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  1. With vehicle emissions a hot topic and budgets strained by the cost of gas, fuel economy has become increasingly important. Many car buyers wonder how to find a fuel-efficient vehicle that suits their needs. Here is a process for finding a fuel-saving vehicle and still getting what you need out of your next vehicle purchase. Choose a Suitable Vehicle To make the most fuel-efficient choice, consider what the smallest vehicle is that suits your needs, advises Energywise. A compact car can offer great fuel economy, but if you work out in the country, chances are you need a pickup, and if you have several kids to haul to soccer practice, you may need a van or small SUV. Once you determine what type of vehicle you really need (sedan, compact, SUV, pickup) look at what the smallest vehicles are in that category. Consider Hybrids and Electric Cars Electric cars give you the best efficiency. But when driving long distances, charging becomes an issue. Also, the cost of electric cars may be out of your price range. Hybrids are great because they solve a lot of the issue with charging, but they can be cost prohibitive. If they are in your price range and will work for you in a suitable vehicle, electric and hybrid vehicles offer incredible fuel economy. Fuel Efficiency Once you have determined the type of vehicle you want, look for the best fuel economy in its class. Remember: not all cars have better fuel economy just because they are smaller. The fuel-economy ratings indicate what you can expect under average conditions. Fuel efficiency ratings are an average because environmental factors, such as hills and mountains, high or low temperatures, and altitude affect fuel economy. Driving habits also play a big role. Drivers who routinely exceed the speed limit, are prone to hard braking and aggressive acceleration, and who put off maintenance—like oil changes and refilling the tires—always end up with fuel economy much lower than their vehicles average. Get Rid of a Junker The fastest way to become more fuel efficient is to get out of an old car and into a new, fuel-efficient model. Older cars don’t have today’s technology, so their fuel ratings (when they were new) are much lower than today’s options. Also, as the parts in older cars wear out, their fuel economy slips because the cars have to work harder to maintain the same performance level. Oftentimes, the best way to get rid of an old car is to sell it for cash to a self-serve used auto parts shop that tows your car from home, such as U Pull & Pay. With carbon emission awareness on the rise and gas often costing an arm and a leg, finding the right fuel-efficient vehicle helps the environment and your pocketbook.
  2. The federal government is putting a lot of pressure on today’s automakers to produce fuel-saving vehicles. Modern innovations such as cylinder deactivation technology are now being used on a regular basis. Here are five reasons why we need more energy efficient vehicles. Reduce Pollution Environmental pollution is the top reason why fuel use needs to be minimized. Research shows that automobiles can certainly taint the air. In heavily populated metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles and New York, up to 90 percent of air pollution comes from vehicle emissions. Meanwhile, China’s thick smog can actually be seen from outer space. As a result of burning gasoline and diesel, the ozone layer has become depleted. Helps the Economy It is no secret that fuel can be a major expense. Keep in mind that the average driver travels more than 13,000 miles a year. If you commute on a daily basis, you understand the value of reducing fuel consumption. Cities also spend a lot of tax money on refueling public transport vehicles. By purchasing less fuel, governments will have more money to spend on other things. Less Dependence on Crude Oil The overwhelming majority of the crude oil reserves are located in the Middle East. This means that countries such as the United States must import oil. To reduce petroleum use, the U.S. government wants the average car to return at least 45 mpg. By using engine dynamometers, automakers can fine-tune a vehicle’s efficiency without compromising any performance. Companies like Power Test Inc. also design dynamometers to handle large engines. Trucking companies will be able to dramatically improve the fuel efficiency of their fleet. Prevent Climate Change Climate change is a subject that a lot of people tend to overlook. According to scientists, the amount of greenhouse gases released by vehicles has a direct influence on global climate change. Powerful hurricanes and tsunamis have been linked to the changing climate. The advancement of hybrid and electric vehicles can certainly help us to overcome this problem. Ability to Travel without Breaking the Bank A lot of Americans love to take road trips. However, the cost of fuel can put a major dent in a person’s budget. When more fuel-efficient vehicles start to hit the market, drivers will be able to travel more often. They can visit their family and friends for a far cheaper cost. Engineers are working hard to improve fuel efficiency. Hopefully, we will see big improvements in the near future.
  3. There’s been a lot of back-and-forth about hybrid (HEV) and electric vehicles (EV) in terms of their benefits to the environment and their monetary benefits, which, to me, was a surprise. My initial thoughts were, “Well how could there even be a debate? Anything to start moving us away from our dependence on fossil fuels, especially our dependence on the oil industry.” My view was idealistic, and I’d say it hasn’t changed. In general it’s a good idea to move away from our irritable, messy oil neighborhood and into a cleaner place where we can breathe. But when buying a hybrid or electric vehicle there are some things to consider if you want to make the most environmentally-conscious decision. 1. Where Do You Live? When buying an electric vehicle one of the main things to consider is where you live. If you’re buying one of the new plug-in electric vehicles, for example, the well-to-wheel emissions are going to differ based on your location. Well-to-wheel emissions are the total amount of emissions that result in the effort to power your car. If you’re like me, you live in an area where the majority (%49.61) of electricity is generated through burning coal. In this case if I were to buy a plug-in here the annual emissions (62 pounds of CO2) are going to be higher than if I bought a regular EV (54 pounds of CO2) or even a hybrid (57 pounds of CO2). So although that new plug-in might be appealing, the EV or HEV is going to be better for the environment. 2. What About Your Wallet? In the case of hybrid vs fully electric cars there are some variable considerations as well. I checked out this article about the comparative difference in money saved over time, and the basic synopsis is that the fully electric vehicle is going to pay off the difference in price quicker than the hybrid will. By this, I mean a regular car costs less out of the gate, but over time the hybrid or electric saves you money on gas. Since you don’t have to pay anything for gas to power an electric, you’re going to make back the extra money you spent faster with an electric than you will with a hybrid. Those figures come from when gas was on average $3.52 per gallon. Now that the national average is $2.20 per gallon, my calculations (doing the same type of calculations as the article cited above) show that you would have to drive about 116 thousand miles to make up the price difference between the Nissan Leaf (EV) and the Toyota Prius (HEV), and that’s if gasoline’s average price remains at $2.20. So in this case the HEV is going to be less expensive, and, in terms of well-to-wheel emissions, if you live in a coal-powered area the Prius (HEV) will spew out 57 pounds of CO2 vs the Leaf’s (EV) 54 pounds. In the short term, that 3 pound difference might be enough to tip some scales toward the hybrid. 3. In the Long Run? The EV is the way to go because of the recent regulations on coal emissions, which stipulate that plants have to cut their CO2 emissions up to 30% by 2030. That means EV’s will have to rely less and less on coal-generated power by 2030; if we can move further into an age of wind and solar energy, and as long as EV’s can run longer than 116 thousand miles, you’ll earn your money back and benefit the environment. But will consumers be able to look past immediate monetary factors and into the more distant future? The current gas prices make it easier for someone who’s strapped for cash to go out and purchase a high-performing 30 mpg vehicle like the Corolla for about $10K less than you’ll spend on the Leaf. And instant gratification is what got us into this climate change mess to begin with. So let’s hope the long-term benefits of the Leaf, as well as the $7,500 tax credit, can tip the scales as the 2015 auto-buying year plays out.
  4. As electric cars become more and more prominent on roads around the world, it is only logical that the demand for home charging stations is reaching a new peak, with companies scrambling to meet it. Already there are several options with a wide array of benefits that give consumers a choice, but the question becomes how does one find the best charging station for them and their particular situation? Fortunately, it's fairly easy to compare several of the top brands. Converting Your Car The first thing to keep in mind is that it's actually very easy to convert a car from using petrol to employing electric power, and there are quite a few reasons to make this change. For one, it costs a lot less to run an electric vehicle. For a handful of change you can travel as far as a full tank of gas would otherwise bring you. According to a study conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists “Based on electricity rates in 50 cities across the United States, the analysis found drivers can save $750 to $1,200 dollars a year compared to operating an average new compact gasoline vehicle (27 mpg) fueled with gasoline at $3.50 per gallon. Higher gas prices would mean even greater EV fuel cost savings. For each 50 cent increase in gas prices, an EV driver can expect save an extra $200 a year.” Those who live in energy deregulated markets (read more about those here) can pair this with an energy provider who uses green energy to pack a double punch against their carbon footprint. Luckily for car owners who want to make the changeover but are wearing of the price tag of electric cars the actual conversion of a gas powered car to one that runs off electricity can be done for much less than the cost of a new electric car and it will produce zero emissions when it's finished. Making this change is therefore not only good for your budget (in both the short and long runs), but also the environment. Leviton Evr-green Leviton has gone to great lengths to start thinking ahead. That's why the new Evr-green system is not only designed for both Level I and Level II users, but it also includes a pre-wire system that can be installed in a home in order to make the transition to an electric car easier. The system starts at around $200 but does not including installation, which is best left to the professionals. That being said, it's a bit pricey at $1,129.54 and doesn't include DC fast charge, making it one of the slower units available on the market today. AeroVironment What stands out about AeroVironment is largely their commercial operations, offering both Level II and DC fast charge units, but its residential operations just got a big boost in the arm by securing the exclusive contract to be the installed station for Nissan LEAF home charging. At $899.00, it's an excellent deal. What makes this particularly useful is that AeroVironment is now forced to comply with standards of a major automobile brand, so you should see a consistent progression of improvements on the model and more cars making use of the system in order to partake in already installed units. On the other hand, the units are designed with specific cars and receptacles in mind, so if you get another car later you'll likely need another charging station to go with it. General Electric WattStation Part of what makes the GE WattStation such a great station and will be fantastic for home use is that it's the only one with WiFi smart grid technology built into it, so it's easy to connect to when you require remote access and help finding additional charging stations when you need them on the road (you can even check out a map of stations on their site). Add to that the GE name, which has built its reputation over quite some time, and you have a charging station you can count on. That being said, it is by far the most expensive at $2,999.00. What's worse is that is for a station that only does Level II charging. It is clear that you are very much paying for the GE name with this charger. Clipper Creek Despite being around for decades, Clipper Creek isn't well known in the charging station industry. They're very much a quiet competitor, largely because they haven't put much effort into the design of their stations. Moreover, they only do Level II charging. That being said, they are the install of choice for the Tesla Roadster and despite just being gray boxes, are highly reliable charging stations. These will last as long as your car and probably more than that, as well as having a wide variety of voltage and amperage settings to choose from. The price for a Clipper Creek station runs anywhere from $379 to $899, making them also the least expensive option despite their limitations. NRG eVgo NRG eVgo is a company that is aggressively trying to establish itself as the center of home and public charging, and they're doing it by not only offering a high quality residential unit for a good price, but also offering service and maintenance at your house for when things go wrong. The drawback, however, is that you only get 12 to 25 miles of travel per hour of charge, making it great for a standard Level II if you don't drive a lot, but terrible if you're looking for something that will last a while. The width of the variance also makes it uncomfortable to gauge your driving capacity. You can get a home charging NRG eVgo station for $699.00 or you can sign up for their monthly Freedom Station network for $14.99 per month plus a recharge fee. As you can see, there are quite a few options for almost everyone’s budget if you’re considering converting your existing car to, or purchasing, an electric car. It’s important to note with all this technology that while the upfront costs may seem like a burden, they will pay for themselves in the long run and help you sleep better at night knowing all the good you’re doing for the planet.
  5. Tesla Motors want to create their own global network of fast-chargers for their increasingly popular electric vehicles. They currently have 103 Tesla Superchargers in the US but plan to expand globally soon, mainly in Europe but also in parts of Asia. By the end of 2015, Tesla Motors say they 98% of the US population will live (somewhat) nearby one of these superchargers. Around the same time, Tesla plans to start their global expansion.    These three maps show where they plan to build their superchargers:   North America Only six superchargers in Canada?     Europe Western Europe gets all the love it seems.     Asia Not much has been planned for Asia though...   
  6. In a rather surprising and unprecedented move, Tesla Motors, the U.S. electric car company, has announced that they will allow their competitors to use their patents. Tesla Motors is giving access to its patents in an effort to spur the global use of green electric cars to address the climate crisis. At least that’s what Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla Motors, claimed in a post on the company’s blog. “Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport,” Musk wrote. “If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.” According to Musk, Tesla Motors originally created the patents for fears that the larger car companies would simply copy their electric car technology and sidestep Musk and his car company with their massive manufacturing, sales and marketing power. “We couldn’t have been more wrong,” Musk said. “At best, the large automakers are producing electric cars with limited range in limited volume. Some produce no zero emission cars at all.” Global vehicle production is nearing 100 million cars per year but not even one percent of these are electric cars, or vehicles that doesn’t burn hydrocarbons. Considering that the global car fleet is nearing two billion, Musk believes that Tesla Motors competition are not other car manufactories, instead it’s all the gasoline cars that rolls out of factories every single day. “It is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis,” Musk said. “We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.” But Musk and Tesla Motors is not only doing this to fight climate change, or because they represent some sort of new philanthropic, open-source corporate movement. Tesla Motors are expected to build a huge factory, nicknamed the Gigafactory, in the U.S. that will produce the company’s unique batteries. These cylindrical batteries are the key feature that allow electric cars from Tesla Motors to double, or even triple, its driving range compared to other electric vehicles. “Even if other competitors copy Tesla’s design, Tesla still gets to sell them batteries, and that’s pretty awesome. Tesla’s decision isn’t entirely altruistic,” patent law expert Jacob Sherkow told the Los Angeles Times.
  7. Once considered a thing of a distant future, now more real than ever before, the electric car is a new player in town which looks like it can quickly overshadow its older, gas-based predecessor. With a great amount of press and other media coverage, cars such as those produced by Tesla Motors are becoming increasingly relevant in the car world, winning the fight over their competitors due to the lesser amount of impact they have on the environment. A little less known, but nevertheless real fact, which is getting more and more press these days, is that those cars tend to be not only good for the preservation of our environment, but that they are very safe for driving as well. It goes without saying that the mass adoption of the electrically powered vehicles would significantly lower carbon emission levels and help reduce the infamous greenhouse effect. Note that not using gas to power the car does not mean the carbon emissions will be zero. The electric car’s engine requires electricity of course, and this means it still needs to be charged impacting the environment in the process. According to a research conducted in the UK by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the electric cars can add around 85g/km of carbon into the atmosphere. This is not a negligible quantity; however, it is still much less than 128.3g/km which is the amount produced by an average new car in the United Kingdom. But how many lives can they save on the road? The answer is – a lot. Image credit: intellimec Tesla’s Model S, a new car from this company was recently lauded for scoring the best possible safety mark on the NHTSA’s (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) test. The car had an average grade of five out of five possible stars – a perfect score. Furthermore, the car surpassed even this grade in the Vehicle Safety Score (the score which can be higher than 5) and set a new VSSrecord of 5.4, which effectively made it the safest vehicle in the world. Famously, the testers did not even manage to perform one of the tests on Model S – due to the car’s specific weight distribution, the test drivers did not succeed in flipping the car over. Image credit: Ltrent Normally, as it usually goes when a new technology makes a breakthrough, there are critics which question the safety of electric cars. They tend to be especially concerned about the safety of car batteries in dangerous situations, claiming that there is a danger of the battery exploding in case of collision. However, as it is the case with the carbon emissions, even though there is definitely a certain risk involved, car batteries are still safer than gas tanks. All things concerned, it seems that cars have a bright future ahead of them. The same cannot be stated for the gas-based motors, though. Electric vehicles are here, and they are here to stay.
  8. For the first time, the CO2 levels in the atmosphere have hit 400 ppm (parts per million). This threshold represents the growing influence of humans on the climate. The man-made emissions of CO2 have increased the concentration in the atmosphere from about 270-280 ppm in the 1700s to the current record – a 43% increase. According to scientists, this is surprising considering the rapid growth of global CO2 emissions from the frequent burning of oil, coal and natural gas. Last year, the global CO2 emissions reached 38.2 billion tons. This is an increase of around a billion tons more compared to the previous year. This means that over 2.4 million pounds of CO2 are spewed into the atmosphere: Every second. The increasing CO2 emissions are accelerating global warming, also known as the greenhouse effect. Future temperatures depend on the amount of CO2 that accumulated in the atmosphere and so, there is a need to reduce those emissions in order to minimize global warming. Official data: How To Reduce Global CO2 Emissions Since the increasing CO2 emissions are often associated with burning of oil, coal and natural gas, the best way to reduce them is to adopt green practices. For example, coal power should be replaced by zero-carbon nuclear power and renewable wind power. Natural gas which is used for heating and driving motors should be replaced by heat pumps and electric motors. Finally, transportation sector consumes over 70 percent of petroleum as motor fuels. The consumption of transportation petroleum can be significantly reduced by using electric vehicles. The Current State Of Green Car Industry With the need to reduce CO2 emission, electric cars have emerged as the viable alternative to the polluting cars that most people drive today. An electric car relies on an electric motor for propulsion. They use battery and not petrol. The current green car industry is dominated by the 6 car makers: Chrysler Ford GM Toyota Honda and Nissan The price of electric cars is much more than gasoline vehicles of the same size. For example, the price of the least expensive electric car on the market now, the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive car, is twice as much as the gasoline ForTwo. However, the operation cost of electric cars is a much less. For example, if gasoline costs $4 per gallon, your 25-mpg gas car will need a fuel of $16 to cover every 100 miles. On the other hand, an electric car uses $1-6.50 in electricity for the same distance. One of the most popular electric car models is the 2013 Nissan Leaf. It has recorded the highest sales. According to Klosters, (Australian car dealer) and their News section page about this vehicle , the new 2013 Nissan LEAF car is 6 times cheaper and more efficient as compared to a petrol-fueled car. More About LEAF If you are driving the Nissan LEAF for the first time, you will be impressed by the little difference between the car and comparable internal combustion hatchbacks. It is not a golf cart, and accelerates well just like most gasoline-fueled cars of the same size. It can comfortably accommodate four people (or even five for shorter distances), and has a considerable cargo room. The LEAF is a highly capable daily car whose operating cost is a fraction of gas-powered cars provided you pay attention to the battery charge state. The 2013 LEAF maintains the same styling as its 2011 predecessor, which is a good thing. It has a contemporary and conventional look and even its allowances for aerodynamics (such as the protruding headlights) look decent on the car. The base models have 16-inch steel wheels (along with wheel covers), while other models have alloy wheels. The distinguishing feature of the range-topping SL models is the solar panel attached to the roof spoiler, which provides supplemental charging for the 12-volt battery of the LEAF. The car is powered by an 80-kilowatt (107HP) electric motor which is driven by a 24-kWh lithium-ion battery. Although the vehicle is single-speed, it takes 10 seconds to run from 0-60 mph thanks to the instantly available motor torque of 207 pound-feet and the car can hit a maximum speed of up to 90-mph. Both figures perfectly fit its intended purpose. The 2013 LEAF handles competently and predictably. However, people who are seeking maximum entertainment behind the wheel may not be satisfied with the numb steering and detached road feel of the car. But since the primary mission of the car is to move from one point to another in relative comfort, that cannot hinder sales. As mentioned earlier, you need to pay careful attention to the car’s battery charge state. When completely depleted, the 24 kWh battery pack may take nearly twenty hours to reach its full charge capacity on standard home current (110V). Installing a 240V Level 2 charging station (sold by Nissan dealers) in your home will significantly reduce that time, and the new 2013 6.6-kilowatt charger (which comes with all Leafs except base models) can charge the battery to its full capacity in only four hours. That’s a great improvement compared to the previous 3.3-kilowatt charger, which took up to 10 hours to fully recharge from a 240V Level 2 charging station. With the advancement in technology today, a smartphone can be used to operate or control almost anything and the LEAF is no exception. Through a smartphone app, you can set charging times to maximize on off-peak rates, heat the cabin and cool the cabin for summer comfort. The smartphone app also allows you to keep tabs on the charging process as you will be alerted in case charging is interrupted. But if you don’t have a smartphone, don’t worry as most of these functions can be controlled via the display screen of the car. Video: The Future Of Green Car Industry Although the electric cars are a bit costly today, the price will obviously reduce. More and more people will opt for the cars due to their benefits to the environment. There shall come a time when combustion cars would be so few and the air would not be full of CO2 that gasoline-fueled cars are often associated with. In fact, Nissan has tried to capture that period by creating an aromatic blueprint’ which imitates how the world would smell like in a green future with zero-carbon emission cars. Resources:
  9. The Future of Green Cars

    We have slowly become aware of the fact that we must cut down on emissions and focus on preserving our environment. Yet, there is still a long way to go, as less efficient and environment-damaging fuels still remain the primary source of income for a lot of people, people who would like to see alternative fuel technologies stagnate as long as possible. We are just starting to see greener car options that come close to gas guzzlers in terms of performance, but there is still a noticeably higher cost for going green. An electric car, e.g. a Ford Focus Electric, will cost on average about $16.000 - $18.000 more than a regular hatchback with the same characteristics and the gas models will be more powerful as well. With an electric car you will save about $100 per month on gas, but that means it will be years before the savings amount to a substantial amount and the overall expense matches that of a regular car. Hybrids are a bit closer to the mark in terms of both driving characteristics cost-effectiveness and companies are even making eco-conscious decisions when it comes to the production process and the materials being used. So what can we expect to see in terms of green car technologies in the future? BMW sets a good example The new BMW i3 is an electric car that was conceived to be as eco-friendly as possible. The factory it is produced in utilizes wind turbines to produce a good part of its power; the carbon fiber used for the body and for around 25% of the interior is made from recycled material and being lighter and easier to work with also cuts down production time to about half, which means far less energy consumption during the build process. BMW also utilizes natural materials for the dashboard – fibers from a sturdy plant traditionally used in the manufacture of ropes. The car itself will be battery-powered and will be able to be broken down and recycled easily. This is a good example of a company not being shortsighted and actually working on more eco-friendly ways of putting together an electric car. The overall environmental impact of current electric cars Although some factories are moving towards alternative power sources, most are still powered in the conventional way and a lot of the hybrid and with the exception of the new BMW i3, electric cars use conventional methods of production which can mean equal or even slightly longer production times on electric models compared to regular cars. The electricity we use to power these electric cars comes mostly from power plants that use coal. The batteries themselves, lithium-ion batteries, are made of materials mined mostly in unstable areas – Argentina, Bolivia and Chile – and although they can be recycled, it is not very economic or energy efficient to do so. It is much easier to manufacture a new battery from the ground up than to recycle. This means that the carbon footprint left in the wake of a birth of every new supposedly green electric car is still quite substantial. This issue must be properly addressed before we can claim that we are indeed driving eco-friendly cars. Feeling good about ourselves vs. actually making a change Although it feels good to strike up an elegant pose, lift our noses to the sky and feel self-righteous about our efforts to save the environment, the fact is that we don’t really have cars that are 100% green and even the ones that do make a difference are seldom seen on most popular and bestselling car lists. In order to really make a change we need to focus our attention on improving the driving characteristics of electric cars as well as improving the production process itself and moving on to green materials, which can only happen if more companies get on board and start giving us some new options. The best way to increase interest in green cars is to provide more variety, but we get caught in a catch 22 scenario where technological innovation requires funding that only comes with increased interest and interest is only sparked once there are a number of functional options available to us. And when all is said and done we come back to the issue of cost, and we have yet to develop decent electric cars that can perform as good as regular cars and still be within the same price range. Then again, 20 years ago someone would laugh in your face if you told them we’d have an electric sports car like the Tesla Model S, so we are clearly moving in the right direction.