PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- Ask an angry would-be Tesla buyer in New Jersey what a "green" car is and you'll get an earful about not only fuel-efficient vehicles, but the stack of green bills collected by independent dealers keeping those vehicles out of the marketplace.
The states can resist all they'd like, but those green vehicles and the new marketplace realities that accompany them are coming whether local governments like it or not. With new mileage restrictions coming just a few years down the road, more than two dozen vehicles in the U.S. achieve more than 40 miles per gallon in combined mileage. That means more plug and less pump if prospective car buyers in the U.S.can be convinced of the merits of vehicle ownership again.
The share of new cars being bought by Americans between 18 and 34 is down 30% in the past five years, according to auto pricing site Edmunds.com. A Pew Research Center study notes that people under 35 bought 12% fewer cars than they did in 2010. The Department of Transportation notes that just 28% of 16-year-olds had driver's licenses in 2010, with just 45% of 17-year-olds claiming the same. That's plummeted from 50% and 66% respectively in 1978. Overall, as DC Streets Blog and the Frontier Group and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund point out, Americans are driving roughly 6% fewer miles than in 2004.
The Department of Transportation notes that the U.S. driver, who had been racking up a steadily increasing number of miles since the 1970s, started cutting back in 2008 and never returned to the peak. Meanwhile, traffic information service Inrix notes that as average gas prices started spiking in 2010, average commute times during peak hours dropped from more than four hours to less than two.
Basically, not only do folks not want to burn up gas anymore but, when they have to, they want to put as little cash into that enterprise as possible. The folks at the American Council For An Energy Efficient Economy in Washington, D.C., understand this and came up with 11 such cars that hit the roads at 40 mpg or better in the city and on highways. While there are few vehicles on the list that can hit the mark without any electric help, a slew of new hybrids and plug-ins are getting the job done.
We'll note that Tesla's Model S and its 94 miles per gallon equivalency in the city, 97 on the highway and electric charge range of 200 miles somehow didn't make the list, but here are a few offerings that come up big by keeping the mileage small: