Types of Fuel Efficient Cars
Fuel-efficient cars come with a number of benefits. They can save the drive money, and they are often environmentally friendly. Many produce fewer emissions than less-efficient cars, and some produce no emissions at all.
These days, there are many ways for a car to save on fuel. While gasoline-powered cars still form the vast majority of cars sold and driven, there are many other options including diesel, electric cars and hybrids. Flex-fuel cars can run on more than one type of fuel. Many run on gasoline combined with ethanol or methanol. Their fuel efficiency is comparable to that of gasoline cars.
Gasoline-powered cars are by far the most common, and they vary widely in efficiency. Some get 12 mpg, and some get 40 mpg. Aside from some luxury models, they are generally less expensive than other cars. Fuel-efficient cars have a more aerodynamic than do less efficient vehicles. The sleek and rounded design of a car like the 2016 Honda Fit means it encounters less wind drag and therefore spends less energy simply going forward. A Honda Fit gets 41 mpg on the highway and 33 mpg in the city. The Scion iA, another gas sipper, gets 42 mpg on the highway and 33 mpg in the city.
In a similar vein, a fuel-efficient car’s innards will also move more smoothly than those of a less efficient car. For example, reducing the friction between the moving parts of the transmission will increase the efficiency of the whole car.
Diesel fuel contains about 10 to 15 percent more energy than gasoline, and diesel engines are more efficient than are gasoline engines of the same size. As a result, diesel cars can go 20 to 35 percent further on a gallon of fuel than can gasoline cars. While they do produce emissions, researchers have developed cleaner diesel fuels like biodiesel and ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel that significantly reduce the amount. Most diesel cars have unimpressive fuel efficiency compared to electric cars or hybrids, but the Audi A3 is an exception. It’s a subcompact that gets 31 mpg in the city and 43 mpg on the highway.
Hybrids and Plug-in hybrids combine the best features of electric and gas-powered cars. Plug-in hybrids can be powered by the same electric charging stations that electric cars use. Some hybrids have a technology called regenerative braking in which the motor converts the energy produced by coasting and braking into electricity that is stored in the car’s battery. Some hybrids, like the Prius, are famous for getting great mileage. Even an SUV like the 2016 Lexus NX 300h gets 35 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. The newest Prius, the aptly-named Eco, gets 58 miles in the city and 53 miles on the highway. Plug-in hybrids can be even more impressive — providing the driver relies more on electricity than gas. The 2016 Ford C-Max Energi Plug-In gets a respectable 40 mpg in the city with gas only — but that fuel economy shoots up to 88 mpg if both gas and electricity are used.
Electric cars have motors that are powered by batteries. While they don’t produce any carbon emissions, their electricity may or may not have an environmentally friendly source. Electricity from solar-, wind-, nuclear- or hydro-powered plants does not cause air pollution. Electric cars, like hybrids, have impressive fuel economy. The 2016 Chevrolet Spark gets 128 mpge (miles per gallon equivalent) in the city and 109 mpge on the highway. The Nissan LEAF gets 126 mpge in the city and 101 mpge on the highway. Tesla’s cars boast fuel economies ranging from high 80s to the low 100s.
Fuel cell vehicles
Fuel cells are the latest technology for powering cars. Fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) use technology that enables them to run on hydrogen, and they don’t produce harmful emissions. A new fueling infrastructure will have to be developed and installed to accommodate them, so they available in only a few places. Most of the FCVs in the US are in California. The 2016 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell gets 49 mi/kg in the city and 51 mi/kg on the highway, while the 2016 Toyota Mirai gets 66 mi/kg for both city and highway driving. One kilogram of hydrogen is equivalent to one gallon of gas, so if these measurements are typical of FCVs, the technology shows a lot of promise.