Mercedes, the traditional automaker, offers choice to its customers while the upstart Tesla bets on one power source–electricity. The early returns for the year show the newcomer charging ahead, but this is a long race and one being fought on a worldwide stage.
Sport utility vehicles and crossovers (crossovers being sport utility vehicles based on a car rather than truck chassis) are popular even as the general trend toward higher MPG vehicles moves forward. The reason is simple: they are functional. One trip to Costco is enough to convince many families that a Prius won’t cut it. Regular trips up to the mountains in the winter to ski could similarly motivate a car buyer to look for an all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive vehicle rather than the front-wheel drive found on most high-mileage hybrids. Cars don’t always cut it.
All of which leaves the environmentally conscious consumer with some tough choices. If your lifestyle points you toward an SUV or crossover, you still want to do what you can to minimize your contribution to further CO2 in the atmosphere. There are no electric SUVs, no plug-in hybrids (yet) and only a few hybrid and clean diesel models, so the key is to check out the most fuel efficient models that fit your needs. Since one of those needs with this class of vehicles usually entails a good amount of distance travel, we’re using the highway fuel economy as the benchmark for our Top 10 list.
Compared to last year, hybrid sales for the first four months are up 12.3%, almost double the overall market’s gain. Plug-ins are on a tear with 130% growth, but on relatively small numbers. Diesels have taken a dip so far this year, dropping 6.2%, but are expected to rebound when high-volume cars like the Chevy Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel, Mazda6 SkyActiv-D, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 hit showrooms later this year. Both the hybrid and plug-in electric segments are also adding models as well.
High-mileage cars are off to a great start for the year with sales up 18% in these three categories in for the first three months of the year compared to last year. The monthly sales average continues to creep up so it is conceivable that sales could edge closer to a million units if the trend continues, which would definitely solidify the market for alternatives to conventional gasoline engines. The first quarter indicates it could be a very good year for high-MPG cars.
Ford is making a concerted push towards electrification, a key part of its strategy to boost fuel economy across its lineup. The Ford Fusion Energi, which Clean Fleet Report recently had the opportunity to sample for a brief test drive, is the centerpiece of a five-vehicle electrified fleet.
Clean Edge, Inc., in its Clean Energy Trends 2013 report, cites the trend to microhybrids as one of the more positive and lasting movements in the transportation sector. While much attention is focused on electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, the group sees microhybrids, also known as start-stop, idle-stop-go, idle elimination, mild hybrid or other names, as contributing more to increased fuel efficiency than any other technology.
The technology has been on the market for more than a decade and at least 40 percent of the new cars in Europe and Japan already use it, but it’s on its way to the U.S. as well. The attraction for the auto industry is that this is a relatively cheap technology that delivers tangible fuel economy improvements and helps them along the way to the goal of 54.5 mpg by 2025.
High mileage hybrids, plug-ins and diesels like the Toyota Prius, Chevy Volt and Passat TDI, had a good month to begin the year, bettering the high bar set by the overall market. Hybrids pushed past 3 percent of the total market.
While the high-horsepower seventh generation Corvette pointed one future direction for General Motors at the recent Detroit Auto Show, the company had another car that could be as significant for what GM hopes to become in the 21st century. That car is the Cadillac ELR, the company’s second foray into range-extended EVs (after the Chevy [...]
The Prius C hybrid ranked the number one green car of 2013 models by ACEEE. The ACEEE (American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy) has been singling out the greenest vehicles for a decade and a half, so their list is eagerly awaited for those focused on fuel efficiency and low pollutant emissions. The 2013 list has some familiar models, but has more new vehicles than any previous list, which shows the rapid shift the market has taken to high-efficiency vehicles.
You can mark 2012 down on the automotive history calendar. For the first time in almost hundred years, consumers have a real choice in cars. We’re not talking about the usual body style, color and equipment choices, but the substantial choice of what kind of powertrain you want under the hood if your focus is [...]
Auto shows always present a confusing story to the general public because the messages being transmitted through the media are intended for a variety of audiences – everyone from those interested in cheap, basic transportation to the enthusiast looking for the hottest, most-up-to-date muscle machine to the high-roller with money to burn on something exotic. [...]
First Honda, then Hyundai, now Ford, is in the crosshairs of criticism over inflated fuel economy numbers. It’s not that an average driver can’t get the mpg numbers found on the window sticker when you buy the car, but can you get them – or even close – in normal driving? Hypermilers can routinely max [...]
The Los Angeles Auto Show’s media preview days’ included cars and SUVS with record fuel economy. All of the mainstream vehicle introductions – whether the vehicle was fueled by gasoline, diesel, a gasoline-electric hybrid system (that may or may not plug in) or electricity – focused on the improved fuel economy of the vehicle being introduced.
Superstorm Sandy, “Snowmegeddon,” El Nino. You need a great car or crossover SUV when that 100-year storm hits. These new all-wheel drive (AWD) cars, crossovers, and SUVs have the best AWD mileage in the United States in 2013. The range from fun, yet thrifty, from Subaru to luxury turbo diesels and hybrids from Audi. We’ll also give you a peak at future plug-in hybrid AWD wonders from Tesla, BMW, and Mitsubishi.
The Los Angeles Auto Show gives a world debut to 50 vehicles for 2013 from Ford, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, Subaru, Chrysler, General Motors, BMW, Fiat, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Volkswagen. If I could select two cars for Green Car of the Year, they would be the Toyota Prius c and the Ford C-MAX.