybrid cars. We are looking at the evolution of hybrid vehicles, in partnership with Go Green Leasing.

     1830s- Robert Anderson builds the first electric car

    The first ever electric vehicle was built and introduced between 1832-1839. Unlike other vehicles at the time Andersons invention did not run on literal horse power. Instead this four-wheeled electric carriage connected a motor to non-rechargeable power cells.

    1901- Ferdinand Porsche builds the first ever hybrid car

    The German automotive innovator creates the worlds first hybrid car in 1901. Named after the inventor, the Lorde-Porches Mixet hybrid combined an internal combustion engine with electric motors located in the wheel hubs.

    1913- The takeover of gasoline cars

    Gasoline- self-starter cars take over and dominate the automobile industry, while sales of electric and steam-powered cars drop in this period. This drop subsequently leads to a decline in hybrid innovation for 50 years.

    1969- The plug-in car arrives

    The late 60’s seen General Motors reveal several hybrids cars. The first vehicle revealed was the GM’s commuter XP512h which uses a gasoline/electric drivetrain. The company then went to rework the design and introduced the XP- 883 in 1969 with a two-cylinder engine and a plug that fit into a standard wall socket. The electric powered up to 16km after which gas engine would take over.

    1990- NiMH batteries charge up the market

    In 1967 the development of nickel-metal hydride rechargeable batteries began. The cells of hundreds of high-powered charge-discharge cycles. Thanks to the United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC) investing $90 million into the battery, the technology was later improved in the 80’s and was featured in electric and hybrid cars in the 90s.

    Modern day

    Not so long ago, hybrids were the reserve of environmentally conscious school run mums, people living or working under the London congestion charge, and taxi drivers looking to save a bit of money on fuel.

    However, with an ever-growing number of hybrids on the market, they are increasingly becoming a mainstream alternative to conventional petrol and diesel models. Hybrid is ditching the practical image and is slowly becoming the new cool kid on the block, with manufacturers such Mercedes, Mitsubishi and BMW releasing ground breaking models, the evolution of hybrid vehicles is set to keep breaking boundaries.

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  • 10 reasons why your business is losing money

    There’s no doubt that getting up and running with a new business can be very exciting. You are your own boss and that can give you a lot of freedom. However, if you are inexperienced with the corporate world, your enthusiasm could soon fade as the costs start stacking up. Many of those costs, you might not even have foreseen. Perhaps what had started as just a trickle of expenses has, unexpectedly quickly, ballooned into something much more serious. How you use vehicles for business purposes could be to blame – so, let’s look more closely at how you can control these costs better.

    Inefficient use of fuel

    Your vehicles are incapable of running without fuel, making it seem very necessary to spend some of your precious revenue on. However, you might not be maximising the efficiency of that fuel. Alec Lee, operations manager at small-tours firm Rabbie’s, made a major admission to The Guardian.

    He said that training in more energy-efficient driving helped his firm to save money on fuel.Workers were “also decreasing the general wear and tear on the vehicle” – which, in the longer term, could help Rabbie’s reduce its necessity of paying for costly repairs.

    Failure to regularly audit your vehicles

    Spending time carrying out this kind of audit can help you see where cash might be being haemorrhaged, advises Grant Boardman, Fleet Alliance’s regional sales director.

    Boardman, whose firm keeps SMEs supplied with fleet management services, explains: “It’s about understanding the whole-life costs of a vehicle”. That means, he adds: “Not just looking at the purchase or hire price, but other consequential factors over the next three or four years.”

    Leasing commercial vehicles from a single provider

    Does your company routinely hire commercial vehicles, like vans, from the same provider? Then you are making what Boardman has branded a “classic mistake”.

    What you should instead do, he says, is look for a combination of providers capable of offering what you need – and all at what adds up to the lowest possible overall price. He also notes that, in doing so, you should especially strongly consider lease costs and fuel consumption.

    Not paying attention to company cars’ CO2 emissions

    You might often use cars in running your business; cars put to this purpose can be succinctly referred to as company cars. If you indeed utilise cars in this manner, then check, before you decide to buy any such vehicle, how much it will produce in CO2 emissions on the road.

    This is crucial as, for discerning how much tax should be payable on different cars, the government puts these cars into different “emission bands”. The less CO2 emissions a car is responsible for, the better its CO2 rating can be and so the less tax you could need to pay on this vehicle.

    Improper management of your fleet

    If you have an entire fleet of vehicles at your company’s disposal, how is that fleet being managed? If the company is directly handling those affairs, you might want to rethink that strategy.

    John Hargreaves, Kia’s head of fleet and remarketing, has noted that a vehicle fleet poses a “significant overhead” for many businesses. That fleet “should be managed professionally, whether by a dedicated person within the company or by outsourcing to a specialist vehicle management company,” headded.

    Not taking advantage of telematics for cost-cutting

    You might have seen or heard the word “telematics” occasionally popping up in discussions about how money can be saved on corporate vehicles. However, what does it actually mean?

    It is commonly used as shorthand for “vehicle tracking systems”, as they are more formally called. Jenny Powley, who has worked at the RAC as a sales director for corporate partnerships, has recommended such systems that “collect data on the vehicle and give business owners a much better picture of wear and tear, enabling them to take cost-effective preventative measures.”

    Not using fuel cards

    These payment cards are available from various firms, the RAC included, and can help you lower your fuel bills. Furthermore, as Powley points out, when a business owner uses them, they receive “regular reports and can see exactly what is spent, rather than having drivers submit receipts”.

    Taking out vehicle insurance for longer than is necessary

    Your company’s vehicle needs might actually be very low. For instance, they could be limited to requiring simply a van for use in transporting items to a new office or an even more modest car for occasional times that you want to attend a trade show or team bonding event.

    That’s fine, but it doesn’t take away from the need to check that you have insurance for a vehicle before you use it. In the UK, driving without insurance can lead to you incurring a massive fine and other penalties. However, a standard insurance policy lasting a year or more can be much costlier than short term car insurance which you could source through UK broker Call Wiser.

    Trying to meet vehicle costs by pricing products too highly

    You might reason that you need to price your company’s products at a particular – probably relatively high – level because you have hefty costs to pay in keeping vehicles running.

    However, advice posted by Forbes insists on the need to strike a middle ground when pricing products. Set prices excessively high and too many people could be put off. Nonetheless, on the other hand, keeping prices overly low could see you struggling to achieve a profit.

    Whatever prices you settle on, consider that trimming those vehicle costs – by, for instance, using remedies listed in this article –could be a better strategy than keeping your prices high.

    Reluctance to invest in vehicles necessary for growth

    One reason why we are eager to provide advice on how to cut costs of running vehicles is that paying those costs could, ultimately, be necessary for cultivating your company’s growth.

    Therefore, if you have so far resisted drawing extensively on automotive assistance for your own company, this could help explain why it is financially struggling. Avoid the false economy!

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  • The Wunderlich Green Hell ISDT Scrambler Kit for the BMW R nineT

    Fancy something a bit different. How about also stylish and retro. But more practical at the same time? Then maybe you need the Wunderlich Green Hell ISDT Scrambler Kit for the BMW R nineT.

    Rather than the typical cafe racer, Wunderlich have used the BMW bikes entered by the factory in the late 1970s for the International Six Days Trial events. And it’s a good choice, judging by how the finished motorcycle looks.Wunderlich Green Hell ISDT Scrambler Kit for the BMW R nineT

    There’s quite a shopping list of bits added. Starting with the ‘TT’ headlight surround and short, yellow fly screen which definitely give the R nineT a more vintage look. With the green paint, it almost looks like a World War 2 military motorcycle. Then there are the Wunderlich Six Days Handlebars, which can be adjusted for height. And the Clear Protect Hand Guards which are definitely important for off-road riding. And being clear, they don’t spoil the lines of the BMW in the way modern, solid plastic hand guards would. Plus fully-adjustable brake and clutch levers to finish switching the controls to something which can be tailored to any rider.

    Wunderlich Green Hell ISDT Scrambler Kit for the BMW R nineT Side

    But the front is just the start. The traditional Spoked Wheels are now covered with shorter Brushed Aluminium Mudguards to stop stones and dirt being flung at you quite so much. There’s also a new vintage-style Tubular Steel Sub-frame at the bike, which has an integrated brake light. And a brushed, aluminium Number Plate Holder.

    You can also fit the side-mounted Aluminium Number Plate, Monza Fuel Filler Cap and three-piece Tank Pad Set to give even more of a competition vibe.

    But there are more than cosmetic changes. There’s a fully-adjustable Rear Suspension Kit, Fork Upgrade Kit and adjustable Paralever Strut. So you can properly tweak your BMW R nineT to cope with whatever terrain you plan on tackling.

    Don’t put the shopping list down yet though. For added crash protection, there are Engine Crash Bars, Dakar Engine Protection plate, Header Pipe Protector and the Oil Cooler Guard. And there are LED Auxiliary Lights for more illumination, and Sidebags available in black or brown to carry your essentials.

    The good news is that you can buy everything separately. Or just pay for the full conversion with the whole Wunderlich Green Hell ISDT Scrambler Kit for the BMW R nineT in one go.

    About the only bit I’m not entirely sure about is the header pipe protector. It’s useful and practical. But perhaps a little bit ornate to be sat on top of the exhaust pipes like some bronze jewellery. The rest of it looks pretty awesome though.

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  • 2017 Peugeot Django 125i Switches to EasyMotion

    The 2017 Peugeot Django 125i continues to offer a vintage look with modern technology. And for this year, that tech will include the new fuel injected 125cc EasyMotion engine and Syncho Braking Concept (SBC) linked brakes.

    2017 Peugeot Django 125i Evasion Easymotion
    The 2017 Pegueot Django 125i Evasion

    Most new Peugeot scooters are being moved across to the new fuel-injected motor to meet Euro4 emission rules. For example, the horribly-named Tweet also has the same engine. In the case of the retro-style 2017 Peugeot Django 125i, that means around 100 miles per gallon. Under World Motorcycle Test Cycle Conditions, it managed 104mpg. That’s helped by the engine switch not having much effect on the 135kg weight, or the 7.5kW (10hp) output.

    2017 Peugeot Django 125i Allure Easymotion
    The 2017 Peugeot Django 125i Allure tops the range

    The 2017 Peugeot Django 125i also shares the SBC braking system with a number of other scooters from the French manufacturer, including the racier Speedfight4 125. When you apply the left lever, you activate the SBC, which distributes the braking between the 200mm front disc brake and 170mm rear disc. Which should slow you down quickly, without locking the wheels. Or having the front dive like a Premier League footballer.

    If you need to stop any more quickly, then add the right-hand lever for extra power. Obviously there’s no need for a clutch lever with an automatic scooter.

    Although those are two sizeable changes under the surface, the Django has generally stayed pretty unchanged from the outside. You still get a look inspired by the vintage 1950s Peuegot S55. And a mix that incluces an analogue speedo with a digital displayer, for example. Or retro chrome trim with LED indicators, rear and signature lights around the front grille. The under seat lockable storage bay will easily store your retro open-face helmet, but the glove compartment has a 12v socket for your smartphone.

    2017 Peugeot Django 125i S Sport Easymotion
    The coolest of the 2017 Peugeot Django 125i range has to be the matt black S model

    2017 Peugeot Django 125i Model Range:

    If you’re interested in picking up a Peugeot for learning, commuting or as your main transport, then there are 5 different model levels you can choose from.

    • Heritage: Single colours,white wheels and round chrome mirrors.
    • Sport: Grey wheel rims and sport numbers. Dual seat has removable passenger seat shell and chrome hand-grip.
    • S: – based around the Sport, with matt black body panels and colour-matched passenger seat shell. Wheels, fork legs and engine cover are all painted black, with contrasting satin chrome finish on the trim, mirror covers and headlamp peak.
    • Evasion: Two-tone colours, with white wheel rims and white-wall tyres. Painted rear-view mirrors have a chrome surround. Fly screen and chrome front luggage rack are standard equipment.
    • Allure: Two-tone bodywork, grey wheel rims, white-wall tyres and three-tone dual seat. Painted mirrors with chrome surround. Fly screen, colour-match top-case, passenger back-rest and chrome rear luggage rack as standard equipment

    Prices start at £2,799 for a Heritage version, and all of them comes with two-year-unlimited mileage parts and labour warranty. Obviously the matt black S is the coolest, because matt black. We’re not joking – the fact the wheels, forks and engine cover are also black makes it look like it’s going racing in the 1960s. It’s definitely the one we’d pick!

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  • 10 Tips to Keep Your Car Engine in Perfect Condition

    Automotive technology is constantly improving and modern cars are often capable of clocking up more miles than could ever have been dreamt of in the past coupled with ever-increasing service intervals. It almost seems as though we can now simply forget about engine maintenance. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth and keeping an engine in perfect working order requires rather more than good luck! There are a few simple measures that go a long way towards keeping the engine running well, lasting longer and with reduced risk of breakdown.

    1. Frequently Check Oil Levels – This may sound absurdly obvious but it is surprising how many drivers fail to carry out this most basic of all checks. Many cars offer electronic checks of oil levels but these are often wildly inaccurate and only give warning at a very low level. There is no substitute for regular checks on the dipstick.

    2. Change Oil Frequently – The manufacturer’s recommended period between oil changes should be regarded as an absolute maximum figure. Any car subjected to many short journeys or extended periods of high-speed driving will benefit from more frequent changes.

    3. Use Good Quality Oil – Car manufacturers invariably specify suitable grades of oil but even cars for which the lowlier grades are said to suffice will benefit from the use of synthetic or semi-synthetic oils which maintain their viscosity over a wide range of temperatures.

    4. Check Coolant Levels – This is another check that is often overlooked until it is too late. Electronic monitoring of levels is unreliable and waiting until the system overheats often means that major damage has already been done. Obviously, antifreeze should be of the correct concentration and type. Under no circumstances should different types be mixed.

    5. Check the Condition of Belts – Drive belts are an unavoidable feature of car engines powering auxiliary items such as alternators, power steering or air-con. A simple visual inspection and the renewal of any showing signs of wear can help to avoid a future breakdown. For those engines employing belt-driven camshafts, cam-belt failure can be catastrophic. Manufacturers usually specify cam-belt replacement intervals but many breakages still occur within these periods so the best recommendation is to change these belts much more frequently possibly at half of the quoted recommended mileage.

    6. Change Filters Regularly – Oil and air filters lose inefficiency as they are used and so it is essential to change them regularly.

    7. Use the Correct Grade of Fuel – Many cars are designed to run on standard grades of petrol and using a higher octane fuel offers no advantages. Other cars may require a high octane fuel and a lower grade can potentially cause problems such as pre-ignition and overheating. Many others are able to utilise different grades with no risk of damage in which case the higher octane fuels usually offer better performance and efficiency.

    8. Do Not Disregard Engine Warnings – Almost all cars feature a system of on-board diagnostics and any fault usually results in the illumination of a dashboard display lamp. Many drivers regard these warnings as a nuisance and there can be a tendency to ignore them especially when they display intermittently. This is folly and any warning messages must be investigated.

    9. Check for Fluid Leaks – A visual check of the engine compartment should be made for any signs of leaks. Any fluid leak is potentially very serious and should be remedied without delay. Any signs of coolant, lubricant, fuel or hydraulic fluid could all be warnings of impending disaster. Perhaps the only insignificant fluid leak is the dripping of condensation from an air-conditioning system.

    10. Engine-Friendly Driving – Adopting a considerate driving style can reap benefits in terms of running costs and engine longevity. Engines should be treated carefully when cold and warmed up by driving gently rather than by idling for a long period.

    There is a well-known adage of “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!” but this should never form the basis of a maintenance schedule. You certainly would not want your favourite airline to adopt such a policy so why should any motorist? If you can maintain your car correctly then you have the option to browse used cars for sale as well as new ones, in safe knowledge you are able to keep it ticking over in a healty and well maintained way.

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