What is a Green Car?

Many people consider their car an essential part of everyday life. However, cars are major polluters and cause damage to our natural environment. Green cars are usually much more environmentally friendly as they have less pollutant emissions and use sustainable fuel resources.

Green Cars

Green cars are cars which are more environmentally friendly than conventional cars. It is usually how the car is fuelled which determines whether or not it is a green car.

Why Have Green Cars Been Developed?

A conventional car works using an internal combustion engine which burns fuel to create motion. Fuel is a fossil fuel which means it is non renewable and will one day run out. The burning of fossil fuel results in the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases have been proven to contribute to the effect of global warming.

On top of this, fuel is created from crude oil. Crude oil is not only a non renewable resource which will one day run out, the production of oil is also highly dangerous for the natural environment. Oil spills, such as the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster oil spill in 2010, destroys natural habitats and kills wildlife.

These factors have led to the development of ‘green’ cars, which cause less damage to the environment.

What is a Green Car?

A green car is a vehicle that is considered to be environmentally friendly and have less of a damaging impact on the environment than conventional cars. A green car consumes less petroleum than conventional cars or uses renewable energy sources to fuel its engine. There are a number of green cars available today:

Green Car Buyer

Volvo V50There are a range of green cars available on the market and they are becoming more popular as we realise the need for greener cars. When looking for an eco friendly car you should look at the CO2 emissions to check how green the car actually is. Any car with less than 100 g/km CO2 emissions is a pretty good car. Another way to tell if a car is eco friendly is by looking at the tax band; the lower the band the better. There are now a lot of cars in the market now that cost nothing to tax because of their low CO2 emission.

To compare the cars available now, we recommend using the comparison tool from Next Green Car?.

Green Car Costs and Savings

There are so many forms of car available to you today it can be difficult to choose which car to buy. To help you choose you should think about a car’s fuel efficiency and emissions. Not only will a more efficient vehicle be better for the environment, it will also save you money. Green cars are affordable and cost much the same price as conventional cars.

Small cars are much more fuel efficient than large cars, they produce fewer toxic emissions and if driven sensibly can substantially lower your fuel bill. You could also save up to £80 per year on road tax if you purchase a small car.

Each car has a different fuel efficiency; the better the fuel efficiency the more environmentally friendly it is likely to be, and the more you will save on your fuel bill. Check the fuel efficiency before you buy a car by looking at the MPG (miles per gallon). The higher the MPG, the better the fuel efficiency.

See the price you would pay for fuel each year for a range of vehicles with different fuel efficiency levels by filling in the boxes below:

Fuel cost calculator

Calculate your annual fuel bill :


Green Car Technologies

There are a range of green car technologies for you to choose from. Here you can find out more about green car technologies and whether a green car would suit you. Remember, the environment is an ongoing issue and new technologies are always being developed and tested. Hopefully, one day we will have many more green technologies than those listed here.

Electric Cars

An electric car uses an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engines which is what most conventional cars use for power. They store chemical energy in rechargeable battery packs and are more energy efficient than most conventional cars that use internal combustion engines.

Advantages of an electric car


They do not produce any exhaust fumes.


Some battery packs are capable of being charged from renewable energy sources.


They do not produce noxious fumes.


They are much quieter than internal combustion engine powered vehicles.


Many electric cars have regenerative braking, which means that when the car brakes, the battery is partially recharged. This also reduces wear on the brakes.


Many electric cars can travel hundreds of miles without the need to recharge the battery packs.

Electric cars decrease the need for petroleum powered vehicles and reduce the effect of global warming. They have good fuel efficiency and many have an acceleration performance that exceeds that of conventional cars. However, electric cars do have some limitations:

Disadvantages of an electric car


Travel distance between battery recharging is limited. This travel time depends on the driver’s performance, the shape and weight of the car and the type of battery used:

    • Lead-acid batteries have a range of 20 to 80 miles.
    • NiMH batteries can deliver up to 120 miles.
    • Lithium-ion batteries can deliver a range of 250 to 300 miles in a single charge.

Some cars may take a long time to recharge battery packs.


Some cars have batteries with a short lifespan.

Although these drawbacks can be seen with electric cars, new technologies are producing batteries with a longer lifespan and reduced recharging time. Even some car hire providers are investing in electric cars by adding them to their fleet, which shows how companies see a future in electric vehicles.

Hybrid Cars

A hybrid car uses both an electric motor and an internal combustion engine to power the vehicle. These cars use petrol or diesel to power internal combustion engines and use electric batteries to power electric motors. They use less petroleum than conventional cars and therefore produce less pollution.

Advantages of Hybrid Cars


Some hybrid cars use an internal combustion engine to generate electricity and recharge the battery, unlike electric cars that recharge the battery from an external source.


They are much quieter than conventional vehicles.


They consume less fuel compared with conventional cars and produce less air pollution.


The internal combustion engine used in hybrid cars is smaller, lighter and more efficient than conventional vehicles.


Many hybrid cars have regenerative braking, which means that when the car brakes, the battery is partially recharged. This also reduces wear on the brakes.

Hybrid cars can be more fuel efficient than conventional cars, resulting in cheaper running costs and less damage to the environment. However, there are some drawbacks to hybrid cars:

Disadvantages of Hybrid Cars


Some hybrid cars are designed to have a power boost which means there would be no benefit to the environment or running cost.


Hybrid cars are generally more complex than conventional cars; this may result in increased repair costs.


Hybrid cars may be more expensive to purchase than conventional cars.

Hydrogen Cars

Hydrogen cars use hydrogen as the primary source of power opposed to petrol. They are not a huge success at the moment and only a few hydrogen cars have been produced so far. There are two ways in which hydrogen can be used to power a vehicle:

  • Combustion conversion; hydrogen is burned in engines in much the same way as conventional cars.
  • Fuel-cell conversion; fuel cells turn the hydrogen into electricity to power internal electric motors.

Advantages of Hydrogen Cars

Hydrogen cars have many benefits to the environment:


>These cars use oxygen from the air and hydrogen as a power source, this produces water vapour which is better for the surrounding environment.


Hydrogen is produced at centralised power plants where the by-products of burning fossil fuels can be better controlled.


It may also be possible to produce hydrogen from renewable energy sources, this means that there would be no increase in carbon dioxide emissions.

Disadvantages of Hydrogen Cars

There are many drawbacks to hydrogen cars, which is why they have not made it onto the market as of yet. It will be many years before these challenges are overcome:


They are expensive to produce.


They have high running costs and low energy efficiency.


There are few hydrogen refuelling stations in the UK.

These technical challenges are unlikely to be solved for several decades. However, Transport for London are taking the first step towards overcoming these challenges by investing in hydrogen fuel cell buses. They have a fuel cell that combines hydrogen with oxygen to produce water, this process creates electricity to power the vehicle. It is hoped that the buses will reduce noise and air pollution in London and serve as a positive influence to the rest of the world.

Honda has also teamed up with industrial gases company BOC and Forward Swindon to create the UK’s first hydrogen vehicle refuelling station just off the M4. The station, at Honda’s South Marston car manufacturing plant, is located halfway along the popular motorway route between London and Swansea. The aim of the station is to be successful so the station can be replicated across the country and encourages the uptake of hydrogen fuelled vehicles.

Solar Cars

A solar car uses solar energy to power the vehicle. It obtains solar energy by using solar panels on the surface of the car and converts it into electrical energy. There are tremendous benefits of solar cars to the environment:

Advantages of Solar Cars


There are no exhaust fumes.


There is no release of greenhouse or noxious gases, reducing global warming and improving human health.


They are quieter than conventional cars.


As they run on sunlight, there is no fuel cost.

Disadvantages of Solar Cars

However, solar cars are yet to make it into the market as practical transportation for many reasons:


They can only travel a limited distance without the sun, which could be problematic on cloudy days and at night.


Solar cells are very fragile and can be easily damaged.


Solar cars are built for function not comfort and can usually only fit one or two people.

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