Editor’s Note: EarthTechling, always looking to forward the cleantech revolution discussion, is proud to bring you this column as a repost courtesy of partner Natural Resources Defense Council. Author credit goes to Jessica Lass.
I consider myself one of the lucky few in Los Angeles who technically do not need a car to get around. I use my bike to cycle back and forth to work, to run errands and visit most friends. While I still own a car, it’s rarely in use, usually only moved from one side of the street to the other on street sweeping days and is sadly covered in a mixture of LA air pollution sediment and bird poop. I may show up a little sweatier to meetings or wear my bike helmet while picking up last minute groceries, but I like the exercise and get a special sense of glee zooming by cars stuck in traffic.
I won’t be ditching my bike anytime soon, but given how little I drive my car, I’ve been thinking about the pros and cons of moving to an all electric or hybrid vehicle since most of the car trips I take are less than 40 miles round trip. Ford has been visiting cities across the country showcasing their Power of Choice vehicle fleet and recently landed in LA. I took the opportunity to drive a Ford Fiesta that gets 40 miles per gallon, which is better than the mileage my current car gets.
This event plays into the new 54.5 miles per gallon fleet-wide industry standard spurring the entire auto industry to expand fuel efficiency options—which is a good thing for consumers and the environment. Despite this new MPG standard and the new technologies and savings at the pump that go along with it, some opponents want to deprive consumers of greater fuel efficiency options in the future by blocking 54.5 mpg.
This model isn’t a hybrid, but there are rumors Ford is rolling out an electric model next year. Ford is also coming out with a number of models that are utilizing fuel efficient technology to meet the new federal standards and it’s exciting to see a major American car company invest in a suite of alternative fuel cars. It’s a sign that more people are demanding cleaner fuel options and smarter technology and car companies are beginning to listen.
Ford, as part of its Power of Choice fuel efficiency tour, recently asked Los Angeles residents about their views on everything from daily commutes to fuel economy to electrified vehicles. Some of the stats surprised me, I underestimated the interest in alternative cars in LA where all I seem to see are SUVs.
- For Los Angeles drivers, fuel efficiency (43 percent) is by far the most important influencing factor in the vehicle purchasing decision, followed by brand loyalty (17 percent), style (16 percent), safety (13 percent)—to put it another way, across the U.S., fuel efficiency is the most important influencing factor in the vehicle purchasing decision (44 percent), followed by style (16 percent) and safety (15 percent).
- Hybrids (44 percent) and smaller cars (40 percent) top the list of vehicles Los Angeles-area residents would most consider purchasing or leasing as their primary vehicle
- Sixty-eight percent of respondents expressed interest in purchasing a hybrid or electric vehicle, with savings on gas being the primary purchase motivator; however, gas would need to reach $5 to $6 per gallon to warrant a hybrid or electric vehicle purchase
- Eighty-three percent of Los Angeles-area residents surveyed say an electric vehicle would fit their family’s needs;
- California driving habits: 68 percent drive to work, 70 percent commute an hour or less each way and 51 percent drive more than 30 miles on weekends
It turns out there are a lot of people in LA who may not be willing to give up their cars, but they will consider owning more fuel efficient vehicles, which is at least a step in the right direction to moving beyond our oil addiction. In order to create cleaner air and meet our fuel efficiency standards, we need to invest in clean fuels, smart car technology and meeting consumer demand for cars that don’t cost half your paycheck to fill up.