The Green Car Revolution…Is Here.

Via Waylon Lewis
on May 7, 2013
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Tesla is dark green, but not accessible unless, like me, you’re making millions a year. Toyota has a range of greenish options for various uses, and they’re affordable. Or, go the used car route: horrible in terms of gas consumption, AC…but no new vehicle being created and shipped.

Toyota’s current lineup. Something for everyone. Click image for more info:
toyota green cars car hybrid electric solar 2013

Summer-07-BikeThe Green(er) Car Revolution is (just about) Here.

I ride a bike.

Come snow, sleet or sun, I’m out there. And I love it. And yes…I compost, and I’m vegan, and I own a rescue hound dog, and I unplug my fixtures in my solar-powered eco-furnitured home when they’re not in use. I leave the heat off just about all the way in the winter, and wear vintage or organic clothes. I even catch all the cold water in my tub when I’m waiting for hot water and use that to water the plants. I eat farm-to-table and I would rather clumsily carry a dozen grocery items than accept a plastic bag.

Yes, I’ve driven at least one ex-gf nutty with my love for our mother earth.

But I’m far from alone. The numbers of vegans and bicycle riders and solar-home owners and green(er) car drivers are doubling, year over year. Farmers markets have increased 10fold over the last decade.

So it probably comes as little surprise that I haven’t owned a car for five years. I’ve been waiting for an affordable electric truck or sporty coupe that I can solar-power when parked at home.

For many of us just can’t, in good conscience, use gas when it hails from the war-strewn Middle East and it pollutes…and riding a bike is healthier, good for my entrepreneur’s busy mind and cheaper besides. But whether for a road trip (let’s go to hot springs, honey; or let’s go climbing; or let’s get a ton of groceries or something for the house from ReSource, the salvage yard; or a trip to a benefit or farm-to-table restaurant in Denver, 30 minutes away…a car would be helpful. I’m likely running for City Council this year, and know that it will in some cases be essential. And once I have a family, which is a few years off still (no rush, ma!), I’ll definitely want the option–if it’s truly green. I’ve debated about getting an old used truck or coupe–it’s obviously green to buy something that already exists, though their mpg and old school AC is in most cases far from green. As a gen-u-ine environmentalist, I’ve been confused about my options.

So when I was invited by Toyota

(see all my photos under @waylonlewis #ecodriven on Instagram, which were also shared via our twitter and facebook)

(I’ve also checked out green options from Ford, Tesla, Nissan…) to review their new lineup of “green” cars, I was intrigued. None of the cars, with the exception of the electric, were possibly zero emissions. But all were far greener than conventional options, and practical and fun and elegant. And what impressed me most was that all are ready to go—ready to enjoy—for normal American families. You don’t have to be a treehugger to drive these. You don’t have to be a Pious Prius-lover to drive the Highlander SUV or classic Camry—and both now come in “green.” I’m a little behind on my info at this point, but I’m at the point where I could use a car, and I’m looking at my options.

And I’ll review my decision-making journey here on elephant, my test drives, and then my ownership of said elephantmobile on this site (1.5 million readers a month, #1 on twitter for #green nationally, twice) as well as our Walk the Talk Show video series, which is rapidly taking over the wellness/green/yoga space on good ol’YouTube (subscribe here, free, for our latest offerings). Contact me if you’ve got ideas–I’ve looked at Ford (nice, greenish), Tesla (pricey, supergreen), Toyota (good range of options, greenish to supergreen), Nissan.


Here’s Toyota’s green lineup. I was most impressed by the range of options, both prize and utility-wise–whether for family, college student, adventurer, commuting…but truth is deep-green-wise I was only interested in the electric SUV, though I personally loved the small, sporty Prius C look-wise, and the plug-in is as green as any car you can drive in the world, right now.

There’s the four cars that make up the Prius Family: big, small, super green plugin, classic:

There’s the hybrid Camry…

…And Highlander…

And there’s the electric Rav4, my personal favorite eco-wise…I can’t seem to find good accessible videos on this that are fun to watch, but…this one covers the basics. ZZZzzzz:

An old video, but features elephriend Graham Hill (my interview with him here, more here)


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


13 Responses to “The Green Car Revolution…Is Here.”

  1. Geoff Withnell says:

    Ah, if only it were true. The batteries in these hybrid or electric cars are absolutely horrible for the environment. And they don't last long enough for the lack of emissions during use to overcome that initial manufacturing impact to the environment. As far as I can tell, the least impactful (is that a word?) type of vehicle is a diesel, running on recycled vegetable oil.

  2. Alice2112 says:

    I have a Honda Insight Hybrid and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! (much cheaper than the Prius too). They also sell a Civic hybrid.

    Got to ride in a Tesla – OMG.

  3. elephantjournal says:

    Geoff, that seems based off of the first generation–we're now on the, what, 11th generation? They've done impact studies and hybrids have come out ahead. I'll find a source, or you can.

    But, yes, veggie diesel can be okay, though not necessarily clean burning, and many folks only use a small percentage of biod or veggie? I'd love to know more.

  4. elephantjournal says:

    Yay! I'll have to check the Hondas out. And yah, Tesla–their Model S is, as the auto press called it, a true and rare gamechanger.

  5. Sally says:

    The Rav EV has a Tesla drivetrain. Watch for the Mercedes class B EV, also with a Tesla drivetrain, to be released next year.

  6. elephantjournal says:

    Ooh…off to googleland

  7. Geoff Withnell says:

    Actually, vegetable oill can be used 100% with fairly minor modification to a standard deisel engine. In the Washington DC area, a lot of restaurants are now selling their used frying oill, which once filtered, works perfectly.

    As far as comparing electric and conventional autos for cradle to grave impact, it is a very complex issue, and I don't personally believe there is yet a clear winner. Obviously, a bicycle beats them both!

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  9. Maria Muñoz says:

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  10. Don Evans says:

    I want to see more renewable energy resources developed to help power the inevitable flood of electric cars that will come onto the roads as the cost comes down and their range increases as well.

  11. Well, I have to say that they indeed make an awesome production in here for creating a green car!

  12. shane says:

    good work