Posts Tagged ‘Electric Vehicles’

Consumer Appetite for Electric Vehicles Rivals Pickups

April 18th, 2017 by Jessica Souto

ErinSteppAAA unveils top electric, hybrid and fuel-efficient vehicles

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 18, 2017) – Despite lower gas prices, a new AAA study reveals that consumer interest in electric vehicles remains high, with the survey showing that more than 30 million Americans are likely to buy an electric vehicle for their next car. With rising sales, longer ranges and lower costs, AAA predicts a strong future for electric vehicles, and announces the top electric, hybrid and other efficient vehicles in its independent, rigorous test-track evaluation.

Additional Resources

“With their lower ownership costs and compatibility with emerging autonomous technologies, electric vehicles are poised to be a key vehicle of the future,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering. “Tesla — a standout in AAA’s evaluations — has helped widen the appeal of electric vehicles by showing they can be stylish, performance-focused and filled with cutting-edge technology.”

Despite the fact that gas prices are about 40 percent lower than five years ago, AAA found that consumer interest in electric vehicles and hybrids has not waned. In fact, the number of Americans interested in an electric vehicle approaches the number planning to purchase a pickup truck, with the survey showing that 15 percent are likely to buy an electric vehicle for their next car. Millennials are even more accepting of electric vehicles, with nearly one-in-five interested in going electric for their next car.

Concern for the environment remains the primary motivating factor for electric vehicle shoppers, but AAA also found that lower long-term costs, desire for the latest technology and access to car pool lanes are all influential. With their extended range and flexibility, hybrid vehicles are also desirable to Americans, with nearly one third (32 percent) likely to buy the gasoline- and battery-powered alternative.

Beyond electric and hybrid vehicles, AAA’s survey found that fuel economy remains a major purchase consideration for all U.S. drivers, with 70 percent rating it as an important factor in selecting any vehicle – equal to the importance of the cost, crash rating and performance – ahead of safety technology (50%), brand (48%), style, color and design (46%) and smartphone connectivity (34%).

With a focus on the future, the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center rates and ranks electric vehicles, hybrids, compressed natural gas-powered (CNG), diesels and high fuel economy gasoline-powered vehicles for the annual AAA Green Car Guide.  Vehicles are rated on the criteria that matter most to car buyers, including ride quality, safety and performance.

“While desire for green vehicles is strong, making the leap to an electric, hybrid or other fuel efficient vehicles can be daunting to car shoppers,” said Megan McKernan, manager of Automotive Research Center. “AAA’s rigorous evaluations help take the guesswork out by providing an unbiased evaluation of these vehicles based on more than a dozen individual criteria.”  

In 2017, the following vehicles earned AAA’s Top Green Vehicle award:

Category Winner
Overall Tesla Model X 75D
Subcompact Car Chevy Bolt EV Premier
Compact Car Volkswagen e-Golf SE
Midsize Car Lexus GS 450h F Sport
Large Car Tesla Model S 60
Pickup Ford F150 XLT Super Crew
SUV Tesla Model X 75D

Winners, detailed evaluation criteria, vehicle reviews and an in-depth analysis of the green vehicle industry can be found at AAA.com/greencar.

While electric vehicles are an attractive option for car shoppers, AAA found that more than half of Americans are hesitant to make the switch due to “range anxiety” – the concern over running out of charge or having too few locations to charge a vehicle. This fear persists despite the fact that U.S. drivers report an average round-trip commute length (31 miles) and time (46 minutes) that are well within the range of the more than 100 miles of range that most electric vehicles offer.

“Range anxiety stems from seeing gas stations, not charging stations, on every corner,” continued Brannon. “While electric vehicles may not yet fit every lifestyle, the number of charging stations has quadrupled over the last five years and battery ranges support average commutes.”

To assist with range anxiety, drivers of electric vehicles can find the closest charging station via the AAA Mobile app or AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner. In 2017, charging station availability has grown to more than 15,000 locations across the United States.

Additional survey data, study methodology, infographics, photos and video can be found at NewsRoom.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Ginnie PritchettAAA’s top vehicles list for growing families driven by space, comfort and dependability

ORLANDO, Fla., (September 4, 2013) – AAA has released its latest list of top vehicles, targeting expanding families needing more room, easy handling and dependability in their next vehicle.  Whether looking for the practicality of a minivan to carry more cargo, or the sportier side of an SUV to take the team to soccer games, AAA’s list highlights a variety of vehicles growing families should consider during a new car search.

“There are many options available for families needing extra cargo space or room for additional passengers,” says David Bennett, manager, AAA Auto Buying Programs. “A new vehicle is a major financial investment for many families. By taking steps to be an educated and informed buyer, you can avoid having to replace your vehicle sooner than expected.”

Crossover or Sport Utility Vehicles

Toyota Highlander: Available in various drivetrains that include a four-cylinder, V-6, and gasoline-electric hybrid, the Highlander delivers a large interior with a tight yet child-friendly, third row. The ride is quiet and comfortable and fuel economy with either the four-cylinder or hybrid drivetrain is very good for the class. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Toyota Highlander is $34,955, 6.15 percent less than the MSRP*.

Subaru Outback: Standard all-wheel drive and a capable four-cylinder engine working through a continuously variable automatic transmission set the Outback apart from its competition. In this case, the differences add to the Outback’s appeal. Performance is good, while fuel economy can be very good for the class. Although seating is limited to five, the back seat passengers enjoy a roomy interior while the cargo area easily stores the items growing families often carry. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Subaru Outback is $28,021, 7.87 percent less than the MSRP*.

Chevrolet Equinox: A family crossover that rides nicely, handles well and has a generous rear seat that is perfect for growing teens and young adults. The four-cylinder engine is adequate; the V-6 is livelier but is nearly 20 percent less fuel efficient in AAA testing. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Chevrolet Equinox is $27,793, 1.78 percent less than the MSRP*.

Mazda5: Mirroring a compact wagon rather than a true crossover, the Mazda5 packs a great deal of practicality into a small footprint. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is not the most powerful and that can be apparent in hilly terrain or when carrying a heavy load but, it is surprisingly economical and its around town performance is more than adequate. Handling is very good; the Mazda5 is fun to drive, though noise levels are higher than average. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Mazda5 is $22,047, 2.38 percent less than the MSRP*.

Honda CR-V: “Practical” and “levelheaded” easily describe this crossover utility vehicle. The four-cylinder engine delivers more than enough power, along with respectable fuel economy. The passenger cabin is roomy for the compact crossover field and the cargo area in the five-passenger CR-V can hold a wide range of family items. The ride is comfortable. Rear visibility is aided by the standard backup camera. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Honda CR-V is $26,340, 3.12 percent less than the MSRP*.

Dodge Durango: Offered with either a V-6 or V-8, the Durango has more room than the Jeep Grand Cherokee on which it is based. The stretch in both wheelbase and overall length have not diminished this vehicle’s ride, its silence on the highway or towing capacity. Third-row seating has plenty of room. While the price can quickly rise, opting for the lower, yet still well-equipped SXT or Crew trim lines will help keep the price in line. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Dodge Durango is $36,567, 4.37 percent less than the MSRP*.

Sedans

Honda Accord: This mid-size sedan has long been a favorite of families. Its four-cylinder engine is powerful and economical, the handling is very good and fuel economy could encourage longer family road trips. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Honda Accord is $25,322, 5.21 percent less than the MSRP*.

Ford Taurus: A smooth and quiet highway ride, roomy passenger cabin and impressive trunk room all suggest the Taurus was designed with family use in mind. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Ford Taurus is $33,098, 4.90 percent less than the MSRP*.

Hyundai Sonata: A low price in no way diminishes this model’s performance. The 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine delivers adequate power and very good fuel economy. The ride is pleasing and handling is good. The warranty is generous, too. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Hyundai Sonata is $24,023, 4.09 percent less than the MSRP*.

Minivans

Honda Odyssey: The Odyssey is roomy, rides comfortably, features supportive seats and has a first-class drivetrain. Child entertainment options include an optional built-in DVD system. Handling is good and maneuvering this relatively large minivan in tight parking lots is easier than one might imagine. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Honda Odyssey is $32,447, 11.44 percent less than the MSRP*.

Chrysler Town & Country: This minivan offers a quiet and composed ride and a smooth and powerful V-6 engine. It stands out for its interior flexibility. The “Stow-n-Go” package allows quick and easy conversion from passenger to cargo hauling duties as both second and third row seats stow easily into wells located in the floor. When the seats are raised and in use, those wells provide additional storage. Unfortunately, these folding seats fall short on comfort. Nonetheless, this flexibility and frequent retail discounts make the Town & Country attractive. Adding to its appeal are the many safety features that are available. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Chrysler Town & Country is $32,925, 4.11 percent less than the MSRP*.

AAA Auto Buying experts test drive and evaluate hundreds of vehicles each year. AAA provides free vehicle reviews, localized pricing information and more online at AAA.com/AutoMaker. Additional information on AAA Auto Buying is available at AAA.com/AutoBuying.  The AAA Auto Buying Tools App is available here to access information on the go.

TrueCar, Inc. is the AAA preferred supplier for new car pricing information for the motor club. TrueCar is an online automotive information and communications platform focused on creating a better car buying experience for dealers and consumers. Consumers want a hassle-free car buying experience and dealers want high-quality sales velocity. TrueCar helps achieve these goals by providing unbiased market information on new and used car transactions and by supplying an online communications platform through which dealers and consumers can communicate with each other. TrueCar’s market-based information provides both consumers and dealers with an accurate and comprehensive understanding of what others actually paid recently for similar vehicles, both locally and nationally.  If you are in the market for a new vehicle, you can configure a virtual vehicle with the specifications you want, see the Estimated or Target Price for that vehicle in your area, and then connect directly with local TrueCar Certified Dealers at AAA.com/AutoMaker.  Once you submit a request, TrueCar Certified Dealer representatives will get in touch with you to discuss vehicles in their inventory.

*The Average Paid price is a proprietary mathematical calculation based on actual recent anonymized transaction information in your regional area, and includes destination and delivery charges after incentives that are subject to change, but does not include tax, title, licensing, documentation or processing fees, other state and governmental charges and/or fees, or any other charges or fees allowed by law. Your actual savings may vary based on multiple factors including the vehicle you select, region, dealer, and applicable manufacturer incentives. The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) is determined by the manufacturer, and may not reflect the price at which vehicles are generally sold in the dealer¹s trade area as not all vehicles are sold at MSRP. Each dealer sets its own pricing. Your actual purchase price is negotiated between you and the dealer.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

 

Mariam AliEven as technology advances, motorists identify range anxiety and lack of charging locations as top reasons to not drive electric

ORLANDO, Fla., (May 9, 2013) – The number of electric vehicle charging station locations has increased 959 percent since the debut of the Nissan Leaf in 2010. Despite that, eight out of ten U.S. adults are unsure about or unlikely to buy an electric vehicle (EV) and 30 percent of them say it is due to mileage limitations and availability of charging stations locations, according to a survey by AAA.

“There have been major advancements in electric vehicle technology and the supporting infrastructure,” said John Nielsen, AAA Managing Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair, “However, it will take time and education for the general motoring public to understand just how far these vehicles have come, and recognize the many resources available to those who drive them.”

Modern EVs typically have a range of 60-100 miles, more than enough for the average driver’s daily commute which the U.S. Department of Transportation says is around 16 miles one way. As to recharging, the U.S. Department of Energy reports there are now more than 5,800 charging stations available for public use. The agency has aggressively promoted expansion of the electric vehicle charging infrastructure using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Additional findings from the AAA survey, fielded in July 2012, show that 26 percent of U.S. adults who are unsure about or unlikely to buy an electric vehicle (EV) cite the higher cost in general of an electric vehicle (i.e. buying, maintaining) as a reason they would be unlikely/undecided to make such a purchase.   “Battery improvements, increased competition, and economies of scale are all likely to drive down costs associated with buying an EV,” Nielsen continued. “With no need to change oil or filters and less brake system wear and tear, maintaining an EV is actually more affordable than a conventional vehicle.”

As joint efforts by government, private groups, and the automotive industry bring the charging picture into focus, AAA’s commitment to meeting member’s needs continues through electric vehicle roadside assistance. In 2011, AAA facilitated an extensive electric vehicle charging research and development program to help test EV charging as a roadside solution. AAA’s specially equipped road service trucks – capable of providing EV charging in approximately 15 minutes for about 10 miles of driving – are currently being tested in select markets across the country. The trucks can also provide traditional roadside services to members with any type of vehicle.

Working with the Electric Drive Transportation Association, AAA recently added EV content to their public information website, AAA Exchange. The new content provides basic information about electric vehicles that will help motorists determine whether an electric vehicle might be right for them. The materials also examine the various types of electric vehicles available, and help consumers understand the important differences that come with owning and operating an electric car.

Electric vehicle drivers looking for a public charging station in their area can consult the online AAA TripTik Travel Planner or the AAA Mobile application for smartphones. About 400 EV charging stations are located at AAA/CAA Approved hotels, restaurants and attractions. A green “plug” icon accompanies listings for these establishments in club-customizable AAA.com Travel Guides and 2013 Tour Book guides, which also denote stations available at AAA club offices.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Ginnie PritchettFrom a full electric vehicle to a spacious minivan AAA top picks driven by fuel efficiency and comfort

ORLANDO, Fla., (March 26, 2013) – Most Americans (86 percent) rely on their vehicle to get them to and from work every day. With an average commute of 25 minutes each way and gas prices hovering about $3.50 per gallon since February, selecting the right vehicle can make a commute more enjoyable and lower expenses.  For motorists in the market for a new car AAA Auto Buying experts have selected vehicles that go the distance with comfort and performance.

“Many Americans are spending several hours every week in their vehicle to get to and from work,” says John Nielsen, director, AAA Automotive Engineering & Repair. “Having a vehicle that is reliable, fuel-efficient and comfortable can really make a difference in your everyday routine.”

AAA’s top vehicle picks are selected by AAA Auto Buying experts who test drive and evaluate hundreds of vehicles each year.  Fuel efficiency, comfort and overall performance helped create this top list of vehicles for commuters.

Additional Resources

Compact Vehicles

Chevrolet Volt: This four-passenger, plug-in electric vehicle, sidesteps range anxiety with a gasoline engine on board to run a generator. The newest versions of the Volt allow a driver to force operation of the gasoline engine, ideal for a commute that starts on a highway, where gasoline power is more efficient, and ends in a city, where battery power is more cost effective. The car is exceptionally quiet, handles well and boasts great acceleration but rear seat room is tight if you plan to carpool. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Chevrolet Volt five-door hatchback is $38,871, 2.8 percent less than the MSRP*.

Toyota Prius or Prius V: These gasoline-electric hybrids set the standard for fuel efficiency in a gasoline-powered vehicle. The Prius seats five in reasonable comfort and is exceptionally efficient for urban commutes where regenerative braking and the ability to turn the gasoline engine off while the car is stopped enhances fuel efficiency.  TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Toyota Prius door hatchback is $24,066, 3.7 percent less than the MSRP, and the Prius V five door wagon is $26,350, four percent less than MSRP*.

Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI: The SportWagen is a wagon style model that uses a diesel engine to deliver smooth acceleration with strong fuel economy. Handling is also precise and predictable. With the option of manual or automatic transmission, these cars are fun to drive, making the longer commutes seem less daunting. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen four-door manual hatchback TDI is $23,894, 9.2 percent less than the MSRP*.

 

Sedans

Audi A4: Beautifully finished and very comfortable in front, the A4 can make light work of any commute. Front-wheel drive is standard, but the option for Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system is available. The ride is firm but compliant and the handling is tops. The body structure feels exceptionally solid, even when facing rough urban pavement. Driving pleasure earns a very high grade, although the rear seat room earns a much lower score. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Audi A4 four-door Sedan CVT FrontTrak 2.0T is $31,697, 5.1 percent less than the MSRP*.

Buick LaCrosse: A steady ride, comfortable seating, responsive handling and an excellent V-6-based drivetrain make this car an ideal choice for commuting in a carpool. Performance is excellent. For buyers seeking the room and comfort of the LaCrosse with more fuel efficiency, a four-cylinder eAssist drivetrain is offered. Consider it a mild hybrid. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Buick LaCrosse four-door sedan base is $30,727, 5.6 percent less than the MSRP*.

Ford Fusion: Ford’s entry in the affordably-priced family sedan arena has been completely redesigned for 2013. The new model features a sleek exterior, an upgraded interior and new drivetrains. The Fusion is now offered with three engines, a base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two optional turbocharged four cylinder engines, either 1.6- or 2.0-liters. The 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine produces 240 horsepower, matching the output of many V-6s. This Fusion could easily have passed for a luxury car not too many years ago. Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is an option. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Ford Fusion four door S is $20,038, 10.9 percent less than the MSRP*.

Hyundai Genesis: This V-6-powered sedan is refined, powerful and roomy. The V-6 engine turns in an exemplary performance and the new 8-speed automatic transmission raises the performance level to the point that the optional V-8 is unnecessary. While handling is predictable, the ride does fall a little short of full luxury sedan status. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Hyundai Genesis four door sedan V6 3.8 liter is $33,358, 4.9 percent less than the MSRP*.

Nissan Altima: The redesigned 2013 Altima continues to be a top choice for commuting. It is comfortable for all passengers, performs well and offers several unique safety features, including clever use of the backup camera to provide lane departure and blind spot warnings in some models. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Nissan Altima four door 2.5 liter is $21,706, 3.7 percent less than the MSRP*.

 

Crossovers

Ford Flex:  This boxy crossover is hard to beat when looking for room in a vehicle. Buyers will find ample space for passengers or purchases. The ride is quiet and well controlled. The engines are V-6s, with the EcoBoost motor turning in a particularly good performance. Though costly, this EcoBoost engine not only outperforms the base V-6, in AAA testing it also delivered slightly better fuel economy.  TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Ford Flex SE is $26,803, 15.7 percent less than the MSRP*.

Toyota Highlander: In the crossover category, this vehicle features a comfortable ride and roomy interior. More impressive are its highway cruising manners and despite its size, ease of maneuvering in traffic. And while this vehicle’s size takes a minor toll in handling through sharp bends in the road, add a reputation for dependability and long life and you have a top choice for commuters needing size and passenger capacity.  TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Toyota Highlander four-door front wheel drive four cylinder is $27,978, 6.3 percent less than the MSRP*.

 

Minivan

Honda Odyssey: This roomy minivan is offered in a wide range of models, though even basic versions are well equipped and comfortable. Its size suggests that it is best suited to a less crowded commute venue, but even in an urban setting, the Odyssey is easy to drive. Front and second row seating comfort is quite good. The third row folds easily to from a flat load floor with ample space for a wide range of items. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Honda Odyssey LX is $27,801, 5.8 percent less than the MSRP*.

AAA provides free vehicle reviews, localized pricing information and more online at AAA.com/AutoMaker. Additional information on AAA Auto Buying is available at AAA.com/AutoBuying.  The AAA Auto Buying Tools App is available here to access information on the go.

TrueCar, Inc. is the AAA preferred supplier for new and used car pricing information for the motor club. TrueCar is an online automotive information and communications platform focused on creating a better car buying experience for dealers and consumers. Consumers want a hassle-free car buying experience and dealers want high-quality sales velocity. TrueCar helps achieve these goals by providing unbiased market information on new and used car transactions and by supplying an online communications platform through which dealers and consumers can communicate with each other. TrueCar’s market-based information provides both consumers and dealers with an accurate and comprehensive understanding of what others actually paid recently for similar vehicles, both locally and nationally.  If you are in the market for a new vehicle, you can configure a virtual vehicle with the specifications you want, see the Estimated or Target Price for that vehicle in your area, and then connect directly with local TrueCar Certified Dealers at AAA.com/AutoMaker.  Once you submit a request, TrueCar Certified Dealer representatives will get in touch with you to discuss vehicles in their inventory.

*The Average Paid price is a proprietary mathematical calculation based on actual recent anonymized transaction information in your regional area, and includes destination and delivery charges after incentives that are subject to change, but does not include tax, title, licensing, documentation or processing fees, other state and governmental charges and/or fees, or any other charges or fees allowed by law. Your actual savings may vary based on multiple factors including the vehicle you select, region, dealer, and applicable manufacturer incentives. The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (³MSRP²) is determined by the manufacturer, and may not reflect the price at which vehicles are generally sold in the dealer¹s trade area as not all vehicles are sold at MSRP. Each dealer sets its own pricing. Your actual purchase price is negotiated between you and the dealer.

 

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AAA provides tips for those looking to be more eco-friendly with their driving habits and next vehicle purchase.

ErinSteppORLANDO, Fla., (May 8, 2012) – Hoping to decrease your carbon footprint and live a greener life? What and how you drive is a large part of your daily carbon footprint. Electric engines, several hybrid options and even traditional internal combustion engines have become more efficient and emit fewer greenhouse gasses.  Even if you’re not in the market for a new car, AAA has tips to help you get the best efficiency and minimize greenhouse gasses no matter what you drive.

“There has been an influx of ‘green’ technologies by automakers into the market, which is great for consumers seeking a more environmentally-conscious choice for their next vehicle purchase,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “Additionally, motorists not currently in the market for a new car can also make a difference by simply adjusting driving habits.”

Additional Resources

The market for green cars is strengthening. Below are technologies to keep a look out for when in the market for a ‘green’ vehicle:

Electric Power

2012 has been an exciting year for full-electric vehicles (EV). These vehicles do not use gasoline and rely solely on battery power. With the average cost for a kilowatt hour of electric energy at approximately 12 cents, to fully charge an EV with a 24KWh battery pack would cost around $2.88. That works out to between 3.0 cents and 4.4 cents per mile for fuel.  Making EV’s even more appealing and green; there is no need for oil changes, ignition system maintenance, fuel system service or exhaust pipe and muffler replacements. A stand out in this category is the Nissan Leaf.

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Similar fuel economy can be realized in plug-in hybrid powertrains. These vehicles use a rechargeable battery pack that allows the car to travel up to 35 miles before the onboard gasoline engine starts. In some cars, this engine will provide power to the drive wheels. In other models this engine powers a generator that delivers power to the motor driving the vehicle while also recharging the batteries. Unlike fully electric vehicles, a plug-in hybrid is limited only by the range of its gas tank. The Toyota Prius PHEV and 2013 Ford Fusion are great examples of plug-ins in the marketplace today.

Gasoline-Electric Hybrids

Hitting the market hard in 2012, gasoline-electric hybrids like the Nissan Altima Hybrid and Honda Civic Hybrid use a gasoline engine and an electric motor. A full or parallel hybrid can run on either the gasoline or electric motor, or use both for maximum performance. A mild hybrid uses the electric motor to aid the gasoline engine, which must always be running when the car is moving. Full hybrids can travel on electric power alone. Hybrids never need to be plugged into a wall outlet or external charging station to keep the batteries at full power. The gasoline engine that powers the car also handles the task of recharging the batteries.

Compressed Natural Gas/Diesel Vehicles

Vehicles running on compressed natural gas (CNG) marry efficiency with markedly reduced tailpipe emissions. While many gasoline-powered vehicles have been converted to run on compressed natural gas, which is relatively abundant and produced in the United States, the Honda Civic GX is the only sedan that comes from the factory with this ability. CNG vehicles use a standard piston engine.

Diesels are not often thought of as being “green,” but the latest generation of diesel vehicles produce fewer tailpipe emissions and significantly reduce carbon dioxide output. Today’s diesels are so clean they meet environmental standards in all states, including those that have adopted the more stringent California emissions rules. Among diesel powered cars, the Audi A3 is a standout.

Don’t forget More Efficient Gasoline Vehicles
Manufacturers are even updating or planning to update their current models to be environmentally friendly. Ford has launched their EcoBoost engines that use turbocharging technology, making it possible to use smaller, more fuel efficient engines that are still able to provide the levels of acceleration needed for safe merging and passing. The Chevrolet Cruze and new Dodge Dart will also offer turbocharged four-cylinder engines in place of larger and less economical engines.

For motorists that are not in the market for a new car, but want to decrease their carbon footprint, AAA suggests the following simple changes to lessen the impact of transportation on the environment:

    • Slow down. Decreasing vehicle speed by 10 mph can significantly increase fuel efficiency and decrease the associated carbon dioxide output.
    • Drive at a steady pace and anticipate traffic patterns. Accelerating rapidly then having to brake, wastes fuel and causes brakes to wear more quickly.
    • Plan your route in advance. Consolidate trips whenever possible and plan to travel during lighter traffic times.
    • Remove unneeded items from the trunk and avoid using the roof rack. Added weight and air resistance will cause more fuel to burn.
    • If your car has an “ECO” setting, use it. It will smooth out your gas pedal inputs; optimize transmission shift points and decrease air conditioners impact on the engine.

AAA’s top picks are selected by its auto buying experts who test drive and evaluate hundreds of vehicles each year. AAA provides free vehicle reviews, localized pricing information and more for consumers online at AAA.com/AutoMaker. Additional information on AAA Auto Buying is available at AAA.com/AutoBuying or by downloading the mobile Auto Buying Tools App at aaa.com/mobile.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

ORLANDO, Fla., March 3, 2011

Several new “greener” technologies from automakers join safety and performance features on 2011 list

Christie HydeAAA today released its biennial list of top picks for new vehicle technology. Developed by automotive experts at the nation’s largest motor club, the list features a variety of interesting vehicle technologies intended to improve safety, increase performance and reduce the environmental impact of some of the newest models on the market.
“Every model year, automakers find new ways to employ technology in their vehicles to enhance the driving experience,” said John Nielsen, AAA National Director of Auto Repair and Buying Services. “While many of the innovations continue to focus on safety and performance, we’re also seeing more new technologies that address the environmental impact of the vehicles we drive, which is evident in this year’s list.”

AAA’s experts warn not every new vehicle technology necessarily has a positive effect on function or safety. “Many technologies can distract drivers who end up multi-tasking behind the wheel, which takes their focus off the primary task at hand—safely driving their car,” Nielsen said.

Additional Resources

This year’s top picks by AAA for new vehicle technology include:

All-Electric Vehicles – While many automakers have electric vehicles in the works, the Nissan Leaf is the first to market from a major car brand. With an estimated 100-mile range between charges, the Leaf is a viable option for many commuters. It drives nicely, has a well-designed interior, and calculated on a cents per mile basis, the electricity that powers it costs less than half as much as gasoline in fuel-efficient cars.

Plug-In Hybrids – These cars provide the benefits of an electric car, while maintaining the same driving range as conventional vehicles. Vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt and soon-to-arrive, plug-in Toyota Prius operate in all-electric mode for a limited local range, after which a downsized gasoline engine is used to either power the vehicle or recharge the battery while the car moves.

Turbocharging and Supercharging These systems have long been associated with performance, but they also can produce enhanced fuel economy. Turbochargers and superchargers let automakers install smaller engines that burn less fuel during normal driving, yet offer the performance of a larger engine when acceleration is needed for passing or merging. Ford’s EcoBoost engines are an example of this technology, which was recently introduced into its F-150 models, with other manufacturers moving to follow suit.

Inflatable Rear Seatbelts – Both Ford and Mercedes-Benz are working with this technology that promises to bring a large measure of the airbag protection afforded to front-seat occupants to those who are buckled up in the rear. In a crash, the seatbelts inflate, spreading the force of the impact over a larger area of the body, which reduces the likelihood of injuries.

Start-Stop Technology – Common in other parts of the world, but only in limited U.S. use, start-stop technology is making its mainstream debut in America via Mazda’s i-stop feature. The technology shuts off the engine when the car is at a stop, and instantly restarts it when the driver takes his foot off the brake pedal. Common on gasoline-electric hybrids, more widespread application of the technology has the potential to save significant energy in non-hybrid vehicles, particularly in urban environments.

Variable Valve Timing – This feature was once limited to high-cost performance and luxury models, but is now available in nearly every price range of vehicle. Variable valve timing creates more engine power while delivering greater efficiency and lower emissions. The technology is now widespread in models from numerous automakers including Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda and BMW.

Enhanced Stability Control & Rollover Protection – Introduced in the 2011 Ford Explorer, curve control senses when a driver has entered a turn too quickly which can cause a crash, especially in SUVs, crossovers and pick-up trucks that have high centers of gravity. Curve control backs off the throttle and, if more assistance is needed, applies the brakes. Ford claims the system can reduce vehicle speed by 10 mph in just one second to help the driver maintain control in a curve.

Diesel Engines – While diesel engines have been around for decades, the days of smelly, noisy, smoke-belching and rough-running diesels are gone. Modern diesel engines are clean, quiet, refined and powerful. They also are economical, often providing a 30 percent boost in fuel economy with a corresponding decline in carbon dioxide emissions compared to gasoline engines offering comparable performance. Some top performers in this area include Volkswagen models with TDI diesel engines, and Mercedes-Benz vehicles with BlueTEC diesel power plants.

Alternator Recharging Programs – Some manufacturers, such as Toyota and BMW, limit the time the alternator recharges the battery to higher engine speeds and/or when the car is slowing down. The outcome for the driver is improved performance of engine while idling and better fuel economy.

AAA’s top picks for new vehicle technology are selected by AAA Auto Buying experts who review hundreds of vehicles each year. The list takes into consideration not only the first appearance of a new technology in vehicles, but also its availability to U.S. motorists in popular mainstream vehicles.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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