Feature: Which Green Car Is Right For You?

Feature: Which Green Car Is Right For You?

An Array of Choices Are Available

With environmental concerns and economic worries, many people have made the decision to buy green vehicles. Cars that are labeled “green” are either those that are environmentally friendly and provide less harm to the environment than similar internal combustion engine cars or those that use alternative fuels.

Purchasing and driving a green car provides a few benefits to both the driver and the environment. First of all, green cars leave a smaller carbon footprint on the environment by releasing fewer emissions. In addition to keeping the air cleaner, these vehicles also offer better gas efficiency, sometimes better than 40 miles per gallon, and a lower lifetime cost for the car. Although the initial purchase price may be higher for a green car, owners often receive government incentives, and the benefits of buying less gas make this car a more economical choice over time.

When choosing to purchase a green car, a new buyer must first evaluate his or her vehicle needs and budget to determine the best type of car. Next, a buyer should consider the vehicles with the highest green scores among cars and trucks that meet his or her requirements, taking into account fuel efficiency and emissions.

There are a few different categories of green vehicles that should be considered in any car purchase.

Clean Diesel Cars

2016 BMW 328d xDrive Sports Wagon

2016 BMW 328d xDrive Sports Wagon–a diesel option

A combination of cleaner, ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, advanced engines and effective emissions control, results in clean diesel cars that achieve nearly zero emissions. These vehicles typically burn less fuel overall, which means that the cost per mile of driving a clean diesel vehicle is lower than that of typical cars.

In addition to less fuel burned and lower gas costs, clean diesel is also responsible for fewer greenhouse emissions per mile in comparison to normal gas-powered cars. This distinction is important because many modern diesel engines are currently under intense scrutiny by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other governing bodies after Volkswagen was found to have cheated federal emissions tests since 2009.

Additional “green” diesel options are renewable diesel fuel and biodiesel, which offer a renewable and clean-burning replacement fuel for traditional diesel. Most diesel engines can run on these bio-based diesel fuels with little modifications needed, although buyers should note that biodiesel cannot be used other than in low blends (5 to 20 percent) in most modern diesel vehicles. Renewable diesel, because it meets the same specification as petroleum diesel, can be run at higher blends.

Although clean diesel and bio-based diesel vehicles are more expensive than traditional gas-powered vehicles, their total cost of ownership is usually lower. They offer their owners the possibility to drive many highway miles thanks to their excellent gas mileage and torque.

Natural Gas Cars

Natural gas vehicles run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), which is mostly methane stored at high pressure. It is generally considered that they produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than

Enough power from either fuel

The last CNG standing

most cars with traditional engines. However, buyers should note that since methane is a high GHG pollutant, this potentially negates the tailpipe emissions benefits of CNG when upstream emissions are considered.

While many consider natural gas vehicles to be greener and better for the environment than gasoline-powered vehicles, they face several obstacles that make them less popular. There are very few natural car options for consumers to choose. Natural gas is mostly used to power work trucks, while the only car model currently available is bi-fuel Chevy Impala. Much of this market stagnation is because fuel is difficult to find, and the vehicles do not always perform the same as those using traditional gasoline.

In addition, some drivers see using such natural gas as fuel as unethical due to the use of fracking to obtain the fuel. When hydraulic rigs pump water and chemicals down into an oil or gas well, high pressure is created that forms cracks in the rock protecting the underground oil or gas. Once those rocks are cracked open, the resources can be recovered more easily. The process itself has caused controversy because it has led to horizontal drilling rather than vertical, putting water sources and areas sitting on top of these horizontal lines at risk. Because of this unsafe practice, some eco-conscious consumers are opposed to using natural gas vehicles.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs)

2016 Toyota,Mirai FCEV, hydrogen, electric car

A car for the future–the Toyota Mirai

A type of vehicle that relies on a fuel cell system rather than a traditional engine is known as a fuel cell vehicle (FCV). These vehicles use a combination of hydrogen and oxygen to power an electric motor. Because FCV technology is still relatively new in its automotive applications, there are currently only a few vehicle models available for purchase, and they are only available in limited areas where a fueling infrastructure is available.

Like other electric vehicles, these have no smog or greenhouse gas tailpipe emissions; however, there may be pollutant emissions that come from the process of producing and transporting hydrogen fuel to the vehicle. It does not take long to fill a hydrogen vehicle, but the new technology has not yet resulted in many public hydrogen filling stations, making the use of this type of car difficult at this time.

Hybrid Cars

Hybrid cars developed as a nice fuel combination for those who are interested in improving a vehicle’s environmental impact while also having the ease of a traditional car. Hybrids contain both a gas engine and an electric motor, and usually the vehicle’s system chooses which is used at which time to propel the car.

2016,Toyota Prius,mpg,fuel economy,handling

The poster child of hybrids–the Toyota Prius

Because of their ability to use electricity, hybrids are able to cut fuel consumption in comparison to many of their gasoline-only competitors. The use of electricity also means that pollution and emissions can be reduced.

Whereas hybrids were once seen as a cutting-edge vehicle option, purchasing a hybrid today is a relatively conservative choice. The longer time on the market has made hybrid cars reliable. They essentially work like a traditional car, so most mechanical issues have been resolved and many mechanics know how to repair them. There are no major lifestyle changes necessary in order to purchase or drive a hybrid vehicle.

The initial purchase price of a hybrid car can be more expensive than a gas-only vehicle because of the more sophisticated technology involved. While these cars can pay for themselves in time based on the number of miles the buyer drives, some may never fully recoup the purchase price. However, hybrids are an excellent choice for people who want a simple, well-established green car with few lifestyle changes.

Plug-In Hybrids

A plug-in hybrid car usually uses both the gas and electric motor to turn its wheels, either at different times or together. The electric motor uses rechargeable batteries that can be plugged in to

2017 Chevrolet Volt

The Chevy Volt is the best-known plug-in hybrid

recharge. This method of powering the vehicle allows the car to run for many miles efficiently and inexpensively until the batteries are run down. At that point, the driver has the option to refuel at a gas station if necessary to continue driving.

Many of the same issues that plague electric cars hinder the popularity of plug-in hybrids as well. Although the number of plug-in hybrid vehicles is constantly growing, there are currently only few of these vehicles available. This makes it difficult to shop for and purchase one, and tax incentives are at a lower rate than for pure electric cars. The initial purchase price of a plug-in hybrid is typically lower than that of an electric car because the battery pack is somewhat smaller. These are nice vehicles for car owners who are not ready for an electric car, but who are interested in a green alternative.

Electric Cars

2016, Nissan Leaf,EV, design,styling

Nissan’s Leaf has led the way in affordable pure electrics

Electric cars run purely on electric motors, or more specifically on electricity stored in their rechargeable batteries or another energy storage option.
As with many green vehicles, there are some financial incentives for purchasing an electric car. Depending on how far the car is driven daily, it may only need to be plugged in and charged at home each night. In that case owners might need 240-volt charging equipment to keep the vehicle ready to drive daily. With fewer moving parts than gas cars, servicing an electric car is usually more affordable.

Buyers should keep in mind that electric cars are more expensive than gas-powered cars, and that there are not that many recharging stations available nationwide. However, their appeal will certainly increase over time as supportive infrastructure for electric cars increases and prices come down. At this time, electric vehicles are best suited for buyers who are committed to making an environmental difference and to dealing with the driving and charging limitations.

Conclusion

The choice of which green car to buy really comes down to the preferences and the lifestyle of the buyer. Deep-green buyers who want zero emissions should choose an electric car charged with solar electricity or some other type of low-carbon power source, such as hydroelectric or wind power. Light-green buyers may be more interested in gas-only vehicles that get high miles-per-gallon gas mileage using new technologies like advanced transmissions, improved aerodynamics and turbochargers.

Although many of these alternative energy cars began as niche products, interest in them has expanded quickly due to federal emissions regulations and policies, as well as an overall awareness of the need to protect the environment from damaging vehicle emissions. As more car buyers continue to turn to green choices, more environmentally friendly designs and productions will become necessary from the automakers.

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Feature: Top 10 Eco-Friendly Maintenance Tips

Feature: Top 10 Eco-Friendly Maintenance Tips

Saving Money While Saving the Planet

No matter how new or well-maintained your vehicle might be, it should come as no surprise it can wreak havoc on the environment. According to the California Energy Commission, even minor changes to one’s car such as correctly inflating the tires could save U.S. drivers over $1 billion every year while reducing C02 emissions by 2.7 million tons. Here are some tips you can use to reduce your vehicle’s carbon footprint while saving some money on gas and repairs.

  1. Check and Replace the Air Filters

Top 10 eco-friendly maintenance tips, air filter

Dirty filter=Dirty air

All modern engines require a fresh flow of air in order to ignite the gas. When a clogged filter  prevents air from entering the system, it can result in a gasoline-rich mixture that reduces the car’s efficiency. Checking and replacing the air filters is a simple way to ensure that your vehicle’s air-fuel ratio is right where it needs to be.

  1. Maintain the Cooling System

Engines that run too hot use much more gasoline than those that are kept at the correct temperatures. Excessive temperatures also increase the risk of a catastrophic breakdown. In addition to checking the air filters, you should also check the coolant levels in your radiator. This will keep your car working at maximum efficiency and potentially increase your MPG by two or three percent.

  1. Inspect Your Tires and Consider Upgrading to Eco-Friendly Tires

When it comes to the efficiency of a car or truck, few variables are as important as the tires. Tires with too much or too little air can cost a driver nearly 10 extra cents per mile while drastically

Top 10 Eco-friendly maintenance tips

Tires can make a big difference

increasing their risk of a blowout. That is due to the additional resistance taking place when extra rubber comes into contact with the road. For those who are willing to invest a little bit of money into their vehicle, high-efficiency (low rolling resistance, technically speaking) tires often pay for themselves in as little as a few months due to the improved MPG.

  1. Look Over the Spark Plugs

An old spark plug cannot efficiently ignite the gasoline mixture when it enters the engine’s cylinders. This can lead to misfires, unusual noises, and a good amount of wasted fuel. Each of your vehicle’s spark plugs should be relatively clean and free of any unusual debris. Spark plugs with burnt or damaged tips should be replaced immediately.

  1. Take Care When Filling the Gas Tank

Top 10 Eco-friendly maintenance tips

Pay attention to the pump

Not many drivers realize just how much fuel can be wasted when filling up a vehicle. Even just a few drops of spilled gas can be incredibly damaging to the local environment and add up to hundreds of dollars of wasted fuel over the course of a few years. When fueling up your car, you should also check the gas cap for any signs of visible damage such as cracks.

  1. Inspect the Air Conditioning System

When a vehicle’s AC system is turned on, it puts quite a bit of strain on the engine. This can reduce the engine’s efficiency by upwards of 25 percent depending on the age and style of the vehicle. Taking a few simple steps such as parking in the shade, using reflective window coverings, and keeping the AC off whenever it is not needed will significantly reduce your car’s fuel consumption and carbon footprint.

  1. Maintain the Fuel System

Every driver should take some time to check his or her car’s fuel system at least three or four times a year. This includes inspecting the filter for any signs of damage or extreme wear-and-tear. As a general rule, fuel filters should be changed at least once every two years. You should also have your fuel injectors cleaned by a mechanic two or three times a year to prevent buildup that could hurt your car’s efficiency.

  1. Check the Emission System

Oxygen sensors tend to be one part of a vehicle that most drivers ignore until their “check engine” lights come on. These sensors are a vital component of the mechanical system, and a faulty

Top 10 Eco-friendly maintenance tips, sensors

Up-to-date technology makes a difference

sensor can drop a vehicle’s efficiency by as much as 40 percent. Within most vehicles, the oxygen sensors can be checked with an on-board diagnostics (OBD) device. These can be purchased at most hardware and mechanic stores for just a few dollars.

  1. Use Environmentally Friendly Fuel and Oil

Converting your vehicle to eco-friendly fuel sources such as biodiesel, renewable diesel or ethanol might be much easier than you think. Many gasoline vehicles (Flex-Fuel) are designed to run on up to 85 percent ethanol and most diesel engines can accept low-level (five to 20 percent) blends of biodiesel or up to 100 percent of renewable diesel. Not only are these fuel sources better for the environment, but they can often be purchased for less than traditional gasoline. Upgrading your vehicle to recycled oil is another excellent option to help save the environment.

  1. Washing Your Car

Top 10 Eco-friendly maintenance tips,car washing

There’s more to cleaning than meets the eye

Before washing your car or truck, you should carefully think about what products you are using and where the water is going. Many of the leading car washing companies now use “green” cleaners that are much better for the environment. They also must carefully follow the laws regarding where their used water goes. Drivers who plan on washing their own car should try to find eco-friendly products that will enrich their lawn instead of hurting it.

When it comes to maintaining a vehicle, a little extra work can have a big impact. Hopefully, these few tips will help you drive your car with the knowledge that you are doing everything in your power to keep your car efficient and eco-friendly.

 

There’s much to learn about taking car of your car, both for enhancing its efficiency and keeping up its performance. One resource you might check out is the extensive digital library of learning resources for future mechanics called ‘How Cars Work’ here

Road Test: 2016 Chevrolet Impala Bi-Fuel

Road Test: 2016 Chevrolet Impala Bi-Fuel

Two Fuels Power Chevrolet’s Full-Size sedan

“Alternative fuel” usually means electricity, biofuels like ethanol or renewable diesel or even (erroneously) gasoline-powered hybrid-electric vehicles. However, one plentiful, inexpensive and clean fuel is underutilized—compressed natural gas or CNG. Honda produced a Civic powered by CNG starting in 1998, but dropped it last year. So, if you are looking for this technology in a passenger car, the 2016 Chevrolet Impala Bi-Fuel is for you. Chevrolet produces the only sedan in North America to run on unleaded gasoline and compressed natural gas, continuing what Chevrolet says, “demonstrates their commitment and leadership in energy diversity.”

Natural gas is the cleanest burning of all fossil fuels on a lifecycle basis according to the U.S. Department of Energy, and it is abundant. With recent advances in hydraulic fracturing technologies—

2016,Chevrolet,Impala,Chevy, Bi-Fuel,CNG,compressed natural gas

The warning

more commonly known as fracking—and advances in capturing methane gas from landfills and other biogas sources, the natural gas supply is solid for decades to come according to industry estimates. Its cost per an equivalent gallon of gasoline (GGE) runs 30–40 percent less than gas or diesel, and a CNG-fueled internal combustion engine will have a longer service life and require less maintenance because natural gas burns so cleanly, producing almost no combustion by-products in the motor oil, spark plugs or injectors.

The 2016 Chevrolet Impala Bi-Fuel we were driving looks exactly like the gasoline powered Impala except for the federally mandated (for emergency responder’s safety) blue and white diamond-shaped CNG sticker on the trunk lid.

Drivetrain

The front-wheel drive, six-speed automatic Impala Bi-Fuel is powered by a DOHC 3.6L V6 with variable valve timing. The horsepower and torque depend on which fuel is being used: gasoline puts out 260 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque while CNG delivers 230 hp and 218 lb-ft of torque. Without going into performance numbers, that 30 hp and 29 lb-ft of torque can make a big difference when it is time to get up and go. But in the case of the Impala Bi-fuel, the reduced CNG numbers were not an issue as the oompf under both fuels was more than adequate for all types of driving conditions. The Impala is available with two other gasoline-only engines, a 2.5L inline four-cylinder putting out 196 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque while the 3.6L V6 hits those numbers at 305 and 264.

2016 Chevrolet,Impala Bi-Fuel,CNG,compressed natural gas,alterantive fuel

Enough power from either fuel

Chevrolet says, that according to federal Environmental Protection Agency estimates, the 2016 Impala Bi-fuel has a natural gas range of 119 miles and a gasoline range of 368 miles for a total range of 487 miles. Chevrolet estimates the natural gas range to be about 150 miles of city driving and to hit 500 city miles combined. Interesting variables that usually do not come into play when refueling with gasoline or diesel is that the actual driving range can vary based upon ambient temperature and current pressure available at the CNG refueling station.

The Impala Bi-fuel primarily runs on CNG and, when the tank is depleted, it switches to gasoline. However, there is a button on the dash where either fuel can be selected and used as the driver chooses. Since a car is least efficient in city driving with multiple stops and starts, I opted for the less expensive CNG and then went to gasoline mode for highway driving.

Driving Impressions: On the Road

The Impala LT Bi-Fuel comes with 18-inch lightweight aluminum-alloy wheels, all-season tires, electric variable-effort power steering, power-assisted front disc and drum rear ABS brakes,

2016 Chevrolet, chevy Impala,Bi-Fuel,CNG,compressed natural gas

Big, but not dumb

MacPherson independent strut front and multi-link rear suspension with stabilizer bars at both ends. As expected of any car that weighs 4,175 lbs., the Impala Bi-fuel is smooth on the highway and pretty much obliterates all road irregularities, making long drives a pleasure. Keeping in mind the weight and size of the car, I was pleased that hard cornering was flat and confident without any feeling of insecurity. The Impala actually felt nimble around town. Don’t be fooled initially that the Impala’s size should lead to parking challenges as the rearview camera and rear parking assist sensors erased any preconceived challenges.

The fore-mentioned electric variable-effort power steering was accurate and not too light or dumbed-down to feel the road. I managed a few weight transfer corners through the twisties on a local mountain road, so all-in-all the Impala was a surprisingly good handling car—relatively speaking, of course.

Driving Impressions: Interior

Finding a comfortable position was easy with the perforated-leather power adjustable driver’s (and passenger) seat and the tilt and telescoping steering wheel. The large dash has sweeping lines with LED ambient lighting emitting a cool, soft blue color to offset the black interior. The 60/40 rear seat folds flat and can accommodate three adults with good head and legroom, however two passengers with the fold down armrest with cup holders is a more optimal seating arrangement. The folded-down rear seat does not pass-through to the trunk as the CNG tank is located between the cabin and the trunk. The CNG tank also takes storage space away from the trunk, which without the tank would be quite generous. This then raises the question of having a large car that can carry five adults but has reduced trunk space that cannot handle five passenger’s luggage.

2016, Chevy Impala,Chevrolet Bi-Fuel,CNG,compressed natural gas

Inside tech abounds

Standard equipment on the highly optioned 2016 Chevrolet Impala LT Bi-Fuel includes heated and ventilated eight-way power front seats, driver-side seat memory settings, dual-zone automatic climate control, center console armrest with storage, 120-volt power outlets, power door locks, exterior rearview mirrors and windows, leather wrapped steering wheel with audio, voice activation and cruise controls.

A part of the center stack, the six-speaker sound system delivered clear, crisp bass and treble tones for the AM/FM/CD with MP3/WMA playback, HD Radio, Apple CarPlay, USB ports and SiriusXM, that comes with three months complimentary service. The center point for all this is the eight-inch color touchscreen display that runs Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system and includes navigation, voice recognition and hands-free Bluetooth for telephone and audio streaming. It’s a good system, but we felt the touchscreen command reactions were a bit slow. Clean Fleet Report gives the infotainment system a passing grade since it featured the convenience and safety of on/off volume and channel selector knobs.

You also get OnStar and 4G LTE for Wi-Fi, (three-month, three-gigabyte data trial) that turns your car into a hotspot. A note regarding OnStar: a simple push of a button connects you with a

016,Chevrolet,Chevy Impala,Bi-fuel,CNG,compressed natural gas, natural gas

Two fuels-two gauges

friendly GM representative to handle emergencies, directions and general assistance to make your driving experience safer and more enjoyable. This is one area where GM has been the industry leader and the program is well worth renewing after the introductory service plan expires.

Driving Impressions: Exterior

The look of the 2016 Impala is contemporary and attractive with a low stance and sculpted sides that suggests a vehicle in motion. Up front there are low-profile projector beam headlamps that sweep around the corners of a wide grille. Out back the short deck lid is framed by LED tail lamps and finished off by dual chrome exhaust tips.

Safety

2016, Chevrolet Impala Bi-Fuel,CNG,alt fuel

The tank shrinks the trunk, but it’s safe

None of this comfort and styling is worth a thing if the car isn’t safe to drive. The 2016 Impala comes with 10 airbags, ABS with four-wheel disc brakes and electronic brake force distribution, hill start assist, forward collision and rear cross-traffic alerts, lane departure, side blind zone warning with lane change alert, electronic stability control and all-speed traction control.

In crash testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the 2015 Impala (which is identical to the 2016 Impala reviewed here) received five stars for overall crash protection while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the Impala its top rating of “Good.”

The Fueling Process

The Impala Bi-Fuel will be sold and serviced by nearly all of the 3,200 Chevrolet dealers in the United States and Canada, and is available for commercial, fleet and consumers. Your Chevrolet dealer will provide a list of local CNG stations but you will be best served by going to websites such as these http://www.afdc.energy.gov/locator/stations/ and http://cleanenergyfuels.com/ or downloading this app http://www.cngnow.com/app/Pages/information.aspx for iPhone or Android. After logging-on you simply enter a zip code and local stations appear on a map.

Once at the station, which will almost always be a 24/7 unmanned operation, you will swipe a major credit card and then, if it is your first time fueling, watch a short instructional video on the

2016 Chevrolet, Impala Bi-Fuel,CNG,compressed natural gas,alternative fuel,alt fuel,natural gas

Finding fuel can change your route

pump. The video will give you a three-number code and then explains how to attach the hose end to the fitting on the car and the sequence to start fueling. It is a very simple process with a full tank taking only minutes to fill. After doing it once, you will be a seasoned pro.

A note about CNG fueling stations. Many of them are located in an industrial setting and will not be freeway-close. They can be buried among storage yards and transportation centers where you will be pulling-up alongside city buses and trash trucks. Until more consumer-oriented CNG vehicles are offered by manufacturers, the fueling locations will be more for local commercial traffic and not road warriors traveling the freeways.

For those in California, the Impala Bi-Fuel automatically qualifies for the coveted HOV sticker which allows driving in the carpool lane with just the driver.

Pricing and Warranties

The 2016 Chevrolet Impala LT Bi-Fuel has a MSRP of $40,510 with Clean Fleet Report’s coming in at $41,800. Prices do not include the $825 Destination Charge.

The 2016 Impala LT Bi-Fuel warranties include:

  • Bumper-to-Bumper – Three-year/36,000-mile
  • Powertrain – Five-year/100,000-mile
  • Roadside Assistance – Two-year/25,000-mile
  • Factory Scheduled Service – Two-year/24,000-mile
  • Rust-through Perforation – Six-year/100,000-mile

Observations: 2016 Chevrolet Impala LT Bi-fuel

The 2016 Chevrolet Impala competes in the full-size class against such cars as the Chrysler 300C, Ford Taurus, Toyota Avalon, Dodge Charger, Hyundai Azera and the Kia Cadenza. All are known for spacious interiors, the ability to carry five adults and having large trunks. At least one of them even come as a 40-mpg hybrid. But only Chevrolet offers a full-size sedan with a CNG option.

2016 Chevrolet,Chevy Impala Bi-Fuel,CNG,compressed natural gas

The reason for a big sedan

Your driving style is what will determine if the Impala Bi-fuel makes sense over the Impala with the four- or six-cylinder gas-only engines, as they will cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 less. A big factor is the cost of CNG, which currently is 30-40 percent less than unleaded gasoline, making your cost per mile driven very low. If you drive a lot of CNG miles, then the numbers might work in your favor.

So where do you fit in as a future Impala Bi-Fuel owner? If your lifestyle requires a large sedan to transport adults in style and comfort, as opposed to a SUV, CUV or even one of the many midsize cars that almost equal the full-size class cars in interior space, then the 2016 Chevrolet Impala Bi-Fuel just might be sitting in your garage real soon.

Whatever you end up buying, enjoy your new car and as always, Happy Driving!

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Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle, which does not address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology, during which we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements. Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class or are among the top mpg vehicles on the market. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

 

Top 10 States Offering Incentives for Fuel Efficient Vehicles

Top 10 States Offering Incentives for Fuel Efficient Vehicles

Help To Buy Your Electric Dream Car

In 2013, governors from seven states (California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) committing to the successful implementation of Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) programs. Pure battery electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs)——as well as hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), are examples of ZEVs being promoted. States that are a part of this program will be required increase the sale of ZEVs in their state to 15 percent of all vehicles sales by 2025. That translates into many wonderful incentives for current and future owners of ZEVs. Here are some of the best electric car incentives offered in these seven and other states, in ascending order.

  1. Nevada

Along with the HOV lane exemptions offered in many other states, Nevada’s Department of Transportation offers discounted rates for home electricity bills applying to individuals who charge

honda,clarity,3rd generation,fuel cell

States are looking to help put more fuel cell cars on the road

their plug-in hybrid vehicles off-peak hours. Hybrid electric vehicles and other AFVs are exempt from state emission tests for the first five years from registration. Also, all AFVs are allowed to park in any metered parking lot without having to account for a fee.

  1. Arizona

Alternative fuel vehicles like EVs and hydrogen vehicles are exempt from emissions testing and also qualify for a lower tax rate. You must obtain an alternative fuel special plate, but there is no fee. Having this plate also allows alternative fueled vehicles in Arizona to drive in the HOV lane even if only the driver is in the vehicle. Also, a tax credit maximum of $75 is available to install EV charging outlets.

  1. New York

In the heart of traffic central, it pays to get a free pass to get on the HOV lane when you are driving solo. Long Island commuters who own low or zero-emission vehicles get just that when traveling on the 40-mile stretch of the Long Island Expressway. Additionally, the Clean Pass Program reduces alternative fuel vehicles’ toll rates on Port Authority crossing during non-peak hours. Motor vehicle emissions testing are no longer required for any electric cars. Like in Nevada, reduced electricity rates are offered for residents charging their PEVs during off-peak hours and New Yorkers with PEVs can bypass emissions testing for registration renewals.

  1. Massachusetts

Targeted mostly for public and private fleets, the state of Massachusetts offers grant funding for fleets opting for alternative fuel vehicles as well as up to $2,500 in a rebate for individuals and organizations purchasing plug-in hybrid vehicles. The project is run by Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. All electric vehicles are completely exempted from state motor vehicle emissions inspections.

  1. Washington

Who doesn’t like a tax break? Washington State offers tax exemptions for the purchase or lease of a clean alternative fuel vehicle or plug-in hybrid for $35,000 or less. Charging stations purchased for business or homes are also exempt from the state sales tax. Additionally, electric, compressed natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas vehicles and HEVs are exempt from emissions inspections.

  1. Maryland

Until June 30th, 2017, the state of Maryland is offering a tax credit equal to the number of kilowatt-hours of battery capacity of an electric vehicle, multiplied by $125. The tax credit value rises up

Getting ready to move on its own

Incentives have helped boost Tesla sales

to $3,000 per vehicle. Alternative fuel vehicles are also exempted from the HOV lane passenger restrictions and emissions testing requirements.

  1. Connecticut

Connecticut keeps an impressive number of incentives on PEV adoption in the transportation system. Up to $3,000 is offered through the Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automobile Purchase Rebate Program (CHEAPR) for any hydrogen-based, all electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle. Commercial fleet operators qualify for up to two vehicle rebates. The cherry on top is that all electric vehicles are completely exempt from motor vehicle emissions testing and alternative fuel and all-electric cars benefit from free parking on all city streets!

  1. Georgia

When purchasing a dedicated alternative fuel vehicle or converting a motor vehicle to run only on alternative fuels, the state of Georgia offers an income tax credit of 10 percent of the vehicle cost, up to $2,500. An income tax credit of 20 percent or up to $5,000 was offered to individuals who purchased or leased a new zero emission vehicle before July 1st, 2015. Qualified electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are also exempt from the minimum passenger number rule for running on the HOV lane.

  1. Colorado

Colorado DoT is mighty generous to their plug-in electric vehicle and alternative fuel vehicle owners. PEVs qualify for up to $7,500 via an income tax credit and alternative fuel vehicles—motor vehicles converted to use an alternative fuel or those that have replaced a vehicle’s power source with an alternative fuel power source—qualify for an income tax credit of up to $6,000. Adoption of PEVs into private fleets is supported by the state through grants of 80 percent of the incremental cost of a vehicle (up to $8,260). Additionally, certain models of hybrid vehicles qualify for a permit and transponder that allows the use of HOV lanes even with single occupants.

  1. California

California tops the list because several states, including many on this list, base their qualifications for green vehicle incentives from California’s Air Resources Board (ARB). They basically set the

2014, VW, Volkswagen, e-Golf

If it’s got a plug, there may be an incentive waiting for you

standard for other states to follow. In cities and counties across the Golden State, alternative fuel and electric vehicle owners can enjoy free parking benefits. You are required to have a special decal, so it is important to contact your local DMV office before leaving the meter unpaid. Like many of the states on this list, California allows single-occupant use of HOV lanes by drivers with qualifying clean alternative fuel vehicles who have a Clean Air Vehicle Sticker. It gets better. Californians may qualify for up to $5,000 in rebates for the purchase or lease of new, eligible zero-emission or plug-in hybrid vehicle. Fleet owners for public agencies operating in California’s most vulnerable and pollution-burdened areas can qualify for credits on these vehicles of up to $15,000! Oh, there is more. In California, among other states, you may qualify for a car insurance discount ranging from five to 10 percent with certain providers.

Electric Car Incentives in the Future

The push for alternative fuels and electric-powered vehicles is gaining traction year over year. As more and more manufacturers pay attention to the demands for more affordable fuel efficient vehicles, business and individuals will be able to take advantage of lower prices, state incentives, and cleaner air.

Can Hybrid Cars Still Be Lemons? (Lemon Law for Hybrids)

Can Hybrid Cars Still Be Lemons? (Lemon Law for Hybrids)

With unique technology comes the potential for unique problems.

The Lemon Law defends consumers against defective vehicles, but does it still apply to more energy-efficient cars, such as hybrids? The Lemon Law Firm of Kimmel & Silverman has the answer.

Hybrid vehicles are nothing new, but recently they’ve seen a surge in popularity.

Between fluctuating gas prices and a social call for more environmentally friendly modes of transportation, many drivers are drawn to the benefits commonly associated with hybrid and other alternative-fuel vehicles.

But, as with any consumer product, not all hybrid cars are without their faults. With the mass production of any vehicle comes the potential for defects and non-conformities that affect even the most critically acclaimed models.

When you purchase any new car from an authorized dealership, the dealer is often more than willing to repair that vehicle under warranty, provided the warranty covers such repairs. Ideally, if there is a problem with your new hybrid car, you would simply bring it to the dealer for a fix, and that would be that.

Unfortunately, it’s not always so simple.

Some vehicles are more stubborn and persistent with their defects, refusing to stay fixed, despite numerous trips to a manufacturer-authorized repair center for the same issue.

Toyota, Prius c, mpg

Hybrids have to live by the law, too

We call these vehicles “lemons.”

Fortunately for consumers, there’s something that can be done to get rid of your lemon car. Lemon Laws exist in most states to protect consumers from these shoddy vehicles, including hybrid cars that refuse to conform to the quality standards required of all automobile manufacturers.

First Thing’s First: What Is The Lemon Law?

The “Lemon Law” helps protect consumers from vehicles with a serious defect or non-conformity – specifically those that impair the use, value, or safety the vehicle. When a car is a lemon, the same issue recurs again and again, despite multiple repair attempts (often three or more) by an authorized dealership.

Lemon Laws vary from state to state, so be aware that the statute in the state you purchased and / or registered your vehicle may be different from that of another.

So How Does The Lemon Law Apply To Hybrid Cars?

Before we get into the unique issues that can affect hybrid cars, it’s important to note that a hybrid vehicle can still suffer from many of the issues seen in gasoline-only vehicles. Continuous and unexplained “Check Engine” lights, transmission problems, shaking and rattling, malfunctioning electronics, and issues with oil consumption can still affect hybrid cars. In certain states, if these problems occur repeatedly (usually three or more times), the car would qualify as a lemon.

To help illustrate this point, we can use the Pennsylvania Lemon Law.

The PA Lemon Law applies to vehicles that have been in the shop an unreasonable number of times (normally three or more) for the same non-conformity, so long as the first occurrence happens within the first 12 months or 12,000 miles – whichever comes first.

If you purchased / leased your hybrid in Pennsylvania and / or registered it for the first time in PA, and it has been in the shop three or more times under the manufacturer’s warranty for a single issue (such as transmission problems or shaking and rattling), your car may be a lemon.

Of course, the entirety of the PA Lemon Law (or any Lemon Law) can’t be adequately summarized in a single paragraph, nor can we cover all of the possible issues covered under the Lemon Law in a single post. However, in the next section, we’ll discuss some of the issues that may be unique to hybrid vehicles where the Lemon Law could apply.

Which Issues Are Unique To Hybrid Vehicles?

Honda,CR-Z,hybrid,mpg,fuel economy,sports car, peformance

Hybrids have unique features that are covered under Lemon Law

Despite their similarities to gasoline-only vehicles, hybrid cars have a number of differences that distinguish them from other cars. These differences include unique braking systems, charging systems, power cells (to drive the electric motor) and cooling / air conditioning systems.

If any of these components fail repeatedly, despite multiple attempts to repair the issue with an authorized dealer, you may have a lemon on your hands.

Because of this, it’s important to maintain a detailed record whenever you bring your hybrid in for repair. Whether you’re driving a Toyota Prius, a Ford Fusion Hybrid or any other vehicle, keep the original copy of every repair invoice you receive. This information will support your Lemon Law claim, if you choose to make one.

Federal Warranty Law As It Pertains To Hybrid Cars

If your hybrid vehicle is used or doesn’t qualify under the Lemon Law for your state, you may still have rights under Federal Warranty Law. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is a federal law that applies to consumer products that cost $25 or more and are covered by a manufacturer’s warranty. This includes hybrid cars.

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act also has the same fee-shifting provisions as the Lemon Law. This means you always pay nothing, regardless of whether your claim is successful. If your vehicle has been in the shop for repair three or more times for the same issue, it may be worth discussing the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act with a consumer lawyer.

What Should I Do If I Think My Hybrid Is A Lemon?

Start by attempting to resolve the issue with the dealership in a civil manner. Although the situation may be frustrating, you need to remain calm and level-headed.

As noted earlier, you will want to request a copy of every repair invoice with each visit to the dealership. Always double-check these invoices for accuracy. You may also want to ask about Technical

Service Bulletins for your vehicle. This will serve as evidence to support your Lemon Law claim, should you make one.

Ford,Fusion,Energi,plug-in car, hybrid

Plug-in cars are also covered by Lemon Law

If you are unable to successfully repair the vehicle, despite multiple attempts with an authorized repair center, it’s time to submit your claim.

While you can pursue a Lemon Law claim yourself, with the BBB or with your state’s Attorney General, many people have expressed a preference to working with an experienced Lemon Law Attorney on their claim.

A Lemon Law Attorney should always work at no cost to you. Additionally, consumer lawyers can assist you with claims under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and may be able to reach a settlement in pre-litigation, which could expedite your claim if successful.

Legal remedy for Lemon Law claims may vary depending on the severity of the defect or non-conformity, but typically ranges from monetary compensation (to make up for loss in value of the vehicle) to a replacement vehicle (typically MSRP-to-MSRP) to a complete buyback of the defective lemon.

In Conclusion

When you purchase a new hybrid vehicle (or even an electric vehicle), you’re still entitled to the same consumer rights as drivers of a gasoline or diesel vehicles. Although things may be a bit different under the hood, many of the core features of an automobile are the same, and even those that are different may still be covered under warranty and are still protected under applicable state and federal laws.

Understanding your rights can help you stay on the road and out of a lemon. If you’re unsure about your situation, don’t hesitate to reach out to an experienced Lemon Law Attorney for assistance.

America’s Top 10 Cleanest Energy & Dirtiest Energy States

America’s Top 10 Cleanest Energy & Dirtiest Energy States

Tallying Up the Good Guys & the Rest

This post originally appeared on Modernize.com where you can find comprehensive solar information from industry experts.

America’s energy policy has been the subject of much recent debate: From the Pope’s public advocacy of environmental stewardship to the EPA’s toughened regulations on pollution from petroleum refineries, the sources that power our society have rarely been so widely scrutinized. Once regarded as a subject best left to the energy sector, the way we fuel our economy has proven its relevance for all citizens, both in America and across the globe.

For our team at Modernize, this subject seems particularly important. We’re dedicated to providing consumers information and opportunities related to one of clean energy’s most promising technologies: solar panels. Our primary interest is in helping individual readers find environmentally friendly solar options that generate wallet-friendly savings in the long run.

But we’re also paying attention to how whole swaths of the American energy landscape operate. That’s where our project “America’s Cleanest and Dirtiest Energy States” comes in. If you want to know your state’s energy track record or find out which states are leading (and trailing) the push for renewables, you’re going to want to read what comes next.

Our Methodology

For this project, we went straight to the most authoritative source available on America’s energy realities. We gathered data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the federal agency responsible for tracking stats related to America’s energy production and consumption. Lucky for us, they’ve got data dating back to 1960 and as recent as 2013, so we took the long view on each state’s energy legacy. Our work engaged a range of subjects, from total energy production from renewable sources to carbon dioxide emissions over time. Take a look at what we found out:

Not Everything is Bigger in Texas…

Let’s get something straight: “Renewable” energy sources run the gamut from hydropower to wind, solar, and more. The EIA includes biofuels, such as ethanol, in this category as well. That means that virtually any state can tap into renewables, though some types are more readily utilized in certain natural environments (for instance, the Midwest makes good use of its wind). But that also means oil- and coal-rich states like Texas and West Virginia have historically focused their efforts on sourcing energy from “fossil” fuels, so their output from renewables is relatively paltry.

To see each state’s numbers, check out the map below:

Cleanest energy states

The Cleanest States Are Lighter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here are the top 10 cleanest energy producers (of total energy from renewables):

Top 10 renewable energy states

Top 10 Renewable Energy States

Maybe Washington, California, and Oregon come as no surprise – we associate them with environmental concern and the geographical variety to embrace multiple renewable technologies simultaneously. But the rest of the states that top the renewables ranking embody a striking mix of size, population, political preference, and socioeconomic standing. If this ranking indicates anything, it’s that success with renewables is possible in any combination of circumstances.

Power Percentages

Now we know the score when it comes to the total volume of energy produced from renewables by state. But some states produce plenty of both, while others have pristine clean-energy records but fall short of the top 10 because their total production is too small to compete. So we also looked at how much of each state’s total energy production renewables account for – call these our Top 10 Cleanest Energy Percentage Power Rankings:

Top 10 Cleanest Energy States by Percentage

Top 10 Cleanest Energy States by Percentage

Yes, you read that right: Rhode Island, Idaho, Hawaii, Delaware, and D.C. produce virtually all of their energy from renewable sources. Sure, that might be different if these states had been dealt a different hand in the distribution of natural resources (no one’s begging to drill outside Newport), but we can appreciate their commitment to renewable energy all the same. After all, necessity is the mother of invention – and as time goes on, more and more states may find themselves in need.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then there’s the cohort above, all of whom derived less than 2.5% of all the energy they produce from renewable sources from 1960–2013. The difference in reliance on renewables couldn’t be starker: Wyoming’s renewable portfolio accounts for roughly one in every 250 BTUs (British Thermal Units – oddly, no longer commonly used in the U.K.) that the state produces. Many of the constituents of this dirtiest energy ranking are too rich in coal and oil to need much in the way of renewable alternatives – but that doesn’t mean they won’t adopt more sustainable technologies in the coming years. Here’s the Bottom 10 Dirtiest Energy States:

Bottom 10 Dirtiest States

Bottom 10 Dirtiest States

Pollution and Solutions

Perhaps the most concerning byproduct of fossil fuel energy production is pollution. That term covers many kinds of potentially harmful emissions, but the best-known variety is carbon dioxide. The EIA offers carbon dioxide data from 1990–2012, so we’ve tracked the 10 worst emissions offenders over that time:

Bottom 10 Dirtiest Energy Producers

Bottom 10 Dirtiest Energy Producers

Predictably, Texas is at the top – but what about California or New York? Why do states that ranked high in renewable energy production make the list? The answer is simple: Carbon dioxide emissions aren’t just a function of energy production. It’s no accident that the top-ranked states are almost all quite populous; the more people, the more energy they consume. That translates to emissions resulting from cars, heat, and other comforts modern Americans depend upon in daily life. But don’t think emissions are an intransigent evil: Some states are making great strides.

Let’s take a moment to commend these states for what they’ve accomplished in just 22 years. New York, Michigan, and Ohio are particularly exciting cases, demonstrating that even states closely associated with major industry can reduce emissions substantially. Additionally, some of the states that ranked high in the percentage of energy generated from renewables appear on this list, making it clear that improvement can always be a priority, whatever you accomplish for the environment. Here’s the Top 10 Most Improved Energy States:

Top 10 Most Improved Clean Energy States

Top 10 Most Improved Clean Energy States

Speaking of improvement, let’s remember that your own home can contribute to the pursuit of new, clean technologies, no matter which state you live in. Whether it’s turning off the light when you walk out of a room or researching solar options that will also create savings, you can do a lot to promote a cleaner energy world. Who knows? If you and enough of your neighbors make the right choices, your state might just jump up on our cleanest states ranking!