If like me, you’re all about being as environmentally-friendly as possible you’ll find things get very tricky and the waters become murky when trying to stick to your eco ideals, budget and desires when purchasing a new car. I recently bought a new car and found it difficult to stick to my environmental principles while choosing. While there were certainly a lot of compromises to make along the way, I’m happy with my decisions and considerations. Here are a few of the more important factors to keep in mind when choosing a new car and staying green.
Consider Purchasing an Electric Vehicle
For most of us ‘greenies’ an electric vehicle is but a dream. While the upfront costs of an EV are much greater than that of their petrol-loving counterparts, the amount you’ll pay in the long run is much less. You’ll also end up spending a lot less on maintenance as well, so if you’re able to hang on to your old car and save up for a little bit longer, you could save the environment and your wallet in the process. Of course there are many different EV’s to buy and some are more environmentally friendly than others, such as buying a battery-electric over a hybrid. And if you charge using solar panels instead of off the grid, you’ll be about as green as someone with a car can get.
Find one that’s Fuel Efficient
Again, you’ll save the planet and your wallet if you choose something that’s fuel efficient. According to Wired, if you purchase a used car that’s also fuel efficient, you’ll actually be more green than if you bought a new hybrid, such as the new Toyota Prius because it already will have drank around 1,000 gallons (3,785L) of fuel before it even hits the showroom floor.
Unfortunately in my case, my used ‘fuel-efficient’ car turned out not to be so very fuel efficient after all. Lesson learnt. Instead of listening to the old owners take on the car and reading overly positive reviews online about its fuel consumption, it would have been a better idea to check out sites like Fuel Economy to get a better idea of its real consumption.
Purchase a Used Car
Perhaps one of the most important factors to consider when buying a new car in an environmentally responsible way is to choose a used vehicle. We’ve already discovered that a used, fuel-efficient car is more eco-friendly than a new Toyota Prius but if you’re in the market for a larger family car used is still going to be more green and a lot cheaper than buying something new as there are significant environmental costs associated with both the manufacturing of new cars and of course adding your old one to the ever-growing collective junk heap.
Choose a Car with Less Tailpipe Emissions
When providing ‘green’ ratings for the latest cars, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) doesn’t only take into account fuel efficiency but also the cars’ tailpipe emissions. While this can prove a little tricky to determine when comparing a host of new cars to purchase, thankfully there are lists out there that show us what the best green makes and models are each year. The greenest car for 2015 according to the ACEEE is the Mercedes-Benz Smart ForTwo Electric Drive with a green score of 61.
Keep Your Old Car Running
If you really want to be as environmentally friendly as possible, ask yourself whether you really do need a new car after all. While many of us may enjoy upgrading every now and then, it’s far from green to do so and will hurt your wallet in the process. If you only have a short commute, consider using alternative means of transport like riding a bike or taking the bus. If this isn’t an option and your old car is too far gone to hang on to, when buying a new car be certain to keep up with at least the standard maintenance tasks it requires to ensure it stays running as long as possible.