SEN Hero

Energy Efficient Transportation

The most eco-friendly ways to travel are to take advantage of public transit or practice active transit by walking or biking your commute. However this isn't always a viable option for everyone for a variety of reasons including long commutes, irregular work hours, emergency situations, family needs, and more. In most prairie cities, driving is the most common form of transportation, and car ownership for many is a necessity. This is why it is a good idea to research which cars are available to you that will suit your needs, and reduce your carbon footprint in the process.

The EPA Green Vehicle Guide is a great resource for anyone in the market for a new car who is interested in reducing their impact on the environment. It provides up-to-date information on the fuel efficiency of all available vehicles, and other helpful information such as the potential savings in fuel costs. You can also use their "Find a Vehicle" tool to find a car that suits your needs and compare it to other cars in it's class.

It's an exciting time in green transportation, with new technologies finding their way to the market faster than ever before. The most impressive of which being the breakout success of Tesla Motors. After a slightly rocky start with their ambitious entry to the EV market, the Tesla Roadster, the American company has found it's footing with the incredibly popular Model S, named the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year. Boasting a fully electric range of up to 426 kilometers at a combined 97 MPGe, cutting edge features, and a sleek modern design, the Model S has positioned itself as a true zero-compromise EV for urban drivers.

The futuristic cockpit of the Tesla Model S

While current offerings from Tesla Motors come at a steep price for most Canadians, the company has no intention of alienating the average car buyer. With the construction of a new large-scale lithium-ion battery factory, Tesla plans to increase production to allow for more moderately priced vehicles in the future. These plans include the Model 3, a smaller sedan with a price of nearly half the Model S, and the Model X, a small SUV for all the eco-friendly families out there. In an unprecedented move, Tesla officially released all their technology patents in the hopes that other car manufacturers could use their established technology to increase the growth of the EV industry.

The booming success of Tesla has reverberated throughout the automotive market in the last few years. Not to be outdone by competition, many established car companies like Ford, Kia, and BMW have announced their own entries to the EV scene with more conventional designs. Gone are the days that an electric car must look like it came from space and be small enough to fit in your suitcase. This speaks volumes to the power of consumer choice, and proves that major car companies are willing to change with the times if car buyers push them forward.

The more modestly priced Kia Soul EV boasts a range of 130-190 km

While fully electric vehicles are a great option for city dwellers and those who live in regions with fast-charging stations, they might not suit the needs of the many residents of Saskatchewan who have long commutes or often travel long highway distances. This is where plug in hybrids like the Chevrolet Volt can be a better option. The Volt is plug-in hybrid powered by an electric motor, and houses a gas powered generator which maintains a charge on the battery for longer trips. The on-board battery allows for an all-electric range of around 60 km at 98 MPGe, and a total range of about 611 km at 37 MPG with the gasoline generator. Other plug in offerings include the Ford Fusion Energi, the Toyota Prius Plug-in, and the Honda Accord Plug-in.

Your fuel efficient car is of course greenest of all if left at home when it is possible to walk, cycle or travel by bus, or to telecommute. So consider opportunities to reduce car use when practical, by walking or biking for short trips, ridesharing, and combining several errands into one trip. Another option is to choose where you live according to its proximity to work, school, or transit-what planners call location efficiency. This is a key to reducing the need to drive at all.

Biking can be an excellent suppliment to public transit for longer commutes

Technology in green transportation is progressing faster than it ever has before. For example, engineers around the world are working to unlock the energy storage potential of graphene and silicon. With claims from researchers of the potential for electric car ranges of 500 miles and minute-charging, it's hard not to get excited for the future of electric cars. In Europe and Asia, technology in mass transic mag-lev trains and vacuum rail promise a future of airplane-speed travel at a small fraction of the energy usage. We are likely decades away from seeing some of these technologies reach Canadian soil, but it paints a picture of a promising green future ahead of us.