How a Used Car Can be “Greener” Than a Hybrid
If you are concerned about the environment, a used car may be the way to go. According to some calculations, it may actually have less of a carbon footprint than a hybrid automobile. That is, overall, you will not be putting as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere with a used car.
Here’s the reasoning.
Everyone knows that hybrids get wonderful mileage. But it takes a lot of energy to make one of these cars – it has been calculated to take the equivalent of 113 million BTUs of energy. (BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. It is the amount of work or energy needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.) There are 113,000 BTUs of energy in one gallon of gasoline, so the hybrid has used up the amount of energy equal to 1,000 gallons of gasoline just during the manufacturing process. The car won’t pay off that debt until it has traveled about 46,000 miles.
But, if you buy a used car, that debt has already been paid. It already has the mileage to pay off the debt. However, there is a catch. The used car has to be a fuel efficient one so it can pay down that debt. Something such as a Toyota Tercel. A hybrid would have to travel about 100,000 miles to get the same carbon savings as a 10-year-old Tercel.
You have to look for used cars that get in the 30 to 40-mile-per-gallon range to make this whole thing work. But there are plenty of cars that do. A Ford Festiva or Aspire, for example, get more than 30 miles per gallon.
Mazda Proteges and Dodge Colts made in the ‘90s also get in the same range. If you want to go back even further, there is the Honda CRX and the Chevrolet Chevette and Sprint, all of which get great gas mileage.
Now, admittedly, cars this old may have a little too much wear and tear on them for the taste of many people. But there are newer models that will work as well. You have the Toyota Echo, the Honda Civic, Chevrolet Prizm, and Mini Cooper. Volkswagen diesel cars also get more than 30 miles per gallon.
So, you don’t actually have to run out and buy a Prius if you are concerned about the environment. You can do something about global warming – and save a few bucks at the same time – by buying a used car.