It seemed like such a great idea at first: cars that run on electricity instead of petrol. This sounds like an environmentalist’s dream, not to mention what it means to those of us tired of paying high petrol prices.
However, despite large government incentives (which are now being phased out), the sale of electric cars has just not taken off. The goal was to have 1.7 million electric cars on the UK roadways by 2020. The reality is that in the past two years only about 3,600 vehicles have been sold. Even though the government offered a £5,000 subsidy to electric car buyers, sales have been sluggish. So exactly why hasn’t the electric car movement gained much traction here in the UK?
Electric Cars are Expensive to Produce
Pound for pound, electric cars cost about twice as much to manufacture as their petrol powered counterparts. Unfortunately, a person’s wallet often speaks louder than their desire to reduce carbon emissions. Electricity might be cheaper than gas, but electric power is not free. In order to make up the difference in cost you would have to drive close to 200,000 miles. This would take the average driver over 24 years to accomplish (based on figures in this 2012 report).
Combine this with the higher cost of insuring electric cars and it’s a lot to put consumers off. Sure, it’s possible to look around on a comparison site to find a better policy and it’s possible that electric car production cost will go down, but for now price is a clear obstacle. Choosing a comparison site is hard, but after looking at the Meerkats on Facebook, Compare the Market obviously put their customers first.
Slow Re-Charge Time
The fastest charging time possible for an electric car is about four hours. Now you can plug it in overnight, but sometimes you just don’t have the time or an outlet. How long does it take to fill up a fuel tank? The UK government and the EU are investing big money to add charging stations throughout Europe, but this does not eliminate the time factor.
Some electric cars claim to have a range of 100 miles. However, real life road tests show numbers more in the range of 30-55 miles per charge depending on temperature and average speed. So what do electric car drivers do to save charge? They turn off the radio, the AC or the heat. Also they obsess over trip routes, charging times and charging locations.
BBC reporter Brian Milligan wrote in his online electric car testing diary, “Including the time spent both charging and driving, I managed an average speed between London and Edinburgh of just 6mph. Not exactly impressive or very practical…”.
They Aren’t Completely Green
Electric car advocates often point to the low emissions produced by electric engines (about half that of petrol or diesel engines). This is only half of the story though. The fact is that the manufacturing process of an electric car produces twice as much CO2 emissions as does the manufacturing of a petrol powered car. Also, the energy used to produce the electric charge is mostly from fossil fuels. Like the cost comparison, you end up having to drive the electric car huge distances for a long time in order to make a real difference in emissions.
Even though electric cars are a great idea, prohibitive factors like cost and convenience must be resolved. The real issue, however, is that the whole environmental benefit is questionable. Given these obstacles electric cars have a long way to go before they make a real difference in the automotive market.
Traditionally, the Volkswagen Golf R had a V6 engine. The first Golf R to change this was the MK6 Golf R, which had a 2.0 TSI engine. Immediately, motoring purists jumped at the opportunity to blast VW, but it quickly became clear that the 2.0 TSI engine was faster, more efficient, and a lot lighter, which made the car more pleasurable to drive in the twisties.
Fast forward to today, and it’s the turn of the MK7 Golf R to wow us. This is the most powerful stock Golf R ever produced, presenting a significant leap over the all-new Golf GTI.
So, what’s it like?
Well, it’s fast. Very fast. The MK6 Golf R developed 271 bhp and260 lb /ft of torque, but the new model boasts 296 bhp and 280 lb /ft of torque. Whichever way you look at it, that’s a lot more power and, when you consider that this Golf R weighs less than its predecessor, you can get a sense of just how fast this machine really is.
Combined with its 4MOTION all-wheel drive system and 6-speed manual gearbox, the car will accelerate from 0 – 62 mph in 5.3 seconds. Opt for the pricey but fabulous DSG semi-automatic gearbox, and that time drops down to 4.9 seconds.
Yep, pretty fast.
Inside, everything is unmistakable Golf. That means you get a spacious interior with lots of room in the front and rear, an exceptionally comfortable steering wheel and driving position, a top quality trim finish, and robust controls and switchgear. You also get unique gloss black styling and fantastic sports seats.
It isn’t the most flamboyant of hot hatch interiors, but it’s of a sublime quality.
On the move, the R sounds fantastic. The exhaust makes a deep growl and the engines loves to be revved, despite the best performance coming around 500rpm off the redline. The exhaust snaps, crackles and pops, and it brings a huge smile to your face.
The flexibility of this car is incredible – this is a serious track weapon, a serious motorway rep barge smasher, and at the end of the day, it’s the most practical family hatchback you can guy with a generous boot, robust build quality, fantastic residuals and looks that are sure to turn heads at the school gate.
Carlisle’s Bristol Street Motors car service thinks that the Golf R is an incredible piece of machinery – it may be the same car down under as the latest Audi S3, but it’s a more exclusive package overall.
Ultimately, the Golf R has entered into market at a time where other hatches are faster than ever. I would say, though, that although the M135i and A45 AMG have more power, and the Astra VXR and Focus ST cost less, neither of those 4 machines can match the value for money you get with the Golf.
Test drive one and you’ll see what I mean.
You may not like it, but car insurance is important. In fact, it is required by law, and for good reason. Obviously no-one wants to be involved in an accident, but nobody wants to be stuck with a big bill to pay for damages either. Even though insurance is necessary, there are ways to reduce costs. These tips not only minimise your insurance rates, but they make your driving more safe too.
Tip Number 1: Opt for a Higher Excess
How does paying more decrease your insurance costs? When you set a higher excess, that’s how. The excess is what you pay towards damages in the case of an accident. For example, let’s say your excess is £100. Now let’s imagine that you are in an accident, and the damages cost £500. In this example, you pay £100 (the excess), and your insurance company pays the £400 difference.
Now if your excess is set higher, your insurance premiums (what you pay each month for cover) are lower.
These days technology helps insurance companies put out lower quotes. One way is to have your car fitted with a special “black box” that collects information about your driving habits. For example, if you don’t drive much at night, this lowers your chances of an accident. The technology, called telematics, also records information about other driving habits, such as average speed, and all of this info can be made available to your insurance carrier. Good driving “scores” are then rewarded with lower premiums.
Even your smart phone can be used for this purpose. There are phone apps such as iSpot (download for iPhone here and Android here) that do the same thing as the black box. The phone can even be programmed to alert you when you are driving outside of safe parameters. All of this is mostly thanks to GPS technology.
Tip Number 3: Theft Alert and Emergency Response Services
GPS technology can also be used to track your car in case of theft. There are various companies that provide this service, and most insurance companies give you a lower rate for carrying theft prevention.
Emergency response can also be incorporated though GPS technology. So if you have an accident you can be located immediately. Some systems even automatically open your door locks and cut off the fuel supply in the event of a crash.
Tip Number 4: Eyes on the Side and the Back of Your Head
Here your car is outfitted with special cameras and sensors for a relatively low price. For instance, a bumper camera can be installed so you can see everything behind you when you are backing up. Also, sensors can be fitted to the sides of your car to alert you when there is an object in your blind spot. This way you never change lanes unless it is all clear. This reduces risk, and car insurance companies like this so much that you can pay them less.
Tip Number 5: Shop Around For a Good Deal
Don’t stick with the same insurance company you’ve been with for years just because it’s easier than getting quotes and switching. Sure, getting a car insurance quote is a pain but if you use a comparison site (one example is Compare The Market) they will do most of the hard work for you. You only need to enter all your details in once and they’ll bring back results from hundreds of top insurers. You can compare the options they provide to find a policy which offers great value for money. Read more about budget car insurance on this page.
Although car insurance is necessary there are ways to cut costs. The best part is that many of these methods also make your driving safer. In the end, what we all really want is to avoid accidents. When you implement these tips, you save money, avoid risk, and everyone goes home happy and saf