I have over 100,000 miles on my Saturn Aura, and I'm beginning to look at a replacement. Unfortunately, there aren't as many options for a new clean driving car as I would have hoped. I would love to get an electric vehicle, but my job is in outside sales, and it requires me to drive large distances, often over 100 miles per day. Therefore the limited range of EVs would require that I stop every 40 miles or so to charge up, which would severely reduce my sales numbers!
My goal is to find a car that gets excellent mileage for the following reasons (in rough order of importance to me, but the order changes frequently):
- I want to reduce my consumption of foreign oil
- I want to reduce the amount of money I spend on transportation
- I want to help improve my local air quality by reducing emissions
- I want to lower my greenhouse gas emissions
I also want to find a car that I look forward to driving every day. I will drive anywhere between 25,000 and 30,000 a year, and the car is basically my office, so I need to have something that I enjoy.
I really, really want a plug-in hybrid vehicle. A plug-in hybrid would meet all the above requirements for getting excellent mileage but I would also get to monitor how much electricity I use in my car with my whole-home electricity monitoring system! The issue here is that there is currently only one plug-in hybrid vehicle available for purchase, the Chevrolet Volt. It isn't even available for purchase in my state, so I would have to go to another state to buy it and drive it back. Another challenge is initial price, which may be slightly out of my range. There are other plug-in hybrids about to come on the market, like Ford's C-Max plug in hybrid, but they haven't announced an official release date, and they may not even be available in my market until 2013. Toyota is coming out with a plug-in Prius in 2012 in limited markets, but won't be available in Atlanta until 2013.
So maybe I need to table my initial requirement of a plug-in hybrid? Instead, I'm willing to look at regular hybrids and efficient diesel cars that I could possibly run on bio-diesel. Both of these options would help meet my four criteria above.
I like most hybrids, but for the most part the styling on most of them has never really appealed to me...until now. This weekend I saw the Lexus CT 200h, and it's a hybrid that actually looks like a car I would enjoy driving. Also, according to FuelEconomy.gov, it gets the second best mileage out of all 2011 model year hybrids! My in-laws just purchased the Hyundai Sonata hybrid, and it actually looks really nice. I may consider the Ford Fusion hybrid, but it is priced similar to the Lexus and doesn't look near as nice. If I did get a hybrid, I could always convert it to a plug-in hybrid!
Of course, I don't have to get a hybrid; I could get an efficient diesel vehicle. The German auto manufacturers take the lead in this area. An efficient diesel would accomplish close to what the hybrid would as far as my four requirements, but diesel currently costs a little more than gasoline and diesel air emissions are a little worse than normal gasoline. Why aren't there any diesel hybrids available?
But there is another option I would have with diesel that would completely satisfy my number 1 requirement: running the car on bio-diesel! The challenge here is that it seems that each manufacturer has different standards on whether using bio-diesel in your vehicle will void the warranty. This site from the U.K. has some good information on running your vehicle on bio-diesel. It seems that if I went this option, I would have to modify a few of the vehicle's parts to have everything running smoothly.
I have a lot to consider here and I'm open to all of your thoughts. What criteria do you have in evaluating your clean car options?