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In this day and age, we’re all looking at how we can have a positive (or less negative) impact on the environment in general. We must start taking better care of our planet in order to make sure that future generations (and the planet itself) don’t suffer as a result of our irresponsibility.

For the last decade or so especially, car manufacturers have sought to design vehicles which run in as eco-friendly a way as possible. Of course, these sorts of vehicles are not suited to every driver, but there are many of us who could switch to a more eco-friendly option.

Smart cars don’t suit many drivers – especially those who drive long distances daily. They’re better suited to the city due to their small size and inability to drive more than 70 miles or so – but if you do live in the city and only need to drive such distances, the Smart car could be perfect for you. However, there are so many more options to choose from, and the technology is continuously advancing.

Sales of electric vehicles and hybrid cars are growing

At the end of June 2014, it was announced that sales of electric and hybrid cars are very much on the up. Apparently, sales have increased by a staggering 27.3% in the first half of 2014, which is great news not only for the manufacturers of such vehicles, but for Planet Earth itself!

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This globalpost.com article talks about the rise of sales in more detail – and the figures contained within it are very exciting.

BMW’s plug-in hybrid

In March 2014, BMW immersed themselves properly into the alternative fuel world, with the i3 electric. Now they have the i8 plug-in hybrid, which will be  their most expensive car, costing $135,000. If you have a look at the i8, you certainly wouldn’t believe that it has environmental friendliness as one of its focuses, but it does. Apparently, the i8 plug-in hybrid will be able to achieve around 112 miles per gallon, whilst offering a top speed of 155 miles per hour – which is somewhat mind blowing.

Though the i8 is considerably more expensive than Toyota’s hybrid stalwart, the Prius, it may succeed in attracting motorists who are able to afford more expensive cars. This could go a long way towards improving the overall stereotype of hybrid vehicles. By no means are they considered unattractive at the moment, but many are rather ‘middle of the road’.

If the i8 is a great success, we may see even bigger sales in all types of hybrid vehicles as a result.

It’s not just road cars that are helping to generate a lot of hype when it comes to eco-friendly vehicles, though. There will soon be a form of racing in which only electric cars can partake…

Formula E

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Formula E, it’s basically Formula 1 but with electric cars! You may be suspecting at this point that Formula E cars are slow – but they’re not. The top speed on most of them is said to be around 150mph, and the concept is constantly gathering a lot of hype and pace.

Very recently, a pack of Formula E cars raced past the House of Parliament, in order to celebrate the launch of the FIA Formula E Championship, the final race of which is set to take place in just under a year’s time, at the back end of June 2015.

Boris Johnson has of course announced his excitement, and to add to the excitement, Alain Prost – a Formula 1 icon – has set up a team to partake in the inaugural championship. Not only that, but so have Hollywood superstar Leonardo DiCaprio and businessman Sir Richard Branson!

The whole thinking behind the Formula E idea is to generate a whole lot more interest in electric cars in general, and hopefully it will do so. Many people are reluctant to get involved in electric motoring because they think that such cars don’t have quite as much ‘umph’ (or should that be ‘mph’?!) as cars that run off fuel. This may be true in some respects, but how many of us really need a highly powerful car? Some of us, yes, but not all of us.

What if electric or hybrid vehicles aren’t viable for you?

Not all of us are able to get involved in eco-friendly motoring – in regards to the vehicles we choose. However, there are things we can all do to ensure that act as environmentally responsible as possible.

1. Only use your air conditioning when absolutely necessary

Put quite simply, your air conditioning unit uses up an incredible amount of fuel, so it would be wise to only use it when absolutely necessary. Of course, those who live in humid climates will find this extremely difficult, but in drier heat, you may find that opening the window will suffice.

2. Don’t unnecessarily load your vehicle

The heavier your load, the harder your engine has to work – it’s that simple. Many of us are guilty of unnecessarily cramming our boot full of stuff that we won’t actually have to use, so a good idea may be to store things in the garage wherever possible!

A summary

At the moment, electric and hybrid vehicles are still approached with much caution, generally speaking. However, given the recent efforts of many companies – such as BMW with their i8 – we may find that, slowly but surely, they start to gain the popularity they ought to attain.

Who’s to say what the hybrid and electric market will be like a year from now, but one thing’s for sure – it doesn’t look like the concept of eco-friendly motoring is going to burn out, so to speak, any time soon. We should all look forward to what the future brings – hopefully the FIA Formula E Championship will generate enough excitement to properly get the ball rolling!

This blog was written by Jennifer Smith on behalf of Stratstone, the UK’s largest automotive retailer.

 

About the author: Matthew Sadler

 

Matthew is a Senior Editor at Cars Edition Network and eBest Cars UK - Car Reviews.

 

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