How Green Can a Car Be?

posted in: Automobiles, Cars, Green | 1

How green is your car? Do you make an effort to conserve fuel, or drive a hybrid or electric? Many car companies today are making a bigger effort to emphasize green practices, and they’re not just talking about the gas tank. You may be surprised at some of the ways car makers are employing green methods when designing and building your car.

Plastics. There are a lot of plastic parts in cars, but one car in particular – the Chevy Volt – is going the extra green mile (with apologies to Stephen King) and utilizing recycled materials for the Volt’s many plastic parts. The Volt’s plastics are made of recycled tires from Milford Proving Ground, post-consumer plastics, and even saturated oil booms which had been used to contain the BP spill. What was that? It’s true. Chevy obtained about 200,000 pounds of the booms from the gulf, and used them to create electric cars. How cool is that?

The Seats. Ford Motor Company has been really ramping up their green practices in the past few years, and in 2012 they started using recycled textiles in their interior carpet, sound dampening materials, and the car seats. What does that mean? It means that the yarns, cottons, and other fabrics in your car’s interior could be made of recycled clothing.

The Engine Cover. Speaking of Ford, if you drive a Fusion, Mustang, Escape, or F-150 made after 2012, the engine cover under your hood is made from – guess what? Recycled carpet. It’s true! The new cylinder head covers Ford is using in many of its models today is created entirely from nylon recycled from old carpets. Cool, huh?

Oil. You may know that you have options beyond using standard petroleum based motor oil, as most shops offer synthetic oil these days, but did you know that you can also get petroleum based oil that’s recycled? Re-refined motor oil is reclaimed in a process similar to distillation, and is chemically identical from the regular motor oil you may already be using – without the need to pull more oil out of the ground to make it.

These are just a few of the places you can find recycled materials in your car. Want a few more? Look at the grille of the GMC Terrain – that’s made of recycled soda bottles. Hyundai has a concept car whose entire exterior is recycled plastic, and just a few years ago Gordon Murray designed and built an entire car out of recycled bottles. Every last piece. Sure, some of these examples are extremes and are concept cars, but they’re great examples of what is possible, and of some of the great green building practices we can look forward to.

What’s more, is that your entire car could be recycling waiting to happen. Ford and GM’s entire line is 85% recyclable right now, and that number is climbing every year. Cars that utilize recycled parts are great today – they’re also lighter and more fuel efficient, to boot – but they’re also going to help us be even greener tomorrow.


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  1. Car Detective


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