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What is the GREENEST car out there?



  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    "VW beat Honda by a slim margin of 2 points on a 1,000 point scale. "

    Yet, they beat them. :)

    I think the issue is, what is "green" exactly. Diesel does have some more particulate and NoX than petrol. On the other hand, it achieves better fuel economy, has more of a path to renewable fuel, will likely last longer, and have less of an environmental impact in manufacture and disposal.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I was surprised, I expected someone like Hyundai to win, because they don't make many big cars or trucks. Selling mostly Accents and Elantras means their average fuel use is probably very low.

    VW had the Phaeton and Touareg, which are basically guzzlers in the big picture.

  • alp8alp8 Posts: 656
    Reliability should play a role in the "green-ness" of a car

    not sure how'd you'd figure it in, but it should be figured in
  • I also think the number of number 2 pencils the car can carry and the degree of paint fade should also figure in. While we are at it especially from a "green" standpoint, the average power consumption of the car and the maximum decibels of the radio should laso be factored in. The Coeffiecinet of Drag causes environmental air disturbance and has been coorelated to the shift of the North Americna jet stream and the effect on increase methane gas and global warming. I also think we need to identify the worker ethics of the workers than make each car and to determine how environmentally sound the workers are and what extra conservation steps they take., especailly using recycled paper for company memos and bulletins. Which gets back to the number of environmentally friendly Number 2 pencils the car can carry. Number 3 are too hard and require significantly more polluting resources to creats.

    Come to think of it wouldn't the truly greennest car be one that has quit running and stays parked all the time?

    You have to be careful of this thread could easliy go off on irrelevant tangets and become utterly meaningless.


  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I'm sure any automaker could add their own criteria and assumptions to put themselves on top. Or in last.

    Example: Lexus are reliable, but they have a "replace to not repair" policy, so a lot of used parts are discareded. That creates a lot of waste.

    VW replaced so many ignition coils that they could not build them quickly enough and dealers ran out of stock. Where'd all the bad ones end up? I hope they got recycled.

  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    "Reliability should play a role in the "green-ness" of a car"

    I'd say "longevity".

    Some very reliable cars get worn out very quickly, and some unrelaible cars will run forever if you swap a part or two a year.
  • alp8alp8 Posts: 656
    no question this is a complicated area

    I know midcow was kidding, but there are very real complexities in this field (yes, it is a "field")

    the longevity issue is an interesting one, since you'll burn more fuel in your car over its life than was used to manufacture the car (including all the materials and components in the car). I assumed otherwise, but I was edumacated on that issue.

    in fact, longevity may be a bad thing - we ain't doing anyone any favors driving a 25-year old Bronco that gets 13 mpg, are we?

    maybe what you guys are saying is that we can't possibly know which car is greener - it's too complicated - so we shouldn't discuss it

    I can buy that
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    No--but it is a really complex problem.

    What if a car makes more pollution during its operation but lasts twice as long? Will there be less pollution than running a cleaner vehicle but having to build and dispose of another one?

    How do you compare a car that makes less pollution while driving versus a car that makes less pollution during its manufacture and disposal, if lifetimes are similar?

    How do you compare a car that uses less of a highly refined fuel, fuel that took more energy to produce, and caused more pollution during its manufacture?

    That's why i think it's pointless to attack VW. Depending on the coefficients, a VW TDI may or may not be "greener" than a similar hybrid.

    And i think we ought to agree that both a TDI and an insight are a step forward from a suburban.

    We care about the environment right? Not an attachment to one particular technology?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That ashes-to-ashes study tried to do just that, but they made a very bad assumption - that all cars last the same number of miles - I think it was 100k or so. That's far too little for most cars.

    I'd like to see that study done using the actual average life of a car. They can get the registration data from RL Polk.

    Then rate the cars on the amount of energy they use per year.

  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    Yeah--honestly, i'm quite skeptical of the ashes-to-ashes study.

    I don't see how some cars that are so similar can have such different numbers. For example, a crossfire rated 1/3 the energy cost of a SLK. However, a crossfire is just a reskinned SLK.

    I also have a hard time believing that an h2 can be so energy efficient compared to, say, an impala. Maybe there's some old machining tools for which the cost has been amortized for a long time, but there's just so much more steel/rubber/plastic being both produced and disposed of in the end. Never mind the fuel economy...
  • alp8alp8 Posts: 656
    yes, I agree - I wasn't bashing VW's diesel, I was bashing VW, generally

    I am not an anti-diesel guy, provided the air emissions are acceptable. And I am not saying that VW's TDI emissions are NOT acceptable. I haven't analyzed it that much.
  • alp8alp8 Posts: 656
    the ashes to ashes study is the best effort thus far, that I know of

    I like the approach, though there are certainly valid criticisms of it, such as the one you mentioned.

    am not sure what the "best" way to do it is - mpg is clearly not the only relevant factor.

    we do need to keep in mind that air emissions may be a more critical factor for some (i.e. those that live in severely polluted air basins) than for others

    and you'll always have the debate from the guy who is anti-nuke that a car produced using nuclear energy (electricity from a nuke plant) is less "green" than one from a natural gas fired plant, for example

    I think using the 100k parameter is not a bad one. Am sure it could be improved, of course.

    as an aside, I do not "judge" anyone based on the car they drive. Even if you do judge people for anything, you have to keep in mind that the guy driving 90 miles/day in a Civic Hybrid is hurting the environment more than the women drving 5 miles/day in her Volvo XC90 getting 15 mpg and then hopping the local train.

    I get 22 mpg, but I also invested 20 grand in a solar array for my rooftop. Am I bad for the environment because I'm not getting 30 mpg? I'd feel a lot worse if I lived 45 miles from work getting 30 mpg than I do getting 22 mpg living 15 miles from work. My choice of where to live and work has enviro consequences. So it isn't JUST about your car's mpg.

    But we all know that.
  • alp8alp8 Posts: 656
    I assumed the SLK had nifty aluminum and other high-tech materials in it, to keep the weight down. Less so with the Crossfire.
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    "I assumed the SLK had nifty aluminum and other high-tech materials in it, to keep the weight down. Less so with the Crossfire."

    Could be--but i think the shell of the cars is steel in both cases, and it's pretty much just a reskin.

    Even so, three times?!?

    Agree with pretty much everything else. I don't drive to work at all, with gas usage being a big reason.
  • alp8alp8 Posts: 656
    nice work!!! (not driving to work)

    I bet your stress level is 50% of the average commuter, too

    yeah, 3X seems a bit much. It certainly makes you wonder about the analysis. I wonder if it's stupid stuff like the MB (DC) showrooms are all new and spiffy whereas the Chrysler showrooms are old
  • edwardsfedwardsf Posts: 190
    alp - Great post. This thread has been fascinating and good arguments have been made by all (except maybe that Toyota is somehow green). But THE key issue regarding preventing degradation of our air, water, health and climate is indeed miles driven.

    Current emissions conrol technology and advanced electric motors can reduce smog forming emissions, such as PM 10 (winter time smog), NOX and hydrocarbons (which combine to produce summer smog). There have been some advances in reducing these pollutants per mile but in contrast to gagrice's argument, very little has been done to reduce mobile source emissions when compared to nonmobile sources. That is, L.A. is cleaner due to crackdowns on factories, not cleaner cars. Cars pollute less today but more people are driving them more miles. (Ship pollution is indeed a huge problem but is still dwarfed by auto emissions.)

    Unfortunately climate change pollutants are produced even more lockstep with miles driven than smog. There is NO available affordable technology to reduce climate change pollutants per mile, except getting higher gas mileage. And of course, driving less.

    Walking, or taking a bus to work or car/van pooling will allow patriotic huge metal object loving americans to putter around the Church parking lot, the Wendy's and the Starbucks in their F-350s on weekends and be way greener than the Prius driver who commutes 70 miles roundtrip 200 days a year.

    Of course, many claim they don't have the option of such alternative transit but most really do. How many people really can't carpool? Even rural poor who have the least options can carpool.

    So the key is not subsidizing technology (even hybrid) even though there are worse things to spend taxes on. Instead the key is to stop subsidizing pollution by charging a use fee. You change the climate, you pay. You cause lung disease, you pay. You cause congestion and potholes, you pay. Again, the rural poor are screwed here but they could receive some kind of credit.
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    "That is, L.A. is cleaner due to crackdowns on factories, not cleaner cars."

    While i agree very very much with your post's sentiment, i wonder if you have a reference for this fact. It has been my understand that modern OBD cars are a minor source of smog-forming pollution nowadays. I could of course be wrong, and i would very much like to know...
  • edwardsfedwardsf Posts: 190
    I used to work for an air district in California and that is what our planners and scientists reported. My guess is that if you go to SCAQMD's website, there would be some info on this. However, it is not something they want to to admit as L.A. industry would cry foul and complain that they are carrying the burden of air quality regs. An L.A. Chamber of Commerce or even a city council person's site might have something. Indeed, why chamber of commerce types fight against gas fees - which would only hurt 3 Detroit based businesses and a thousand L.A. independent gas station owners - is beyond me.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    It's the old 80/20 rule, 80% of the pollution comes from 20% of the cars, most likely the older ones with fewer emissions controls.

    Some SULEVs and PZEVs are so clean they actually pollute less than the ambient air in a dirty metropolitan area. :surprise:

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Interesting that the natural gas Civic outscores the hybrid.

  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    "Even rural poor who have the least options can carpool. "

    Have you ever lived in a rural area? They work where they live (farming or ranching, in general). Why (and where) would they carpool? And when they do go to town, they need that big full sized pickup to haul back the supplies they need for the next couple of weeks - feed for the animals as well as people, plus the myriad other supplies needed for country life.

    When working on the ranch/farm, they use that same large pickup to perform their work (unless they use a tractor for some things).

    Besides, the population density is so low in rural areas that they have no pollution problems like we do in LA.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    That Civic GX is the cleanest combustion engine in the vehicle world.

    It releases fewer hydrocarbon pollutants when driven from LA to Washington DC than is released by spilling a single teaspoon of gasoline on the ground.

    Read that again.

    'Tis true. :shades:
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,178
    The key is gasoline is highly polluting in and of itself. So anything that burns gasoline is going to have the potential to pollute. Natural gas is much cleaner to start with. The cleanest and greenest would still be an electric car powered by the sun or nuclear. I would include the wind generators. However the latest I read is they are chopping up migratory birds and may have the duck lovers cutting them down.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Very neat.

    Too bad my gas company is evil. I've had 4 incorrect bills in the last 9 months, still unresolved.

    I'd add a gas fireplace and expand gas usage if I felt like I could trust them at all. :sick:

This discussion has been closed.