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.

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.

2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTEC Diesel: Review Roundup

photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz USA

Shopping for a 2012 clean diesel car and thinking about the 2012 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTEC diesel sedan? Here’s a summary of major reviews of the vehicle to help you decide. Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom if you have questions, or something to add!

The Mercedes S350 is equipped with a 3.0 liter diesel V6 that generates 240 horsepower and an “incredible” 455 lb.-ft. of torque. It is the second-cheapest model of the S-Class and is the most fuel-efficient of the bunch — even better than the hybrid. The EPA rates the fuel economy to be 21 MPG in the city and 31 MPG on the highway. MSRP is $92,550.

2012 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Diesel SUV: Review Roundup

2012 VW Touareg diesel reviews
photo courtesy of Volkswagen of America

Shopping for a 2012 clean diesel vehicle and thinking about the 2012 VW Touareg TDI SUV? Here’s a summary of major reviews of the vehicle to help you decide. Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom if you have questions, or something to add!

The 2012 Touareg TDI comes in three styles — the Sport, the Lux and the Executive. A 3.0-liter V6 diesel engine powers all three models. The engine generates 225 horsepower and a amazing 406 lbs-ft of torque. EPA fuel economy ratings are 19 MPG in the city and 28 MPG on the highway. All styles feature 4-wheel drive and include automatic transmission, a navigation system, Bluetooth, iPod input, Satellite Radio, side/curtain airbags, and stability and traction controls. MSRP: From $46,875 for the Sport; $52,355 for the Lux; and $57,755 for the Executive.

Eco-Friendly Wedding Ideas

Eco-Friendly Wedding Ideas
CC flickr photo courtesy of makelessnoise

Even if your wedding color isn’t green, you may still want a “greener” wedding. Whether we are talking about a quiet, quaint experience of only a few dozen close family and friends, or a party for 200 guests, all weddings are major events which can have a large carbon footprint and produce a lot of waste. For couples who are even mildly eco-conscious, there are options that can add an eco-friendly and natural vibe to any size gathering.

Location

One of the biggest decisions a couple will make together is where to get married, and your choice will have a large influence on how eco-friendly your event is. In searching for a sustainably run venue, whether a winery, hotel, or wedding facility, it is important to know:

– Do they recycle?

– Do they take measures to conserve energy and water?

– Has the facility used green building materials in its construction and interior décor?

– If the food is provided for by the venue, are vegetarian, local, or organic options offered?

– If any paper products are used, are they made from recycled, post-consumer waste?

– How far is it located from the homes of most of your guests?

Season

Selecting a late summer or early fall wedding date ensures that local food and flowers are available in abundance, allowing you to avoid having to ship them long distances.

Attire

Weddings are about joining the lives of two people in love.  We all know that.  But let’s be honest ladies…. once we know we are getting married, the first thing we want to do is pick out that wedding dress. For the bride who wants to consider a more sustainable garment, here are a few thoughts.  And remember, there is a sense of romance that can come from considering a garment of less synthetic materials, or one that has a history that precedes the current day, if a bride is open to such ideas.

– The easiest, and often most cost-effective, choice for a wedding dress is to find one on consignment. It can be the most romantic level of recycling, and often a dress can be found for a bargain that is of a much higher quality than the average bride could have afforded new.

– Check out the wedding gowns of your mother, grandmother, aunts, etc. You may just find a family treasure waiting for you in the attic.

– There are many new materials being used to make wedding and other special occasion dresses as beautiful as ever.  Hemp-based silks, organic cottons, nutshells, and more are being used all over the country to create gorgeous pieces. Companies like Conscious Elegance out of Pennsylvania use fair trade policies, and an environmentally sound working environment to carry their eco-friendly values throughout every aspect of their production.

There seem to be fewer eco-friendly options for the groom, but consider the following:

– If you must have tuxedos, renting is more eco-friendly than buying. Consider having your cummerbunds or ties handmade.

– If you are open to more casual suits, several companies make eco-friendly men’s suits, such as this organic hemp suit from Rawganique.

– When renting, look for a place that uses “greener” dry-cleaning methods to clean the suits after you return them.

For the most eco-friendiness, consider a beach or backyard wedding, with a casual dress code for both the wedding party and guests.

Eco Friendly Wedding Food Choices

More than any other choice a couple makes for their wedding, the food they decide to serve can have the largest environmental impact. Factors to consider:

– Is the food locally grown?  This cuts down on the fossils fuels used to deliver the food (and therefore often cuts down on costs as well).

– Is the produce organic?  Sometimes more costly, but often more fresh, and always healthier for both people and the planet.

– Are the meats free range or grass fed?  At the moment both choices tend to cost a bit more, but when it comes to a wedding, the differences are small compared to the statement you make on this milestone event in your life.

– Are sustainably harvested fish or vegetarian choices available?  Often, the delicious meals that incorporate these lower-on-the food chain choices are the greenest, cheapest, and most delectable of all wedding menu faire.  And guests never miss the meat!

Environmentally Friendly Wedding Flowers

Brides often have a favorite flower they want in their bouquet, or a color they want to match the wedding theme. Keep in mind that the most environmentally savvy choice is almost always locally grown. Ask your florist what flowers are in bloom and locally available during the month of your event. If you choose a location of natural beauty, such as a garden or beach, you can let mother nature take care of most of the decorations.

Eco Friendly Wedding Favors

One of the most fun and creative aspects of planning a wedding is choosing the favors that each guest will take home.  There are limitless eco-friendly choices, and they can both be beautiful and inspiring. Tiny trees in a little pot in the wedding colors look gorgeous on a table and can be a reminder of the day for years to come. Packets of flower or herb seeds are another wonderful keepsake, and are inexpensive. Soy or beeswax candles are a bit more costly, but a very elegant gift.  Anything that can be used again and again rather than thrown away is a good choice. Or skip the favors altogether and make a donation to an earth-friendly charity on the behalf of your guests instead.

Transportation

Nearly every wedding party relies on a limousine of some type to get the whole gang to and from each venue.  We have seen Hummer limos, Escalade limos, and the traditional sedans as well. While it may be the one and only time a bride and groom opt for such a gas-guzzling machine, the more couples that choose greener, cleaner forms of transportation, the more limo companies will be forced to invest in other types of engines for their vehicles. If using a limo of some kind is unavoidable, choosing a venue where both the ceremony and reception can both take place cuts down on wasted energy — and wasted time commuting from one spot to another.

Of course, it goes without saying that eloping or making a quick trip to the local courthouse is the most eco-friendly choice of all… but who doesn’t want to celebrate their love with friends and family? Incorporate a few eco-friendly ideas and give the planet a reason to celebrate with you.