The Future of Sustainable Mobility: A Guide to Green Car Buying
Is a Green Car Right for You?
No, not a car painted green. Of course, we’re talking about green as in eco-friendly transportation like hybrid and electric vehicles. Renewable energy sources that create electricity won’t replace fossil fuels completely any time soon. But unprecedented eco-friendly trends and innovations in the auto world show we’re on our way. Automakers invest more each new model year to create energy-efficient cars and trucks.
Consumer preferences and government mandates to reduce emissions and transportation costs drive the focus on green cars. This year, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced proposed standards to reduce harmful emissions from light- and medium-duty vehicles. The standards are designed to reduce climate change, improve personal health, and save drivers money.
The proposed new standards will be phased in from 2027 to 2032. But if you’re in the market and going green sounds good to you, plenty of options are available right now. Sustainable energy vehicles like the hybrid Toyota Prius and the electric Nissan Leaf have been on the market for a while and have proven reliable and eco-friendly.
Eco-Friendly Transportation Options
Eco-friendly cars are making headway toward making sustainable transportation the norm. While the eco-friendly car market has consisted chiefly of hybrids and electric vehicles, alternative fuel sources are in the works. From innovative natural gas vehicles to flexible-fuel cars, we’re closer than ever to a nationwide commitment to sustainable transportation.
According to the EPA’s recent proposals, the benefits of investing in eco-friendly energy sources for vehicles go beyond reducing harmful emissions. Projections for the new standards include reduced costs for vehicles and fuel, making car ownership more affordable. New jobs and less reliance on foreign resources should also result from the current and future emissions standards.
For car buyers interested in eco-friendly cars today, the choice will typically be between electric and hybrid vehicles. Each option has its pluses and minuses, and a closer look will help drivers choose the right option for their lifestyle.
Eco-Friendly Choices: Electric vs. Hybrid
Hybrid technology relies on an electric motor and a gasoline engine to provide efficient, sustainable transportation. Hybrids include parallel, series, and plug-in configurations, and all use electric and gasoline for fuel in different proportions. These eco-friendly cars and trucks drive much like a traditional gasoline-powered vehicle, and there are many affordable choices. For the complete picture, a look at the pros and cons helps.
- Impressive gas mileage compared to gas-powered cars
- Lower emissions
- More power
- Cost more than comparable gas-only cars
- Can cost more to insure
- Less efficient in cold weather
Electric vehicles rely on electricity alone for power. Because of the unfamiliar configuration and how an electric motor transfers power, driving an electric car can feel different than driving a gas-powered car. While the experience can take some time to adjust to, many drivers find they prefer the electric version over the gas-powered one.
- Zero reliance on fossil fuels
- Less maintenance and greater longevity than hybrids or gas-powered vehicles
- Impressive performance
- More expensive than hybrids or gasoline vehicles
- Few options for recharging
- Limited towing capacity
Due to the minimal infrastructure for supporting electric vehicles, an all-electric car may not be the best option for most drivers—yet. While the infrastructure needed to recharge fleets of electric cars isn’t ready, it may not be a deal breaker for long. Toyota has introduced the Mirai, an innovative electric-powered car that gets up to 400 miles on a charge using hydrogen fuel cells—but you’ll have to move to California to get it!
Eco-Friendly Auto Trends
According to Globe News Wire, the green car market is projected to be an 800 billion-dollar industry by 2028. The auto industry is transforming, driven by mandates for sustainable vehicles and consumer demand for fuel-efficient alternatives. Technology is moving fast, and it seems like new innovations in vehicle design and the resources that fuel them are reported daily.
Some green solutions, like solar energy, are gaining traction, and we can expect the use of this sustainable fuel source will continue to evolve. It won’t be long before car buyers will find more than the currently few options for green cars. Compressed air motors, self-driving connected cars, and other innovations are already in the works and will inevitably create a range of possibilities for eco-conscious drivers.
Ready to Drive Green?
Auto manufacturers haven’t entirely worked out the ideal balance between reduced emissions and fuel economy, especially regarding all-electric vehicles. There are currently many viable, sustainable options, and more every year—and the balance between eco-friendly and driver-friendly technology will continue to evolve.
There will likely come a day when car buyers won’t have the option to buy a gas-powered car. Nevertheless, it’s a safe bet to say tomorrow’s eco-friendly cars and trucks will be as good, and in many ways, better than cars powered by fossil fuels.