ACEEE Says You Can’t Go Wrong With This Mix Of Green Cars
Choosing a car that meets your household’s needs is one thing, but if you are environmentally conscious your selection might go beyond comfort, cargo room and available options. If you want to reduce your environmental impact, minimize fuel costs or cut the petroleum pipelines from foreign countries, then buy the greenest vehicle that still meets your transportation needs.
To help shoppers choose a greener car, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) in Washington, D.C. compiles an annual survey of what it determines is the most environmentally friendly cars on American roads. Not surprisingly, battery-powered electric and gasoline-electric hybrids are the sole winners for 2018, the 21st year for the list.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Green Vehicle Guide only looks at traditional tailpipe pollutants, the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) produced per mile and fuel economy. The ACEEE uses a complex formula that considers the emissions associated with a vehicle’s entire life cycle–from manufacturing to disposal impact–and the fuel it uses, whether gasoline, diesel or electricity.
The Council also analyzes automakers’ test results for fuel economy and emissions as reported to the EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB), along with other reported specifications. In addition, the group looks at lifecycle impacts of the car, taking into consideration criteria pollutants, greenhouse gas emissions, looking at upstream emissions of the vehicle’s fuel and also manufacturing and disposal impacts. Four basic data points form the core of the ratings—tailpipe emissions, fuel economy, vehicle curb weight and battery mass and composition (for the hybrid and plug-in vehicles). Finally, they factor in an environmental damage index that tallies the gram-per-mile pollutant rate multiplied by a cents-per-gram of damage costs.
If you’re ready to go shopping for an Earth-friendly new car, here’s the list of the 12 Greenest Cars Of 2018. We are noting their green scores and fuel economy, including the “MPGe” equivalent for EVs. (Beyond the list of 12 environmental winners, the ACEEE also provides car shoppers with lists of more environmentally friendly choices in all car classes at: https://aceee.org/. To add some more data to the mix, we’ve also included links to our road tests and news stories about these models.
Base prices are before any federal, state or local incentives.
2017 Ioniq Electric Vehicle
Leading the pack for the second year in a row is the midsized Hyundai Ioniq Electric. It compiled a “Green Score” of 70 out of a 100, which is the highest rating for a passenger car ever recorded by the ACEEE. The all-electric version of the Ioniq hatchback leads all comers with a class-leading fuel economy equivalent. Base Price: $29,500. EV Range: 124 miles: MPGe: 150 city/122 highway.
Smart Fortwo Electric Drive
Slotting into the number two ranking with a Green Score of 69 is the two-seat Smart ForTwo Electric Drive. Not only is this the cheapest car built by Mercedes-Benz, it is among the greenest rides on the road. However, it is hampered by a limited driving range, a seating capacity of two and a small cargo capacity, but it offers something no other electric car does: the option to drop the top. Base Price: $23,800. EV Range: 58 miles; MPGe: 124 city/94 highway.
A Green Score of 68 was high enough to earn the BMW i3 BEV third on the list in ACEEE’s 12 Greenest Cars Of 2018. This rating is for the odd-shaped i3’s newly available 94 amp-hour battery pack. The i3 is also offered with a small range-extender gasoline engine with fewer EV miles (97), but can travel an additional 83 miles on gasoline. Base Price: $47,650. EV Range:114 miles; MPGe: 129 city/106 highway.
Tesla Model 3
While a Green Score of 67 places the Tesla Model 3 Long Range in fourth place, the wait time for this new car could take up to a year or longer, due to production delays and pre-production demand. This is for the $9,000 optional long range battery Model 3. Base Price: $44,000. EV Range: 310 miles; MPGe:136 city/123 highway.
Chevrolet Bolt EV
One of America’s favorite EVs, the Chevrolet Bolt’s 66 Green Score places it in the number five position. The hatchback compact car offers the latest tech and safety features along with a spacious interior, and an operating range that is sufficient for a typical week’s commute. Base Price: $36,620. EV Range: 238 miles; MPGe 128 city/110 highway.
The Hampster lovin’ Kia Soul EV tallied a 66 Green Score to tie the Chevy Bolt. The boxy Soul EV is roomy and comfortable with a nicely appointed interior. However, it is only available in California and nine other states. Base Price: $32,250. EV Range: 111 miles; MPGe: 124 city/93 highway.
Hyundai Ioniq Blue Hybrid
With a Green Score of 65, the Hyundai Ioniq Blue is the top hybrid on this year’s ACEEE’s list of greenest cars. With handsome styling inside and out, the compact Ioniq hybrid tops all hybrids with its impressive fuel economy. It’s also available in plug-in hybrid and electric models. Base Price: $22,200. MPG: 57 city/59 highway.
Toyota Prius Two Eco
The Toyota Prius Eco slipped into second place among conventional hybrids on this year’s ACEEE’s list with a Green Score of 64. Still America’s best-selling hybrid, the Prius Eco Two trim offers the top fuel economy in the Prius lineup. Base Price: $25,165. MPG: 58 city/53 highway.
Ford Focus Electric
A Green Score of 64 lands the Ford Focus Electric in the number eight spot. This compact electric hatchback is affordable, thanks to the one-time $7,500 frederal tax credit and the large cash rebates from Ford. Base Price: $29,120. EV Range: 115 miles; MPGe: 118 city/96 highway.
Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid
Kia’s Niro Plug-in Hybrid tops the plug-in hybrid class with a Green Score of 63. Also available as a standard hybrid (52 city/49 highway mpg), the plug-in version gains battery-only range, but is less efficient in hybrid mode. Base Price: $27,900. EV Range: 26 miles; MPGe: 105; MPG gas: 46 combined.
Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid
Honda made this year’s ACEEE list with the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid that had a Green Score of 62. The plug-in-hybrid version joins EV and fuel-cell Clarity variants, and it’s the only version of this premium sedan that can be purchased outright. Base Price: $33,400. EV Range 48 miles; MPGe 110; MPG gas: 42 combined.
Chevrolet’s Volt is among the dozen “greenest” cars for 2018 with a Green Score of 62. The Volt is equipped with a small range-extending gasoline engine that provides a virtually unlimited operting range, as long as you can find a sas station. But the first 53 miles comes solely on electricity. Base Price: $33,320. MPGe: 106; Gas: 42 highway.
The tally of the Top 12—seven electrics, three plug-in hybrids and two hybrids. Four from Hyundai-Kia, two from General Motors and one each from BMW, Daimler, Ford, Honda, Tesla and Toyota.
Clean Fleet Report Founder Looks Back—And Forward
We have seen amazing progress in cars, electrified transportation and in the future of mobility, since I started Clean Fleet Report in 2006. Oil usage peaked in 2006 in the United States and other developed nations and I reported 10 reasons.
What once was rare (the EV) is becoming more commonplace
Clean Fleet Report was started to showcase success in clean transportation. Fleets were five years ahead of the mass market. Although I could not find hundreds of electric vehicles in my neighborhood, at US Marine Corps Camp Pendleton I witnessed hundreds of electric vehicles being charged with solar power. They also had a large fleet of advanced diesel vehicles running on biofuel and even a hydrogen fuel cell pilot. In 2006, it took fleets to put in the charging or fueling infrastructure, stock the parts, secure the advanced diagnostics and training, and keep everything running.
Now my neighborhood streets include a steady stream of electric cars from Tesla, Chevrolet, BMW, Nissan, Ford and dozens of others. Since I live near Silicon Valley, where every automaker has an R&D center, I also see a number of autonomous vehicles clocking-up their millions of miles.
I still am in awe of the innovators and the fleet managers who devote years to working through all the issues so that we can all benefit from the technology breakthroughs.
The Circle of Life
I interviewed hundreds of people for my book, Save Gas, Save the Planet. One theme that emerged is many experience a “circle of life.” Their college was in a city with excellent transit and they lived car-free. Later, a job, a relationship or a dog necessitated their buying a car. Relationships blossomed and they had a car and a truck. Many raised children and worked longer hours to support three or four vehicles. Eventually, they retire, downsizing to two, then one, and finally zero cars.
Shared electric bikes are another mobility option
With children long grown, my wife and I replaced our two cars with one Chevrolet Volt. My mom is down to zero. In my book and in Clean Fleet Report, I surveyed the progress of hybrids, electrics, advanced fuels and integrated urban transportation. When the book was released in 2009, much of the technology looked cutting edge.
Naysayers dismissed electric cars as expensive golf carts. Now we have millions of electric cars, SUVs, buses and trucks. We have 150 million electric bicycles. My wife and I only have one electric car, but two electric bikes, and frequently travel on electric buses and rail. Fleets continue to convert innovation into major success.
Another area of breakthrough success is in smart cities around the world. The future of urban mobility is ACES: Autonomous, Connected, Electric, Shared.
For decades, we have used shared mobility in cities as we ride on buses, rail and on-demand ride-sharing options, including Uber and Lyft. Most major cities have metro rail and bus systems that enable people to travel faster.
We don’t know what the transportation future will look like, but we hope it will be ACES
Of our shared choices, rail moves the most; cars the least, with buses in between. Rail is laid down into fixed routes that last 40 to 100 years, yet cities grow and reshape organically. When people deboard transit one-quarter mile from their destination, most walk. But for the last one-to-three miles, on-demand services are needed. Smart cities have integrated these services of rail, bus, on demand, bicycling and walking.
Around 20 years ago, Toyota added an electric motor and advanced battery to a conventional car and introduced the hybrid Prius. Success in hybrid cars led to hybrid heavy-duty vehicles such as buses and trucks. With the success of hybrids, plug-in vehicles were introduced, so that batteries could be charged from garage outlets or public chargers.
By 2025, Navigant expects 37 million electric vehicles (EVs) on the global roads, fueled by lithium battery costs falling from $1,000 per kWh in 2010 to $145 (GM’s price from LG Chem reports Car and Driver).
From electric cars to electric buses and electric rail, we are ending our dependence on gasoline and diesel powering 15 percent efficient drive systems and transitioning to local renewable energy powering 90 percent efficient electric drive systems. Mobility is increasingly powered by wind and solar, not from the extreme emissions from shale drilling and pipelines from tar sands. Millions of lives will be saved annually, now lost to lung damage from air pollution. Trillions will be saved in health care.
In most developed nations of the world, transit systems in major cities are connected with high-speed rail, which is pure electric. The planned 800-mile high-speed rail system for California will connect all major cities, 25 transit systems and run on 100 percent renewable energy. Those transit systems are planning on thousands of electric buses. Ridesharing providers are already adding electric cars to their fleets.
Drivers kill over a million annually, making the roads unsafe for other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. Self-driving cars see better, using multiple cameras, lasers and 360-degree lidar. Self-driving cars are totally focused on driving; don’t text, bounce to music, drive after drinking, smoke dope or get distracted.
Sharing is becoming a real, growing option to car ownership; soon that shared car may pick you up instead of you picking it
Machine learning and big data will make full use of autonomous fleets during peak hours, routing them to the right places at the right times. In some cities, wireless charging will be used for the fleets of self-driving cars and shuttles. In others, the vehicles will drive themselves during off-peak hours to car washes and parking structures where they will be fast-charged.
The benefits of self-driving are hotly debated. A transportation authority, San Francisco CTA, states that the on-demand services have made the streets of SF more congested. Other studies conclude that on-demand leads to fewer cars and more transit use. After analyzing the data from three million taxi rides, MIT calculated that 2,000 on-demand 10-person vans in New York CIty could replace 14,000 taxis. MIT researchers also estimate that successful use of ride-share apps like Uber and Lyft could reduce the number of vehicles on the road by a whopping 75 percent without slowing down travel.
We will have autonomous cars, buses and trucks. Vancouver even has electric self-driving Skytrain monorail.
Put a price on carbon, congestion zones and vehicle miles traveled during peak hours, and most urban transportation will not be solo drivers. It will be in electric and autonomous shared rides like Lyft Lines, Waymo and Waze (Alphabet companies) shuttle vans, autonomous buses and rail. Autonomous vehicles will save lives, insurance rates will drop, hospital bills will drop, urban housing will be more affordable without requirements of one and two spaces per unit. ACES mobility improves urban density.
When I listen to debates about autonomous vehicles, I am reminded of similar debates 10 years ago about electric vehicles. EVs were predicted to add massive congestion, use nothing but coal power, eliminate jobs and cause recessions by reducing petroleum demand. None of these alarming forecasts happened.
We were making a long and painful drive back from Los Angeles to San Francisco in heavy traffic. On the freeway, in the middle an empty desert, my Android Auto navigation told me that I could save 37 minutes by taking the next exit. I almost dismissed the direction as an error, but I trusted Google Maps and took the exit. As we drove 12 miles on a windy sideroad, I looked at the I-5 freeway in complete gridlock, due to a major accident. After 12 miles, we were directed back on the freeway, indeed saving 37 minutes.
Your car is now connected to the world and can help you navigate through it
Google could see the speed of thousands of Google Map users at that GPS location. In my Google Map settings, I had given permission to reroute me based on traffic information. Google’s sophisticated algorithms saved me valuable time. Tomorrow, similar apps will guide us through our day of interconnected services making best use of rail, transit, car, and some healthy walking.
Leading cities are already using ACES – autonomous, connected, electric, and shared mobility. Look for high growth in smart cities. ACES brings us mobility that is safe, pollution-free, healthy and less expensive.
Congratulations to all who have made a difference these past 12 years. Engineers have dramatically improved drive systems. Software wizards have transformed cars into networks of supercomputers on wheels.
Congratulations to Michael Coates, who has been running Clean Fleet Report these last three years and to his team, which keeps you updated about today’s most efficient cars and tomorrow’s most intelligent transportation. Most important are all the readers from fleet managers and car owners who take the best information and ideas and put them into action.
Better Fuel Economy & Lower Emissions Are an Affordable Option
You do not have to purchase a new car to reap the benefits from the higher fuel efficiency, lower emissions and lower operating costs of a hybrid. Indeed, go for a used hybrid. Many people still prefer buying used over new hybrids, and they find it a good option indeed.
But, with a wealth of different models and makes available on the market nowadays, choosing the hybrid vehicle is not easy at all. Here are our top 10 picks with key features.
1. 2013 Chevrolet Volt
2013 Chevrolet Volt offers great fuel efficiency
It seems that Chevrolet took a pretty aggressive tack with Volt in 2013. This amazing vehicle boasts a Hold driving mode, which lets you get optimal efficiency on the roads by saving the battery power. It comes with one-speed automatic transmission and 149-horsepower (hp) engine. Fuel efficiency: 101 city/93 hwy MPGe.
2. 2013 Toyota Prius Plug-in
The 2013 plug-in Toyota Prius hybrid version is propelled by a powerful mix of a 1.8L I-4 gasoline engine and an electric motor. It comes standard with four-wheel anti-lock brakes, a electronicly controlled CVT transmission, 15-inch aluminum wheels, integrated navigation system, advanced cruise control and a whole lot of airbags. Fuel efficiency: 90 city/102 hwy MPGe.
3. 2013 Ford Fusion Energi
This vehicle is meant to provide customers with a mixture of the top-notch Ford Fusion hybrid parts with attributes of a completely electric car. The standard features include 17-inch aluminum wheels, automatic air conditioning, AdvanceTrac electronic stability and traction control. It is powered by an Atkinson-cycle 141hp, 2.0L four-cylinder engine that is combined with 7.6-kWh Li-ion battery pack. Fuel efficiency: 95 city/81 hwy MPGe.
Ford has two fuel-efficient options–the Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi
4. 2013 Ford C-Max Energi
Here’s another great blend of hybrid and electric car by Ford. It utilizes Ford’s 2.0L direct-injected four-cylinder engine, which is coupled with an AC electric motor that runs with a 7.6-kWh Li-ion battery pack. As a result, total system power reaches 195 hp while offering 129 pounds-feet of torque. Fuel efficiency: 95 city/81 hwy MPGe.
5. 2012 Toyota Prius V Five
With some 2012 upgrades and improvements, this five-passenger vehicle uses exactly the same powertrain like the Prius sedan, but it offers a significant 58 percent increase in cargo space. The 2012 Toyota Prius V Five boasts a wagon body, electronicly controlled CVT transmission and 1.8-liter I-4 98 hp engine. Fuel efficiency: 44 city/40 hwy MPG.
6. 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
With an integrated navigation system, six-speed automatic transmission, as well as superb driveline traction and cruise control systems, driving this hybrid car is a real delight. This is supported by a 2.4-liter I-4 engine which produces decent 159 horsepower. Fuel efficiency: 36 city/40 hwy MPG.
7. 2007 Lexus RX 400h
The 2007 Lexus RX 400h was one of the early hybrid offerings
This hybrid features 3.3L 208hp V-6, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, and CVT transmission. It is equipped with a driver knee airbag, airbag occupancy sensor as well as curtain head and side airbags for the great safety. There is also an all-wheel drive, ABS, cruise control and traction control. Fuel efficiency: 28 city/25 hwy MPG.
8. 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid
The Kia Optima Hybrid EX is powered by a 2.4-liter I-4 engine that develops 166 horsepower and is mated to six-speed automatic transmission. Other standard features worth mentioning include 16-inch aluminum wheels, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, traction control, cruise control, curtain overhead airbags, side seat-mounted airbags and automatic air conditioning. Fuel efficiency: 34 city/39 hwy MPG.
9. 2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
The key features of this heavy-duty vehicle include second and third row overhead airbag, 19-inch aluminum wheels, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, all-wheel drive and cruise control, among others. Under the hood, there’s a powerful 3.5-liter 231-hp V-6. It comes with a CVT transmission along with overdrive. Fuel efficiency: 28 city/28 hwy MPG.
10. 2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid
The Toyota Camry is one of the most popular hybrid midsize cars sold in the US. And the 2010 Camry sedan can still pack a punch with a reliable hybrid system and plenty of great features. It comes standard with a 2.5L four-cylinder engine, VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence) and a distinctive grille. Fuel efficiency: 33 city/34 hwy MPG. Check out 2010 Camry for sale in Austin, Texas.
September 9-17 Offers Opportunity to Learn More About EVs
Since the beginning of the current decade, electric cars have been available in many countries and at various dealerships. But, chances are, if you aren’t driving one now, you may not know much about them. That’s why, every September, National Drive Electric Week (NDEW) breaks out all across the country. It’s designed to build awareness of the advantages and pleasures of driving plug-in electric cars without asking people to step into a sales experience. Electric car owners bring their cars to the events and you can get the straight scoop from them directly.
The event began in 2011 as National Plug In Day, with the goal of staging events across the country on a single day to boost awareness of the new electric cars. Fast forward to 2017 and, looking at the map on the Drive Electric Week website, every state except South Dakota is hosting at least one event this year. As you’d expect, the activities are concentrated along the coasts.
Fittingly, 2011 was also the year that the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt arrived—the first plug-in cars with serious corporate backing and volume intentions. Along with the growth of the electric car market itself, the annual event has expanded to a week and been appropriately renamed.
My Plan This Year
This year is my first year to attend, and I’m thrilled to be bringing my own car–a 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV that I leased in January. I’ll be giving people rides in my car at an event on Saturday, September 9, a few miles from my office in San Mateo, California. The following Wednesday, I’m hosting an event at my office building, where we EV drivers will display our cars and share with
I’ll be bringing my Bolt to the party
our colleagues the joys and advantages of electric motoring. Of course, most of us EV folks already know each other from conversations at the 12 charging stations out front or on our own Slack channel—electriccars—which I started last year when I was testing a Fiat 500e for three months.
On September 16, the next to last day of NDEW, I’ll drive my blue Bolt down to Cupertino—in the heart of Silicon Valley—where a much larger crowd will view more than 50 assorted EVs—new and historic. This year, we’ll see a rare GM EV-1, the original electric car, and star of “Who Killed the Electric Car.” As the sad story tells, GM crushed almost all of them. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the long-awaited 2018 Nissan Leaf will make an appearance, although it isn’t for sale quite yet. If someone could sneak in a real early Tesla Model 3, that would be a treat.
The electric car supporters of this growing event are Plug In America and the Electric Auto Association, along with the Sierra Club. The Platinum level sponsor is the Nissan Leaf, the EV pioneer that has done so much to bring affordable electric motoring to the masses.
Plan Your Own EV Event
You can go big or small with your NDEW event, but you do want to set it up with them online. That way, local people can find you, and any information your registered attendees provide—both the ones who bring a car or not—gets tallied to show how many miles are now being driven with electrons instead of carbon and how much interest is being generated. Added together, it’s a formidable number.
My event will likely feature no more than 10 cars, and it’s only for my fellow employees, other tenants in our three office buildings, and anyone who sees our signs or reads about the event on the
Fiats and other plug-ins will be there
NDEW website. We aim to have at least one each of the main EVs and plug-in hybrids on sale today, including the Chevrolet Bolt and Volt, BMW i3, Nissan Leaf, Fiat 500e, Volkswagen e-Golf, and the Tesla Model S and Model X.
I’m finding that it’s taking some effort to get hardworking software company employees to reserve a 90-minute lunch break to stand by their cars and field questions. We are using our local café as a caterer to provide free sandwiches or wraps to attendees, hoping that the lure of a free lunch will at least get them to the south side of the parking lot to check out our cars.
It’s important to get the word out. Electric cars have a few limitations, but those may not be relevant to most people’s actual driving needs. A Chevrolet Bolt EV can travel about 240 miles between charges, for example, meaning you really don’t need to worry about finding a charging station every time you take a ride somewhere. Charging at home while you’re sleeping works just fine.
Electric cars are wonderfully smooth and quiet, and some offer quick acceleration. My Bolt zips from 0-60 in 6.5 seconds—sports sedan territory—and, with the heavy battery along the bottom, is wonderfully stable in corners. Electricity is cheaper and certainly cleaner than gasoline, depending on how and where it’s generated, of course (rooftop panels recommended). Service is practically nonexistent—no oil changes, radiator fluid, etc. In fact, with regenerative braking, you may practically never change brake pads!
See the National Drive Electric Week website for an event near you. Maybe next year, you can attend as an EV driver yourself!
GM Set to Expand EV Lineup
Even though General Motors technically won the race to release an affordable electric vehicle with over 200 miles of range, their golden child–the Chevrolet Bolt EV–has not sold quite as well as GM had hoped. Maybe it is still a little early to tell for sure, but it seems that GM is wasting no time in giving its buyers more options.
According to a recent report from InsideEVs, an all-electric Buick crossover based on the Bolt EV may be on its way. The report is based on information obtained from a “very trusted/known source” who attended a focus group in California.
According to the source, the future Buick EV will be essentially just a body and badge swap, with a few caveats. Most importantly, the Buick EV will share the same 60 kWh battery and motor as the Bolt which means it will be front-drive only.
With the interior of the car, it seems that GM is really trying to separate this vehicle from the Bolt as it will feature a floating roof and entirely new center console with larger touchscreen display. The Buick EV is also said to have about three inches more rear legroom.
From the outside, the body of the future Buick EV was described by the source as “next generation Buick Encore-like.”
One Chevrolet (the Volt) has already become a Buick in China (the Velite 5)
One Chevrolet (the Volt) has already become a Buick in China (the Velite 5)
While it is common knowledge that GM plans to build a variety of vehicles based off the Bolt EV platform, this report is the first to suggest that the first Bolt EV sibling will be a Buick. This is not surprising, as any attempt to compete with the Tesla Model 3 (the other “affordable” EV that is just starting production—the quotes indicating that so far that means a $44,000 model) must fall further into the luxury category than the Bolt EV.
If Buick does release an EV crossover, look for it to cost around $3,000 more than the Chevrolet Bolt, and to hit the U.S. and Chinese markets first. The Chevy Volt had already been translated into the Buick Velite 5 for the Chinese market.
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