Friday, July 31, 2009

Spark Plugs = Gas Savings?

We are all looking for ways to save some money and get a little extra in the process. While listening to the radio one day, I heard an ad from AutoZone, a car service company, which claimed that changing the spark plugs on cars would help people save some gas. I was wondering if the company was just trying to attract business, or if changing the spark plug would really make a vehicle more fuel efficient. And depending on the model needed, spark plugs range from $4 to $40, which seems like a reasonable price because of the fuel that could be saved and added mileage gain.


Generally, spark plugs do need to be replaced regularly, about every 30,000 miles, but replacing them too often does not result in greater fuel or miles per gallon. A car can have four to eight spark plugs which fire almost 3 million times every 1,000 miles. Dirty spark plugs can cause misfiring, which wastes fuel. But replacing the spark plugs regularly will prevent this from occurring, which will improve the miles per gallon obtained slightly. It isn’t a dramatic increase of miles per gallon or fuel saved, but there are some minor increases in mpg. But as long as these plugs are being replaced regularly, fuel will not be wasted, which would improve the mpg.


You can also save on labor costs of replacing the spark plugs by replacing them yourself, thus the only fee you will incur is the price to buy the spark plug itself. Here’s a link to a video that shows you how easy it is to replace the spark plug yourself: http://www.ehow.com/video_110_replace-spark-plugs.html. Below the video there are also step by step instructions that can be printed out!


So the next time that your car needs servicing, and they say that the spark plugs need to be replaced, find out if you can just but the part and replace it yourself, saving you the cost of labor. Or just keep track of every 30,000 miles traveled and then replace the spark plug yourself!


By: Rebecca Mark

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Toyota's Hybrid Competitive Assessment

Toyota Hybrid Competition

“A decade after the first Prius went on sale, Toyota’s global sales of hybrid vehicles have hit a landmark 1 million, underlining the Japanese automaker’s lead in “green” technology that has changed the face of the auto industry”. The 48 mpg Toyota Prius is leading hybrid vehicle sales with 181,221 sold in the U.S. last year. Toyota places a strong emphasis on hybrids and will soon offer hybrid vehicles in every category. Toyota also sells the 40 mpg Camry hybrid and Highlander SUV hybrid. So what’s causing the market for hybrids? Rising gas prices in the market is definitely a key component. Another is the “going green” trend. Toyota helps the green trend because its emission ratings are Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emission. This means low levels of hydrocarbons and oxides are contributing to pollution which makes global warming worse.

With rising competition, “Toyota will continue to push the hybrid to the forefront”. The competition Honda civic hybrid selling only 36,000 in the U.S. last year, claims it will “reach an ambitious annual sales target of 400,000 hybrids worldwide in the next five years”. The Honda civic and insight are the only hybrid cars Honda has currently which means it will need to introduce more hybrid cars to reach its sales target. “Honda CEO Fukui says affordability is key. Lower operating costs should pay for a hybrid’s higher sticker price in two years”.

Competition from the Nissan Altima hybrid and Saturn Vue SUV are on the rise with General Motors betting it can out sell Toyota. “Over the past few weeks, executives have been streaming into the lab to look at the contraption, which may represent GM's best chance to leapfrog competitors like Toyota and reassert its long-lost lead in the auto industry. It might even mark the start of a new automotive era, one that's not reliant on gasoline”. The idea is the Chevy Volt would be the first electric car that you can go 40 miles without recharging. GM has also promised four new hybrids this year, the two-mode gas-electric systems in the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon large sport utility vehicles, and hybrid systems for the Saturn Aura and new Chevrolet Malibu sedans” . Even with the electric advancement GM plans to have on the market in two years and the new hybrids this year, “rivals will have a hard time catching up to Toyota in hybrids — and that the technology will play a key role in defining Toyota in the years ahead”.

The rising competition in hybrid vehicles can be classified as a threat. The competition is growing. Almost every automobile company is investing in this market trend, coming out with new hybrids and this means Toyota will need to work harder to produce more hybrid vehicles that are better and more efficient than the competition. With over ten years of experience in the hybrid market, Toyota is still leading the market and it proposes to have a hybrid vehicle in every category. Growing sales and market growth will continue to keep Toyota hybrid vehicles’ in the lead.

SWOT Analysis: Hybrids

Strengths

· Dominating hybrid market

· Growing sales

Weaknesses

· Increased growth means increased publicity for the competition

Opportunities

· Hybrid in every category

· Market growth

Threats

· Intense competition

· Bio-Diesel

The video below shows how the Toyota Prius is built and how it works.



video


[1] Wortham, April. “Ford Under Investigation”. Automotive News May 14, 2007.

[2] Woodyard, Chris. USA TODAY. 18th Apr 2008. 18th Apr 2008 .

[3] Greimel, Hans. “Honda Set Lofty Hybrid Goal with Civics Help.” 3 Mar. 2008: p46. Business Source Premier. EBSCOhost. Portland State University, Library. Portland, OR. 19 Apr. 2008.

[4] Newman, Rick. “GM Bets That A Huge Battery Can Power It Past Toyota.” 26 Nov. 2007: p27-30. Academic Search Premier. EBSCOhost. Portland State University, Library, Portland, OR.

[5] “Toyota Worldwide Hybrid Sales Top 1 Million.” MSNBC. 7 Jun. 2007. .




{{{Written by Badr Alyamani}}}