Our modern lives are often made so much easier with technology. Staying in touch with friends and family, even if they live far away, is now possible with the internet and our connected devices. Keeping organised is a breeze with reminder apps and calendars. The last two years have proved that certain jobs can be performed remotely, if not entirely online. All of this was vastly different, if not impossible, just a decade or so ago.
Cars make life easier, too, whether it’s running errands, getting to work or driving your kids from A to B. And a popular type of car that has seen a surge in sales in recent years is the SUV. However, there is a downside to SUV ownership: their generally larger carbon footprint. Combustion engine vehicles, especially bigger ones such as SUVs, contribute to global warming due to their fossil fuel emissions.
Car companies have tackled this issue head-on and are investing millions, if not billions, into eco-friendly vehicles. In this article, we’ll learn about sustainability and SUVs and how the world’s most popular type of car is going green.
New Technology – Green Zones
In their new hybrid SUV Niro model, Kia has introduced an intelligent technology called “Green Zone”. This is an advanced technology where the car can detect specific locations and switch to battery power when it enters them. For instance, if you drive near a school, the Green Zone tech activates, and the Niro switches to battery power.
The driver can also tweak this technology. You could set the car to switch to battery power when you pull into your street or your work’s garage to get to where you need to go smoothly, silently, and without producing any emissions. The car learns based on your trips around town and can automatically switch to battery power in dense residential areas, near hospitals, and in other areas where you want to reduce your carbon footprint.
Hybrid SUVs – Reduced Fuel Consumption and Regenerative Braking
The hybrid SUV is a relative newcomer to the electric vehicle (EV) scene. In years gone past, EVs were typically sedans or hatchbacks. However, as SUVs are in high demand and as the technology has improved, hybrid SUVs have emerged onto the market as a strong contender for a simultaneously family-friendly and eco-friendly vehicle.
Hybrid vehicles feature both a traditional internal combustion engine as well as an electric motor. They reduce fuel consumption by using an electric motor to drive the car in situations where the combustion engine would use a lot of fuel, such as accelerating after a complete stop.
The combustion engine fires up when needed, such as high-speed freeway driving or when the car may need some extra torque. This results in an overall reduction in fuel consumption, with two benefits. The first obvious one is that the car releases fewer emissions into the atmosphere when compared to a standard SUV. The second is that a hybrid vehicle that requires less fuel saves the consumer money at the pump in the long term.
In addition to the improved fuel economy, hybrid SUVs also charge their battery through a process called regenerative braking. This technology harnesses the kinetic energy of the vehicle’s brakes, converts it into electricity and then feeds the electric motor in the hybrid car. Again, this means less burning of fuel and lowering emissions.
Fully Electric SUVs
So far, we’ve discussed hybrid SUVs. However, manufacturers are also releasing battery electric vehicles or BEVs. These are fully electric automobiles that are powered solely by electricity. These cars have electric motors, which draw power from the car’s battery pack or packs (some have multiple). These cars are entirely electric and do not have internal combustion engines that require fossil fuels to operate.
These eco-friendly SUVs tend to come with a higher price tag than a hybrid model due to the large batteries and the cost of production. They are charged by plugging them into a power source, either at home or at a public charging station.
The higher cost of purchasing a BEV SUV is offset by the running costs, which are significantly cheaper due to not requiring fuel, and by cheaper maintenance, due to electric motors being simpler than combustion motors. For those who want a guilt-free, environmentally friendly choice of SUV, this is your best option if it’s affordable.
There is one downside to this option: the models available are on the smaller side. This is because larger cars require more power to propel them forward. However, as the technology advances, so will the vehicles, and in a few short years, we will likely see larger models available.
Sustainable Summing Up
The world’s most popular car is indeed the SUV, but there are now new options available on the market for those who are concerned about their carbon footprint. Either a hybrid SUV or a BEV SUV is a great way to get from point A to point B while doing your bit for the environment and reducing global warming. You might just save some money in the long run as well.
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