Monday, May 26, 2008

Is buying a used car greener than buying a new hybrid?

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. One aspect of energy use that's often overlooked when comparing cars is the total lifecycle consumption. Buying a new hybrid vehicle compared to a similar sized vehicle with a conventional powertrain can certainly help you reduce. However, it takes a lot of energy to to build a car. Creating a Prius consumes 113 million BTUs of energy. Similarly, energy is required to dispose of a used car. However, those are one-time uses of energy. Fuel consumption is an ongoing variable cost. The production and disposable energy must be spread over the life of the car. The longer a car is in service, the fewer number of production and disposal BTUs per mile. This is where Reuse comes into play. Factoring in all this energy use it may actually be better to buy a higher mileage used car than a brand new hybrid. By keeping an existing car in service that has slightly lower efficiency than a brand new one the net energy use could still be lower. However, the equation is not even as simple as all that. A ten year old car that gets 30-40mpg may actually pollute a lot more than a new car. Emissions standards have tightened over the years. And, as a car wears, the emissions typically get worse. If you choose to go for a used car, make sure it has been well maintained and that the emissions control equipment is in proper working order.

Kia, Continental running diesel pro_cee'd on street rubber in 'Ring 24h

If you've been looking in on the live stream of the Nürburgring 24h race, you might spot the car above crossing your video window. It's basically a production-spec Kia pro_ceed (fitted with whatever safety features are required for race participation) powered by the stock 138 hp/225 lb-ft 2.0L diesel. The skinny on this one is that it was entered by Continental Tires' Italian division and will run the entire race on ContiSportContact 3 street tires. The team's goal is to complete the race while making as few tire changes as possible, after which Continental will likely talk about how awesome its tires are in advertising that points back to this particular effort. We'll try to remember to drop the Kia Europe people a line post-race to get the final tally on the number of tire changes they wind up going through.

Mercedes-Benz introduces new 52mpg A 160 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY

This fall, Mercedes-Benz will offer a new A-Class coupe - the A 160 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY - that gets 52mpg (U.S.). In the NEDC consumption calculation, the car comes in at 4.5 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres and emits just 119 grams of CO2 per kilometer. Those are the best ratings in the A-Class range, and the A 160 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY will still deliver 60 kW/82 hp. As is standard in the BlueEFFICIENCY range, minor tweaks to the styling and the addition of start-stop capability are what turns a standard A-Class into a more efficient ride (other new vehicles in the line-up get "just" 29mpg). Starting with an old standby - a manual transmission - and adding low rolling resistance tires and weight cuts, the A 160 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY also features a new closed-off aerodynamic grille and lowered suspension to make the car as slippery as possible. Daimler can likely count on solid sales of the new A 160 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY, as more than 1.7m A-Class vehicle have been sold since the model launched in 1997. More details after the break.

Officially Official: Renault unveils Laguna Coupe in Cannes

With the Monaco Grand Prix and the Cannes Film Festival both taking place this weekend on the shores of the Mediterranean, Renault chose the latter as the backdrop for its latest model unveiling. The new Laguna Coupe is getting a preview amongst the stars of Cannes with a stylish new look that gets away from some of the downright bizarre hindquarters of some recent Renaults. Along with the midsized coupe, the French automaker is revealing a pair of new V6 engines fueled by gasoline and diesel. The gas engine comes in at 3.5 liters and 240hp, and while we are unlikely to see the Laguna on US shores anytime soon (or ever, for that matter), the diesel engine will be appearing under the hood of cars from Japanese partner Nissan in 2010. The 3.0L diesel V6 was shown last fall at the Frankfurt Motor Show, generates 235hp and 331 lb.-ft. of torque, and is expected to join the Nissan Maxima lineup in a couple of years. The front-wheel-drive Laguna coupe should have some interesting chassis dynamics thanks to its four wheel steering system. Renault will provide full details on the new coupe at the Paris Motor Show in October, but you can read through its teaser release after the jump.

Honda announces more details about FCX Clarity leasing

Honda has just announced details of the leasing program for the new FCX Clarity fuel cell car that was unveiled at the LA Auto Show last November. The Clarity will be the first series "production" fuel cell vehicle available for lease to retail customers and the first examples will be delivered in July of this year. American Honda expects to lease about 200 Claritys during the first three years of the program. Right now, Honda is filtering through the 50,000 people that have shown interest in the lease program. The majority of those people who will be ruled ineligible because they don't live within range of a hydrogen filling station in the Los Angeles area. The first batch of lessees will be announced on June 16 when the first Clarity rolls off the assembly line in Japan. The leases will be three year terms at $600/month which includes the insurance for the car. To qualify for a lease, potential customers will have to go through a multi step process that evaluates where they live and drive, and whether they have the financial means to pay for the car. When we talked to Honda's Stephen Ellis a few months ago, the retail price of hydrogen in the LA area was about $5/kg (equivalent to about 1 gallon of gas). The Clarity has a range of 270 miles and gets the equivalent of about 68mpg for gasoline. The full press release with all the details is after the jump.