February 6, 2002
6:55 AM   Subscribe

How green is your car? If it's the Honda Insight (at 57 MPG), it's very green... if it's the Dodge Ram 2500 Pickup (at 11 MPG), well, shame on you. Check out the "Green Book: The Environmental guide to Cars and Trucks".
posted by hotdoughnutsnow (9 comments total)
The EPA has their Green Vehicle Guide.
posted by Hankins at 7:17 AM on February 6, 2002

Speaking strictly about fuel economy, what's the big deal about a 57 MPG car today? In 1992, I purchased a Honda Civic hatchback model VX, which I believe was Honda's first car to contain their new V-Tec engine.

The VX was stickered at 56 mpg on the highway. I monitored the gas mileage when taking long trips and with the speed kept around 60 mph (speed limit was still 55 back then), I was getting 60 mpg. That was 10 years ago on an all gas-powered car.

Back then, I would have thought there would be cars getting 80-100 mpg today by whatever means -- gas, electric, hybrids.

Strange thing is, Honda dropped the VX from their line of cars before 1997. In '97, Honda's best car for gas mileage was their HX Civic Coupe, which had an mpg rating stickered in the mid 40's. Their best hatchback was in the 30's.

It's good to see Honda producing the hybrid vehicle, but it seems this whole idea of alternative fuels or more efficient gas engines has been a much slower process than I expected over the past 25 years.
posted by munger at 7:48 AM on February 6, 2002

More information on the "Green Book" here. You have to pay to read the full text, but you can view the highlights and some related tidbits for free.
posted by melimelo at 7:49 AM on February 6, 2002

the senate is trying to raise fuel efficiency to 37 mpg, but detroit is fighting it. there're also some good RH links on that page.
posted by kliuless at 8:35 AM on February 6, 2002

munger - you're on track there. By now, a 5,000 lb SUV should be capable of 50mpg+ with an IC engine only. Somewhere along the line, development of IC efficiency was abandoned. Makes zero sense to me without assuming manipulation by some vested interests. But that's just too kooky to take seriously.
posted by yesster at 9:22 AM on February 6, 2002

From the EPA guide:

"This guide rates only environmental performance when the vehicle is in use. It does not account for other environmental factors, such as recyclability of the vehicle, or for any other factors that people may consider when choosing a vehicle, such as safety, cost, or driving performance." (emphasis added)

That concerns me. Is there a guide anywhere that factors in this information? I mean, I like the idea of the Honda Insight, but what exactly are you going to do with its old batteries when they need replacing? Another argument is of course that when you charge an electric vehicle, that electricity has to be generated somewhere, so you're really just shifting the pollution to another part of the country where coal is being burned to create that electrical power.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:32 AM on February 6, 2002

One of the rationales for electric vehicles is that they are more efficient than internal combustion engines. Granted most of the time you do have to burn fossil fuel to get that electricity, but steam generation plants can rely on economies of scale to increase efficiency and reduce emissions. Also, the efficiency of internal combustion engines is limited by the need to run them at a large range of rpm while electricity generating engines can be set to run at the optimum rpm to maximize efficiency.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:56 AM on February 6, 2002

Actually, the Honda Insight is a Gas-Electric Hybrid that recharges it's own batteries during braking. And, according to the Honda site, gets 68 MPG from it's VTEC™-E gasoline engine.

The Toyota RAV4 EV (available only in CA) is electric, with a bank of batteries. But you do get to drive in the carpool lanes. Here's the FAQ.
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 10:38 AM on February 6, 2002

Consumer Reports did a review of the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius hybrid cars, as well as some other cars that get good mileage, including the Toyota Echo and VW Golf Diesel.

Although the Insight got the best mileage, they rated it well below the Prius in every other category. And, the difference in mileage between the Prius and the conventional vehicles did not justify the big difference in price.

Unless we see a huge jump in gas prices, these electric and hybrid vehicles are going to remain curiosities.
posted by groundhog at 11:16 AM on February 6, 2002

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