Eco Cars – Why All the Confusion? [UK Edition]

Eco Friendly BMW Z4

Last year, Britain made ecological history by electing its first Green MP. However, this environmental friendliness is yet to transfer to the motoring world. Since the emergence of eco cars, there has been much ambiguity and confusion surrounding them. Or if, in fact, they have emerged yet at all.


Sales of electric cars have been poor, despite all efforts from the Government to incentivise eco-friendly drivers, who are entitled up to a £5,000 subsidy towards their purchase to hopefully attract a wider market. However, the initiative may come crashing to the ground as, unfortunately for the O-Zone, a recent survey by GfK Automotive concluded that a mere 1% of drivers want to buy an electric car, and have a relatively accurate understanding of costs and performance.


The study concluded that many drivers have unrealistic ideas towards cost, how long the cars take to charge, and how far they can be driven. The managing director of GfK said that the first priority should be ensuring that consumers are clear of the benefits of electric cars. Only then can sales be expected to rise.

This year has seen the introduction of electric hybrid cars from several manufacturers, including the Nissan Leaf (pictured) and Peugeot iOn. They have seen low sales from a largely sceptical public, 44% of which expect prices to be equivalent to that of petrol cars. However, with the £5000 taken into consideration, prices can go up to £25,000, and this is without the cost of road tax and car insurance.


Eco-Friendly Motoring


Another recent study revealed that over half of drivers don’t know what a hybrid car is. The study, conducted by Honda, also found that there is much confusion surrounding what constitutes green motoring.


Aside from the uncertainty over performance and price, some of the consumer hostility that has met electric cars, is due to doubt over how environmentally friendly they really are. Whilst the cars emit zero carbon emissions, they are run by electricity that is generated by gas and coal-fired power stations. According to statistics, only a tiny fraction of the cars’ energy derived from renewable sources. Also, consumers apparently underestimate the time it will take to fully charge an electric car.

Just to worsen the confusion, it has been said that electric cars use up around 80-90% of their power on useful functions, whereas a conventional car uses about 20-30% productively. Despite this, comparing the two types of car against their carbon emissions is difficult, and has led to ambiguous answers being fed to the public.


Narrowing in on the hybrid, which combines both fuel and electricity, there are several misconceptions surrounding it. Firstly, the vehicle does not need to be recharged, as they charge independently, using energy that would otherwise be lost through braking. The Honda survey revealed that, of those that know what a hybrid car is, the majority thought that it required a new driving technique. This myth has been quashed. Aside from price, eco-friendliness, functionality, availability and efficiency, it couldn’t be simpler.