Not so long ago you wouldn’t have had much choice when it came to buying a green car because there weren’t that many around. That’s all changed and if you’re not already an expert you’ll need a green car buying guide to navigate through all the possibilities. Beginners should set aside some time to research the purchase options, because green cars have multiple different features to choose among.

First of all, you’ll need to recognize that all sorts of cars carry the green label. A conventional internal combustion engine car that has lower emissions than the average vehicle will be marketed as a green car. At the other end of the spectrum are high tech (and often high priced) electric cars and electric-hybrid vehicles. Everyone’s making them, from manufacturers aiming at the mass market right through to the legendary makers like Ferrari.

Whether your green car buying guide is on the internet or is a real person who can answer your queries, you’ll need to begin with some technical knowledge so you can ask the right questions about the pros and cons of different models. Get to know your green fuels, which include hydrogen, ethanol, gasohol, clean diesel, compressed air and more.

Once you’ve got your head around the difference in fuel sources, it’s onto engine types. The hybrid gasoline electric car, exemplified by the Toyota Prius, is the world’s number one choice at present. It ticks all the boxes for the average user’s needs and the manufacturers have negotiated all the technical difficulties of green cars to come up with a practical product for the ordinary motorist.

The electric car is the up and coming alternative to the hybrid car, with a typical example being the Nissan Leaf. This is a fully electric vehicle that has won several ‘car of the year’ awards and is set to make a big impact in the eco car market. With operating costs running at less than half that of a conventional vehicle, the new generation of fully electric cars is set to expand hugely.

Things to consider before consulting your green car buying guide are your driving needs. Do you want a car that will go long distance without refuelling or recharging? Or do you need a city vehicle for short runs? What is the fuel consumption? If you opt for a car that runs on a green fuel, how easily available is the fuel? What are the battery specs for different electric cars? What are the servicing and maintenance costs? How important is the ability to attain high speeds? Although the latest models in development, such as Ecotricity’s ‘Nemesis’ can reach top speeds, the average green car is not as fast as its gasoline-powered relatives.

Another factor that will be an issue for most people is cost. Green cars are lighter on the planet but not so kind on the bank balance front. The cost factor needs to be seen against the bigger picture – the damage that vehicle emissions are doing to the planet. In these terms, the expense of a green car is worth every cent.

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