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Tomorrow's 'Green' Car: Available Today


Automotive engineers working for a private advocacy group have unveiled a new car design that could drastically reduce the gaseous emissions that are contributing to global warming. Using off-the-shelf technologies, the car would meet or exceed the tough new vehicle pollution standards set by the state of California and ten other states.

You can't drive it off the lot yet, but a green minivan called the UCS Vanguard is available for viewing in the virtual showroom of the Union of Concerned Scientists' Internet website.

David Friedman, director of the UCS vehicle research program says the computer- simulated could cut global warming emissions by more than 40 percent, which would exceed even California's emission standards, considered the toughest in the nation.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is an industry trade group whose members represent 85 percent of domestic new car sales in the U.S. Spokesman Charles Territo says auto companies integrate new emission and safety features when it is feasible to do so. "Until you can create a vehicle that meets federal safety standards, a vehicle that meets federal emissions standards that also meets federal fuel economy standards, it is very difficult to envision what that vehicle may or may not look like."

David Friedman says the vehicle would look a lot like the Vanguard, which was developed using the same tools automakers use to design new cars. "We relied on sophisticated computer models that can ensure that one technology is not stepping on the toes of another and that they will work together."

The United States is currently the world's worst polluter, producing 25 percent of global climate-changing emissions. Passenger cars and trucks account for 25 percent of those emissions. Friedman says in the absence of federal curbs, 10 states have adopted regulations based on California's tough new car emissions standards. "These 11 states together have a market the size of Japan, nearly 6 million vehicles. If the car companies can service the market in Japan, they can certainly service a similar market in the United States." Friedman argues that automakers have the technology and can put it in place to help consumers and the environment.

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