9 Reasons to Get Excited About Cars in 2014

Jan 16th, 2014 | By Amy Leibrock

With the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) a wrap and the North American International Auto Show underway now, there has been a flurry of automobile news so far this year. While there were few truly groundbreaking announcements for alternative-fuel vehicles, there is plenty of good news to report. Thanks to increased fuel economy regulations, carmakers are continuing to tweak their cars to deliver more fuel economy at all levels of the market. While many innovations are ready to hit the roads, others are still aspirational ideas for the future. Here are nine reasons we're excited about 2014's new crop of cars and trucks.
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Eco Living

Gallons per mile

Dec 14th, 2012 | By Aubrey Yee

We've been taught to think of fuel efficiency in 'miles per gallon' but these researchers show that it's 'gallons per mile' that really make the difference...
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US Demand for Oil and Gasoline Continues to Fall

Jun 20th, 2012 | By Nicole Rogers

Oil demand in the US will drop 0.4% to a 15-year low of 18.76 million barrels a day this year, according to a forecast released June 11 by the EIA (The US Department of Energy). Additionally, demand for gasoline, the most widely used petroleum product in the US, is expected to slip 0.6% from a year earlier, the lowest level since 2001.  As the world’s biggest consumer of  oil, this is a significant shift for the US, and a trend Sustainable America hopes to help continue.

“A part of it may be from slow economic growth, which is too bad, but much of it is from the US becoming less oil-intensive in its GDP creation and from a more fuel efficient fleet of vehicles.” Nick Tiller, founder of Sustainable America, wrote in an email.

As you can see in the graph from the EIA above, the consumption of oil products fluctuates, but in general oil consumption has been trending downward recently, and will continue to according to projections by the EIA.

By making small changes everyday to minimize our personal consumption of oil we can all hope to sustain and encourage this trend in the future. See more posts in Sustainable America’s Good Practices / Individual Action category to learn how you can take action today!

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Sewage to fuel

Jun 7th, 2012 | By Aubrey Yee

Exit the 405 Freeway at Euclid Ave and you’ll find the very first hydrogen fueling station that is converting sewage to fuel. This fueling station is located at the Fountain Valley sewage treatment plant, part of the Orange County Sanitation District’s wastewater treatment system.

On opening day in August of 2011, director of the program Scott Samuelson called it “a paradigm shift” explaining that “We’re taking an endless stream of human waste and transforming it to transportation fuel and electricity. This is the first time this has ever been done.” (source) The fuel comes from ‘digesters’, bacteria that break down the human waste into a biogas.

With shiny, new white and green gas pumps, the station is capable of fueling 30 cars a day currently. It also produces some 250 kw of power for use by the wastewater treatment plant. The on-site nature of the system takes any transportation logistics out of the equation making it a truly sustainable alternative.

As part of California’s goal to create a ‘hydrogen highway’ the station is part of a 3 year demonstration project. If it goes well, you can expect to see these rolled out in more locations across the state.

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The Clean Car Calculator

May 25th, 2012 | By Nicole Rogers

Until now shopping for a high fuel efficiency car, like an electric or hybrid vehicle, could be confusing with overwhelming amounts of data to digest and compare, but students at The Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at The University of California, Santa Barbara have just made it seductively simple.

Enter the Clean Car Calculator: an elegant online calculator that allows the consumer to compare any two high fuel efficiency vehicles on the market, providing a financial and environmental analysis of the cars and even recommending other vehicles to consider given the user’s criteria. The calculator allows the user to adjust for as many or as few variables as desired, like the car’s primary use, percentage of highway miles driven, government tax incentives, etc. One of the most valuable aspects of the calculator is that it determines how long one must own a high fuel efficiency vehicle for it to make economic sense in fuel savings.

The idea for the calculator was inspired by a homework assignment. Project manager Kate Ziemba explains:

The Calculator resulted from an assignment in the Energy and Resource Productivity class taught by Dr. Sangwon Suh at the Bren School that challenged students to understand the return on investment for businesses and consumers to implement energy saving technologies. Students compared lifetime costs and emissions of conventional gas versus high efficiency vehicles. The graduate student developers were surprised to find that hybrids not only paid themselves back in fuel savings, but also that newly released vehicles, such as the Volt and the Leaf, were smart purchases even without a government subsidy.

There you have it! There is more data everyday to show that electric cars and hybrids make sense for the environment and the consumer. But don’t take our word for it - check out the calculator and have fun comparing a few of your favorite green dream cars.

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