Tag Archives: car

Alex Perdikis Asks: Is a Green Car in Your Future?

By Alex Perdikis

Youíve heard a lot about electric and hybrid vehicles, but though you like the idea of driving an environmentally friendly car, you havenít take the plunge. Youíre not alone. Green car sales in the U.S. fell off last year. But hybrid sales picked up by the end of the year and 2017 is poised to continue the upward trend. Could a green car be in your future?

Hybrids and Plug-Ins – A Not So New Idea

Believe it or not, the first gas/electric hybrid was produced in 1899. Ferdinand Porsche designed and produced the Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid from 1900-1905. The horseless carriage was a convertible and available in a 2-seat or 4-seat model. The motor had two motors fueled by an electric battery as well as gas. Obviously, the idea of a hybrid vehicle has been around for some time.

Electric cars have a long history as well. In fact, electric cars, the Jeantaud Duc and La Jamais Contente, held the land speed record until 1902 when steam vehicle Gardner-Serpollet took the prize. Electric cars fell out of favor with the driving public due to lack of speed, short battery range and competition from the much faster internal combustible engine. However, electric powered trains and other vehicles are still in use.

Modern Day Green Car Development

The motive behind developing hybrid and electric cars is different now than it was for those early developers. Ferdinand Porsche, and other inventors like him, were busy developing ways to push the public forward, away from horses and into a world of motorized vehicle travel.

ďNow, concern for the environment and federal mandates geared toward fuel efficiency and cleaner consumption are the driving factors.Ē Ė Alex Perdikis

Reducing greenhouse gasses, less dependency on fossil fuels and reducing reliance on foreign fuel suppliers all drive the market and challenge manufacturers to create more fuel-efficient and cleaner options. Those early pioneers laid the groundwork for todayís green cars.

Honda introduced the Insight, the first hybrid available in the U.S., in 1999. It had a limited distribution. The big splash came in 2000 when Toyota unveiled its Prius gas/electric hybrid. Other major manufacturers, including Ford and Chevrolet, quickly followed suit. Now green car buyers have a host of options to choose from.

The innovations keep on coming. Automakers are experimenting with technologies and innovative ideas that may or may not reach production stage, some of which are highly entertaining. For example, Mercedes is working on an electric concept that, in addition to the usual fuel-efficient options, has what the company calls ďmulti-voltaicĒ paint. According to company officials, the paint doubles as a solar and wind power source to gather electricity.

Another clever idea developers are working on is changing the structure of the battery. Batteries can be cumbersome, are often heavy and worst of all, have a low-energy density. How can innovators turn the battery problem around? How about turning the entire car body into a super capacitor?

Developers are working on car panels that are not only attractive, but carbon capacitors as well. The polymer carbon fiber blend charges and stores more energy quicker than conventional batteries. When hood, roof and trunk panels were replaced with carbon capacitor panels, one experimental model dropped 15 percent of battery weight and extended its range 80 miles. These and other exciting possibilities are the future. But, what if youíre ready to buy now?

How to Buy Green

Do you know the difference between a conventional hybrid and a plug-in hybrid? If youíre ready to buy now or in the near future, there are a few things you need to know. Here are some tips and points to think about:

  • Conventional versus plug-in: The conventional hybrid uses electricity as a supplemental energy source. Electricity is not meant to power the car alone except for short distances. The plug-in uses a rechargeable electronic battery pack. Plug-ins can run solely on electricity until the battery runs out of electricity. Distance varies from model to model. Current distances range from 25 to 50 miles per charged battery. After the battery runs down, the gasoline engine automatically takes over.
  • Youíll pay a higher price: †At least for the time being, expect to pay a higher price than you would for a non-hybrid. You might be eligible for a government subsidy when you purchase a green car, however. Check with your dealer.
  • Look at used hybrids: You might be able to find a used hybrid thatís more affordable. Most manufacturers warranty components for a long time. If the used hybrid youíre looking at is still under warranty and the warranty transfers, you could save thousands.
  • Test drive a lot of different models: Hybrids are not only manufactured differently, they drive differently. The driving experience varies. Test drive as many different models as you can before you buy.

Alex Perdikis, Koons of Silver Spring general manager and owner, lives in Chevy Chase with his wife and daughters.

Stay Safe in the Days of Road Rage and Fake Accidents

By Alex Perdikis

No one likes dealing with a fender bender, but as a driver, youíre lucky if thatís the worst you ever have to deal with. Drivers today have to be ready to deal with all types of difficult situations, from the minor fender bender to fake accidents.

How can you stay safe? Here are tips to follow if you find yourself in a dangerous situation while driving.

Iím Not Mad, You Are!

Temper, temper. Everyone faces moments of irritation while driving. Why did that guy cut Alex Perdikisme off? Did that woman really speed up so I couldnít pass? It happens every day. But letís face it. No one is perfect. Youíve made mistakes, too. Other drivers probably wondered what you thought you were doing when and swerved in front of them because you almost missed your exit. But, what happens when anger gets out of control?

Itís always better to avoid road rage in the first place if you can. Leave your ego at the door and drive courteously. Donít cut people off. Do not tailgate. Donít point, glare, make gestures, use revenge tactics or show any sign of anger.

ďLet faster moving cars get by you, even if theyíre speeding. Itís not your job to enforce the law. You can report speeders if you can safely do so, but let law enforcement handle lawbreakers.Ē Ė Alex Perdikis

If you make a mistake, smile and apologize to the other driver if you make eye contact. Keep your cool and you may be able to diffuse the situation before it starts.

What if you do all of that and still find yourself the target of an aggressive and angry motorist?

Follow these tips to stay safe:

  • Donít make eye contact or acknowledge the other driver in any way.
  • Keep your windows rolled up.
  • If the driver seems intent on interacting, drive to a public area, such as a busy store parking lot or a police station. Never drive to your home if someone is following you. Honk your horn to attract attention.
  • Do not give in to the urge to stop your car, get out and talk to, or more likely yell at, the other driver.
  • Get the carís plate number.
  • Call 911 if none of the above works to deter the other driver.
  • If the incident was particularly egregious, file a police report.

What to Do When an Accident Isnít Really an Accident

A car accident is possible every time you get in your car and drive down the road. Thatís why you have insurance. An increasingly common scam has erupted lately where scammers fake an accident to make bogus insurance claims. And, unfortunately, those scams always involve innocent drivers like you. Hereís an overview of some of the most common staged accidents and how to protect yourself.

The Not-So-Friendly Wave

Imagine youíre trying to switch lanes. The driver in the lane you want to move to slows down and waves you ahead. What a nice guy, you think. Heís nice until you try to switch over. Thatís when he speeds up and collides with your car. The driver tells police he didnít wave you over and places the blame on you.

When a T-Bone Doesnít Taste So Good

The t-bone scam occurs as you drive through an intersection. Another driver, waiting for the right opportunity, hits the gas and t-bones your car. This type of fake accident usually includes ďwitnessesĒ who are ready to testify that you were at fault.

Swooping, Slamming and Running the Lane Accidents

Slamming on the brakes right in front of you is one of the more simple, yet effective accident scams. It should be noted, however that if you are far enough behind the vehicle in front of you, you should be able to stop anyway.

The swoop and stop scam is where a car suddenly pulls in front of you and stops as another vehicles pulls alongside to keep you from swerving to avoid a collision.

The dual turn sideswipe occurs as your vehicle and the scammerís attempt to make same direction turns. The fraudster swipes the side of your car and accuses you of leaving your lane.

Many of these scenarios involve not only the driver, but additional helpers who corroborate the driverís story.

If you think youíre the victim of a staged accident, follow these guidelines:

  1. Record as many of the details as you can, including the other driverís license number, vehicle registration, insurance information, contact details and general driver description as well as physical descriptions of witnesses and passengers.
  2. Do not move the cars until you get pictures, unless itís absolutely necessary. Take multiple pictures of the accident damage and vehicle positions from every angle. Take pictures of the other carís plates as well as photos of any people involved.
  3. Call the police and make sure they know you believe the accident was staged.
  4. Inform your insurance company and tell them you believe the accident was a setup. Make sure insurers receive copies of your photos and detailed notes. The insurance company will take it from there.

 

 

Alex Perdikis, Koons of Silver Spring general manager and owner, lives in Chevy Chase with his wife and daughters.