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Eco-friendly motoring choices

December 07, 2022

Eco-friendly motoring choices

Erin Baker, Auto Trader's Editorial Director, looks at the steps car manufacturers and drivers alike are taking to be more sustainable.

Motorists after a cleaner, greener car or van have many more options these days than simply going electric. Zero tailpipe emissions from electric cars are a great place to start, because our air quality needs to improve drastically, and we have to wean ourselves off finite fossil fuels, with their damaging environmental impact.

But it's a complicated story as far as sustainability goes: while EVs (electric vehicles) don't spout CO2 into the atmosphere while moving, they do contribute roughly double the amount of carbon dioxide of petrol and diesel cars in their manufacture, and they wear down tyres more quickly, throwing plastic particles into the air. For a truly small carbon footprint, you also have to think about where your electricity for the car was generated: in power stations, or via renewables like wind and solar energy? It takes a lot of time and effort, in other words, to understand the impact of what you drive, but no one said slowing the rate of climate change was going to be easy.

Luckily, car brands themselves are working in tandem with drivers now, doing what they can and going as fast as they can, given the global scale and volume of their production, to mitigate climate change and slow the rate of temperature rises. From bringing forward net-zero pledges, to finding a circular economy that provides a revenue stream as well as a carbon reduction, to introducing more recycled and sustainably sourced materials to cars' interiors, brands have never been more committed to the future of the planet than now. Partly that's because brands are made up of people like you and me, whose children's futures are at stake, and partly it's because those now in their teens and 20s are determined to buy their products and goods, from cars to make-up to watches to fashion, from responsible companies who are genuinely trying to make a difference.

At Auto Trader, we want to support the efforts of consumers to make more responsible environmental choices, and one way we can do that is by highlighting the sustainability measures introduced by car brands each month, so you can make choices about your next car, armed with all the information. Welcome then, to our new monthly round-up of all the good news out there (it's about time!).

What are car brands up to?

Ford kicks off our sustaino-meter this month with its reduction in energy usage at its Dagenham factory in the UK. Ford has reduced its energy usage by 13.9 per cent, which is saving it £11,500 a day (in energy terms, it's the equivalent to lighting five three-bedroom houses for a year). While that's nice for Ford's pockets, it's nicer news for the planet, because cost savings equal bigger incentives to reduce energy consumption further. Big shout-out to the Blue Oval, too, for setting 2035 as the year it becomes a net carbon-neutral brand. That's 15 years ahead of the same pledge by BMW Group.

Skoda has always taken pleasure in the fine detail of its cars, so it's fab to see it turning to the umbrellas it supplies in its car doors for some carbon-saving ideas. Customers are being encouraged to send their broken umbrellas back to Skoda for repair, and the handles are now made from hemp. All of which sounds like small beer, but consider just how many Skoda Enyaqs, to name one model, are built globally every year.

BMW has made two bold announcements in recent days: its first hydrogen powered cars will appear on the market next year in Europe, and so will its first fully vegan-interior cars. The brand has finally produced leather-replacement materials it's happy with. The group claims substituting leather reduces the CO2 emissions of those parts' value chains by 85 per cent, which is not to be sniffed at.