The Search for a Sustainable Car
Like many Americans, I depend fairly heavily on my car. Recently I started searching for the next car in my life–unfortunately, I have had quite a difficult time finding the perfect car–but the automotive industry is getting closer and closer.
When I first set out I had two ideas: electric or diesel. I am not interested in a hybrid given the tremendous resources and environmental costs associated with the batteries in today’s hybrids–they are a great step in the right direction, but I see them as an interim step. The benefits of an electric car are that you can essentially have a zero emission driving lifestyle. Where I live, I have the option of buying renewable energy–if I were to charge my car at home, then I would know my car is being powered by the wind (not quite as cool as a sailcar, but pretty close). Diesel, on the other hand, has the benefit of much greater gas mileage compared to a gasoline powered car, has much fewer emissions associated with the manufacturing of the fuel itself, and gives the car owner the option of biodiesel.
What I found was a fairly small selection of electric cars from which to choose. Nissan makes the Leaf, the first mass produced electric car with a range of ~100 miles–not quite the replacement I was looking to find as it would still require a second car. Chevy makes the Volt, a hybrid electric car with a back up gasoline engine that greatly extends the 25 mile electric motor range to several hundred miles–not really an option for me who needs a range of greater than 25 miles. Rounding out the mainstream electric cars is Tesla–these are not cars for the everyman with prices north of $100k for the single car they have in the market.
The diesel selection is also somewhat limited. The best option out there for fuel efficiency is the Volkswagen Jetta TDI–which tops the US EPA fuel efficiency charts. A few other sedans are out there from BMW and Mercedes, but I really want something with all wheel drive–which means an SUV here in the US. There are a few SUVs out there that are diesel and all wheel drive, but the fuel efficiency is paltry. Europe actually has a greater selection of diesel cars overall and actually has all wheel drive diesel options that nearly fit the bill, at least for me.
So, I still have not found exactly what I seek, either an electric car with a decent range (and not a 10 month wait list) or a diesel all wheel drive car. The search continues.