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How to Save Fuel Costs Efficiently and Safely & The Hippest Car in Hollywood

Is This the End of the Oil Era?

The Oil Era may be on its final frontier. While demand for oil continues to rise, the U.S. now relies on imported petroleum for fifty percent of its supply. Many of the countries this oil comes from have political instability, creating a volatile market.

In the first five months of 2004, oil prices rose 30%. According to the Financial Forecast Center, the first six in 2005 will have about a 15% increase. In part, this is due to the falling dollar value, but some experts forecast that demand has met supply and world demand will continue to drive prices up. Local demand factors can also drive up prices, such as in California the limited refining capabilities to create the gasoline mix that California laws require to meet emission requirements.

Automobile emissions are also a major concern. In California, one in three children suffer from asthma. And growing concerns about global warming are making gasoline-powered energy less desirable. It seems the only viable option is to turn to alternative energies.

In September of last year, Automotive Fleet put out "Alternative Engine Technologies Supplement" that highlighted the top 100 alternative engine technology fleets. They also showcased a number of alternative engine technology vehicles from General Motors, Ford, and DaimlerChrysler.

The quickest way to ease the dependence on oil is through hybrid vehicles that still use the petroleum to give the freedom Americans are used to. Yet it minimizes the dependence on oil by using other fuel technologies, such as hydrogen, natural gas, or electricity. Most truck and auto manufacturers now have a hybrid in their line of vehicles, and increasing numbers of fleets are switching to hybrid vehicles.

But the ideal alternative fuel energy is hydrogen. It can be powered by domestic sources such as wind, solar, biomass and hydro. It has zero harmful emissions, emitting only water vapor, and burns up to twice as efficiently as gasoline, meaning less fuel will get you further. The Hydrogen Technical Advisory Panel predicts that by the year 2050 the U.S. will have an infrastructure in place to make hydrogen available.

President Bush has committed $1.7 billion to a FreedomCar Initiative that is working to develop the hydrogen-powered automobile. In California, Governor Schwarzenegger is implementing an aggressive "Hydrogen Highway" Program to create a viable alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles. His goal is that by year 2010, there is a hydrogen pump available every 20 miles on every major highway in California. Programs like this are also being implemented in Japan, China, Canada, Iceland, Norway and the European Union.

Additionally, DaimlerChrysler, General Motors, Toyota, Honda and Nissan all have hydrogen cell fleets of test vehicles. And to help with the higher costs for these vehicles, many states offer tax incentives, as does the federal government.

The biggest obstacles for these technologies are that of convenience and fear. It will take awhile for the gas station around the corner to have the alternative fuel you want. Additionally, there is a fear of fuels such as hydrogen. Many think that it will be like driving around a hydrogen bomb, but tests have shown that even strong impacts do not ignite the tank, and if it does catch fire by ignition, it burns much cooler than oil-fueled fires. For example, in an oil-fueled fire, the back window melts, which doesnt happen in a hydrogen-fueled fire.

What will the future bring? The transition may take anywhere from ten to fifty years, but alternative fuels are already on the horizon.

The Hippest Car in Hollywood

The following list of people all drive the same car:

  • Cameron Diaz
  • Leonardo di Caprio
  • Billy Joel
  • David Duchovny
  • Harrison Ford
  • Tom Hanks
  • Susan Sarandon
  • Bill Maher
  • Billy Crystal

You guessed it, they all drive the Toyota Prius.

Not only are the stars buying it, but it is the fastest selling car on the lot. In fact, if you want a Prius, the waiting list is about three months long.

The Prius:

  • averages 55 miles per gallon
  • uses a by-wire system that jet planes use
  • recharges as you drive, so no more plug-ins needed
  • exceeds emissions standards for Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle
  • Smart Key System enables you to unlock and start Prius without a key
  • Bluetooth technology for hands free cell phone use
  • Voice-activated DVD navigation system available
  • Multi-information screen monitors systems

The Prius retails at a competitive $20,875.

For more Prius features, see toyota.com.

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