March 29, 2022

New Vs Old Car – Which Kind of Car Is Better for the Environment?

Modern consumers are looking for newer and better ways to reduce their carbon footprint. From recycling bottles and cans, to repurposing household materials, with our choices we are able to make positive changes in our lives.

For many, their vehicle is a key part of their life. It’s their way to escape the city on weekends, see their families, get to work and even the source of their income. As a result, environmentally conscientious consumers are asking a familiar question; “What kind of car should I buy?” 

Whilst it’s simple to answer this with “any electric vehicle”, is that actually correct? Is it as simple as electric vs combustion engines, or should the age of a car also play an important part when considering your next purchase? We look into this below and aim to offer some helpful tips in the goal of reducing our collective carbon footprint.

The Benefits of That New Car Feeling

Each year, technology and the cars themselves are becoming more and more environmentally sustainable. Vehicle manufacturers like BMW and Ford have carbon reduction pledges with a big focus on green energy solutions to their factories. So whilst approximately 25% of a vehicles emissions are made during its creation, this impact is decreasing on a daily rate.

These improvements aren’t only being applied to factories, with low emission vehicles, like Electric Vehicles (EVs) becoming a staple in vehicle ranges across the world. In a recent report by CarbonBrief, they found that EVs can produce 3 times less CO2 emissions and have an overall smaller impact on the environment. EVs also have considerably fewer moving parts, with a smaller need for constant new parts, EVs require less emission creation for upkeep.

Simply put, the technology that helps us have less impact on the environment wasn’t readily available in vehicles and factories even a decade ago. So at a glance, buying a new car is the obvious ‘greener’ choice. Until you consider what is used to power that charger in the garage.

The values of Older Vehicles

There is no comparison between older and newer cars when it comes to tailpipe emissions output. Whether it be gasoline or electric, newer cars are considerably more fuel efficient. Whilst the cost of producing new cars is decreasing, there still is the cost of creation to be considered in every purchase.

Choosing an older car therefore saves tonnes of emissions in the creation and shipping of your brand new car. Additionally, with the rise of EVs, many countries are turning to coal to meet the increasing demand on their powergrid. So the emissions created by EVs may not be from the tailpipe, but from the powerplant used to power the car itself.

A study looking at Norwegian and Japanese emissions around car usage, summarises the value for choosing older cars well, saying that; 

“The models showed that if all cars in Japan were driven just one year longer before being scrapped, the climate footprint would be reduced by 30 million tonnes during this period….The faster you replace a car, the more CO2 it emits. This is also true for electric cars.”

If you choose an older car, here’s our guide on how what to pay attention to when car shopping.

Choosing the Greenest Option

It’s a complex topic that requires people to consider what power sources their country is using, the maintenance of the vehicle and for how long someone may wish to drive it for. It’s not as simple as “just choose electric” as we may have first guessed, with a strong recommendation to delay getting a new car at first and then when necessary opting for a more environmentally friendly car using renewable energy to power it.


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