Vehicle energy guide

Many modern vehicles last for 10–15 years, so when you purchase a new one you are committing to spend a lot of money on fuel.

Switching to a motorbike or highly-efficient car can save you hundreds of dollars on your annual fuel bill and many thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the vehicle.

When buying a new vehicle, make sure you choose the most efficient model that will meet your needs. Motorcycles and electric vehicles are probably the most efficient type of vehicle available.

If you are going to buy a fossil fueled vehicle then small diesel vehicles with a manual transmission are likely to be the most efficient. Diesel engines are more powerful and 30%-35% more efficient than similar-sized gasoline engines. New diesel engines are much smoother and quieter than their predecessors.

Ensure you select a vehicle with a minimum urban cycle fuel efficiency of less than 5 liters per 100km, or more than 47 miles per US gallon.

Operating your existing vehicle

If you do not plan to replace your vehicle for some time, why not save energy by leaving the car at home and sharing a ride with friends, using a motorcycle, or taking the bus or ferry? If you must use your car, take the following steps to reduce the amount of fuel used:

  • Avoid heavy acceleration.
  • Regularly check your tyre pressure to ensure they are properly inflated.
  • Ask for low rolling resistance tyres next time you get your tyres changed.
  • Do not fit wheels with a smaller diameter or larger width than the original wheels.
  • Open windows instead of using the air conditioning.
  • Remove any unnecessary weight from your vehicle.

When purchasing a vehicle, consider fuel efficient and alternative fuel vehicles. Use the tips and tools below to select the right vehicle for you, and to get the most out of your purchase.

  • Choose your vehicle according to your need. For example, if you mostly drive in cities, a smaller hybrid might be right for you because it gets better mileage in city driving and is easier to park. If you have more than one vehicle available to you, drive the most fuel- efficient vehicle whenever possible.
  • If you need a vehicle for towing or heavy use, consider a clean diesel vehicle. Diesel engines are more powerful and 30%-35% more efficient than similar-sized gasoline engines. New diesel engines are much smoother and quieter than their predecessors. The new generation of clean diesel vehicles must meet the same emissions standards as gasoline vehicles. Drivers of diesel vehicles can be even more sustainable by fueling up with a biodiesel blend. All manufacturers allow the use of B5 (diesel with up to 5% biodiesel) and some accept the use of B20 (diesel with up to 20% biodiesel). 
  • Many vehicles produced by U.S. auto manufacturers are flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs), which can run on E85 (up to 85% ethanol, 15% gasoline) and other ethanol-gasoline blends. Check your owner's manual to find out if your vehicle is an FFV.
  • Consider buying a highly fuel-efficient vehicle. A fuel-efficient, hybrid electric, plug-in electric, or other alternative fuel vehicle could cut your fuel costs and help the environment.
  • If you have a plug-in hybrid electric or an all-electric vehicle, charging stations for electric vehicles are increasingly available throughout the country. You can find charging and alternative fuel stations—such as those that offer E85—on the Alternative Fueling Station Locator.

To help you purchase and drive the fuel efficient or alternative fuel vehicle that meets your needs, use's Find-a-Car tool and the Alternative Fuels Data Center

Information on this webpage has been referenced from the US Department of Energy website ;