Part of the total energy cost can be
cut by choosing smaller, lighter vehicles that use less
energy to produce.
But car with similar production energy
spendings can obtain, during the life of the car
(operational phase), large reductions in energy costs
through several measures:
- The most significant is by using
- An efficient engine that
reduces the vehicle's consumption of petroleum
(i.e. petroleum electric hybrid vehicle), or,
preferably, that uses
renewable energy sources throughout its
working life (i.e. battery electric vehicle).
instead of petroleum fuels.
- Proper maintenance of a vehicle
such as engine tune-ups, oil changes, and
maintaining proper tire pressure can also help.
- Removing unnecessary items from a
vehicle reduces weight and improves fuel economy as
Examples of vehicles with reduced
petroleum consumption include electric cars, hybrid cars
and hydrogen cars. Solar car races are held on a regular
basis in order to promote green vehicles and other "green
technology". These sleek driver-only vehicles can
travel long distances at highway speeds using only the
electricity generated instantaneously from the sun.
A conventional vehicle can become a
greener vehicle of a sort by mixing in renewable fuels.
Typical gasoline cars can handle up to 15% ethanol.
There are some places that have built cars that run
strictly on ethanol, but another option is a
flexible-fuel vehicle, which allows a varying mixture
(often up to 85%, sometimes up to 100%. Diesel-powered
vehicles can often transition completely to biodiesel,
though the fuel is a very strong solvent, which can
rubber seals in vehicles built before 1994. More
commonly, however, biodiesel causes problems simply
because it removes all of the built-up residue in an
engine, clogging filters, unless care is taken when
switching from dirty fossil-fuel derived diesel to
and international promotion
The European Union is promoting the
marketing of greener cars via a combination of binding
and non-binding measures.
United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
is promoting the marketing of greener cars via the
SmartWay program. The SmartWay and SmartWay Elite
designation mean that a vehicle is a better
environmental performer relative to other vehicles. This
US EPA designation is arrived at by taking into account
a vehicle's Air Pollution Score and Greenhouse Gas
Score. Higher Air Pollution Scores indicate vehicles
that emit lower amounts of pollutants that cause smog
relative to other vehicles. Higher Greenhouse Gas Scores
indicate vehicles that emit lower amounts of carbon
dioxide and have improved fuel economy relative to other
To earn the SmartWay designation, a
vehicle must earn at least a 6 on the Air Pollution
Score and at least a 6 on the Greenhouse Gas Score, but
have a combined score of at least 13. SmartWay Elite is
given to those vehicles that score 9 or better on both
the Greenhouse Gas and Air Pollution Scores.
of green vehicle use
Vehicle emissions contribute to the
increasing concentration of gases that are leading to
climate change. In order of significance, the
greenhouse gases associated with road transport are
carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide
(N2O). Road transport is the third largest source of UK
greenhouse gases and accounts for over 20% of total
Of the total greenhouse gas emissions from transport,
over 85% are due to CO2 emissions from road vehicles.
The transport sector is the fastest growing source of
Road transport also remains the main
source of many local emissions including benzene,
1,3-butadiene, carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides
(NOx) and particulates (PMs). Within urban areas, the
percentage of contributions due to road transport is
particularly high - in London road transport contributes
almost 80% of particulate emissions.
Vehicle pollutants have been linked to
human ill health including the incidence of respiratory
and cardiopulmonary disease and lung cancer. A 1998
report estimated that up to 24,000 people die
prematurely each year in the UK as a direct result of
air pollution. According to the World Health
Organization, up to 13,000 deaths per year among
children (aged 0-4 years) across Europe are directly
attributable to outdoor pollution. The organization
estimates that if pollution levels were returned to
within EU limits, more than 5,000 of these lives could
be saved each year.
Currently there is no EU law which
limits the amount of carbon dioxide produced by cars.
However the European Commission reached a voluntary
agreement with the European Automobile Manufacturers
Association to reduce the average CO2 emissions to
140g/km by 2008 for all new cars sold in the EU with a
possible second target of 120g/km by 2012.
Many fleet operators of hybrid
vehicles have reduced brake maintenance costs, through
less use of brake parts due to regenerative braking. The
labor costs saved from this maintenance is also
significant. As much as 65% of brake related costs have
been saved, according to a report by the Toronto Transit
Hybrid taxi fleet operators in New
York have also reported that reduced fuel consumption
saves them thousands of dollars per year, as well as
reduced maintenance costs.
A two-year study by CNW Marketing
Research suggests that the extra energy cost of
manufacture, shipping, disposal, and the short lives of
some of these types of vehicle (particularly
gas-electric hybrid vehicles) outweighs any energy
savings made by their using less petroleum during their
useful lifespan. These claims are under dispute. The
latest version of the report incorporates more data
through 2006 and revises much of the conclusions. More
information on this topic is available at
Petroleum-electric hybrid vehicles, particularly the
section on CNW Marketing Reports.
The battery electric vehicles are