Drive a Cleaner Car

Your car releases 20 lbs. of carbon dioxide into the air for every gallon of gas it uses.

So there’s no better time to make a huge contribution toward the reduction of global warming pollution than when you’re in the market for a new car. The choice you make will affect your comfort, lifestyle, finances, and planet for years to come.

If you want to reduce your own personal global warming pollution, pick a car that’s highly fuel efficient.

Consider these vehicles, which use hybrid engineering to improve fuel economy and also are rated as Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicles:Drive Smart

  • Ford Escape
  • Honda Accord, Civic, and Insight
  • Nissan Altima
  • Lexus RX400H and GS 450H
  • Mercury Mariner SUV
  • Saturn Vue and Aura Green Line
  • Toyota Prius, Camry, and Highlander SUV
  • Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid
  • GMC Sierra Hybrid

Several good online guides to green cars are available. Grist has a top 15 green vehicles list; car-rating site Edmunds.com offers a comprehensive green directory; at HybridCars.com, you’ll find tips on how to buy a hybrid.

A complete list of available tax credits by model, along with all applicable rules, is available at www.hybridcars.com. We also suggest consulting www.fueleconomy.gov, sponsored by the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Energy.

You may hear about other cars that are called “hybrids.”

Be cautious, because hybrids other than those listed above are vehicles whose hybrid systems are tailored to achieving better acceleration, with limited improvement in gas mileage. And when there’s no improvement in mileage, there’s no reduction in global warming pollution.

You might have heard that you’ll pay more for a hybrid. Up front, that’s true. But with a generous federal tax credit in place, and significant annual gas savings, you’ll make up the difference well before most people buy a replacement car. Some states, like Illinois, even have a state rebate, so you can bring down the cost even further.

If you keep your car seven years, you’ll make up for the remaining price difference of $2,510 in gas savings. And if gas continues to go up, you’ll make it up even sooner.

Financial considerations aside, remember that from Day One of ownership, you’ll be reducing global warming pollution by driving a hybrid. In the example above, the Toyota Camry hybrid will release 1.2 tons less carbon

Cool stuff: what might be coming down the road

The next generation of hybrid likely will be plug-ins that get much higher mileage than today’s models. Google’s foundation, for instance, is working to accelerate adoption of plug-n hybrids by demonstrating their use in its own fleet.

Google.org RechargeIT: Plug-in Hybrids

Clean car developers also are pursuing development of all-electric vehicles that can work at the mass-market level.