Prof Mike Berners-Lee calculates that 40 per cent of our car use footprint comes from the vehicle itself and its maintenance. While the steel, plastic, leather, etc all have a carbon footprint, so do tyres, brakes pads, windscreen wipers, new wing mirrors, etc.
When you put together the carbon footprint from the fuel and the embodied cost of the carbon in the car, electric cars still come out on top despite having a high cost for the car itself. Driving a mid-size electric car will account for only 60% of the carbon from a Smart Car driven carefully at 60 mph.
We should all be trying to make our cars last as long as possible as the carbon footprint embodied in the car reduces over time and, we need to avoid SUVs, as these are the most costly in carbon terms. A top of the range SUV has a carbon footprint per mile that is 7 times higher than a mid range electric car and twice as much as an average UK car at 36 miles per gallon.
Can you maintain your car and keep it going well for 200,000 miles?
Make carbon reduction the main criteria for your next car
Consider what it would mean to just have a zero road tax car. Could you consider hiring a car for holidays? Would the reduced running costs of a small car make it possible? Sometimes we need to consider the way that we actually use our cars, rather than the hypothetical scenarios we could come up with to justify something larger and more (carbon) costly.