How to Pick a Green Car: Top Five Things to Consider

If you’re looking for a way to reduce your carbon footprint and like new technology, you might be interested in buying a green car. It’s a little different than buying a traditional vehicle; if you’re not sure where to start, these five tips might help.

Educate yourself on the options

There are a few different types of green cars available in today’s market: electric, hybrid and plug-in electric hybrid. Each comes with its own benefits.

A traditional hybrid car has both a gas engine and an electric motor. The electric motor can power your car at low speeds or short distances to help reduce the strain on your engine (and lower your gas usage). Your electric motor needs the engine to function and charges itself when you are coasting or braking. This might be the right choice if you’re looking to embrace a new technology, but don’t want to worry about charging your car.

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A plug-in electric hybrid is very much like a traditional hybrid but includes the option of charging your battery at a station. These cars can generally travel further in the fully electric mode than a traditional hybrid. This might be your choice if you’re sick of paying so much for gas – but not ready to rely solely on an electric motor.

In a fully electric car, you have only the electric motor powering your drive. If you’re committed to making a difference to the environment – this is the way to go. You’ll need to install a charging station at home – but if you make the leap, you’ll be driving gas-free.

If you’re not quite ready for one of these options, there are plenty of fuel-efficient vehicles available in the auto market that will help you save on gas.

Consider your community

You’ll want to consider the number of charging stations that are available in your community. There are three different kinds of charging stations – with different charging times. The longest charge time is 12 hours, which isn’t too bad if you’re at home charging overnight, but not ideal if you are away from home. The shortest charge time is around 30 minutes – but these charging stations are expensive to install and rare.

Most communities have ways to go before they are fully ready for electric vehicles. In Ontario, for example, the provincial government committed to installing 500 charging stations by early 2017 – but only two-thirds were ready at the deadline.

Consider how much driving you do

If you’re driving short distances on a regular basis, but need to factor in some longer trips, a plug-in hybrid might do the trick. For many of your shorter trips, you might be able to rely solely on the range of the electric motor – meaning you’ll be filling up on gas less often – and you’ll still have the gas engine to use on longer trips.

Pay me now or pay me later

The price tag on a green car might seem out of your budget at first – especially when factoring in the added cost of installing a charging station in your home. Other costs to consider include how much (or little in this case) you’ll be spending on gas over the long run. If you opt for a fully-electric car, you don’t have to worry about regular oil changes or engine repairs. However, it’s important to remember that batteries don’t last forever.

In addition to the potential long-term savings, some provinces offer rebates to people who buy green vehicles. Before you settle on a car, do some research to see if it is eligible for a rebate, like under Ontario’s Electric Vehicle Incentive Program.

Weigh the pros and cons of buying used

Technology for electric cars continually advances, so a used electric vehicle might not have the same features of newer models. In addition, you won’t be eligible for rebates that come with buying an electric car. Electric cars tend to depreciate in value even faster than traditional vehicles, so you might be able to find a great price for a previously-owned electric car.

Ultimately, your choice of green vehicle could come with a big change in lifestyle – especially if you’re opting for a fully electric car. It’s important to research, review your budget and decide how committed you are to making a change. Once you’re ready, though, you’ll be taking a huge step towards cutting your dependency on gas as well as reducing your carbon footprint.

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