Which Car? 'What can I drive to help save the planet?'

Phillip Worthington, 32, a settlements clerk from Woolwich, east London, wants to save the planet. He also wants to avoid the London congestion charge and to know more about the implications of owning an alternative-fuel vehicle. Longer term he is not so sure a car with batteries will be practical, or, indeed, environmentally friendly

Mr Worthington could buy a bicycle and go about his business in a superior and congestion-free manner. But he also needs to cart stuff and has significant distances to travel for family reasons, so that is not an option.

Possibly the most environmentally friendly thing Mr Worthington could do is to buy a used rather than a new car. The environmental impact of buying something new is colossal, however fuel-efficient it may be. The reality is though cars are being made whether there are buyers for them or not.

Another facetious suggestion to sidestep the charge would be for Mr Worthington to qualify as a licensed Hackney cab. Although avoiding the congestion charge and driving an environmentally friendly car ought to be two mutually exclusive aims, when it comes to dodging the congestion charge, alternative fuel is makes sense.

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)-converted cars which produce lower emissions although they are not perfect. Fuel consumption is higher although its lower price makes up for this. Even better, there are electric vehicles, which pay no tax and use no fossil fuels.

A car for the head

The problem with pure electric vehicles is that their practicality is reduced because limited battery life reduces their range. If you are going to stray out of the urban jungle, you will not get far simply on battery power, and you will need a conventional engine.

The Toyota Prius is a hybrid vehicle, combining an efficient petrol engine with an electric motor. Since 1997, more than 100,000 have been sold although the company has heavily subsidised it. The good news for Mr Worthington is that the UK Government subsidises it too, to the tune of £1,000 through a Powershift grant. It is also congestion charge exempt.

Mr Worthington should not worry too much about the future because the special batteries are guaranteed for the life of the vehicle. Not only that, the Prius has an extended five-year warranty and the icing on the environmental cake is that at the end of the Prius' useful life Toyota take responsibility for recycling it. In fuel-saving terms, most diesels will match or out-perform the Prius. That makes the Prius something of a green gesture, just a clever petrol car which is a pointer to the future.

A car for the heart

If Mr Worthington wanted to drive with a clear conscience and avoid the congestion charge then he ought to go fully electric.

He could even build one because there are plenty of books and several clubs who can help, and a brilliant website, www.evuk.co.uk with loads of electrifying resources.

The problem always has been actually buying an electric car. Over the years, there have been many companies trying to do this, but now Drivelectric 0870 744 3006 www.drivelectric.com, have a range of vehicles on offer. Probably the most practical is the Citroën Berlingo van. Yes, it is a van, but it can be ordered with rear seats if need be. It retails for £12,000, exclusive of VAT, but includes a government grant.

Drivelectric sell it on behalf of Citroën in the London area because specialist servicing is required.

A significant development is the Renault's Kangoo Electric City vehicle (comes as a van and a car) which will soon be available for test driving from Drivelectric. Plug it in to your renewable electricity source for your 50 miles a day. Should you run out of range away from your socket, an on-board petrol-fuelled generator will get you back to base with an extra range of 50 miles.

A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
Dominique Alderweireld, also known as Dodo de Saumure, is the owner of a string of brothels in Belgium
newsPhilip Sweeney gets the inside track on France's trial of the year
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge, Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 pictured in 2011.
musicBassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker say Tom Delonge is 'disrespectful and ungrateful'
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'
tvBroadchurch series 2, episode 4, review - contains spoilers
cyclingDisgraced cycling star says people will soon forgive his actions
Britain's Prince Philip attends a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in London
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran will play three sell-out gigs at Wembley Stadium in July
Lena Dunham posing for an official portrait at Sundance 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

    £38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

    Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

    £35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

    Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

    £15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

    Day In a Page

    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea