Category Archives: Hybrids

Top 5 Green Cars of Fall 2013


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?

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.”



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

Check this out:

UPS Setting Green Example For Other Businesses

UPS which is known for their signature brown delivery trucks are turning green. They’ve recently made the largest commercial grade order of hybrid electrical vehicles and CNG vehicles than any other company to date. So, why the change? UPS has decided to go green in a big way through creating an alternative fuel delivery fleet. Already a pioneer in the business they possess the U.S. record for the largest private fleet which they plan on expanding over the next few years. The UPS “Green Fleet” is currently operating in locations throughout the world including France, Brazil, and the United Kingdom to name a few. These fleets will assist in reducing carbon emissions and the company’s negative impact on the environment.

One of the vehicles UPS has purchased for their eco-friendly fleet is the Xebra. This compact automobile releases zero-emissions and are surprisingly more cost-effective for the company than their standard delivery trucks. The newly introduced green fleet is expected to save 176,000 gallons of gasoline and reduce Co2 emissions by 1,786 metric tons a year. The fleet will include CNG and HEV vehicles. The 300 CNG vehicles operate on natural gas. These types of automobiles use clean burning fuel that helps the environment instead of causing pollution. HEV’s hybrid system conserves fuel by using a battery pack, generator, and power unit which pumps electric power when needed. Each hybrid uses regenerative braking. Regenerative braking is when the energy generated in the process of stopping or braking is saved and returned to the vehicle’s main battery system. UPS’s alternative fleet trucks are constructed inside to appear similar to the traditional delivery vehicles but they are now more “green” than brown.

According to UPS’s corporate sustainability officer Bob Stoffel, the company is focusing on conservation programs and increasing network efficiency to reduce their overall fuel usage. The alternative fuel fleets are not the only green improvements UPS has made. They have route optimization, new airline strategies, next-generation packaging solutions, and paper conserving technology to continue their environmentally conscious efforts. Their leading edge technology enables them to find the best routes possible to prevent the wasting of fuel. UPS utilizes CDA’s which are continuous descent arrivals for airline landings which also lessens harmful emissions released into the air. UPS uses eco-friendly products that are reusable for their packaging now also. Like many other companies they have decided to go paperless with invoices and preserve trees.

Many companies claim to go green but UPS is actually making the commitment and sticking with it. It’s important for businesses to see the positive effects of becoming more environmentally conscious. The process of going green can be tedious but the benefits are endless for a company that really wants to make a difference.

UPS has a sensational “green” program that truly sets the bar high for other businesses to follow. If more companies venture in the direction UPS has taken the environment and the world can change for the better.

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Artist Spotlight: Tristan Prettyman, Musician from San Diego

It is always nice to see when someone is doing their part to help save our planet so when I read a blog written by Tristan Prettyman recently about all the amazing little things she was doing to that end, I immediately contacted her to see if she would be willing to share her thoughts on being eco-conscious. Tristan is a singer and songwriter based in San Diego, California who is quickly making a name for herself across the world with the recent release of her second album Hello…x. She is touring this album now and like many musicians she was concerned with the impact a cross country tour might have on the environment. Through the use of reusable water bottles filled with filtered tap water, metal silverware and personal coffee mugs, she and her bus mates have already begun reducing their level of waste. Her efforts extend far beyond the tour bus however and she was really excited to share it with us.

At what age do you first remember becoming interested in helping to protect the environment?

I think I was born interested. Growing up in San Diego, especially near the beaches and beautiful parks like Torrey Pines preserve I was always outdoors as a kid. I surfed, did beach cleanups, took field trips to tide pools, went camping and horseback riding in the mountains. As you grow older you take those memories with you and wonder what you can do preserve the environment around you for those to enjoy in the years to come.

My music has really allowed me to travel and see the world and now I’ve become more interested in helping raise environmental awareness in other communities, and encouraging others to get involve doing things locally.

Growing up was your family also Earth conscious?

Definitely. We had a garden growing up and before the county even had a recycling program we’d take our cans and bottles to the recycling center.

What are some of the ways you have incorporated going green into your work?

We have a bus this tour so we are able to do a lot. We try to eliminate plastic bottles by carrying a 5 gallon water jug with a pump. We all have reusable recycled Sigg bottles which cut down on a ton of plastic waste. I try to use metal silverware and wash it everyday instead of plastic and travel with my own coffee cup. We use recycled paper plates and bowls and travel with a recycling bin on our bus.

Is there any one green practice that is something you do naturally every day?

I’d say having a Sigg bottle has really changed my life. I used to spend so much on water; I was a Fiji brand fanatic. But one day, I just switched and started drinking tap water and bought a Brita filter for home. Buying bottled water adds [up] and ends up in landfills and waterways.

What are some of your day to day efforts that promote an eco conscious lifestyle (drive a hybrid vehicle, vegetarian, recycle, use cloth bags, ride a bike, etc)?

I mentioned some already, but I do most everything you mentioned. I’ve driven a Toyota Hybrid Highlander for the past 2 years. I love it. It doesn’t get insanely amazing mileage like some if the other hybrids out there, but for an SUV it’s great. My bass player and I both have bikes on tour, so we cruise around everywhere. I use recycled bags everywhere. And as much as I can when out buying things other than groceries, I try to bring a bag or just stash things in my purse, I just recently realized the great thing about woman’s purses being so big is that you can fit a new shirt, toothpaste and shampoo and a book! I always come home looking like a kleptomaniac because I’ll have to most random things in my purse. I just hate excess. As far as eating, I try to eat vegetarian but I can’t resist good BBQ so I’ll indulge here and there. But I’m learning about the great lengths our food travels to get to us and it’s very unappetizing. I try to always buy organic and local.

When did you first become interested in Barefoot Wine Beach Rescue and the Surfrider Foundation? Can you tell us a little bit about the mission and your involvement?

They came to me a couple months ago and asked me if I’d like to be a part of it. Naturally, it just seemed like a great fit. I’ve spent most if my life at the beach and always participated in cleanups. It’s a really amazing event and I think people are surprised at how little effort it takes to make a big difference. The event is about raising awareness and keeping the beaches barefoot friendly.

When is the next date you team up with them?

We have one event left. South Padre Island, Texas on August 23rd. It was voted on by the community!

Would you ever consider touring in a bio-diesel bus?

Oh yeah, would love that. I’m just getting into a bus though and it’s very costly as is, but as soon as we can afford some other options we will definitely be looking into bio diesel!

Do you feel that performing shows live via the internet is a great way to keep your carbon footprint down since you can reach so many without flying/driving all over the world?

I never thought about that, but I kind of like that idea. The more I tour and travel, the more I wish I was home! So Internet shows would help solve that!

Do you have an online presence where people can learn more about you and listen to your music?

Official Website

In addition to the AT&T Blue Room performance linked above, Tristan can be seen playing across the country through the middle of September. I strongly encourage seeing her live to support not only an amazing musician, but also someone who is taking steps to help maintain a beautiful planet to rock on.

Aug 15 2008 7:00P
Filene Center At Wolf Trap Vienna, Virginia

Aug 16 2008 7:00P
Festival Pier At Penn’s Landing Philadelphia

Aug 17 2008 11:00A
KZZO “A Day in the Zone” @ Gibson Ranch Sacramento, California

Aug 19 2008 8:00P
Visulite Theatre Charlotte, North Carolina

Aug 20 2008 7:00P
House of Blues Myrtle Beach

Aug 23 2008 7:00P
Barefoot Wine Beach Rescue TBD

Aug 24 2008 7:00P
St. Augustine Amphitheatre St. Augustine, Florida

Aug 26 2008 7:00P
Arkansas Music Pavilion (AMP) Fayettevile, Arkansas

Aug 28 2008 7:00P
Pine Mountain Amphitheater Flagstaff, Arizona

Aug 29 2008 8:00P
The Joint Las Vegas, Nevada

Aug 30 2008 7:00P
Robert Z. Hawkins Amphitheater Reno, Nevada

Aug 31 2008 8:00P
Great American Music Hall San Francisco, California

Sep 3 2008 7:00P
Malkin Bowl Vancouver, British Columbia

Sep 5 2008 7:00P
Britt Pavilion Jacksonville, Oregon

Sep 6 2008 7:00P
McMenamins Egdefield Amphitheater Troutdale, Oregon

Sep 7 2008 7:00P
Marymoor Amphitheatre Redmond, Washington

Sep 9 2008 8:00P
Wilma Theater Missoula, Montana

Sep 10 2008 8:00P
Knitting Factory Concert House Boise, Idaho

Sep 11 2008 7:00P
Red Butte Garden Salt Lake City, Utah

Sep 12 2008 7:00P
Red Rocks Amphitheatre Morrison, Colorado

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