Green Cars 101
Over the last 100 years, the automobile has become an essential part of our everyday lives. While cars have revolutionized our society in many positive ways, they have undoubtedly impacted our environment and our natural resources in a variety of negative ways.
What is a green car and how does it work?
So how does a society so intrinsically dependent on cars protect its natural resources in the process? Simply put, green cars — or more environmentally-friendly vehicles — seem to be the answer. But before you 'go green', it's important to understand what it means for vehicles to 'be green'. In this section, we explain what green cars are, how they work and ultimately, how they impact our environment.
The Green Car FootprintBy and large, conventional cars are fueled by gasoline and diesel fuels, both of which are made from fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are important because they can be burned, and in turn, produce a significant amount of energy. Fossil fuels are formed by the natural resources of buried dead organisms that lived millions of years ago. Because they take millions of years to form, they are considered non-renewable resources — resources that are being depleted much faster than new ones can be produced. Fossil fuels also emit greenhouse gases, contributing largely to the global warming crisis.
This crisis has led to the research and movement of using alternative fuels and renewable energy in our cars, thus making vehicles less damaging to our environment, or 'greener'.
Types of Green CarsGreen cars, by definition, are more environmentally-friendly and less damaging than conventional cars. Green car technologies have created vehicles that consume less petroleum or use renewable energy sources as fuel, and are considered low or zero emissions vehicles. Green cars include electric, hydrogen and hybrid vehicles.
- Electric vehicles - Electric vehicles are powered by an electric motor and rely on energy stored in their rechargeable batteries.
- Hydrogen vehicles - Hydrogen vehicles use the power of hydrogen, either with a hydrogen internal combustion engine (in other words, a modified gasoline engine), or in a fuel cell which converts the chemical energy of hydrogen into electricity.
- Hybrid vehicles - A hybrid vehicle uses a combination of two or more power sources to put the car in motion. Most commonly, hybrid vehicles use gasoline and electric power in combination.
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