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A to Z of Green Motoring

eco-friendly, motoring innovations, green revolution, green technology, gree motoring

Don't know a hybrid from a fuel cell, or how cars can run on the oil we cook eggs with? Well, read on because this definitive list covers everything you need to know on the ABC’s of green motoring.

Alternative technology

Car manufacturers worldwide are under increasing pressure to design vehicles that don’t run on conventional diesel. Now electric cars are being developed as well as cars that use biofuels like biodiesel and bioethanol.


A by-product of plants, biodiesel greatly reduces harmful emissions that contribute to greenhouse effect. For a hefty sum, a car owner can convert his vehicle to run on biodiesel.

Carbon dioxide

This is the gas that your car gives off and heats up the atmosphere, causing polar ice caps to melt and ozone layer to thin out. Emission testing centers are scattered throughout the country to check on smoke-belchers.

Driving habits

By merely changing your driving habits, you can contribute to a healthier environment.
Going slow on the accelerator and brakes will save you a lot of fuel, as well as sharing car with colleagues who live close to you. Also keep your tires properly inflated to save you as much as five percent on fuel costs.


Ethanol, a form of alcohol, is another biofuel made from grains such as corn and, when mixed with unleaded, produces a clean, efficient fuel. Unfortunately, this is not yet widely available.

Fuel cells

The future of motoring, these power sources mixes hydrogen and air to generate electricity which powers the car’s electric motor. By ridding your car of an internal combustion engine, the vehicle only emits water. BMW has recently launched a hydrogen-powered 7-Series, which will be sold in limited numbers.


In Europe, governments are looking at a grant scheme for people who buy cars with very low carbon dioxide emissions. The maximum award is likely to be around £1,500, with the most available for those motorists who buy ultra-green cars.


Japanese manufacturers lead the way in making hybrid cars that combine electric motors with conventional electric engines. The ideas being that the electric motor powers the car at low speeds like driving around town for instance—while the engine cuts in when you need a burst of acceleration on the highway.


The Honda Insight was one of the first hybrid cars to go on sale in the UK, combining space-age looks with the latest planet-saving technology. Boasting of extremely low carbon dioxide emissions and an mpg of 70, it won the 2000 International Engine of the Year Award.


For short journeys to your favourite grocery store or a nearby church, leave the car at home and walk, cycle or commute. You get exercise for your health and fewer miles for your car. And you know what this will do come re-sale time.


Electric motors are rated in kilowatts and, like brake horse power, the higher the figure the more power available. To convert kilowatts to bhp, add a third of the original figure, for example 30 kW plus 10 equals 40 bhp.


Liquefied petroleum gas is the most common type of alternative fuel that only requires a simple conversion to run on it. However, it isn’t as environmentally friendly as fuels like biodiesel.

MPG is miles per gallon, most commonly used unit for fuel efficiency in nations such as the U.S. that employ a mixture of the British system and the metric system The more fuel efficient our cars are, the less carbon dioxide and other nasty chemicals they pump out.


In this climate of environment awareness, “going carbon neutral” is very much the moral thing to do. The cheapest way to do this is to limit your car use and walk or brave the public transport system.


For those who can’t get off the road (or air), you can offset the amount of carbon dioxide you contribute by reaching out for your wallet. Check out and calculate how much you are going to pay for travelling out of town or going abroad. The money you give goes towards planting trees and putting in place measures to protect the environment.


The first hybrids were diesel-electric and they got the flack because they don’t significantly reduce harmful emissions. By combining a petrol engine with an electric motor, motor manufacturers have found that they can seriously reduce a car’s carbon dioxide emissions when idling in traffic.


Audi’s latest 4x4, Q7 is not actually green but it could be on its way. 4x4s are being unfairly tarnished in the media as being less environment-friendly. Another 4x4—Honda CRV actually puts out a heck of a lot less emissions than a regular sedan.

Road charging

In an attempt to persuade more Londoners to commute, authorities in the city is seriously looking at a nationwide road-charging scheme. Under the plan, motorists who use major roads during peak times would be penalized more than those who took it to the streets at off-peak times.


Several cars on sale today—like the Citroen C3 and the Honda Civic IMA—use stop-start technology to cut emissions and save fuel. The engine cuts out when stopped at traffic lights or idling but engages instantly when you touch the accelerator.

Tax breaks

Company car drivers in UK stand to save a lot of money by choosing their cars carefully. Their government is granting tax breaks as much as £80 a year. Other nations are implementing tax breaks for environment-friendly cars along similar lines.


Car engines that run on unleaded gasoline are favored over diesels because they are generally quieter, more refined and offer better performance.

Vehicle excise duty

In UK, cars registered before March 1, 2001 will have their road tax calculated according to engine size, but the rate for cars after this date will be determined by carbon emissions. The higher the emissions, the more you pay, ranging from £65 for those cars emitting less than 100g/km to £170 for diesels pumping out more than 185g/km.


Leaving your windows down to let in cool air by hurtling down the highway harms your fuel economy more than using your air-conditioning.


Who said green motoring can’t be fun? New Zealander Ian Wright has replaced the engine in an Ariel Atom with an electric motor. The result is X-1, a green car that can beat a Ferrari F360 and Porsche Carrera GT in a race. X-1 produces no emissions and can travel 100 miles on a full charge.


Do you feel like saving the planet from an environmental disaster? Why not get a Toyota Yaris, a supermini that’s well-made, roomy and really cute. It has a 1.0-liter 3-cylinder petrol engine that gives you a 52.3 mpg, thus, several years of guilt-free motoring.

Zero emissions vehicles

A zero emissions vehicle does exactly what it says. It is the generic term for cars powered by electricity and fuel cells, although the technology is still very much in its infancy. There’s no doubt though that this will be the future of motoring.
Published: 2009-01-14
Author: Royce Ambrocio

About the author or the publisher
The author has been writing professionally for 10 years now across various industries: TV, print, advertising, and online commerce. He has done scripts for TV, feature articles in magazines and newspapers and copywriting for consumer, tranport and service companies.

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