How to choose the right green car for you

If you're driven to save the planet and are in the market for a new (or used) car, you may want to consider buying a 'green' car to reduce your impact on the environment. 

In a recent Roy Morgan survey of 37,000 Australians, more than half said they would consider buying a hybrid car, while a third would consider buying an electric vehicle - showing a growing market for cars with low emissions.

Green cars have a range of benefits for both the owner and the environment. They've got lower exhaust emissions, no or low petrol costs, are quieter to drive, and have reduced stamp duty which helps to offset the higher purchase price.

If you're concerned about your vehicle's carbon emissions and its effect on the environment, it may be time to consider an eco-friendly alternative.

Here are a few things to consider to ensure you choose the best green car for your needs.

Types of green cars

There's no set definition of what a 'green' car is, but it's generally considered to be a car with low carbon-dioxide emissions. Green cars produce low or no emissions by using either electric or hybrid drive systems. 

  • Hybrid cars: Hybrid cars use a combination of battery technology (electric engine) and a petrol engine. Unlike electric cars, hybrid cars don't need to be plugged in to recharge the battery, as the petrol engine charges the batteries. Hybrid vehicles run on either the petrol or electric engine, and the on board computer in the car switches between the two engines to maximise efficiency. 

  • Electric cars: Electric cars run solely on a rechargeable battery which can be charged from electric car charging points. Electric vehicles don't have a fuel tank or an exhaust pipe, and never need an oil change, but they are restricted by the need to recharge, which can only be done at charging points. 

What to consider 

There are a few things to take into consideration before purchasing a green car.

Usage

How you intend on using your car will largely dictate which type of green car to get. Consider the distance you drive each day, whether your route is flat or hilly, city or suburbs, how many passengers you will be carrying, and where you intend on recharging your car (if it's electric). 

Electric cars have a slower uptake in Australia because of 'range anxiety' (concern about not being able to go longer distances on a single charge). Electric cars have a restricted range and are also limited to areas which have recharge stations, such as your home, work or a public recharge station. If you need to travel long distances or stay away from home, an electric car may not be suitable for you, as you will need to recharge the battery, and there are fewer charging stations when compared with petrol stations. However, an electric car may suit you if you're just zipping around the city. 

Most electric cars available in Australia have a range of about 200 km, so many commuters will be able to manage a whole working week without needing to recharge. However, the range does depend on a number of factors, like how aggressively you drive, how flat your route is, how much energy can be generated through braking, temperature settings on the climate control, and whether you're using the radio and satellite navigation. Of course, if you are returning home each evening, it won't be much hassle to recharge each night anyway, just like most of us already do this with our mobile phones, so you won't even come close to running out. 

Charging at home is usually done through a normal 240-volt/15 amp electricity supply (2.5kW - 7.0 kW) and can take between four and ten hours. Publicly accessible electric car charging stations provide power to the battery at a faster rate (between 25kW and 135kW) which means some batteries can be charged within just 30 minutes. 

If you want a green car, but don't like the idea of needing to recharge it (or you drive long distances and may not have access to charging stations) then a hybrid car may be more suited to you, as these don't need to be plugged in. 

Your budget

Green cars can be more expensive to buy than a regular petrol vehicle. Electric cars can cost upwards of $50,000 while hybrid cars can cost upwards of $25,000. Even considering the potential savings on petrol, oil, stamp duty and maintenance, it may still take a few years to offset the upfront expense. Petrol isn't expensive enough to quickly gain back the difference in purchase prices between a green car and a regular petrol guzzler. 

However, if being environmentally friendly is important to you, there are ways to make it more cost-effective to own a vehicle that has lower emissions than others in its class. Our Green Car Loan offers a 0.7% discount on your car loan interest rate in return for buying a qualifying low-emissions vehicle. Your car is likely to be on our list of approved green cars if it:

  • A new or demonstration vehicle
  • Has significantly lower carbon dioxide emissions when compared to other cars of its size

To find out if your car qualifies for a green car rate, you can talk to one of our lending specialists on 13 10 90.

Green cars are becoming increasingly attractive for those living in cities in Australia. If you're concerned about the impact your car has on the environment, it may be time to consider buying a car with low emissions. 

 
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