Last month we wrote an article on the downfall of diesel vehicles within the industry. While these cars aren’t disappearing from Australian roads yet, there’s no denying eco-friendly cars will only continue to increase in popularity. So what does a greener car industry look like?
What is an eco-friendly vehicle?
Eco-friendly vehicles have been described in many different ways. From e-cars, clean machines, or “environmentally friendly” cars, they are all describing the same thing. The general understanding in the industry is that an eco-friendly car has reduced environmentally damaging impacts compared to typical expectations of vehicles running on petrol or diesel.
When were eco-friendly cars invented?
Many people may think the first clean vehicle was manufactured in the 2000s by Toyota. However, it may surprise you that the first hybrid car was designed and manufactured in the early 20th century. Ferdinand Porsche (the founder of the company Porsche SE) invented the electric wheel-hub motor and that became the world’s first hybrid vehicle.
While this idea and invention may have been 100 years ahead of its time, it goes to show that electric and hybrid motors aren’t necessarily a new concept in the industry.
How do eco-friendly cars work?
There are three main types of “green” engines on the Australian market:
- Plug-in hybrids
Electric vehicles use electricity stored in a battery pack to power the motor and turn the wheels. These batteries are recharged using grid electricity, with a wall socket or a dedicated charging unit at home. Electric cars typically have an almost silent motor when running.
A hybrid car is powered by both an electric motor and a traditional petrol engine. Here, both systems work directly with each other to power the vehicle. The car alternates between both systems by monitoring the driving conditions and which power would be favourable for the driver. If you drive below a certain speed or sit at idle, the engine is turned off, and the car will not burn petrol.
When the battery level is reduced to a certain level or the car requires heavy throttle, the petrol engine automatically kicks in to assist in recharging the battery and powering the vehicle.
Plug-in Hybrid engines
These engines are best explained as being a mix between an electric and hybrid engine. Plug-in hybrid engines connect to the national grid by using a cable to charge (similar to an electric car). This charge enables drivers to utilise some electric-only range, reducing petrol use. When used correctly, there is usually no requirement to plug in the car to charge (just like a hybrid engine).
How eco-friendly are electric cars?
These electric and hybrid (when using the electric engine) vehicles don’t emit greenhouse gases or harmful nitrogen oxide. However, if these e-cars rely on the production of electricity through the burning of fossil fuels, their climate benefits are limited.
The batteries used in these greener vehicles are considered by some critics to be an environmental hazard, from creation to disposal. As a result of this, some reports claim that these vehicles take twice the amount of energy to produce than a conventional car. There is also research pointing to green vehicles (relying on fossil fuel electricity) releasing slightly more emissions over its lifetime than diesel-powered vehicle counterparts.
Whereas eco-friendly cars which are produced and use electricity from renewable sources, emit up to six times fewer carbon emissions over their lifetime than a petrol car. For these vehicles to truly be clean, countries will need to push the creation and use of greener energy sources.
How to choose an environmentally friendly vehicle
We can all start taking steps to further reduce our carbon footprint, especially when it comes to buying a car. Whether it’s by purchasing an electric car or at least considering environmental impact when considering choice of vehicle, these tips will help guide your decision.
Your car colour can impact your fuel economy and the vehicle’s environmental effectiveness. Darker colours absorb the sun’s rays causing the interior of your vehicle to heat up. Whereas lighter colours (such as silver or white) can reflect up to 60 per cent of sunlight, helping keep your interior cooler. A cooler interior means reduced need for air conditioner use.
A vehicle’s suspension can affect how green the engine runs. For example, a car with a lot of grip won’t need its brakes applied as firmly to stop quickly. Additionally, solid suspension means the car’s own momentum can be used to carry itself through a turn. Therefore optimal suspension promotes fuel efficiency.
Custom accessories on a car may look modern and appear useful (e.g. bug deflectors, roof racks, and other additions) but they can affect a car’s fuel economy. The added weight increases drag meaning the engine is forced to compensate for this impact.
Almost all major vehicle manufacturers have made significant improvements in fuel efficiency and environmental friendliness with their new models. As such, even a “standard” model petrol or diesel option could be considered more environmentally friendly than a vehicle with similar specifications from 10 years ago. Although manufacturing policies are increasing regulations on environmental impacts it is probably more consumer demand for more fuel-efficient models that have driven a lot of those improvements.
If environmental impact is high on your list of considerations with your choice of vehicle then our brokers would be happy to answer any questions you have.
Speak to a broker for expert advice
Car Search Brokers provides independent and expert advice to help find the best vehicle to suit your needs. Your broker can discuss your requirements to ensure you get a vehicle that suits your needs and budget. We also source your vehicle and negotiate purchase price on your behalf for a hassle-free buying experience.