Archive for the ‘Alternative Fuel Vehicles’ Category

Electric Vehicles

Electric Vehicles

Vehicles that are powered by electricity have been around for a very long time. What most people don’t know is that in the early 1900s there were more vehicles powered by electricity than there were vehicles powered by gasoline.

Gasoline back in the early 1900s was extremely pricey. Also, it was very difficult to start a gasoline engine. You had to turn and turn and turn a crank in the front of the car in order to get the engine to start. They didn’t have the technology where you could just turn a key like we do today. Another thing is that vehicles powered by gasoline were extremely noisy and were very smokey. Technology for good mufflers didn’t exist so most cars were very, very loud. This is why electric vehicles were such a big hit. They were quiet and easier to start. At one point, there were over 50,000 electric vehicles out on the streets of the United States.

These type of vehicles soon started to get less and less popular though. Gasoline was starting to become the big hit because cheaper ways of making gasoline started to be discovered. Then, someone invented the electric starter which enabled the user to start a gasoline powered motor without having to turn a crank. A gasoline car could drive much farther than an electric car so they soon became the most popular method of transporting people.

But nowadays, we are starting to realize how much more expensive gasoline is compared to electricity.

Electric vehicles don’t use or burn gasoline in their engines. Instead, they use electricity which is stored inside of batteries. Some cars can have 12 batteries, 24 batteries, or even more depending on the size of the vehicle.

One of the first modern electric vehicles was the General Motors Impact. General Motors began to call it the “EV1” in 1997 when they began selling it. This car set a world record when it went over 180 miles per hour.

These electric vehicles are always made to be very aerodynamic because they don’t have as powerful of engines as gasoline powered ones. Being aerodynamic, they can still reach the same speeds and even greater speeds than gasoline powered motors can.

To charge an electric vehicles batteries, one must plug the car in at night. Houses are equipped with special charging units but not all electric vehicles need these to be charged. Some electric vehicles need to be plugged into a larger outlet like the ones that stoves or dryers are plugged in to.

There are some electric vehicles that are made by small auto companies and there are some that are made by very well known companies. One of the more well known companies, Toyota, made the Toyota Rav-4 EV (EV standing for electric vehicle). There are also some hobbyists that build their own electric vehicles or convert gasoline cars into electric vehicles. A lot of times, all a person must do is install a large number of batteries and take out the gasoline motor. These people either retro-fit the batteries into the engine bay or put them into the trunk.

Posted: May 11th, 2009
at 2:34pm by Fuel Saver


Categories: Alternative Fuel Vehicles

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Alternative Fuels

What are the types of alternative fuels?

We are not talking about gasoline, diesel fuel, or kerosene right now. An alternative fuel is defined as the choice of any fuel other than the traditional selections; gasoline and diesel.

What are the choices?

1. Ethanol. Ethanol is a high-octane, low-emission fuel that has been used in racing for a long time. It is now made from renewable plant materials and can be used in normal vehicles. The bad thing about Ethanol is that it gets lower fuel economy ratings as opposed to gasoline.

2. Methanol. Methanol has a high octane rating and a low emission of pollutants. These characteristics make it a great fuel to use in engines in cars. Since the 1960s, the cars in the Indianapolis 500, which is a big race that is held annually, were powered with methanol.

3. Natural gas. Natural gas is a by-product of oil drilling and also coal mining. You can also harvest natural gas from natural gas fields.

4. Propane is another type of alternative fuel. Another name for this kind of gas is liquefied petroleum gas. Propane is the gas that is made when natural gas and crude oil is refined.

5. There are also blends of fuels. This is how we get fuels known as E-85 where it is a mix of 85% Ethanol and 15% gasoline. These are defined as mixtures between traditional and alternative fuels. Another blend is B20.

6. Hydrogen is one of the more popular alternative fuels. Hydrogen is made commercially by refining it from petroleum. You can also make hydrogen by passing electricity through water. This process is known as electrolysis.

7. Electricity is another alternative fuel. We consider electricity as an alternative fuel choice because it has been used to power the motors in electric vehicles. Electric vehicles are becoming more and more popular nowadays and they will be mass-produced in late 2009. Most people think this is the answer to our economy problem but what most people don’t realize is how expensive these electric vehicles are.

8. Biodiesel is another popular alternative fuel source. This is an additive or even a replacement for diesel fuel. biodiesel is made from animal fat and sometimes vegetable oil.

9. Biomass. Biomass is derived from materials that are biological, predominantly vegetation, these include biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.

10. P-series. This is a colorless, clear liquid fuel which have between a 89 and 93 octane rating. P-series fuels are designed to be used in flex-fuel vehicles. This will become more and more popular as we see more flex-fuel vehicles.

This is just one list of the alternative fuels. There are many more out there we just need to discover them. Once a good alternative fuel is discovered that we can mass-produce very cheap which gets better gas mileage than our traditional fuel, the economy should start booming again.

Posted: May 11th, 2009
at 2:29pm by Fuel Saver

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Categories: Alternative Fuel Vehicles

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Volvo Recharge Plugin Hybrid

I was watching the L.A. Auto Show on ESPN a couple weeks ago, and saw a few environmentally friendly cars that we may be seeing in the future.

One that I thought was particularly cool was th Volvo Recharge Concept Car.

It’s a plugin hybrid which in and of itself is really nothing new. Even the estimated range of the car isn’t any better than what is expected from the GM Volt model.

However, the innovation in this car is that the lack of a conventional engine and a transmission.

Instead, it has four smaller motors that drive each wheel individually. This not only saves a lot of space (which Volvo is using to add additional safety devices of course) in the vehicle and eliminates the need to a transmission but it also helps with performance giving this vehicle acceleration similar to that of a sports car. It’s definitely not your typical Volvo.

Normally I’d tell you to be on the lookout for this car in 2010 since just about every other cool fuel efficient car is coming out that year, but alas, that isn’t to be the case here. Volvo isn’t saying when exactly it’ll be released but they’ve said it’ll likely be 2015 before a significant number of these cars could be on the road.

Here’s a cool video from Volvo about the Recharge Concept and how it works.

[youtube h5bhuI7Hduw]

Posted: July 22nd, 2008
at 12:28am by Fuel Saver

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Categories: Alternative Fuel Vehicles,Fuel Technology

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Alternative Fuel Technologies – A look at the major contenders

With gas prices having hit $4/gallon and with no relief in site, I think we’re all looking for alternatives so that we’re no longer dependent on the volatile oil market. There is a lot of talk about alternative fuels these days so I thought I’d take a few minutes to give you the lowdown on the major contenders to replace to replace the gasoline currently swishing around in your tank.

So let’s take a look at the four alternative fuels most likely to take over as the dominant fuel in your vehicle.

Electricity

We use electricity to power just about everything else so why not your car? Just add a few more batteries and you’re good to go, right? Well, sort of.

Advantages of electric cars

Electric cars have a lot of advantages. First there’s that whole no emissions thing. Just think about how that would help with smog in major cities. Some will argue that since in the United States most of our power comes from coal, it’s just switching from one fossil fuel to another, and they’re partly right, but they’re missing the point.

The power grid gets cleaner every decade. Right now billions are being invested in both solar and wind power so your electric vehicle actually becomes a “greener” car to drive the longer you drive it.

Also, keep in mind that electricity generated at power plants is generated far more efficiently than in an internal combustion engine. Even if it does happen to be from coal or natural gas, it’s still cleaner than burning gasoline in your car’s engine.

Also, keep in mind that reducing our dependency on foreign oil is just a smart thing to do.

One of the really cool things about an electric car is never having to visit the gas station. A fully electric vehicle can be charged from a standard 110v outlet in your home in just a few hours.

Disadvantages of electric cars

With the numerous advantages that electric cars have to offer, it’s not without its fair share of downsides.

Probably the biggest concern right now is the lack of range with electric vehicles. GM’s Volt line is expected to come out in 2010, but those cars are only expected to have a range of 40 miles before the gasoline engine needs to kick in. That’s enough for your daily commute or running errands around town, but not much else. 100% electric cars (i.e. – no hybrid gas engine or alternative fuel source) such as those made from companies like Tesla fare better with a range of about 200 miles, but that’s still far below a typical gas powered car even if it is a gas guzzling SUV.

Then there’s the whole issue of how long it takes to “refill” or in this case recharge. Current lithium batteries are going to take 4-6 hours before they’re fully recharged. Again, not a problem if you plug it in for the night, but not a whole lot of fun if you’re driving across country on a road trip.

Then there is that little nagging issue of where we’re going to get all that power. Let’s face it, the power grid in the United States is already stressed. If we all switched over to electric vehicles, we’d crush it. We would have to build a lot more power plants which would likely be fossil fuel burning plants like coal and natural gas to cope with the extra demand placed on the grid. It’s good for reducing our dependency on foreign oil, but still not exactly a “green” option… at least not yet.

Infrastructure

While it’s easy to say that the infrastructure is in place for electric vehicles, that’s just not true yet. I know I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but we simply can’t crank out enough power right now to just switch to electric. Refineries would have to be replaced with power plants.

However, one company has a novel solution where for an extra $20k they’ll install solar panels on your roof which will provide plenty of electricity for you to electric car.

Then there’s that whole recharing ordeal. Nobody wants to hang out with “Daryl” the gas station attendant for four hours watching tumbleweeds blow by while the batteries on the electric car recharge. I’ve seen some research from some of those MIT geniuses about carbon nanotube capacitors that can be recharged in seconds, but they’re still little more than a glimmer in the theoretical physicists’ eye – cool if it can be commercially viable, but still a big question mark.

Until the recharging issue is solve, electric vehicles are unlikely to be more than a niche player in the alternative fuel game. Electric vehicles will likely need to be paired with another kind of fuel for the foreseeable future to make them practical.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Hydrogen fuel cells have been looked at as the fuel of the future for decades now.

What’s so great about running a vehicle on hydrogen? Easy, when burned in a fuel cell engine, the only emission is water vapor – you could put the water in a glass and drink it.


Advantages of hydrogen fuel cells

Hydrogen is abundant – in fact it’s the most abundant element in the known universe. On Earth it doesn’t float around as hydrogen all that readily, but through electrolysis it’s pretty easy to get all the hydrogen we’ll ever need from water. And since it goes back to water when it’s used, it’s not like we’re using up the water either. This is one fuel source we’d never run out of.

It’s also a highly efficient fuel. Hydrogen has the highest energy content per unit of weight of any known fuel.

Disadvantages of hydrogen fuel cells

Hydrogen also comes with its own list of drawbacks though. In this case, the major issue is storing the stuff. If you want enough hydrogen to power your vehicle, you’ve got two choices, compress it or make it cold until it turns into a liquid. If you can make it a liquid, you can store a lot more of it in a tank, but hydrogen doesn’t become a liquid until you get down to -252.87 Celsius (-423.17 Fahrenheit). That’s darn cold! And keeping it that cold requires a pretty significant amount of energy. Compressing it is currently a better choice, but it requires larger storage tanks (which increase weight).

The other disadvantage of hydrogen is that it burns so efficiently (yes, I know I said that was an advantage) – so efficiently that it’s keen on blowing up as any Hindenburg aficionado is well aware. But then again, gas blows up too, so you won’t actually be driving a 70mpg 2,000lb missile down the Interstate anymore than you are now.

Infrastructure

I was reading an article a few days ago that said the cost of getting an infrastructure in place would require somewhere in the neighborhood of $70 billion in subsidies. We have a massive network of gas stations that would need retrofitting with tanks to store hydrogen, but the bigger issue is making hydrogen on a massive scale. We don’t really have that.

Hydrogen has a lot of promise as a fuel, but it’s probably the furthest away from reaching its potential as a fuel.

Compressed Air

Compressed Air is a perfectly viable alternative fuel that you really don’t hear much about.

For those of you who took an Industrial Arts class (shop class) in high school, you’ve probably built your own version of an air powered car using some balsa wood and a CO2 canister, but for those not so cultured, here’s a Youtube video showing these fun little toys (I’d make my own video, but mine was reduced to splinters in a crash.)

[youtube J6Jq-0Ou0Dg]

So if you think about it using compressed air to, say, turn some pistons in an engine and make it run wouldn’t be too terribly difficult either.

All you need is a tank with enough air in it and you’re good to go.

Advantages of compressed air

The more I think about compressed-air cars, the more excited I get. Let’s talk about the fuel source first. It’s air – the same stuff we breathe. You fill up your tank with an air compressor – that’s it – you’re done.

Now let’s talk about emissions. It uses compressed air. When you uncompress air, it’s just air – the same stuff it was before you put it into a tank in the first place. That means zero emissions.

Unlike with electricity which takes hours to recharge, it only takes about three minutes to fill up your tank with a service station air compressor. It’s been estimated the cost would be about $3 to fill ‘er up for a full tank of air. The cool thing is that a lot of air vehicles are being made with on board compressors so you can plug the unit in your standard plug at home and the tanks will full recharge in about 4 hours. It’s like getting all the benefits of electric without the drawback of not being able to recharge quickly.

Lastly, compressed air vehicles can be significantly cheaper than their gasoline powered counterparts. While most alternative fuel vehicles add a significant chunk of change to the final price of your vehicle, air powered cars are actually cheaper.

Disadvantages of compressed air

While compressed air may sound like a pretty sweet deal, it does have a few drawbacks. So far all compressed-air cars have been small, and they are made out of aluminum, not steel to save on weight.

Also, the current range of 100% compressed air vehicles is only a little over 100 miles at the moment which makes them impractical for long trips. The American company Zero Pollution Motors plans to release their vehicle as a compressed air hybrid which also comes with a conventional gas engine which can actually extend the range of the vehicle to 800 miles.

Infrastructure

If compressed air vehicles did start to catch on, the infrastructure changes would be relatively minor. Refueling stations would need to invest in pumps that dispensed compressed air instead of gas which wouldn’t be too difficult. My guess is the hardest part would be for the government to figure out how to tax it.

Since it uses just air, no refineries would need to be built – air is freely available all around us. We just need to bottle it up and it’s ready to go.

Biofuels

I’m lumping all of the biofuels into this category. I’m talking about ethanol (whether its made from corn, sugar cane, kudzu, switchgrass, or algae really doesn’t matter) and biodiesel (made from vegetable oils).

Advantages of biofuels

The advantages of biofuels are that they’re something we’re already familiar with. You fill up your tank with a liquid that gets squirted into a little chamber and it burns making those ponies under the hood make those noises that get teenage boys all hot and bothered.

There’s also that whole “foreign oil dependency” thing. I don’t know about you but giving billions of dollars each year to countries that hate us and want all us “infidels” to die a slow and painful death really doesn’t bring visions of sugar plums dancing in my head when my head hits the pillow at night.

Biofuels can fix that little issue. The United States is a vast country with a whole heck of a lot of land that can be used for growing stuff… not necessarily corn, but something. Switchgrass is suitable for growing in climates where it’s too dry for corn. Kudzu grows all over the south whether they want it to or not, and algae is a nuisance in lakes and coastal waters all over the country. All of these are being looked at as excellent candidates for ethanol conversion.

Plus, not shipping oil thousands of oils in massive tankers would mean no oil spills, and don’t kid yourself, they happen all the time… just not in America. That’s certainly a more environmentally friendly thing to do.

Disadvantages of biofuels

Americans like to drive – there’s no doubt about that. However, we also like to eat. And while there are several non food plants being looked at for ethanol the main way to make ethanol in this country is to use corn. If it’s not used as food for people, it’s used as food for cows or other livestock which then become food for people. Using corn for ethanol has caused corn prices to rise dramatically which leads to an increase in food prices since nearly everything on the store shelves has corn as an ingredient. (Just look at how many things have corn syrup in them.)

Then there’s the little nagging issue about converting corn into ethanol not being efficient. Right now optimistic estimates are that you get 1.25 unit of energy back for every 1 unit you put in. Less optimistic ones say it’s actually energy negative meaning it takes more energy (diesel fuel used to run tractors that plant and harvest the corn and trucks used to transport it) to produce ethanol than you get in return. Obviously, scientists and engineers are trying to make the process far more efficient and think they can get up to a 7 to 1 return on energy units, but right now they’re nowhere close.

And while biofuels are certainly greener than their fossil fuel brethren, they’re not exactly zero emission fuels. You certainly don’t want to breathe that stuff coming out of your tailpipe even if it does smell like french fries.

Infrastructure

In terms of infrastructure, very little would need to change at your local gas station. A gas pump is a gas pump whether or not it’s pumping gas, diesel, biodiesel, ethanol, or refried beans (now that stuff’ll give ya gas).

We’d either need to build new refineries which is already in progress for ethanol plants across the Midwest or we’d need to retrofit the old ones designed to make gasoline. Either way it’s a fairly expensive process, but it wouldn’t require much adaptation on the consumer’s part since your engine would sound, smell, and drive the same as it always has.

Air Powered Car Gets 106mpg, Goes 96mph and has 800 mile range

Any of my long time readers will remember that one of my first posts was about an Air powered car in India.

At the time it really wasn’t much to get excited about especially for speed crazed American drivers. The vehicle only had a top speed of 68 miles per hour and a range of just 125 miles.

Also, it was only available in India, but it looks like a compressed air hybrid might be heading to the United States in late 2009 or 2010.

And this new compressed air car comes with far more impressive credentials.

Top speed – 96 mpg
MPG – 106
Range – 800 miles +
Half the CO2 emissions of a Toyota Prius

I’ll admit that since that post a year ago I’ve ignored compressed air cars but Zero Pollution Motors (ZPM) has rekindled my interest.

One major advantage that a compressed air car has over an electric car is the refueling time. Current and upcoming electric cars require several hours to get recharged, which is fine if you’re just running errands around town or taking short trip, but it’s entirely impractical if you’ve got a road trip planned.

However, a compressed air tank can be refilled in about 3 minutes at a refueling station, but you can also take it home and plug it in and the onboard compressor will refill the tanks in about 4 hours (about $2 of electricity). It’s like getting the best of both worlds.

Another reason to like the ZPM Air Car is that it’s reasonably priced. Right now ZPM is expecting their 6-seater to cost less than $18,000. Contrast that to the $100k Tesla Roadster or even the $23k Toyota Prius and you can see why this compressed air thing just might work.

So why do we have to wait until at least late 2009 (probably 2010 – all the cool stuff is coming out in 2010) to see this vehicle hit the streets?

It still has to pass U.S. safety tests, and that takes time. So I certainly hope this thing makes it to the mass market in 2010, but I also wouldn’t be shocked if this thing got delayed… it seems to be happening a lot with all of alternative fuel vehicles.

Here’s a cool story from CNN about these air powered cars.

Posted: July 19th, 2008
at 12:08pm by Fuel Saver

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Categories: Alternative Fuel Vehicles,Fuel Technology

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Diesel Hybrids – The Hybrids Of The Future?

I came across a news story yesterday about the new BMW Vision Efficient Dynamics X5 Concept Vehicle (talk about a mouthful to say…) and was pretty excited. Finally, a company is coming out with a diesel hybrid vehicle.

It reminded me of a conversation I was having with some friends back in December about why I thought was the best progression for us to not only lessen our dependency on foreign oil but to use less oil in general.

I contended that since electric and hydrogen fuel cells aren’t quite ready for prime time that we should take advantage of what we currently have available to us – diesel engines. Diesel powered vehicles are no longer the smelly, noisy vehicles you may be picturing. In fact, many of the new diesel cars are just as quiet as their gasoline powered counterparts.

And to give you an idea of how much more efficient diesel cars are than gas powered vehicles, the VW Polo (not available in the United States… yet) is a diesel powered cars that gets 70mpg+. Compare that to a Prius which only gets about 50mpg at best, and you can see the advantages that diesel has over gasoline and even over gas hybrid cars. Not only that, but the Polo sells for less than $20,000 while the Prius starts at $21,500.

So my thought is that in the short term we should be aiming to drive diesel cars, then diesel hybrid cars, and diesel plug-in hybrid cars. Adding hybrid capabilities and other technology on the horizon to efficient diesel engines could easily push some vehicles into the 100mpg range. And at the kind of mileage you probably wouldn’t care that diesel costs more than gasoline.

Making these changes would greatly reduce the amount of oil we use and need to import on a daily basis, and none of it requires any technology we don’t already have. Heck, just having everyone switch to diesel would make a dramatic difference.

And from there we could move towards fully electric vehicles which draw their power from our electric grid which is a far more efficient way to generate power than to use our internal combustion engines. Also, leaving power generation to the power plants is also far more enviromentally friendly.

And while I just posted about hydrogen fuel cell cars yesterday, I’m not convinced that hydrogen fuel cells are the future of our vehicles. However, I’d be happy to see us driving hydrogen fuel cell / plug-in electric hybrids. That way, we’d still be leaving the bulk of the power generation to the electric grid (trust me, that’s a good thing, the power grid is constantly getting cleaner and more efficient unlike our engines) and we’d still be able to drive across the country by filling up with hydrogen, and our cars would be zero emission.

And while that may be a bit far out right now (probably 20-30+ years), diesel hybrids will be here shortly. Let’s get back to talking about the BMW X5 that inspired me to make this post in the first place.

A typical BMW X5 that you can buy today gets about 18mpg. It may be a pleasure to drive, but it gets crappy gas mileage just like so many of its SUV brethren. The new BMW Vision Efficient Dynamics on the other hand gets over 40mpg with its diesel hybrid engine. In addition to the the hybrid system (which is an innovation in this vehicle itself), it also takes advantage of solar panels mounted on the roof to help charge the batteries, and even the wheels and tires are designed to help you improve gas mileage.

Right now it’s looking like you’ll have to wait until 2010 to get one of these in the United States, which as you already know if you’ve been a long time reader here is going to be a great year for “green” cars.

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Posted: June 19th, 2008
at 7:23pm by Fuel Saver


Categories: Alternative Fuel Vehicles,Fuel Technology

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First Commercial Production Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles Roll Off Assembly Line

Honda has begun the first commercial production of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and plans to start delivering the vehicles to customers in July.

Before you get too excited, though, Honda only plans on producing 200 of these vehicles over the next three years. (For comparison’s sake, Toyota makes about 200,000 Prius’ each year.) Also, unless you live in Southern California or Japan, your chance of getting one of these vehicles is pretty much zero, since Southern California is the only place in the U.S. with enough hydrogen equipped filling stations for such a vehicle to make sense.

The Honda FCX Clarity runs by combining hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity and as a by product produces only water vapor.

While you may not be getting a fuel cell vehicle anytime in the near future, this is still a big step in the quest to make hydrogen cars a reality. Honda has said they hope to begin mass producing these vehicles in ten years – so hopefully by 2018 seeing a fuel cell car driving down the street will be as common as seeing a Prius now.

As you know if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I think plug-in electric hybrids are a far more viable option for the near future than hydrogen cars, but I do hope that my children are able to drive fully electric cars or electric hydrogen hybrid cars since they’d give off zero emissions and would allow us to be fully self sufficient as a nation in terms of our energy needs.

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Posted: June 18th, 2008
at 7:28pm by Fuel Saver


Categories: Alternative Fuel Vehicles,Fuel Technology,Zero Emission Vehicles

Comments: 1 comment


300 MPG Car – Aptera Typ-1

Now here’s something you don’t see everyday. A car that gets 300mpg, can travel safely at highway speeds, can actually hold two adults, and doesn’t need solar panels.

It’s called the Aptera Typ-1, a three wheeled, highly aerodynamic car that can get up to 300 miles per gallon for the first 100 miles. This thing can actually drive across the country on a single tank of gas.

Here are some videos you can watch about this really nifty car:
Aptera Promo Video
Aptera Test Drive
CNN Report on the Aptera
Aptera on ABC

And while you can’t get one just yet, you can reserve yourself a production slot when the Apteras do start rolling off the assembly line by putting a $500 deposit on your credit card, but only if you live in California. Right now the website says that they expect to start delivering these vehicles to their new owners in about 12 months.

It comes in two configurations – all electric or plug-in hybrid. The all electric version can only go 120 miles on a single charge, and costs about $27,000, but the plug-in hybrid version can drive over 1000 miles on a single tank of gas and costs just under $30,000.

If I lived in California, this would definitely be on my list of vehicles to consider buying in the near future, and I hope they’re able to expand to make these vehicles available to the rest of the country soon… I want one.

Did you enjoy this post? If so, why not subscribe to my RSS feed and be notified every time I make a new blog post.

Need an easy way to start saving money on gas right now? I recommend you get a gas card. They’re free, and the savings can really add up. Check out my gas cards page to find out which ones are recommended and which ones aren’t worth the plastic they’re printed on.

Have you signed up to get my free money saving report, “62 ways to save money on gas” yet? If not, click here to get it absolutely FREE!

Posted: June 8th, 2008
at 5:40pm by Fuel Saver


Categories: Alternative Fuel Vehicles,Fuel Technology

Comments: 2 comments


Is it time to buy a diesel?

ford f-250 diesel truckWhenever I tell anyone that I hope my next vehicle is a VW Jetta TDI, they all ask me two questions – 1) what the is it and 2) why would you want to drive a diesel when diesel prices are ridiculous.

Let’s start number one. The VW Jetta TDI is simply a diesel powered Volkswagon Jetta that gets more than 50mpg with a diesel engine – no complicated hybrid technology involved.

And for number 2… with diesel prices reaching $5/gallon why in the heck would anyone want to buy a diesel powered vehicle anymore? Well, first of all, it’s twice the gas mileage that most vehicles get and is even better mileage than the Toyota Prius gets. Also, diesel vehicles have proven that they tend to last a long time, typically easily reaching 200,000 – 300,000 miles. And if anything ever needs servicing on diesel vehicle it’s certainly going to cost less since most mechanics are quite familiar with diesel technology – the same can’t be said for hybrid technology.

Of course, the coolest thing about diesels is their ability to run on far cheaper fuel – vegetable oil. Instead of paying $4 or $5/gallon you can actually get your costs down to as low 46 cents per gallon for fuel.

Filling up the tank for less than $10? You can count me in. Now can you see why I want one?

And this can make getting that diesel powered truck a far more attractive option. Yesterday I was talking about how SUV and truck sales have plummeted with diesel trucks dropping $5000 in value or more. To me that screams opportunity. I could get myself a diesel truck (which always get better gas mileage than their conventional gasoline counterparts anyway) for far less than I could have a few months ago and start running the vehicle on vegetable oil and still pay far less in fuel costs than those Prius owners. Not only that, I wouldn’t be burning any fossil fuels so it’s far more enviromentally friendly.

So have I piqued your interest yet?

Well, if you think it’s worth a try, here’s what I’d recommend you do. You don’t need to go out and do a complicated biodiesel conversion to get started. Instead, you can get this really cool product called the “Diesel Secret” which is a fuel additive you add to the oil you’re going to use as fuel. You don’t need to perform any conversions on your vehicle. You just put in the fuel additive and run the oil through a filter and you’re all set. When it’s all said and done it takes just a little more time than normal to fill up your vehicle, but you end up only paying $.46/gallon or so and many people have reported that it actually makes their diesel engine run better than it did on regular diesel they purchased at the pump.

You can learn more about the Diesel Secret fuel additive here. If you are thinking about buying a diesel or you already own one, I’d definitely recommend taking a look at it.

Posted: June 6th, 2008
at 5:02pm by Fuel Saver


Categories: Alternative Fuel Vehicles,Fuel Technology,Gas Saving Tips

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What You Need To Know About Plug-In Hybrids

Are you considering buying a hybrid car? Do you want the reduced cost of the higher gas mileage or the feeling of knowing that you’re causing less pollution to the environment? Either way, you might want to hold of on that purchase for a while. A new type of engine is being designed that can get even lower gas mileage than a hybrid vehicle and they are set to be available soon. What’s this wonderful invention? It’s the plug-in hybrid.

A plug-in hybrid can be thought of as a hybrid between a regular hybrid car and an electric car. It can take long trips just like a hybrid car, but it can cost as little to run and be as environmentally friendly as an electric car if used only on short trips. A regular hybrid car has an electric and a gasoline engine. The electric engine charges through the gas engine, instead of being plugged in. A plug-in hybrid has an electric and a gas engine as well, but the electric engine is charged by being plugged into an outlet. This way, you can primarily use the cheaper and more environmentally friendly electric engine when making short trips. For longer trips, the gas engine takes over. This means the plug-in hybrid is cheaper to run and more environmentally friendly than a regular hybrid, but it doesn’t die after a few hours (unless you forget to put gas in) like an electric vehicle.

You may be thinking, “How is this any cheaper than a regular hybrid engine? Electricity costs money too!” The truth is electricity is a lot cheaper than gas. While gas has been consistently jumping above $3/gallon, the amount of electricity required to get a car as far as a gallon of gas costs about $1! And if you only take short trips in your plug-in hybrid, you’ll rarely use your gas engine and get close to this price for your mileage all the time. Imagine how much money you could save.

Many people may argue that a plug-in hybrid isn’t really more environmentally friendly than a gas engine or regular hybrid because pollution is produced during the production of electricity. The truth is, extensive studies have been done to compare the pollution output of a gallon of gas and the amount of electricity required to power an electric engine just as far. These studies have shown that through the entire process, electric vehicles produce significantly less pollution to travel just as far. And unlike a normal hybrid car, a plug-in hybrid car doesn’t produce its electricity by burning fuel, making it significantly cleaner than normal hybrid cars.

Hopefully this information will help you make a more informed choice about your next vehicle. Happy driving!

Posted: January 22nd, 2008
at 8:03pm by Fuel Saver


Categories: Alternative Fuel Vehicles

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