How do I save carbon with a new car?

28 June 2009


With the budget introducing the £2000 subsidy to scrap old cars, I'm trying to figure out how much energy and carbon goes into the manufacture of a new car. Considering the increase in efficiency of the new car, how many miles would I have to drive to achieve an overall carbon saving?


We put this to Pablo Päster, Vice President of Greenhouse Gas Management at Climate Check and columnist at, unfortunately, there is no easy answer. It really depends from vehicle to vehicle, not only the vehicle that you're currently driving that you would be replacing but also, the vehicle that you would replacing it with. The U.S. government came out with a model for figuring out the energy as to make a vehicle called, 'GREET.' And basically, it tells you how many BTUs it takes to build a car. The manufacturing of the average car is roughly equivalent to 880 gallons of gasoline, in terms of the energy that's used. If a new car will save at least as much gas, it definitely makes sense to get rid of the old car. If we've seen that your old car has around 100,000 miles left on it with good maintenance, your new car would need to be at least 6 miles per gallon better to make up for the emissions for manufacturing. That means that if your old car gets less than 24 miles per gallon makes environmental sense to get a new car that gets 30 miles per gallon or better. Not only can you feel better about your environmental impact, but you also get a Ã?,£2000 discount on your new car.

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