|Transportation | Car Companies Growing Green | Mass Transit Goes Green | On the Horizon|
Often, when a new innovation is touted to reduce air pollution, it is measured in “cars-removed-from-the-road.” This measurement only hints to the tremendous environmental impact cars have on our Earth.
Several major car distributors have begun moving toward more environmentally friendly and higher mileage vehicles. Honda’s Insight was tested by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and received the highest fuel-efficiency rating of 60 miles per gallon in the city and 66 miles per gallon on the highway. This hybrid (a term used to describe a car incorporating both conventional gas and electric engines) is engineered to feel like a conventional car for the driver. By using the electric motor (powered by a rechargeable nickel-metal hydride battery) as a backup to the standard 1.0 liter 3-cylinder combustion engine, it keeps up with mainstream car models.
Toyota (the world’s second-largest car manufacturer behind GM)
makes the Prius. This gas/electric hybrid is a partial zero-emission
vehicle gets 60 mpg (city) according to the
EPA’s 2004 tests. Toyota uses what they call Hybrid Synergy Drive.
The car will start with its electric motor. In the event the battery
is dead, it uses the gas engine to generate
electricity for the battery pack. The car’s onboard computer manages
the use of the gas and electric motors during heavy acceleration to give
optimum performance and
efficiency. Highway driving is left completely to the Prius’ 76
horsepower gas engine,
Mass transit authorities have begun making the switch from conventional propulsion systems to more Earth-friendly engines. General Motors’ Allison Transmission has created the first mass-produced line of hybrid autobus systems. These buses are running in Seattle, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Portland (Oregon), and Orange County, California. Each bus delivers 60 percent better fuel economy, and reduces particulate emissions by 90 percent and nitrogen oxide by 50 percent. These buses are not swapping fuel efficiency for performance either. In fact, the green buses have 50 percent better acceleration than conventional buses with normal diesel powertrains.
With tax deductions as incentives to buy Earth-friendly hybrid cars, there is certainly a push for new forms of fuel. In the near future fuel cell vehicles and solar powered cars may go mainstream. For more information on solar cells and hydrogen fuel cells, see our information pages and Interact! Presentations.
Go to our hydrogen fuel cell page for more information