Green Business Bureau green cars
Living in a large metropolitan area without a car might seem like a challenge, but once you make the change and if you pick the right city, you might never go back.
There are many obvious, and maybe some not so obvious, benefits to selling the car and doing without. The avoidance of using fossil fuel to power a vehicle is a very just reason. But you will also put a little steel and rubber back into the earth. It might not seem like much, but if you and your neighbor, and his best friend, and her uncle, as well as everyone else who gives up their vehicles did this, many natural resources would be left alone in their natural habitat.
And think of the money that would be left in your pocket – the cost of the car; the cost of the insurance; the cost of maintenance; not to mention the cost of your license and registration, and in some cities a parking space.
And there are more benefits such as:
- Increases support of local services
- Improves your health through increased walking or biking
- Cuts back on greenhouse gas emissions
The Right Place to Be So the benefits are clear. But you should live in a city that supports the carless in order to be successful at living sans auto. The city has to have an infrastructure that benefits those without transportation such as:
- A reliable and vast public transportation system
- Well developed communities with:
- Medical facilities
- Food suppliers
- Safe streets to walk
- Convenience services such as delivery and flexible transportation services
Where Can I Walk (or Bike) The United States Census Bureau tracks the transportation habits of people living across the nation. In 2009, the Bureau reported that nearly 95 percent of the U.S. workforce gets to work by riding in a car. Merely 5 percent travel to work using public transportation.
But do not be discouraged by those figures. The Bureau also reports that the following cities rank highest in the number of people who walk or take a bike to work:
- Ithaca, NY
- Corvallis, OR
- Ames, IA
- Champaign-Urbana, IL
- Manhattan, KS
- Corvallis, OR
- Eugene-Springfield, OR
- Fort Collins-Loveland, CO
- Boulder, CO
- Missoula, MT
Top Cities to Consider
So let’s take a look at some of the best cities to live without a car and the reasons they are tops.
New York It is actually costly to have a car in NYC. Manhattan parking can cost $400 or more. Even in the boroughs you will pay $125 and up for parking. Not too mention insurance…plan on paying a minimum of $250 per month for very basic coverage. Whether you are in the boroughs or midtown, having a car means budgeting for additional costs associated with the wear and tear your car will incur during stop and go traffic.
Alternatively, NYC invests large sums of money in its transportation infrastructure. You can catch a bus, ride the subway, and take a ferry to work, your friends’ homes, or shopping.
Chicago Chicago has long been a pedestrian friendly city. The Chicago Transit Authority operates the nation’s second largest transportation system. You can catch a bus or train to almost anywhere you need to go within the city or take a ride to many of the suburbs.
In the event that you would like a car for a short time, you can hire a car from a car sharing service. For as little as $6.75 per hour, you can have a car to use for an hour or a day. The rate you pay often includes gas as well as insurance. Once you become a member, which may or may not involve a fee, you can make a reservation online, then go to the closest affiliated car lot. Your chosen car will open with a pass card that you get with your membership, and the ignition key will be found inside the vehicle. Also car sharing services are available specifically for businesses so your company does not have to maintain its own fleet.
Boston Boston’s public transportation system is popular and dependable, and easy to find. The city also has car sharing services that provide temporary vehicles like described previously. And like New York, it can be very expensive to own, park, drive, and maintain a car.
Plus, if you live in Boston, you can take advantage of a robust grocery delivery network that brings your food supplies to your kitchen counter. Jump online with grocery list in hand, complete your order on one of several grocery service provider’s web sites. And expect your groceries to arrive the next day.
The term hybrid car leads one to envision a tiny compact car with little horsepower and a boxy exterior. However, many car companies are stepping forward and working hard to produce a tough guy’s hybrid sports car. These cars need to have the horsepower to go 0 to 60 in under six seconds, and need to have the smooth, curvy lines that make heads turn. The real trick that needs to be performed is to have what can qualify as a macho car can be more than just a temporary hybrid. Going electric part of the time is nice, but if the distance is short, then can it really have a positive impact on the environment? The hybrid part needs to be more than just a pretty chromed symbol slapped on the side.
BMW has a current prototype car which they labeled as the “Vision Efficient Dynamics” that has growing potential and is slotted to be in production by 2013. Currently, it boasts an electric drive with ion batteries that can go for 30 miles. Not too impressive when someone driving a sports car doesn’t just drive it to go to the corner market. The feature that will be amazing and jaw dropping is that this 356 horsepower hybrid will go 0 – 60 in 4.8 seconds and achieve 63 miles to the gallon. This car has taken sleek and sexy to a new level and has the looks to drop straight into a science fiction movie. The all glass polycarbonate skin makes it light on its feet and will certainly turn heads.
Always a Classic
Porsche already has the 918 Spyder hybrid on pre-order, for the price of a small nation, although models will not hit the street until 2013. With the looks of a car that just finished a race in the Le Mans league, this car will get even the dullest person’s heart pumping. Hair will dry in seconds when the convertible version is used and speeds up to 199 miles per hour are achieved with this 500 horsepower V8 engine. The 918 Spyder sounds as cool as is it fast; reaching 60 miles per hour in 3.1 seconds. The final figures are still to be determined but Porsche says this beauty will get up to 94 miles per hour on its two electric motors.
Getting Inspiration from the Past
Tired of talking about the concept and the promised to be in production cars? Then the Tesla Car Company is the answer to your twitching right foot. Tesla is the only car company in the United States actually producing an all electric sports car. This small California company has the major companies panicked and scrambling to catch up in the hybrid sports car universe. The Tesla Roadster has the appearance of an offspring from Magnum PI’s sleek Lamborghini and a curvy Jaguar. The Roadster’s stance screams to go fast, which it can do easily by hitting 60 miles per hour in 3.7 seconds. Tesla made sure the Roadster has the stamina to go the distance. When other companies are satisfied with achieving all electric power for a measly 30 miles, the Roadster can tear up pavement for 245 miles on a single charge. You’ll have just enough time to get back and have a leisurely dinner while it gets charged up in only three and half hours. Heads will be turning as this silent demon flies past on the asphalt.
The Future is Still Bright
Although the Tesla Company is currently the only hybrid sports car on the market in the United States, there is hope for the next couple of years. Companies have been working feverishly to get concept cars from the drawing board on to the road. Hydrogen fueled sports cars had a great jump around 2008 because there were heavy tax incentives for all types of alternative fuels. Unfortunately, in the last year, those incentives have not been renewed and now only all electric cars can be rewarded. This restriction will greatly reduce the initiative of companies to work on sports cars in other arenas besides electric because of the limited purchasing market. Thankfully, companies like Tesla have the inspiration, passion, and determination to continue working towards a head turning, heart pumping, mind blowing sports car.
Toyota will soon begin selling a diesel hybrid lift truck that cuts fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions in half.
The Geneo-Hybrid, which Toyota calls the world’s first internal combustion hybrid lift truck, will debut in Japan later this year, but the company hasn’t decided when it will enter the U.S. market.
Toyota Industries Corp., the company’s lift truck manufacturing arm, adapted Toyota’s existing hybrid technology used in the ever-popular Prius to match the needs of this commercial vehicle — lots of starting and stopping and the ability to travel with a load.
The company views hybrids as the best type of green vehicle for the near future, Masatami Takimoto, Toyota’s executive vice president, told reporters Thursday, according to the Associated Press. Prius became Japan’s top selling vehicle last month and the company plans have a hybrid version of its entire product lineup by 2020.
It’s also moving forward with plans to lease 500 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) in the U.S., Japan and Europe later this year, but Takimoto commented that battery technology still has a long way to go until electric vehicles become mainstream. Other automakers, however, are more optimistic about the near-term prospects of electric vehicles.
A newly formed company called Coda Automotive, for example, made headlines yesterday when it announced it would introduce a four-door mid-sized all-electric sedan to California next fall.
The Coda sedan will cost $45,000, although state and federal incentives are expected to lower the cost to the mid-$30,000s. Its driving range will span between 90 and 120 miles and can be fully recharged in less than six hours using a 220-volt standard outlet, or two hours for 40 miles. Coda estimates driving its sedan 100 miles will cost less than $3, compared to $17 for a vehicle with fuel economy of 20 miles per gallon.
Coda formed a long-term joint venture with Chinese-based lithium-ion cell manufacturer Tianjin Lishen Battery, while state-owned Hafei will build the sedans in China. The company will sell also cut out the middleman by avoiding brick-and-mortar dealerships and sell all vehicles directly to consumers online.
Source: Tilde Herrera, GreenBiz.com