Green Is In at the 2013 Dallas Auto Show

December 17, 2012 by  
Filed under 2013, Blog, Car, Diesel, Electric Cars, Front Page, Hybrid, Slideshow

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The new Chevy Volt will get its share of attention at the 2013 Dallas Auto Show. Photo: Courtesy DigitalPros.org

The new Chevy Volt will get its share of attention at the 2013 Dallas Auto Show. Photo: Courtesy DigitalPros.org

The 2013 DFW Auto Show in Dallas may be months away, but anticipation is already growing in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Dozens of automakers including BMW, Ford, Audi, Scion and Jeep have announced their participation in the event, and DFW Metropolitan New Car Dealers Association has opened the Dallas Convention Center showroom to eco-friendly businesses looking to sell their products or services. For as little as $200, sustainability-conscious businesses can promote their “green” initiatives in a dedicated booth.

Automakers’ recent releases have added a “green” tint to the market, and fuel economy could be the defining element of the 2013 Dallas Auto Show. Toyota’s Prius, a hybrid available at Dallas Toyota dealerships, has inspired the next wave of fuel-efficient technology. Clean diesel technology, all-electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cells could all be on display in Dallas from March 13-17, 2013.

Clean Diesel

Electricity may get the bulk of the attention in fuel-economy innovation, but one German automaker has been expanding gas mileage with clean diesel technology for years. Volkswagen’s latest TDI Clean Diesel technology improves engine efficiency to achieve up to 43 miles per gallon, according to VW.com. The Green Car Journal named the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI “Green Car of the Year,” and VW has only improved its technology since then.

Audi’s A3 TDI is VW’s closest competitor in terms of clean diesel gas mileage, achieving an estimated 35 combined MPG, and fuel-economy seekers looking for a little more luxury may be drawn to this hatchback sedan.

All-Electric

Hybrid cars dominate the eco-friendly vehicle landscape right now, but major automakers are pushing toward all-electric solutions to day-to-day transportation needs. The Nissan Leaf is the highest-selling all-electric car so far in 2012, selling 4,228 vehicles through August, according to Yahoo. While Nissan promoted the Leaf as having a 100-mile range, drivers and critics claim its top end range is closer to 70 miles.

The Ford Focus is the Leaf’s most direct competitor. An all-electric vehicle with similar range and features, Focus may hope that American-made sentiments will drive domestic sales.

The Chevy Volt is technically a hybrid, but after a full charge, Volt runs on pure electricity for up to 35 miles before switching over to conventional gas power. Most consumers will be able to get through most or all of their daily commutes on 35 electric miles, but Volt has the versatility for long commutes and road trips.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Electric motors slash vehicles’ carbon footprints, but the charging infrastructure necessary to support wide popularity seems far off. In response, major automakers are toying with fuel-cell technology, which runs on hydrogen, to power electric motors. Nissan rolled out its hydrogen fuel-cell powered Terra SUV concept at the Paris Motor Show, and the Japanese automaker claims it is prepared to mass-produce fuel-cell vehicles “whenever hydrogen becomes widely available,” according to USA Today.

Mercedes Benz currently has a preliminary fleet of 40 fuel-cell vehicles on the road in the US, and Toyota and Honda both have plans to launch fuel-cell vehicles by 2015, as reported by USA Today.

Automakers haven’t released their lineups for the 2013 Dallas Auto Show, but if the buzz is any indication, we could count on a few of these innovative fuel-economy vehicles in March.

Matthew Johnson

Guest Writer

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

About the Author

Matt Johnson comes from a long line of automotive enthusiasts. Growing up in the Detroit area, he lived in a house divided—Mom worked for Chrysler, and Dad was in operations for GM.

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Top-Rated Eco-Friendly Cars

December 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog, Car, Eco-Friendly, Front Page, Hybrid, Natural Gas, Slideshow

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Who needs gas? The new Toyota Prius can run on electricity alone, as long as you charge it. Photo: Mariordo59

Who needs gas? The new Toyota Prius can run on electricity alone, as long as you charge it. Photo: Mariordo59 (Creative Commons)

Between rising gas prices and the ever-present issue of climate change, there’s never been a better time to consider environmentally friendly cars. Once relegated to only a small sliver of the population, improved technology means eco-friendly cars are beginning to overcome many of the typical stereotypes they’re associated with. Here are three of the best choices to help you minimize your impact on the environment.

Honda Civic GX

Although hybrid and electric vehicles garner most of the public’s attention, Honda’s natural-gas-powered Civic GX leads the pack in emission standards. The Civic GX has won the American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy’s “Greenest Vehicle of the Year” award for eight consecutive years. Since it is fueled entirely by natural gas, the GX is the cleanest internal combustion vehicle ever tested by the EPA, and meets federal zero evaporative emissions standards.

The Civic GX does differ from traditional gasoline vehicles in some key ways, however. The reduced energy density of natural gas results in slightly less power to the engine, though the drop isn’t significantly noticeable during city driving.

The GX also requires filling at specially designed natural gas filling stations, which are uncommon across most of the United States. Honda does offer a solution for this problem, however, with a home filling station that fills the car’s tank overnight. A full tank provides a driving range of approximately 200 miles, depending on driving conditions.

Nissan Leaf

NissanLeaf. Photo: Mariordo59_Creative Commons (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

NissanLeaf. Photo: Mariordo59_Creative Commons

The first fully electric car to be marketed to mainstream consumers, the Nissan Leaf allows drivers to cut ties with gas stations for good. Because the Leaf is powered entirely by electricity, there’s no tailpipe and zero emissions. The Leaf works by drawing power from laminated lithium-ion batteries to run an electric motor.

The batteries can be charged in a variety of ways, from “quick-charge” electric stations, to home chargers, and even a standard wall outlet. While savings over gasoline may depend on local electricity prices, the reduced impact on the environment is unquestionable.

As with other electric cars, however, there are some differences to keep in mind. The Leaf’s electric motor is less powerful than internal combustion engines, leading to significantly reduced, though functional, top speed. The driving range on a full charge is also a primary consideration, averaging around 73 miles. This makes the Leaf primarily suitable only for city driving, short commutes, or residents who have regular access to charging stations.

Toyota Prius

Toyota's gone one better with the new Plug-In Hybrid. Photo: Courtesy Mariordo59_Creative Commons (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

Toyota's gone one better with the new Plug-In Hybrid. Photo: Courtesy Mariordo59_Creative Commons

Long considered the face of the hybrid vehicle, the Toyota Prius has a well-earned reputation as an exceptional blend of fuel economy, reduced emissions, and snappy performance. Unlike fully electric vehicles, the Prius utilizes a gasoline engine as well as two electric motors to generate power.

While under full acceleration, the Prius uses both power sources to produce a respectable 134 horsepower. When less power is required, such as during high-traffic city driving, the Prius alternates between the two power sources, often relying on battery power alone. This helps to reduce fuel consumption and dramatically decrease emissions, while still retaining sufficient performance.

Like full-electric cars, the Toyota Prius requires recharging to power its electric motors, although the recharging time is considerably faster. The Prius can be charged in about three hours from a standard 110-volt wall outlet, and the time drops to an hour and a half with a 220-volt plug. The sophisticated drive train of the Prius can also lead to much costlier repairs, although some potential losses may be recouped at the pump thanks to the hybrid’s extraordinary fuel efficiency.

Sean Gray

Guest Writer

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Sean Gray frequently blogs about cars. He currently blogs for cashfortrucks.com, an automotive company that gives advice on how to sell a used car.