Conventional cars burn oil-based fuels and contribute directly to climate change. However, there are now alternatives available with signficantly reduced emissions.
Switch to a hybrid car
Hybrid cars run off a combination of petrol and electricity from a rechargeable battery. By using electricity in place of petrol that would otherwise be burned, hybrids can significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions and lessen impact on climate change.
Hybrid cars are not yet made by many manufacturers, but after the success of the Toyota Prius and others you can expect a good range of new hybrids to appear over the next few years. Keep checking this site – we’ll let you know as soon as any exciting new models are announced.
Currently the key manufacturers of hybrid vehicles are Toyota, Honda and Lexus. Ford also have plans to release a hybrid model in the UK soon. Check out the links below to see the latest hybrid models available.
The original hybrid car and winner of the European Car of the Year award in 2005. The 1.5 litre model emits only 104g of carbon dioxide per km.
Honda Civic Hybrid 2006
Good-looking new hybrid petrol-electric addition to the Civic family with the potential to be a big seller. Emits only 109g of carbon dioxide per km. Now available in the UK.
Branded as the “world’s first high-performance hybrid saloon” this larger hybrid is aimed at the high-end market and emits 186g of carbon dioxide per km.
Branded as the “world’s first high-performance hybrid SUV” this is just about as climate friendly as an SUV can get. It emits 192g of carbon dioxide per km.
More information on hybrid cars can be found on the Great Hybrid Cars website, although note that this is tailored for the US market.
Switch to a car running on biofuel
Bioethanol is produced from sustainable agricultural crops such as sugar cane. When mixed in high volumes with low volumes of petrol a potent low-emission fuel called bioethanol E85 is created.
Bioethanol can reduce vehicle emissions by as much as 50% and has much lower impact on climate change as it involves recycling carbon dioxide already present in the atmosphere rather than adding to carbon dioxide levels.
Fact: if bioethanol cars replaced just 5% of petrol use in the UK this would have the equivalent impact in terms of reducing climate of taking 1 million cars off the road
Since March 2006 Morrisons supermarkets have been selling “Harvest BioEthanol E85″ on the forecourts at a large number of UK store locations. Click here for more details
The only manufacturers with bioethanol cars available in the UK are Saab and Ford and both run on BioEthanol E85.
Saab BioPower – combines green credentials with sporty performance. 2-litre turbo prices begin around X,000.
Ford Focus FFV – the Flexi Fuel Vehicle (FFV) model of the Focus is available from around X,000 for a 1.8 litre model.
For more information on the UK bioethanol market, provided by British Sugar.
Use an electric car for short journeys
Electric cars are powered by batteries which can be charged simply by plugging into the mains.
Charging only costs around 1p per mile and driving an electric car has significantly lower emissions than fuel-based cars, even with the electricity use taken into account.
There are not many electric cars currently available in the UK, but a number of manufacturers have electric car concepts in development and new models may be appearing soon.
This is touted as the “world’s best selling” electric car and consumes just one quarter the energy of a similar sized petrol car and is the only 4-seater car to have an “A” eco label.
Peugeot 106 Electric
This forthcoming model has a range of 40-45 miles on a single battery charge and can be easily charged from a domestic mains supply. The maximum speed and acceleration are fine for city use.
Switch to Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG)
LPG emits considerably less carbon dioxide than petrol and fewer particulates than diesel.
Click here for further details about LPG vehicles.
Visit the Greenfuel Company to find out how to convert your car to run on LPG.
Switch to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)
Of all current fuels, compressed natural gas (CNG) produces the lowest level of carbon dioxide across the total fuel cycle (although it does produce higher than normal methane emissions).
Vehicles powered by CNG and LPG are currently available from a number of mainstream car manufacturers including Volvo, Vauxhall and Rover.
The Green Consumer Guide website provides details regarding specific models of CNG and LPG vehicles including comparisons of emissions performance and miles per gallon.
Top 10 Greenest Cars
An MSN UK article (Jan 05) which lists 10 of the greenest cars currently available in the UK.
Click here for more general information from the Government about the environmental impacts of driving and what you can do to reduce your carbon dioxide emissions.