Alternatives to hybrids; ethanol, CNG

Chevron’s refineries that went down after Hurricane Katrina are at 56 percent of production. Hurricane Rita is looming in the Gulf. Gas prices are rising and the hurricane season isn’t over, and winter hasn’t arrived. People are not only talking about the price of gas but what they are doing to use less. Last night, EPA issued a reformulated gasoline (RFG) waiver for the Houston/Galveston, TX area. Conventional gas will be allowed for distribution and sale in this area from September 21 through September 26, 2005.

2005_vw_jetta_front-300x189 Alternatives to hybrids; ethanol, CNG Alternative Fuels Automobiles and Energy Fuel economy Technology

VW Jetta – Alternatives to hybrids

Not everyone is going to be able to buy a hybrid; there just aren’t enough on the market. With all the hybrid hype, the Manufacturers still aren’t producing them in any significant numbers. 152,600 hybrids will be created in 2005, saving 22,576,900 gallons of gas next year. If the gasoline counterpart to these ten vehicles ( total of 2,849,566 vehicles) were all hybrids, we would save 431,132,393 gallons of gas annually. According to the EIA, the last number is just a little more than what we use every day in gas for transportation. What can you do if a hybrid isn’t a choice? There are vehicles that use alternative fuels, and there are vehicles that get decent miles per gallon (MPG) without being a hybrid.

Mitsubishi has come up with the best incentive yet, a gas card. Starting this Friday all buyers of new 2005 model-year vehicles will receive prepaid debit cards worth between $1,500 to $2,500 that can be used for gasoline at most retail locations, Mitsubishi said. The offer runs through the end of October. Your first choice is diesel. Yes, it’s dirtier than gas, but we’ve got to use what we’ve got now. Europe isn’t able to get all the gas we need over here as fast as they thought; there is a shortage of tankers. If you’re in one of the states that allow diesels to be sold, buy one. On average they get 20 percent more mpg than their gas counterpart. Mercedes-Benz has just introduced Bluetec technology that has been introduced in trucks in Europe. It cleans nitrogen oxide (NOX) up by 80 percent. Look for Mercedes to bring this technology over in a 2007 SUV model to go head to head with Lexus RX 400h. If you’re in one of the states that allow diesels to be sold, buy one;

Volkswagen New Beetle 38/46 mpg
Volkswagen Golf 38/46 mpg
Volkswagen Jetta 38/46 mpg
Mercedes-Benz E320 CDI 27/37 mpg
Jeep Liberty/Cherokee 21/26 mpg

In the mid-1980s Ford Motor Company created flex-fuel technology. Flex-fuel vehicles (FFV) are a vehicle with a single fuel tank, fuel system, and engine. There is a sensor in the fuel line that analyzes the fuel mixture and controls the fuel injection and timing to adjust for different fuel compositions. The Big 3 sell those vehicles as either gas or E-85 (E-85 is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gas), and most people use gas because it gets better mpg, but if you’re in the mid-west where E-85 is sold those corn states use a lot of heating oil in the winter. Do your part and consume less fuel that could be refined for heating your home, and use ethanol for your tank instead. You’ll also be helping your local farmer with a new revenue stream. It’s a win-win.

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Flex-fuel vehicles (FFV) are a vehicle with a single fuel tank, fuel system, and engine

E-85s sold right now in some of the United States are;

Chrysler Sebring 15/20mmpg
Dodge Stratus 15/20 mpg
Mercedes-Benz C320 14/19 mpg
Mercedes-Benz C240 14/19 mpg
Ford Explorer 11/15 mpg
Ford Taurus 14/19 mpg
Chevy Suburban/Tahoe/Yukon 11/15 mpg
Chevy Silverado/ GMC Sierra 12/16 mpg
Dodge Ram Pickup 9/11 mpg
Mercury Mountaineer 11/15 mpg
Mercury Sable 14/19 mpg
Plymouth Voyager/Chrysler Town & Country 13/17 mpg
Dodge Caravan 13/17 mpg
Chevy Avalanche 11/14 mpg
Nissan Titan 10/14 mpg

Lastly, there are internal combustion engines that get decent gas mileage and even cost less than a hybrid. Consumer Reports does real world testing that puts the way the EPA calculates mpg to shame. Using their mpg numbers some of the best vehicles out there are;

2005_honda_civic_gx-300x200 Alternatives to hybrids; ethanol, CNG Alternative Fuels Automobiles and Energy Fuel economy Technology

2005 Honda Civic natural gas

Gas Cars with over 30 mpg in city and highway:

Honda Civic – manual – 36/44 mpg
Honda Civic – automatic – 35/40 mpg
Honda Civic – manual – 32/38 mpg
Honda Civic (CNG) – automatic – 30/34 mpg
Scion xA – automatic – 31/38 mpg
Scion Xb – automatic – 31/35 mpg
Scion Xb – manual – 31/34 mpg
Pontiac Vibe – manual – 30/36 mpg
Toyota Corolla – manual – 32/41 mpg
Toyota Corolla – automatic – 30/38 mpg
Toyota Echo – manual – 35/42 mpg
Toyota Echo – automatic – 33/39 mpg
Toyota Matrix – manual – 30/36 mpg

Gas Cars with over 32 mpg in highway:

Acura RSX – manual – 34 mpg
Acura RSX – automatic – 34 mpg
Audi A4 – automatic – 32 mpg
Audi A4 – manual – 34 mpg
Chevy Aveo – manual – 35 mpg
Chevy Aveo – automatic – 34 mpg
Chevy Cavalier – manual – 36 mpg
Chevy Cobalt – manual – 34 mpg
Chevy Malibu – automatic – 35 mpg
Chevy Cavalier – automatic – 34 mpg
Chevy Cobalt – automatic – 32 mpg
Chrysler Sebring – manual – 32 mpg
Dodge Neon – manual – 36 mpg
Dodge Neon – automatic – 32 mpg
Dodge Stratus – manual – 32 mpg
Ford Focus – manual – 35 mpg
Ford Focus – automatic – 32 mpg
Hyundai Accent – manual – 36 mpg
Hyundai Accent – automatic – 35 mpg
Hyundai Elantra – manual – 34 mpg
Hyundai Elantra – automatic – 32 mpg
Kia Spectra – manual – 33 mpg
Kia Spectra – automatic – 34 mpg
Mazda 3 – manual – 35 mpg
Mazda 3 – automatic – 34 mpg
Mazda 3 – manual – 32 mpg
Mercedes-Benz C230 – automatic – 32 mpg
Mercedes-Benz C230 – manual – 32 mpg
Mini Cooper – manual – 36 mpg
Mini Cooper – automatic – 34 mpg
Mini Cooper S 32 mpg
Mitsubishi Lancer – manual – 34 mpg
Mitsubishi Lancer – automatic – 31 mpg
Nissan Sentra – manual – 35 mpg
Nissan Sentra – automatic – 34 mpg
Pontiac Vibe – automatic – 34 mpg
Pontiac Sunfire – manual – 36 mpg
Pontiac Grand Am – automatic – 34 mpg
Pontiac G6 – automatic – 32 mpg
Saab 9-3 32 mpg
Saturn Ion – manual – 35 mpg
Saturn Ion – automatic – 32 mpg
Scion tC – automatic – 30 mpg
Suzuki Swift – manual – 35 mpg
Suzuki Swift – automatic – 34 mpg
Toyota Celica – automatic – 36 mpg
Toyota Celica – manual – 33 mpg
Toyota Matrix – automatic – 34 mpg
Toyota Matrix – manual – 32 mpg
Toyota Camry – automatic – 34 mpg
Toyota Camry – manual – 33 mpg

About the Author:

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY), Women's World Car of the Year (WWCOTY), and the Concept Car of the Year.

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