Life / Money

Going green? A zero-emission car doesn't need to break the bank: Scorgie

Have your eye on a sleek, zero-emission vehicle, but feel daunted by Tesla's waitlists? Here's how to lighten the financial load of a clean, safe car.

Safiya Kanji takes a test drive in the Tesla Model X SUV. Tesla Event. A majority of Canadians would like to buy a clean car. But how do we close the gap between our thirst for reducing our carbon footprints and our tight budgets?

Steve Somerville / Torstar News Service Order this photo

Safiya Kanji takes a test drive in the Tesla Model X SUV. Tesla Event. A majority of Canadians would like to buy a clean car. But how do we close the gap between our thirst for reducing our carbon footprints and our tight budgets?

When the calendar rolls over into 2018 my car, a peppy crossover with low kilometres, will officially be ten years old. In the world of cars, that’s considered a milestone birthday. In the world of consumers, however, that’s considered time for change.

Here’s the challenge though; I want a zero-emission vehicle that’s going to assist in keeping me safe, but I don’t want to pay up for the technology just yet.

Boiled down, there is a massive gap between the cost of clean, safe car technology vs. a regular car. But now that over 60 per cent of Canadians have stated they would like to buy a clean car, how can we close the gap between our thirst for reducing our carbon footprints and our tight budgets?

There are three direct ways to lighten the financial load of a clean safe car.

First, the average consumer of a zero-emission vehicle saves approximately $150 per month on fuel, which totals $1,800 in annual savings. Let’s say that you drove that vehicle for 10 years; you’d save $18,000.

Second, if you live in British Columbia, Ontario or Quebec, you qualify for provincial grants that are valued at many thousands of dollars. Plug ‘n Drive hosts a comprehensive list of grants broken down by each vehicle type.

Third, downsize your expectations. Waitlists for a new Tesla are long. But, not everyone can afford these ultra-sexy luxury cars. So, consider mainstream alternatives— there are 14 other brands to choose from.

There’s also an indirect way to participate in the growing market for cars that are autonomous, connected, electric and shared (ACES); and you don’t need $60,000 to start. Invest in it.

Shares in exchange-traded funds like CARS cost less than $25. Shares in Tesla, Volkswagen, GM and other auto-manufacturers trade between $40 and $350 per share.

Sure, these shares can swing wildly in value with each new product release. But what isn’t going to change is the fact that the Canadian government is investing more than $180 million into clean and safe car infrastructure starting in 2018. The International Energy Agency says there will be over 150 million electric vehicles on the road globally by 2030.

Though I probably won’t buy my dream car with ACES technology today, I have the option to put my investment dollars towards greener solutions for the planet without compromising returns.

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