Tech Myths Series #1: Cars


Regular readers of the blog will be familiar with our infographic snapshot series, including our famous film quotes infographics, which are up to number 7 out of 15 (check back on Friday for the 8th instalment).

This week we’re starting a brand new series, which we’re calling the ‘Tech Myths Series’; a collection of posts and infographic debunking some of the most pervasive myths around modern technology we can find. For the first post in the series we’re looking at cars, covering three myths that we hear on a regular basis…

1. 55 miles per hour is the most economic speed at which to drive your car. 

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Our first car graphic focuses on economical driving, and the myth that 55mph (or 89 kilometres per hour) is the most economical speed at which to drive. This simply isn’t true, and we suspect it’s something that is designed to slow people down from 70mph in order to make the roads safer.

Car engines in general are far more efficient not at a certain speed, but a certain number of revs. The most efficient number is around 2,000 revs per minute, which equates to between 35-45mph in the majority of cars.

2. You should let your engine run on cold winter mornings before driving

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This one is a common activity in the UK (mainly because we have so many cold mornings!). The myth is that you should start the engine and leave the car running for a little while before embarking on your journey, in order to warm up all the components and improve the performance of the car.

We’ve no idea where this one came from, but it’s simply not true. Just check your vehicle handbook, and you’ll see that manufacturers state the the best way to warm up your car is to drive it, as this gets all the components up to their ideal operating temperature much quicker. Idling the engine is not only ineffective in warming your engine to its optimum temperature, but it wastes fuel and increases overall emissions.

3. Electric cars are 100% green

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I’ve had a couple of conversations recently with Prius drivers who claim (in one case rather forcibly) that electric cars are 100% green because they don’t have an internal combustion engine, meaning they don’t emit greenhouse gases or contribute to air pollution.

Whilst it’s true that their direct emissions are minimal, the myth that they’re completely ‘green’ is simply unfounded. They the same tyres as petrol cars, which shed rubber onto the roads and contribute to waterway pollution, and the batteries they use contain lead, lithium and nickel, amongst other rare and toxic materials. But perhaps the most notable statistic is that the manufacture of an electric car creates 8.8 tons of CO2, compared to 5.6 tons for your average petrol car. Combine this with the fact that their batteries wear out quicker than traditional car batteries, meaning they have a shorter lifespan and need to be replaced more frequently (creating yet more pollution), and it’s easy to see how they’re nowhere near being 100% green.

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So that’s it for the first instalment of our tech myths series, next week we’ll be looking at batteries and kicking off our ‘How Stuff Works’ infographic series.

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