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Featured Expert: Green Motor

June 19, 2014

It’s time for the car financing experts to meet the car experts. This week, Car Loan Warehouse were lucky enough to interview Lem Bingley, Editor at Green Motor. Lem gave us a taste of the eco-friendly motoring world – and some of his expert tips on everything from electrics vs. hybrids to his views on the future of green driving.

Green Motor: the BMW i3 Rex

Tell us about Green Motor – what made you create the site?

GreenMotor is a blog aimed at people who are interested in low-carbon cars. It’s not a news site but instead offers a mix of reviews, analysis and opinion articles. Recent examples include a review of the new Mini and an article wondering why there aren’t more electric car cabriolets.

The tone is never preachy and indeed GreenMotor covers all kinds of cars including some that don’t seem very green at first glance. But there will always be something of interest about any car featured from the perspective of getting more miles per gallon.

GreenMotor has been published in roughly its current form since summer 2007, usually offering one or two new posts per week. I started the site because I was interested in electric cars and hybrids, and motoring publications typically treated these emerging vehicles as beneath contempt at the time. Attitudes have since improved – helped by the fact that manufacturers like Porsche, Ferrari and McLaren now produce plug-in hybrid cars. It’s become hard to argue that plug-in cars are irrelevant, or that hybrids don’t save fuel, cut emissions and boost performance.

Diesel, Petrol, Electric or Hybrid? For consumers wanting to make a green choice, is there a particular solution that strikes the best balance of economy, practicality, price and environmental impact?

There’s no easy answer, because different kinds of car meet different kinds of need. For example, an electric car is only really practical if you have somewhere it can sit and charge overnight. Modern diesel cars offer great economy on long journeys but are a poor choice if you primarily drive around town at low speeds – they need the hot temperatures of a high speed journey to avoid becoming clogged. For mixed use, hybrids are often the best bet, ideally a plug-in hybrid if you have a socket to hand. They aren’t cheap to buy new but you can now find all sorts of good hybrids at reasonable prices secondhand. My current car is a petrol-electric hybrid I bought at one year old with 13,000 miles on the clock and a saving of about 40% off its list price.

What steps do you feel car manufacturers should be taking? What does your dream eco-friendly car look like?

Almost all manufacturers are heading in a reasonable direction. For example, most of the current generation of new cars are coming out lighter than the models they’re replacing, following decades of getting heavier and heavier. Engines are also becoming lighter and more powerful, with 1.0-litre three-cylinder engines now commonly replacing the 1.5-litre four-cylinder engines of a few years ago, for example. It’s also now typical to see engines that switch off whenever a car is stationary, and car batteries that charge when the car is slowing down – fuel-saving tricks borrowed from full hybrids.

My dream green motor would typify many of these trends and would probably be very much along the lines of Gordon Murray’s T27. For the uninitiated, Murray is a distinguished Formula 1 designer and his T27 is a prototype low-cost electric car designed to be built from lightweight and recycled materials, while providing modern levels of safety. It offers a space-efficient three-seat layout, agile handling and versatile luggage space. Unfortunately there’s only one in existence, so far as I know, and it’s not for sale.

And of course, we’ve got to ask, what’s your current favourite green motor?

BMW’s i3 Rex is a fantastic electric car with a small motorcycle engine in the boot to keep you going when the batteries start to run low. It’s comfortable, practical, lovely to drive and beautifully made from carbon fibre, aluminium, recycled plastics and other sustainable materials. But it’s a bit beyond my budget. I’ll have to be patient until i3s start to turning up secondhand, well used and closer to my means.

The Car Loan Warehouse: Featured Expert Lem Bingley

If Lem’s tips have given you the green car itch, the Car Loan Warehouse has just the thing for it. You choose the car, and leave the rest up to us. We’re experts in car financing, and we work with dealers and lenders to find you the best car loan around. Try our quick and easy car finance calculator now for an instant quote.

About The Author

Jon Le Roux is co-founder and company director of The Car Loan Warehouse. Being a mad engineering and motorsport enthusiast, I spend more hours than is healthy, watching, reading or talking about cars, boats, motorbikes…..basically anything with an engine.