The automotive industry is constantly updating itself, investing in the latest technologies and produce eco-friendly vehicles. This may change the way we perceive cars. Cars are usually believed to have a huge negative impact on the environment but that may soon be a thing of the past.
Car companies are working not just on minimising the impact but making their vehicles more green and sustainable. With the introduction of zero-emission vehicles, hybrids, and electric cars are some eco-friendly vehicles in the current market. This greener car reality is just around the corner.
Why go towards green technologies you may ask? Because this is not the same world today as it was yesterday – more and more people understand environmental accountability and consider the carbon footprint, sustainability and eco-friendliness of a vehicle before making their purchase.
There are a number of specific technologies that can and are being adopted to achieve these goals. However the question arises: will they really be able to benefit the world?
Electric Vehicles and Body Panel Batteries
In short, electric cars rely on rechargeable batteries to power the electric motors. These vehicles are more energy efficient and produce less harmful emissions than the average car. However, one of the biggest issues with these cars is their battery. Charging stations are not nearly as common as fuel stations, so going on a long drive on these cars may not be a viable option.
It seems that car manufacturers such as Volvo have figured out the solution though: body panel batteries. They plan to replace some of the steel body parts with polymer-infused carbon fiber composite material that can be used to store up energy much like batteries.
Moreover, the nanomaterial will also lessen the car’s overall weight, which will reduce battery usage. Once introduced, these panels will work twofold by providing extra power without compromising on storage, and reducing energy consumption by lowering weight.
Tyres to Purify the Air
You may perceive tyres as simple car components that help vehicles move – with not much room for improvement. You’ll be surprised to learn that they can be multi-functional to not only prevent but also improve the problem of air pollution.
The tyres that we see on the road right now are made of rubber which, as a rule of thumb, is difficult and unsustainable to produce. The rubber goes through vulcanisation which exposes them to sulphur for hardening. In addition to the best eco tyre manufacture practices involved, with time the tyre rubber wears down to tiny particles which get into the very air that we breathe.
Goodyear offers an eco-friendly solution to this problem. Their new tyre called Oxygene will actually clean the air instead of polluting it. The tyres will be filled with living moss that will absorb the water/moisture from the roads. Then, the moss will go through photosynthesis and absorb carbon dioxide present from the air and, in turn, produce oxygen.
As these concept tyres need more strengthening, they are 3D printed with rubber powder extracted from recycled tyres. How much greener can they get? The only downside is that these tyres are – as of now – only conceptual. It may be a few years before we actually see them produced and available for use. But once they are, they may well be a game-changer in the tyre market.
IoT, Connected Cars and Other Advancements
The automotive industry is working on a number of eco-solutions, but not all of them are tangible. A good example is the Internet of Things (IoT): a network between all devices offering Internet compatibility. It allows for better communication between the devices and their environment. And that means better vehicular functionality and a greener future.
Currently car companies are focusing on the vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication. The former will enable the vehicles to communicate with each other while driving and calculate the other’s speed, position, and distance. Vehicle-to-infrastructure on the other hand will focus on the communication between vehicles and infrastructure like traffic lights, buildings, bridges and railings to estimate road safety and weather conditions.
By allowing such levels of communication for the vehicles, our roads will surely become safer and less prone to human errors. It is estimated that this technology has reduced accidents in the United Kingdom by 81%. In essence, the connected cars will not just be beneficial for us, but the environment as well.
Connected cars are likely to be more efficient as they can connect to the infrastructure and adjust with the driver’s driving accordingly to use the least levels of fuel required. In contrast, most cars rely on precious non-renewable energy sources such as oil and gas.
Some of these technologies may appear too good to be true – even something out of a sci-fi movie! But when you consider that the concept of cars themselves may have seemed impossible a few hundred years ago, it feels like having more eco-friendly vehicles a reality . The automotive industry is heading towards a sustainable path that will be as easy on the environment as it will be on the pocket. The future looks promising. Eco-friendly vehicles are here to stay.