Category Archives: Cars & Trucks

Top 5 Green Cars of Fall 2013

Top5GreenCarsFall2013

Alternatively fueled cars aren’t sexy simply for how they help the environment—they save you the money you normally would spend on gas, too. From hybrids to true electric, luxury to everyday driving, these five cars mark an exciting time in U.S. car culture. Plug in to these alt-fuel cars and enjoy the ride, as well as the savings in your pocket.

Cadillac ELR

The Cadillac ELR is what the Chevy Volt was intended to be, according to Car and Driver. It’s fuel-efficient, fun to drive and a feast for the eyes. The drive train is the same as the Volt, the engine is bigger and the exterior has the lines of the Converj concept car displayed at the 2009 auto show in Detroit. Planned for a late 2013 release, the price is rumored to be close to $60,000, which will keep curiosity seekers away but draw those with a green conscience and a taste for luxury.

A large console dominates the front interior, to cover the 288-cell battery that powers this machine. This is the same battery as in the Volt, with two drive motors and a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine to keep it charged. Per GM, the performance is expected to be in the range of zero-60 mph in eight seconds. One may expect 35 miles on a full battery charge.

BMW i3

Car Connection reports that the i3 is a new-from-the-ground-up design. It’s not an electric retrofit of another model.

The body is carbon-fiber reinforced plastic, making it lighter and stronger than other cars. The entire side of the car can be opened for access, because there is no need for a door pillar. This shell sits on an aluminum frame which holds the battery and drive train.

A two-cylinder gasoline engine is available as an option to generate enough electricity to keep the car moving between charges. This is a standard feature in the Chevy Volt, but is optional in the BMW.

BMW states the expected mileage on a charge is 80-100 miles. The estimated MSRP is $41,000. People who love their BMWs may watch how well this new design takes off. The initial buyers will likely already have a BMW in their garage.

Ford Focus Electric

Less about style and more about function, the electric Focus has an estimated mileage of 75 on a full charge. Otherwise, the performance should be similar to the gas version of the Focus. At an MSRP of $39,200, this Focus is packed with many standard features, such as HD radio, navigation and Ford’s MyTouch infotainment system.

This is still a Ford Focus with an electric engine. Those who prefer the subcompact world but want to step into the green, all-electric world, should look into this vehicle.

Chevy Volt

The Volt was a pioneer of electric cars, and it has set the tone for many designs after it. The $39,000 MSRP may scare off potential buyers, but by now, the Volt will be showing up in used car listings. The Kelley Blue Book has used cars and prices, so future Volt owners may find a good deal on a 1-year-old electric car.

The two electric motors and unique drive train are still innovative. The standard gas engine charges the battery and gives an average 35 mpg. For many, this is still the car to buy as an entry into all-electric driving.

Nissan Leaf

Available in late 2013 will be the second generation of the Leaf. There are a few changes, mainly to the electrical equipment. With the improvements comes a reduction in price. The MSRP will be $29,650.

An improved charging system, navigation, voice SMS read-out and backup camera system highlight the equipment changes. Mileage is expected to be almost 75 miles on a full charge.

The Leaf has had a year of production driving, so consumers will have real road statistics from which to buy into electric.

What green car are you most intrigued by?

Don’t Make Driving a Drag: Fuel Economy Tips

Fuel Economy Tips

If you were paying attention in your high school physics class, you know that engine size and acceleration are only partially responsible for how fast you go and how fast you burn through a gallon of gas. Fuel economy also depends on things like weight, wind resistance, friction and driving habits.

As part of President Obama’s plan to decrease America’s dependence on foreign oil and lessen the environmental impact of gas pollution, all new cars and light trucks will have to average 54.5 mpg by 2025. By improving one or more of the components that determine fuel efficiency, car manufacturers can achieve that goal. As a driver, you can also do your part when you get behind the wheel of your vehicle.

Fuel Economy Tips: How You Can Improve Your Gas Mileage

Aggressive driving can result in a five percent decrease in gas mileage in city driving and as much as a 33 percent decrease at highway speeds, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Rapid acceleration, speeding and hard braking makes your engine work harder and need more fuel.

Carrying too much weight in your vehicle is also robbing you of better mileage. While you don’t want to throw Grandma out the back seat, avoid hauling all that junk in your trunk. While putting 500 pounds in the back of your Dodge Ram pickup truck won’t have much impact, if you put that same 500 pounds in a Honda Civic, it will.

Other things that you can do to gain better mileage are to make sure your tires are properly inflated, turn off your engine instead of letting it idle for 10 minutes and keep your car tuned-up.

Wind Drag and Aerodynamics

Auto manufacturers and engineers use wind tunnels to test the aerodynamics of a new or redesigned car. By shaping parts of the body of the car, changing the grill or making the car lower to the ground, they can reduce the drag on the vehicle. If you have ever stuck your arm out of the window of a car traveling at 70 mph, that powerful force that pushes against you, is the same force that your car must overcome. Turn your hand sideways and it becomes more aerodynamic, like an airplane wing, and you will need less strength and energy to keep your hand and arm in place.

When the 2009 Ford Flex hit the showroom floor, it had a coefficient of drag of just 0.355, significantly better than its Asian competitors. According to the Flex team, the wide, low stance of the vehicle reduced wind resistance by forcing more air over the vehicle and not under it, where it could create the most drag.

Driveline Friction

The vehicle’s driveline also contributes to its fuel efficiency, TireBuyer adds. That includes your drive shaft, transmission and axles, which receive the power to turn the wheels and propel your vehicle. Using lighter materials like aluminum instead of steel and manufacturing the driveline parts to precise specifications can reduce friction and add a few miles of travel distance to each tankful of gas. Unfortunately, to do this, you’d need to take your vehicle to a body shop, and changes to these areas could result in voiding warrantees.

No matter what model vehicle you own, if you understand some basic concepts of physics, you can make your car more efficient. Good habits like keeping enough air in your tires, accelerating slowly and not keeping your set of 50 pound dumbbells in your trunk will help give you better gas mileage. Friction, drag and inertia can all rob you of fuel efficiency. A car manufacturer can make a more aerodynamic vehicle, but can not control the way you drive it. Be smart about the way you drive and you will use less gas, save money and also do something good for the environment.

Hybrids on the Horizon: The Future Looks Green

Since the first hybrid vehicle hit the U.S. in 1999, with the Honda Insight Hybrid, people looking for a greener ride found their answer in hybrid vehicles. But environmentally minded consumers don’t make a large market share, and it wasn’t until the promise of savings at the pump that flocks of consumers were finally noticed by automakers.

After the introduction of the Insight, followed by Prius in 2000, the number of available hybrid vehicles, including popular sports vehicles, soon began to grow — as did hybrid technology and consumer interest.

Hybrid Image

Sticker Shock

It took several years of refinement before hybrids truly gained traction in the minds of the average consumer. One of the biggest challenges has been the premium price tag. Automakers have had to educate consumers on looking past the initial sticker shock and determine whether they could save money over the lifetime of the vehicle, given the lower cost of fuel and maintenance. But as battery technologies improved, the gap between a hybrid vehicle and its conventional counterpart has lessened. The higher initial cost of many of today’s hybrids can almost always be justified by fuel savings during the lifetime of the car.

Understanding Hybrid Technology

How does hybrid technology work? Hybrid vehicles feature a smaller, fuel-efficient gas engine that works in tandem with an electric motor. While some plug-in hybrids charge overnight, much like a full electric vehicle, most hybrid vehicles today rely entirely on the battery recharging as the vehicle is driven. Hybrids make use of a special braking system called regenerative braking, which recaptures energy that would otherwise be lost during braking and uses it to refuel the battery, instead.

Essentially, the electric motor can be used to slow the car, which allows it to act as a generator in charging the battery. Earlier hybrid batteries were larger and less efficient than today’s hybrids, which hasn’t only helped improve the vehicle’s efficiency but also lowered its price.

Another advancement in hybrid technology has been the periodic engine shut off. As a hybrid car is stopped in traffic, the engine temporarily shuts off and then restarts again when the car moves.

Hybrids have also greatly improved in advanced aerodynamics. This is important in achieving high-fuel efficiency because it helps to reduce drag. Similarly, some hybrid cars sport lower-rolling resistance tires which are more narrow and stiffer, and thus produce less drag.

The steady improvement in technology hasn’t only caused the price to decrease, but has vastly grown the number of hybrid vehicles available, with new models hitting the showroom floor yearly. New, more affordable hybrid family cars at multiple price points, as well as additional SUVs and light trucks, are joining the ranks of current hybrids. Together, new and existing models are expected to grow the market share for hybrids to double its size within the next five years. Fast forward a year and finding Phoenix Chevrolet dealers with green options will be easier than ever before.

Emerging Technologies

Hybrid technology is expected to continue to improve, which should boost market share even further. While improvements in battery technologies hold the greatest potential, other technologies — such as improvements in regenerative braking and aerodynamics, as well as the emergence of new alternative fuels such as fuel cells — are expected also to have a generous, green impact.

Solar Electric Cars more efficient than most Biofuels

“The analysis considered land-use, greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel use, and took into account the production and use life cycles of both the fuels themselves and the vehicles they power. …all things considered, a pretty clear win for solar-powered electric battery vehicles.”

http://cleantechnica.com/2013/03/28/solar-electric-cars-crush-biofuels-in-efficiency/

solar-vs-biofuel-cars

 

…this is an interesting study, however it is not considering a much more efficient ethanol crop, algae!

Check this out: http://organicmechanic.com/ethanol-from-algae/