• Feb 16, 2011
Last year, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) ranked the natural gas-burning Honda Civic GX as the greenest vehicle of 2010. Well, that CNG-fed Civic, which is only available in a handful of states, has topped the charts yet again.

With a green score of 54, the Civic GX earned the number one ranking on ACEEE's "Greenest Vehicles of 2011." Yes, the battery-powered Nissan Leaf did score 54, same as the Civic GX, but ACEEE's ranking system places more emphasis on pollution than fuel economy and that's why the CNG-fed Civic retained the top spot.

The plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt, a no show in the top ten, ranked twelfth overall. The Volt's poor showing was due, at least in part, to its hefty curb weight and comparatively poor fuel economy when operating in range-extended mode.

The pint-sized Smart Fortwo, with its 1.0-liter gas engine, placed third overall, trailing the Leaf and the Civic GX by one point. The world's best-selling hybrid, the Toyota Prius, captured fourth and two more Hondas, the Civic Hybrid and the Insight, ranked fifth and sixth, respectively.

ACEEE's ratings are based on a weighted score that's derived from fuel efficiency ratings, weight, emissions and complex formulas used to calculate a vehicle's overall environmental impact.

[Source: Greener Cars]


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  • 30 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      YMMV, but in my 1500+ miles on our new Volt, we are averaging 122 mpg; we replaced a 2006 Prius and a 2007 Camry Hybrid with our Volt and LEAF. For me, these kinds of "ratings" speak volumes about the biases of the committee which set the parameters for ranking and not about how the cars actually work in the world.

      Getting more than 100 miles on every gallon of fuel actually consumed, and projecting that more than 90% of our daily commutes will always be in the EV range of the Volt means to me that we are pretty green and much more than if we were ALWAYS burning (one kind or another of) fuel. Our LEAF will never consume or pollute, so clearly that is about as green as one can get--particularly since our solar panel system generates enough annual power to fully cover our home use AND the charging of both cars.

      The ACEEE just lost a great deal of credibility with me. Maybe that committee needs another round of Red Bull and a "review session?"
        • 3 Years Ago
        Grant. Yes, he is getting 122 miles for every gallon of gas he burns.

        It is not a measure of efficiency, it is a measure of how little gas he is using to travel the distances he travels. And it is accurate and it is useful.

        Additionally, I guess you didn't read his post, he doesn't take electricity from the grid to charge his cars. So measuring the only consumable he really has is actually a good measure of how much he is paying to run the car.

        You want his words to be about MPGe, but they aren't. He was talking about MPG, and it's accurate and useful.
        • 3 Years Ago
        For charging both of our EV cars at the same time (late night discounted TOU rate), we have the Coulomb 220V unit on the left side of the garage and will use that mostly for the LEAF (which with the bigger battery needs more kW/charge) and use the Volt's 110 included charge cord, now mounted on the right side of the garage, for the Volt, which with the smaller battery will still charge fully even at 110V input during the low rate late night period.

        The Volt, in the Sacramento metropolitan area, got the Coulomb 220v Chargepoint AND full installation FREE with a DOE monitoring grant for early adopters. Unfortunately Sacramento is NOT in any sponsored support program for the LEAF.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I love you Man.
        Kick Osama's A--!
        • 3 Years Ago
        How is that useful? If you have a 9 gallon tank, you should be able to go 1,000 miles in a Volt without filling up or charging it, right? Of course not. You could also say you can go infinite miles per gallon and that would be just as accurate (and just as useless).
        • 3 Years Ago
        You are not getting 122 mpg in a Volt. You cannot state "miles per gallon" while ignoring the electricity consumed for most of those miles. Therefore, the mpg figure is meaningless. You could easily time your charges so you got 1,000 or more "miles per gallon." That calculation would be just as legitimate (or illegitimate).
        • 3 Years Ago
        Yes, all those are just as accurate and all are useful if you want to calculate how far you are going on how much gas.

        My friend who has a Volt went 800 miles on 4 gallons.

        So what's so ridiculous about 1,000 on 9?

        Yes, infinite miles per gallon is one valid and useful possibility for your miles per gallon figures on the Volt.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Did you put two chargers in your garage or you just move the plug in the evening?
      • 3 Years Ago
      why wouldn't a fossil fuel burner be more green than a pure electric..
      why not put a hummer upthere while we're at it
      and smoking is good for you as long as it is menthol
        bajohn3
        • 3 Years Ago
        Actually 2 WM, our electrical grid is only 45% coal, which means it's mostly not coal. The rest is nukes, NG, hydro, and some wind and other stuff.
        • 3 Years Ago
        The only thing i can think of is that in the USA, our energy source comes mainly from coal, and NGV burns pretty damn clean compared to gas.

        How they did that calculation is beyond me.
        The smart car shouldn't have came in 3rd either.

        Whatever system they're using to calculate these ratings does seem a bit weird. You'd think the prius would far higher on the list.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Go buy a box of tissues
      • 3 Years Ago
      "Greener Cars Greenest Vehicle list of 2011"???
      These are "Epic Fail" compared to 1985.

      Green??? What is the lifetime cost and impact - 'Dust to Dust'?
      Think of consumer price and environmental impact to produce these... then the lifetime maintenance and gas - FAIL!


      I only noted these cars*, because I drove them all over the years - loaded with friends, family, pets and gear.
      Safely and reliably.

      1985 CHEVROLET SPRINT
      City 39 mpg
      Hwy 48 mpg
      Combined 43 mpg

      1985 NISSAN SENTRA
      City 38 mpg
      Hwy 45 mpg
      Combined 40 mpg

      1985 FORD ESCORT
      City 36 mpg
      Hwy 47 mpg
      Combined 40 mpg

      1985 TOYOTA COROLLA
      City 32 mpg
      Hwy 43 mpg
      Combined 36 mpg

      'Dust to Dust' Automotive Energy Report
      http://www.cnwmr.com/nss-folder/automotiveenergy

      *fueleconomydb.com


      "History, learn from it or become it" -Haase
      • 3 Years Ago
      These are all energy efficient cars, but I am amazed that gas burners like the Yaris, Cooper, Elantra and Cruze are ranked higher than an EREV like the Volt. It looks like a heavier car that gets the vast majority of its miles using electricity (ala ERE) is losing to cars that use gas for every mile. Kind of makes me laugh, but not in a positive way for ACEEE.
        • 3 Years Ago
        In electric mode the volt should lose 1-2 points worse than the leaf(due to additional weight)

        In gas mode at 38mpg combined it beats all of the non-hybrids on the list which means it really should score 51-52.
        • 3 Years Ago
        My comment about the Volt makes more sense if my Acronym ERE had been fully spelled out as an EREV... Oh well.
        But I think Paul nailed it on his rating, the Volt would probably score a 51 or a 52 on the scale these people used if a large number of normal, green car enthusiasts were polled.
        Regardless, it is cool to see so many green options with even better ones on the way in the next few years. My one concern now is that China may have a bit of an economic slowdown over the next few years which would allow the current supply of oil to drop prices slightly, making the slightly more expensive first generation of BEV's and EREV's less popular. We are probably at peak oil now, and have been since 2006, but if demand doesn't stay strong there is a chance prices could fall back for a year or two, making it increasingly difficult to bring high upfront cost projects like BEV's and EREV's to market.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Like most of these "weighted rating systems" the end result derives from the personal likes and dislikes of the few folks invited in for coffee in the ivory tower that morning.
        • 3 Years Ago
        What really reveals the bias is having the Smart ForTwo rated higher than the Prius, when the Prius gets better fuel economy AND has lower emissions - PZEV beats ULEV II. Come to think of it, the Honda Civic hybrid should also have scored higher than the Smart for the same reason.

        Don't know where in their "complex calculations" that the bias was introduced, but it must be in there somewhere.
        • 3 Years Ago
        The Civic being rated above the Leaf would be right for the US market, although not for France.
        In the US you get about 50% of electricity from coal, which knocks the Leaf back as natural gas is cleaner burning.
        In France with 80% of their electricity from nuclear and a lot of the rest from hydro the Leaf is incomparably far ahead.
      • 3 Years Ago
      VW TDIs (30/42, ULEV II / Bin 5) scored 48, the same as the Volt.
      I don't really get how a Yaris is "greener" than either of them.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I considered that. Even with a 15% increase in fuel economy to even out the diesel energy content difference, the Yaris gets worse fuel economy in the real world. EPA's cycle is tough on diesels for some reason. I own a 2011 TDI and consistently get over 47MPG (US) highway and 36MPG city, considerably above the estimates. Most owners also report higher-than-rated fuel economy. However, I'm sure ACEEE is only using the estimated numbers.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Due to the higher energy content in Diesel, the Yaris actually emits slightly fewer primary emissions (H2O and CO2) for the same distance (better highway, worse city).
        • 3 Years Ago
        The only proper way to compare is EPA estimate against EPA estimate. If you drove a Yaris the same way you drive your TDI, you'd likely get better than EPA on the Yaris too.
      • 3 Years Ago
      The Volt has a 1.4L ICE, no? And not a PZEV.

      Interesting figures, they seem to imply the Volt is more efficient on the highway in CD (EV) mode than the Leaf is.

      I can't see how the BMW MINI Cooper places above the Volt. It's an efficient car, but if the emissions mix applied to electricity puts the Leaf in the #2 spot, how can the Volt not do better than the Cooper given that it operates under about the same emissions levels of the Leaf well over half the time for most people and only slightly higher than the Cooper the other time.

      For anyone else wondering about the BIN 3 on the Prius or the other "/" items in the center, the second listing after the slash is what the vehicle is rated at outside CARB areas if it has separate ratings for inside CARB and outside. For example, the Prius is an AT-PZEV inside CARB and TIER 2 BIN 3 outside. Weird that outside the CARB areas, a Civic Hybrid is actually better on trace emissions than the Prius.
        • 3 Years Ago
        On the EPA's fueleconomy.gov website, it shows that the Prius (1.8L engine by the way, not 2.0) is the same model both in CARB and non-CARB states: the underhood label ID is ATYXV01.8HC3 for both.

        The EPA bin limits are at 'full useful life' while CARB tests at 120,000 miles/11 years. Possibly Toyota decided that the full useful life is longer than 120k and the car can't meet the requirements for Bin 3 at that age/distance. Still, I wouldn't rule out Toyota submitting the wrong information to the EPA, or the EPA transcribing it incorrectly.

        I think the only way that we know the pollution rating for the Volt is that the published sticker has a 6/10 for the pollution score. The EPA have changed the score for the 2011 model year: it was previously (2009/10) Bin 5/LEV II but is now Bin 4/ULEV II. They've rescaled it to fit PZEV in properly, which used to get a 9.5/10 because they hadn't left a gap between SULEV II (was 9, now 8) and ZEV (a 10/10). The 2011 Prius doesn't yet have a score on the fueleconomy.gov website.

        The original table has been corrected already: http://www.greenercars.org/highlights_greenest.htm
      • 3 Years Ago
      What a joke, look at natural gas down stream costs:
      - Fracking: Polluted Fresh Water
      - Fracking: Cancer risk, and ground level ozone pollution.
      - Plus: Oil Industry Money in your political process: Teacher cut backs, if your school system is better then Texas[ the worst in the nation ], then it's Too Good, and needs to be cut back, your state becomes less competitive.

      Never Buy Any Oil Industry product, not until they start producing wind farms.
      • 3 Years Ago
      ABG, check this guy's comment history. He is a spammer for a certain energy company.
      • 3 Years Ago
      RE: check this guy's comment history. He is a spammer for a certain energy company.

      Me? ... if the company is free will then yes ;-)
      • 3 Years Ago
      There is no explanation for how they came up with these scores. The footnote for the Leaf says "Fuel economy for electric vehicles is provided in miles per kilowatt-hour." So they assumed the Leaf goes 65 miles on the highway and 75 miles in city driving. That's all they say. If it's a zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) as they label it, shouldn't the Leaf be the greenest of all of them? There is no explanation of their assumptions for the source of electricity since they must be taking that into account (without taking into account the energy used for gasoline refining, etc.) in order to come up with a natural gas-burning vehicle emitting less pollution than an electric vehicle.
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