Green cars

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Blade Getz electric car fill up
Blade Getz electric car fill up
Alé three wheeled green car
Alé three wheeled green car

The conventional car industry is now in sharp decline across the world while consumer demand for zero or low emissions green cars is rising fast.

The pseudo-freedom and autonomy offered by cars has largely become an accepted part of life for many in developed countries but is becoming less popular due to increased congestions. However,cars with internal combustion engines consume a lot of fuel and emit greenhouse gases.

Some people are unhappy about promoting the use of cars, and prefer bikes and public transport. However, a large number of people now regard the convenience and freedom of car use as an essential part of their life. If you are going to drive a car, choose the "greenest" one you can.


Tips for green motoring

  • Accelerate gently - rapid acceleration uses more fuel
  • Don't carry too much spare equipment in your car - extra weight burns more fuel
  • Keep your car motor tuned - a poorly tuned car can use a lot more fuel
  • Inflate your tyres higher than the manufacturer's rating and keep them inflated. Under inflated tyres can increase your fuel consumption by 5% or more, and manufacturers understate tyre pressures in favour of ride comfort.
  • Keep your car for five years or more. Buying a new car frequently requires more cars to be made, and every car represents a lot of "embodied energy" used to make it.
  • Don't use your car unless you have to - take public transport or ride a bike instead.
  • Don't buy it if you don't really need it!
  • Consider whether an electric motorcycle or scooter would do instead.
  • Consider whether a fuel efficient scooter would do instead.
  • Buy the most fuel efficient car you can afford that suits your purpose. Lighter weight vehicles are typically more efficient.

The benefits of electric cars and how many are in use

Electric cars are 30% more efficient (in terms of greenhouse gas emissions) than cars powered by internal combustion engines (that use petrol, diesel or gas), even taking into consideration coal-fired power generation.

Transitioning to electric drive trains for cars would reduce global carbon emissions. For those that need more range, a plug in hybrid would suffice - fuel can be used to generate electricity when needed for longer trips.

In November 2008, the numbers of electric vehicles of car size (excluding bicycles) in use are estimated at:

  • less than 300 on Australian roads
  • about 500,000 world wide

Choosing a green car

The following choices, ranked generally in order of overall "green-ness" are available now.

Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs)

Note Recent Battery Innovations are likely to make buying new Electric Vehicles commonplace:

Alternatives to normal petrol cars

All of the below vehicles produce some emissions. For more information see Comparison of Transport Fuels Report.

  • Air Car when/if they become available
  • Hybrid Petrol/electric vehicle - Mazda 5 Hydrogen Hybrid
  • Hybrid LPG/electric vehicle - Hyundai Elantra is anticipated to be available in Australia in the later part of 2008. Hyundai Elantra
  • Hybrid diesel/electric car.
  • Hybrid petrol/electic car. Hybrids generally use less fuel and produce fewer emissions than normal petrol cars. However, the greeness of pre-2003 Toyota Prius's is frequently disputed. Most all large manufacturers will be releasing Hybrids over the next few years. A Plug-in Hybrid is better because you can charge up your car without using the onboard combustion engine, perhaps even use renewable energy to put some green energy in the battery. Even plugging your car into your house is much better for the environment then using the onboard engine to charge the battery.
  • Compressed Natural Gas(CNG) car or convert your car to CNG and refuel at home. (Note that the Honda Civic GX has been named the world's greenest vehicle 5 years running). Advanced Fuels Technologies expects to have 10 passenger cars approved for CNG conversion in Australia by June 2009. Hilux 2.6 and Hilux V6 by July 2008. Late model Toyota Camary's (2004 or later) are anticipated to be the first passenger cars to be approved for CNG Conversion in Australia. (sept 2008?). See also:
  • Diesel car. Diesel engines are more efficient than petrol ones - some have fuel consumption figures as good as hybrids at around 5 litres per 100km. Some diesels can also use diesel biofuel made from plant oils. The most efficient small diesel car available in Australia in 2008 is the Hyundai i30 which uses 4.5l/100km.
  • dual fuel Petrol/Hydrogen Car

Electric cars

Available in Australia

Mitsubishi IMiEV electric car
F3e electric car
F3e electric car

The Blade Electric Vehicle - an electric car conversion for new and used Hyundai Getz cars commenced production during 2008.

The IMiEV electric car (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle) will be available in some countries late in 2009 or early in 2010.[1] fileicon-small-pdf.png Mitsubishi I MIEV brochure info_circle.png 1MB

Planned for Release in Australia

2012- The Toyota FT-EV Japanese car maker Toyota used the 2009 Detroit motor show to unveil the FT-EV, a concept car that previews a new battery-electric "urban commuter" vehicle set to go on sale globally in 2012. This electric car may cost around A$25,000 could be on sale in Australia by 2012.[2]

Not Yet Planned for Release in Australia

2009- The F3e made by BYD AUTO in China is a integrates both IT technology and Auto technology of BYD. It combines world class rechargeable battery technology, excellent R&D technology of automobile core components and parts and complete vehicle manufacturing technology. This vehicle is not yet available in Australia.

2010- The Nissan EV

The GM Volt will be built in Detroit in 2011 - but there is no date for importation to Australia.

The Ford Motor Company has a Project M to build a prototype of a totally electric, battery-powered car in just six months. When it was started summer 2008, the effort was considered a tall order by the small team of executives and engineers assigned to it. But Ford was feeling pressure from competitors, and decided it could not afford to fall behind in the rapidly expanding race to put electric cars in dealer showrooms. "Frankly, I think it's a gamble not to do it," said William Ford jnr, the company's executive chairman. "It's clear that society is headed down this road."[3]. No Australian launch date is yet available.

Available in the United States

Tesla Roadster. Credit: Tesla Motors
Tesla Roadster. Credit: Tesla Motors

Over 250 Tesla Roadsters have been delivered. These are pure electric cars capable of very fast acceleration and over 350km range per charge.

Tesla Model S. Credit: Tesla Motors
Tesla Model S. Credit: Tesla Motors

The Tesla Model S has just been announced. These have 500km range, a 45 minute quick charge feature and can seat 7 people with more cargo space than station wagons.

Gas conversions

If you already own a petrol car:

  • an LPG conversion enables you to use cheaper LPG (liquid petroleum gas), but note that most LPG is a byproduct of oil refining, so when oil supplies dwindles the price of LGP will rise along with petrol and diesel.
  • an CNG conversion enables you to use CNG (compressed natural gas), which is more abundant than crude oil reserves, but there are currently very few refuelling locations available in Australia, largely due to inadequate government policies to establish them. There are several active lobbyists attempting to change this. See Rosetta Moon for more information. There is currently only a single semi public CNG refueling station located in North Melbourne. However, 5 CNG refueling stations are expected in Victoria before end of 2009. Currently there are no pre-converted CNG passengers vehicles being offered in Australia. However, just about all of the large auto manufacturers are now producing CNG Vehicles. Of particular interest is Honda, who has teamed up with Fuel Maker and now offers their Civic GX with a home based CNG refueling device. News Flash: Advanced Fuels Technologies has announced availability of Home Refueling in Australia.

Electric car networks

Electric car networks have been announced for Denmark, Israel, Australia and California's Bay Area by Pao Alto startup Better Place. These networks will include recharge points where cars are parked, and battery swap locations for longer range trips.

Power and grid utilities companies are gearing up to tap into the stored energy that plug-in electric vehicles can provide using smart-grid technology. Car batteries can provide a buffer to lighten the load on the grid during peak times and potentially provide back-up power to home owners. In addition, old plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) batteries could be recycled as storage devices.[4]


See also

External links


  1. Mitsubishi's plug-in i MiEV on sale in 2009,
  2. Affordable electric car to "hit streets in 2012"
  3. Ford gears up to sell its first fully electric car by 2011,
  4. Electric cars seen as killer app for smart grid, Green Tech - CNET News
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