Energy Efficient Cars – Going the Extra Mile
As gas prices continue to rise, the appeal for energy efficient vehicles also increases. There are many different types of fuel-saving, lower CO2 emitting technologies on the market today. Let’s take a look at what is available and what is on the horizon.
Today’s gas-electric hybrids are the most popular hybrid. Among vehicle’s that rely on internal combustion power, they are the most fuel efficient and greenest cars available. Electric cars are cleaner, requiring no fuel, but hybrids are still the popular choice due to range concerns.
Hybrid vehicles pair a gasoline-powered internal combustion engine with an electric motor. Energy that is normally lost when the driver applies the brakes is captured and used to charge the battery packs that provide power to the electric engine. These batteries are constantly being charged while the car is in motion.
EV, PHEV, and E-REV
Several carmakers have or are planning to introduce vehicles can be plugged into the electric grid. The Electric Vehicle (or EV) is a fully electric powered car. Most new EVs have a range of around 100 miles and seat up to 5 passengers. The PHEV or Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicle has a gas engine back up that kicks in when the battery is running low. There are also the E-REVs which are the Extended Range Electric Vehicles with larger battery packs that offer an extended range per charge. While these cars cost a bit more than traditional cars due to their expensive high tech battery packs, the cost to operate them is significantly less. A full charge costs less than $3.00. At a range of 100 miles per charge, that’s less than 3 cents per mile.
A stop-start hybrid is the simplest form of hybridization, if one wants to classify it as a “hybrid” at all, or merely an aid to efficiency. Automakers are putting this technology not only on gas-electric hybrids, but even straight internal combustion vehicles to save fuel. The engine does not need to run at a stop, and the engines are engineered so restart does not adversely affect their lifespan.
There was a lot of excitement around hydrogen power over a decade ago but early enthusiasm faded when battery power became popular.
But now it seems to be back in the spotlight. Many believe that hydrogen could be the best solution for low-carbon emission powered vehicles. Hydrogen fuel cell cars can be refueled in as little as 3 minutes and have a range of up to about 300 miles per tank while it takes hours to recharge a
Hydrogen-powered cars are slowly becoming a reality. Limited-production models are being offered to a handful of drivers.
A growing number of vehicles can run on E85 Ethanol. E85, a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline, can be used in flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs), which are specially designed to run on gasoline, E85, or any mixture of the two. FFVs are offered by several vehicle manufacturers. To determine if your vehicle can use E85, consult your owner’s manual or check the inside of your car’s fuel filler door for an identification sticker.
The new generation of diesel vehicles offers lower emissions, high efficiency, and superior performance. Although more popular in Europe, today’s next generation diesels are good choice for Americans too. With new improvements in efficiency and power, diesel engines are rivaling the hybrid fuel economy but deliver the performance of a traditional gas engine. If you have not driven a diesel in years, you will be pleasantly surprised how quiet and responsive the modern diesel has become.
A simple strategy for fuel efficiency is to downsize. And there are many stylish and sporty options to choose from.
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