Some thoughts on Green Motoring

July 6, 2011 Off By Chris Hinton

Car companies are increasingly shouting about their green credentials – doubtless in part because of increased legislation from governments around the world that require them to show they are doing something to reduce their environmental impact. I was sent this video recently that talks about some of the benefits modern cars bring in terms of environmental impact. Have a look, and join me again afterwards.

OK, now this is clearly an advert for Ford’s C-Max, but it makes some interesting points. I was particularly interested by the claim that it would take two hundred modern cars to produce the same pollution as the 1976 Ford Fiesta. The introduction of unleaded fuel and catalytic convertors seem very old hat nowadays, but they have gone a long way to cleaning up cars’ act.
It’s also nice to see attention being brought to technologies like low resistance tyres and stop-start engines. Why? Well, because the media in general goes on about hybrids and electric vehicles so much it’s sometimes forgotten that even conventional cars can go green. Volkswagen, for instance, have a range of BlueMotion technologies designed to make their cars more energy efficient.
And there’s the key – energy efficiency. It’s at the heart of environmentalism, as less energy used is less pollution generated. But for most consumers, the average Joe, it seems the concern is less about saving the planet as saving our wallets. In the press information for the Honda Insight, for instance, there is a section on costs which says this:

Our research and that of other manufacturers has also shown that while many people have good intentions to be greener, when it comes to buying cars, it’s cost rather than climate that’s influencing purchase decisions.

I sympathise with that. Better insulation on my house might mean less gas burned to heat it, but I’m thinking more about the gas bill than how much CO2 I’m releasing into the atmosphere. With the price of petrol ever increasing, it’s much the same with cars – make them more efficient and, yes, there will be less harm to the environment, but I will also get more milage out of a tank… and that tank is getting pretty expensive.
Of course I’m concerned about the planet, but I, and I would be willing to bet many others, need some measurable incentive to reduce our energy use rather than a nebulous threat of impending doom. Reducing costs is, I believe, just the measurable incentive that’s required.
What do you think? When you look at energy efficiency, is it the environment or your pocket that first comes to mind? Is reducing energy bills the “carrot” to the threat of global warming’s “stick” when it comes to efficiency? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.