Taking a deep breath nowadays might just be a little bit healthier than it was just a few short years ago. It’s common knowledge that cars and transportation are a leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and other airborne pollutants. However, according to recent figures new cars today are cleaner than ever before. Of course most consumers expect that cars will get cleaner as time goes on; as part of the natural progression of technology and the demands of continuing legislation regulating vehicle emissions. What might come as a surprise is how quickly the change is happening.
Of course progress is most noticeable among the cleanest of the herd. Average carbon emission figures for the cleanest cars dropped by 21 per cent over the last four years. According to consumer information website Green-Car-Guide.com, cars in the low-emission group emitted an average of 102.8 grams of CO2 per kilometer driven for the 2010 model year (CO2 is considered to be the primary contributor to global warming). In 2006 the same group recorded an average emission of 131.1 g/km. The difference of28.3 g/km represents the 21 per cent drop.
The increase can be attributed to a combination of more stringent government regulations worldwide regarding emissions and mounting consumer pressure for automakers to produce greener cars. The consumer pressure falls into two categories. One is eco-conscious consumers. While there is a notable and growing portion of the buying public who seriously factor a vehicle’s potential environmental impact into their purchasing decision, this is the smaller of the two groups. The second and larger segment is econo-conscious consumers. That’s right, it seems that green (as in eco-friendly) and “green” (as in money) have come together in the transportation market. With gas prices already high and expected to continue climbing, fuel economy is becoming more and more important to buyers when they visit the showroom floor. In Consumer Reports’ latest survey of individuals who intend to purchase a new car in the next 3-6 months more named average fuel economy as the most important factor in their decision then sticker price. This focus on efficiency has the accompanying result of lowering carbon emissions in new cars: less fuel burned per mile equals lower carbon emissions. That means that across the board, cars in all categories saw a drop in average g/km carbon production of 13 per cent.
It is safe to assume that these trends will continue, particularly if oil prices continue to climb. Especially with new alternative-fuel cars poised to break into the consumer marketplace soon, a year-to year drop of 10 per cent or more may be on the horizon for 2011 or 2012. It seems that consumers are getting the message that gas-guzzling SUV’s may not be in their best interest. Even if complaints from environmentalists and eco-conscious friends weren’t able to convince them before, complaints from their pocketbooks seem to be doing the trick. Now that’s something to breathe easy about.