The federal government provides an income tax credit for buyers of hybrid vehicles up to approximately $3,200, depending on the model of the vehicle. Credits are phased out, however, after the auto manufacturer sells 60,000 hybrids.
Green automobiles are all the rage, and why shouldn’t they be? They’re environmentally friendly by lowering emissions and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These vehicles also save gasoline and save you on maintenance costs due to less wear and tear on major automotive parts. There are three types of green vehicles: hybrids, electric and hydrogen.
We want to do what’s right for the environment and our future generations, but in today’s ever-changing technological parade, sometimes it can be hard to keep up. Here’s the scene on all things green:
Hybrid cars get their power from two different sources, often gas and battery. Hybrid vehicles do not plug in to anything, and average about 30-50 mpg. Usually, they have smaller engines that will let you get anywhere you need to go, but might possibly require an extra boost sometimes when going up a hill, so the battery will kick on. During braking and idling, the engine shuts completely off to save on gasoline and energy. When you apply the brakes, the energy exerted is transformed into heat and propels the car by way of the battery. The car is fully capable of running solely on the battery, but you should never let your hybrid run out of gas. It should not run on the battery alone for long periods of time, as it may cause damage to the car. However, a very positive aspect is the long life that comes along with the batteries of hybrid cars. These parts are well-engineered and designed to last a lifetime. On average, you will get a warranty that will cover the battery for 8-10 years, and you may never have to replace your battery – it completely recharges itself every time you drive the car.
Some other perks:
- Perfect for the stop-n-go life of the city dweller.
- Can acquire some tax breaks after purchase.
- Excellent warranties, most any dealer can repair and it shouldn’t cost more than the traditional gasoline-powered car.
- Body styles are smaller, lighter and more aerodynamic – they’re cute!
Form 8910 (to claim your credit upon purchase of a hybrid vehicle)
Electric cars are powered by an electric motor, instead of a gasoline engine. These cars need to be recharged on a daily basis by way of plugging your car into an outlet. The amount of time that the car needs to charge varies by model, but you will get around 160 miles per charge, if not more. The batteries in electric cars are extremely expensive and have a limited lifespan, but on the flipside, you do not have to perform oil changes or change spark plugs in this type of vehicle. Brakes also last longer because of their regenerative nature, and the maintenance costs are kept low because of the simplified structure. These cars average about 30-50 mpg, similar to hybrids.
Hydrogen cars function off a lithium ion battery and a hydrogen storage tank. The hydrogen mixes with oxygen to create enough energy to propel the car. These cars are not on the market yet, but look for the releases beginning 2008, and well into the future.
There’s a revolution going on at the gas pump. The creation of “greener” gas has been created by adding renewable fuels, like ethanol, to the mix. Ethanol, or E85, is the product of the fermentation of plant sugars, such as corn and other grains. It sells at roughly the same price as gasoline, and doesn’t contaminate the water supply.
All vehicles have the ability to accommodate up to 10% of ethanol, but in order for a vehicle to operate using E85, your vehicle must be compatible for alcohol use. These fuels can be more corrosive than gasoline and damage the liners of the parts internally.
Some cars are flexible-fuel cars, and are readily able to accept either gasoline or ethanol. Over 6 million cars on the road today are E85 compatible, including such makes as: Chrysler, Ford, GM, Isuzu, Mazda, Mercedes, Mercury and Nissan.
If you have a vehicle by one of these manufacturers, you can find out if it is E85 compatible.
Most diesel operated vehicles can easily make the switchover to biodiesel fuel without too much trouble. There may be some problems, but they are able to be worked out. Biodiesel also lowers emissions and gases that cause pollution. More of the world’s gasoline is spared, and the maintenance costs on the vehicle are lowered.
- Air conditioning – The more you use it, the more gas you’re burnin’.
- Cruise control – If you have it, utilize it. This keeps your car moving at a steady pace, which prevents spikes in your gas level.
- Don’t speed! This only uses more fuel! (I know, you know...)
- Don’t do 100 mph on the highway; you’re reducing your aerodynamic drag. This also applies to having your windows open. These factors create more resistance, which makes your engine work harder, and your gas tank empty faster.
- Idling – Unnecessary engine action. If you’re going to be sitting somewhere for a long time – even over a minute – you can save gas by shutting the car off, and restarting when needed.
- Minimize trips – Factor everything you have to do and all the errands you have to run, and try to do them all at once.
- Octane rating – Read your manual to find out which octane rating is right for your car, and use it.
- Oil changes (and all preventative maintenance) – Helps to keep your car running just as the day you bought it. All parts remain clean and working properly with regular care.
- Tires – Keep your tires properly inflated, now made easier with built-in sensors, to keep your car rolling down the road smoothly.
- Weight – Don’t keep erroneous stuff in your car, this only bogs you down and slows the car.