The Car the Automakers Can — and Should — Be Making

Imagine cutting the amount of global warming pollution coming out of cars by over 40 percent – without using fuel cells, hybrid batteries or other state-of-the-art technology. Vehicles engineers at the Union of Concerned Scientists have done just that. By combining a suite of technologies including biofuels, improvements in engine efficiency and load reduction, already found piece-meal in over a hundred models from major manufacturers, UCS has designed a car that fights global warming and saves drivers money.

Cars using the Vanguard technology package would beat California’s global warming standards, which 10 other states of adopted. But instead of making the cars people want, automakers – led by their legal and lobbying group, the Auto Alliance – are trying to eliminate these clean car rules.


The Vanguard minivan design has eight key components – including improvements in the engine, transmission, air conditioner, fuel system, tires and aerodynamic design – that can be found piecemeal in more than 100 vehicle models on the road today. The Vanguard is not a hybrid. It uses conventional technology to achieve significant reductions in global warming pollution. For example:

  • The Vanguard engine features variable valve timing, currently used in most Toyota and Honda models as well as many Ford vehicles, which better controls the flow of air and fuel into the engine, leading to more efficient combustion and improved performance.
  • The Vanguard's six-cylinder engine can deactivate two cylinders when it requires less power, a feature currently found in 20 vehicle models.
  • The minivan's "automatic manual" transmission electronically adjusts its six gears to increase performance and efficiency.
  • Stronger hoses and tighter connections in the Vanguard's air conditioning system reduce the amount of concentrated global warming pollutants, called hydrofluorocarbons, which leak into the air. The minivan also uses a less-polluting refrigerant.
  • The Vanguard is designed to run on either pure gasoline or a mixture of gasoline and as much as 85-percent ethanol. Using 85-percent corn-based ethanol can reduce global warming pollution from 10 percent to 30 percent. Using "cellulosic" ethanol could cut global warming pollution by as much as 90 percent. There are currently 32 types of flex-fuel vehicles on the road.

The Vanguard dismantles the automakers’ arguments, showing that conventional passenger vehicles can be clean, affordable and safe.

After you take a look at the Vanguard, tell the new president of the Auto Alliance, Dave McCurdy, that you want global warming solutions like the UCS Vanguard, not more spin and lawsuits.

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