Are you in the market for a new car? As the 2014 models attest, you have more energy-efficient vehicles to choose from than ever before. They range from conventional cars sporting highly efficient engines to hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fully electric vehicles that use no gasoline whatsoever. Here are some tips to help you make the right choice for you and your family.
Why Focus on Energy Efficiency?
First, let’s remember the benefits of buying an energy-efficient vehicle. Because they burn fossil fuels, cars and trucks are one of the biggest sources of air pollution in the U.S. This pollution not only causes lung ailments like asthma. It also significantly contributes to heart disease. Plus, the carbon emitted when cars burn gasoline causes climate change. The more energy-efficient a vehicle is, the less fuel it burns. That means less pollution, less carbon, cleaner air, and healthier hearts. That also means more money saved at the pump. Do the math. Would you rather get 45 or 50 miles per gallon, or 20?
What Are the Most Energy-Efficient Models?
- All Electric – Cars that use the least amount of gas are those that don’t use any at all. These vehicles run solely on electricity. They can be charged on a regular household electrical outlet, with a range per charge that varies from 105 miles combined highway/city to 119. The average American drives 29 miles per day, a distance every all-electric vehicle on the market can easily achieve.
- Plug-In Hybrids – A plug-in hybrid can drive solely on electricity for anywhere from 20 to 60 miles before the gasoline engine kicks in. Its battery is re-charged by plugging in to a regular 110-volt household current. If you primarily commute to work and take the kids back and forth to after-school activities, you could go all week without ever needing to stop at a gas pump, as long as you plug your car in each night. Here’s an excellent guide to both all electric and hybrid plug-ins being sold today.
- Hybrids – Typical hybrids primarily rely on gasoline engines, supplemented by an electric battery that is recharged internally when the car brakes. Most auto companies make a hybrid, but beware. In some cars, the technology simply boosts the vehicle’s low MPG by just a few miles per gallon while taking advantage of marketing the car as eco-friendly. This online guide to hybrids makes it easy to compare and contrast the options available.
- Gasoline only – The federal government identifies the most fuel-efficient gasoline-powered vehicles as those that get at least 35 MPG when city and highway driving rates are combined. FuelEconomy.gov lists 2014’s most and least efficient cars. I personally recommend choosing a vehicle that gets at least 35 mpg in the city. That still gives you plenty of makes, styles and sizes to choose from at a variety of price points that compare very favorably to less fuel-efficient options.
What can you afford?
You may be able to soften the purchase price of a new car by qualifying for federal or state tax credits. Electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids may be eligible for a federal income tax credit of up to $7,500. Here are the details.
Many states also offer incentives to encourage consumers to purchase highly efficient vehicles. Here’s what’s available in your state.
Don’t forget, HOW you drive also significantly affects how many miles per gallon you get. These ten tips will help you improve mileage and save $20 to $50 a month on gasoline. Happy driving!