Drivers are more conscious of fuel economy than ever. The auto industry has responded by offering consumers a variety of energy-efficient vehicles. Most of them fall into three categories:
- Cars that burn conventional gasoline, but minimize their operating costs by using lightweight materials and a number of other technological innovations.
- Hybrids, which use a gasoline engine to charge a bank of batteries, which in turn power the car.
- Cars with diesel engines, which can run further on a gallon of fuel than their gasoline-powered counterparts.
Which type offers the most savings on fuel costs?
Hybrids produce the least emissions of the three types. They achieve stunningly high fuel-efficiency ratings, according to digitaltrends.com. For example, the Toyota Prius often gets up to 50 mpg on highways, according to a study by the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
However, these benefits are partially offset by the amount of greenhouse gasses used to produce the batteries that hybrids depend on. Those same batteries cause another shortcoming of hybrids: the high-purchase prices. Government grants and savings on gas offer hybrid drivers a discount over team, but these eco-friendly vehicles demand a significant up-front cost.
They can run purely on electricity for trips of limited length. For example, the Chevy Volt can travel up to 38 miles before exhausting a charge, according to Fueleconomy.gov. For those who live in urban areas or have short work commute, the car can go for extended periods without using any gas at all.
This advantage is of limited value for people who must drive long distances. And the base Volt carries a hefty price tag of almost $40,000.00. For many consumers, the payments on such an expensive vehicle would far outweigh any savings on fuel costs.
The Story on Diesels
Diesel engines rely on the greater inherent efficiency of the fuel they run on as opposed to conventional gasoline. Some models, such as the VW Passat TDI, commonly have more than 43 mpg, according to VW of Phoenix AZ. And, unlike hybrids, diesels aren’t dependent on batteries, which have a questionable life span, especially on high mileage vehicles.
Some people object to diesels due to their reputation for being noisy and releasing high amounts of pollutants. But technological advances over the past 10 years have made diesel vehicles cleaner-running and quieter. They produce higher amounts of greenhouse gasses than hybrids, making the first choice the greener choice based purely on emissions ratings.
They might have a green label or futuristic shape, but some conventional gas-powered vehicles are in good standing with the eco-friendly community. Honda Accord, Kia Rio and Toyota Camry were among the J.D. Power’s 30 environmentally friendly vehicles study, according to MSN.com. These vehicles accrue above-average gas mileage, while they don’t have the range or convenience drawbacks of hybrids and diesels.
Hybrids, deisels and conventional vehicles have strengths and weaknesses. All three vehicle types are far superior to gasoline engines in terms of economy, however. For this reason alone, budget-conscious drivers should give them serious consideration.