Motorists will soon have more choices for green driving

(NBC) - This week marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, and if you're thinking about greening the way you drive, you're in luck.

A slew of new hybrid and electric cars will be coming to a dealership near you, including several in just the next few months. So, which one should you get? It could be time for the hybrid, so far the king of eco-conscious cars to get dethroned.

"The Prius is going to be knocked off its perch later this year or early next year when the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf come out," predicted David Pettit of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Expected at dealerships by December, the Leaf can go 100 miles per charge, and is partly made of recycled appliances and plastic bottles. The Chevy Volt can get 40 miles per charge, but comes with a gasoline engine that kicks in when the battery runs out.

The Tesla Roadster is the only pure electric, highway approved car you can buy right now, but at base price of $109,00, very few people own one. In about a year though, Tesla is coming out with another electric car, a sedan model for half the price.

These cars cost about 80 cents per day to charge and use less energy annually than a refrigerator, but if you ask the Angus MacKenzie, editor of Motor Trend magazine, the jury is still out on electric vehicles. MacKenzie says pure electric cars will only make sense if you have another gas-powered car for longer trips.

"If you're going to choose between hybrid and pure electric, at the moment the hybrid is far and away the best option for most consumers," said MacKenzie.

Most car makers are coming out with a new hybrid in the next few years, including Hyundai, which promises an aggressive version that barely sips gas at even freeway speeds.

"If you could get 5 million hybrids on the road, probably you're going to make more of a dent on the environment than getting 50k electric cars on the road," MacKenzie said.

Others, like David Pettit, are ready for an all electric fleet down the road.

"What I'd like to see ten years from now is no more fossil fuel combustion, period," Pettit said.

Environmentalists and auto industry experts agree that a hydrogen fuel cell car is the cleanest option of all. There are already some hydrogen cars on the market.

The problem? No one wants to spend billions of dollars building hydrogen fueling stations.

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