As a result, a green and environmentally-friendly car is a vague concept especially for those of us who aren’t car-savvy. If you’re in the market for selling or trading in a car, this article is designed to help you.

So, what makes a car green? Read below to find out.

What Does “Green” Mean?

Although “green” products and services are hard to define, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has a clear definition of green cars.

According to the EPA, a green car is one that is more fuel-efficient and produces less pollution than other vehicles. This is a broad definition and places many types of vehicles in the category.

Fuel Efficiency

Fuel efficiency has been one of the biggest issues concerning conventional cars. Traditional cars use a lot of gas which both depletes resources and contributes to pollution. However, green cars minimize this issue. They do this by either changing the fuel source entirely or by improving the conventional system to better utilize gas.

Electric Batteries

Electric batteries improve the conventional internal combustion engine by replacing it entirely. Instead of relying on gasoline, electric batteries rely solely on electricity. This makes gasoline obsolete for these types of vehicles.

However, it is important to be aware of where this electricity is coming from. While electricity doesn’t produce any harmful exhaust, the way it is sourced can. For instance, a lot of electricity is still generated by burning fossil fuels. But you can research the energy sourcing of charging stations to ensure that the electricity you are getting is actually green.

Hybrid Cars

Hybrid cars, while they still utilize gasoline, are more fuel-efficient than traditional cars. The internal combustion engine is combined with an electric battery to enhance the way gasoline is used. Additionally, hybrid cars can function exclusively on electricity at low speeds and while idling. As a result, you will be using less gas overall.  

Conventional Cars

While it might be surprising, certain gas-powered conventional cars are considered green. That is due to the modern technologies within the vehicle that improve fuel its functioning. 

For instance, modern cars are made with lighter materials and more aerodynamic bodies. As a result, they need less fuel to propel them forward. Moreover, start-stop systems, better engines, and filters improve car function and fuel efficiency, making them more environmentally-friendly.

Alternative Fuels

Other alternative fuels that are gaining traction include biofuels that are used in diesel engines. These include compressed natural gas (CNG) and E85 (85% ethanol mixed with 15% gasoline). Compared to gasoline, these fuels are considered renewable and produce less carbon dioxide when burned.

Another green fuel option that is still being refined is the hydrogen cell car. Instead of gasoline, this system uses hydrogen to power an electric motor. As a result, they produce no emissions and are built with the efficiency of an electric system.

Reduced Pollution

The primary way that green cars diminish pollution is by reducing or eliminating exhaust emissions. Conventional vehicles with internal combustion engines that run on gas or diesel produce tons of carbon emissions every year. In fact, the average car produces 59% of the total greenhouse emissions in the transportation sector. Transportation itself produces the greatest amount of greenhouse gases in the United States.

While pollution from producing energy to power homes and businesses has decreased over time, the emissions from transportation have not changed much. This is due to the overwhelming number of conventional vehicles still on the road.

However, green cars that don’t utilize gasoline significantly reduce exhaust emissions. That is because vehicles made of alternative fuels do not operate with an internal combustion engine. As such, their engines do not produce toxins as by-products of the chemical reactions.

For instance, electric cars do not utilize organic compounds to produce energy. Thus, they do not directly emit toxins. Likewise, vehicles with hydrogen cells produce zero emissions because they only utilize hydrogen and electricity.

Even hybrid, biofuel and conventional green cars produce less pollution due to improvements in car engineering that allows the engine to burn less fuel or at least utilize renewable fuels. 

One caveat of reducing direct pollution from cars using alternative energy sources is that the sources of fuel are not always environmentally-friendly. For instance, an electric car charging station might be sourcing power from fossil fuels. Although, many Tesla charging stations are powered by solar energy. Thus, in order to reduce overall pollution with a green car, you must be aware of how your fuel is created.