Thinking of making the switch to a green vehicle? There's a lot to consider before you buy

In July, Tesla—the forward-reaching and electric-focused behemoth founded by Elon Musk—overtook Japanese stalwart Toyota to become the most valuable automobile manufacturer on earth (based on stock prices, that is). While Toyota still sells about 30 times more vehicles each year, the continued, and stunning, success of Tesla is testament to not only the popularity and reliability of fuel-efficient cars—be they electric, hybrid, plug-in or other—but also the dedication of the public at large to a future that’s cleaner, and doesn’t sacrifice on style.

For those debating a jump into the fuel-efficient marketplace, three key considerations provide food for thought…

 

1. Fuel-efficient is not black and white

HyundaiHyundaiFuel-efficiency has become the new “natural” in marketing circles. Without taking into consideration different driving patterns and habits, it’s hard to pinpoint exact savings, so the term has become a catch-all. Dig a little deeper though and your exact vehicle match becomes a bit more obvious. Hybrid vehicles, for example, excel in urban settings, where stopping and starting in traffic is a way of life. And electric vehicles can have driving ranges in the hundreds of kilometres, meaning one may not be the best bet if you’re headed to criss-cross the nation.

In 2020, the experts at Driving.ca dove into the findings of recent research by Natural Resources Canada to decipher just what appealed most to drivers in Canada. And their findings crowned clear frontrunners. The most efficient vehicle on the road today? The Hyundai Ioniq, they declared, sighting a combined fuel economy of 4.1 litres per 100 kilometres. The famed Toyota Prius—the first mass-produced hybrid introduced in 1997—was second. The most efficient SUV? The front-wheel drive model of the 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid, with a combined 5.8 litres per 100 kilometres.

 

2. Government incentives abound

FordFordA number of rebate and discount programs are offered by government institutions, at both the provincial and federal levels. While they vary by province—and often even by vehicle—they provide an additional reason to consider a hybrid or electric vehicle when traipsing back and forth on the lot. In fact, the government of British Columbia is so set on change for the province’s roads, it announced in July that all vehicle sales in the province would need to be zero-emission by 2040. A ways off, yes, but a huge step toward a more sustainable drive for all.

Additionally, insurance providers in many provinces offer further discounts to drivers who get behind the wheel of efficient vehicles. BCAA’s optional car insurance program, for example, offer a five percent cut to those with “eco-friendly hybrid or electric vehicle.”

 

3. The future is lit by green

toyota miraiToyotaThe public’s reckoning with the climate crisis has been a long time coming. Thankfully, vehicle purchase trends have turned, owing to the undeniable influence of environmental awareness. In the United States, just under 10,000 hybrid vehicles were sold in 2000. In 2019, that annual tally had ballooned to over 400,000.

At its American plants, Ford is investing 11 billion dollars in electrification, aiming to introduce more than three dozen new hybrid and fully electric vehicles to its lineup by the year 2022.

In Europe, more than four percent of new car sales are now hybrid, electric or plug-in, while the steady decline in diesel vehicle sales continues, with a nearly 20 percent decrease in just seven years, from 2011 to 2018.

And one of the leading purveyors in the industry, Toyota, has recently unveiled a revamped Mirai, the first mass-production hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. It boasts zero CO2 emissions and can take as little as five minutes to fully fuel up. The 2020 offering is currently available at select dealerships in Canada, reflecting communities that excel at innovation and have installed hydrogen fueling stations for drivers.

All of this translates to more selection, more variety and more savings for consumers in the vehicle marketplace. As Musk himself proclaimed at a 2019 investor event in Palo Alto, the traditional combustion engine is becoming an increasingly rare option. “It’ll be like owning a horse in three years,” he said. “I mean, fine if you want to own a horse, but you should go into it with that expectation.”