Here’s How To Make Your Car More Sustainable — The Green Lane

By Jeremy Taylor

1 year ago

Buying an EV isn't a fix-all solution...

Environmentally-friendly motoring isn’t just buying an electric car. Motoring editor Jeremy Taylor and sustainable fashion expert Jessica Saunders discuss.

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Here’s How To Make Your Car More Sustainable

JS: Have you noticed how every electric car we test seems to cost well in excess of £30,000? 

JT: There was the tiny Citroen Ami at £8,000, but it’s really only a funky urban runabout. Even a Mini Electric is almost £30,000, and the budget MG ZV only slightly cheaper.

Big money – so what are the choices for our readers who don’t have that sort of cash in these difficult times?

Good point. If you drive an older car but want the latest technology, one sustainable route is to update what you have.

You mean like upcycling my wardrobe? What can I add to our dog-eared runabout, then, to make it a more modern, enjoyable drive?

Probably more than a lick of paint, but what about a proper infotainment system, or some state-of-the-art tyres? My days of ferreting around under the bonnet are long gone, but Halfords Autocentre is now a one-stop shop for car services.

I thought they just sold bicycles?

They do, but the Autocentre concept is booming. Halfords is now the country’s leading MoT centre, service and tyre specialist. They can fit a new entertainment system in a few hours.

What kind of stereo? I’d like something with DAB radio, handsfree and voice recognition, so I don’t have to take my hands off the steering wheel to find what I want.

Autocentres have a big range of systems, many for well under £150. I’d choose something like the Kenwood BT508, which has all the things you mentioned, including Alexa, Spotify and a lot more.

And will that fit in our old banger?

Yes, it will – but before they put a spanner near your car, Halfords do a pre-fit check to make sure it is the one for you.

Let’s talk tyres. Why do I need modern rubber on my car? A tyre is a tyre, isn’t it?

Manufacturers are racing each other to find more sustainable ways of making tyres. We featured an article on tyres made from dandelion rubber, but some makers, like Goodyear, are looking at tyres made from another 100 per cent biological material. A tread compound inspired by one of the toughest natural materials in the world – spider silk.

Goodyear's 90 percent sustainable tyre

Goodyear’s 90 percent sustainable tyre

That’s impressive – but how do modern tyres make my old car safer?

Every tyre maker offers something but, if we stick with Goodyear, it offers a technology called SealTech, which automatically seals punctures up to 5 mm in diameter, while SoundComfort cuts interior vehicle noise levels by up to 50 per cent.

That’s useful! Anything else?

Modern tyres offer shorter braking distances, some Goodyear tyres feature Kevlar walls to prevent side punctures, while EfficientGrip reduces fuel consumption without reducing safety performance.

There’s some pretty cool stuff going on. Tyres are difficult to recycle, so companies like Goodyear need to keep pushing.

Indeed. Goodyear is continuing research into the use of soybean oil in tyre production, as well as converting rice husk ash to make silica for tyres. Chip in tyre technology aims to improve a car’s performance by embedding a microchip in the rubber. That links to a vehicle’s on-board computer and ’talks’ to the car’s management system.

So, maybe there’s no rush to buy a new car? Electric is good but, until we have better charging infrastructure in the countryside, upcycling is the way to go.

Jessica Saunders is Director of Programmes at London College of Fashion, studying for a PhD in sustainable e-textile design.