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Sustainability: People Who Pick Green-Colored Cars are Geniuses…

…but what about green cars? A recent column on Wheels.casuggests hybrid vehicles may be a passing fad. Sales (or lack thereof) of certain models seem to indicate just that, as does a survey published in a New York Times article last week: it found a large portion of Prius owners’ number one reason for buying the car was the statement it made about them.

…but what about green cars? A recent column on Wheels.casuggests hybrid vehicles may be a passing fad. Sales (or lack thereof) of certain models seem to indicate just that, as does a survey published in a New York Times article last week: it found a large portion of Prius owners’ number one reason for buying the car was the statement it made about them. (The Times article compares owning a Prius to wearing one of those “issue bracelets” first popularized by Lance Armstrong’s cancer fund.)

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The Wheels.ca column’s biggest complaints about the Prius are its inability to achieve the same fuel consumption rates in real world conditions and the fact that it doesn’t drive like a “real” car. If something better were available, the columnist contends, people would ditch the Prius. I’ve never driven one, so I can’t really judge his assessment. However, I can sympathize with the notion that driving should be fun.

If not hybrids, then what? Wheels.ca predicts the next big thing will be diesel. Like most people, I associate diesel with old gas guzzlers that no one would ever describe as environmentally-friendly. But a new diesel version of the Mini Cooper will get the same mileage and carbon dioxide tailpipe emissions as a Prius. Of course, the Mini D initially will only be offered in Europe, where they’re already years ahead of us in the car fuel efficiency department.

In related car news, the professional racecar league IndyCar Series announced this season all of its cars would be running on a third alternative fuel, ethanol. Aside from the fact that I don’t pretend to understand car racing, it does seem like a huge waste of gas. If people are going to race cars, I suppose it’s commendable that they won’t be using fossil fuels to do so.

Or is it? Last Sunday’s Mallard Fillmore comic made a mockery of ethanol and its purported environmental benefits. I normally don’t pay attention to Mallard Fillmore’s right-wing propaganda (naturally I prefer left-wing propaganda), but this strip makes sense. It really does take as much energy to create a gallon of ethanol fuel as you would get out of it. Then there are the environmental costs that the commercial farming of corn for ethanol incurs. It goes back to the Prius survey – people use ethanol because it makes a statement. So nice try racecar guys, but you may want to think about this one a little further.

What kind of green car would you buy? Are any of these alternative cars (hybrid, diesel or ethanol) a viable solution to automotive carbon emissions?

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