How Green Are Green Cars?

With the issue of global warming taking on international importance in recent years, unsurprisingly the focus has fallen on car drivers, with cars seen as one of the major contributors towards global warming. Green cars have been held up as a potential solution, one that motorists should be embracing.

But are green cars actually ‘green’?

Firstly, let’s take pure electric cars. Unfortunately these electric cars are anything but good for the environment. The electricity that they run on is produced in power stations, where only 30-40% of the energy is converted into electricity. Transferring this electricity along electric cables then results in a further 30% being lost to heat energy. So by the time this electricity reaches an electric car a huge amount of the energy has already been lost. Good for cutting down inner city pollution but efficient it certainly isn’t.

Recently hybrid cars have been preferred, cars that contain both an electric motor and a petrol engine. The battery for the motor is powered by the energy generated from braking. When it comes to being ‘green’ these cars in theory offer many more environmental benefits.

In practice this isn’t necessarily the case. Consumer magazine Which? tested four hybrid cars by driving them throughout London. The results were disappointing, as mentioned by George Marshall-Thornhill, senior researcher for Which?, Some of these should have performed much better. And this is all without mentioning how to dispose of troublesome electric batteries.

Then there’s the cost of hybrid cars. The Toyota Prius is the most popular hybrid car and can be purchased for around 17,000. However, with fuel economy claims in doubt and 55% of people believing that green cars are too expensive, there is still some way to go before green cars arrive on a large scale.

The facts are that green cars use more energy to produce, are harder to dispose of, their fuel economy claims have been doubted, and they are simply too expensive. The age of the green car has not arrived yet.