Shopping for a Used Eco Car (UK)

It was not so long ago that if you wanted to get into green motoring, you had very few choices. There were so few eco cars around that finding a used model was nearly impossible.

Toyota Prius Hybrid

Toyota Prius - Plug in Hybrid

Today, eco cars have been round long enough that they are not only available in relatively high numbers, but used models are appearing in significant quantities. Motorists seeking a used car today now have to decide between petrol, diesel, hybrid and electric.

Shopping for a used green car brings with it a whole range of questions. Before, we never had to consider whether the installation and operation of a gas cylinder or similar alternative-fuel arrangement was in safe condition.

Battery Condition

In the past, battery condition was a complete after thought. If the battery was dead, you got a jump start. If the battery would not take a charge, you went to a garage or supplier and spend £10-20 on a new battery.

Nowadays, things are going to be far less comfortable or second-nature if you’re shopping for a used eco car. It is annoying enough when your once-reliable laptop computer only lasts for 30 minutes on a charge. A similar problem with an electric vehicle is likely to leave the occupants stranded – hardly a mere ‘annoyance’.

How much is a second hand eco car?

Another consideration that will be alien to all but a very small number of today’s drivers is figuring out how much a used eco car is worth. As a result of the global economic collapse, many people turned to used cars as an economical way to stay on the road while weathering a storm of credit contraction, unemployment and rising mortgage payments.

Toyota Prius Plug in Hybrid

As we emerge from the worst recession in living memory, sales of ‘regular’ used cars are slowing as people increasingly turn to green cars instead. This is pushing down the values of second-hand or pre-owned vehicles, as well as bolstering prices for used eco cars.

Eco Cars generate carbon gasses in production

Though today’s eco cars help to reduce overall emissions output and consumption of fossil fuels, they are far from free of guilt when it comes to generating carbon gases. You see, the energy required to produce a typical hybrid saloon is equivalent to burning 3,500-4,000 litres of petrol.

As a result, even something as green as a Toyota Prius needs to drive a lot of miles that would otherwise have been covered by a conventional car in order to bank its real carbon benefits. Until a Prius has covered nearly 50,000 miles, it still has not paid off that massive ‘carbon debt’ incurred during its production.

Toyota Prius recoups its carbon after 50,000 miles

If you’re wondering about the mathematics involved in this, here it goes. Manufacturing a Toyota Prius consumes a total of 113 million British Thermal Units (BTU) worth of energy.

Toyota Prius Plug in Cars

A litre of petrol produces 30,023 BTU of energy. Divide 113 million by 30,023 and you get 3,764. That’s the equivalent number of litres of petrol a Toyota Prius has already consumed before it leaves the factory. As a result, the Prius has to be driven for almost 50,000 miles before its superior fuel economy recoups that carbon deficit compared to a normal car.

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