Many people these days are interested in getting a green car for its undeniable environmental benefits and fuel savings. However, not all green vehicles are created equal. Here are some important factors you need to prioritise when planning on buying a green car.
1. Consider what brings your green car to life
A green vehicle is called such because of the technology it uses to run its engine. It pays to research what type of power source and delivery system is best for your eco-friendly car.
A. Electric Cars or Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs)
An electric car utilises electricity from its battery pack to power the electric motor that propels it. Because the motor is electric, it has no fuel tank and runs solely on the rechargeable battery.
Because they do not have tailpipes, BEVs are likely to be the greenest out of all green cars. The GHG emissions here depend on the car’s production, and how the electricity it uses is generated. Electric car owners can save up to $1000 in annual gasoline spend compared to internal combustion engine vehicle owners.
Take note, however, that electric car batteries need to be charged regularly. A full battery, which drives an average of 113 to 161 km, usually requires a constant 240-volt charging overnight. If you want an electric car as your main one, make sure there are enough charging stations in your area.
B. Hybrid Vehicles
Hybrid cars have both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor and battery. While they can run using petrol like regular cars, hybrids can switch to running either partially or entirely on electricity.
To those who think the average mileage of a battery electric car seems limiting, hybrid vehicles might be the answer. With their power source flexibility, they’re great for regular road trips to areas where charging stations are less accessible.
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A key source of fuel-efficiency for hybrids is ‘regenerative braking.’ In this system, kinetic energy from the braking is recaptured and used to recharge the electric motor. When the throttle pedal is released, the onboard computer signals the electric motor/generator to stop sending electricity for engine propulsion. The motor/generator then receives current from the slowing engine to charge its battery via a built-in alternative current electromagnetic assembly.
Another fuel-saving feature is ‘idle-off,’ which switches off of the hybrid’s conventional engine when in traffic or at stoplights. In idle-off, the electric motor and battery power the air conditioner, accessories, and vehicle propulsion from stop to start.
The electric motor/generator in hybrids also gives a ‘power assist’ to the conventional engine as needed. Dividing work between fuel engine and electric motor/generator, in turn, reduces fuel consumption while maximising overall efficiency and drive quality.
C. Plug-in Hybrids (PHEVs)
PHEVs, like hybrids, operate using an internal combustion engine in tandem with an electric motor and battery. Unlike hybrids, however, PHEVs run all-electric upon startup, with a large, grid outlet-rechargeable battery.
Because of this, plug-in hybrids can cover anywhere from 16 to 64 km on all-electric, given a full battery charge. When this charge is depleted, the conventional engine switches on and the PHEV acts like a regular, non plug-in hybrid.
As with hybrids, the marriage of internal combustion paired and electric motor/generator in PHEVs translates to exceptional performance and fuel-efficiency. Because of their greater capacity to run petrol-free, however, plug-in electric hybrids objectively outrank hybrids in minimising tailpipe pollution.
2. Vet your green vehicle’s colour
Believe it or not, car colour affects its environmental impact and fuel economy. Dark coloured vehicles absorb the sun’s rays and cause the interior to heat up. Conversely, cars painted silver or white reflect about 60 percent of sunlight, keeping the interior cooler. The cooler the air in your vehicle’s cabin, the less likely are you to turn on your air conditioner.
A 2011 study subjecting two identical Honda Civics—one black, one silver—to the same amount of sun proved this. After five hour-long sun soaking cycles, the interior temperature of the black Civic was uniformly hotter than that of the silver Civic by five to six degrees Celsius.
A hot car cabin makes drivers turn the air conditioning up higher and for longer, causing increased GHG emissions and decreased fuel economy. Thus, if you want a vehicle with a minimal carbon footprint, get it in white, silver, or other light colours.
3. Pay attention to your green car’s suspension
Many car buyers don’t know this, but the suspension of a vehicle affects how environmentally friendly it is. A vehicle with a lot of grip won’t need its brakes applied as firmly to get it to stop instantly. Moreover, when a car’s suspension is solid, its momentum can be used to carry itself through a turn.
Optimal suspension promotes fuel efficiency and puts the least amount of pressure on the brake pads and tires when braking and turning. The most eco-friendly vehicles are those with sport suspension as they typically grip well on corners and tight turns.
4. Keep your eco-friendly car simple
Sure, externally mounted leather shields, bug deflectors and roof racks might look cool and appear useful. Know, however, that custom accessories affect the fuel economy of a vehicle. The added weight of these attachments increases drag, meaning drivers have to use more fuel to counterbalance the impact.
To ensure your vehicle is as light as possible, consider removing all unnecessary gadgets like DVD players and speakers. Put simply, the lighter a vehicle is, the less fuel it will use. So ditch the junk and travel light to reduce your green car’s fuel consumption and environmental impact.
5. Seek expert advice
To make sure you get a vehicle that best suits your needs, try consulting an expert. A car buyer’s agent can help you find a green car that meets your unique needs. They might even find you a deal that’s as gentle on your wallet as it is on the environment. This includes opting for a pre-owned green car instead of buying brand new, for example.
While green cars have yet to dominate the market, they are only going to be more popular in the future. With the benefits they offer to your finances and the environment, eco-friendly cars are gearing up to be an overall practical and conscious investment.