There has never been more choice in the market for an eco-friendly car than there is right now. It seems that every car manufacturer is rushing to join the party with hybrids, electrics, efficient diesels and an ever-growing list of new ways to cut CO2 emissions.
Electric cars are often the most energy-efficient, as they do not have any emissions from the tailpipe at all. Their carbon footprint is entirely dependent on the type of power supplying the batteries when they are plugged in for recharging. The Honda Fit EV is one of the most efficient in this category, along with the Renault Fluence ZE. The Ford Focus Electric was named the most fuel efficient car sold in the US. At the moment, however, the best-selling electric car is the Nissan Leaf, due to its relatively low retail price. Electric cars have some limitations. Even the best have only about a 100-mile range before they need recharging, making them impractical for long-distance driving.
The solution to the problem of limited range in electric cars has recently been the petrol/electric hybrid. These cars combine an internal combustion engine with electric, allowing for a larger range while still maintaining better fuel efficiency. Traditional hybrids such as the Toyota Yaris and Prius derive their electrical charge from the combustion engine, charging as you drive. Newer models, “plug-in hybrids” such as the Toyota Prius PHEV, the Chevy Volt and the Vauxhall Ampera can be plugged in like an electric car, further reducing the need for fuel.
Some eco-friendly cars are not electric in any way, and have achieved lower emissions purely by re-working the internal combustion engine, or by shrinking the car. Very small vehicles such as the Smartfortwo CDI or the Fiat 500 Twinair achieve lower emissions by being very small two-person vehicles. In the luxury car category, BMW has made a lot of small changes to the diesel engine of the BMW 520 ED, giving it impressive fuel efficiency and very low emissions.
With so many choices in the market today, it is possible to buy an eco-friendly car on just about any budget.
Picture by K.F.L. – Fotolia