The last decade has been an era in which gas prices have swung wildly, often changing by as much as 25 percent. Automobile manufacturers are no strangers to the problem, as their business depends heavily on their customers’ willingness to pay at the pump. Especially over the last several years, car manufacturers have responded to the gas crisis by stepping up their engineering efforts and rolling out more efficient and less consumptive models. The automobile industry has become a frontier for environmental advancement and consumers are buying in, purchasing increasingly efficient cars every year.
European automakers seem to be especially responsive to the environmental situation, as three of the top four automakers in terms of pollution output include Renault, Peugeot-Citroen and Fiat. According to a study published by the European Environment Agency, new cars sold in 2010 posted a 3.7 percent reduction in carbon emissions when compared to cars sold in 2009.
The United States, however, have been less rapid in their response to the global fuel shortage. Despite claiming only five percent of the world’s population, United States drivers are responsible for nearly a third of the cars on the road worldwide. Not only do Americans have more cars, they also are responsible for about half of the world’s carbon emissions. American automakers have made notable improvements to their cars over the last several years in response, even pushing out sports cars with a greener focus. Once icons in American muscle car lore and best known for their brutish power, both the Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang base-level models now boast fuel efficiency figures better than 25mpg during highway driving.
Facing a shifting industry and fickle consumer demand in the face of the fuel crisis, automakers around the world have altered their production methods and adjusted the focus of their automobiles to reflect a more environmentally friendly approach. Biodiesel holds a significant advantage over traditional fuel in terms of fuel economy and the auto industry is working hard to integrate more diesel models into the market. European carmakers including Volkswagen and Mercedes are leading the charge in developing a line of light-sipping diesel automobiles. Of Volkswagens current ‘TDI’ diesel-powered offerings, three can boast highway fuel consumption figures of more than 40mpg and the Touareg, VW’s full-size SUV, cranks out 28mpg.
Through more efficient manufacturing techniques, alternative power sources, improved fuel mileage or through promoting more environmentally driving habits, car makers all around the world are stepping up their efforts to lessen the enormous toll that driving exacts on the environment. Given unpredictable gas prices and tough economic times, it’s about time that consumers bought into manufacturers’ greener perspective.
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