From: Maria Ortega, Global Warming is Real, More from this Affiliate
Published April 30, 2013 06:10 AM

Extended Range Electric & Hybrid Cars that Reduce Environmental Impacts

According to National Geographic, more than half the air pollution in the United States is caused by mobile devices, primarily by automobiles. These greenhouse gases that vehicles emit, such as carbon dioxide, are wreaking havoc on the ozone layer as well as polluting the soil and surface water in many cases.

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Bottom line— while cars are an everyday necessity and convenience, they're not doing the environment any favors. That's part of the reason why the federal government is offering tax incentives to those who purchase hybrid or electric vehicles, as well as challenging automakers to develop vehicles by 2025 that are able to achieve 55 mpg on the highway. It's a bold goal but, as you can see from how much cars are responsible for pollution, it's a necessary one that's becoming more important.

However, we'll focus on some of the hybrids and electric vehicles that either greatly reduce or eliminate fuel emissions altogether, both new and used. Here's a closer look:

2011 Toyota Prius

U.S. News listed the 2011 Toyota Prius as one of the best used cars that you can purchase for under $20,000. It achieves 51 mpg in the city and 48 mpg highway. The Prius model is perhaps the most popular hybrid vehicle to date with its distinctive look and affordable sticker price. It also scores very well in terms of safety and reliability, two factors which have helped its brand soar to top heights. When you think "hybrid," Prius certainly comes immediately to mind.

2012 Chevy Volt

The Chevy Volt is an extended range electric car the functions like a hybrid electric vehicle when operated beyond it's electric range.  It has the capability to run on both an electric battery and a conventional gas-powered engine, and transfer between the two power sources seamlessly. Between the electric battery and gas engine, it can achieve up to 95 mpg city and 93 mpg highway and offers a range of about 300 miles. The one con to the Volt is its near $40,000 sticker price. However, that comes with a $7,500 tax credit. It's still a lot to swallow for a mid-size sedan, but a used Volt can help offset some of that sticker price. Editor's note: I own a VOLT and have more than 35,000 miles on it since new.  More than 75% of  my miles were fully electric and my overall mpg exceeds 150 mpg.

Chevy Volt photo credit, GM.

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