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A Global Overview Of Eco-Friendly Cars

Sep 11, 2008
More and more people are turning to the possibilities offered by the developments towards more environmentally-friendly vehicles. Car manufacturers are frantically researching more and better ways to expand upon the relatively small market in order to offer cars that consumers will buy - meaning environmentally-conscious vehicles that do not sacrifice both aesthetics and costs in order to reduce fuel emissions.

This task is not easy. Some eco-friendly cars have resembled moon buggies more than everyday road vehicles and many consumers are left wondering why designers don't seem to have realised that people want a car that will blend in on the road rather than standing out on it. However, there have been vast improvements on the original eco-friendly cars and now many manufacturers are releasing such environmentally-friendly vehicles based on existing models.

However, apart from the looks and feel of eco-friendly cars, other problems arise with extra costs and a possible lack of refilling opportunities.

The new hybrid cars store energy when the brakes are applied, then use it whenever possible instead of fuel when the vehicle is in motion. Their mileage is high and tests seem to show the battery lasts a long time - but they cost several thousands more than their smog-coughing counterparts. In the long run, they are cost-effective, but for today's consumer it's difficult to say whether a long-term scheme will prevail over an immediate purchase.

Biodiesel cars similarly get more mileage than normal diesel cars, but the cost of biodiesel fuel is significantly high compared to petroleum spirit, and marginally higher than normal diesel. The mixture of vegetable oil and diesel as fuel also means that cold weather can be slightly problematic, depending on oil content in the solution.

Ethanol fuel is a grain-based additive created from corn, barley or wheat, the most popular type being E85. E85 is 85% ethanol and 15% petrol, reducing emissions and costs as it is a cheaper option than regular fuel. The great thing about cars manufactured for this fuel is their versatility: flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) mean you can use either E85 or normal petrol, which ensures you won't need to worry about finding a petrol station that sells the correct fuel. Because of this versatility, many car manufacturers have jumped on the opportunities ethanol vehicles provide and there is a wide selection of cars available.

Finally, natural gas, despite being a fossil fuel, is one that is cleaner-burning than what is usually used for cars. In America, much of the natural gas reserves is collected within US borders, but it is a growing issue that many companies are fighting to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling to supply demand. Natural gas has twice the volume of petrol, meaning it takes up twice as much room in the tank, so it won't take you as far as its liquid form.

These are the four main players in the eco-friendly car sphere. Each type has pros and cons that measure up against each other and our current polluting vehicles. It's important to research thoroughly the type of eco-friendly car you might find most suitable before purchasing, as is it essential to bear in mind that, despite a few negative things about each style, the benefit to the environment is well worthwhile.

However, when weighing up new car options, it's not just its environmental impact that you should consider. Be sure to shop around for the best deal on price, finance repayments, road fund license and car insurance, as well as available fuel options, in order to ensure you choose the best car for your needs.
About the Author
Paul McIndoe writes for a digital marketing agency. This article has been commissioned by a client of said agency. This article is not designed to promote, but should be considered professional content.
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