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.
You need look no further than the 2013 New York International Auto Show media preview this last week to see that automakers are aggressively laying out multiple paths to get to the fuel economy goals of the U.S., Europe and Japan. Electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, hybrids, diesels and advanced gasoline engines (as well as other technologies) point to a diverse future.
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.
MPG is still on consumers’ minds as car and truck sales of hybrids, plug-in cars and clean diesels continued to outpace the overall market in February 2012. High mileage hybrids, plug-ins and diesels had their second good month to begin the year, bettering the high bar set by the overall market. Hybrids continued to be above 3 percent of the market and both hybrids and diesels accelerated sales beyond a strong overall market (up 16.1% and 23.3% respectively compared to the overall market rise of 14.3%).
Volkswagen showed the latest version of its super-high-mileage cars–and this time said it would put it into production. In testing the two-passenger car delivers 261 miles per gallon. It’s body is made of lightweight but strong carbon fiber and its plug-in hybrid powertrain combines a small diesel engine and electric motors powered by lithium-ion batteries.
The best way to get more MPG out of cars is to tax fuel, according to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They published a study in the journal Energy Economics (Volume 36, March 2013, Pages 322–333) that showed that fuel economy standards (such as the ones now in force in the U.S. ) cost at least six times as much (and up to 14 times as much) to reduce gasoline use as would a tax on the fuel. They added that a fuel economy standard is an expensive mechanism to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and raises the cost of a cap-and-trade policy, such as the one just starting in California.
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.
What is it about General Motors that their new vehicle introductions seems take two years? GM first announced that it would offer a diesel passenger car in fall of 2010, then tipped that it would show up in the Cruze in February of 2011. Last year GM took top-ranked American automotive journalists to Europe to [...]
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.
Being aerodynamic and using low rolling resistance tires are reasons that the Toyota Prius achieves good fuel economy. When you buy your next vehicle, look for cars with better miles-per-gallon due to use of advanced powertrains. 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.
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.