I ride this new e-bike past thousands strolling along the San Francisco Bay. Travelers ferry to Tiburon, Sausalito, and Alcatraz. Large catamarans race the wind as they prepare for the America’s Cup. The Golden Gate Bridge majestically displays our gateway to Asia. I am test riding a new Specialized Turbo electric-assist bicycle. For the first time, when I leave bicycle paths and merge into traffic I can maintain the same speed as the cars.
An estimated 691 million passenger cars were on the world’s roads in 2011. When both light- and heavy-duty trucks are included, the number rises to 979 million vehicles, which was 30 million more than just a year earlier. By the end of 2012, the global fleet could top 1 billion vehicles—-one for every seven people on the planet.
Iran stopped shipping oil to the United Kingdom and to France. Global oil prices shot-up and we pay more at the pump. Fortunately, oil consumption has peaked in the USA for the 10 reasons that follow. Over 96 percent of our transportation fuel comes from oil refined into gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. To protect our security and national leadership, Americans are taking 10 actions that are reducing our need for oil, not increasing the demand.
Electric vehicles use electric motors not internal combustion engines. You can probably find a number of smaller electric motors in your house running everything from the washing machine to the garbage disposal. You might also have a cordless power tool that you charge and then run with power from the internal battery. Electric cars use the same approach. Plug in to charge the batteries and then drive away.
The new 2012 Toyota Camry family of sedans offer improved fuel economy and more for the money. The new Camry Hybrid delivers a combined 41 mpg, soaring past current midsized sedan leader the Ford Fusion Hybrid. The Camry is so popular that 15 million have been sold. It has been America’s best selling car for 9 years. Toyota has sold more than 3 million hybrids; more than all competitors combined. Toyota announces its new seventh-generation Camry family as a bold, sophisticated new design with a more spacious interior, class-leading safety features, improved driving dynamics and quieter ride than before.
The new 2012 Subaru Impreza delivers the best mileage of any all-wheel drive vehicle sold in the U.S. – 27-mpg city and 36-mpg highway. Even the hybrid AWD from Ford and Lexus cannot touch this fuel economy. The AWD handling is designed to get you to your snow board / ski resort in the winter, off-road hike and bike spots in the summer, and get to school and work when snow and ice intimidates other drivers. Remember last winter’s miserable roads and high gas prices. The Impreza addresses both with better mileage in 2012, more rear seat and cargo room, and new options.
Americans spend an extra $3 billion on fuel because vehicles are heavier than they were in 1960. Cars need to go on a diet. Vehicles can be better designed. Minor reductions in weight and drag can improve fuel economy up to 50 percent for a cost of a couple of hundred bucks. With the growing use of aluminum, composite materials, and aerodynamic design, we will see diesel cars delivering 100 miles per gallon and more if they are hybrid.
Millions of hybrids are now on the road, saving fuel and making driving more pleasant. Most cars are only powered by an internal combustion engine fueled with gasoline. Electric vehicles are powered by electric motors that are often three times more efficient than a gasoline engine. Hybrid technology is improving the fuel economy of some SUVs. The Ford Escape Hybrid, for example, offers over 30 miles per gallon.
You can make a difference. The first chapters of Save Gas, Save the Planet will help you consider what you want in your next car. There are also many ways to reduce miles and improve fuel economy with your current car. Your actions and your words will influence more people than you expect. None of these are all-or-nothing ideas. Consider realistic improvements for yourself, your family, your friends, and your community.
We want to believe in magic but unfortunately, there is no one magical solution. Save Gas, Save the Planet captures over 120 different ways that people are making a difference by riding clean, riding together, and riding less. As you read Save Gas, Save the Planet, you will discover a number of ways to burn less fuel without needing a new car. When, and if, you are ready for a new car, you will make a better choice.
New Ford Focus owners can tune-up driving skills that maximize their miles per gallon – and they can have a little fun in the process. EcoMode is a handy software application aimed at helping coach customers in the art of eco-driving – and then rewards those that practice more fuel-efficient driving skills with in-car kudos displayed on the instrument cluster. The new Ford Focus Electric is expected to have a range of about 100 miles per charge. EcoMode can greatly help people get better range. Those buying new gasoline powered Focus can save hundreds of dollars at the pump each year.
This excerpt from the book Save Gas, Save the Planet outlines the important relationship between transportation and your finances. Your vehicle is your second biggest expense. In addition to personally saving thousands, you can help the nation save billions. People share tips and stories about how they save by riding smart and riding clean.
The Nissan LEAF will be the first to put over 10,000 freeway-speed electric cars on the road. It is a pure electric. This sleek 5-door hatchback seats five. My wife and I completed the online reservation for Nissan LEAF SL including our $99 refundable deposit. The electric range is 100 miles on the U.S. EPA LA4 city drive cycle. $32,780 or $349 on a 3-year Nissan Lease for the LEAF, plus serious tax breaks, puts this electric car in the reach of many drivers.
My test drive of the new Ford electric car for 2011 demonstrated that Ford is building a BEV that millions will want. The Ford Focus EV prototype provided a quiet and smooth drive for a prototype. A common platform is planned for compact vehicles ranging from engine drives, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and battery-electric. By 2020, these vehicles could represent up to 25 percent of Ford’s production – that’s up to 2 million cars annually with electric drive systems and advanced battery packs.
Ener1 took the lead among a group of investors that plans to inject $47 million of equity funding into Think Global, the Norwegian electric vehicle producer. Ener1 Chairman and CEO Charles Gassenheimer stated, “Ener1 and Think have collaborated for years on systems development, and today possess a unique ability to bring together category-leading technologies in a fully integrated platform, to suit a wide variety of vehicle applications.”