Whether it’s your first time or your fifth, buying a car is a big decision. But when you’re looking for something more eco-friendly than what you’d usually go for, there’s a fresh range of factors you’ll need to weigh up too.

While going fully electric is going to be the best way to cut down your carbon emissions, there are plenty of different features and design elements that make for a more environmentally conscious driving experience.

To make your decision easier, we’ll take a look at some of the finer details to keep an eye out for when it comes to buying greener cars.

What Features Make a Car More Eco-Friendly?

An electric or hybrid engine

The obvious starting point for those looking to reduce their carbon emissions – electric and hybrid cars offer far more Earth-friendly performance compared to their petrol and diesel counterparts. But what do you need to know about these green variants?

Electric vehicles produce zero emissions and provide plenty of cost-effective incentives for those looking to buy. The go-to gold for greener driving.

Hybrids run on both standard fuel and electric power. Combining an internal combustion engine with an electric motor, hybrids are self-charging and rely less on fossil fuels than regular cars do. You’ll also benefit from a lower first-year road tax too.

Plug-in hybrids, meanwhile, have a larger battery and a bigger motor, so you can drive further using just electric power. You’ll need a charging station at home and to know where the nearest charging points are when you’re out and about, but with these popping up all over the country at a rate of knots, this shouldn’t be an issue.

woman driving

Ultra-low emission vehicles

You also have the option of going for an Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV), cars and vans that emit 75g/km CO2 or less, that aren’t pure electric or hybrids. Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), for instance, are often powered by hydrogen, and use electricity generated by a fuel cell stack to charge the car’s battery and power the electric motor that drives the wheels.

Consider the interior

A leather interior may be desirable, but just like electrification is doing with the combustion engine, eco-friendly upholstery seems to be replacing more premium choices. Many big-name car manufacturers are opting for alternative materials and vegan leather car seats in a move towards more sustainable production.

Far more eco-friendly than the real deal, the faux varieties still retain the look and feel of animal leather, but are more ecologically conscious. And what’s more, fake leather and other materials are often cheaper, easier to clean and much more durable too, so it’s by no means the inferior option.

LED headlights

Another design feature that manufacturers are making steps to equip their new models with, LED headlights are energy-efficient and long-lasting. They also radiate much less heat and tend to be more reliable than other types of bulbs too.

Choose something lightweight

If you’re shopping around for an eco-friendly car, than look out for models constructed from high-strength steel, magnesium alloys, carbon fibre and polymer composites. Such materials, as opposed to cast iron or traditional steel, can reduce the overall weight by around 50%, which means less energy is needed to power the car down the road.

man touching a car wheel

Check the tyres

Since a car’s tyres make a big difference to fuel consumption, it’s a good idea to go for low-rolling resistance tyres that are designed to improve energy efficiency. The quality of a car’s factory-fitted tyres will vary depending on the manufacturer, but it’s something that’s worth looking into if you want to save money down the road.

If you’re buying a used electric or hybrid car, it’s even more important to check the tyres before you buy. Any benefit you get from an eco-friendly drivetrain will be wiped out if the tyres are underinflated or in poor condition, and replacing all four tyres could prove a significant expense in the future.

Don’t forget about suspension

You’ve probably never given much thought to your car’s suspension, but it actually plays more a factor in a vehicle’s eco-friendliness than you may have first realised. Quality suspension improves fuel efficiency, reducing the amount of pressure on a car’s brake pads and tyres when braking and turning. Momentum created from well-maintained suspension can also be used to carry itself through a turn, which of course requires less fuel to do – making the car eco-friendlier in the process.

As car manufacturers work to introduce more environmentally friendly models and design features into their offerings, we’re also striving to reduce the effects of climate change where we can too. From working with solar rooftop experts Eden Sustainable to building extra EV charge stations across our sites, we’ve been hard at work to increase our sustainability efforts. To see what else we’ve been up to, head over to the Brindley Green Hub here.

For more motoring tips and advice, head to the Brindley blog. In the market for a used car? Maybe you want to learn about our servicing options? Follow the links or contact your local Brindley Group dealership.