How to create a greener car (Part 2)

In our previous blog, we took a look at the ways car makers could cut the running costs of their cars and make them ‘greener’ for eco-conscious customers.

However, we also described some of the models to exhibit the technology, giving you a guide to what cars to look out for if you’re after a greener car.

Without further ado, here are the final five in our list of ways cars are getting greener.

6) Improve the aerodynamics

You may have seen adverts for the new Ford Focus hatchback, which was released in the UK for the first time in March this year.

The adverts take a look at some of the Focus’ greener features, including a grille that automatically closes to improve the aerodynamics of the car and reduce fuel consumption.

Improving the aerodynamics of a car is something manufacturers are looking at more and more in a bid to reduce running costs. Low rolling resistance tyres are a popular option, and can significantly boost fuel consumption.

Even the sculpting on a car’s bodywork can boost the green credentials of the car. The Mazda5 people carrier may look like a radical new design, but the flowing waves along both flanks are not just superficial, they also help to improve fuel consumption over previous versions because of the improvement in aerodynamics they offer.

In total, the new Mazda5 delivers 15 per cent lower CO2 emissions, and the shape of the car has plenty to do with the more economic model.

7) Add regenerative braking

Probably the most talked about type of regenerative braking at the moment is the KERS system currently being used by Formula One drivers.

However, the technology is also widespread in road cars as car makers look at ways to save fuel in any way possible.

Regenerative braking stores up energy usually lost as heat when the car is braking and stores it in a battery ready for use. In electric or hybrid cars, the energy can be used to power the car, but in more conventional cars the energy is designed to power equipment such as lights or air conditioning.

In the case of the Renault Scenic, a new 1.6-litre diesel recently introduced by the French manufacturer will feature regenerative braking amongst other green technology such as Start-Stop.

The result is a 20 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions and improved fuel economy – and it will become the latest model to fall under Renault’s eco2 environmental signature.

8) Reduce other emissions

VED and Benefit-in-Kind tax are both based on the average CO2 emissions of a new car, but there are other, more ignored harmful emissions from diesel cars in particular.

These include diesel particulates – or soot – and Nitrogen Oxide (NOx). These are both harmful and can have a negative impact on the environment.

Spanish car maker Seat uses Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs) on its Ecomotive range – i.e. its range of low-CO2 cars.

This ensures other emissions are dealt with as well as CO2 emissions and provides a greener all-round car than key rivals.

Seat cars such as the Ibiza supermini, Leon hatchback and even the new seven-seat Seat Alhambra feature DPFs in diesel models.

9) Use recycled parts

CO2 emissions may be all important in terms of driving costs, but many car manufacturers are targeting a reduction in emission throughout the entire life cycle of the car.

This means using environmentally friendly materials and production techniques to build the car and ensuring the disposal of the car is as ‘green’ as possible.

This is most evident in the new Ford Focus, which uses over 300 separate parts from recycled material, including recycled bumpers, recycled carpet material for the interior carpets and even sound proofing materials used from recycled textiles such as old jeans.

This may not affect fuel economy and running costs, but for those with a green conscience, it can make all the difference in terms of the entire environmental impact of the car.

10) Lighten the load

There is a simple and easy way to improve fuel economy in a car without fiddling with the engine, or investing in fuel-saving technology.

By shaving the weight off a car, a smaller engine will go much further and be more efficient than if it was dragging a heavier car along.

Enter the Mazda CX-5, a new model set to be released next year. It features a new platform and chassis specifically designed to bring the weight of the compact SUV down to the lowest level possible.