101 Sustainable Gardening Tips: Useful Tips to Start Today

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Learning: Gardening and Environmental Education

1. Pay attention to your land.
2. Learn your average frost-free dates. Notice how they vary year to year.
3. Notice where water collects and where the soil dries fast.
4. Notice where wild plants grow most abundantly.
5. Read gardening and farming books.
6. Talk to local farmers.
7. Consult your local Cooperative Extension.
8. Contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District.
9. Check out online forums like Permies, Gardening Channel and Homesteading Today.
10. Borrow issues of different homesteading magazines before subscribing to any.
11. Evaluate everything you read and hear. Notice disagreements and consensus.
12. Make small-scale experiments. See what works on your land.
13. Notice changes in crop yield and soil structure.
14. Start small. Build up gradually. Don’t get overwhelmed.

Building Soil:

15. Make soil-building a top priority.
16. Add organic matter to your soil to build nutrients and increase water retention.
17. Compost makes for great results.
18. Compost food scraps (not meat or bread) and coffee grounds.
19. Compost yard wastes (not from treated lawns).
20. Compost manures (not dog, cat or human).
21. Mix high-carbon material like sawdust or straw with high-nitrogen material like manure before composting.
22. Age/compost sawdust at least a year before putting it on your garden.
23. Get compost materials from neighbors.
24. In winter, use an indoor worm composting bin.
25. Never leave your soil bare.
26. Plant cold-hardy cover crops after harvest. Let them overwinter.
27. Plant legumes (clover, vetch, alfalfa, peas, beans) to fix nitrogen.
28. Plant deep-rooted crops to break up hardpan.
29. Mulch plants with sawdust, lawn clippings, leaves etc.
30. Mulch empty beds that aren’t cover-cropped.
31. Grow low ‘living mulch’ like white clover under tall plants.
32. Mulch acid-loving plants with pine needles.
33. Add wood ashes around plants that like low-acid soil.
34. Don’t till your soil. Let the earthworms do that.
35. Add compost to the top of your garden beds every year.
36. Grow perennials to absorb carbon and build soil.

Managing Water:

37. Collect and store rainwater.
38. Use drip irrigation to minimize water waste.
39. Space plants closely to shade soil and minimize evaporation.
40. If you must water from overhead, do it in evening or early morning to reduce evaporation.
41. Don’t leave disease-prone plants with wet leaves overnight.

Managing Microclimates, Stretching Gardening Seasons:

42. Use microclimates wisely.
43. Put heat-loving plants like eggplant and pepper in full sun against south-facing walls.
44. Put shade-loving plants like lettuce North of tall plants like asparagus.
45. Extend your growing season with cold frames.
46. You needn’t buy new frames; old storm windows and scrap lumber will do.
47. Make succession plantings to extend your growing season.

Selecting and Saving Seeds:

48. Plant non-GMO seeds.
49. Grow heirloom varieties for biodiversity, flavor and nutrition.
50. Learn to appreciate odd-looking vegetables. Many heirlooms weren’t bred for uniformity.
51. Get seeds from co-ops and seed saver exchanges, or from neighbors.
52. Learn to save your own seeds.
53. Collect seeds from disease-free, quick-growing, productive plants.
54. Label collection date on seeds. Some seeds can last up to five years, and others are best to plant the following year.
55. Start with easy seeds like peas and beans.
56. Work up to saving tomato and lettuce seeds.
57. Wait until you have some experience before trying to save squash and cukes. Then read up on how to prevent cross-pollination.
58. Save garlic cloves and potato tubers, not seeds; these are easy.
59. Only save potatoes if they’re disease-free.

Garden Troubleshooting:

60. Pull weeds before they go to seed.
61. Learn and target your area’s most obnoxious weeds.
62. Don’t use weed killers. Pull weeds by hand, or use flame or boiling water.
63. Use ‘smother crops’ like buckwheat or vetch to outcompete weeds between crops.
64. Rotate crops to minimize diseases.
65. Spray leaves with 1 part milk in 9 parts water to deter harmful fungi.
66. Hand-pick most pest bugs.
67. Put out beer or yeast in shallow dishes to kill slugs.
68. Encircle plant stems with cornmeal to keep cutworms out.
69. Use organic insecticides as a last resort.
70. Attract insects and animals that eat pest bugs.
71. Plant dill, sunflowers and Queen Anne’s lace to attract beneficial insects.
72. Put out water and shade for toads.
73. Offer perches and baths for birds.
74. Attract pollinators–butterflies, bees etc.
75. Have something blooming in your garden for as much of the growing season as possible.
76. Enjoy and use useful weeds.
77. Add nutrient-rich comfrey to your compost.
78. Eat purslane, amaranth, lamb’s quarters, garlic mustard, Jerusalem artichoke tubers.
79. Leave clover to build soil nitrogen–unless it’s smothering your carrots.

Adding Animals:

80. Raise both plants and animals for a more complete ecosystem.
81. Use animal manures (not cat or dog!) in your compost.
82. Feed garden excess to animals.
83. Give goats carrots, kale, spent pea and bean vines.
84. Give pigs the same types of things you can eat.
85. Use a chicken tractor.
86. Remember, pigs can handle overripe produce, sour milk or whey, and cracked eggs.
87. Give rabbits carrots, turnips, beets, parsnips, kale, and pea vines.
88. Give chickens kale, mustards, and amaranth.
89. Give chickens the insect pests you hand-picked.
90. Give any of the above pumpkins and squash.
91. Use garlic as a natural antibiotic and dewormer.
92. Feed livestock garlic leaves and bulbils–they work like garlic cloves.
93. Don’t feed moldy or diseased plants to animals.
94. These are suggestions, not full guidelines. Research before deciding how to feed your animals.

Saving Money in the Garden:

95. Minimize purchases. Consider what you really need.
96. Be wary of trendy new items. Try tools out before buying them.
97. Share tools and equipment with neighbors who can be relied on not to wreck or lose them.
98. Discard as little as possible. Recycle what you can.
99. Use other people’s discards.
100. Get discarded food-grade buckets from grocery stores to make plant pots and animal feeders and waters.
101. Get discarded bread trays for seedling totes. Ask nurseries for used plant pots and seed starter packs.

2014 Electric Cars in the USA: Here’s the new lineup

As the U.S. government continues to promote cleaner vehicles and offer subsidies for both personal and public charging stations as well as for environmentally friendly cars themselves, we expect the number of EVs and their market availability to increase. New additions to dealerships include: Chevrolet Spark EV, Honda Accord plug-in hybrid, Honda FCX Clarity, Porsche Panamera, Smart Electric Drive, Tesla Model X, and Think Electric.

This list includes all vehicles that have a significant all-electric range, both pure EVs and plug-in hybrids. If you are interested in purchasing a non plug-in hybrid, look for our upcoming 2014 U.S. hybrid car lineup.

Note: All retail costs listed exclude federal tax credits. You can find more information about the credits here at the Fuel Efficient Vehicle Tax Incentive Information Center.

Alvarez Electric Motors Company

In the fall of 2013, Alvarez Electric Motors began selling short-range (30-40 miles) all-electric commuter cars, trucks, and vans in select California dealerships. See the story here: Alvarez electric vehicles. The vehicles range in price from $10,000 to $18,000 and have a max speed of 25 mph. The company expects to bring a motorcycle to its lineup shortly.

Courtesy of Audi
Courtesy of Audi

Audi Electric Cars

Audi released several e-Tron plug-in hybrid concept vehicles and consequently scrapped further plans, but these are now officially making their way to the marketplace:

A3 e-Tron – Audi’s A3 sportback plug-in hybrid will be named the A3 e-Tron. A TFSI combustion engine is combined with an electric motor that consumes 0.40 gallons of fuel every 62 miles and provides a range of 542 miles. Sales should begin in early 2014. See more information here: A3 e-Tron sales begin in early 2014.

A4 e-Tron – Originally unveiled as a concept at the Detroit 2010 auto show, this plug-in hybrid sedan may hit production lines in 2014 and be sold as a 2015 model. Expect the electric range to be about 37 miles.

R8 e-Tron – This spring, Audi announced that yes, it will produce an all-electric R8 e-Tron—ten of them precisely—but no, they will not be sold to customers. Here’s more on the R8 e-Tron for testing and development.

Courtesy of BMW
Courtesy of BMW

BMW Electric Cars

i3 – BMW released substantial concept information about the all-electric 170-hp i3. A DC-fast charger can be used to achieve an 80% recharge in about 30 minutes. If the car’s 80-100 mile range isn’t sufficient, the concept offers an optional REx small gasoline engine that will transform the car into a plug-in hybrid. No mention of production or sales for U.S. customers, but UK customers did get a recent i3 test drive.

i8 – BMW also released information about its i8 plug-in hybrid sports car concept. Its 200-hp 3-cylinder engine consumes 0.71 gallons of fuel every 62 miles and can travel 20 miles on electric power alone.

Build Your Dreams (BYD) Electric Cars

Chinese-based BYD electric vehicles are making their way to America, but you probably will not be able to drive one:

E6 – The E6 all-electric hatchback could finally come to America, but in the form of a green taxi or electric rental cars at Hertz.

K9 – Starting in 2014, this electric bus will be produced in California, BYD’s first overseas factory.

Cadillac Electric Cars

ELRCadillac’s ELR is arriving to dealerships in early 2014. The ELR’s lithium-ion battery is nearly identical to the Chevrolet Volt, but has been tweaked to provide an extra 58 horsepower. The electric range is about 35 miles. See this ELR review for more information. Fuel efficiency is not yet rated and the estimated cost is about $70,000.

Chevrolet Electric Cars

Volt – The 2014 Volt model is currently in production and comes with a few slight changes: new color choices, new functionalities, and new convenience features. See more information on 2014 Volt product changes here. No pricing details yet on this plug-in hybrid. 2013 models started at $39,145, got an estimated 38 mpg, and traveled 380 miles on a full charge and full tank of gas. The 2013 Volt can go about 35 on electric power alone.

Spark EV – The Spark is now available at participating California and Oregon dealerships starting at $26,685. Total range when fully charged is 82 miles. A full charge on a 120V charger takes seven hours, while a DC fast-charge station will charge the battery to 80% in 20 minutes. Impressively, the Spark EV generates more torque than other in-class cars, including the Ferrari 458 Italia and Porsche Carrera S.

Chrysler Electric Cars

FIAT 500e – As predicted last year, the FIAT 500e has arrived but is only available at select California FIAT Studios. There are two charging devices: one will recharge the battery to full within 4 hours while the other will give you 9-10 miles of range for every 3 hours of charging (a full charge in under 24 hours). Its range is about 87 miles. The FIAT 500e starts at $31,800 or can be leased for $199 for 36 months.

CODA Electric Cars

CODA Sedan – Despite CODA filing for bankruptcy, California drivers can apparently still get a CODA car for about $38,145 and drive up to 125 miles on a single charge. A two-hour charge will get you going for 50 miles, while 6 hours will fully recharge the battery, depending on charger type. If you must have one and live outside of California, you may be able to put your name on a reservation list at their website for $99.

Courtesy of Commuter Cars
Courtesy of Commuter Cars

Commuter Electric Cars

Tango T600 – Billed as ‘the world’s fastest urban car,’ this two-seater will get you someplace fast: 0-60 in under 4 seconds, to be exact. 2014 brings no changes to this car, which can be charged via a regular A/C outlet and will go 80 miles on a full charge for about $200,000. U.S. consumers receive the kit only—the car is not fully assembled.

Dodge Electric Cars

Dodge is testing out a Lotus-based EV, but no word on whether it will make it to an American market.

Electric Mobile Cars

This American company continues to offer a 7-passenger van, cargo can, and ¼ ton pickup for commercial fleets, but still no word on consumer vehicle offerings.

Fiskar Electric Vehicles

Karma – This luxury electric vehicle sold for $103,000 just years ago but now fails to garner eBay bids above $50,000. The Fiskar company went bankrupt, which halted the design and development of two other Fiskar models: the Surf station wagon and the Atlantic sedan.

Courtesy of Ford Motor Company
Courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford Electric Cars

Fusion Energi – This plug-in hybrid gets an estimated 44/41/43 fuel efficiency rating and can drive about 620 miles fully charged and fueled. A full charge can be obtained overnight using a standard outlet. The electric-only range is 21 miles. The Energi starts at $40,500.

Focus Electric – No change in this year’s Focus, which gets 76 gas-free miles with a top speed of 84mph. The Focus Electric starts at $35,000.

C-Max Energi – Ford’s newest-to-market plug-in hybrid gets a combined 108/92/100 MPGe, the best in class. Drivers will get about 620 miles on a full charge and full tank and the car can be fully charged in under 3 hours (with advanced charger) or overnight using a standard charger. Skip the gasoline and you can go 21 miles on electric power only. The C-Max Energi starts at $33,345.

F-550 – Still no word on Ford’s promised plug-in hybrid diesel option.

Courtesy of American Honda Motor Company
Courtesy of American Honda Motor Company

Honda Electric Cars

Accord Hybrid Plug-in – The newly released Accord Plug-in offers 10 gas-free miles and a fuel efficiency of 47/46. Using a 240-volt charger, the car can be fully recharged in under an hour. It starts at $39,780.

Honda FIT EV – Honda’s second new release is the FIT EV. It can be leased for only $259 for 36 months, which includes a 240-volt home charging system (excluding installation and materials), maintenance costs, and roadside assistance. The 240-volt charger will provide a full range of 82 miles in 3 hours.

FCX Clarity – Honda will offer about 200 fuel-cell electric FCXs in the next three years, primarily in Southern California – areas close to hydrogen refueling stations. Fuel costs about $5/kg and a full tank will take you about 270 miles. A three-year lease costs $600 per month, which includes maintenance costs and physical damage collision coverage.

Hyundai Electric Cars

Hyundai seems to be leaning more toward developing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, claiming electric cars leak energy and are range-challenged. We’ll be interested to see what direction Hyundai takes, but it seems an Hyundai all-electric might be on the horizon soon.

Infiniti Electric Cars

Infiniti announced that it has halted production of its electric luxury Le sedan with the belief that more advanced and cheaper technology will soon be available.

Jaguar Electric Cars

C-X75 – Still just a concept, the plug-in sports car was once slated to start production in 2013. However, Jaguar’s CEO himself said he is not a fan of electric vehicles, denouncing governmental subsidies. This could mean the C-X75, which can run 30 miles on electric power alone, will not see the assembly line for some years. No news on Jaguar’s other concept car, the XJ_e.

Jeep Electric Cars

AMP Jeep Grand Cherokee – Previously, the only way to get an all-electric Jeep Grand Cherokee was through an AMP Electric Vehicle makeover. However, AMP will now only direct conversions to electric medium-sized commercial vehicles.

Kia Electric Vehicle Cars

Keep your eyes out for a potential 2014 Kia Soul all-electric with a range of 120 miles. It could reach speeds of 87 mph and may have a price point of about $35,000.

Land Rover Electric Cars

Range_e – Land Rover has confirmed it will produce a plug-in hybrid Range Rover. The 25-mile electric-range vehicle won’t be available until after 2015, but before 2020. No word on which markets will receive the Range_e.

Mazda Electric Cars

Only two months after ending production of its last rotary-engine powered car, Mazda has announced that it is reopening that plant to bring an extended-range electric vehicle to market in 2014. Instead of propelling the vehicle, the rotary engine will instead act as a generator to charge EV batteries.

Mercedes Electric Cars

B-series – Next year, U.S. dealerships will get Mercedes Tesla-powered EVs with a 115-mile range. If charged with a 240-volt device, the car can go an additional 60 miles in less than two hours. Expect prices in the mid $30,000s.

MINI Electric Cars

MINI E – A MINI field trial is still underway in the Los Angeles and NY/NJ metro area. The MINI E has a range of about 100 miles, a 95 mph top speed and can recharge in about 3 hours.

Courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors
Courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors

Mitsubishi Electric Cars

i-MiEV – The 2012 i-MiEV is still the most current model and features a 62-mile range. Three charging options will provide power in 30 minutes to 22.5 hours. The i-MiEV starts at $29,125.

Nissan Electric Cars

Leaf EV – The 2014 version will get minor changes on the heels of a revised 2013 model. Nissan added a few standard features to the 2014 including RearView Monitor and an updated EV-IT technology information system that includes voice destination entry and SMS readout. The 2013 Leaf offers a range of 75 miles for $28,800. The 2014 model will be available in October 2013.

Porsche Electric Cars

918 Spyder – Three years after the rumors began, a Porsche 918 plug-in hybrid will soon come to market, but don’t expect to snag one: only 918 of these $900,000 vehicles will be made, starting on 9/18. Its V8 engine goes from 0-60 in 2.8 seconds, or in 7 seconds using electric power only. Combine the engine power with electrical output and you’re looking at 887 horsepower and a max speed of 211 mph (93 mph on electricity alone).

Panamera – Porsche’s more affordable and accessible plug-in hybrid is arriving this summer, but will set you back $99,000. Its high-voltage battery is recharged in about 2.5 hours using a 240-volt charger. Its electric-only range is 22 miles and the 416-hp V6 engine hits a max speed of about 83mph. No word yet from Porsche regarding the Panamera’s fuel economy.

Scion Electric Cars

iQ EV – Ninety of Scion’s iQs have arrived in the U.S., but only for campus and car-sharing purposes. There are no talks to release EVs to consumers at this time.

Smart Electric Cars

Electric Drive – This two-seater commuter car is now available for pre-ordering. Pricing starts at $25,000 or $199 for 36 months. A fully charged battery will take you 68 miles and if using a 240-volt charger, your car will be ready to go in 6 hours.

Subaru Electric Cars

Subaru has announced plans to release its first Subaru plug-in hybrid that can travel up to 25 miles before relying on a gas engine. This could be a limited release compliance car.

Courtesy of Telsa Motors
Courtesy of Telsa Motors

Tesla Electric Cars

Model S – No changes on the 2014 Model S, which can go up to 265 miles on a single charge. The Model S starts at $579 per month.

Model X – Tesla is now taking reservations for the Model X SUV, which will be delivered in 2014. Innovative features include falcon wings, which provides easy access to third-row seating. Like the Model S, options include a 60 or 85 kWh engine, which can hit 60 mph in under 5 seconds. The reservation fee is $5,000, but no pricing details have been released.

Further, Tesla has confirmed that a smaller electric vehicle will be released in the $30,000 range about 3-4 years after Model X.

Think Electric Cars

Reservations for a Think Electric vehicle are still being accepted in select states and pricing is based on geographic area. The car can reach 100 miles on a full charge.

Toyota Electric Cars

Prius Plug-in Hybrid – The Prius plug-in has received no changes for 2014. It offers 11 gas-free miles and a combined fuel efficiency of about 50. The 2013 model starts at $32,000.

RAV4 EV – California residents can now purchase the RAV4 EV SUV for $49,800. A full charge will cover 103 miles at a max speed of 100 mph. Charge times range from 5 hours to 52 hours, depending on charger type.

Volkswagen Electric Cars

Volkswagen doesn’t offer any EVs in the U.S., but overseas drivers will soon be able to purchase the E-UP! In 2014 expect the e-Golf to be released in the U.S. as the manufacturer aspires to become a leader in electric vehicle production.

Wheego Electric Vehicles

LiFe – No change to the 100-mile capacity car, which can charge from 50% to 100% using a 240-volt charger in five hours. It’s available for $32,995.

Volvo Electric Cars

No U.S. EVs just yet, but that doesn’t mean Volvo isn’t interested in the technology. They have worked with Siemens to develop a new fast-charge system that cuts charge time down to 90 minutes. In addition, they are exploring alternative EV strategies including electric roads to power battery-free EVs.

2014 Hybrid Cars in the USA: See the new lineup

The U.S. hybrid vehicle market is expanding rapidly as lower prices make the initial investment a more attractive long-term investment for buyers. New to the market are the Audi Q5, Honda Accord, Infinity Q50, Infinity QX60, Mercedes-Benz E400, and Subaru XV Crosstrek, with several others to debut in 2014.

Our list includes cars, SUVs/CUVs, and pickups. If you are in the market for a plug-in hybrid, see our 2014 electric vehicle list.

Courtesy of Acura
Courtesy of Acura

Acura Hybrids

ILX hybrid – No changes to Acura’s only hybrid sedan, launched in 2013. The ILX gets 39/38/38 mpg and retains its starting price of $29,000.

RLX – The RLZ’s hybrid engine is not yet offered but may arrive to dealerships this fall as a 2014 sedan option. No specs have been released yet.

Audi Hybrids

Q5 hybrid – The Q5 hybrid CUV was released last fall. Pricing for the 2013 starts at $50,900 and the Q5 hybrid maintains an average of 24/30/26 mpg. It does not appear that any changes will be included in the 2014 model. However, similar to other Audi models, anticipate a price hike to $51,300 for 2014.

A6 hybrid – The Audi A6 hybrid sedan will enter the U.S. market a bit later than expected: sometime in 2014. Reports claim that the anticipated fuel economy rating should be about 44 combined mpg. No word yet on pricing.

Courtesy of BMW of North America
Courtesy of BMW of North America

BMW Hybrids

ActiveHybrid 3 – No changes to this model, which was redesigned for 2013. The sedan hybrid gets 25/33/28 mpg and starts at $49,700.

ActiveHybrid 5 – New for 2013, this midsize sedan gets 30 highway mpg and starts at $61,400. A slight mid-cycle revision may appear in 2014 5-series models, but no word if that will transfer over to the ActiveHybrid 5.

ActiveHybrid 7 – Like the ActiveHybrid 3, this luxury sedan was revamped in 2013 and starts at $84,300. Also like the ActiveHybrid 5, it gets 30 highway mpg. The 7-series 2015 models will be redesigned, particularly where vehicle weight is concerned, but no word on whether this will affect the hybrid model.

Some believe that BMW’s next hybrid move, whose lineup is currently devoid of a hybrid SUV/CUV, might take the form of an hybrid X5.

Courtesy of Buick: General Motors
Courtesy of Buick: General Motors

Buick Hybrids

LaCrosse with e-Assist – The new 2014 model, slated for fall sales, will come standard with Buick’s IntelliLink infotainment system and will offer subscription-based XM Travel Link. New interior and exterior touches are present, along with enhanced safety features. Details haven’t been released yet, but the 2013 model got 25/36 mpg and started at $31,660.

Regal with e-Assist – A redesigned Regal will hit markets this fall and comes standard with e-Assist. New interior and exterior safety and technology features are included, similar to the LaCrosse. The 2014 will also include a new 259-hp turbo engine and available AWD. No word yet on pricing or fuel efficiency, but the 2013 regal gets 19/31 mpg and starts at $29,015.

Cadillac Hybrids

Escalade hybrid – The Escalade hybrid will be discontinued for 2014 as it makes way for an all-new 2015 Escalade model. The outgoing 2013 hybrid model starts at $74,425 and gets 20/23.

SRX – An SRX hybrid option may be available when the re-designed SRX enters the market in 2015. The same source also hints at a potential hybrid XTS for the 2015 model release.

Chevrolet Hybrids

Silverado hybrid – This year, the V8 Silverado pickup comes with an optional ECOTEC hybrid engine that packs 332-hp. 2WD models get 23 highway mpg while 4WD models get 22 highway mpg. The Silverado hybrid starts at $32,200.

Tahoe hybrid – The 2013 Tahoe SUV gets the same mpg and offers the same horsepower as the Silverado. Its base price is $53,620. A 2014 Tahoe hybrid model may include a lower curb weight, increasing the Tahoe hybri’s fuel efficiency even more.

Chrysler Hybrids

Still no definitive word on a Chrysler’s first possible U.S. hybrid and whether that will come in the highly-anticipated form of a 300.

Dodge Hybrids

Still no U.S. hybrids on the horizon for Dodge.

Courtesy of Ford Motor Company
Courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford Hybrids

Fusion hybrid – Redesigned in 2013, no major changes to the 2014 model, which gets 47/47 mpg and starts at $27,391.

C-Max hybrid – Released last year, there will be no changes in 2014. The C-Max hybrid also gets 47/47 and starts at $25,200, or can be leased for $239 for two years, which may be when we see the C-Max’s design refreshed.

GMC Hybrids

Yukon hybrid – A 2014 Yukon hybrid model may have been spotted (or is that a Chevrolet Tahoe?) that sports a new platform and powertrain. The 2013 model starts at $54,154 while the Yukon Denali hybrid starts at $61,960. Both models get 20/23 mpg, but expect this rating to increase in the 2014 model if the powertrain is upgraded sufficiently and vehicle weight lowered.

Sierra 1500 hybrid – The Sierra has been redesigned for 2014, featuring a more comfortable and refined interior including high-quality seat foam, as well as added conveniences to the center console, a USB port, and improved rear-seat legroom on certain models. The 2014 Sierra hybrid gets 18/24 mpg and starts at $32,700.

Courtesy of American Honda Motor Company
Courtesy of American Honda Motor Company

Honda Hybrids

Insight – Changes are expected to the 2014 Insight. Speculated are engine enhancements and a smaller frame–upping the fuel efficiency–and also a lower price. The 2013 model has a fuel economy rating of 41/44 mpg and starts at $18,600.

Civic hybrid sedan – The Civic hybrid’s recent changes mirror the 2013 updates to the entire Civic line, including premium design elements and cosmetic interior touches. The 2014 Civic hybrid remains unchanged and gets 32 mpg combined (automatic). The Civic hybrid starts at $24,360.

CR-Z sport hybrid – The 2014 model has received some updates including an upgraded battery pack, which increases the horsepower by 8 for a total of 138-hp. Exterior changes are minimal but the CR-Z now features a rear spoiler. No word on the fuel efficiency or pricing of the 2014 model. The 2013 gets 36/39 mpg and starts at $19,975.

Accord hybrid – The Accord hybrid will arrive to dealerships this October, offering a projected fuel efficiency of 47 mpg combined. No word yet on pricing.

Hyundai Hybrids

Sonata hybrid – 2014 model redesigns are confirmed, but details have not yet been released. We expect changes that increase the car’s fuel efficiency, currently at 35/40. The 2013 Sonata hybrid starts at $25,650.

Infiniti Hybrids

M hybrid – A redesign is planned for 2014 to incorporate a more sleek, refined exterior appearance. We don’t expect any changes to the 2014 model, however, which gets 32 highway mpg and starts at $48,700.

Q50 hybridInfinity has announced pricing for their hybrid sedan that features a 328-hp V6 engine that is estimated to achieve 36 highway mpg. Pricing starts around $44,000 and cars will be available at U.S. dealers this summer.

QX60 hybrid – The QX60 V6 hybrid CUV will hit dealerships this summer. Infinity has not released the fuel efficiency rating but already claims it will be “best-in-class.” Speculation suggests we’ll see a 26 mpg combined fuel rating and anticipated starting price around $45,000.

Jaguar Hybrids

Several hybrid models are currently in testing, including the C-X16, C-X75, and XJ, but none have been slated for production.

Jeep Hybrids

Jeep is not offering any hybrid vehicles at this time.

Kia Hybrids

Optima hybrid – The Optima was updated for 2013, so no changes for 2014. This hybrid gets 37-38 combined mpg depending on trim and starts at $25,900.

Land Rover Hybrids

Range Rover Diesel-hybrid – Not only will European drivers get to experience a 3.0-liter diesel-hybrid Range Rover, American drivers will, too. The Range Rover will arrive at overseas dealerships sometime after 2013, with American sales to follow.

Courtesy of Lexus
Courtesy of Lexus

Lexus Hybrids

ES 300h hybrid – The ES sedan, released last year, offers 200 total horsepower and still achieves a 40/39 mpg. The 300h starts at $39,250 and the 2014 model will see modest changes, including an updated front grille.

CT 200h hybrid – This sporty hatchback comes in two trims and both get 43/40 mpg. The CT200h starts at $32,050 while the CT F Sport starts at $33,050. The CT is only one of two Lexus models that has not yet been fully upgraded, so a 2014 refresh may be in the works.

RX 450h hybrid – This hybrid CUV packs a total of 295 horsepower and received a cosmetic update for its 2013 model. It achieves 32/28 and starts at $46,310. Anticipate a redesigned 2015 model (including potential engine efficiency upgrade) to arrive at dealerships in early 2014.

GS 450h hybrid – No word on changes to this sedan, which was redesigned last year. The 2013-2014 model gets 29/34 mpg and starts at $59,450.

LS 600h L hybrid – A V8 engine and electric motor provides 438 total horsepower to this luxury hybrid. With no 2014 model changes, the sedan gets 19/23 mpg and comes with a heftier price tag of $119,910.

NX 300h hybrid – Lexus officials have indicated that a Lexus compact hybrid SUV will be forthcoming, but have yet to announce whether the vehicle will be sold in the U.S.

Lincoln Hybrids

MKZ hybrid – Lincoln’s only hybrid remains the MKZ, which was redesigned for 2013. The 2013 model now gets 45/45 mpg and remains at the same price point of $35,925. Lincoln expects the MKZ to be a successful competitor in the hybrid market and therefore has recently announced a 50% increase in production of the Lincoln hybrid 2014 model, which shares the same price as its non-hybrid twin.

Mazda Hybrids

While a Mazda3 hybrid has been announced, it will only be sold in the Japanese market. Mazda has no U.S. hybrid models for sale.

Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz
Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz Hybrids

E400 hybrid – The latest Mercedes hybrid is now at dealerships. A V6, 3.5-L engine combined with electric motor achieves 329 total horsepower. Fuel efficiency is rated at 24/30 mpg and pricing starts at $56,700.

S400 hybrid – The Mercedes 2014 S-series sedan is receiving an update, including a redesigned exterior, technological upgrades, and enhanced safety features. No word on fuel efficiency or pricing, but the 2013 S400 hybrid started at $92,350 and got 19/25 mpg.

Porsche Hybrids

Cayenne S hybrid – The Cayenne SUV is due for a mid-cycle facelift in 2014, which includes technical updates, styling changes, and a plug-in hybrid trim. Expect the redesigned vehicle to debut as a 2015 model. The 2013-2014 model gets 22 highway mpg and sells for $66,800.

Panamera – The Panamera S hybrid has been discontinued for 2014 and replaced by a Panamera plug-in hybrid model.

Scion Hybrids

Scion officials indicated that a hybrid powertrain is a possibility for the FR-S mid-cycle update.

Courtesy of Subaru of America
Courtesy of Subaru of America

Subaru Hybrids

XV Crosstrek – Subaru is bringing its first hybrid to U.S. dealerships this fall: the 2014 XV Crosstrek. The hybrid SUV is rumored to get 10% better fuel economy than its gasoline-only model. No indication on pricing just yet.

Toyota Hybrids

Avalon hybrid – The Avalon hydrid line will be fully redesigned to incorporate a trendier, more sleek body. Technological upgrades are also incorporated. No indication if the powertrain will be upgraded, but the three 2013 hybrid trims get 40/39/40 and start at $35,555.

Camry hybrid – The 2014 Camry may be up for some mid-cycle updates such as color choices or minor performance/equipment changes as Toyota prepares for a 2015 model upgrade. The 2013 model gets 25/35 mpg and starts at $22,235.

Highlander hybrid – The Highlander SUV has been fully updated for 2014 although no prices or fuel efficiency ratings are available yet. In line with the Avalon, the Highlander’s exterior has lost some of its boxiness in favor of a sleeker look. Interior changes include alternative fabrics and increased interior legroom for the third row. No indication of pricing or fuel efficiency. The 2013 Highlander achieved 20/25 mpg and started at $29,020.

Prius – Details of the 2014—or possibly 2015—Prius model are sketchy, and conflicting at best, with some sources indicating little external change and others indicating a massive exterior redesign. More importantly, expect a 2015 hybrid powertrain upgrade that may reach up to 60 mpg combined. The 2013 model gets 51/48 and starts at $24,200.

Prius c – There is no definitive evidence that the city-oriented Prius c hatchback, which gets a slightly better 53/46 fuel efficiency rating than the Prius, will receive a facelift for 2014. The 2013 model starts at $19,080.

Prius v – Like the Prius, the largest Prius model could follow suit and get a 2015 facelift. The v models hatchback gets 44/40 mpg and starts at $26,650.

Volkswagen Hybrids

Jetta hybrid – The Jetta hybrid was released last year and therefore may get minor changes, if any. The 2013 sedan gets 42/48 mpg and starts at $24,995.

Toureg hybrid –The redesigned 2014 model is now available, but contains no anticipated powertrain changes. The 2014 model gets 24/28 mpg and packs 380 horsepower. It starts at $64,170.

Volvo Hybrids

Although Volvo offers a plug-in hybrid model, no future hybrids are planned.

BNSF, Second Largest Consumer of Diesel Fuel, Looks at Switching to CNG

train

Did you know that BNSF, the railway company owned by Warren Buffet’s Birkshire Hathaway, is probably the second largest purchaser of diesel fuel in the United States, coming in only after the US Navy?

That’s a lot of diesel fuel.

With diesel prices near $4 per gallon, and natural gas (CNG) at around half of that price, the savings from switching to CNG on such a large scale become quite large.

The Wall Street Journal reports that BNSF has at least 6,900 existing locomotives that run on diesel now, which means that it could be quite expensive to convert them all. However, BNSF is working with General Electric and Caterpillar to make an engine that can run on both diesel and natural gas.

Aside from the fuel savings, another big incentive for BNSF to switch to natural gas is to be able to meet new federal air pollution standards that will hit around 2015.

One of the biggest challenges of converting diesel 18 wheelers over to natural gas is the cost of building the infrastructure to have fueling stations everywhere they would be needed. With trains, it is much, much easier to solve this problem, because trains always go on a predetermined route. So you could build fewer refueling stations and still keep everything going.

However you feel about fracking, it looks like natural gas can make a significant difference in both CO2 emissions and air pollution in general.

In fact, CO2 emissions have dramatically dropped by nearly 12 percent over the past five years, reaching levels that we haven’t seen since 1996. This is attributed largely to the switch from electric power generators moving from coal to natural gas.

2014 Diesel Cars in the USA: Here’s What’s Available

While the demand for U.S. diesel vehicles cannot match that of the overseas market, development and sales of diesel cars, CUVs, and SUVs are taking off in the States as a fuel efficient alternative to hybrid and electric vehicles, although lagging them when it comes to air quality.

The three biggest reasons why diesel automobile sales lag in the US seem to be related to the memory of terrible diesels of the 1970s, the higher cost of diesel fuel (and the engine itself) compared to gasoline, and the clean diesel requirements that make for a much lower number of diesel engines that can pass our strict air quality rules here.

We’ve looked at current and potential diesel models from all the major car manufacturers to track where this promising industry is headed.

New additions to the 2014 lineup include the Audi A8L, Audi Q5, Audi A6, Audi A7, BMW 328d, BMW 535d, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Mercedes E250 BlueTEC, Mercedes ML250 BlueTEC, and Volkswagen Beetle TDI convertible.

You can read our previous coverage of diesel cars and trucks available in the US in 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009. (Wow, we’ve been writing about this for a long time!)