Greenhouse Pioneer: Ben Lane, Next Green Car

Next-Green-Car logo

Established in 2007, Next Green Caris the UK’s number 1green car website. The core of the site is a database of all the new cars commercially available in the UK, through which visitors can search and compare cars according to many criteria including CO2, MPG, Car Tax Band and price.

The results are ranked according to the unique Next Green Car Rating which expresses a vehicle’s environmental impact as a score out of 100 ranging from 0 for the greenest vehicles to 100+ for the most polluting, and allows for a fair comparison across technologies and fuel types.

Tell us about Next Green Car – what’s your mission? is the UK’s No.1 green car website with the mission to help car buyers find, compare and buy a greener, more economical car.

What motivates you?

Technological transformation – as a species, humans have so much yet to learn about how to make and live with artefacts that enhance our rather than work against natural processes. While change is inevitable, what technologies we decide to develop is not.

What is your greatest achievement to date?

To have set up an innovative company which provides great information and smart data about next generation vehicles technologies, and to have recognized the inevitability of the unfolding electric vehicle (EV) revolution which will change the automotive and energy sectors for the next century. While only a few hundred electric cars and vans were on UK roads in 2011, there are now around 35,000 EVs in the UK, with numbers doubling every 12-18 months.

What are the challenges you face?

Working within an industry that is so wedded to fossil fuels and in a world where innovation is always an uphill struggle. That said, we relish the challenge to change the automotive sector and wouldn’t want it any other way (it also discourages the competition!).

What are you working on that’s getting you fired up and excited?

zap map appIn 2014 we launched which is dedicated to all aspects of electric vehicles (EVs) and charging – as of April 2015 Zap-Map includes info for over 8,000 public charge points across 3,000 UK locations. With a sector-leading website and App, we are now looking to get Zap-Map data into the car using new app platforms. We believe the ‘connected car’ will have even more impact than the switch to EVs and we want to be a key player in that space.

Where do you want to take Next Green Car next?

As well as going in-car, Next Green Car is looking to take Zap-Map outside the UK into other key European EV markets. We believe that Zap-Map will be the go-to digital destination for EV users when charging their car away from home.

What can we, as individuals, do to make a difference?

Everything and nothing. True, great ideas do start at the level of the individual, but we have to act collectively to make real change. Government often relies too heavily on consumer choice – more impact can sometimes be had by working with suppliers. Both, of course, are crucial.

If you were Prime Minister for a day, what would be the first thing you’d do?

Across the board, remove all tax advantages for all use of fossil fuels (e.g. fuel used by aircraft which current pays zero fuel excise duty). On an even playing field, many green technologies would immediately become more economic than the status quo.

What’s the coolest product you’ve come across?c101 Electric Car

I first heard of Louis Brennan’s two-wheel gyro-car when I was a lecturer at the OU; an invention you hardly believe even when you understand the physics of gyroscopes. Then in 2012 came the two-wheel C1 electric car. I want one; imagine the looks from other drivers at the lights!

Can you recommend a life-changing book for our readers?

Any of the Gaia books by James Lovelock – as I was reading one of the series, the world outside my window actually changed in appearance – what I learned changed my perception of the natural and built environment.

What do you listen to when you’re cooking dinner?

Radio 4 for ideas – such as In Our Time on iPlayer – cooking, like walking, is a great time for deep thought.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Ben LaneDon’t be afraid to take risks (Prof Wragg at University of Exeter during last lecture of PGCE course). Incidentally he also sensibly advised us not to sleep with the students!

Can you leave us with your Eco Hero?

While I don’t agree with everything he says but George Monbiot has to be up there as a great independent eco-thinker and sea kayaker:

To find out more about Next Green Car visit their website and follow them on Twitter.