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             Green Cars

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A green vehicle is a vehicle that is considered to be more "environmentally friendly" than traditional all-petroleum internal combustion engine vehicles (APICEVs). This is accomplished by having a low dust to dust energy cost.


Part of the total energy cost can be cut by choosing smaller, lighter vehicles that use less energy to produce.

Energy efficiency

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 alternative propulsion:
    • 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).
    • Using biofuels 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 well.


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 occasionally damage 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 bio-diesel.

National and international promotion

European Union

The European Union is promoting the marketing of greener cars via a combination of binding and non-binding measures.

United States

The 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 vehicles.

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.

Benefits of green vehicle use


Vehicle emissions contribute to the increasing concentration of gases that are leading to climate change. In order of significance, the principal 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 emissions.[3] 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 greenhouse gases.

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 Commission.

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 sustainable vehicles.

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