Don’t look now but some people who are buying off-road-capable vehicles like SUVs are actually taking them off-road. In fact, the trend has become so significant that the U.S. Forest Service just created a new regulation to standardize the way off-highway routes are designated in the lands it administers. The goal is to change the haphazard way trails and the vehicles that can use them are authorized to protect the forests while still allowing use by a large number of Americans. Predictably, the new rule is drawing fire from both environmentalists and gung-ho off-road vehicle fans. Read more . . .

With fuel prices continuing to rise at an uncomfortable level, many people are looking for ways to save. And the general media is pouring gasoline on the flames with its on-going coverage of the fuel price issue. But, as a rational consumer, there is a question you should ask yourself–do you want to save fuel or do you want to save money? And while, at first blush, they might seem like the same thing, they can actually be very different. The good news is there are simple, cost-effective things you can do to save both fuel and money. The bad news is they are not the most obvious steps people are taking today. Read more . . .

General Motors and the other U.S. auto manufacturers have taken some pretty hard knocks from the general and business press for being slow to jump on the hybrid bandwagon, but now a report from Tokyo indicates that Toyota Motor Corporation, one of the key proponents of gasoline-electric hybrid power, might be seriously rethinking its strategy.

Toyota’s hybrid-only Prius model has become the poster child for hybrids in the United States, but after launching the Prius to building acclaim, Toyota has hedged its bets by launching a hybrid version of existing models like the Toyota Highlander and Lexus RX 400h. Honda is following a similar strategy with its Civic and Accord hybrids in addition to its hybrid-only Insight, a two-seater that is Read more . . .

End our reliance on foreign oil? More than a dozen San Diegans are doing a lot more than just talking about it. They literally gave up their cars for a month by dropping their car keys in a lockbox as part of the first ever San Diego Low-Car Diet. Sponsored by Flexcar, Metropolitan Transit System, Amtrak, Air Pollution Control District, the American Lung Association, and Universal Studios, the participants pledged to use Flexcar and other modes of transportation to get around town for the month of February. Read more . . .

While the media has followed the success of the Toyota Prius gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle, it has been virtually silent on the success of the Jeep Liberty CRD diesel, which comes pre-filled with a mixture of conventional diesel oil and biodiesel. While sales of the Liberty CRD have been more modest than the Prius (just 10,000 units versus the Prius’s 100,000+) the Liberty’s sales figure has been double DaimlerChrysler’s projections. And it indicates that, against odds, there could be a growing U.S. market for diesel-powered vehicles, especially in light of the potential benefits of biodiesel, which has environmental advantages and can help wean the U.S. off foreign oil. Read more . . .