It’s always preferable for things to work in the most efficient manner possible, especially if they run on harmful fossil fuels. This logic has led many people, who wish to drive down the size of their carbon footprint, to invest in a new, more fuel efficient car.
However, whilst there is no denying that owning a car which makes more use of the fuel you put into it will help you save money, especially in the light of astronomically high petrol prices, the question of whether your decision will actually benefit the environment is a lot less straight forward.
This is because you have to factor the emissions derived from the cars manufacture into the equation if you truly wish to base your decision on picking the greenest possible option. In some cases the truth of the matter is that, when the carbon footprint of manufacturing a new car is worked into the equation, you’d be better off finding a reasonably efficient second hand car. This is of course a recurring paradox for those who, as consumers, want to make greener choices- whilst fresh products are constantly being innovated and marketed as being ‘eco-friendly’, unless they are 100% recycled, it’s normally more environmentally sound to buy something used, even if it is less ‘green’, than to buy anything new.
On top of this, when it comes to electric cars, it’s important not to think of the vehicle as being zero emissions to run. Though they are called ‘electric’ cars, in reality they are, for the most part, powered by fossil fuels, as the plants that provided the power you use to charge the car will often run on substances such as coal.
Of course, it is much easier to make the case for such a switch if the car you currently drive is gas guzzling 4 x 4, or if, for example, you live somewhere where you can be sure that a decent amount of the electricity being supplied to the grid you’d use to charge the car comes from nuclear energy rather than fossil fuels, as would be the case in a country like France, for instance.
Whilst each case is different and has to be taken on its merits, it really is worth attempting to research the carbon footprint involved before buying a car, even if it is ‘eco-friendly’, and thinking about just how far you’d have to drive before the emissions you save by using it offset the emissions caused by its original manufacture.