UK Plug-In Grants Expand To Vans

The UK Department for Transport began offering plug-in car grants one year ago. Drivers who use car loans or cash to purchase a qualified ultra-low emission vehicle are entitled to a grant equivalent to 25 percent of the vehicle cost, to a maximum of £5,000.

The program was recently extended to cover vans, great news for commercial enterprises.

Purchasers of electric vans are now entitled to a 20 percent discount of the vehicle price, to a maximum of £8,000. The discount applies whether cash or car finance is used to buy the vehicle. This announcement was made by Transport Minister Norman Barker on January 17. The government pledged to support the program for the duration of this Parliament.

A total of £250 million has been earmarked for this program, which has not quickly caught on with car buyers. According to the Department of Transport, only 1,052 vehicle buyers used the grants during 2011, equating to just £5.25 million.

The assumption is that the majority of electric car buyers are businesses.

Therefore, extending the grants to commercial automobiles should increase utilization this year.

Mr. Baker called the recent program expansion “great news for businesses.” He encouraged commercial van buyers to go electric due to the lower operating expenses for this type of vehicle. The government has yet to decide which electric vans will qualify for the program.

Criteria regarding emissions, safety, and range will be used to determine eligibility.

In terms of cars, plug-in hybrid, electric, and hydrogen-fuelled autos with tailpipe emissions not exceeding 75 C02/km are potentially eligible for the grant. Included in the government-approved list of eligible cars are the Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, and Peugeot iON.

The Chevrolet Volt, Vauxhall Ampera, and Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid were added at the beginning of this year and the Renault Fluence ZE will join the list when it becomes available in March.

Natural Gas-Driven Honda Planned For 2012

As electric cars permeate the market, alternative fuel vehicles are not far behind them. A battle seems to be brewing between the two and even experts do not know who will emerge victorious. Some think that car finance for both alternative fuel and electric automobiles could be equally common during decades to come.

With consumer preference currently unclear, most large automakers are releasing both types of cars. They figure at least one will capture the attention of drivers. Honda has begun manufacturing a natural gas Civic in the United States. The cleanest internal combustion engine to receive U.S. Environmental Protection Agency certification will power this vehicle.

A specially designed version of the 2012 Civic four-cylinder, 1.8-liter engine will power the car. The U.S. EPA provided it with a 31mpg rating and Honda plans to ramp up production during 2012 to meet expected increased demand. The Honda facility in the state of Indiana will double its capacity to 200,000 vehicles per year, beginning in 2012.

This car is a trailblazer in that it will be the only natural gas vehicle available to retail car buyers in the U.S. Over the next two years, Honda will expand its U.S. dealer network and if all goes well, may release the cars in other countries, including the UK. Soon, drivers all over the world may be taking out car loans so they can motor around in a more fuel-efficient and cleaner operating Honda Civic natural gas vehicle.

In the meantime, UK drivers will need to settle for car financing for three other new versions of the Civic. The 2.2-liter iDTEC features a 150hp engine with low fuel consumption and reduced CO2 emissions. The 1.8-liter i-VTEC should appeal to the widest customer base. The 1.4-liter i-VTEC, 100hp engine is the smallest, with slightly higher fuel consumption.

First BMW Hybrid Planned For UK Market

BMW plans to introduce its first hybrid car for the UK market and the automaker recently released some details about the vehicle. The 5-series ActiveHybrid5 will feature a three-liter, 302bhp internal combustion engine and a 53bhp electric motor. Car loans and other car finance options will not be available until the automobile arrives in UK showroom floors in February 2012.

Top speed of the car will be electronically limited at 155mph. The auto can accelerate from zero to 62mph in just 5.9 seconds. The CO2 emission levels for this vehicle fall in the acceptable range, coming in at 149g/km. The ActiveHybrid5 gets about 44.1 miles per gallon of fuel, an improvement from many vehicles on roadways today.

Standard equipment includes a professional multimedia satellite navigation system. This device can read road conditions ahead and adjust onboard power settings to accommodate them. If a steep hill is within its line of site, additional energy will be stored in the battery to assist the engine when necessary. This improves the efficiency of this hybrid vehicle.

In full electric mode, the car will only travel about 2.4 miles at a speed under 37 miles per hour. It is not intended to be used as a completely electric vehicle. However, when in its electric mode, BMW says the car can achieve up to 100mph speeds. Observers may not be able to distinguish it from other BMW 5-series cars because the grill, C-pillar, and doorsill badge and matte chrome exhausts are the only differences.

Whether they qualify for good or bad credit car finance, new car buyers may want to look into the BMW ActiveHybrid5. Driving a hybrid car is a good move for the environment and a BMW is always stylish. Being able to reduce costs at the fuel pump due to more efficient fuel consumption is a great thing.

The Downside Of Electric Vehicles And Vehicle Financing

Electric cars are being positioned as the transportation of the future because they do not consume fuel and offer drivers a zero-emission way to get around town. Many car buyers have already used car loans to finance their first electric car purchase. Despite the benefits of electric motoring, there is one nagging issue…how to safely dispose of the used batteries.

This issue recently came to a head at Johnson Controls, a global electric car battery manufacturer. Lead poisoning was diagnosed in 21 children residing near its Shanghai, China, facilities.

All manufacturing activity ceased at two factories following the announcement. Johnson Controls was identified as the cause, according to Ju Chunfang, senior official at the Pudong Environmental Protection Department.

A report recently published in the Global times revealed that over 20,000 tons of lead has been used by Johnson Controls during the past nine months. Ten of the children diagnosed with lead poisoning were found to have over 250 micrograms of lead per each liter of blood. This resulted in them being admitted to local Xinhau Hospital for treatment.

The battery manufacturer denies being the source of this lead poisoning, issuing a statement to that effect. It claims to use the same high standards of control at each of its facilities worldwide.

Average emissions at the Shanghai location are only 14 percent of the national standard in China, according to the statement.

Johnson Controls also reported that the amount of lead discharged through its wastewater is just ten percent of the national standard for China. Despite these claims, the fact remains that safe disposal methods for used batteries for electric vehicles have not yet been discovered.

Before completing a car finance application for an electric automobile, consider how your motoring may affect the environment and the health of its inhabitants after all.

Ford EcoBoost Cars Receive An Addition

Ford Motor Company has developed four and six-cylinder gas engine vehicles that are both direct injected and turbocharged. Called EcoBoost, these are designed to deliver torque and power that are consistent with larger displacement engines. Compared to the larger versions, fuel efficiency is improved by 20 percent and greenhouse gas emissions are 15 percent lower.

Engine sizes currently range from 1.6 to 3.5 liters. The automaker recently announced that a one-liter, three-cylinder engine will join the EcoBoost line. Car buyers in Europe will initially be able to select from either a 100 or 120PS EcoBoost engine when purchasing the Ford Focus. The 100 will have a five-speed gearbox and the 120 will feature a six-speed gearbox.

This engine, which is the smallest in the Ford lineup, will later be released in North American and Chinese markets. Do not be fooled by its tiny size because it gives the current 1.6 liter gas engine a run for its money, while reducing emissions to 120 grams per kilometer. Developed at the Ford technical center in Dunton, it features a high-speed turbocharger designed to easily handle speeds reaching 250,000rpm. The 170Nm peak torque is also quite impressive.

When designing this engine, Ford also wanted to deliver performance that was smooth and refined. An interesting innovation met the goal of refinement: using oil to cover the two main engine drive belts. The oil coating causes the engine be not only quieter but also more efficient than comparable versions.

Car finance is not yet available for vehicles containing the new engine because these models will not reach showrooms until 2012. In the meantime, prospective car buyers can learn more about Ford EcoBoost and take steps to improve their credit. Though interest rates for car loans should still be low next year, it never hurts to raise the credit score.

Using Solar Panels To Increase Electric Vehicle Range Per Pound

Television comedian Robert Llewellyn is a fan of electric automobiles. He owns the new Nissan LEAF electric car and is showing the rest of us how to reduce car ownership costs while achieving zero carbon emissions. It seems this actor is not all fun and games, as his character Kryten on the British comedy series Red Dwarf would lead us to believe.

Mr. Llewellyn had solar panels installed at his home three months ago by British Gas. Since then, he has driven his electric car an impressive 1,000 miles for just slightly more than five pounds. For the past three months, he charged his LEAF with only solar panels 85 percent of the time. Even the cloudy weather in Britain did not hamper his efforts.

Since the solar panels have been installed, Mr. Llewellyn has covered close to 2,700 miles in his LEAF. Had he owned a fuel-driven vehicle, his motoring costs would have been close to three times what he spent on solar recharges. On average, it costs £150 to travel 1,000 miles in a fuel-driven car. Charging an electric car from mains electricity costs just £37.10, in comparison.

An even more impressive difference is the fact that it costs only £5.38 to use solar energy to recharge an electric vehicle. After reviewing these figures, many car buyers may begin looking for inexpensive car loans and bank financing for solar panel installation on their home. Electric cars are the future of vehicle technology, from both cost and environmental savings perspectives.

Even consumers with a low credit score can find car loans for electric cars. Bad credit car finance is usually more expensive than loans for good credit borrowers. However, that additional cost is bearable when drivers are saving so much on operating expenses by owning an electric car and installing home solar panels.

Sticker Shock For LEAF Electric Vehicle Batteries

According to experts, most UK drivers use car finance to purchase their vehicles. They work hard for their money and face budget constraints. However, they also generally want to do right by the environment, leading many to support green technology. Though they may be interested in driving an eco-friendly car, many are not able to foot the pricey bill for the technology it involves.

Nissan UK Senior Vice President Andy Palmer recently made an announcement that left many of these individuals in shock. He revealed that it could cost nearly £20,000 to replace the battery in the Nissan LEAF electric car. This cost is greater than the sticker price of a new diesel automobile, providing many drivers with a disincentive to going green.

Mr. Palmer explained that a lithium-ion battery containing 48 modules powers the Nissan LEAF. The cost to replace each module exceeds £400. Thus, total replacement of the battery will cost a LEAF owner between £19,000 and £20,000. The driver can purchase a new BlueMotion Volkswagen Golf at list price with that amount of money.

Nissan also recently announced that battery capacity for the LEAF will begin rapidly declining after about five years. The automaker has calculated that the driving range of the vehicle will drop to under 80 miles, from 100 miles, after five years. Another recent announcement made by Nissan clarified that degradation is not covered under the five-year warranty for the battery cell.

Many UK LEAF owners are probably seeing red, not green, right about now. Those who were considering taking car loans to purchase a LEAF may be reconsidering. Now that this information has been released, people may find themselves in a losing financial situation when they go to sell their LEAFs. The fact that resale values could be negatively affected results in bad news all around.

Environmentally Conscious Car Buyers Have Much To Celebrate

UK drivers who are environmentally conscious will be pleased to learn about several new vehicles. The upcoming CX5 will be the greenest automobile that Mazda has ever made. It will also be the lowest-emitting SUV available, with CO2 emissions of just 120g/km on the front-wheel drive diesel version featuring a manual gearbox.

Just slightly smaller than the Mazda CX-7, the CX5 will be the new competition for the Land Rover Freelander. Eco-friendly SkyActiv technology will finally come to market and work its magic with emission levels. The Mazda Minagi concept car inspired the styling of the CX5. Insiders report that Mazda was able to retain the clean lines from the Minagi when it created the CX5.

The CX5 will also serve another important role, which is highlighting the Mazda KODO design policy. This program is designed to provide Mazda with a new image that is more businesslike. According to leaders at the auto manufacturer, this new style will be prevalent within the interior of the car. Anyone who enjoys buttons and gadgets will have a delightful time in this vehicle.

A selection of new engines, each featuring SkyActiv technology, will be available. These include a two-liter petrol version as well as a 2.2-litre diesel engine with two power outputs. Cash and car finance will go toward greening the environment the most when the manual, front-wheel drive output is selected.

The recent eco-rally in Oxford illustrated that Mazda is not the only automaker thinking green. Vehicles showcased at the event include an electric car that requires only a ten-minute charge to run 200 miles and a sports car fueled by a combination of wine and cheese. These ideas are quite creative but many of us would rather keep the wine and cheese for ourselves and drive a bio-bug vehicle powered by sewage gasses.

UK Now Has Vehicle Recharging Stations Powered By Sun

Rising fuel prices have caused some UK car buyers to go green by purchasing electric vehicles. They can now be even more eco-friendly by using the new public car recharging stations that run on sun power.

Before applying for car loans for gas guzzlers, UK residents should consider an electric car because it can make a financial and environmental difference.

In Rainham Essex, the eTap facility contains parking and recharging stations for as many as six cars simultaneously. This spot is located at the Centre for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence, under a canopy of solar panels.

Designed by Harlow-based Use The Sun, the facility combines solar panel technology with e-volt charging equipment created by APT Technologies.

The result is a steel canopy featuring 45 photovoltaic panels with a total maximum output of 9.9 kilowatts, ideal for car parks and public places. At the beginning of July, Transport Minister Norman Baker cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony for eTap.

The facility has a standard rate of £1 to connect and a 63p fee per hour. This robust solution is easy for any electric car owner to use while in town.

Use The Sun Managing Director Charles Montlake said the canopies are perfect for locations where drivers park for more than one hour. Restaurants, cinemas, hotels, pubs, and retail parks are a few examples of the best spots.

An electric car owner parks, plugs in the vehicle, runs any necessary errands, and returns to a car that has been recharged.

Getting car finance for an electric car is just as easy as the traditional process. An increasing number of electric vehicles hit the market this year, with more planned for the immediate future.

New owners of electric cars should see more facilities like eTap installed in public areas throughout the UK in coming years.

Finance Directors Uninformed Regarding Tax Savings From Green Cars

ALD Automotive, a fleet management firm, and YouGov recently learned that finance directors are not aware of the positive impact green vehicles can make on employee wallets. The two entities surveyed fleets containing over 500 vehicles and found that 35 percent of these professionals did not know greener cars could reduce employee National Insurance Contributions (NICs).

By adding greener cars to their fleets, they can assist employees where it really matters.

The NIC rate rose from 12.8 to 13.8 percent in April. Businesses can save by offering vehicles with lower CO2 emissions. When a company switches to greener models, its Class 1A NIC is reduced. Changing some models to diesel may save £355.

This is a potential savings of £167,500 for a 500-vehicle fleet.

Employees benefit from lower benefits in kind from the employer. Though these benefits are not paid as wages, they are taxable. The tax will be reduced when employees use a green company vehicle. Businesses should also alert staff to the savings available when eco-friendly cars are leased.

Knowing about the tax breaks and cost savings available to them helps employees better manage their finances.

According to the survey, just 15 percent of finance directors claimed to thoroughly understand costs relevant to running a company vehicle fleet. If they take the time to research the financial benefits of green cars, they can save their companies quite a bit of money.

During times like these when production costs are rising and financing is difficult to find, this can make much-needed cash available.

Even employees who take out car loans can benefit from owning a green automobile. Local governments have established goals regarding the number of eco-friendly cars on their roads. Some are offering financial incentives to get their residents into these automobiles.

The planet and driver wallets will be greener as a result.