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Energy Questions Answered

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General

What is our mix of transportation fuels?

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What are CAFE standards?

CAFÉ stands for Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards. These standards for fuel economy govern cars and light trucks and are set by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The CAFE standards are fleet-wide averages that must be achieved by each automaker for its car and truck fleet every year. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency actually calculates the fuel economy levels achieved by manufacturers.

When these standards are raised, automakers respond by creating a more fuel-efficient fleet. In 2012, NHTSA established final passenger car and light truck CAFE standards for model years 2017-2021, which the agency projects will require in model year 2021, on average, a combined fleet-wide fuel economy of 40.3-41.0 mpg.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation

What are the trends in U.S. vehicle-miles traveled?

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Source: Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Census Bureau

Conventional Vehicles

How can I maximize my vehicle’s fuel efficiency?

  • Reduce idling, including by minimizing use of a remote vehicle starter
  • Ensure replacement tires are rated for low-rolling resistance to minimize fuel loss due to road friction
  • Keep your vehicle’s tires inflated to the tire pressure listed on the sticker on the driver’s side door or the owner’s manual
  • Use a synthetic oil to reduce friction in the engine and improve fuel efficiency
  • Use your manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil and consider oils labeled “Energy Conserving” that contain friction-reducing additives
  • Get regular engine tune-ups – repairing a serious problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can increase fuel economy by 40%
  • Drive slower on highways
  • Accelerate and brake gently
  • Combine trips
  • If available, use your vehicle’s fuel economy feedback display to maximize mpg
  • Minimize vehicle use through ridesharing, public transit, biking, walking, and working from home when possible
  • Make your next vehicle purchase a fuel efficient one!

Source: U.S. DOE Alternative Fuels Data Center

What happens when I idle?

Your vehicles burns fuel even when you idle. This means that idling costs you money and emits pollutants.

Alternative Fuels

What are the pros and cons of alternative fuel vehicles?

Visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center.
How can I compare the costs of owning alternative fuel vehicles?
Is help available to assess alternative fuel vehicles for my fleet?

Electric Vehicles

What are the types of electric vehicles?

‘Plug-in’ electric vehicles are cars, trucks, or buses that use electricity from the power grid or other source to move the vehicle’s wheels. There are two main types of plug-in electric vehicles. Battery-electric vehicles do not use any gasoline or other liquid fuel; all power is supplied from electricity stored in a battery. The Nissan ‘Leaf’ and Ford ‘Focus EV’ are examples of battery-electric vehicles. Plug-in hybrid vehicles use a combination of electricity, an internal combustion engine, and regenerative energy from braking. In regenerative braking systems, the vehicle’s electric motor generates power when braking. As that power is transferred to a battery the vehicle slows and the energy is stored for later use. The Chevy ‘Volt’ is an example of a plug-in hybrid vehicle.
How long does it take to charge an EV?

Both battery-electrics and plug-in hybrids can be recharged using a standard (home) 120-volt plug or a 240-volt plug. Using a 120-volt plug (level 1 charging), two to five miles of range per hour of charging time can be added. In this scenario, an electric vehicle plugged in overnight (12 hours) will gain 24 to 60 miles of charge by the morning.

Using a 240-volt plug (level 2 charging) requires installation of a home charging station or access to a public charging station. Based on the battery type and circuit capacity, 240-volt charging adds 10 to 20 miles of range per hour of charging time. In this scenario, an electric vehicle plugged in overnight (12 hours) will gain 120 to 240 miles (or the maximum range) of charge by the morning. A home charging station requires a 220/240V, 40 amp dedicated circuit connected to a breaker. It should be hard-wired directly to the circuit by a certified electrician.

Certain battery-electric vehicles allow a 480-volt direct current (DC) charging option as well. This level 3 fast charge can take 30 minutes or less to fully charge a depleted 24kWh battery. It should be noted that frequent use of level 3 charging may result in shortened battery life.

Where can I charge an EV?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, as of January 2017 there were 408 public charging stations available for electric vehicles in Colorado. Most of these stations offer level 2 charging, with some offering DC fast charging. A database of electric vehicle charging stations by state and zip code is available at DOE’s online Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center at www.afdc.energy.gov.

Are there financial incentives for electric vehicles?

Yes and they are significant. A federal tax credit of up to $7,500 is available for purchases of qualified plug-in electric vehicles based on battery capacity. The federal tax credits will be phased out by manufacturer once 200,000 qualifying electric vehicles are sold by that manufacturer in the United States. In Colorado, EV purchasers have a choice of a $5,000 tax credit or instant rebate at the time of purchase for owned light-duty electric vehicles. Leased electric vehicles are eligible for half that amount. The state credits/instant rebates begin to decline in 2020. A $2,500 instant tax credit can also be applied to 2-year minimum leases of new EVs.

EV tax credits decrease in 2020 to $4,000 for purchases/$2,000 for leases and in 2021 to $2,500 for purchases/$1,500 for leases. Converting a traditional gasoline vehicle to a plug-in electric is eligible for the same tax credits as EV purchases.

What are the costs and benefits of electric vehicles?

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Last updated: January 20, 2017 at 13:12 pm