Gasoline-electric hybrids like the Nissan Altima Hybrid and Honda Civic Hybrid use a gasoline engine and an electric motor. A full or parallel hybrid can run on either the gasoline or electric motor, or use both for maximum performance. A mild hybrid uses the electric motor to aid the gasoline engine, which must always be running when the car is moving. Full hybrids can travel on electric power alone. Hybrids never need to be plugged into a wall outlet or external charging station to keep the batteries at full power. The gasoline engine that powers the car also handles the task of recharging the batteries.
Compressed Natural Gas and Diesel Vehicles
Vehicles running on compressed natural gas (CNG) marry efficiency with markedly reduced tailpipe emissions. While many gasoline-powered vehicles have been converted to run on compressed natural gas, which is relatively abundant and produced in the United States, the Honda Civic GX is the only sedan that comes from the factory with this ability. CNG vehicles use a standard piston engine.
Diesels are not often thought of as being green, but the latest generation of diesel vehicles produce fewer tailpipe emissions and significantly reduce carbon dioxide output. Today’s diesels are so clean they meet environmental standards in all states, including the more stringent California emissions rules. Among diesel powered cars, the Audi A3 is a standout.