GreenCars 101

Benefits of Fuel-Efficient Vehicles

Dave Nichols
Jul 2023
Here’s how you can save money on gasoline and reduce your carbon footprint by driving a vehicle that is more fuel-efficient, offering more miles per gallon.
Woman teaching child how to charge an electric vehicle

Benefits of Fuel-Efficient Vehicles

The simple fact is that fuel-efficient vehicles get better gas mileage than most traditional cars and trucks. Who wouldn’t want to save a whole lot of bucks at the gas pump, right? Whether we are talking about gasoline-powered cars that get better EPA ratings because they are smaller, lighter, have smaller engines, and smarter gas-saving technology, or we’re imagining the latest hybrid (HEV) or plug-in hybrid (PHEV) that incorporates an electric motor and battery pack to get you farther down the road without emptying out your wallet, fuel-efficient vehicles are here to stay.

Another undeniable fact is that the world is moving away from gasoline-powered internal combustion engines to more efficient, zero emission all-electric cars for a greener future. High gas prices are pushing this evolution and even people who don’t find EVs particularly appealing are embracing plug-in hybrid vehicles in record numbers.

smoke stack with smoke coming out

Save Money While Reducing Greenhouse Gases

Fuel-efficient vehicles offer a balance between gas-saving, environmentally friendly travel and the ability to go anywhere without the range anxiety that some feel with EVs. A Toyota Prius hybrid averages 42 miles per gallon combined. Plug-in hybrids can travel from 28 to 60 miles (depending on the make and model) on electric-only power, they help you extend your mileage and use even less gasoline. Most Americans can do their daily driving, going to work and back or to the grocery store and back, on electric power alone.

Fuel-efficient cars produce less greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change and air pollution. Most of our nation’s smog comes from driving internal combustion vehicles. Plus, the less gasoline we use, the less our country will be reliant on foreign oil. One-quarter of the gasoline we use comes from other countries and the less of it we use, the more we’ll save.

The savings from driving a more fuel-efficient car are significant. Especially now when gas prices are 92 percent higher than in 2020. Imagine you own a Jeep Grand Cherokee that gets 19 miles per gallon in the city and a fill up runs you $114. Annual fuel cost is around $3,500. By comparison, a Ford Focus is EPA rated to get 30 miles city and costs $58 to fill up. Annual fuel cost is around $2,000.

car charging station

Plug-In Hybrids vs Electric Cars

With a plug-in hybrid, drivers can run errands on battery power alone. The gasoline engine comes into play for longer trips, working with the electric motor for better fuel consumption. As with all hybrid cars, the transition from electric to gasoline power is seamless to the user.

Once you are back home, your plug-in hybrid can charge up in just a few hours and you’ll be ready to head out on all-electric power once again. Lift the hood, and you’ll see an internal combustion gasoline engine and an electric motor nestled together, just like all hybrid cars. Outside the vehicle, you’ll find two small doors that open for fueling; one is for gasoline and the other is for plug-in electricity.

On the other hand, an all-electric car has no gasoline engine at all. Most EVs today have a range of 200 miles or more before they need a recharge. That’s plenty of range to drive on a typical day. By plugging in your car at home overnight, it is like having a full tank of fuel every morning. Plus, new EVs are pushing the range limit to over 300 miles and some vehicles such as the Lucid Air claim a range of over 500 miles.

Both PHEVs and all-electric EVs allow you to charge with Level 1 or 2, but only EVs include the ability for Level 3 DC fast charging at charging stations.

car charging by road

Advantages of Plug-In Hybrids

The biggest benefit of owning a plug-in hybrid is that you can travel anywhere without stopping for time-consuming charging as with all-electric cars. A plug-in hybrid drives just like a traditional gasoline-powered car once you have depleted the battery pack. You are still saving fuel over a conventional gasoline-only car.

Plug-in hybrids are also eligible for the federal tax credit of $7,500 on new vehicles which helps to lower the cost of your new vehicle. Today’s plug-in hybrids are available from most automakers including luxury models by BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Audi and Volvo.

Mainstream car companies also offer a wide array of PHEV sedans, crossovers and SUVs. Toyota calls its plug-in hybrid line Prime models, which includes the Prius Prime and popular RAV4 Prime models. These include 42 miles of all-electric range and all-wheel drive.

New Ford plug-in hybrids include the Fusion and Escape; Hyundai has the Tucson, Santa Fe and Ioniq; Kia has the Niro and Sorento; Subaru offers the Crosstrek; Jeep has the Wrangler 4xe and Grand Cherokee 4xe; and Chrysler even has the big Pacifica minivan.

Person holding paper using calculator on phone

Reduced Monthly Fuel Costs

Fuel costs will largely depend on how consistently the internal combustion engine remains unused. Electricity has the benefit of being more price stable and a cheaper fuel source than gasoline. Most utilities offer residential electric rates that cost only a few cents per hour, with some even offering special off-peak rates or time-of-use rates to lower fuel costs even further.

person plugging in charger for their electric vehicle

Is a Fuel-Efficient Vehicle Right for You?

Hey, what’s not to like? You get all the convenience and technology of a conventional car but save money at the gas pump and help to save the environment too. Many buyers find that plug-in hybrids are the perfect combination of electric driving performance and efficiency without the “range anxiety” of an electric-only vehicle.

Plug-in hybrids enable some drivers to perform their daily commute and errands around town solely on electric power, functioning almost as if there wasn’t a gasoline engine under the hood at all. The same plug-in hybrid would also let them go on a hassle-free cross-country road trip by using the gasoline engine.

Front view of a Tesla Model 3 driving through canyon roads

Join the sustainable transportation evolution.

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