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Four Billion Reasons to Believe Ford Takes the Environment Seriously



Ford fusion hybrid wheel by Beth via Flickr

Ford dealers will be carrying a lot more environmentally-friendly vehicles between now and 2020, according the automaker’s most recent press release. In the face of the increased popularity of hybrid vehicles in recent years, along with a decrease in price to manufacture and new technological breakthroughs in battery technology, more and more of Ford’s vehicles are expected to go green.

Ford has indeed come around to the idea of electric vehicles, recently announcing that the company  will be investing $4.5 billion in electrified vehicle technology. By 2020, plans are to introduce thirteen new models of hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles. This planned increase in their lineup is expected to take the percentage of such vehicles offered by Ford from 13 percent (where it is currently stands) to 40 percent of their portfolio. Ford will also invest heavily in battery research.

New Directions

Ford is said to be taking these steps as a response to increased regulatory pressure by US environmental agencies. Increasingly strict 2025 emission standards are to blame, according to Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at

“We are going to see more and more companies invest in electrified vehicles. [Electrification] is a significant investment, but it’s the way the industry is moving forward.”

California’s zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV) mandates and US federal corporate average fuel economy (CAFÉ) rules are the most likely culprits for this ongoing shift.

Ford’s Chief Executive Officer, Mark Fields, expects that plug-in hybrids are going to be the fastest-growing type of electric vehicles. Ford plans to expand sales in the face of falling gas prices by educating consumers on the benefits of hybrids and plug-in hybrids. Plug-in hybrids have an often unexpectedly large range, since they are powered by both gasoline and electricity.

Ford has always been dedicated to electrified vehicles. It was the first American car manufacturer to introduce a hybrid vehicle over ten years ago with its first-generation Ford Escape. Since then, it has sold more hybrids than any other company, aside from competitor Toyota.

Nevertheless, this represents a new direction for the company. In a statement, Ford announced that this planned five-year rollout of electrified automobiles will be its largest yet. The company’s dedication to electric vehicles is only expected to increase in coming years. Even though gas prices remain at an unprecedented low, the ever-decreasing prices of batteries, motors, and power electronics will ensure that electrification is here to stay.

New Vehicles

Speculation surrounding the not yet -unannounced new models is running rampant among car enthusiasts. New models are expected to be powered by either a plug-in hybrid electric system (PHEV) or completely by batteries (BEV).

It is rumored that a new model of Ford Fusion might make a 2017 appearance at an upcoming auto show in Detroit. Considering that it is available in two electrified varieties—a hybrid version and an Energi plug-in version—it is likely that these will comprise two of Ford’s new models.

More officially, Ford’s already announced that an updated Ford Focus will hit the market sometime in 2017. The Ford Focus EV is expected to be fully electric. In addition to having DC fast charging technology, it is expected to have a 100-mile driving range. This represents a 33 percent bump in range over its present 76-mile capacity.

Not all the new cars are expected to be sold in the United States. Like the Fusion, Europe’s forthcoming new version of the C-Max is also likely to come in hybrid and Energi plug-in hybrid types. It is also expected to be released to the Chinese market soon, along with a Mondeo hybrid.

It’s already been established that Ford has been developing a direct competitor for the Toyota Prius. This dedicated hybrid vehicle will likely make an appearance on Ford’s list as well. Beyond that, Ford has options to introduce the new hybrid or even fully-electric versions of existing vehicles.

Moreover, it is possible that Ford will choose to include the brand new 2017 Lincoln MKZ hybrid in the mix. Arguably Ford could  update the existing Ford Escape with the Fusion’s present hybrid powertrain as a response to Toyota’s new RAV4 hybrid crossover. Or it could also find its way into the next-generation Ford Fiesta. Whatever option Ford chooses, Ford’s commitment to electric vehicles is pretty clear as it aims stay competitive in this emerging niche.



Will Self-Driving Cars Be Better for the Environment?



self-driving cars for green environment
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Zapp2Photo |

Technologists, engineers, lawmakers, and the general public have been excitedly debating about the merits of self-driving cars for the past several years, as companies like Waymo and Uber race to get the first fully autonomous vehicles on the market. Largely, the concerns have been about safety and ethics; is a self-driving car really capable of eliminating the human errors responsible for the majority of vehicular accidents? And if so, who’s responsible for programming life-or-death decisions, and who’s held liable in the event of an accident?

But while these questions continue being debated, protecting people on an individual level, it’s worth posing a different question: how will self-driving cars impact the environment?

The Big Picture

The Department of Energy attempted to answer this question in clear terms, using scientific research and existing data sets to project the short-term and long-term environmental impact that self-driving vehicles could have. Its findings? The emergence of self-driving vehicles could essentially go either way; it could reduce energy consumption in transportation by as much as 90 percent, or increase it by more than 200 percent.

That’s a margin of error so wide it might as well be a total guess, but there are too many unknown variables to form a solid conclusion. There are many ways autonomous vehicles could influence our energy consumption and environmental impact, and they could go well or poorly, depending on how they’re adopted.

Driver Reduction?

One of the big selling points of autonomous vehicles is their capacity to reduce the total number of vehicles—and human drivers—on the road. If you’re able to carpool to work in a self-driving vehicle, or rely on autonomous public transportation, you’ll spend far less time, money, and energy on your own car. The convenience and efficiency of autonomous vehicles would therefore reduce the total miles driven, and significantly reduce carbon emissions.

There’s a flip side to this argument, however. If autonomous vehicles are far more convenient and less expensive than previous means of travel, it could be an incentive for people to travel more frequently, or drive to more destinations they’d otherwise avoid. In this case, the total miles driven could actually increase with the rise of self-driving cars.

As an added consideration, the increase or decrease in drivers on the road could result in more or fewer vehicle collisions, respectively—especially in the early days of autonomous vehicle adoption, when so many human drivers are still on the road. Car accident injury cases, therefore, would become far more complicated, and the roads could be temporarily less safe.


Deadheading is a term used in trucking and ridesharing to refer to miles driven with an empty load. Assume for a moment that there’s a fleet of self-driving vehicles available to pick people up and carry them to their destinations. It’s a convenient service, but by necessity, these vehicles will spend at least some of their time driving without passengers, whether it’s spent waiting to pick someone up or en route to their location. The increase in miles from deadheading could nullify the potential benefits of people driving fewer total miles, or add to the damage done by their increased mileage.

Make and Model of Car

Much will also depend on the types of cars equipped to be self-driving. For example, Waymo recently launched a wave of self-driving hybrid minivans, capable of getting far better mileage than a gas-only vehicle. If the majority of self-driving cars are electric or hybrids, the environmental impact will be much lower than if they’re converted from existing vehicles. Good emissions ratings are also important here.

On the other hand, the increased demand for autonomous vehicles could put more pressure on factory production, and make older cars obsolete. In that case, the gas mileage savings could be counteracted by the increased environmental impact of factory production.

The Bottom Line

Right now, there are too many unanswered questions to make a confident determination whether self-driving vehicles will help or harm the environment. Will we start driving more, or less? How will they handle dead time? What kind of models are going to be on the road?

Engineers and the general public are in complete control of how this develops in the near future. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see all the safety benefits of having autonomous vehicles on the road, but without any of the extra environmental impact to deal with.

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Road Trip! How to Choose the Greenest Vehicle for Your Growing Family



Greenest Vehicle
Licensed Image by Shutterstock - By Mascha Tace --

When you have a growing family, it often feels like you’re in this weird bubble that exists outside of mainstream society. Whereas everyone else seemingly has stability, your family dynamic is continuously in flux. Having said that, is it even possible to buy an eco-friendly vehicle that’s also practical?

What to Look for in a Green, Family-Friendly Vehicle?

As a single person or young couple without kids, it’s pretty easy to buy a green vehicle. Almost every leading car brand has eco-friendly options these days and you can pick from any number of options. The only problem is that most of these models don’t work if you have kids.

Whether it’s a Prius or Smart car, most green vehicles are impractical for large families. You need to look for options that are spacious, reliable, and comfortable – both for passengers and the driver.

5 Good Options

As you do your research and look for different opportunities, it’s good to have an open mind. Here are some of the greenest options for growing families:

1. 2014 Chrysler Town and Country

Vans are not only popular for the room and comfort they offer growing families, but they’re also becoming known for their fuel efficiency. For example, the 2014 Chrysler Town and Country – which was one of CarMax’s most popular minivans of 2017 – has Flex Fuel compatibility and front wheel drive. With standard features like these, you can’t do much better at this price point.

2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

If you’re looking for a newer van and are willing to spend a bit more, you can go with Chrysler’s other model, the Pacifica. One of the coolest features of the 2017 model is the hybrid drivetrain. It allows you to go up to 30 miles on electric, before the vehicle automatically switches over to the V6 gasoline engine. For short trips and errands, there’s nothing more eco-friendly in the minivan category.

3. 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Who says you have to buy a minivan when you have a family? Sure, the sliding doors are nice, but there are plenty of other options that are both green and spacious. The new Volkswagen Atlas is a great choice. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient third-row vehicles on the market. The four-cylinder model gets an estimated 26 mpg highway.

4. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

While a minivan or SUV is ideal – and necessary if you have more than two kids – you can get away with a roomy sedan when you still have a small family. And while there are plenty of eco-friendly options in this category, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is arguably the biggest bang for your buck. It gets 38 mpg on the highway and is incredibly affordable.

5. 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel

If money isn’t an object and you’re able to spend any amount to get a good vehicle that’s both comfortable and eco-friendly, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel is your car. Not only does it get 28 mpg highway, but it can also be equipped with a third row of seats and a diesel engine. And did we mention that this car looks sleek?

Putting it All Together

You have a variety of options. Whether you want something new or used, would prefer an SUV or minivan, or want something cheap or luxurious, there are plenty of choices on the market. The key is to do your research, remain patient, and take your time. Don’t get too married to a particular transaction, or you’ll lose your leverage.

You’ll know when the right deal comes along, and you can make a smart choice that’s functional, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.

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