The White House is working on new fuel standards with a goal of a 56.2 mile per gallon average for new cars by 2025, but some automakers are already trying to put the brakes on the plan saying it will drive up new vehicle costs by thousands of dollars and force layoffs. There are cars actually getting that mileage now which saves you a ton at the pump, but it will cost you in other ways. With gas prices nearing 4-dollars a gallon, people are finding ways to hit the road without breaking the bank.
"I was getting 90 miles to the purchased gallon with that vehicle," said Cliff Hollis of Greenville.
Hollis found a way to get 90 miles to the gallon without buying a hybrid or electric vehicle.
"I had considered a Prius, a hybrid vehicle, and then thought, 'Hey wait. OK. I want to go even more alternative than that, and waste vegetable oil was the most alternative that I could find," said Hollis.
Vegetable oil, the same kind you use in your kitchen, was the secret to Hollis' fuel savings success. He converted 3 older model diesel cars to run on vegetable oil. Only diesel models work for the conversion.
"A1983 rabbit and a Mercedes 240D and 300D both of which, all 3 were 20 to 25 years old, so I got into the vehicles for nothing," said Hollis.
The cars were cheap and the used vegetable oil was free. Hollis picked it up from 2 restaurants. Hollis said he did it to save money but also for the environment.
"I was really thinking what could I do to do my part and to be
in a situation where I could say I'm not a part of the problem," said Hollis.
Hollis sold his vegetable oil run cars, but plans to convert his 98 Jetta which he says will cost 2 to 3 thousand dollars. So maybe you don't have the time and money to dedicate to converting your car to run on vegetable oil.
Doctor Loren Limberis, a bioengineering professor at East Carolina University drives diesel vehicles and says they are more fuel efficient than gasoline engines and many are cheaper to drive than hybrids or electric cars.
"It just depends on what the economics the consumer is looking at. If they're really adamant about cleaning up the environment or maintaining a clean environment, I don't know if much is going to stop them from paying the extra money that is required for this technology," said Limberis.
Filling up your car with diesel seems painful at the pump because it costs about a quarter more a gallon than unleaded. It's about $4.00 a gallon right now. So maybe you're thinking a hybrid is a better choice. It will definitely save you money at the gas station, but experts say it could take years of driving that hybrid car to break even for what you paid for it.
"The electric hybrids they can get crazy especially if you get into the larger, luxury models it can take up to, I know this sounds weird, but if you do the math up to 150 years to pay it back," said Limberis
So, let's do the math. Let's look at 2011 model cars that get at least 40 miles per gallon on the highway. Based on driving 15-thousand miles a year (about half in the city and half on the highway) with gas costing an average of $3.64 cents and $3.90 for diesel, you'll pay the most at the pump with diesel models and get great mileage on the highway- about 42 miles to the gallon. Your yearly cost for gas is just over 17-hundred dollars.
Car manufacturers have churned out a few gasoline-fueled cars to compete with hybrids and diesels that get 40-miles per a gallon on the highway and you'll average about the same at the pump as a diesel that has slightly better gas mileage because you're paying less for unleaded- about $1650 a year. Plus,these models cost about $10,000 less than their diesel counterparts.
It's no surprise electric and hybrid models have the lowest fuel costs. With an average of 42-miles to the gallon for hybrids, you'll spend less on gas at as little as a thousand dollars a year. Hybrids use gas for engine start up and as a back up if you run out of a charge-.
You get a whopping average 93 miles a gallon with electric cars and you'll only spend about 600 dollars a year on electricity- that's just 50-dollars a month. Hybrids we listed cost 19 to 29-thousand dollars, and small electric models are priced between 29 and 39-thousand dollars.
So, even though you could save more than a thousand dollars a year in gas- in order to make up the extra $5,000 to $25,000 you pay for an electric or hybrid versus a gas powered car- you'd have to drive that gas-saving ride 5 -25 years to break even.
So, when it comes to newer model cars, the innovations to make gas powered engines more efficient have paid off for manufacturers. Driving a small gas powered car will save you the most money in the short run if you are buying a newer model car.
If you're wondering how the vegetable oil car matches up? It costs the same to run as an electric car. Who would have thought? We've had the secret to saving on gas in our kitchen cabinets all along.
If you're strictly choosing a car for the best gas mileage, gas powered cars with the very best gas mileage when you factor in the cost of the car. The drawback is there are only *four* 2011 model, gas-fueled-only cars sold in America that get 40 miles per gallon or better- and they are small cars. They are the Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Elantra, Chevy Cruze Eco and Smart Fortwo cars.
If you're not in the market for a new car, many older, small model diesels get about 50-miles to the gallon on the highway. So even though the price of diesel is a little more- the price of the car is less and you come out saving money as long as there is no major maintenance issue.
Also, the cost of hybrids and electric cars went up this year because there is no more tax incentive to buy hybrids, and the federal incentive to buy an electric car was cut in half from 7,500 dollars to $3,750.
Accessibility to green cars is tough. You usually have to pre-order the cars, and it's tough to find a used one because they are in high demand.
You might be wondering about E-85 or ethanol fuels. They are cleaner burning and better for the environment, but they don't improve fuel efficiency.
If you can't afford to change cars right now, experts say you can save money on gas by driving efficiently, maintaining your car, and planning trips. Many short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a multi-purpose trip covering the same distance.