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Gear to Make Your Electric Vehicle Even More Eco-Friendly

EV UCLA

EV UCLAAs a driver of an electric vehicle (EV), you've made the crucial leap toward eco-friendly transportation. Not only could you be receiving government subsidies for your environmentally-conscious choice, you're also emitting less carbon emissions that contribute to pollution and climate change. While you deserve a pat on the back for your eco-friendly choice, you don't have to stop at the purchase of an EV. Below are five upgrades, gear and tech on the market that will make your EV more eco-friendly.

Upgrade to Efficient Tires

Your old tires can drastically decrease your car's energy efficiency. Avoid neglecting your tires by monitoring for any potential wear and replacing them as needed. Vehicle tires sold by Continental offer eco-friendly options that lower rolling resistance while cutting down carbon dioxide emissions. With temperature-activated functional polymers, these tires offer strong traction and long tread life, allowing you to remain safe in your vehicle in even the worst weather driving conditions.

Install LED Lights

Light emitting diode, or LED, lights are not only environmentally friendly — they're also cost effective and efficient. LED lights have a longer life-span, lasting up to 25 times longer than their counterparts. They also don't contain any mercury, reducing their overall global footprint and environmental impact. LED lights also use less energy and emit less heat than traditional car lights. They're easy to maintain and highly resistant to breaking, allowing you the comfort of driving safely on the road for longer periods of time.

Use a Solar Charger

If you charge your electronics, including smartphones or tablets, using your car's power adapter port, you could be draining your car's battery and its efficiency. With a solar charger like the R7 7 Watt Rollable Solar Panel from Power Film Solar, you can charge electronics without draining your vehicle's battery. This means a longer life span for your car's battery and less periodic maintenance and replacement.

Invest in a GPS Tracking System or Route Planner

One of the easiest ways to make your vehicle more eco-friendly is to practice efficient driving. This includes avoiding speeding while accelerating and braking at a steady pace. A GPS tracking system, including systems sold by Mastrack, is great to keep tabs on your car. But it also provides you with alerts, including:

  • Real-time traffic
  • Google maps to provide you directions
  • Check engine notifications
  • Maintenance monitoring
  • Mileage tracker

You'll also receive alerts if you're driving too fast, which will allow to monitor your average speed and track your vehicle's overall efficiency. For those days you're running errands all over town, download a route planning app such as Route 4 Me that will plan the most efficient commute in just a few seconds. Finding a concise route will save you time and money, and shorten your drive time by up to 35%.

 

 

5 Eco-Friendly Cars With Style

Green vintage light car design eco friendly hand drawn  . This illustration is layered for easy manipulation and custom coloring

Green vintage light car design eco friendly hand drawn . This illustration is layered for easy manipulation and custom coloring

When Toyota unveiled the 2016 Prius in Las Vegas on Sept. 8, company representatives put the emphasis on the car's modern sleekness and fun edge instead of its fuel efficiency—even though the car remains America's best-selling hybrid. With more competing hybrids on the market and gas prices down, fuel-efficient cars have entered a new marketing phase where vehicles must stand out for features other than eco-friendliness. As a result, eco-friendly cars are becoming more stylish than ever, combining sleekness and sportiness with fuel efficiency. A look at some of today's top eco-friendly vehicles showcases how the line between style and substance is vanishing for the latest fuel-efficient cars rolling out of the factory.

BMW i3

BMW_i3_01 (1)For two years in a row, Kelley Blue Book has ranked the BMW i3 number one on
its list of the 10 best green cars of the year. Besides this electric car's efficiency and performance, what stands out is its unique, unusual design. With a pug-nosed front, rear doors that open like French doors, display screens mounted above eucalyptus wood instead of a conventional dashboard, and a steering column stub instead of a gear stick, the i3 looks like nothing else on the road.

Along with its unique design, the i3 stands out for its efficiency and performance, getting 137 mpg in the city and 111 mpg on the highway with an electric range of 81 miles, and packing a 170 horsepower engine that go from 0 to 60 mph in about 7 seconds. As for cost, a new i3 goes for a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $42,000, or you can search for a used vehicle on DriveTime's national dealer database.

Mercedes-Benz S550 Plug-in Hybrid

In the luxury sedan market, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz S550 plug-in hybrid is set to hit car lots in spring, combining the sophistication of the bestselling S-class with a new trend-setting powertrain that will also figure on two other forthcoming hybrids, as John Voelcker reports. The powertrain inserts an electric motor between a gasoline V-6 engine and Mercedes' seven-speed automatic transmission, producing a total combined output of 436 horsepower, capable of accelerating to 62 mph in 5.2 seconds.

The engine and transmission shift with imperceptible smoothness between four driving modes: conventional electric-to-hybrid, energy saving to conserve battery charge, ultra-energy-saving, and sport with the electric motor adding an aggressive acceleration boost. The vehicle rides smoothly and quietly at 93 mph, with an electric-only speed of up to 70 mph and an estimated electric range of 15 to 18 miles. Car and Driver anticipates mileage for normal driving to be around 21 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. With an expected price tag upwards of $95,000, the S550 Plug-in looks poised to compete with the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid for the high end of the luxury sedan hybrid market.

Tesla Model S

AAA called the Tesla Model S the best green car available in 2014, and despite the increasing competition since then, it remains among the leaders of the pack. The 2016 Model S comes in four versions, led by the P85D. The P85D combines the style of a luxury sedan with the performance of a sports car and the efficiency of a hybrid.

Outside, the P85D is sleek, glossy and elegant, with a covered oval grille, an arching roof with an optional sunroof, and a liftback rear decorated with a chrome garnish on trapezoidal tail lights. Inside, the lavish interior features carbon fiber accents, piano black wood veneers, high-quality leather seats and door panels, and futuristic screens, along with Wi-Fi and 4G LTE connectivity and Bluetooth. For performance, the powertrain combines all-wheel drive with a pair of electric motors generates up to 691 horsepower and 686 foot-pounds of torque for a top speed of 155 mph and acceleration from 0 to 60 in 3.1 seconds. For efficiency, the P85D gets 94 mpg in the city and 97 mpg on the highway, with a range of over 208 miles. A price tag of $120,000 positions the P85D as a competitor among luxury vehicles.

Fiat 500

For years, Fiat has led Italian cars for lowest CO2 emissions, and in 2013, the Fiat 500 was rated as Italy's most eco-friendly petro-driven car, MaltaToday reported. In 2015 Design & Trend ranked the all-electric Fiat 500 E among the top five greenest cars of the year. This stylish two-door hatchback seats up to four and comes with hands-free communication and Sirius radio. Powered by an 83-kilowatt electric motor that generates 111 horsepower and can achieve 60 mph in 8.4 seconds, the 500 E gets 122 miles per charge in the city and 108 on the highway, with a range of 87 miles. The Fiat 500 E is available for a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $31,800.

Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Hyundai's Sonata Hybrid exemplifies the company's commitment to combining fluid design with eco-efficiency. As the New York Daily News details, Hyundai's design philosophy focuses on simplicity distinguished by a stylish look. Whereas Hyundai's previous hybrids stood out sharply from their regular line of vehicles, the latest Sonata Hybrid shares the sleekness of other Hyundai models, marked by subtle distinctions, such as straight slats replacing the grille mesh pattern and reshaped headlamps featuring LED graphics. Inside, 106 cubic feet of space provide ample head and leg room for up to four adults, with a roomy trunk thanks to a repositioned battery.

Under the hood, the 2.0-liter GDI four-cylinder engine generates 154 horsepower with 140 foot-pounds of torque. In combination with a 270-volt electric motor for the standard hybrid version and a 360-volt motor for the plug-in hybrid model, the Sonata can produce from 193 to 202 horsepower. Hyundai's standard hybrid can get 40 mpg in the city and 44 mpg on the highway, while the plug- gets 39 mpg in cities and 43 mpg on highways, with a 24-mile electric-only range. The price sticker on the Sonata Hybrid starts at $26,000 and goes up to $34,600 for the Limited Ultra Package.

Tesla Model S photo courtesy Norsk Elbilforening

5 Ways Riding a Bike Can Help Save the World

BikeToWork

BikeToWorkYou may have implemented bicycle riding as part of your fitness regimen. Or maybe you’ve toured your neighborhood on your cruiser, enjoying the scenery. But have you ever considered ditching your vehicle as a primary form of transportation in favor of your bicycle? Easier said than done, particularly if you live in a remote area. However, it’s worth a shot if you live close to work and other business establishments. Let's look at the five ways it's better for you, your community and the environment:

  1. Eco-Friendly Option: Only a fraction of the energy required to manufacture automobiles is required for RecycleTreethe production a bicycle. And as for maintenance, all you have to do is properly inflate the tires and pedal along to put your bicycle into motion, unlike automobiles which require a functional battery, motor oil and gasoline, all harmful to the environment.

    To help put things into perspective, an automobile produces approximately 1.3 billion cubic yards of contaminated air and emits 40 pounds of debris from brakes and worn tires into the atmosphere, according to Bike to Work Day. Furthermore, National Geographic reports automobiles are responsible for more than 30 percent of carbon dioxide, 80 percent of carbon monoxide and approximately 50 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions in the United States annually.

    Thinking you’re better off with a hybrid? While they are generally more environmentally friendly, The Wall Street Journal reports hybrids also produce 14,000 pounds of carbon during the manufacturing process.
  1. Health Benefits: Choosing your bicycle over your automobile also comes with myriad health benefits. On average, you’ll lose 13 pounds in the first year of biking to work and save $544 in medical bills if you cycle at least 30 minutes each day, according to the Huffington Post. Furthermore, you’ll be able to get that daily workout in, even if you’re crunched for time, and possibly ditch that pricey parking spot (if you work in a metropolitan area). And even if you can only bike so far before having to rely on public transportation, you’re still doing your part in preserving the environment, since it equates to less vehicles on the highway during the morning and evening commute.
  1. It's Cheaper: According to AAA, it costs an average of $8,876 a year to own and drive a sedan 15,000 miles a year. Riding a bike will cost you the price of the bike, accessories and maintenance, which James Schwartz of Urban Country estimates to be about $350 a year. That's a dramatic difference. Biking is a less expensive way to see new cities, too; The Dig recommends exploring Minneapolis, Portland and Boulder on two wheels.
  1. Decreased Vehicle Fatalities: A study of 11 Midwestern cities revealed 1,100 deaths could be prevented and $3.8 billion saved as a result of fewer car accidents if Americans chose biking over automobiles for at least half of their errands during four months each year, reports the Huffington Post.

    Why such a drastic impact? Well, if every American residing within five or fewer miles of their workplace biked to the office for just one day a week, around one million cars would be absent from roadways across the nation. Fewer cars means fewer car accidents.
  1. Supports Small Businesses: Beyond exploring elements of your community that you may not have noticed beforehand, another benefit of cycling often overlooked is the boost provided to small businesses. Reasoning: If your preferred option is too far away to reach on a bike, you’ll be forced to give local businesses a test drive.

 
Allison Martin is a writer, financial mentor and business consultant to mommy-preneurs. Her work has been featured on ABC News, MSN Money, Yahoo! Finance, Fox Business, Credit.com and Money Talks News. When she's not writing, Allison enjoys spending time with her family and traveling.