Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Save Gas, Save the Planet: John Addison’s book about hybrid and electric cars, pathways to low carbon driving, and the future of sustainable transportation. © 2009 John Addison. All rights reserved.
Theis more aerodynamic than a Chevrolet Corvette. Both have less wind resistance than a square-shaped car or SUV. Being aerodynamic and using low rolling resistance tires are reasons that the Toyota Prius achieves good fuel economy. Manufacturers have been improving engines and transmissions for over 100 years. Engines today have improved timing, fuel mix, less resistance, and variable valve timing. Automakers such as Honda, GM, and Chrysler, continue to improve fuel economy with new engines that can shut off valves when not needed; for example, a variable cylinder management system can deactivate half of an engine’s cylinders during cruising and deceleration. Also used is the continuously variable transmission, which keeps the engine, running at a fuel-efficient speed. In 2007, Nissan sold over 1,000,000 vehicles with continuously variable transmissions. When you buy your next vehicle, look for cars with better miles-per-gallon due to use of advanced powertrains.
Does your family or household own more than one vehicle? If so, use most often the vehicle that consumes the least gas. It is a no-brainer. My wife and I share the high-mileage hybrid. As our main car, it puts on the most miles. The other sedan, which still gets good fuel economy, is used only on days when we both have destinations in opposite directions. There are more than one hundred car models that offer over 40 miles per gallon. An increased number of these models are being made available in the United States. People are often surprised by the excellent safety of some lighter vehicles with excellent fuel economy.
When you buy a new car select one that gets high miles per gallon or one that runs on electricity. If you are watching your budget, this is likely to be a light gasoline vehicle with good mileage. If you have more to spend, you can achieve greater fuel economy with hybrids and with diesels.
A growing number of vehicles are aerodynamic, lighter, safer, use advanced powertrains, and better tires. When you are ready to buy a new car, focus on the mileage for your type of driving. The solutions to our oil dependency are not in the distant future. They are here today. With lighter materials, better drive systems, and better safety features, you have a number of excellent vehicle choices.