40 MPG Without Lithium

There’s been a lot of hoopla in the press about these all electric cars claiming to have limitless MPG. There has been even more chatter about the “mostly electric” hybrids which you plug in at night and they run all electric until they “need” to start the gas.

Today, when my car battery is starting to fail, I can use a booster pack, bump my ride to a start, drive to the local auto parts store and, if I bought the right kind of ride, swap out the battery without having to disassemble the entire passenger side wheel well and drive assembly to put in a fresh five or seven year battery. At the time I buy the battery, there is a core charge which I get back when I return my dead battery for recycling.

I’ve seen the pictures of those Lithium (or other high end material) batteries for hybrid and electric cars. Swapping those things out is not a shade tree mechanic job. I also haven’t read much about recycling programs for them. Since most Lithium based watch and hearing aid batteries end up in a land fill instead of a recycling program, I’m kind of worried about where the batteries these supposedly “eco-friendly” cars will end up. I mean, I walk into any OfficeMax (NYSE:OMX) and there is generally a big display near the front about dropping off laptop/cell phone/other batteries for recycling, but I don’t see that when I walk into AutoZone (NYSE:AZO). That fear seems to be backed up by consumer guide articles like this:

http://consumerguideauto.howstuffworks.com/hybrid-batteries-none-the-worse-for-wear-cga.htm

I’m a firm believer that at least one vehicle I own should get at least 40 MPG, I just don’t want to create a bigger ecological problem. I mean, I firmly believe that once we get “big oil” out of the picture, Detroit will start cranking out rides that burn pure ethynol and Volvo (OTC:VOLVY) will be allowed to sell Bi-Fuel cars here. Before long we will all be back to driving SUVs that we really love because America can grow more grain than anyone and has more methane (both below ground and generated by feed lots) than any other country, but, that’s a blog for a different time.

Here’s the list my research turned up. If it isn’t all inclusive then the manufacturer should do a better job getting their MPG listed on the Web.

 

Note: Nearly every manufacturer boosted their miles by using either super low rolling resistance tires or under carriage panels to seal up the car, some used both. Speaking as someone who changes their own oil, those panels tend to make oil changes a real PITA and you will probably pay a higher price at the oil change place if they have to remove one just go get to the filter.

Note 2: “Special low rolling resistance tires” are expensive. When you wheel into Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) and have them put on the cheapest tires they have, you are going to cut your mileage in half. Here is a nice test someone did with a Toyota Prius and various LRR (Low Rolling Resistance) replacement tires. Even among LRR tires there was nearly a 4MPG difference. So, imagine just how bad your mileage is going to suffer when you slap on those $39 specials instead of the $190 Michelin LRR tires.

Here’s the list of what I found. No, 39MPG did not qualify as 40. If you didn’t make it to 40MPG, you didn’t get on the list.

2011 Hyundai Elantra 29/40
2011 Audi A3 TDI 30/42
2011 Chevy Cruz Eco 28/42
2011 Ford Fiesta FSE 29/40
2011 Smart for Two 33/41
2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 30/42
2011 Volkswagen Golf TDI 30/42
2012 Hyundai Accent GLS 30/40
2012 Hyundai Elantra GLS 29/40
2012 Audi A3 TDI Wagon 30/42
2012 Chevy Cruze Eco 28/42
2012 Kia Rio5 30/40
2012 Mazda 3i Grand Touring 28/40
2012 Volkswagen Golf TDI 4Dr Hatchback 30/42
2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 4Dr Sedan 30/42
2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI SEL Premium 4Dr 31/43