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Replacing 2003 VW Jetta TDI: What Non-Gasoline Car Should He Pick?


Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Street Hitting Dealerships Soon

Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Street Hitting Dealerships Soon

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Everyone needs car-buying advice once in awhile--even the leader of an electric-car advocacy group.

Richard Kelly--the president of Plug-In America--has now put almost 200,000 miles on his 2003 Volkswagen Jetta TDI. Maintenance costs for the compact diesel are going up, so he believes it's time to move on.

In a blog post, Kelly laid out his criteria for the Jetta's replacement.

The new car will join a 2011 Nissan Leaf in a "hybrid garage," where the electric car is used for everyday driving, while the diesel (or other alternative) is used for long-distance trips that require greater range.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

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With that in mind, the vehicle has to be able to travel 400 miles in one day. It also must have seating for five, a decent amount of cargo space, and a good safety rating.

MORE: Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Much More Mileage Than EPA Admits?

What Kelly doesn't want is a car that uses significant amounts of gasoline.

So far, he's ruled out gasoline cars, conventional (non-plug-in) hybrids, and all diesels that aren't approved by their manufacturer to run on B20--a mixture of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent conventional diesel.

He also ruled out compressed natural gas (CNG) cars, because the CNG storage tanks eat up cargo space, and cars that run on E85, because he claims there are no there are no ethanol fueling stations in his home state of California. There are 71 in the state, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels Data Center.

That essentially leaves another diesel or a plug-in hybrid as the only viable choices.

Well, not quite.

Kelly said the Tesla Model S would meet his range requirements, but that it costs considerably more than what he would normally pay for a car.

Or maybe the best choice would be not to buy a car at all? Since the car would only be used for long-distance trips, Kelly reasons it might make more sense to rent a car when needed rather buying one.

What do you think is the best green car to replace Kelly's 2003 Volkswagen Jetta TDI?

Should he splurge for the Tesla Model S--or not even bother with another car purchase?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.

UPDATED: A previous version of this article stated that there are no E85 fueling stations in California, although there are several.

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