The Minivan is in the shop again. She is tired with over 150K miles. I have changed her brakes, tires, sway bar, and transmission. She even had a nasty collision with a deer. But I am holding on to her since she needs to last another few years until all the kiddos are out of school. But as I listened to green car expert Eric of Enviro Dad talk about all the green car options on Green Sisterhood Tuesday Talk, I got a little dreamy about zooming around in a new green car without the added baggage of a minivan. So if you are in the market or day dreaming like me (sorry Minivan), be sure to listen to Eric’s interview below.
Not Everyone’s Car Wants Are the Same
Let’s face it. We have different wants and desires when it comes to purchasing a car. My family refers to me as Goldilocks. I can never find the perfect driver seat. This one is too hard. That one doesn’t give me enough support. You know the drill.
I admit, I found some of the green cars seats to be very uncomfortable. (A couple of years, Minivan needed serious work and it was 50-50 if I was going to keep her.) However, despite the seat issue, there are many other considerations:
- How many miles your drive during the week.
- What kind of amenities you want. (My kids want the largest TV screen possible. Me? I could use a washer and dryer. Is that asking too much? And of course, the seat must be nicely padded.)
- How the car looks. Let’s be vain here. Cars are an extension of our image.
- how the car drives.
- Most importantly, how much does it cost.
Karen (my co-host) and I went through a few scenarios with him:
- The long distance driver
- The intown driver
- The city driver
Long Term Driving:
Eric stated hybrid vehicles get better fuel economy in the city than the highway. So he focused on conventional combustion engines.
1. Diesel engines: The diesel technology is so clean now and you save 20-30% on fuel consumption. Karen owns a diesel car and loves the great gas milage.
2. Mazda’s Skyactiv technology. Basically, this technology takes the car’s mechanisms and makes them more efficient. As Eric explained, 90% of the energy created in the engine is lost. So Mazda, through a combination of improved technology tweaked mechanisms in the cars so you are saving about 20% to 30% on fuel consumption. (For all you car tech geeks, Eric explains the technology on the interview. But then again, you already listened to the interview. Right?)
3. Making the cars lighter: Many cars saves about 15% in fuel consumption because the manufacturers are making the cars lighter.
Eric says there are some great full-electric car on the market. (Nissan Leaf is the #1 seller with about a 100 mile range on a full electric charge.)
He said don’t based your decision on once in a blue moon need for a larger car. Simply rent a larger car when needed.
One of the reason people have shied away from electric is the price. Some of the car companies now are manufacturing in the United States so it reduces the cost. In addition, many states have incentives for buying a fuel efficient car. In the long run, buying an electric car cost so much less to maintain due to the reduced fuel consumption and maintenance (no oil changes.)
He loves the Ford Park Assist technology which helps with parallel parking. When I visited Ford last summer, I drove one of the Ford cars with this technology. I am a horrible parallel parker and this technology was so amazing.
Environmental issues of the battery:
Even despite all the advance and fuel efficiency, are electric and hybrid cars really green?
What about the disposal of the car batteries? According to Eric, 80% of the battery components can be recycled. In addition, GM is experimenting with reusing the old batteries. According to the Company
“General Motors and ABB today showed the next stage in battery reuse, the repackaging of five used Chevrolet Volt batteries into a modular unit capable of providing two hours of electricity needed by three to five average American homes.”
But actual battery disposal isn’t the only concern. What about how the electricity is generated to power the cars? Eric said do your research for options to source electricity from renewable sources. However, at the end of the day, even if your electricity is sourced from coal, you will still reduce your footprint.
Need more information about which car to buy?
1. Be sure to check out the US Roadmap to Climate-Friendly Cars: 2013. It is an interactive map that shows the top 10 most climate-friendly cars in each state, depending on how many miles the car is driven.
2. In addition, listen to Eric’s lightning round when he picks his favorite cars given the above driver scenarios.
3. Not convinced? Karen of ecokaren, Leigh of Green4U and Meg of Green Diva participated in the #Pluginforcharity and drove a Toyota Prius Plug-in. Read their thoughts about the Prius, the challenge, and how it changed the way they drove.
4. To learn how to drive more efficiently and save fuel, see here. Note there is a nominal fee for the course.
5. Car lovers can geek out on Eric’s Test Drive page on his blog. He is so darn lucky since he gets to drive a new car every week.
- Do you agree with his choices?
- What are your favorite green cars and why.