Saturday, July 7, 2012
My new "Green" car
In a few months the first all-electric version of the Smart Fortwo will be available for individual consumers. The cars have a range of almost 85 miles, based on data from the Car2Go carsharing service, which has been using the Smart Fortwo vehicles in their fleets since November 2011. In fact I got myself an account with the Car2Go service in the city where I work. Unfortunately, I live outside the city limits, so the carsharing idea doesn't meet my commuting requirements.
So why buy an old car, when all these new cars are so awesome and "green?" Though a new car saves any amount of gas money and emissions for the owner, there's always the fuel, water, and emissions incurred in creating the car in the first place. In 2010 Mike Berners-Lee and Duncan Clark at The Guardian said it takes about 17,000 metric tons of CO2 to produce a new car. By comparison, the US EPA estimates the average passenger vehicle produces 5,000 metric tons of CO2 per year.
So if I buy an older car and drive it for 3 1/2 years, it's the same CO2 impact as purchasing a new car and leaving it in the garage for 3 1/2 years. It'd take a powerfully fuel-efficient vehicle to get me a ROI in less than, say, 10 years.
The 1999 Ford Escort I just bought has less than 65,000 miles on her. She could stand getting aligned and no doubt needs a tune up. But she cost me about $3000 and this year/make/model routinely gets ~30 MPG based on actual customer results (based on 50+ fill-ups). It would take a really, really long time before I could earn a return on investment for any of these new green cars in terms of either money or CO2 emissions relative to this old but new-to-me vehicle.
There are other perks. My insurance rates will be lower, as well as my local car taxes. Repairs will be less expensive when required, and this car has the old-fashioned keys that can be copied at the store for less than $2.00.
And you know the really funny thing? The car, itself, is actually painted green. You can't get more "green" than that!