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Calahan Heidt

Mrs. DeBock

English 4 Honors

7 April 2017

Technology in Cars

What are ways that drivers can save money and help the environment while diving?

Drivers can switch from driving older, less efficient cars to newer cars that have advanced

technologies to make driving cheaper, more environmentally safe, and to even make easier.

The first practical car was invented in 1885 by Karl Benz, (Automobile). His car, at the

time, was little more than a gasoline powered motor mounted to a horseless carriage. This car did

not have a battery, alternator, nor lights. This car did not even have a automatic starter, to start up

the vehicle one would have to crank a lever many times and turn over the engine to start it.

Thanks to the help of new, modern technology, cars have become much easier to operate. Ever

since the 1950s cars have changed exponentially, from large, gas guzzling engines, to

automobiles that now use one third of the gas milage. Every day new technologies are being

invented and refined in order to make cars more efficient.

One way to raise engine efficiency is to control the airflow mixture that enters the engine

of the car, (Knight). Air is allowed in and out of the engine by valves. The air that is allowed in

the engine is mixed with gasoline, this mixture of gas and oxygen is highly explosive. When

compressed by the cylinder then ignited by a spark the gas/air mixture explodes in order to

pushes down a cylinder. This push, called the power stroke is where an engine gets its power

from, which allows a vehicle to move. The explosion of gasoline and oxygen creates mechanical

power, heat, and carbon monoxide, also known as exhaust. Exhaust is allowed to escape out of
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engine by exhaust valves. Different amounts of airflow in and out of an engine can affect engines

differently; smaller engines valves do not open very much, while larger engines have valves that

open more to allow more air in. Some engines valves open earlier or later than other engines

valves. Valves can also stay open longer in some cars than in others. These variations and

parameters and called valve events. In a standard car engine valve event settings stay the same

at all rpms (revolutions) of the engine. That's not ideal, for mpg (gas usage), or emissions.,

(Knight). In order to give engines better fuel economy and emit less exhaust, you can vary the

valve events at certain times while driving. This calculated variance of events is used in many

modern cars and is called variable valve timing.

Variable valve timing was invented in the late 1960s by Fiat, (Cooley). Variable valve

timing, or VVT, works by using a computer to calculate the most efficient valve event settings,

depending on the speed of the car or rpm of the engine. In an older vehicle where VVT is not

being used, valves open and close at the same rate, distance, and for the same amount of time no

matter the situation of the engine. Variable valve timing allows a computer to decide the right

specifications necessary to make an engine run more efficiently. Closing an engine's valve earlier

than normal on the exhaust stroke can allow the cylinder to stay half full of bad air, this can

make an cylinder act smaller, (Cooley). In some instances this small engine effect can cause an

engine to have improved gas milage when implemented at the right time. Variable valve timing

can also make valves say open for longer so that all air is pushed out, which makes more room

for the new air coming in. When all of these variable are used under the right circumstances

variable valve timing can greatly improve the fuel usage and decrease the environmental impacts

of automobiles.
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The physical design of a car also affects the fuel economy of a vehicle. The easier it is for

air to travel around a vehicle, the easier it will be to move a vehicle. The science of this

movement of air is called aerodynamics. According to Aerodynamics and fuel consumption,

trucks use up to forty percent of the fuel in order to overcome air resistance alone. This, over

time, computes to many wasted tanks of expensive gas.

Cars of the 1950s such as the 1955 Chevrolet Bel-air and the 1959 Ford Galaxie were

very box-like in shape. These cars has flat shaped fronts, square shaped bodies and square shaped

cabins. At this time in the automotive industry aerodynamics were not taken into effect when

designing a vehicle. This was because auto mechanics, at the time, were trying to make their cars

visually appealing instead of economically appealing, in part because gasoline was

comparatively cheaper than it is today, (Alters). Engineers now design cars with aerodynamics in

mind. They give the car many rounded edges to reduce air drag. Many people add spoilers on

their car in order to create down force of wind. This down force, when applied at high speeds,

allows the car to push itself towards the ground,Aerodynamics at work. The pushing effect of

the spoiler allows the tires to better grip the road, allowing better engine efficiency by using all

of the engine's mechanical energy. Better engine efficiency ultimately leads to better fuel


In order to save money on gas and help the environment many people switch from

driving normal automobiles, to driving hybrid or electric cars. A hybrid car uses a normal

combustion engine with the help of an electric motor in order to propel itself, whereas a electric

car only uses an electric, battery powered, motor. Hybrid cars, such as the Toyota Prius, get the

electricity for their electric motors from a electric clutch system.

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In a normal automobile a clutch is used to engage the transmission to the engine. Internal

combustions engines run best at specific RPMs or revolutions per minute. This is how fast the

crankshaft (the shaft connected to the pistons) turn in one minute. In order for a vehicle to travel

different speeds while still allowing the engine to rotate at its optimum rpm cars use a

transmission. The job of the transmission is to change the gear ratio so that a motor can

effectively turn the wheels of the car. Connecting the transmission to the engine is a clutch. A

clutch works as a grinding stone, using friction to slowly engage two friction surfaces together.

This rough surface is used because engaging and disengaging gears quickly would run a toll on

the gears and break them. A hybrid clutch system replaces the mechanical clutch and

transmission with an electromagnetic generator and an electromagnetic motor. The generator

serves as the clutch of the car, engaging the transmission magnetically instead of mechanically.

Before fully locking into gear the motor side of electric clutch spins unequal to the transmission

side of the electric clutch, as happens with a mechanical clutch. Electromagnetic clutches

however, use a generator to take this extra rotation and convert in into an electric current. The

electric current that is created is saved in batteries. Hybrid car clutches also implement electric

motors for transmissions. As opposed to having a geared transmission, electric clutch systems

use magnetic currents created by power stored in batteries to turn the wheels at the desired speed

by increasing and decreasing the magnetic charger. Thanks to this technology hybrid cars like the

Prius reduce air pollution and emissions, (Hybrid Vehicles) to great extents.

Cars now, thanks to new technologies, run more efficiently than ever befor. Innovations

such as the hybrid clutch system and variable valve timing have allowed for better fuel economy

and environmental safety under the hood, while advancements in fluid mechanics and

aerodynamics have created better fuel economy by changing the looks of vehicles. All of these
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technologies in new cars can help drives save money on fuel while also being environmentally



"Aerodynamics and fuel consumption." YouTube. Trans Org Foundation, 01 Nov. 2016. Web. 06

Apr. 2017.

"Aerodynamics at work." New Zealand Herald [Auckland, New Zealand], 7 Mar. 2007, p. 23.

Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Accessed 6 Apr. 2017.

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Alters, Sandra M. "Natural gas prices by sector, selected years 1967-2004." Energy: Supplies,

Sustainability, and Costs, 2007 ed., Gale, 2007. Information Plus Reference Series.

Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Accessed 6 Apr. 2017.

"Automobile." Britannica School, Encyclopdia Britannica, 26 Jan. 2016.Accessed 6 Apr.


Cooley, Brian. "Car Tech 101: Variable valve timing explained." YouTube. Ed. CNETTV.

YouTube, 28 Apr. 2014. Web. 05 Apr. 2017.

"Hybrid vehicles." Environmental Encyclopedia, edited by Deirdre S. Blanchfield, Gale,

2011. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Accessed 6 Apr. 2017.