In November, the finalists for the 2012 Green Car of the Year award in the United States were announced. The actual winner was revealed a couple of weeks later at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show. The finalists included a variety of different styles operating on different clean energies, from the Ford Focus Electric to the diesel-powered Volkswagen TDI to the Honda Civic Natural Gas. The eventual winner? The Honda Civic Natural Gas, “the cleanest-running internal combustion vehicle certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, with a 48 MPGe highway fuel economy rating.”
There is some contention over the Honda taking home first prize because of serious concerns about the most popular extraction method for natural gas, hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). The process involves injecting a slurry of water and chemicals into rock to create cracks that will allow the natural gas to flow out; the issues come from the chemical-laden water seeping into water systems and contaminating people’s land and drinking water. There is the other issue of comparing “fuel efficiency” in America versus other places like Europe, where many cars get significantly higher mileage than even the most advanced “green” models in the U.S.
Regardless, taking steps towards making cleaner running vehicles more popular in the U.S. is an exciting and worthy endeavor. As more people request vehicles that do less damage to the environment, car manufacturers are keeping up with demand and creating cars that run better, are more green, while still offering the amenities many people look for in their cars.
For more information on innovations in green cars, check out GreenCar.com. It has an entire section on green technology and alternative fuels, to help answer any questions you have about the differences between electric, diesel, natural gas, etc.
What type of car and clean energy operating system do you think is the future?