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Health, Science & Environment

Year-End New Car -- Clean Air -- Rush Is On

People buying new cars in the final days of 2016 might not realize it, but their decisions will affect air-quality.

Manny and Loralee Kurzius have just signed papers at the Tesla dealership for an electric car they’ve been longing for. Tax rebates are one factor for their year-end purchase. Pollution’s another.

“Clean air is huge for us,” says Loralee.

The zero-emissions sedan will be fueled by the sun, the rooftop solar panels on the Davis County couple’s home.

“Especially on the Wasatch Front, we need to do something,” adds Manny. “The more EVs we’re driving, I think that will make a big difference.”

Air-quality leaders want to get the word out as other Utahns make year-end vehicle purchases.

“You think about the miles per gallon. You think about the leg room, the cup holders,” says Ari Bruening, chief operating officer of the planning group, Envision Utah.

“Whatever it is you’re looking for – we should all be thinking about the smog rating, because none of us like the air we breathe during our inversions in Utah or during the high ozone in the summer.”

Pollution ratings are posted on the manufacturers’ sticker on new cars. The lower left-hand corner has a one-through-ten smog rating. Pollution ratings for all makes, models and years is also detailed on the web site. The higher the rating, the cleaner the car and the lower the contribution to Utah’s winter pollution problem.

“It’s just something simple we can do,” Bruening says. “If you’re already buying a car, buy a cleaner one.”

Natural gas, hybrid, electric – they all make a difference.

Credit Envision Utah

John Miller of the Mark Miller Auto Group opted for a no-emissions car. He bought the first electric-hybrid Prius that came in the door.

“I’ve got a great view from my office as I look east toward the mountains, and on those tough inversion, it’s just tough to look at,” he says. “Now, if everyone does a little bit, it’ll all add up.”

Vehicle emissions account for around half of the winter smog on the Wasatch Front, and environmental officials are counting on clean vehicles to reduce that pollution over time.

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