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DOING SOME DIGGING The Drive to Save Energy

All I want for Christmas is my two-litre, two-seater, too-fast, little roadster. Not really, but there may be some...



All I want for Christmas is my two-litre, two-seater, too-fast, little roadster. Not really, but there may be some readers with plans to tie a big red ribbon around a new car this holiday season. To help them make energy-wise automotive buying decisions, NATURAL RESOURCES CANADA (NRCan) has issued its annual fuel consumption guide.

NRCan produces this guide with the help of Transport Canada, the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association, and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada. It covers estimated annual fuel costs, fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions. The ratings are based on how much fuel each vehicle consumes if it travels 20,000 km with 55% of the distance in cities and 45% on highways. Find tips on vehicle maintenance, driving to reduce fuel consumption, and information on alternative-fuel vehicles in this handy report.

"The 2004 Fuel Consumption Guide is the tool you need to select the most fuel-efficient new vehicles to meet your everyday transportation needs," notes the Hon. Herb Dhaliwal, who was the Cabinet minister responsible for NRCan when the guide was released last month. "By using the guide, you can save fuel, save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change."

Our tax dollars are at work, and for once, I don’t begrudge the expenditure. Everyone should be aware that these ratings are available and will help new car buyers make energy-wise decisions. Copies are available at new- vehicle dealerships, most motor vehicle licensing offices, participating Credit Union offices, and participating Caisse popularies et d’conomie Desjardins. The 2004 guide and versions going back to 1995 are also available in .pdf format at the Office of Energy Efficiency website, www.oee.nrcan.gc.ca/vehicles.

So, which are the most energy-efficient vehicles for the 2004 model year? The winners in each class (drum roll, please) are: TWO-SEATER, Honda Insight (estimated 726 L of fuel yearly); SUBCOMPACT, Toyota Echo (1,205 L) and Volkswagen new Beetle TDI Diesel (1,006 L); COMPACT, Honda Civic Hybrid (953 L); MID-SIZE, Toyota Prius (818 L); FULL-SIZE, Chevrolet Impala (1,813 L); STATION WAGON, Volkswagen Jetta TDI Diesel (1,129 L), Pontiac Vibe (1,387 L), and Toyota Corolla Matrix (1,387 L); PICKUP TRUCK, Ford Ranger (1,766 L) and Mazda B2300 (1,766 L); SPECIAL PURPOSE, Chrysler PT Cruiser (1,753 L); and VAN, Chevrolet Venture (2,022 L), Oldsmobile Silhouette (2,022 L) and Pontiac Montana (2,.022 L).

Why should CMJ readers care about the fuel efficiency of the cars they drive? Because we are all citizens of the third planet we call Earth and its natural resources are finite. I’m not saying everyone should rush out to buy a tiny foreign automobile strictly on its fuel rating. I know as well as anyone that sometimes the vehicle that meets the family or severe duty needs is the farthest thing from small. But consult the guide, so that in buying the appropriate vehicle you go into the deal informed of its fuel-efficiency rating. Look for the EnerGuide label on all new passenger cars, pickups, vans, and special purpose vehicles.

I am still driving the same Suzuki Sidekick 4×4 that I bought new in 1990. I know it needs a little bodywork now, but it is still as much fun to drive and as fuel efficient as it was 13 years ago, thanks to the routine attention of my favourite mechanics. I have no complaints about the amount I spend on gas, and I am proud to report that it passed its Ontario Drive Clean emission test last month with flying colours. I think I’ll keep it (and save additional resources that would go into the body, engine, tires and manufacturing a new one).


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