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Green thinking is increasingly applied to our love affair with the car as  Miles Per Gallon are far more important than Miles Per Hour these days.

In the past decade more eco-positive vehicles have been coming onto the market and drivers are more aware of environmental matters. Putting the foot on the gas pedal comes at a cost in fuel burn, and fuel is now so expensive.

Petrol Was King

For decades there was no alternative to petrol for cars and apart from unleaded fuel, few expected much progress on reducing petrol’s grip. However, there is a new wave of small-capacity (three-cylinder), turbo petrol units (one litre) that rate economy and emissions at near-diesel levels.

They are economical and have been described as ‘fun to drive’ on everyday runs, but are less efficient on distance/motorway driving. Expect engineers to keep developing in this direction – small is beautiful.

Diesel For Distance

Most commentators argue that diesel is ideal for the higher mileage user with good performance and economy on fuel, if not vehicle purchase and maintenance. Indeed, good long runs are essential for efficient working.

The modern filters to trap particulates (the sooty deposits that caused so much harm a generation ago) have pushed diesel up the enviro-list of good guys.

LPG Makes Big Claims

Liquid Petroleum Gas is now widely available and is a key part of the eco-motoring landscape. Autogas

‘It’s Cleaner, Greener and Cheaper. LPG Autogas is by far the most widely available environmentally friendly alternative fuel with over 1400 refuelling sites throughout the UK, most of which are on petrol forecourts. Recent independent tests have also shown that LPG has the best environmental record compared with petrol and diesel.
Drivers and fleet operators save money each year by switching to LPG and this includes cars, vans and taxis whilst benefiting the environment. Driving an LPG vehicle is safe, easy and best of all, much cheaper than driving a petrol or diesel model.
Most petrol engines can be converted and there are currently around 21 million vehicles worldwide with over 10 million in Europe and over 170,000 in the UK running on LPG. They are producing less harmful emissions than those driving petrol or diesel, whilst making significant savings at the pumps.’

It’s around 50p a litre cheaper than petrol but gives about 20% less mpg. So drivers can make a judgment.

Hybrid Is the Name

The combination of diesel or petrol engines with electric motors is very ‘now’. So many things are hybrids, and why not? This category is still evolving.

The use of power supplies working simultaneously or in towns on battery power alone with a rage of recharging options is still being tweaked and experimented with.

Hybrids are a market that is expanding and we should watch out for quite exciting further developments in economy and performance levels.

Electric May Not Be the Answer

Charging the car from home or an increasingly available power point in a city/town carpark or street may sound very ecologically pure. It’s presented as good, clean electricity and the milk float/golf buggy jokes have been set aside with distances of 100 miles between charges now a reality.

However, not everyone is satisfied that a full environmental audit has costed in the reality of creating the electricity in the first place. It must be said that purists who argue that often neglect the power and transport costs of traditional fuel manufacture too!

Plug-ins Next

A new generation of hybrid plug-ins is coming where the drive battery operates as with electric powered vehicles, but once that source is exhausted a petrol, diesel or electric hybrid kicks in.

Expect much more development of these ideas, which can be labelled ‘hybrids of hybrids’ because the debate about energy and transport is going to get any cooler anytime soon.

More Research

Ethical Directory besides offering a listing of sites that can inform and assist greener driving also say: ‘The best way to get around if you want to be kind to the environment is to walk, cycle or take public transport.’

Yes, but where any of those transportation methods are neither available nor applicable, then driving may be the only way. So to make it as green as possible, is worth thinking about.

Wacky Driving

Metro published in September 2011 a list of the stranger inventions designed to be enviro-good.

Sustainable greenpower electric cars, the electric tuk-tuk, the easy glider, the econogo electric scooter, the black current electric dragster, Brahms Electric Hearse, the Segway, Zerocars Little Electric and even the Sinclair C5 are recalled and pictured.

Living Ethically UK is a resource of sites listing associations/organisations on environmetal transport, green fuels, car sharing clubs around Britain and climate neutral breakdown cover.

A Quick Tour Round the Garden of Latest Greenish Technology Stories, 14 August 2013

When Summer Approaches, It’s Time to Consider the Perfect Green House, 13 May 2013

Happy Earth Day 2013, May the Forces Be With Us, 22 April 2013

Cars Are No Longer Last Private Places, 28 March 2012

Now this blog is about the status quo and the near future. By 2015 we’ll probably see driverless cars in many places, cars or pods on streets (or even pavements) and they may yet prove to be the ultimate green transportation or not. But that’s a blog for another day!

Image: Leonamcdoo