In today’s world, protecting the environment is an issue that is very close to a lot of people’s hearts and that translates frequently into environmentally conscious and sustainable corporate policy.

In 2008 Business Fleet magazine surveyed Fleet Managers and found that 80% of respondents were concerned with the environmental impact of their fleets. The trend for these figures at the time of the survey was increasing year on year, up from 77% the year prior.

Choosing to tailor lease your fleet is not only better for the environment, but it will also help your corporate responsibility to the environment. Rotating some of your fleet’s vehicles out each year can create an easy environmental win for your business.

The Environmental Cost of Manufacturing

You’ve probably heard this one before—a mate of yours that drives an old car claims it’s far more environmentally friendly than the new lease you want to get. This is because, according to them, a new car requires more energy and natural resources.

But is their old vehicle really greener? The short answer is now.

Let’s start with production. Car manufacturing is the biggest reason why most people think that driving an old car is more environmentally friendly than driving a new one.

There is no doubt that the process of building a car is resource- and energy-intensive. You need to drill for oil in the middle of the sea, mine ore out of the ground, turn everything into raw materials, use them to make actual car parts, and then assemble everything into an actual vehicle.

But, besides all of this, the biggest environmental cost of a car occurs when it turns a wheel. According to an MIT study named ‘On the Road in 2020,’ 75% of a car’s lifetime carbon emissions from the fuel it burns when it is in use, not from the manufacturing process.

Moreover, the production and transportation of the fuel account for 19% of that. So, the car’s manufacture accounts for only 6% of the car’s lifetime carbon emissions.

These figures vary, depending on the amount of energy a particular car model consumes. But one needs to keep in mind that new car models are built to be more energy-efficient than the old ones, and new, more greener processes are used during manufacturing.

The Numbers

We can actually work out the relative merits of driving a new, more energy-efficient vehicle versus driving an old one. These numbers show why running an older car isn’t better than leasing a new one.

Due to the nature of leasing, fleets that are leased (rather than bought) are newer and as a result better for the environment. The vehicles emit less CO2 and offer better mileage, burning less diesel.

Let’s say your old car does about 12 km/L (kilometres per litre). Your new lease does 17km/L—as many newer cars can, or will shortly. Now let’s say you need to drive your car quite a lot for business purposes, about 24,000 km per year.

Your new lease will use about 1,400 litres during those 24,000 kilometres. Your old one? Almost 1,900 litres.

That 17 km/L is about 135 grams per kilometre of CO2; 12 km/L works out to be 180 grams per kilometre of CO2. Your new lease will emit 3.25 tons of CO2 over the course of a year while the old one will emit 4.35 tons.

Let’s say you have had your old car for 10 years. Before the new car has even been built, the one has emitted more than 43 tons of CO2. If you are driving an old car, keep in mind that these numbers will only keep on going up.

A Ford Fusion, a reasonably large car, has a production footprint of around 17 tons of CO2. A minicar produces about 6 tons of CO2 equivalent before it hits the road.

It is easy to figure out just how long it would take for a newer lease to offset its production if we assume our 17- and 12-km/L compact cars both account for about 12 tons of CO2 during the manufacturing process.

The new lease would be responsible for 15.23 tons of CO2 in its first year (3.25 during use, 12 for production). In terms of carbon emissions, that’s about 3.5 years of driving the old car at 12 km/L.

The old car’s production also adds to its tally, naturally. It’s unlikely that the old car was built as efficiently, or includes as many recycled materials, as the new lease.

The 12-km/L car will have been responsible for about 55 tons of CO2 by the time it’s 10 years old. Compared to a new car, that amount continues to accrue at a faster rate.


As mentioned, such calculations can come with huge variables. But, even if we forget about CO2 emissions for a second, older cars are still far more polluting than newer ones.

When it comes to manufacturing, older vehicles (especially ones that are over 10 years old) were built according to less stringent emissions standards. Old emissions standards permit far more carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, and unburned hydrocarbons per kilometre than in today’s cars.

And let’s not forget about maintenance. A new lease will typically require less intensive maintenance, require fewer new parts, and use less oil than an old call. Throughout its life, that old car will consume other resources, not just gas.

New Always Beats Old

Data shows that a vehicle’s production is just a fraction of its lifetime environmental impact. When it comes to the impact on the environment, the energy or fuel that the car uses to move itself about is a much bigger culprit.

There are many reasons to keep on running your old car—the memories of the trips you’ve accomplished, looks, character, driving sensation.

But, driving an old car because it’s more environmentally friendly definitely isn’t one of those reasons. And now that leasing is on the table as well, neither is saving money.

Green Fleet Options Available

Most of the vehicle manufacturers we deal with offer a Green Line of vehicles which are tuned to produce even less CO2 and are less harmful to the environment.

Contact us today to speak to us about how we can help reduce your organisations emissions this year.