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The ABCs of green cars

BY CARA WAGNER. Most people consider their cars as a vital way to get themselves from A to B. However, some cars can be harmful to the environment. This is where green cars come in; they are environmentally friendly and have less polluting emissions because of their sustainable fuel resources.
The reason behind green cars. Traditional fuels used in cars are fossil fuels, meaning they are non-renewable and will eventually run out. When fossil fuels burn, they emit greenhouse gases into the air; this has been shown to contribute to global warming. In addition, the process of creating crude oil is dangerous to the environment. There have been numerous oil spills over the past few years that have devastated natural habitats and killed thousands of wildlife.

Purchasing a green car. Environmentally friendly and usually very quiet, green cars don’t do as much damage to the environment as conventional cars because of lower fuel consumption and the use of renewable energy sources.  Green cars are becoming increasingly popular due to consumers becoming more educated about their benefits.
When green cars were first introduced, people were very hesitant to buy them because of consumers’ lack of knowledge. However, now that green cars have been on the market for a considerable amount of time, those consumers are starting to see their benefits.

When buying your first eco-friendly car, the buyer must ensure that it has less than 100 g/km CO2 emissions for it to be worth buying. Another thing to look out for is the tax band; the lower the tax band the more economically friendly the vehicle. In fact, many green cars have no tax costs because of their low CO2 emissions.
The UK government offers a grant towards those buying an electric vehicle due to their low impact on the environment. In the UK, for instance, buyers can either receive a maximum of £5,000 with 25% off the cost of a car or 20% off the cost of a van up to a maximum of £8,000. The cost must be the full purchase price of the vehicle including vehicle excise duty, VAT and number plates but does not include any optional extras. Make sure to check what cars or vans are eligible for the grant and whether the vehicle you want fits into the eligibility guidelines before you buy.
Costs and savings. Green vehicles are not only better for the environment; they can also help owners save money. Some electric cars cost more than their fuel-powered counterparts. However, in the long run, many EVs are cheaper due to their fuel efficiency.
Before purchasing a green car, buyers are advised to carefully research fuel efficiency. Smaller vehicles are usually more fuel efficient than larger versions, as they produce less toxic emissions especially if driven sensibly. Buying a smaller vehicle could therefore save you up to £80 a year on road tax in the UK.
Electric cars: How they work. Electric cars utilise an electric motor for power, compared to conventional cars that use internal combustion engines. The electric motor stores a chemical energy in the rechargeable battery packs, making the car more energy efficient than most conventional cars.
·         No exhaust fumes
·         No noxious fumes
·         Quieter than conventional cars
·         Regenerative braking – when the car brakes, it partially recharges the battery, thereby reducing wear and tear on the brake pads and components
·         Can travels hundreds of miles without the need to recharge (depending on the vehicle)
·         Battery packs can be charged from renewable energy sources (depending on the vehicle)
·         Drivers are limited to where and how far they can drive due to having to recharge the car (this depends on how the car is driven and the make and model of the car)
·         Vehicles need a considerable amount of time to recharge
·         Some electric cars have batteries with a short lifespan
Hydrogen Cars
The main source of power for hydrogen cars is hydrogen. These cars are not currently very popular in the UK at the moment.  
·         Excellent for the environment due to the use of oxygen and hydrogen, creating water vapour to power the car
·         Hydrogen is created at power plants where the by-products of burning fossil fuels can be controlled better
·         Hydrogen can also be produced from renewable energy sources, meaning no increase in carbon dioxide emissions
·         Expensive to produce
·         High running costs, low energy efficiency
·         Not many refuelling stations in the UK
Solar Cars
Solar energy is used to power vehicles via solar panels on the exterior of the bodywork which is converted into electrical energy.
·         No exhaust fumes
·         No release of greenhouse or noxious gases
·         Extremely quiet
·         No fuel cost as they run on sunlight
·         Can only travel a limited distance without sunlight, which can become a problem at night or on a rainy day
·         Solar panels can be easily damaged
·         Built for function so can normally only fit one or two people
Hybrid Cars
Using both electric motors and internal combustion engines, hybrid cars can use either petrol or diesel to power the internal combustion engine and electric batteries to power the electric motors. Hybrid cars use less petrol, which means less pollution!
·         Quieter than conventional vehicles
·         Regenerative braking (when the car brakes the battery recharges)
·         Less fuel consumption therefore less air pollution
·         Internal combustion engines that are smaller and more efficient than conventional cars
·         Internal combustion engines generate electricity (depending on the vehicle) unlike electric cars that recharge the battery from an outer source
·         Can have a power boost, meaning there is no advantage to the environment or cost of running (depending on the vehicle you choose)
·         Potential increase in repair costs due to the complexity of the vehicles
·         More expensive to buy than conventional cars
Before purchasing any new car you need to research the advantages and disadvantages. With a range of different types of green cars available, along with the steady introduction of new technologies, buyers are advised to research the market to find the EV that is right for them.
This post was written by Cara Wagner at

Posted 09/12/2014 by Reg Tucker

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