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Earth Day ride to JFK

OZOcar offers a practical example of how green tech makes sense. The limousine company has a fleet of about 50 Toyota Prius cars that get nearly 45 mpg.

NEW YORK--Flying out of New York this morning to San Francisco, I took an OZOcarto JFK.

It's a practical example of how green tech makes sense. OZOcar has a fleet of about 50 Toyota Prius cars that get nearly 45 mpg and are outfitted with wireless connectivity, power strips, Sirius satellite radio, and a Nokia N800 Internet Tablet.

The OZOcar and driver Robert Reichenbach at 5:00 a.m. EDT Tuesday. Dan Farber/CNET

OZOcar's fleet includes other hybrids, such as the Lexus Rx 400h, Toyota Camry, and Toyota Highlander. The company, which was founded in September 2005, has blue-chip investment banks, advertising firms, and media companies as customers.

"I get just shy of 44 miles per gallon in the real world, where you have to stomp on the accelerator, which you need to do to keep up with yellow cabs or they will cut you off every time," my driver, Robert Reichenbach, said. "I drive about 200 miles a day on half a tank, using the cheapest grade of gas." Prior to driving his Prius for OZOcar, Reichenbach spent five and a half years at Lehman Brothers working in the computer graphics department.

OZOcar is ahead of the pack. Earlier this month, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a regulation (PDF) requiring that all black cars coming into service must get at least 25 mpg beginning January 1, 2009. By January 1, 2010, the rate increases to 30 mpg. New York City-based limousine services have about 10,000 black cars on the road. According to the commission, black cars spew 272,000 tons of CO2 equivalents annually, or about 2 percent of New York City's vehicle emissions. The new standards will cut emissions of the black cars in half.

Black limos in New York City will be the new green in the next few years. Dan Farber/CNET