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 MOTORING IN SPAIN - UPDATE, August 2008

Not to do with the laws in Spain, but an very interesting comparison to show how we can be fooled perhaps by the "Greens".

12 August 2008

The Fooling of the People?

There is an old saying that you can fool some of the people all of the time, and you can fool many people some of the time, but you can never fool all the people all of the time, but there is one point that disproves the latter where we have all been enthused about hybrid cars saving the planet.

I will not go into what is in my opinion the “big scam” about global warming being caused by vehicle exhausts, etc  but nothing proves this more than the way we have been told that hybrid cars are much more efficient and pollution free than any other cars, and I include electric ones where, power for power, they have to not only use electricity generated by polluting power stations with all the losses in transmission to homes and factories, but also have expensive toxic batteries that eventually have to be disposed of somehow.

A recent test was carried out and reported in the Press and my information is from The Sunday Times.  The two vehicles were a Toyota Prius and a BMW 520D, and they drove a distance of 545 miles or 880 kilometres from London to Geneva in Switzerland.

The Prius is a combination electric drive with a 1, 5 litre petrol engine to keep a bank of batteries charged.    Its main benefit over the existing technology that all of us have with our standard cars is that in traffic, when you stop, the engine is not running unless the batteries need charging.   The BMW has a four cylinder diesel engine with the latest technology to reduce pollution but even then the engine produces 177 bhp or for us modern techies, 132 Kw, and is able to do 0 to 100 kph in just over 8 seconds so is it is no slouch.  The academic top speed is advertised at 144 mph or 232 kph, with a 0 -60 kph of 11 seconds so not as quick as the BM but no slouch.

The Toyota Prius, which is a similar size to the BMW, is popular because many countries and cities give it tax benefits to encourage its use, no Congestion Charge in London and so on.  In California, it is allowed to be used in the bus lanes.   The engine produces 67 bhp or 50 >Kw.   The claimed fuel consumption on a run is over 65 mpg or 4, 35 l/100 Km.      The BMW’s official claim is 55 mpg or 5, 1 L/100Km.  The Prius also  has regenerative charging where the batteries are charged when the vehicle slows down.

The Toyota is 260 Kg lighter than the BMW so that should make a big difference to the fuel consumption, or so we should think.  260 Kg is about the weight of a 1.000 cc touring motorcycle.  In physical size it is the same as a BMW 3-Series.

The results of the test?  The Prius was driven by not using the air-conditioning and the stereo to conserve battery power.  On such a long trip, the 1, 5 litre petrol engine was running JUST about all the time.

The Prius was not able to keep up with the BMW, understandable with more than 100 bhp less power, and the driver states that he did everything possible to conserve battery power and thus fuel.

It averaged 48 mpg or 5, 9 l/100 km.  The BMW averaged 55, 4 mpg or 5, 1 l/100 Km so it used 13, 36 % less fuel, albeit diesel against petrol, less than the Prius.

So the answer is. If your driving is 80 + % town driving, perhaps the Prius is the car for you, but if mixed as most driving is for most of us, well, you decide.   For me, it is the BMW.

As far as this BMW/PRIUS test is concerned, carried out by a reputable newspaper, it is pretty convincing to me and the BMW would have looked even better if a 3-Series had been used with the better fuel economy with the same engine but far less weight.

The Sunday Times report is at (please cut and paste); 

 http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/driving/used_car_reviews/article3552994.ece

Note that if you cannot link to it, it is most likely that it has been erased from the host web-site.

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Another 190 RADAR SPEED CAMERAS IN Spain.  26 August 2008.

 By now you may have read in the Spanish Press about the new establishment of radar speed-trap cameras that are now in operation within Spain, including the Balearics and Canarias.  Trafico has determined that the steady drop in accidents since the introduction of these devices two years ago has been due to the drop in average speeds on the roads due to the fears of drivers losing points and receiving stiff fines or even sent straight to jail in extreme cases.  Charges arising from speed cameras are difficult to fight as you are not there at the time when you are advised to dispute it, and you have only the option of asking for proof, a photo, showing that it is indeed your vehicle that was trapped.

The Spanish government, namely the Ministerio del Interior, and Trafico which is part of that department, is actually to be applauded for they have installed these cameras in known accident black spots unlike “other countries” where they are generally perceived to be a means of income and are reported to be installed anywhere according to the letters that I see in the UK Press.   As I have said before, I have respect for a government that encourages respect for the law with commonsense decisions and not just the arbitrary dictating of especially laws that increase our taxes, a habit that the UK government seems to be unable to break now, and I write this with the thought that it has been proven often before that if you reduce taxation sensibly, the tax income is actually increased and everyone is happy as they have more disposable income to show for the move.   Any way the list including maps of the provinces where the new cameras are sited is on the Trafico web-site at (Click): http://www.dgt.es/was6/portal/contenidos/documentos/prensa_campanas/notas_prensa/notaprensa085.pdf.

For those of you with satnavs, I suggest that you check the latest updates so the new cameras are in your devices' memories.   If you do not have access to the Internet or do not have a satnav, there is a full list in the latest Spanish car magazine called Autovia, issue number 221, September 2008.    If you are not bothered just be aware that there are many more out there and obey the speed limits to stay out of trouble.

Thank God my days of speed were when there were no maximum limits on open roads and the roads were windy and much more interesting at lower speeds anyway.  You just did not need the much higher speeds that vehicles can achieve today,.   There are benefits to being a wrinkly after all.

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