Mixed messages: green cars today

This year, there were more hybrid and electric cars on the road than at any other time. That’s despite the fact that gas prices are pretty low, at least in my area. Electric cars are popping up left right and center, and so are charging stations. Since prices are low, too, my clients are telling me there’s never been a better time to go green with a new car.

 

I’ve been a fan of hybrids and electric cars for a few years now, ever since I realized how great they could be for reliability, not to mention the amazing gas mileage, which is usually at least 50 mpg or even 70 mpg on some of the newer models.

 

Going into the Trump administration, I’ve had some questions from people at my shop about where I think the green car industry is going, and whether all this progress is gonna stall out once the government stops investing in green tech.

green car

Here’s where I’m at:

 

First, the government hasn’t been consistently in favor of green driving, so that’s kind of a myth. We’ve had some tax breaks for getting hybrids for years now, which might look like the government supporting green tech, but they’ve also kept giving massive tax breaks to oil companies. So, even though a lot of right-wing people will tell you government has been tipping the scale for green energy, I would say it’s been about neutral. And that means the market’s winning, because green cars are becoming cheaper to buy and more obviously practical for a lot of drivers.

 

If you think about it, the only really “green energy” policy the government has had toward the car industry is mandating ethanol and pushing corn fuels for years, which isn’t what I would call green. It’s actually dirtier to burn than petroleum, and it uses up huge amounts of farmland. And from a mechanic’s standpoint, it’s just absolute car poison. It clogs up injectors and leaves all sorts of soot and other crap in the motor.

 

Even if you’re not adding E85 or another high-ethanol fuel to your car, you’re gonna have some residual ethanol gunk to deal with in your motor, thanks to our brilliant government and their friends at the corn lobby. See my tips on fuel injector cleaner to learn how to resolve any issues in your drive system before they choke the life out of your car.

 

Basically, my answer has been that I don’t think green cars are going to slow down anytime soon, just because there’s no real change in policy happening, and the market is pretty clear about the fact that they’re smarter and cheaper.

 

So if you want to go green now, what should you do?

 

Even though I like electric cars, and they’re getting better and better in terms of performance, I don’t really recommend them to people who come through my garage. They’re still pretty expensive, and you have to live next to a good charging station unless you can be sure you’re gonna take short trips and charge every night. It also rules out road trips, unless you plan them around electric charging stations, which are still few and far between most places in the US.

superchargers tesla

I think everybody should be driving a hybrid, personally. I mean, every single brand has them, practically, and they’re just a total win for performance and reliability. They’ve come a long way since those old Prius’s, believe me. I actually got the chance to work on a Tundra hybrid the other week that was one of the best-feeling trucks I’ve driven in my life.

 

There’s really no reason not to buy a hybrid these days, since they’re so much cheaper than they were for years. They get astronomically better mileage and from the mouth of a mechanic, they’re so much better to drive long-term. Seriously. Electric drivetrains are a thing of beauty, my friends. As someone who’s spent his life dealing with all the dirty realities of combustion, I can’t wait to move on.

 

So go hybrid with your next car if you can, and then think about going electric the next cycle if you can, as long as infrastructure keeps growing the way it is now.
And don’t worry about being stranded by hybrids going back into the garage or anything. They’re here to stay, and you can have the engineers who designed them to thank for that.