News from Mother: Making Wiser Transportation Choices

By the Mother Earth News editors
October/November 2005
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While we were working on this issue’s cover stories about fuel-efficient vehicles, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its annual report on fuel economy trends, revealing troubling news: The average miles per gallon of America’s cars, SUVs and pickup trucks is going down! That’s right — the automotive industry is producing, and many consumers are buying, cars that get worse mileage than they did 20 years ago! The average for all light vehicles hit a high of 22.1 mpg in 1987; today it has slipped to 21 mpg.

These vehicles account for 40 percent of all U.S. oil consumption, and they produce about 20 percent of all U.S. climate-altering carbon dioxide emissions. How can it be that we are moving backward and driving cars that guzzle more gas and pollute more? Instead of greener vehicles, many of us are choosing to drive cars that are larger, heavier and faster than ever.

As the EPA report points out, the fuel economy of our vehicles is directly related to our nation’s energy security, to our air quality and to emissions of greenhouse gases. Surely we can make wiser choices in the coming decade.

To make it as easy as possible for you to find a greener car the next time you need a new vehicle, we’ve compiled information on price, fuel economy, annual fuel cost, air pollution, greenhouse gases and overall environmental impact. We’ve also identified the most eco-friendly choices in 12 categories of cars, vans, wagons, trucks and sport utility vehicles.

The best news of all comes in our report on The Hybrid Revolution. Gas-electric hybrids that get up to 66 mpg are proving to be extremely popular, saving their owners thousands of dollars as prices at the pump continue to climb. And down the road, extending the hybrid concept by adding more batteries promises a plug-in hybrid that gets more than 100 mpg!

— Mother


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6/17/2009 6:16:11 PM
THANK you, for concurring that the auto industry has -yet again- dumbed-down available vehicles! Also, used vehicles that consistently got over 30 mpg, have been disappearing rapidly for the last several years; now, they are scarce as hens' teeth! There are some "dirty little secrets", as industries "comply" with government energy mandates: Hybrid Vehicles: These get best mpg around town at relatively slow speeds. BUT, for those who mostly drive freeway speeds, the mpg is significantly less. Hybrids and even all-electric industry-built vehicles STILL fail to reach capacities routinely reached by shade-tree home mechanics using junk parts. Energy Star Refrigerators: Industry failed to retool their lines, and are still using the same size boxes with thin-walls lacking adequate insulation. Manufacturers "bench-test" the inner works, to show they "comply" with energy star parameters, then place those into larger boxes--which run more and use more energy. Alternative fuels: Alternative fuels are only good as a bridge to better technologies. ANY fuel that gets burned in a combustion engine, continues to add to our problems. Further, combustible fuels STILL cost dearly, since these often cost people a food source. Over-technologizing: Sometimes, the very best solutions are the easiest, cheapest and most low-tech. Technology that uses natural conditions, such as sun, wind, water, gravity, earth, etc., that can be built and maintained easily by home-owners, have been systematically legislated against as industries cornered more markets. These kinds of things MUST be changed. Leaving ALL manufacturing to a few industries, AND forbidding people to build their own tools and systems, is a recipe for disaster.

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