How the growing demand for more eco-friendly vehicle is transforming the world’s automotive industry
It was only a few years ago that the car to be seen in was the H2, the monster military-derived American car from Hummer. Today, these old buckets of bolts look like something from another universe: tall, wide, and carved in thick lines like a professional linebacker. Everybody says the same thing when they see one, nowadays: the gas must cost a fortune for that thing.
And indeed, relatively speaking, it does. And that attitude – thinking first about efficiency, rather than style, ostentation, or features – has been characteristic of a coming sea change in the auto industry. Consumers increasingly demand energy-efficient vehicles, both for environmental and economic reasons. And it’s changing how the whole auto industry works.
Power and the People: What’s Driving This Change?
There are two primary factors going into changing how cars are made and marketed worldwide. The first is rising consumer awareness, especially in the developed nations, of things like carbon footprints and complex hydrocarbon emissions. Increasingly, people genuinely do care about preserving the environment–but perhaps more importantly, people genuinely see environmental protection as a priority, now, when once upon a time it was the dubious luxury of tree-hugging hippies alone.
Government has also played an important role in transforming the world of cars. In countries socially slow to adopt greener attitudes, the government is rather strict when it comes to car emissions, whether we’re talking about the idealistic Swedish government, or about the smoggy Los Angeles County’s necessity-motivated emissions controls. Car manufacturers have responded to new demands from both private and public sectors.
The thrust to reduce the carbon footprint of cars worldwide takes three different approaches.
- Increasing efficiency: perhaps the simplest way to reduce emissions, though decidedly a limited one, many companies look for ways to get more of the energy generating by the car’s fuel toward actually moving the car. Right now, about 85% of the energy generated in a car’s engine vanishes as heat from friction.
- Electrifying everything: the hybrid car significantly changed the dynamic of environmentally-friendly cars, offering a crucial third way at a time when faith in electric cars was not that strong. Today, hybrids are everywhere, and advancing technology continues to increase their efficiency and gas mileage.
- Alternative sources of energy: this can include purely electric cars that charge at stations that look like gas pumps, and can increasingly be found in urban areas in the United States. Electric cars are still a very new technology, and not one that has found wide usage. However, technology in this area is advancing rapidly, and several electric cars have found a modicum of success in the wider market.
Car Manufacturers and Their Take on Eco-Friendly Cars
There’s a war happening right now – the diesel vs. the hybrid war and major car manufacturers know this. Eco-friendly cars are battling for supremacy, and names like Toyota, BMW, Porsche and numerous others, have chosen not to ignore this trend. Right now, the Prius claims to be the most ingenious green car, although Porsche is coming strong too. The company’s latest model of 918 Spyder is a perfect blend of a hybrid and a race car. As for the parts for tuning Porsches, it’s safe to say that the car marker is doing everything it can to beat the competition. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens 5, 10 years from now!
What to Expect in the Future
Government regulations will perhaps play the strongest role in what modes of manufacturing will dominate in the near future. The current emissions standards are highly irregular throughout the world, so manufacturers that supply primarily different areas of the world will have to work to ensure that their products remain viable worldwide – especially as governments increasingly cooperate internationally on topics of universal interest, like the ecological health of our planet.
Can buyers make a difference? Can they actually help save the planet and change the automotive industry? They might. Many people today are buying hybrids and eco-friendly cars, however, some still believe they’re fairly expensive. Right now, yes, they are. But technology is advancing and things are constantly changing in the auto industry. As the demand goes up and increasingly more manufacturers are making hybrids, the cost will have to go down in order to survive this war that’s just starting to shape up.