Benefits of Driving Green Cars

Dave Nichols
Sep 2022
Time to read:
Whether fuel-efficient gas or diesel, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, all-electric, hydrogen or solar powered, there’s a green car out there that’s right for you. Here, we explore the different categories of green cars and discuss the benefits of each vehicle type.
smiling woman riding in a greencar with the windows down and wind blowing

Categories of Green Cars

Rising gas prices and a need for more environmentally friendly vehicles has created the category known as Green Cars. These include fuel-efficient gasoline-powered cars as well as hybrid gas/electric, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric cars. You’ll also find hydrogen-powered electric and even solar-powered vehicles. Here are the current categories of these vehicles and some of the benefits of going green.

Fuel Efficient

There are many different types of green vehicles today. They include fuel efficient gasoline-powered vehicles that get 40 miles per gallon or more. Believe it or not, there are cars that are not hybrids that get 40 mpg or better according to the EPA and pickup trucks and SUVs that get better than 30 mpg. If you simply want a very fuel-efficient gasoline powered people mover, the following used cars might be right for you. The 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback for instance, gets 44 miles per gallon on the highway. The 2016 Dodge Dart Aero can take you 41 miles per gallon, so can the Mazda3. Toyota’s Corolla LE Eco is good for 42 mpg. If diesel-powered cars interest you, the 2016 Volkswagen Golf TDI is famous for 45 miles per gallon on the highway.

Want a brand-new gasoline-powered car that can take you 40 miles or more on a gallon that is not a hybrid? Here are a few that are both affordable and efficient. Try the 2022 Nissan Versa that retails at a little over 15K and gets 40 mpg. The 2022 Mitsubishi Mirage is still good for 43 mpg and costs $14,645. The Hyundai Accent will take you 41 miles on a gallon and will set you back $16,645 and so will the Kia Rio hatchback for about the same price.

Hybrids (HEV)

Green cars are generally considered vehicles that use alternative fuels or electricity to benefit both the consumer and the environment. Today, the majority of green cars are either all-electric lithium-ion battery driven vehicles or cars that run on a combination of gas and electricity such as hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

Hybrid vehicles have both a small gasoline engine as well as an electric motor.

The electric motor allows the gasoline engine to work easier, adding greatly to fuel economy. Because the gas engine is enhanced by the electric motor, the battery pack gets charged as you drive. Most hybrids can run only on electricity when idling or traveling at slow speeds. For those who don’t want to have to plug their vehicle into an electrical outlet, HEVs are a great option. You simply fill the car up with gas just as you would with a gas-only car.

What are the miles per gallon average for many of today’s hybrid cars? The Kia Niro gets 50 miles per gallon combined, The Toyota Camry Hybrid and Prius get 52 mpg. The Hyundai Ioniq averages 55 mpg combined, and the Ioniq Blue gets 58 miles per gallon. Not too shabby!

Plug-In Hybrids (PHEV)

The plug-in hybrid adds to its all-electric range with a larger battery pack and the ability to plug your car into a standard 110-volt outlet to recharge. You can drive a PHEV up to 25 miles on all-electric power before the gasoline engine takes over. From the driver’s point of view, the switch from gasoline to electric power is seamless. While hybrid and plug-in hybrids still use gasoline and therefore pollute the air, all-electric vehicles have zero tailpipe emissions.

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV)

All-electric vehicles (EV), also known as battery/electric vehicles (BEV), utilize lithium-ion battery packs to run one or two electric motors. They don’t use gasoline at all and are recharged just like your smartphone. It’s not unusual for EVs to have a range of 250 to 300 miles on a charge. Most people simply charge their EV overnight at home. For long trips, charging stations that use DC Fast Charging can charge the average EV to 80 percent in just a half hour.

The number of new all-electric vehicles on the market is growing fast. EV registration surged by over 60 percent in 2022 and by 2025, more than 100 EV models are expected to be on the market and available to US customers. That includes cars, trucks, and SUVs.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCEV)

The more experimental forms of green cars are fuel cell hydrogen and solar-powered cars. Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) combine hydrogen gas from the vehicle’s tank with oxygen in the air to produce electricity. The only thing that comes out of a hydrogen-powered car’s tailpipe, is water. These cars have a range of up to 400 miles on a single tank and can be refueled in about five minutes.

As of this writing, there are only two mass-produced FCEVs available, the Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo and both are only available in California where there are 200 hydrogen stations available.

Solar Powered Cars

When it comes to solar-powered cars, a company called Aptera is currently in production on a vehicle called Sol that runs solely on solar power. As long as it is sunny outside, you never have to charge your car. On cloudy days, the Sol’s battery pack can be charged with electricity.  According to the company, the Sol is four times more energy-efficient than a Tesla.

Most major automakers and 30 countries are moving toward an all-electric future, with plans to phase out gasoline-powered vehicles by 2040. As of this writing, there are 26 different models of all-electric vehicles and 32 different plug-in hybrid models available for sale.

Perks of Driving Green

Whether you choose a fuel-efficient gas-powered car, a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, or an all-electric vehicle, one of the perks include saving you money at the gas pump. In the case of all-electric cars, you can just drive right on by those gas stations.

Electric cars are less expensive to fuel and maintain than gasoline-powered vehicles and help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for a cleaner, greener world. Other benefits include lower maintenance costs, more efficiency overall, better warranties, as well as federal, state, and local rebates and incentives.

Lower Maintenance Costs

One of the biggest bonuses of buying an all-electric car over a gas-powered vehicle are the significantly lower maintenance costs. Electric motors have fewer moving parts than gas engines, making them simpler to maintain and likely to last longer. The motor’s regenerative braking functionality naturally helps to slow the car down when it’s not accelerating so the brake system in BEVs doesn’t suffer as much wear. Even traditional replacement parts and fluids such as oil, spark plugs, and filters — all of which are crucial elements to gas vehicles — are irrelevant to electric cars. Think about how many trips to the mechanic you could avoid and how much money you could save over time simply by driving electric.

Lower Fuel Costs

BEVs also have cheaper fueling costs. Most utility providers offer residential electric rates that cost only a few cents per hour, with some even offering special lower EV rates, such as off-peak rates or time-of-use rates, to reduce fuel costs even further. The price of electricity is more stable in comparison to gas or diesel – experiencing virtually no major fluctuations over the last 20 years. If you are somebody who drives on a near-daily basis, the accumulated savings in fuel costs from making the switch to an electric car can make a huge impact on your household budget.

Greater Vehicle Efficiency

BEVs are, on average, over twice as efficient as gas vehicles. While gas vehicles are only able to convert about 12 - 30% of the energy stored in gasoline into driving power, BEVs are able to convert over 77% of the electrical energy from the grid to power the wheels. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses a statistic to compare EV efficiency called miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe), which is defined as the number of miles a vehicle can travel given the equivalent amount of energy that would be contained in a single gallon of gasoline. As of 2020, the average MPG of a traditional gas vehicle was around 25.7 while the average comparable MPGe of BEVs was 100 or higher, making them around four times as efficient as gas vehicles.

Less Noise Pollution

Electric cars are nearly silent. The amount of noise emitted from an electric motor is significantly quieter than an internal combustion engine and its exhaust system.  In fact, there have even been concerns from safety campaigners about EVs being too quiet. In September 2020, U.S. regulators required HEVs, PHEVs and BEVs to produce their own sounds when driving up to speeds of 18.6 miles per hour. This law is meant to help pedestrians who might be blind, partially sighted, or otherwise distracted to hear them as they approach. As EVs become more mainstream, noise pollution caused by transportation will likely fade away.

Better Warranties, Better Batteries

Federal regulations have mandated that automakers cover the battery systems in all-electric cars with a warranty of at least eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first. Some automakers even take this mandate a step further and cover battery degradation. For instance, if your fully charged BEV is rated to provide 100 miles of range and you are only receiving about 70 miles per charge within the timeframe of the warranty, you can qualify for a complimentary replacement. But if your warranty expires, the out-of-pocket expenses for replacing the battery could cost more than $5,000.

Through increased data collection, research has found that electric vehicles are proving to be even more maintenance-free than first thought. It is now projected that EV battery packs can easily last for 200,000 miles or more. The chances are that you will sell your electric car long before you need to worry about replacing the battery.

EV Incentives

To help people afford the switch to electric carts, the federal government has provided financial incentives that lower their total cost. Eligible EV consumers can receive rebates, tax credits, exemptions or driving perks should they choose to purchase or lease an EV. These incentives are offered at all levels of government (federal, state, local) and even by certain companies or agencies, such as utility companies and air quality management districts.

The best part about incentives is that the savings can stack on top of one another. For instance, if the starting MSRP of a Nissan LEAF is $31,600 and you qualify for a $2,000 incentive that was offered by your state, city, and local utility, you could be entitled to a total savings of $9,500 off of your vehicle purchase — that’s a brand-new Nissan LEAF for around $20,000!  Use our GreenCars EV Incentives Calculator for a personalized look at how much you can save.

A Cleaner, Greener World

Electric cars are better for the environment than gasoline vehicles. Without a doubt, electric cars are headed down the correct path towards eco-friendly transportation, and automakers are working to make new EVs even more sustainable. It is ultimately our duty as consumers to embrace positive change and do our civic duty to lower our transportation emissions while practicing environmentally friendly habits.

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