November 2006

Member Alert

AAA Watch

Top Story


Washington Watch

In The News

Member Specials
Member Alert
If You Don't Have a PLUS Membership, Only You Can Use BWC Services

Not Your Spouse. Not Your Children. Not Your Friends. You!

by Kelly Ward, BWC VP of Membership Services

Better World Club cares about its members. You're the ones who keep sending us money, after all. This is why we cover BWC members rather than member vehicles.

However, some of our members don't seem to care as much about us. We have had instances where members have given their membership number to friends or spouses or relatives.

We are covering you, not your spouse or child or friend, unless they are members as well. The individual calling for roadside assistance must be listed in our database as a member to arrange for services. The member must be with the car when service is delivered.

If you would like two or more people covered you need a PLUS membership. It is hardly fair to those who have a PLUS membership to service your family members when you have not enrolled them with associate memberships. (If you are not sure who is listed then please send us an email or give us a call.)

And while we're at it, we should also mention that you do not necessarily need a card to receive service, but you do need a valid membership number and your name in the system.
AAA Watch
AAA and Big Oil Join Forces To Help Defeat California Proposition 87

Oil Companies Spend Over $100 Million and Drive Support from 61% in July to 45% on Election Day

Would Californians Let Chevron Drill in Their Backyard for Free? Apparently Yes.

Proposition 87 -- which would have imposed an extraction fee on oil company drilling in the State of California -- was defeated at the polls 45 to 55 percent on November 7.

The Clean Energy Initiative would have raised up to $4 billion through the fee to help fund renewable energy and energy efficiency programs in the state. It was endorsed by a coalition of environmental and public health organizations, as well as leaders like President Clinton and Vice President Gore.

AAA has a long tradition of opposing restrictions on--and alternatives to--the automobile: including mass transit, bicycle paths, and the Clean Air Act. The Auto Club of Southern California officially came out in opposition to California's Proposition 87. There is no word whether SCAAA contributed to the $100 million raised largely by oil companies to defeat the initiative.

The proposition, which required any additional costs "not be passed on to consumers through higher prices for oil, gasoline, or diesel fuel" was denounced by Thomas McKernan, President and CEO of the Automobile Club of Southern California among others. Opponents argued Prop 87 would result in higher gas prices and create a greater dependence on foreign oil, which would have placed an additional strain on school districts and municipality transportation budgets throughout the state. The initiative created an agency to manage the tax revenues and this was attacked as another new bureaucracy. California is the only state without an extraction fee. Even Texas has a fee of 4.6%, with the revenues going to support schools/colleges.
Top Story

Aston Martin Joins Lamborghini and Bentley

We Thought Europeans Were Supposed To Be More Energy Conscious?

While Better World Club provides discounts to drivers of alternative fuel vehicles, we also surcharge the least fuel-efficient cars sold in the U.S. This year, according to federal government statistics:

  • The Lamborghini Marcielago is once again (3rd straight year) the least efficient two-seat car getting only 9 city miles per gallon

  • The Bentley Azusre 8 is the Least Efficient Subcompact and the Bentley Amage LWB is the Least Efficient Large Car, both with 10 mpg records. (Yes, we know, how many Bentley and Lamborghini drivers do we have? Sigh. Well, as we said last year, the facts are the facts.)

  • There has been one change in the line-up. The third position has been assumed by the Aston Martin DB 9, with its 11 mpg. This is an improvement of sorts, as it is the first time that an 11 mpg vehicle has appeared on the BWC gas guzzler surcharge list. Previously all of the cars were either 9 or 10 mpg.
  • Finally, a tip of the hat to the 2007 Dodge Ram which for the first time is not on our list. It has improved its mpg from 9 to 14 mpg. (Hey, it's better than the Roush Performance Stage 3 F150 pick up and its 11 mpg.)

And, congratulations as well as to all of our "winners". It is important to remember that we're not sticking our tongue out at the owners of these cars, but encouraging them to recognize their enviornmental footprint. Any surcharge revenue is devoted to our environmental donations.

Meanwhile the Toyota Prius as the most fuel-efficient vehicle in the U.S., with an estimated 60 miles per gallon in city driving. The Honda Civic Hybrid was second with 49 mpg in the city. Both cars are projected at 51 mpg for highway driving.

BWC Holiday Gifts

Don't know what to get Uncle Stuart this holiday? Yeah, sorry, neither do we.

But we do know what you should get the in-laws "that had to make the 11 hour drive all-the-way here, just to see you".

Buying a gift membership takes only a handful of minutes, and afterwards you can move one more name from your "Undecided Presents" list onto your "Outstanding Presents" list. And if you visit our special holiday promotion page, you can print a coupon worth $10 off the price of the membership. But don't procrastinate, because you can only visit the special discount page twice before its sleighed away!

One thing to note, we send an immediate confirmation to every email address you provide on the sign-up form. So if you want the membership to be a holiday surprise, just enter your own email address at each of the prompts.
EcoTalk now 5 Days a Week

And It's Still Not Enough

EcoTalk, Air America Radio's premier environmental show, has moved up in the world, expanding from weekends to weekdays. Of course, this means five shows each week instead of one.

EcoTalk, hosted by eco-queen Betsy Rosenberg, can be heard at 9 p.m. Eastern time. Typically, this would mean 6 p.m. Pacific time, but many Western stations are moving it around--or not airing it at all. If your local Air America affiliate is not airing the show, email them to let them know that you'd like to hear it. You can also listen to it daily over the Internet by going to the Air America website.

Just Like Peas And Carrots:

ZipCar and Better World Club Go Great Together

Even if you don't own a car, you may still be driving a vehicle covered by Better World Club. ZipCar is the largest car-sharing service in the United States, which also recently expanded to the UK, and features Better World Club roadside assistance with all its vehicles. Founded in 1999, it's fleet includes hybrids and other fuel-efficient cars in San Francisco, Minneapolis, Chicago, Toronto, Ann Arbor, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Chapel Hill, and the Washington DC vicinity.

For the uninitiated, ZipCar members may view vehicle locations and make reservations online for as little as ˝ hour. Each vehicle has a home location, either a reserved parking space located on a street, a driveway, or parking lot. Rental includes driver's insurance, satellite radio, and reimbursements for car washes and wiper fluid refills. For more details, check out their website.

Better World Club Toasts the Naming of ‘Carbon Neutral' as the Oxford Word of the Year

The Champagne's Flowing and the Gowns are Fierce; but Don't Forget to Keep it in Neutral

Here at BWC, we're brushing up on our waltz steps and not just because of the upcoming holiday season: the New Oxford American Dictionary named ‘carbon neutral' its 2006 Word of the Year.(We were confident that the efforts we've made over the past few years would pay off.)

As we're reminded in Oxford's announcement of its selection "being carbon neutral involves calculating your total climate-damaging carbon emissions, reducing them where possible, and then balancing your remaining emissions, often by purchasing a carbon offset: paying to plant new trees or investing in "green" technologies such as solar and wind power." Complete Story
Washington Watch

The Dumbest Tax Policy Ever? (cont'd)

We've Reported Before on the Hybrid Tax Credit That Becomes Unavailable Over Time

Well, The Time Has Come

The federal government decided to incent car buyers to purchase hybrids by providing these cars with a tax credit (not a deduction, but a direct tax subsidy).

This sound policy is undermined, however, by phasing out the tax credit when there are more than 65,000 sales of a given model. Well, the most popular hybrid, Toyota's Prius has reached that level. The tax credit for Prius driviers has dropped in half, from $3,150 to $1,575 and is projected to drop again next spring to $787.50.

Read the Complete Story and find all of the tax credits for hybrids listed online.

More Washington Watch in Driving Change:
- Former Exxon Chair Lee Raymond Named to Lead U.S. Energy Study
In The News

Taking out Travel Insurance or Break down Coverage in the US?

Well, there's a 'greener' alternative to the American Automobile Association (AAA): the Portland, Oregon-based Better World Club (BWC), which now operates in over 20 States...[EDITOR'S NOTE: BWC offers insurance in over 20 states, but roadside assistance is offered in all 50 states.]

Founded by the forward-looking Mitch Rofsky, 52 (who worked for Ralph Nader for five years after graduating from law school), and Todd Silberman, 53 in July 2002, BWC - like AAA - offers roadside help, a travel agency, and home and auto insurance - but also donates 1 percent of its revenues to environmental organizations that seek to reduce fossil fuel usage and global warming. Complete Story
Member Specials

The Great Escape

BWC Members Receive a 20% Discount with Rocky Mountain Escape

Jaw-dropping natural beauty makes the Alberta Rockies the perfect getaway for outdoor enthusiasts. Located north of Jasper National Park, Rocky Mountain Escape provides visitors with loads of eco-friendly vacation options.

The folks at Rocky Mountain Escape describe their eco-lodge best: "Rocky Mountain Escape's credo is to protect our environment. We're committed to conserving this unique sub alpine ecosystem, enabling guests to enjoy an unspoiled wilderness experience. Complete Story Click here to check out the Rocky Mountain Escape website.

Related Links

The Rocky Mountain Escape discount was first featured in the November edition of TravelCool, BWC's monthly travel enewsletter, which you can sign up for now.

Harlequin Productions In Olympia, WA is Offering "Buy One, Get One Free" on Theater Tickets to BWC Members

BWC members will receive one free ticket with the purchase of one general admission ticket for opening weekend (Thursday, Friday, Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon) of any Harlequin Productions performance beginning with ‘The Twelfth Night of Stardust' in November 2006.

Check out the Harlequin Productions website to see their 2006/2007 season schedule.

Do You Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is?




























BWC Alternative Fuel Report:

Silent But Deadly Gas (Prices)

Fuel Averages Quietly Rise Over The Last Two Weeks

Ethanol Bucks The Trend And Maintains Pricing





























Fuel prices are slowly rising, after a brief decline right before the November elections. Gasoline, Diesel, and B20 averages rose $0.02, $0.03, and $0.06 respectively. Ethanol (E85), ever the maverick, held firm at $2.62 per gallon nationally.

On the West Coast and in the West, B20 prices have risen slowly but steadily for the past month and a half. E85 pricing on the West Coast has remained the same since late August, and remained the same in the West since mid-October. In the last two weeks B20 prices have gone up $0.05 in the Midwest, after staying the same since late September. E85 prices have actually decreased by an average of $0.01 in the Midwest. In the Northeast, B20 is $0.05 more expensive than it was two weeks ago, and E85 has been the same since late September. Southern B20 has also increased by an average of $0.05, while E85 prices have decreased since mid-October.

Do you have an unnatural interest in fuel prices? Are you a fan of tables filled with important-looking numbers? If so, we recommend finding a healthier hobby ( turkey bowling, growing your ear hair, etc.) or you can feed your fetish by checking out BWC's previous Alternative Fuel Report, ‘Boring! Fuel Prices Remain Stable Despite National Elections and Freak Weather Conditions' as published in the November issue of ‘Driving Change'.

The Honda Insight, R.I.P.BWC High-Mileage Review

"The Little Test Car That Could"

Remembering The Honda Insight (1999-2006)

Honda chose well when naming the first mass-produced hybrid sold in the United States. The Insight was designed to test hybrid technology in the ‘real world'. It served its purpose admirably, providing Honda with the data and insight it needed to launch its next generation of hybrid.

According to Honda, the Insight will be replaced by a new hybrid car smaller than the eighth generation Civic. While year round production of the Insight will stop in 2006, limited production during the winter will continue as necessary, presumably for parts. During its six year production, Honda never sold more than 14,000 Insights.

The Insight currently has the smallest drag coefficient among all street-legal production cars, with a coefficient of 0.25. The previous holder of that title was the 1989 Opel Calibra whose drag coefficient of 0.26 held the record 10 years from 1989 until the debut of the Insight.

This review is quite exhausting , sorry, exhaustive. So, if you're strapped for time due to a tight deadline at work, or merely running late for your court-appointed community service, you can use the shortcuts below to jump directly to the sections that interest you most. Read the Complete Story or add your own opinions to our wikispace

Section shortcuts for BWC members on the go:

Begin At The Beginning. Hybrid Electric Vehicles Defined
Things People Like About The Insight (May Not Apply To All Model Years)
Things People Don't Like About The Insight (May Not Apply To All Model Years)
What's The Deal With The Batteries? The Shocking Truth: Battery Lifespan And Disposal:
Quick EPA Stats
Some Of The Features (2006 Model Specific)
Recall Info
BWC Member Comments
Not-So-Quick Stats (2006 Model Specific)

It's Official: GM Is Back On Our Christmas Card List

GM To Make Plug-In Hybrid Of Saturn Vue Green Line

General Motors has announced plans to make a plug-in electric hybrid version of the Saturn Vue Green Line, which will have double the fuel efficiency of any current SUV. GM also plans to expand the hybrid system to the Saturn Aura Green Line and Chevrolet Malibu sedans.

The April 2005 issue of Kicking Asphalt featured a story quoting GM Vice-Chairman Bob Lutz. The forward-thinking Lutz noted, "Right now the drive for more and more power in cars is way larger than the drive for more and more hybrids." A year and a half later, and posting billions of dollars in losses, it appears that GM is finally seeing the light.

More "Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is" in Driving Change:

Shop Online With iGive And Help Support The Charitable Cause Of Your Choice
The Hitherto Unreported Stories Of Celebrities And Their Hybrids

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