Q: What is a Green Car?

December 17, 2013 12:53 PM

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While the fuel economy of new cars improves every year, a green car is a car that is considered even more environmentally friendly than gasoline or diesel-powered vehicles because it is powered by alternative fuel or electricity. Various types of vehicles are considered green, including gasoline/electric hybrids, pure electric cars, hydrogen cars, and solar cars. While the vehicles benefit the environment, owners reap the benefits too.

The concept of electric cars -- which use no gasoline or diesel at all -- took center stage in 1973 when the oil crisis led to a renewed interest in alternative fuel sources. And by the late 1990s, car shows all over the world showcased alternative-fuel vehicles as concept cars. Automotive companies wanted to show consumers what type of vehicles they could purchase in the coming years and how those vehicles would save money on fuel. These vehicles also boasted a "green" benefit because a vehicle that consumes less petroleum than a conventional car, can emit fewer pollutants into the atmosphere. Today's green vehicles usually run on electricity or a combination of electricity and gasoline.

Before you purchase a green vehicle, you should decide which type of vehicle is right for your family. Electric cars use a battery-powered electric motor instead of a conventional internal-combustion engine, so they don't need gasoline. These cars need to be plugged into an outlet to recharge the batteries. Instead of determining the gas mileage your car uses, you will need to know how far you can travel on a full charge. Most electric cars can only travel around a hundred miles or so before their batteries need to be recharged. However, battery technology is improving. Hybrid vehicles run on a combination of gasoline and electricity. This makes them more convenient than electric vehicles, because the performance of the internal combustion engine is enhanced by an electric motor with batteries that get charged as you drive. This means you don't have to use an external outlet to charge your hybrid's batteries. You'll still save money on gas if you own a hybrid car, because the electric motor makes the engine's work easier and more fuel efficient, and most hybrid models can run wholly on electricity when idling or traveling at low speeds.

Purchasing a green car has numerous benefits. As the owner of a green vehicle, you're doing your part to protect the Earth's environment. At the same time, you're saving money every month on your personal fuel expenses.

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