Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Bluegrass Pride: If search for green car leaves you empty handed, look for ‘greenish’ instead
By Leah Anderson
Yikes! I’m car shopping. Stressful times indeed. I want a used car that is safe, has plenty of room, reliable, relatively new, low miles, good tires, good price … you know the drill. Also added to the mix is a desire to have a car that does as little damage to the environment as possible. OK, so that sounds like I’m shopping for a hybrid or electric car, but that isn’t necessarily the only way to find a green car.
This car takes 'green' to a whole new level. (From Creative Commons)
Options for buying a green car are vast and daunting! Little did I know when I started my quest that there is so much involved. There are full hybrids, mild hybrids, series hybrids and plug-in hybrids, plus cars that run on diesel, biodiesel, flexible fuel, bio fuel and other types not available in Kentucky just yet.
These options do not exactly fit my budget ,so the quest continues. Perhaps I should change the name of what I’m looking for to a “greenish” car. A quick search on the internet will generate a substantial listing of regular-gasoline-only cars that will average 30 to 35 miles per gallon (Yaris, Rio, Civic, Fiesta, Cruze Eco, Mazda 2, etc). Not too shabby!
Remember that list of criteria I was searching for? Well, most of these cars fail to meet all of my requirements, so the quest continued…
A greener car that fits my needs for interior room, trunk space, good gas mileage and good price … does it exist? My next search led me to fueleconomy.gov to compare the various models of midsized cars of interest to me. On this site you can type in the specific make, model and engine size of each car you like and it will compare them side by side.
Comparisons include miles per gallon (EPA fuel economy), realistic miles per gallon (based on a set of car owners’ data) and costs to drive X number of miles. These are areas to consider when attempting to reduce your impact on the environment by using fewer nonrenewable resources. You can even search the same make and model but different years to find out which year best suits your fuel economy needs.
In addition to fuel economy, the website allows for you to see how many barrels of petroleum your potential car will use in a year. Plus you can see how your car’s greenhouse gas emissions and smog emissions compares to other cars based on your state. How cool! My ideal car is designated as an EPA Certified SmartWay vehicle. That means that the car’s greenhouse gas emissions and EPA Smog Score are better than the average vehicle and in the top 20 percent for that model year.
Maybe the car I plan to buy isn’t the greenest car on the market, but it does meet all of my criteria while being somewhat environmentally friendly. Perhaps in the 10 years it takes for me to be car shopping again, those true green cars like the full hybrids and their friends will be more within reach of my budget.
Until then, I’ll do what I can to make the best use of each gallon of gasoline I put in the car.
A word of warning – do your own research to find out about your potential car’s green/greenish features. A car salesman will rarely be able to rattle off a used car’s EPA Smog Score or how many barrels of petroleum it uses in a year. Best of luck to the car shoppers out there!
Leah Anderson is originally from Danville and has been working with Bluegrass PRIDE for three years as an environmental educator.