Archive for petrol

Hummer – Rust In Peace

Posted in Crap cars, Rust in peace with tags , , , , , , , on 25/02/2010 by Alexander

Some good news for environmentalists, and great news for car-lovers with good taste everywhere: Hummer has bitten the dust.

I’m happy that these machines won’t be spewing their pollution any more, which is nice, but the importance of the eco-factor is moot, since other over-cylindered, excessively powerful cars live on as objects of desire (supercars in general, SUV’s, sport saloons, etc.). The reason why Hummers are such abominations is that they were simply symbols of ostentation and stupidity, with their disproportionately gigantic dimensions, pointlessness of use and offensive looks.

I never understood what sort of moron would drive a Hummer. Americans driving them, that makes sense, since from what I can tell they have zero taste in cars and will drive anything that’s got a big engine, that’s impractical and no-one else in the world would be seen in (except for filthy-rich Arabians). Then I saw one of these abominations live and in colour a few years back, on a Spanish number plate with darkened windows and stickers on the outside. So Spaniards drive them, which shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, Spain has taken the place of former-Warsaw Pact countries as the last European bastion of the mullet, and buying a new car in colours such as purple, orange, yellow and vulgar gold aren’t even an option in other car markets but are sported in profusion by the Spanish. And on Monday I was nearly run over by a Hummer while I was using a zebra-crossing, and I’m lucky the driver braked, since he looked like a drug-trafficker covered in bling and techno-music or some shit blasting out the open windows.

I’m also flabbergasted every time I think how stupidly huge the damn things are. Military Humvees were originally designed with their wheels far apart so they could follow behind tanks and use the furrows created by the tank’s tracks. To make a civilian vehicle with such characteristics shows a complete aloofness from reality. But that’s easily explained by the fact that the culprit was none other than Conan the Barbarian, who now governs California, a state whose tight emissions regulations should mean death to this petrol-thirsty behemoth. But Arnie, it would seem, has a collection of the damn things, but who am I to criticise people for their ride. I myself have a 2.3-litre gasoline/GPL car, so I’m no-one to throw stones (none of us are, even if we drive a fricking hybrid). What amazes me is that its size makes driving it in town, with badly-parked cars everywhere that only narrow down the street, and its gigantic, thirsty engine make its natural habitat the petrol pump. It’s supposed to be good at offroad stuff, like ploughing through the desert in Iraq and muddy woods at weekends, but for that, you’d want a more practical, less thirsty, prettier Range Rover or something of the sort. Inside, it seats four people, who are so far apart they have to communicate in sign language because you can’t hear the over the roar of the engine. And despite its exterior size, being inside is not as spacious and lovely as being in the back of, say, a big Citroen. An interesting review of it was done by Fifth Gear, they used it as an emergency vehicle to rescue a stranded hiker in the middle of nowhere, and as far as getting there it was alright. But inside it was so cramped that for the patient to return reclined, two of the rescue team had to walk it back.

Now if this were a pretty car, that would forgive all its flaws. But it’s hideously boxy, and the H2 and H3 have a disgusting, super-kitsch chromed grill, that make it look like it has piano-key teeth. When I nearly became Hummer fender-meat on that zebra-crossing last Monday, it looked like the damn car was going to chomp my head off as much as iron me into the street.

So, the Hummer is dead. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

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Everyone’s a diesel

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Driving theory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 18/08/2009 by Alexander

I wasn’t expecting to blog while on holiday, but here I am. I’m staying in the Algarve, in the south of Portugal, and as always, I’m keeping my automotive eyes and ears peeled for relevant data.

One thing that struck me is how things have changed regarding diesel. Back in the day, my dad was a rare creature, because he preferred diesel over petrol. To me the logic was unshakable: it’s cheaper and more efficient. £20 of diesel got you a long way. £20 of petrol didn’t, and still doesn’t.

So while I was sipping coffee near the entrance to the resort I’m staying at, I couldn’t help noticing the constant rumble of diesel engines as they went past. I didn’t count how many cars went by, but they were in the many dozens. And I only counted two petrol-fuelled. And in the evening, while having dinner, every car that passes by is graced with a diesel, be it a big estate, a jeep, a people-carrier, a hatchback, you name it.

The reason for the shift isn’t hard to fathom. Though my dad couldn’t give a rat’s arse about performance (and consequentially, I also thinks it’s far, far less important than nearly all the car’s characteristics), most drivers did, so that’s why they went for petrol. As diesel engine’s got better and better (vastly improved performance and even consumption), and fuel got more and more expensive, it was just a matter of time until Mr. and Mrs. Bloggs realised that they didn’t have to spend half the family holiday budget at the pumps. Also, many ranges didn’t even have diesel versions on offer (pre-1993 Volvo 400 series, for example), but today the diesels outnumber the petrol-guzzlers in some cases (Citroën C6).

So bear in mind, today’s green-tinged alt-fuel maniacs might be the harbingers of things to come.

Alt Fuel #8 Petrol/Diesel

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Green Tech with tags , , , on 05/08/2009 by Alexander

“Petrol and diesel aren’t alternative fuels, you stupid prat!” I might hear you say. Well, they’re not alt-fuels now, but they might very well be if the solutions I mentioned earlier take a hold of the market. Imagine in the future, one day you’re filling up your car with hemp-based bioethanol, and a bloke in an old banger pulls up between the wireless EV recharging spot and the pump dispensing urine-derived hydrogen. He asks the attendant if they sell something called “petrol”, because his car wasn’t retrofitted to run on biobutanol.

A future like this wouldn’t be that bad, but let’s face the honest truth: petrol and diesel won’t go away that easily. Big Oil and plain simple everyday habits will make the shift away hard. Asking the everyday man to trade in a habit he’s cultivated all his life simply might not work. People are scared of change, and they’re also very lazy going about it.

But the panorama isn’t completely gloomy. The way engines are evolving is favourable for a less fossil-fuel consuming future. We’ve already had good cars like the VW Lupo 3l, we have the good example of the Volvo DRIVe range, and even a performance brand like BMW is developing low-cc super-economical engines.

In conclusion, we’ve got a long transition away from petrol and diesel ahead of us, but habits will change as engines get smaller and less greedy. An then hopefully, when oil runs out no-one will notice, because the shift to alt-fuels has already happened.

Intro
Hybrids and Plug-In Hybrids
Plug-In Electric Vehicles
Biodiesel, bioethanol and such
Carbon-neutral Algae-based fuels
Hydrogen fuel cells
LPG
Hybrid Retrofitting
Petrol/Diesel

Alt-fuel – Intro

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Green Tech with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 17/07/2009 by Alexander

One of my favourite ever posts in my now-gone old blog was a post on the different types of fuel that were cropping up at the time. The idea was to enumerate all the pros and cons of each fuel to try to imagine what will be powering our cars in a decade or so. We are at a crossroads, with some brands pushing for hybrids, others plug-in hybrids, others hydrogen, others bioethanol, etc., etc., etc.. This was all especially pertinent back when oil prices were whopping and filling your tank meant selling one of your children. Now those prices have gone down and everyone’s reeling at the money the financial system sucked into nothingness, and it would seem people have stopped worrying about what it costs to fill their tank and what alternatives are out there to make this less painful on your wallet. Or at least it seems that way for the time being, but will change now prices are rising yet again. However, the ball was set rolling, and slowly, the normally aloof masses are becoming aware of cheaper and more enviromentally-friendly ways to run their automobiles. So let me repeat a now-lost post and give you my idea on what the alternatives are. We’ll get cracking in the next post.

Intro
Hybrids and Plug-In Hybrids
Plug-In Electric Vehicles
Biodiesel, bioethanol and such
Carbon-neutral Algae-based fuels
Hydrogen fuel cells
LPG
Hybrid Retrofitting
Petrol/Diesel