Home > Travel > Buy an Efficient Car

Buy an Efficient Car

By: Scott McBride - Updated: 27 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Transport Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Transport accounts for 23 per cent of the UK's carbon dioxide emissions and is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases. Road traffic, the third largest source greenhouse gases in Britain, is by far the biggest contributor to this figure.

A huge increase in private car ownership in the last 25 years has added to the problem of traffic pollution. In 1980, 41 per cent of households did not have access to a car, but that figure had fallen to 25 per cent by 2006 and at the same time the number of licensed vehicles rose from 19.2 million to 33.4 million. According to the Government's Department of Transport, there has been a 52 per cent increase in carbon dioxide emissions from transport since 1980, which is not surprising as road traffic has risen by 84 per cent and the annual distance travelled by cars has climbed 116 billion miles to 250 billion miles.

As well as carbon dioxide, vehicles are associated with methane and nitrous oxide emissions, and are the main source of many local emissions, including benzene, 1,3-butadiene, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and particulates. There is research that links vehicle pollutants to ill health, with claims that air pollution causes the premature death of up to 24,000 each year in the UK.

Regulations Force Rethink

Governments have reacted and tighter European standards on vehicle emissions have speeded up the introduction of cleaner fuels and greener vehicle technologies. Advances have been so great that a modern car produces only five per cent of the regulated pollutants that were produced by a car in 1970. In the future, cars will have to meet even more stringent regulations and manufacturers are aware of this.

The vast majority of cars still run on petrol or diesel, and cars with better fuel economy will be greener and cheaper to run. Savings can be made regardless of the size and power of the car, as miles per gallon can vary by 30 per cent within all performance classes.

However, future emission standards may be the catalyst for the growth of the hybrid-electric car, which is part conventional car and part battery-electric. Although more expensive to purchase at present, hybrids use up to 30 per cent less fuel than conventional cars, so the cost can be recouped. Most hybrids are exempt from London's congestion charge and produce significantly less harmful emissions.

Getting the Right Blend

Biodiesel is an option for owners of diesel cars, as many diesel engines can run on low percentage biodiesel blends without any modification. The benefits for the environment are largely dependent how much biodiesel is in the blend and, as this is typically around five per cent in low percentage blends, emissions are not dramatically reduced. Also, despite Government tax incentives, running costs are no cheaper as biodiesel has high production costs and cannot match the miles per gallon of conventional diesel.

An electric car can be one of the greenest forms of transport, with zero emissions possible if renewable electricity is used to charge the on-board battery that powers it. Even using standard UK mains electricity will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent compared to petrol. There are other advantages too, as electric cars are exempt from road tax and London's congestion charge, and the annual fuel cost is around £1,000 less for average mileage.

The disadvantages are considerable too, however. Electric cars can cost up to 80 per cent more to purchase and rechargeable batteries, which last between three and five years, are so expensive they are usually leased at a cost of about £800 per year. Charging batteries from the mains takes between six and eight hours and fast-charge points are very few and far between.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Evo3
    Re: New Build Grants and Funds
    Hi I’m wondering if someone can help me. I’m looking to see if there are any grants available to help with building a few different…
    20 February 2020
  • Red Dog
    Re: What is the Equivalent Wattage for Energy Saving Bulbs?
    I like a very bright light in my living room as a dim light gives me headaches and depression,…
    9 February 2020
    Re: New Build Grants and Funds
    hi i am building my own house it is going to be a farm house can you tell me if there are any eco grants out there to help me go…
    5 February 2020
  • EcoGreen Organics
    Re: Grants Available For Your Business
    Hello, we are looking for equity partners for the Waste to Energy Project in Zambia.Waste to Energy Project is based on…
    1 February 2020
  • rach
    Re: Eco-School Grants and Funds
    Hi, there seem to be no links to suggest where this funding is available from. Can you help point towards application forms etc.…
    30 January 2020
  • LEL
    Re: Eco-School Grants and Funds
    I’m making enquiries regard above information on behalf of St Christopher School Codsall, Wolverhampton. In particular garden…
    23 January 2020
  • peter
    Re: Eco-Community Groups
    Hi, We are looking for funding to improve the insulation on our community based social club, we host a varied selection of community based…
    13 January 2020
  • Glo h
    Re: Eco-Community Groups
    Hi I own a small food business, I was wondering if you could help me with a grant to go biodegradable I have done some changes its just so…
    8 January 2020
  • Stacey
    Re: Are There Any Grants for Water Treatment Systems?
    Hi is there any kind of help that you can with a new drainage system all around the house my drainage…
    21 December 2019
  • Jase
    Re: Grants Available For Your Business
    Hi I am looking to bring a eco friendly building material to the UK. Then mass manufacture it and ship national. The…
    15 December 2019