Wednesday, December 9, 2009

On Saving Gas

I'm not a crazy environmentalist, but I recycle - and I try to reduce the amount of driving I do. KT and I frequently plan our trips based on being able to drive together rather than separately, and minimizing the number of trips we make.

Today I decided to see how much gasoline I've been burning. My current car is a 2002 Acura RSX - a small vehicle very similar to the Honda Civic. It gets good gas mileage, around 24 MPG. I now have 81,000 miles on the car which is not a lot - only about 10K a year. In that time, I've burned 3375 gallons of gasoline. Holy hell that sounds like a lot. I've had to fill it up about 300 times, and at today's prices those fill-ups would cost about $10,000. Worse than that, it generated 33.75 tons of Carbon Dioxide when I burned it.
So I've decided to go with an electric car. My fascination with Electric Vehicles started a few years ago when I watched Who Killed the Electric Car, and it's been growing ever since. EV's pollute far less (even if your electricity comes from coal!) and they get their fuel from domestic sources. I don't like being dependent on foreign oil, and I don't trust OPEC. Plus, I love the idea of one day powering my car with solar panels or a wind turbine on my own property, I'll be my own energy supplier!

I'd love to have a Tesla Roadster (pictured next to me above), but don't have a spare $109,000 to spend an an impractical sports car. That means I have to wait, since the Roadster is the only production EV available right now. My options in the hopefully not-so-distant future are:
- The Chevy Volt. A weird series hybrid (Prius is a parallel hybrid) which GM calls an Extended Range Vehicle, or EREV. Looks like a great car (I spotted one of the 80 in existence on the road recently), but it's not for me. I want a fully electric vehicle.
- The Nissan Leaf. I got to take a look at this in person last month, and it's not nearly as ugly as the photos indicate. Not bad, I'm not sure about their on board navigation and communication center - looks too Microsoft-y.
- The Ford Focus BEV. A Battery EV from a major american car maker? Wow, that's impressive. I'm keeping my eye on this one, surprisingly not a lot of info on it, other than having celebrities drive a prototype around a silly track on the Jay Leno show.
- The Tesla Model S. This is a beautiful car that reminds me of an Astin Martin. It's the most expensive in my list, and also the most likely to be able to fit a bicycle in since despite it's sporty look, it's a hatchback.

Which one will I choose? I just don't know. I like Japanese cars and have owned two Honda's recently - but both Honda and Toyota are far behind when it comes to EV's. They have such a lead in parallel hybrids, that they just don't care. What I am certain of is that my next car will plug into a wall, and not an oil well. Or maybe I should just ride my bike :)