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The environmental aspect of the car

The placement of the engine in a car is usually in the front of the car, in exceptional cases the engine is placed in the back of the car as with the Volkswagen Beetle and the Porsche 911. The handling of the car is influenced by the weight of the engine behind or in the front of the car. Most ideal is a centre engine because such a car suffers the least from understeer or oversteer.

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Different types of engines are used to drive the car.

Internal combustion engine
A car is usually powered by an internal combustion engine. An internal combustion engine derives its energy from the (explosive) combustion of petrol, diesel, LPG or another fuel. These fuels are for sale at petrol stations.

In the case of a mixed engine, petrol (or LPG, for example) is detonated in a special chamber (cylinder) by a spark plug. The explosion pushes down a piston that drives the crankshaft and then this movement is transmitted to the wheels.

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In the case of a diesel engine, diesel is ignited in the same type of special chamber by injecting the diesel under high pressure into the chamber. The ignition pushes down a piston that drives the crankshaft, after which the movement is transmitted to the wheels.

The residues from the combustion process that takes place in the engine are discharged through the exhaust. Nowadays there are strict requirements for this. Combustion engines running on ethanol, methanol, biomass and similar technologies have been increasingly introduced recently. Some are at an experimental stage, but most have been available for some time and are sometimes even cheaper to buy and/or use.

Electric motor

Electric motor in the Tesla model S
File:Need makes resourceful 3 ways to drive a car without benzine.ogv
Inventive transport solutions to the fuel scarcity during the oil crisis of 1973

The Toyota Prius, a hybrid car
Increasingly stringent environmental legislation, technological development, market demand and a longer-term strategy mean that car manufacturers are switching to electromotors.

Another development is the use of two engines, so-called hybrids. The car will then have a combustion engine for out-of-town use and an electric motor for in-town use. Examples are the Honda Insight and the Toyota Prius. The Honda Civic is also available in a hybrid version. In 2005, Lexus launched the first hybrid SUV on the Dutch market, the Lexus RX400h.

Steam engine
In the beginning, cars were equipped with a steam engine. In 2007 it was announced that they had succeeded in having a car run on compressed air, the Air Car.


A crash test with a Hyundai Tucson GLS
The first traffic victim was Mary Ward. She lost her life on 31 August 1869 when she was thrown out of a steam car and ended up under the wheels. The first pedestrian to die of a car accident was Bridget Driscoll, who lost her life on 17 August 1896 in London. In the past, no attention was paid to safety. Cars had to be reliable and robust. It did happen that after a collision a car only had paintwork damage, but the occupants were dead. In the 1960s, under pressure from Ralph Nader and a number of activists, the first safety legislation was adopted.

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Today, 50 million people are injured every year and more than 1 million people die as a result of car accidents. In the Netherlands, 800 people die on the roads every year; in Belgium, 1,200 people die on the roads. In order to reduce the number of fatalities, the government promotes road safety by means of information, legislation and regulations and a policy of fines. Cars themselves are equipped with both active and passive safety features. On the basis of EuroNCAP’s crash tests, European cars are assessed for their safety. The highest EuroNCAP rating ever was awarded to the Alfa Romeo Giulia with a score of 98% (overall score: 5 stars).

Self-propelled car
In 2017, the Dutch government approved the Experimental Act on Self-propelled Vehicles, which makes it possible to carry out experiments on self-propelled vehicles without a driver in the Netherlands. Manufacturers will have more opportunities to test with self-propelled vehicles with a remote driver.

Carparts ExpertEnvironmental
Cars with an internal combustion engine consume (often fossil) fuels and emit harmful gases, including the greenhouse gas CO2. Fossil fuels are finite (i.e. they run out at some point), and greenhouse gases cause global warming. The government is therefore trying to reduce the use of fossil fuels and is promoting the use of cars with lower fuel consumption.