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These sustainable vehicles are on the market today (but how eco-friendly are they really?)

Are you looking for a sustainable mobility solution? At ETIKL Magazine we have listed for you a series of all ecological or sustainable vehicles that exist today.

If you are ready to say goodbye to your diesel or gasoline car, there are many sustainable answers for your mobility needs. Ideally, you want to say goodbye to cars forever and make the most of public transport or cycling. But not everyone is ready for that. For them, we have made an overview of the better, and therefore sustainable, vehicles on the market.

A light electric vehicle

We do not start with the classic sustainable cars, but with light electric vehicles. By this we mean bicycles, mopeds, motorbikes: in short, all vehicles that are not cars and are driven electrically. These types of sustainable vehicles have zero emissions, make no noise and are more compact than your diesel or gasoline car. It is therefore no coincidence that smart cities like Barcelona swear by the emergence of these 'urban vehicles'. You don't have to queue up in a traffic jam, they are cheaper, and still get you from A to B in a comfortable way.

How so much cheaper?
An example: an e-step costs about 500 euros and can easily be folded up to get on a bus, train, tram or metro. You can also use it for physical exercise when it is not charged.

A battery electric car

Are you looking for a sustainable mobility solution? At ETIKL Magazine we have listed for you a series of all ecological or sustainable vehicles that exist today.

These are the Tesla's of this world: cars that are fully powered by an electric motor. The most important aspect of the second one on our list of sustainable vehicles, is that it does not emit any CO² while driving. This type of car is more expensive to buy than a gasoline or diesel car, but requires less maintenance and your 'refuelling' is also considerably cheaper. The biggest barrier for consumers to buy an electric car today is the driving range. Whereas an average combustion car can easily cover 500 to 600 kilometres, the average range of an electric car today is 250 kilometres.

Zero emissions, is that the same as being completely sustainable?
No, an electric car emits no CO2, but that doesn't mean it has no impact on our planet. Worldwide, 60% of all electricity is still generated using fossil fuels. If you convert that, an electric car is just as polluting per kilometre as a gasoline or diesel car. But good news, the situation is different in Belgium and the Netherlands because the share of green electricity in Europe is relatively high compared to other continents. A recent study by the VUB showed that an electric car running on green electricity emits up to 15 times less than a gasoline or diesel car.

15 times, how is that possible if the emissions are zero?
These calculations do not only look at the emissions during use. The way it is made, the materials it is made of, whether the materials can be recycled: all these elements play a role in a car's Ecoscore.

The hybrid car

A hybrid car combines two different engines to drive as efficiently as possible. There is both a conventional combustion engine (running on diesel or gasoline) and an electric motor with a battery. The battery is charged by the diesel or gasoline engine while driving. So you never have to recharge the car electrically. In a 'mild hybrid' car, the electric motor supports the combustion engine, but the car will never run entirely on electricity. A 'full hybrid' does and switches to diesel or gasoline when the battery is empty or needs support.

The plug-in hybrid car

A plug-in hybrid is a car that consists of a combustion engine and an electric motor, just like a conventional hybrid. The only difference? You can actually recharge the battery yourself electrically. In contrast to the type mentioned above, the battery is larger and more efficient, allowing you to cover a 30 kilometre journey on electric power alone.

A hydrogen car

Are you looking for a sustainable mobility solution? At ETIKL Magazine we have listed for you a series of all ecological or sustainable vehicles that exist today.

This type of car uses hydrogen as its fuel. The hydrogen cars you find on the market today are equipped with a hydrogen fuel cell. These are actually electric cars that contain a fuel cell and hydrogen tanks instead of a battery. Through a chemical reaction, water is created, which in turn is converted into steam. Although the idea of 'hydrogen as fuel' seems very innovative, it has been promoted as an environmentally friendly alternative since the 1960s. So why aren't we all driving around in hydrogen cars today? There is no efficient way to convert hydrogen into energy, as two-thirds of the energy is lost. The average hydrogen car consumes three times more than an electric car on battery.

Can I fill up my car with a garden hose?
No, hydrogen is not the same as water. It is the lightest gas there is and although you can find hydrogen (H) in 75 percent of the universe, it is not easy to get hold of. This is because hydrogen is trapped in all kinds of substances, organisms or molecules, such as in water, oil, people, animals and plants. In other words, you have to produce hydrogen.

The CNG car

You may have spotted them on the road already: cars with a green CNG sticker on the rear window. These cars run on natural gas or CNG (compressed natural gas), the same gas with which we heat our homes. These cars must have a CNG sticker because of the fire risk in underground car parks. CNG is slightly cheaper than gasoline or diesel, but these cars have less boot space because of the large tank, and the purchase price is slightly more expensive than a gasoline or diesel car. But recent research shows that its extraction is very harmful to our planet.

Natural gas under attack

Are you looking for a sustainable mobility solution? At ETIKL Magazine we have listed for you a series of all ecological or sustainable vehicles that exist today.

CNG (Natural Gas) consists largely of methane, a gas that is 28 times more harmful to the environment than CO². American research recently showed that more than 60 percent more methane than assumed escapes during the extraction of natural gas. The New York Times literally visualised a number of these gas leaks on American soil.

Not only is natural gas extracted to fill up your car, a large part of the world's population also uses it to heat their homes. To achieve the ambitions of the Paris Climate Accords, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) estimates that gas consumption must decrease by at least 15 percent by 2030. By 2040, that should be 43 percent. Conclusion: the purchase of a CNG car is currently not a sustainable choice at all.

What is the most sustainable choice?

The traditional ranking of cars based on sustainability has been shaken up thanks to recent research (VRT, The New York Times). Below is an overview of the most sustainable vehicles to the least sustainable.

  1. Battery electric car
  2. Plug-in hybrid car
  3. Hybrid car
  4. Diesel car
  5. Gasoline car
  6. CNG car