| 14th April 2011
You can’t read much about cars at the moment without spotting something about CO2 emissions or CO2-reducing technologies and it’s a theme that is not going to go away.
Over the coming years international strategies and parameters are going to become stricter until it’s impossible to buy a car with CO2 emissions deemed too high by the powers that be.
While that end-point maybe some way off it’s clear that even now you can’t buy a car without thinking about and considering its CO2 emissions.
You may not have too much time for saving the planet but reducing CO2 emissions and getting a green car can save you money – a point which makes most people sit up and listen.
What are CO2 emissions?
CO2 emissions are one of the harmful results of the combustion engine process.
When fuel is burnt CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) is produced and as you all know – CO2 is a greenhouse gas, so the less CO2 our car emits the better for the environment.
In cars CO2 emissions are measured in grams per kilometre and the lower the number the better the car is for the environment and your wallet – a point that isn’t always made clear to car-buyers.
SPOILER - Cutting CO2 emissions can cut the costs of owning your vehicle.
Financial benefits of cutting CO2 emissions
After a re-focussing of attentions from the UK government and the European Union, motorists are being rewarded for opting for cars with reduced CO2 emissions.
The obvious example comes with electric cars and the UK government’s Plug-in Car Grant – a scheme and incentive that offers up to £5,000 off the purchase price of an electric car.
However the truck doesn’t stop there (excuse the pun). A car with lower CO2 emissions will also fall into a cheaper tax band.
Again the easiest examples are electric cars who’s zero tailpipe emission arrangements can result in absolutely no road tax.
Similarly, cars with CO2 emissions beneath the hallowed number of 100g/km are also exempt from paying road tax – and are able to drive within the London Congestion Charge Zone (under revised conditions) absolutely free of charge.
Why choose a car with low CO2 emissions?
Apart from being a green pioneer with a conscience clear enough to join Greenpeace, an electric car can also reap huge financial benefits in terms of running costs.
As well as the road tax exemption and the license to scoot about London for free, electric cars have the advantage of dramatically reduced fuel costs.
All EVs (electric vehicles) can be charged at home through a domestic socket. So your electric bill may increase but that will be more than negated by zero fuel costs.
Does my new car have to be electric to reduce CO2?
Electric cars are being touted as the saving grace in the battle against greenhouse emissions but they’re not the be-all and end-all. In fact, many critics suggest that the rate of improvement seen over the past few years with regards to petrol and diesel engine emissions will continue.
That means low-CO2 diesel and petrol cars will not be too far away – they would never have zero-tailpipe emissions but they could be closer to that figure in 20 years.
Many manufacturers have already broken the revered 100g/km barrier with internal combustion engines already – including the likes of the Volkswagen Golf with its BlueMotion technology and the Fiat 500 with its TwinAir engines.
Generally speaking, lower CO2 emissions mean lower fuel consumption figures and lower running costs as a result – a point especially prominent given the rising costs of fuel and its predicted incline over the coming months.
What about hybrids?
Hybrids are at the moment more feasible for the majority of new car-buyers because they have vastly greater ranges than pure electric vehicles.
They utilise both an electric motor and a combustion engine with the electric motor taking over at low speeds and their combined utility at higher speeds.
As such hybrids usually have lower CO2 emissions than combustion cars and don’t need to be actively recharged as they use features like regenerative braking and Stop-Start technology.
What ‘green’ car is best for me?
Choosing a green car isn’t easy as there is such a range of options open to the consumer.
There are hybrids, electrics and a mind blowing array of efficient monikers applied by all manufacturers.
However the overarching theme for most consumers is the cost of your vehicle.
EVs for the time being will be more expensive to purchase than equivalent cars and then there’s range anxiety – however the average commute figures and potential savings can outweigh that initial cost.
Hybrids are similarly more expensive than normal combustion cars and they’re not generally the coolest things to be seen in however their running costs are again significantly lower than combustion engine models.
Combustion engine cars are the cheapest of the three in terms of initial costs however their CO2 emissions figures are more often than not much worse however there is far more choice in this sector than the other two.
Askaprice.com has put together a top five list of sub-100g/km cars in order to make the selection process that bit easier.
In addition we’ve even included a link to a Top five alt-fuels list and put together a quick selection of low CO2 emission cars below.
Leading low-CO2 cars
Nissan Leaf – EV
The Nissan Leaf has the proud label of being the first mass produced all-electric hatchback when it hits the market this month.
It is also the reigning European Car of the Year – the first electric car to claim the award.
Mitsubishi i-MiEV - EV
The Mitsubishi i-MiEV was the first mass produced electric car on the market from a major manufacturer.
The electric city car was built in combination with Citroen and Peugeot (who have two similar EVs of their own) and mates a quirky appearance to its zero tailpipe emission powertrain set-up.
Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion - Diesel
The Volkswagen Golf is one of the most desirable and popular cars in the UK which consistently features in the top five best sellers’ list in Britain.
The BlueMotion version has been widely acclaimed for its ability to offer low CO2 emissions and an undiminished level of performance – one of the major selling points on the standard car.
Fiat 500 TwinAir - Petrol
The Fiat 500 TwinAir is a highly acclaimed car for both its stylish and trendy appearance and its innovative engine technology that result in CO2 emissions as low as 95g/km on a combustion engine.
Its engine technology is so successful that it is often the recipient of international awards for its green innovation.
Toyota Prius - Hybrid
The Toyota Prius was the first mainstream hybrid on the market and the first to experience any kind of sales success with current worldwide sales standing at more than two million units.
The Prius has had mixed reviews since it arrived and suffers most for its range of celebrity-drivers.
Honda CR-Z – Hybrid
Honda was the first manufacturer to release a hybrid sports coupe in the form of the cool CR-Z.
The impact of the CR-Z and the fact that it brought credibility to the hybrid sector has helped Honda overhaul Toyota in the hybrid stakes.