When you take into consideration all the mining, manufacturing, transporting, painting, and just plain work that goes into manufacturing a new car, it becomes pretty clear that the greenest car you can buy is one that’s already been built. So, when it comes time to buy your next car- should you choose the cleanest and greenest of the latest and greatest, or hit the used car lots looking for a deal?
That “What to buy?” question came up again while we were driving across Michigan on our way to the Detroit Auto Show earlier this week. Gas 2 senior editor Chris DeMorro and I talked along the way about my current “adult, real life” crisis- which I won’t get into, here. The short version, though, is: I need a car.
“Chevy Volt,” says Chris. “You can find them used for under $20K. Nice ones.”
“Not enough seats,” I said. “Besides, I hate the shiny plastic, and I feel like the whole thing is just trying too hard. If they made a Chevy Cruze PHEV, I’d be into that. If they made a Cruze diesel wagon, I’d be a serious player.”
“What about a Nissan Leaf?” asked Chris. “You can find clean ones for $15K, off-lease.”
The Leaf was an idea, but I’ve gone to great pains over the last decade-and-a-half to be a motorcycle guy. I rode 2 wheels 40 miles each day all through the winter of 2012, and put a serious number of glorious highway and byway miles on my old Honda that summer. Since then, a BMW K series bike has found a home in the ol’ Borras homestead, and I’m actively shopping for something in the Honda Elite CH80 / Genuine Buddy 50 genre as I type this.
What I need, obviously, is to start shopping some used vans.
“You’ll never fit a van in your garage,” said Chris.
He was right, mostly. Sure, I won’t fit one of GM’s full-size CNG vans or a big Mercedes Sprinter in there- but what about one of Ford’s last-gen Transit Connect vans? It’s short enough and low enough to fit in the garage (sort of), and has plenty of room for the kiddos.
“That Transit thing is pretty much my only choice,” I said. “Too bad we don’t live overseas.”
Coincidentally, we’d been contacted by the guys at Van Monster– a UK car dealer that specializes in clean, fuel-efficient used vans. I responded that I was looking for a small van, and found the Monster Van guys to be totally in synch with what we’re about. “You might endeavour to reduce our carbon footprint by purchasing a more eco-friendly vehicle, this isn’t always feasible,” read the emailed response. “Especially when it comes to the light (van) market, which has fewer options available to environmentally-conscious customers. Buying a used van can be a great solution. Just as with other products, going second-hand is often the cheapest and greenest option: an unwanted vehicle may be saved from the scrapyard, and you’ve saved the masses of energy required to produce a new (van).”
It’s hard not to love answers like that from dealers that “get it”, you know?
If you’re in the UK, your choices for light, practical, fuel-efficient people/stuff haulers includes vans like the Renault Kangoo (shown, above) which can be had in gas, diesel, or electric versions. You can also go with one of Van Monster’s recommendations. “Add the Vauxhall ecoFLEX to your list. It was the winner of the What Van? Green Award 2013, and has been praised for its low emissions and impressive fuel economy.”
I don’t even know what that is (there is no American GM equivalent), but it sounds like it’s right up my alley! If you’re in the UK and shopping used vans, give our new friends a ring- and, uh, let me know how many bikes you can fit in the thing and still have 4 seats, yeah? Thanks.
Sponsored content by Van Monster, UK.