Last week I blogged about the high cost of petrol for my gas-guzzling, CO2-spluttering car, so this week I’m looking at the cost of green transport alternatives to see if it’s any cheaper.
Back in the day, Kermit the Frog lamented, “It’s not easy being green”. Despite it not being a moan about environmental ignorance on Sesame Street (though Oscar the Grouch was terrible for putting recyclables in his trash-can home), the song has since become something of a green anthem. Both Ford and EDF have used it to promote green products with the idea that, these days, it’s not actually all that expensive or difficult to be green. So, just how cheap and simple is it to become a green motorist?
Environmentally friendly motors are popping up all over the shop in various forms – hybrid, electric, LPG etc. The Toyota Prius is the UK’s leading hybrid, though it’s not particularly cheap. However, for just under £20k for the basic model, you do get 70mpg, road tax exemption, London congestion charge exemption, and strong resale. Honda’s Insight hybrid is cheaper (from £16,338), Lexus’ three hybrids start at around £43k, and pretty soon you’ll be able to buy one from most of the big manufacturers.
Cleaner still are electric cars, which emit zero CO2 (though the power stations that feed them aren’t exactly carbon neutral). Despite being around since the 19th century, electric cars are surprisingly under developed and still suffer from limited range. However, things are improving rapidly, with US firm Tesla a particularly exciting developer in this field. The most popular UK model is the tiny G-Wiz, which starts at just over £8k, has a 75 mile range, top speed of 51mph, and a six hour recharge time – however people will laugh when you and three passengers climb out.
On top of the money you’ll save on fuel and road tax, you may be able to save even more as electric cars have been exempted by the government from paying company car tax. The government is also developing a country-wide electric vehicles charging infrastructure, under its Plugged-In Places initiative. So before long, you may be able to top up your batteries in much the same way that you top up your fuel tank.
But you don’t have to opt for an alternatively powered car to go green. Any car that coughs up less than 100g/km of CO2 is considered clean enough to be exempt from road tax. The Smart Fortwo, Seat Ibiza 1.4 TDI Ecomotive, Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi Econetic and Volkswagen Polo 1.4 BlueMotion are all examples of cars that cost nothing to tax and save you money at the pump.
So if you’re on the lookout for a new car that will help save the planet and save you money on running costs, here’s a handy tool to research new car CO2 emissions. And don’t forget the extended car scrappage scheme, which gives you £1,000 towards a new, cleaner car, if you scrap your old, dirty one.
Environmentally minded fans of two wheels can now zip along on emissions-free, zero-tax, electric scooters. Looking just like their petrol counterparts, these tiny tearaways cost from as little as £799 (for the Zippe). Range is limited (20-70 miles depending on the model), though the cost in electricity to cover that distance is much less than the equivalent petrol/diesel cost. Electric scooter makes on sale in the UK include E-max, E-motive, Elecscoot, Electricyle, EVT, Lexola, Sakura, Vectrix and the aforementioned Zippe.
What’s stopping drivers from going green?
A lot of people claim it’s the cost, yet you can get a new electric scooter for £799, a G-Wiz for just over £8k, or a much more practical Honda Insight hybrid for £16,338 (a fairly competitive price for a mid-size family car). The real barrier to going green is probably choice. But with all the major car makers working on introducing new hybrid, electric or more fuel efficient petrol/diesel models, it won’t be long before the forecourts are filled with desirable green cars of all shapes and sizes to suit most pockets. And when that day comes, we’ll all find it that much easier to be green.