As climate change rumbles on at an increasingly alarming pace and meteorological disasters and anomalies continue to abound, more and more people are becoming more and more preoccupied with curbing their own carbon footprint.

One of the principal ways to do this is to reduce the emissions caused by the transport we use. While getting from A to B is an essential part of everyday life, it doesn’t necessarily have to cost Mother Earth. Public transport, cycling and walking are all environmentally-friendly methods of getting around, while the advent of the zero-emissions car could be an invaluable breakthrough in reining in those exhaust fumes.

But what actually is meant by a zero-emissions car? Is the idea even possible? And what does the future hold? If you’re still in doubt about questions such as these, this blog should help to shine a light on the matter.

Well-to-wheel emissions

The term “zero-emissions vehicle” was coined by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and at its creation, referred only to tailpipe emissions, or those produced during operation of the car. Because electric vehicles (EVs) depend upon battery power, they do not emit any harmful fumes from their exhaust pipe.

However, this definition neglects to include the emissions produced in creating the electricity in the first place. If produced at a fossil fuel plant, the advantages gained from an EV are only local in nature. Furthermore, the title “zero-emissions car” also fails to take into account the pollution produced when the car itself is manufactured, which can be considerable. These well-to-wheel emissions do not figure in the standard definition of a zero-emissions car.

Finally, wear and tear of brake pads and tyres contributes to dust on the roads and particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5) pollution in the air. These are tiny particles which are small enough to be inhaled into the human body and even enter the bloodstream, causing serious cardiovascular and respiratory problems.

In a similar vein, it can be argued that even cycling does not constitute entirely zero-emissions transport – both in terms of brake/tyre dust and, to be blunt, any methane emissions from the user’s personal tail-pipe!

Changing for the future

Of course, the root source of fuel and the emissions caused during manufacture are concerning issues which require further investigation, but if we are someday able to successfully transition away from fossil fuels and other damaging sources of energy altogether, this would eliminate the first problem entirely.

Nullifying the emissions produced during the construction process may be a tougher nut to crack, but building zero-emissions vehicles is still far preferable to building new petrol or diesel ones. Newer, less polluting fuel sources (such as hydrogen, biofuel, solar, wind and wave) can be implemented at various stages throughout the whole vehicular cycle to diminish emissions as much as is practically possible.

Lastly, the pollution caused by brake and tyre damage is not strictly an emission and although concerning, the government already outlined a plan to tackle the problem earlier this year. So while the paradigm of a zero-emissions car might not be possible (yet) in terms of well-to-wheel emissions, 100% battery and hydrogen EVs certainly qualify as zero-emissions cars from a tailpipe perspective.

Doing our bit

With that in mind, Green Tomato Cars are dedicated to mucking in and doing our bit to help transition towards a cleaner, greener tomorrow. With the largest fleet of low- and zero-emissions private hire vehicles in London, we are able to offer our customers an eco-friendlier alternative to a standard black cab or getting behind the wheel themselves.

What’s more, our network of relationships and contacts across the globe mean we can help you get to where you need to go – wherever that may be – without compromising your carbon footprint. To learn more about what we do, or to book your next journey with us right away, get in contact with us today. We’re waiting to hear from you.