RidingFryLike many people who live in New York City, I don’t own a car. Aside from being more trouble and expense than they’re worth in a city with comprehensive public transportation, cars are, of course, major polluters. So, not only do I save myself time and money by not driving, but I can also feel good about pumping less global warming-causing carbon emissions into the atmosphere. The times I have driven in the five years since I moved to New York have almost all been while I was on vacation. It’s made sense to rent or borrow a car while I was in places far from home — Seattle, Dallas, San Francisco and Mexico — but what about the trips I take in the Northeast? There are a ton of great vacation destinations within reasonable driving distance of New York (among them: Maine, Cape Cod, Boston and Vermont) and now that the leaves are getting close to changing, I’ve definitely starting thinking about how nice it would be to have an eco-friendly vehicle to take on road trips. Hybrid cars like the Prius are starting to become fairly ubiquitous, but I’ve always been interested in cars that are even more radical, like those that have been converted to run on vegetable oil. Here are some things I’ve learned about veggie oil-powered vehicles:
  • You can buy kits to convert a car yourself from retailers like Frybrid and Greasecar. The kits range from a few hundred dollars to about $1,000.
  • If you don’t want to do the dirty work, there are also companies, such as Funhad, that specialize in converting standard vehicles to SVO (straight vegetable oil) or WVO (waste vegetable oil).
  • It’s estimated that veggie oil-powered vehicles emit about half the emissions of standard vehicles.
  • Most standard diesel engine cars and trucks can be easily converted to run on WVO, while some can even run on SVO without conversion. A few people have even converted buses and RVs!
  • You can find vats of used vegetable oil at restaurants (Asian restaurants seem to be popular choices) and from online sources like Good Grease, which buys and sells vegetable oil to power cars, and FillUp4Free.com, which maps locations where oil is available
Pretty interesting stuff, huh? I could definitely see myself taking in the beauty of New England country roads in a car that runs on vegetable oil. It seems appropriate somehow.