eco living - green motoring

Organic Baby car

By Lianne Earles, Organic Baby

Buying a car is never an easy task but add environmental considerations into the equation and you have a lot to points to consider.

Us eco-friendly, less-materialistic types are notoriously bad at buying cars and then driving them until they quite literally fall apart. Earlier, this year, I finally bit the bullet, and traded in my old (but fuel-efficient) Toyota for something more modern.

My first task was to refamiliarise myself with the dos and don’ts of buying a car. I found the AA web site quite helpful.

Then I needed to decide on some criteria to narrow down the options. Which brand/model I might be interested in? What was important to me? Fuel economy and environmental impact ranked high on my list and certainly hybrid cars were an option. I also preferred low kms, a hatchback and needed a vehicle body with good signwriting space.

A quick search on Trade Me revealed that the low end of my budget would cover a first generation Toyota hybrid (launched in 1997). Further research revealed that due to battery sizes and problems with these (early) hybrids, I probably wouldn’t want one.

Hybrid Choices:

I went on to test drive the Toyota Prius generations II and III, which are both great cars to drive and rate well for fuel efficiency and green ratings.

The most noticeable difference between driving a hybrid and a conventional car is that the auto column shift is on the dashboard and they have a digital display which gives instant readouts on energy-efficiency. Very space-age, making the car feel ahead of its time.

Hybrids combine a petrol-powered engine with an electric motor to provide improved fuel economy and help lower emissions. The Toyota Prius feels and drives like a normal automatic car with the exception that when idling and driving at low speeds, the petrol engine cuts out, in favour of the electric motor. ( )

The Toyota Prius version II is a sedan and the version III is a larger hatch with more space and whizzy features. The Honda Civic Hybrid is a cheaper option but a smaller engine size of 1.3L.

The battery size problems of the first models has been overcome. The version II and III have much smaller batteries and come with an 8 year (or 160,000km warranty).

I could have stretched my budget to a lower km Toyota Prius II, but the version III was really the one that met my criteria. After reviewing my budget and other non-hybrid car options. I decided to buy a conventional Honda Fit (or Jazz) and that a hybrid would be my next car (and I vowed not drive the Jazz until it falls apart!)

My new Honda Fit (or Jazz) has better fuel consumption 6.1L/100 km compared to my old Toyota Corolla at 7.4L/100km.

Its greenhouse and air pollution ratings compare very favourably against other petrol-driven cars. Higher ratings are achieved by the Honda Civic hybrid, which are again topped by the Toyota Prius.

Other options:

Some web sites to compare different models and fuel efficiency and green ratings impact are:

The Toyota Prius comes up trumps at 4.4L/100 km.

Overall ratings: If you have the budget, go for the Toyota Prius III. It rates well on from every environmental angle. After all, it won 2004 European car of the year!

Finding hybrid vehicles to test drive, outside the main centres in NZ can be difficult. The Clean Green Car Company in Auckland has the widest choice in the country and you can buy one over the phone from anywhere in the country, subject to vehicle testing. Also check out


Any car can go wrong. For your own protection, be sure to purchase a three year warranty, The Honda Fit (Jazz) I purchased had transmission problems (not picked up in an AA test). Repairs on the vehicle cost $1200 which was covered by the three year warranty.

Latest News:

From April 2008, oil companies in NZ are required to blend biofuels with the petrol and diesel they sell under government moves to reduce carbon emissions. (



my other ride is a hybrid
Little Green Star
Little Green Star

Photo compliments of Little Green Star, creators of this gorgeous organic tshirt.

Little Green Star is a friendly online boutique that specializes in unique products for babies and toddlers. Our shirts are made from sweatshop free, 100% organic cotton and printed with non-toxic water-based ink, because your little stars deserve the best.

Untitled 1


Frequently Asked Questions

Organic Baby Webstore

Organic Baby | Promote Your Page Too