Spectrum of green cars eye LA auto show crown

The Chevrolet Volt is shown after being named "Green Car of the Year" at the LA Auto Show in 2010
The Chevrolet Volt is shown after being named "Green Car of the Year" at the LA Auto Show in 2010. Five environmentally friendly cars are vying for the crown of Green Car of the Year at the LA Auto Show this week -- each using different fuel or fuel combinations.

Five environmentally friendly cars are vying for the crown of Green Car of the Year at the LA Auto Show this week -- each using different fuel or fuel combinations.

Demonstrating the growing range of options available for motorists wanting to cut their carbon footprint, the shortlist includes all-electric, gas-electric hybrid and natural gas-powered models.

The finalists for the accolade, the winner of which is to be announced on Thursday, are: the Natural Gas, the Volkswagen Passat TDI, the Mitsubishi i, the V and the Electric.

"There's all-electric, a diesel, a natural gas and there's a hybrid," said John O'Dell, senior editor at Edmunds.com -- a leading website for car buyers.

"That shows the industry is finally getting to the point where there's some consumer choice in green offerings. When you look at those vehicles, they run the gamut of fuel types, price range and vehicle types," he told the Los Angeles Times.

Last year the annual Los Angeles show's crown went to the 2011 , which beat back competition from Asian rivals including Nissan and Hyundai.

Of this year's finalists, the Mitsubishi and Ford contenders are all-electric; the Prius is a larger version of the popular gas-electric hybrid, the Volkswagen runs on diesel, and the Honda uses natural gas.

"We have some choices," said O'Dell, "and there will be far more choices a few years from now."


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Greenest cars: Natural gas Honda Civic GX, Nissan Leaf electric and, just barely, Chevrolet Volt

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Nov 16, 2011
I have yet to figure out how an all-electric car could be branded with the "green" label, when it relies on electricity that -- at least in the United States -- very likely comes from burning coal.

Nov 17, 2011
my electricity comes from hydro to power a green car. If you do not like your power choices do something about it.

Nov 17, 2011
I have yet to figure out how an all-electric car could be branded with the "green" label

it at least gives you the option to go green (while gasoline powered cars don't). That current electricity production comes from non-clean sources (coal, oil, gas, nuclear) doesn't mean it has to stay that way.

There are already energy companies out there that offer you deals where you can get your energy from clean sources. So if you're serious about going green then there's not much problem.

Nov 17, 2011
@idaho, @antialias: good points.

One question though Idaho: how would one realistically do something about changing a power source? Obviously, you live near a hyrdo plant. I'm near nuclear and coal. Other than producing one's power off-grid, most people, particularly in cities, aren't going to have much in the way of options.

Nov 17, 2011
Power companies (at least over here) do it this way: You get a contract that the number of Watts you use will be generated via renewables. This in turns means that (summed over all customers) the powerplant has to produce/buy X number of Watts off of relevant power sources.

The actual Watt you are getting out of your socket may come from any source since there aren't separate power lines for renewables or non-renewables.

It doesn't really matter whether my actual Watts are hydro and my neighbors' are coal or the other way around. Only that more Watts are generated via renewables and less via traditional methods.

Nov 17, 2011
Power companies (at least over here) do it this way: You get a contract that the number of Watts you use will be generated via renewables. This in turns means that (summed over all customers) the powerplant has to produce/buy X number of Watts off of relevant power sources.


I had no idea. Does it cost significantly more?

So, I was surprised to find this in my own state, seeing as how it's never mentioned:

On August 20, 2007, with the signing of Session Law 2007-397 (Senate Bill 3), North Carolina became the first state in the Southeast to adopt a Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS). Under this new law, investor-owned utilities in North Carolina will be required to meet up to 12.5% of their energy needs through renewable energy resources or energy efficiency measures. Rural electric cooperatives and municipal electric suppliers are subject to a 10% REPS requirement.

But nothing about availability for an individual to have any options.

Nov 17, 2011
I had no idea. Does it cost significantly more?

What do you mean by significantly? In some regions you can find eco-power providers that will actually give you lower rates than the standard rates by the large power companies (up to 20%). On average, though, eco-rates are about 10% more expensive.
I don't find that too bad, since if you're eco-minded you most likely don't waste all that much energy and your bill is lower than the standard household, anyways.

You have to do some careful checking on your power company, though, before you sign. In Europe you can buy power plant 'types' separately from powerplants. This means that a wily provider can buy the 'type' (e.g. 'hydro') off of a hydro powerplant in Norway and then slap it onto a nuclear powerplant in France.
Suddenly the former hydro plant is a nuclear plant and the nuclear plant is a hydro power plant (and they can sell you the power from the nuclear plant as 'green' without ever buying any renewable power at all).

Nov 17, 2011
What do you mean by significantly? In some regions you can find eco-power providers that will actually give you lower rates than the standard rates by the large power companies (up to 20%). On average, though, eco-rates are about 10% more expensive.
I don't find that too bad, since if you're eco-minded you most likely don't waste all that much energy and your bill is lower than the standard household, anyways.

You have to do some careful checking on your power company, though, before you sign. In Europe you can buy power plant...


Very enlightening. This would seem to be a very practical and more easily-accepted means (vs. strict mandates) of encouraging more renewable energy. I've always believed that education plus decent options plus incentives (we have some of those re: green energy in the U.S., mostly tax rebates) = faster acceptance. People just feel better when they get to "make up their own minds" about an issue. Thanks for the heads-up.

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