4 Weird Ways to Use Your Spent Coffee Grounds

coffee grounds

Enjoying a delicious cup of home brewed coffee is a perfect way to begin the day. But after making the coffee, what is the best thing to do with spent coffee grounds? Coffee drinkers go through a lot of coffee, and if you make it at home, then you end up with a lot of grounds to dispose of.

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Shade Grown Coffee: Why It Matters

shade grown coffee growing

Coffee has received a bad rap recently because of the adverse environmental effects of many modern coffee plantations. For those of us who enjoy sipping our favorite brew, this is disheartening news. Fortunately, more traditional methods of shaded coffee cultivation are beginning to see use again.

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Is Tesla a good family car?

Question: I’m looking at new cars and I love the idea of an electric vehicle. But my car needs to work well as a family car. Is Tesla a good family car?

Answer: That’s exciting to hear that you’re thinking of going electric. Tesla is the best known and top selling electric car in the US for a good reason. It’s an awesome car.

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ChargePoint Home Flex vs. Tesla Wall Connector Home Charger: A Guide

So you own a Tesla or maybe more than one electric car, and you’re wondering which high speed home charger you should purchase – the ChargePoint Home Flex or the Tesla Wall Connector generation 3. Let’s compare the options, and then I’ll show you why I ended up buying the ChargePoint Home Flex.

Here’s the quick summary, if you don’t want to read all the details.

Both chargers are Level 2 240 volt high speed charging stations that can charge your Tesla at the fastest rate it can currently accept from a home charger, assuming you have it wired at maximum capacity (which is based on installation and your breaker box).

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What is Tesla chill mode?

When test driving a Tesla a few weeks ago, I was able to try out several different driving settings during my test drive. One of the settings that I tested out was called Chill Mode.

What is Tesla’s chill mode, exactly? Well, if you’ve driven or ridden in a Tesla, you’re probably aware that the electric motors (often dual motor in many models) are incredibly powerful and provide instant torque and crazy fast acceleration. The zero to 60 times vary between models, but really all of the Tesla models including the S, X and Model 3 at every performance level are very fast cars.

Teslas can accelerate so quickly that it can be alarming for passengers in the car. The incredible acceleration potential also tends to fuel impatience in traffic if you have a tendency toward road rage and you’re stuck behind a slow driver.

Chill mode basically reduces the amount of acceleration that the car gives you when you hit the accelerator pedal. It makes the car drive much more like a regular fast sedan and not so much like a powerful supercar. This means you can drive your friends and family around without scaring them to death, and also keep your own acceleration to a reasonable level when you’re driving alone.

Chill acceleration in a Tesla definitely does not make the car slow. YouTube videos will show you that a Tesla Model 3 Performance can still hit zero to 60 mph in around 6.6 seconds in Chill Model, versus under 4 seconds with the regular settings.

In general, if you look at the zero to 60 time of your specific Tesla model, you should expect chill mode to approximately double that time. Which is still plenty fast, by the way!

To give you an example, I gunned it from a red light, turning right onto a busier street. Chill mode got me right up to speed in my lane with no problems, but I didn’t feel like I was wearing out the tires by gunning it from a stop into a turn.

Does Chill Mode increase range?

Chill mode isn’t designed as a setting to increase range. However, it’s possible that you can use it that way. When you use chill mode in combination with standard “hypermiling” to increase your driving efficiency, you’re certain to extend your range this way.

What else can you use Chill Model for with a Tesla?

Many Tesla drivers report that chill mode is very helpful if you are driving in slippery situations such as ice, snow and rain. The reduced acceleration helps prevent your wheels from slipping out when you hit the accelerator pedal.

How do you use chill mode in your Tesla?

5 easy ways to make your car more environmentally friendly

If you’re reading this post in the United States, chances are pretty good that you own and drive a car.

It’s an unfortunate reality that it’s nearly impossible to reasonably get around without one if you are outside of a major metropolitan area with a good transit system, like New York, Chicago, Boston, etc.

So what’s a driver who cares about the environment to do to make driving and owning a car as green as possible? There are literally dozens of things you can do, but it starts to get overwhelming to list them all. And when people start to get overwhelmed they tend not to take any action at all. I know it happens to me all the time.

So I’ve decided to give you some low hanging fruit, with these 5 easy tips that require very little time, motivation or effort.

Read them, and then do something!

1. Check your tire pressure.

How can something so simple be so consistently overlooked? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 44 million people are driving around right now with underinflated tires!

Even worse, 85 percent of people who do check their tire pressure probably aren’t doing it correctly, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association.

Learn how to check your car tire pressure correctly at Safercar.gov.

Keeping your tires properly inflated will give you around 3 percent better gas mileage, so you’ll be saving money too.

2. Get rid of the junk in your trunk.

Did you know that every extra 100 pounds of stuff that you are hauling around in the trunk of your car or the back of your wagon or SUV is reducing your gas mileage by up to 2 percent?

What are you dragging around in the back of your car right now that you could unload?

3. Don’t leave your car running when you aren’t driving.

This one infuriates me. I see it all the time at my local Starbucks. People just leave their car running while they go inside for five minutes to order and prepare their drink. What’s the point? We have a serious air pollution problem here in Dallas, and cars idling for no reason are not helping.

An idling car is getting ZERO miles to the gallon by definition.

And beside being bad for your gas mileage and bad for the environment, it’s just plain dangerous if you’re in a garage. Stationary vehicles are the largest source of unintentional, non-fire related fatalities, according to the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

When you stop your car for longer than a red light, just turn it off.

4. Don’t spill gasoline when filling up your tank.

It’s not just burning gasoline that causes environmental issues. Spilling gas and letting it evaporate are both big problems.

Here’s what the EPA has to say.

Gasoline vapors are harmful to you and the environment. Not only are they toxic to breathe, they contribute to ozone formation in the atmosphere. Since gasoline vapor production increases during the hot summer months, it is important to be careful when refueling your vehicle. Here are some simple measures you can take at the gas station:

Need more convincing? Here are some facts from the Alliance for Proper Gasoline Handling.

A rough estimate of hydrocarbon emissions from gasoline spillage alone is approximately 28,000 tons per year nationwide.

These releases contribute, at least in part, to the United States Geologic Society (USGS) estimate that more than 40 million people use groundwater that contains at least one volatile organic compound, many of which are components of gasoline.

5. When it’s time for a new car, go green.

You don’t have to buy a hybrid to go green. The EPA has this terrific resource for the greenest automobiles in every category.

Treehugger also has a great resource page on greening your automobile.

Worried about whether it is more environmentally friendly to keep your current car or switch to something that gets better gas mileage? Well guess what! Someone has done the math for you.

Did we miss one of your favorite tips? If so, leave a comment!

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.

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!)

Continue reading “2014 Diesel Cars in the USA: Here’s What’s Available”

2013 Diesel Cars in the USA: Here’s the Lineup

Thinking about buying a new 2013 diesel car and looking at the options? We’re here to help.

Diesel offerings continue to gain ground. New for 2013 are the BMW 33d Sports Wagon, Chevy Cruze Diesel sedan, Mercedes GL250 BlueTEC SUV,  Porsche Cayenne Diesel SUV, and the Volkswagen Beetle TDI. With tougher diesel emissions standards being implemented in Europe in 2014, we may see even more diesel engines crossing over the Atlantic to U.S. shores in the near future.

Continue reading “2013 Diesel Cars in the USA: Here’s the Lineup”

2013 Hybrid Cars in the USA: Here’s the Lineup

2013 Acura ILX hybrid
Acura ILX hybrid – courtesy of Acura

Wondering what’s in store for 2013 hybrid vehicles? There are plenty in the works for 2013 and beyond. New vehicles being introduced include the Acura ILX Hybrid, Audi Q5 Hybrid, BMW ActiveHybrid 3, Chevy Malibu Eco, Ford C-MAX Hybrid, Lexus ES 300h, Mercedes E400 Hybrid, Toyota Prius C and Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid. Note that we only cover traditional hybrids in this article. If you’re looking for plug-in hybrids, check out our 2013 Electric Cars in the USA article.

Acura Hybrid Cars

ILX Hybrid – (39 city /38 highway MPG) The 2013 ILX is Acura’s first hybrid car. The sedan shares the same engine as the Honda Civic Hybrid, but it doesn’t achieve the same gas mileage. Pricing starts at $29,000 and it is already in showrooms.

RLX Hybrid – Acura’s second hybrid is scheduled to arrive in early 2013. It is expected to have 370 HP and get 30/30 MPG. Pricing will be north of $50,000.

 

Audi Hybrid Vehicles

Q5 Hybrid – Audi introduces its first hybrid to the U.S. this fall with the Q5 crossover SUV. EPA fuel economy ratings are not yet available but it should be somewhere around 34 MPG combined. Pricing is expected to be around $50,000.

A6 Hybrid – The hybrid version of the A6 sedan is also supposed to arrive this fall. It is expected to return about 35 MPG combined and have a price north of $55,000.

Audi has an A8 Hybrid debuting in Europe but does not appear to have plans to bring it to the U.S. Continue reading “2013 Hybrid Cars in the USA: Here’s the Lineup”

2013 Electric Cars in the USA: Here’s the Lineup


The number of electric car offerings continue to grow at a rapid pace. The options are getting more diverse and the price is coming down a bit. Just 7 EVs were available in 2011, but there will be 16 by the end of 2012 and an additional 19 models are scheduled for 2013 and beyond. New models launching this summer and fall include the Audi R8 E-Tron, Fiat 500 EV, Ford C-MAX Energi, Honda Fit EV, Smart ED, Tesla Model S, Toyota Prius Plug-in, and the Toyota RAV4 EV.

A few notes on the cars and stats listed here:

* This list includes all vehicles that have a significant all-electric range, both pure EVs and plug-in hybrids. If you’re looking for non-plug-in hybrids, look for our upcoming 2013 Hybrid Cars in the USA article.

* The electric range is an extremely variable number, and often the manufacturer quotes the range under “ideal” conditions (low speed, flat roads, moderate temperatures, no heat or A/C on). Be aware that the range can change significantly in not-so-ideal conditions. The Nissan Leaf website has a good explanation on range (click the colored squares for different conditions). The Leaf’s range goes from 138 to 62 depending on conditions!

* The battery charging times are also extremely variable, depending on how high the voltage is, and whether they are quoting time from 0-100% charge, or 20-80% charge, or something in between. Wherever possible, the times we quote are from 0-100% from a dedicated 240-volt outlet.

* Pricing is given before any tax credits. You can view information on federal tax incentives here, and state tax incentives here.

 

Alvarez Electric Motors

This fledgling California company has announced they will be offering three inexpensive, Chinese-built EVs. All have a short range and top speed of only 25 MPH. But the price is nice: $10,000 for a 2-seater, $17,000 for a van and $18,000 for a truck. Their first dealership is opening in Irvine, CA, in August.

 

Audi Electric Vehicles

A3 E-Tron – Audi brought 17 test models of its plug-in electric car to U.S. cities this summer, but it looks like it won’t be hitting showrooms until 2014. It is expected to have 134 horsepower, a top speed of 89 MPH and a 92-mile range.

R8 E-Tron – The plug-in version of Audi’s R8 high-end sports car is expected to go on sale this fall. It has set electric car speed records and is reported to go from 0-60 in 4.6 seconds, with a 124 MPH top speed and  a 134-mile range.

Plans for electric versions of the A1 and A2 have been discontinued. Continue reading “2013 Electric Cars in the USA: Here’s the Lineup”

Why Buy an Electric Car? 7 Reasons to Consider

 

Nissan Leaf electric car
CC Flickr photo of a Nissan Leaf courtesy of mah-japan.

There’s a lot of hype about the green reasons to drive electric cars, as well as the debate between upfront cost and eventual savings. While social responsibility and reducing your carbon footprint is clear reasoning for some, practical logic makes better sense to others. If you are considering joining the electric vehicle conversation, here are a few smart starter tips from an EV driver.

Forget Oil Strikes and Prices

Unlike gasoline-powered vehicles, your daily commute isn’t effected by oil strikes or high gas prices if you are driving an electric automobile. You won’t spend another dime at the fuel pump, and forget about funding oil corporations in countries overseas. The fluctuating costs other people deal with aren’t any of your concern, and gas stations and convenience stores are just a faint memory.

Drive Despite a Natural Disaster

When Hurricane Sandy struck, havoc began for New York and New Jersey drivers. The gasoline supply ran low, power failures disabled gas pumps and trucks had trouble bringing any fuel in for a long time. Electric car drivers, though, were left “unfazed,” reports The New York Times. Instead of charging up at home, electric vehicle owners juiced up at public charging stations in unaffected areas close to home.

Low to No Maintenance

Forget about air filters, oil changes, spark plug replacements and broken fan belts because electric cars don’t have them. Even the brakes last longer than conventional vehicles on electric cars, according to Discovery.com, because of the regenerative braking technique that they use. Instead of applying mechanical friction, the car reverses the electric motor to slow down, meaning less wear and tear. Though lithium-ion batteries do lose capacity over time, Phoenix Nissan and Chevy dealers have enough confidence in their battery technology to offer extensive warranties for the LEAF and Volt batteries.

They’re Within Your Range

Critics are quick to point out the limited driving range of an electric car compared to conventional gas-powered vehicles, causing “range anxiety.” But consider this: the average American travels about 20 to 40 miles a day, according to bts.gov. Most new generation electric cars boast 100 miles per charge. With all of the perks, benefits and incentives that come with driving a fully electric car, range confidence is high on the list. And let’s face it, most families are two car households anyway. If one of the vehicles is electric and the other is not, then the driving range issue is practically non-existent.

Boost the Local Economy

Dependence on foreign oil puts the U.S. in a difficult situation. Using electricity, on the other hand, can boost the local economy. Home grown, so to speak, electricity in America comes from burning coal and natural gas, and is also being generated through renewable sources such as wind. Power plants have sophisticated emissions systems in place, so the power that comes from a power plant will generally be drastically cleaner than creating the power with an individual internal combustion engine when it comes to affecting local air quality.

Fill Up at Home

In less time than it takes for you to get your beauty sleep, your EV can obtain a full charge in the comfort of your own garage. Using a professionally installed home charging dock, electric cars receive juice from a 240v current wired straight from your electrical panel. Nothing beats waking up each morning to a full “tank.”

Incentives and Perks

Federal and local governments are backing electric cars, offering tax rebates and other incentives to electric car drivers. If driving electric didn’t already look attractive, it does now. Expect to not only get a rebate at time of purchase, but also perks like free parking, reduced registration fees and HOV-lane privileges.

See our list of electric cars available in the USA for 2013.

Do you drive an electric car? Did you consider an electric car and buy something else instead? Leave a comment!

How to Buy Eco Friendly Paint

Eco-Friendly Paints
CC flickr photo courtesy of ewan and donabel

Painting the interior of your home should be a wonderful experience. It makes everything look new again, brightens up a room, and helps you create the ambiance you envision. Common commercial paints can do all that, but at the same time cause dangerous problems from fumes that can harm both you and the environment.

What Is Eco-Friendly Paint?

Eco-friendly paints are specifically designed to do everything those other paints do, but without the toxic fumes. The most common fumes, known as VOCs (volatile organic compounds), are not only present while the paint is drying, but can last long after the paint is applied. In fact, paints that contain VOCs can release those toxins into the air for years after application.

See our previous post about our own use of no VOC paint in a construction project.

In addition to VOCs, there are other ingredients to be wary of as well. Ammonia, acetone and formaldehyde are often used in paint products and are toxic, but are not covered under the EPA’s VOC rating. Read your labels carefully when choosing your home’s paint. Check the ingredients that are used to extend the shelf life of most commercial paints. Mold-inhibitors, biocides and fungicides can also off-gas chemicals for years. These chemicals can impact your air quality and can contribute to breathing problems.

Continue reading “How to Buy Eco Friendly Paint”

2012 Hybrid Cars in the USA: Here’s the Lineup


Update: We have now published the 2013 Hybrid Cars in the USA article.

In the market for a vehicle and thinking about buying a new hybrid car? 2012 is shaping to be an important year in the story of hybrid vehicles, as almost every major manufacturer will be offering, releasing, or announcing a hybrid product.

While the Tohuku earthquake in Japan has affected 2011 plans, the Japanese are muscling ahead with 2012 hybrid launches. The Germans have finally entered the hybrid market in a serious way, with BMW, Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche all offering a hybrid product – especially on their SUVs. Of the domestic manufacturers, GM is still evolving their hybrid full-size SUVs, but is readying some car hybrids for 2012 that should give Ford’s dominance in domestic hybrid sales a strong challenge. Chrysler’s recent reorganization with Fiat means hybrid drivetrains won’t be expected from them until 2013 however.

The most exciting thing about the 2012 lineup is that hybrid technology has been embraced by the mainstream as an important way of improving the environmental impact of car usage. One study predicts that all new cars will have some level of hybridization by 2020.

So here is the lineup of 2012’s hybrid cars, SUVs, minivans and pickups. Please note that we define hybrid vehicles as ones that have a drivetrain that can be powered by its gasoline engine. See our 2012 Electric Car Lineup for vehicles with drivetrains powered only by their electric motor.

Audi Hybrids

Audi, as part of the massive VW universe (along with Porsche, Bentley, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Skoda and Seat) has committed resources for hybrid models after witnessing their success here. While European markets are still more interested in diesel engines, Americans have been clamoring – and will now get – hybridized Audis, albeit slowly. Audi continues to maintain, though, that diesels are the superior engine of choice for efficiency.

2012 Hybrid Cars USA
2012 Audi Q5 Hybrid

Q5 Hybrid Quattro car – The first Audi hybrid car to reach our shores for sale, the Q5 mates a compact crossover body with an efficient all-wheel drivetrain. Utilizing a 208hp 4-cylinder engine as its base, Audi mates a 44hp electric motor to give its first hybrid the scoot of the V6 (0-60 in 7 flat) with economy better than the base 4 (an estimated 33 MPG combined). Audi claims the Q5 is able to run for almost 2 miles on electricity alone at speeds under 62 MPH, but few reviewers have been able to achieve that. Expect a 15% price premium, at an estimated MSRP of $48,000 when it goes on sale.

 

A6 Hybrid car (2012 or 2013) – At the January 2011 Detroit auto show, Audi unveiled an A6 sedan with a hybrid powertrain borrowed from the Q5. Despite the combination being showroom ready, Audi has not released an on-sale date for the hybrid sedan. Continue reading “2012 Hybrid Cars in the USA: Here’s the Lineup”

2012 Electric Cars in the USA: Here’s the Lineup


Mitsubishi MiEV electric car
Mitsubishi MiEV

Update: Our 2013 Electric Cars in the USA article is now available.

In the market for a vehicle and thinking about buying a new electric car in 2012? Electric vehicles (EVs) are coming into their own, and 2012 is a great year to be considering one.

While Nissan and Chevrolet are the mainstream muscle making up the meat of 2011’s electric car sales, newcomers like Tesla are still surging forward, with sales of over 1500 of its revolutionary Roadster model. Strong sales of conventional luxury cars and increased consumer interest in alternative energy have given confidence to the major luxury brands to develop electric vehicles. Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Infiniti and even Rolls Royce have shown a commitment to releasing electric automobiles in 2012 and beyond.

For the rest of the population, Ford is on track for 2012 launch dates of two EVs, Mitsubishi is launching the diminutive i MiEV, Toyota pushes ahead with its EV development and the Chinese are tipped to break into the American car market with an all-electric product. Other smaller players have announced 2012 on-sale dates as well.

If you’re in the market for an electric vehicle, don’t forget to check its “MPGe.” In November of 2010 the EPA announced the MPGe — a new equivalent mileage rating based on EPA’s formula, in which 33.7 kilowatt hours of electricity is equivalent to one gallon of gasoline. Look for the new rating in reviews and on window stickers in showrooms. Please note that we define electric vehicles as ones that have a drivetrain that is only powered by its electric motor. See our 2012 Hybrid Car Lineup for vehicles with drivetrains that can be powered by a gasoline engine.

Aptera Electric Cars

The unusual airplane-like Aptera 2e has been in gestation longer than the Volt, but currently does not have a firm on-sale date. Reservations are being accepted, but company spokespersons declined to offer any further information on availability. We suspect you’ll never see this car for sale, as we’ve been reading about delays for years.

Audi Electric Cars

Audi has shown a spate of concepts, all called e-Tron, featuring all-electric drive trains. The mighty R8 sports car has been converted into an all-electric concept, which is rumored for 2012 production. Audi has declined to comment on an on-sale date, but expect a price in excess of $150,000 for this gorgeous electric sports car. Continue reading “2012 Electric Cars in the USA: Here’s the Lineup”

2012 Diesel Cars in USA: Here’s the Lineup

2012 Volkswagan Passat Diesel
2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI courtesy of VW.com

Update: Our 2013 Diesel Cars in the USA article is now available!

In the market for a vehicle and thinking about buying a new diesel car in 2012? It’s an idea worth considering.

From images of long-haul trucking, to nightmares of sitting in the back of a grandparent’s noxious Olds vista cruiser diesel, Americans haven’t shown too much interest in diesel cars in the past. Yet with the economy still in the doldrums, and gas prices rising faster than an express elevator, diesel cars are suddenly getting a lot more attention.

The good news is that many of the world’s manufacturers make great diesel products. The bad news is that lack of domestic demand and tightening budgets mean that few have been certified for sale in the U.S. The EPA has more stringent requirements than Europe does for controlling NOx – Nitric Oxide, the key compound that produces smog. The technology to meet these standards exists, but it’s expensive (to develop, manufacture and certify), which is why many of the diesels you see on the market in the U.S. are at the high end of the price range.

This issue is also the reason why there are so many diesel cars available in other countries that are not available in the United States. Simply put, it’s so expensive to develop a diesel engine that meets US emissions standards that most manufacturers don’t bother. Particularly since diesels have never been a popular engine choice in the US market.

It also doesn’t help that the average price per gallon of diesel in the U.S. (as of June 2011) is 25 cents more than gasoline. However, a diesel’s increased miles per gallon means that it usually comes out ahead on overall savings, thus the new surge in consumer interest. Check out this article for more on the differences between American and European diesel markets.

Nonetheless, there are some excellent diesel alternative cars, SUVs and pick-up trucks for sale in America right now.

Here’s the lineup. We’re still adding photos of these cars as the 2012 photos become available. Continue reading “2012 Diesel Cars in USA: Here’s the Lineup”

10 Fun Facts About Electric Cars

Tesla electric car
CC Flickr photo of Tesla electric car courtesy of faceme.

Electric cars are getting a lot of attention lately. With a growing concern about the impacts that driving has on our environment, consumers and automakers are moving towards more sustainable models. Electric cars are just like regular cars, but they have electric motors that run on electricity from a battery, instead of (or sometimes in addition to) an internal combustion energy that burns gasoline. This means reduced or no greenhouse-gas emissions. While some electric vehicle models feature a small gas engine to compliment the electric drivetrain, some models run on battery power alone.

Here’s a list of 10 fun facts about electric cars: Continue reading “10 Fun Facts About Electric Cars”

Top 10 Worst Environmental Disasters in the United States

Worst Environmental Disasters in the United States
TVA Coal Ash Spill courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. is a relatively young country, in terms of world history, but its rapid rise as an industrial superpower has not come without consequences. Sheer ignorance, coupled with poor government oversight and pure-old greed, is often a recipe for disaster. Here are some of worst instances of man-made, large-scale pollution in American history. While it’s hard to qualify “the worst,” the ones with the most far-reaching effects on the environment and human health were prioritized. Not included were intense climate events such as Hurricanes Andrew or Katrina, although there is a growing scientific consensus about climate change amplifying storms.

10. Lead Contamination (Picher, Oklahoma) – Picher was a successful lead and zinc mining town in the 1920’s with a population of over 14,000 people. Now it sits abandoned at the base of giant hills of excavated mining waste. The citizens suffered from lead poisoning from the lead dust that covered the land and town’s groundwater was contaminated with acidic water from the mines. The town is now nearly deserted and is part of the Tar Creek Superfund Site. A documentary film called Tar Creek tells more of the story. Continue reading “Top 10 Worst Environmental Disasters in the United States”

Top Green TV Shows: Environmental Issues on Television

It wasn’t that long ago that environmental programming was a rarity on television. Aside from the occasional conservation program or nature documentary, the majority of TV was composed of cop dramas, sports, sitcoms and game shows.

Actually, that’s still the case today, but the large number of channels means there is also room for more diverse shows. Programming executives have noticed the increased desire to see environmental issues hit the airwaves. Whole cable networks have been based on environmental programming and already-existing channels have increased their attention to the environment. Children’s programming, in that regard, has come a long way. Take a look at our picks of the best green TV shows out there.

Top Green TV Shows for Adults & Teens 

Top Green TV Shows
Wild Chronicles on PBS

Wild Chronicles (PBS) – This National Geographic-produced show features host Boyd Matson, as he travels the world reporting on nature, environmental concerns and science. Continue reading “Top Green TV Shows: Environmental Issues on Television”