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Dixie Somers posted a blog entry in The Green Machine BlogIt is certainly a golden era for those looking to buy green vehicles. The prevalence of hybrids and fully electric cars are slowly dominating the vehicle market, with even conventional cars borrowing some of the technology. In this ranking of the top five, there are several important aspects to consider. These cars make the cut because of their fuel efficiency, limited or no reliance on fossil fuel and decent utility. This list is also a ranked list, so the first car is the top choice and the fifth car is the least desirable. Toyota Prius Prime It simply doesn't get better than this brand new addition to the Prius family. While it may be surprising that a pure electric doesn't take the top spot on this list, Toyota has managed to strike the best balance between utility and efficiency in its plug-in electric hybrid design. The Prime, which is truly deserving of the name, has been heralded as the most efficient car in the country. It boasts over 600 miles total range on a mere 11 gallons of fuel. It's decent 25-mile electric battery serves well for the majority of commutes and daily driving without sacrificing the car's efficiency with too much dead weight. The Prime allows a driver to go gas free for much of their time, while still giving them amazing flexibility for long trips, and enough cargo and passenger space to be comfortable all while maintaining a basically unbeatable 133 EMPGs of efficiency. To top it all off, it is decently priced at below $30,000, which beats out much of the competition for plug-in hybrids. The math simply doesn't get any better. Tesla Model S Those choosing to get a pure electric vehicle need look no further than the Tesla Model S. While it bears an extravagant price tag as its main detracting feature, the Tesla shows what fully electric cars need to be if they are to ever become a mainstream item. The Tesla boasts almost twice the range of most pure electrics while having a rapid charge ability that makes it usable even for long road trips. The car is overall less efficient than the Prime, down to about 102 EMPGs. Assuming an owner's power comes from clean sources, the Model S may be the cleanest car in the country. It gets knocked down to second place mainly because of its $70,000+ price tag and its lower overall efficiency. Nissan Leaf Nissan's attempt at making an affordable all-electric has worked for many drivers across the country. The name clearly indicates the car's attempt to be greener than the average vehicle, and the car does succeed in that admirably. It actually has more efficiency than the Tesla at about 115–120 EMPGs combined, edging up to 124 in-town only. The greatest detraction of the Leaf is the same that afflicts all affordable pure-electrics. They simply don't have the range and utility of a conventional car, not even close. The newest models of Leaf have managed to push their maximum range over the 100 mile mark, barely, but that is only in the hands of a very conservative driver in town. The car works great as a commuter vehicle, but it simply doesn't have the ability to function on longer trips. This dramatically hurts its score because its utility value necessitates an owner having another, conventional, car for longer trips, defeating the purpose of buying the green car to begin with. Smart Car (Electric Coupe) As one of the pioneers of the all-electric vehicle market. The smart car has been the butt of many jokes about electric cars and their lack of usefulness or driving pleasure. The smart car has become the icon of what it takes to be an efficient and affordable electric car, and the picture isn't exactly pretty. The smart car does just what it intends to do, however. It manages 107 EMPGs and is overall a very efficient electric with a price tag cheaper than even a gas-powered compact. This efficiency, however, comes at a steep cost to utility. The car takes the idea of compact to a new level. It can barely accommodate two people comfortably and has basically no cargo space. It also has a measly 60–70 mile maximum range, so it is completely unusable for longer trips. Most drivers will need to take the money they save buying a smart car and invest in a second car to get anywhere with. It is saved from the lowest ranking only because of its affordability and efficiency. You can't get a pure-electric for less. Chevy Volt It is interesting that a plug-in electric takes both the top and the bottom spot on this ranking, which shows that minor changes in how the technology is approached can have a major impact. In many ways, the Volt works just like the Prime. It even boasts over twice the electric range, which may appeal to some drivers. The modern version of the Volt functions more like a true hybrid. This is in contrast to the early models, which took a different approach to the technology and killed the car's gas efficiency completely. The early model Volts wouldn't have even made this list. Lowered efficiency is the main detractor of the Volt. Despite functioning almost exactly like the Prime, it barely manages to get over 100 EMPGs, with a considerably lower gas efficiency. The Volt is bigger, heavier and less focused on efficiency compared to the Prime. The larger and heavier battery that gives its primary advantage, is also its greatest detractor. All that extra dead weight really hurts once the battery is empty. In an effort to give drivers greater electric range and a bump in performance, Chevy has built a plug-in hybrid that, while still very useful and popular, just doesn't promise to save the planet quite as well as the Prius Prime. There are many options out there when shopping for a green fuel-efficient car. It's important to select a vehicle that works well for your particular driving situation and habits because even a green pure-electric doesn't do any good if you're hardly ever able to use it
RachelleW posted a blog entry in Shades of an Apple Green HomeWith energy costs on the rise along with pollution and traffic congestion, energy-efficient vehicles are excellent investments. Most of us own vehicles and depend on them for daily transportation. It makes sense to get one that can save money while also helping to keep the environment clean. The benefits like environmental friendliness and savings on fuel are well known; however, there are a few other benefits that you may not know about. Lower Costs The cost of gas is not the only expense with which vehicle owners have to contend. Insurance is another significant cost that comes with owning all types of vehicles. Many car insurance companies provide their customers with discounts for owning an energy-efficient vehicle. Some insurance companies even have divisions that are dedicated to policies for eco-friendly vehicles and which provide discounts. Hybrid drivers may also be eligible for good driver and other discounts as well. All major insurance providers offer some sort of discount for drivers of hybrids and electrical cars. Aside from replacing parts like tires and wiper blades, there is not a lot of maintenance needed for electric cars. For one thing, the brake pads last longer since these vehicles use regenerative braking to slow the vehicle down. Regenerative braking converts the energy used in slowing the vehicle into electricity, which is stored in the battery. They Are Safe Hybrid and electric vehicles are as safe as cars that are fueled by gasoline. In the past, concerns have been raised regarding the potential for accidents to cause chemical spills because of the batteries; however, such accidents have not occurred in the decade since these cars first became widely available. Still, it is necessary to take precautions when driving any vehicle, regardless of the fuel source. Eric Harron, a car accident lawyer in Austin, advises all motorists to avoid aggressive driving and to minimize distractions regardless of what vehicle is being driven. They Are Just as Comfortable as Conventional Vehicles When it comes to comfort and ease of driving, there is no difference between an all-gas vehicle and an energy-efficient. Hybrids are able to accelerate and to cruise just as fast on the highway. Most hybrids come with the luxury features expected of modern vehicles. These include navigation systems, keyless start and automatic climate control. Most hybrids are able to move at least four adults in reasonable comfort and some can transport as many as eight. They are a Good Investment The economic aspects of buying an energy efficient vehicle can be tricky. Many experts have deemed hybrids and other fuel-efficient vehicles to be poor investments based on the fuel savings. It is true that the value of a hybrid can fluctuate depending on gas prices. However, one area that many calculations fail to take into consideration is resale value. One 2011 study by Carnegie Mellon University used auction data to show that two energy efficient vehicles (the Toyota Prius and the Volkswagen Jetta TDI) retained thousands of dollars of their value in comparison to gas-only vehicles. More people are turning to hybrids in order to save on fuel and to help protect the environment, which means that there is a greater demand. That demand leads to above-average resale value. The Technology is Not New Even though hybrids and electrical vehicles have been on the market for a while now, many motorists may be concerned about investing in what may be perceived as relatively new technology. The truth is that electric cars were around as far back as the early 20th century. They were among the earliest American-made vehicles. The technology has evolved considerably since then and modern electrical cars are even more efficient and powerful. The benefits above are some of the reasons that hybrids and electrical vehicles are among the fastest growing segments of the auto industry. Furthermore, the popularity of energy efficient vehicles means that there is a wide variety from which to choose. Shop around to find something that meets your needs and those of your family.
elizabetheckhart posted a blog entry in elizabetheckhart's BlogAdvances in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to obtain natural gas have made this resource an abundantly available and comparatively inexpensive source of fuel. While electric utility generators have traditionally favored large coal-or nuclear-powered plants to supply electricity to a designated grid, natural gas has steadily risen in popularity within this sector since the 1990’s - if it continues along its current path, natural gas is projected to overtake coal and nuclear power as a primary source of alternative energy over the next few decades. Automakers, however, are still struggling to put America’s prodigious volumes of natural gas to their use. While coal may still be the cheapest means of generating electricity, it is also the dirtiest, causing smog, soot, acid rain, and other toxic air pollutants. Natural gas burns cleaner, and releases dramatically fewer emissions into the atmosphere - a nearly 30 percent reduction in carbon output and toxins. It’s also cheaper by as much as $1 per gallon equivalent, even as the prices of gas and diesel have plummeted in recent weeks. When used to power vehicles, it’s one of the leading choices for environmentally-conscious drivers worldwide. But despite its comparatively clean and reliable track record, CNG vehicles have had a hard time catching on in the United States. The average yearly growth rate for the U.S. hovers at around 4%, as contrasted with an impressive global growth rate of over 30%. Government agencies and private companies are making massive investments to boost America’s natural gas fueling infrastructure, but the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel remains relatively modest. Most CNG vehicles offered today are available for commercial truck fleets, or as buses and medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks. Because there are so few personal vehicles running on compressed natural gas, companies are unwilling to invest in the construction of a network of refueling stations. And auto companies don’t want to build CNG vehicles if drivers will have no where to gas up. The compressed natural gas success story in the United States is still in its infancy. But as technology advances, the domestic uses for natural gas multiply. Furnaces and water heaters powered by the alternative fuel can allow homeowners to save between $300-$1,262 per year on their utility bills. In typical home appliances, the use of natural gas cuts energy consumption by 28 percent and produces 37 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Innovators in the fuel industry soon hope to give individuals the option to generate their own electricity at home, using natural gas to power small generators (more info at Direct Energy’s website). Our energy future continues to hang in the balance, and while the harvesting and transport of natural gas pose a threat to its success, it remains one of the most promising advances in the energy sector. As with all fossil fuels, natural gas began as microorganisms living in the ocean. As such, natural gas is a non-renewable resource (at least in our lifetime) and it’s important to remember that it won’t be available forever. Lack of infrastructure also complicates matters, and some fracking companies have become victims of their own success when productivity outpaces access to pipelines. The fracking process itself is also an enormous concern, and so far over 100 U.S. municipalities have banned fracking due to concerns about groundwater contamination. Air pollution, hazardous wastes and other issues are also connected with use of hydraulic fracturing, and have been linked to increases in health problems in people living near fracking sites. Tests from these areas have also revealed high levels of benzene, formaldehyde and other cancer-causing chemicals in the air. With fracking production outpacing the science on its impact, continued drilling has sparked public outcry and outrage from environmentalists. That said, the increase in available natural gas, along with increasingly strict vehicle emission requirements and a gradual improvement in fueling infrastructure, can be expected to continue to push the market for CNG passenger cars in conjunction with the increased demand for home heating and appliance applications. In 2013, 27% of U.S. electricity was generated from natural gas, more than doubling from amounts used for that purpose in 2004. While natural gas’s role in climate change remains controversial, our hunger for energy resources as insatiable as ever. With a cheap, domestic energy source at our disposal it seems foolish to throw the baby out with the fracking water.