If you’re planning on 'going green' with your choice of automobile, you might be interested to know that you're not limited to smart cars and hybrids: buying a used vehicle can also help save the environment. If you want to do your bit to help the planet, you can still treat yourself to a suave, sophisticated Mercedes or impressive, imposing BMW. It just has to be second-hand!
If you haven’t encountered the acronym before, BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. BTUs are a standard measure of the amount of heat energy locked into fuel and can be used to denote how much energy is needed for a process. With that in mind, consider that it usually takes over 100 million BTUs to produce a new car. To put that in perspective, a gallon of gasoline contains a mere 113,000 BTUs (which is a little more than a 1,000th of the energy cost of producing a new car).
What it means
If you buy a new, fuel-saving car (such as a hybrid), you’re going to have to do an awful lot of driving before the energy you save is equal to the energy expended to create the vehicle in the first place. All that energy released during the manufacturing process is a lot more harmful to the environment than the comparatively small amount released just from driving around.
In summary, the key to ‘going green’ is to use the cars that already exist and therefore limit the release of any energy that occurs as an inevitable by-product of manufacturing new vehicles.
Obviously, it’s a good thing that the new cars that are being manufactured are being made to higher environmental standards than at any previous point in history. However, if you feel like indulging in the luxury of a used Mercedes or a used BMW, you can also bask in the knowledge that your choice to get more use out of a pre-existing vehicle is really helping Mother Earth.