Many automotive manufacturers have announced their intention to launch fuel cell powered cars in the next few years. This has led to large research budgets aimed at new or emerging technologies. The emergence of a new automotive power and drive system allows a new beginning in designing the components of these systems with environmental impact in mind. That is, the whole car, from the ground up, can be built from “design for the environment” principles with an appreciation of “well to wheels” impact of its fuel. Using this approach, vehicles can be designed for minimum resource and energy use during manufacture and for low cost, low impact disassembly, leading not only to improved environmental performance but also to reduced manufacturing costs.We would like to present this paper as a way of beginning the discussion of the issues that will need to be considered if this opportunity is to be capitalised upon before any of the technology is too entrenched to be changed and before major commitments are made. The long term result will be a decision tool enabling tradeoffs to be made when considering the lifetime impact of both a new species of car and the fuel to power them.