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.

News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

    £6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

    £12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

    Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

    £32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

    Day In a Page

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing