Green cars might seem a little on the pricey side at first, but in actuality buying one saves you money each time you fill up at the pump. Sure, purchasing one may be an extra upfront cost, but the benefits to your wallet and to the planet exceed the initial investment.
Driving is actually one of the biggest things we can modify in order to make the world a cleaner, greener place. If there are 241 million vehicles on the road and only a small fraction of those are environmentally friendly, we can see how using a green car may help contribute positively to the earth's atmosphere as more consumers choose environmentally friendly vehicles.
Green cars, also known as hybrids, hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), hybrid vehicles, or eco cars, symbolize a fantastic, innovative effort by the automobile industry to go green, but are they as earth friendly as they seem? Is the hybrid MPG (miles per gallon) all that fantastic compared to a traditional gasoline powered vehicle? On this page we'll give you everything you need to know (and more) about the greenest cars on the planet.
What Is A Green Car?
A green car is a vehicle that utilizes fuel and energy in a more efficient way to reduce pollution into the earth's atmosphere. Green cars, usually hybrid cars, use two separate power sources to operate. The most common combination of power sources is the internal combustion engine (like those in traditional, gasoline powered vehicles) and an electric engine. These two sources of power work together to use fuel more efficiently, which means less trips to the pump and more money in your pocket.
What Are The Advantages To Owning An Green Car?
- Save money on gas, no matter how high gas prices climb.
- Increase MPG.
- Save more than 8,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from going into the atmosphere.
- Federal income tax deductions (depending on the model you buy).
- Fuel efficiency (i.e.reduces the demand for oil and preserves more natural resources).
- Contributions to cleaner air because of the lack of emissions and pollutants.
Tax Credits For Green Cars
The U.S. government encourages consumers to purchase eco cars by allowing a federal income tax credit or deduction. This incentive strengthens the green movement by reducing the overall amount paid for the environmentally friendly vehicle. Essentially the government allows a set amount to deduct from your federal income tax (varies per model). Green cars purchased or placed into service after December 31, 2005 may be eligible for a federal income tax credit of up to $3,400.
There are a few catches though.
Certain makes and models no longer qualify for the tax credit. The government disallows the deduction or credit once the manufacturer sells 60,000 of that particular model. So, for example, the Toyota Prius no longer qualifies for a federal income tax deduction because its been in production for a few years now.
There are still many high-performing models, though, which fall into the green cars category that get the income tax credit or deduction. The US Department of Energy provides helpful resources to pinpoint your green cars' federal income tax deduction or credit. Click here to check out the current federal tax incentives for your hybrid, diesel, electric, or alternative fuel vehicle. In addition to the tax incentive for hybrid cars, some clean diesels or alternative fuel vehicles (advanced lean burn technology vehicles) qualify for the tax incentive as well. Visit http://www.fueleconomy.gov/ to find cheap gas prices, locate alternative fuel stations, compare the best hybrid cars, and more helpful information. Consult a tax professional to determine your exact Federal deduction or credit.
As with any vehicle, eco car and hybrid MPG vary depending on the type of model you buy. The 2010 Hybrid Buying Guide at Edmunds.com reviews the best green cars and sport-utility vehicles (SUV) and compares performance and MPG. If you don't have time to review their entire guide, here are the highlights:
- The newly re-designed 2010 Toyota Prius takes the cake at 51 mpg/city and 48 mpg/highway, making it the most fuel efficient hybrid on the market with great utility.
- The affordable Honda Insight Hybrid comes in second place at 41 mpg/combined. The Honda Civic hybrid is a little roomier with 42 mpg/combined.
- The Ford Fusion Hybrid and the Mercury Milan Hybrid come in third with 30 mpg/combined. Both of these models are roomy and provide excellent utility.
- The Camry, Altima, and Chevrolet Malibu Hybrids are all excellent alternatives to gas-powered vehicles.
Looking for a luxury green car?
- The Lexus HS 250h is a beautiful eco-friendly car with all the luxury you'd expect. It sports 39 mpg/combined--the highest MPG rating for any luxury hybrid car on the market today.
- The Mercedes-Benz S400 BlueHybrid has a 3.5-liter V6 engine and makes 299 horsepower with almost 30 mpg/combined.
Driving Green Saves You Money
In a nutshell, if you drive 20,000 per year in a vehicle that gets 20 mpg at $2.75 per gallon (based on current gas prices), you'll spend roughly $2,750 per year on gas. If you drove a green car instead that gets 48 mpg, you'd spend $1,144 a year on gas for a savings of $1,606!
That's a hunk of change. Over the life of the car, say at 10 years when you upgrade, you'll save a whopping $16,060—-an even bigger chunk of change that definitely offsets the initial cost of your green investment.
SUV Hybrid MPG
Edmunds.com ranked 2010 sport-utility hybrid vehicles too. They featured the Ford Escape Hybrid, the Mazda Tribute Hybrid, and the Mercury Mariner Hybrid as equally eco-friendly and front-wheel-drive compact SUVs which provide excellent fuel economy at 34 city and 31 highway.
The seven-passenger, mid-size Toyota Highlander Hybrid gets roughly 25 mpg/combined. This isn't awesome, but it may accommodate families or road-trippers better than the smaller SUVs.
The Best Hybrid Cars
The best hybrid cars are those with great MPG or fuel economy as well as minimal impact on the environment. Some people prefer large utility or storage space. Others don't need as much space and prefer smaller, more compact models. The best hybrid car is really in the eye of the beholder—-it all depends on what you need as a consumer. Check out the reviews of green cars section below for the top rated eco cars available on the market today.
Reviews Of Eco Cars
For the most recent hybrid reviews and reviews on other green cars, check out the Top 100 Green Cars on Yahoo!© Autos. This site features all the top fuel efficient cars to help you decide which green or eco car is right for you before you buy. They also have MPG stats, hybrid prices, pictures, driver ratings and more. The Yahoo!© Autos Green Center is also a fun and informative place to grab information on green cars that use ethanol, diesel, biodiesel, natural gas, and alternatives fuels too. GreenerCars.org is a great resource for information on green cars. They've featured a nifty chart showing their top choices of green cars and they feature the “greenest” (best for the environment) and “meanest” (worst for the environment) cars on the market.
Once you decide on the perfect green vehicle, plug the year, make, model, and the state you'll be purchasing it in into the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Green Vehicle Guide to determine the air pollution and greenhouse gas scores. This will illustrate how green the car really is before you sign on the dotted line. You can also calculate gas consumption and emissions of two separate models of green cars or traditional cars by using the Gas Mileage Impact Calculator found on Yahoo!© Autos.
EPA's Annual Fuel Economy Guide
To read the most recent Fuel Economy Guide published by the EPA, click here. This report is an annual publication which reveals fuel economy estimates for all cars and light trucks. There are several other reports listed on the site above including fuel economy leaders, lowest fuel economy models, and highest and lowest fuel economy by vehicle class.
Increase MPG To Avoid Paying High Gas Prices
If you can't upgrade to one of the green cars we talk about within this page, no worries. There are other ways to increase MPG and fuel efficiency.
- Drive Sensibly. Don't be a crazy driver! Speeding, rapid acceleration, and braking wastes gas—up to 33% on the highway and 5% in the city. Sensible driving can also save lives and puts you and others in less danger.
- Observe the Speed Limit. Typically gas mileage decreases at speeds over 60 mph, so essentially you're paying $.24 extra per gallon of gas (in addition to the already steep gas prices) for every 5 mph you drive over 60 mph. Again, sensible driving and obeying the speed limit can save lives.
- Remove Heavy Stuff. Don't consistently drive around with lots and lots of stuff in your vehicle. Remove items from the car that are over 100 pounds—otherwise you might reduce your MPG up to 2%.
- Don't Idle. Idling uses gas. Turn your engine off if you are waiting for prolonged periods of time to save money when gas prices skyrocket.
- Cruise Control. Set your cruise control to maintain a more constant speed. This saves you gas and, if you set it within the speed limit, may reduce your risk for a speeding ticket :)
- Keep Your Vehicle Tuned Up. Performing vehicle maintenance not only improves your chances of having a reliable mode of transportation, but it also can save you up to 40% on your MPG, depending on the type of repair that's needed.
- Keep Your Tires Pumped Up. Keeping them pumped can increase MPG more than 3%. Find out your vehicle's proper tire pressure in the owner's manual or on the side of the driver's door.
- Use the Recommended Grade of Oil. This can lower or increase your MPG by up to 2% if you don't use the recommended grade. You can also use the oil that has the “Energy Conserving” label on it for optimal performance.
Other Tips To Increase MPG
- Change your air filter to improve acceleration.
- Group your errands together—you save gas when the vehicle's engine is warm versus cranking and driving it cold.
- Avoid sitting in rush-hour traffic—idling sucks gas.
- Work at home—instead of driving to work, start your own green business at home. This will greatly increase MPG in a big, big way.
- If you aren't in a position to start your own green business right now, consider telecommuting or working a compressed schedule.
- Carpool or take public transportation, where available. Check out the American Public Transit Transportation Association's local and state transit links to find public transportation near you.
- Avoid carrying items in your roof rack, if at all possible. This can reduce your fuel economy up to 5%.
- Make the switch to an eco car. You could save over $3,000 over five years in fuel costs if you drove a vehicle that gets 30 mpg versus one that gets 20 mpg. Or if it's a viable option, get rid of your car altogether! You're probably dumping tons of money into monthly insurance, gas, car payments, taxes, registration, and other fees. Depending on the type of car you drive, you could save thousands of dollars each year. Saving money is always a good thing and you're sure to save a bundle.
- If you can't make the switch to an eco car, consider getting rid of your current vehicle, and utilize Zipcar.com. Zipcar.com lets you rent a car on demand (minus the typical rental car fees). The charges include taxes, insurance, and gas. Zipcar is a great resource to go to if you need transportation in a hurry with all the frills for a decent price. Drawback—Zipcar is available in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, London, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington DC and a few Universities scattered around the US, only.
Other Types Of Eco Cars And Machinery
Green vehicles also power cranes, trains, and heavy automobiles. The US military is currently exploring green technology with Humvee vehicle design that improves fuel efficiency.
Green technology doesn't stop with hybrid cars either. There are other eco cars that run on ethanol, hydrogen, natural gas, and biodiesel. To learn more about these green cars, click here.
Hybrid Rental Cars
If you are traveling for business or pleasure, consider renting a hybrid during your trip instead of a gas guzzler. This is the perfect way for you to test out the handling of a hybrid without having to actually buy one. Plus, when it comes time to fill the tank back up, it won't cost you as much.
Big name rental companies are now offering hybrid rental cars because of the growing demand for more environmentally friendly cars. Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, and many others offer hybrids and other eco friendly vehicles at very competitive and comparable rates. One tip though: Make your reservation early! Hybrids and other green cars tend to book up long in advance.
So The Moral Of The Green Car Story Is...
Green cars assist our planet by emitting fewer toxins into the air as you drive along the open road. Eco cars use less gasoline and get more MPG than traditional vehicles, which saves you your hard earned money. The initial investment may cost you more if you purchase a green car, however it is clear the benefits of preserving the earth's atmosphere and your wallet.
Thanks for making the decision to go green in your daily life by driving green cars! Our grandchildren will appreciate it!
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