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Clean cars don’t sacrifice style

The industry wants consumers to know there are many options when it comes to environmentally friendly vehicle purchases.

March 02, 2008|By Daniel Tedford

Those taking a test drive outside the Orange County Market Place Sunday could take a deep breath before and after going for a spin.

That’s because all the vehicles being shown at a special test drive event were California clean vehicles. The Drive Clean California campaign by the California Air Resources Board put on the event to show customers there are a lot more environmentally friendly cars being offered in the industry than consumers may think.

“One vehicle is not going to fit all drivers,” said John Swanton with the Air Resources Board. “You don’t have to sacrifice performance to have a very clean car.”

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And that was on display on the test drive event. Cars from BMW and Mercedez Benz showed luxury and performance cars can still be clean. Every car at the event had a nine on its smog score, while the average car scores a five. Swanton hopes to oust the perception that clean vehicles are too small with little style and no bang.

“We have a broad range of vehicles,” he said.

While most of the cars at the event were gasoline-powered, Ford, Nissan and Mazda brought along hybrid powered cars and Honda had a CNG, or Compressed Natural Gas, vehicle on display. Octavio Navarro, an assistant manager of public affairs at Ford Motor Company, was helping consumers learn about the 2008 Ford Hybrid Escape.

“A lot of people think, ‘I am going to buy a hybrid and it will save me a lot of money,’” Navarro said. “It is most efficient in a high traffic situation.”

Navarro continued by pointing out that those who travel on a highway, in less congested conditions, would be better off with the 4-cylinder Ford Focus.

Driving a hybrid takes some getting used to, Navarro said. The engine doesn’t engage until acceleration or the car goes above 25 miles per hour. Anything under 25 miles per hour and the electric power handles all the needs, conserving gas.

Navarro also pointed out the car was a PZEV vehicle, or Partial Zero Emission Vehicle, which is a title for vehicles that have the least impact on air quality while still using gasoline.

While the miles per gallon is handy, Swanton said it is clean driving they care about.

“This cleanliness is transparent to the user,” Swanton said. “These are examples of vehicles in the top tier.”

Subaru – 2008 Forester 2.5x

MSRP: $21,395 to $26, 895

MPG: 20city/27highway

Nissan – 2008 Altima Hybrid

MSRP: $25,070

MPG: 35city/33highway

BMW – 2008 328ci Coupe

MSRP: $35,300

MPG: 18city/28highway

*All cars come with a 15-year/150,000-mile warranty.


DANIEL TEDFORD may be reached at (714) 966-4632 or at daniel.tedford@latimes.com.

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