• Feb 23, 2011
Getting 12th place on a list of the greenest vehicles of 2011 as evaluated by ACEEE for Chevy's Volt has got GM a little upset. To add insult to injury after the list came out, they got bumped to 13th place by the Mazda 2, which was inadvertently omitted due to a mistake in vehicle emissions specifications.

In response to ACEEE's green listing Rob Peterson, a General Motors spokesman stated:

Their logic would escape the majority of consumers. If you look at the EPA ratings for the Smart fortwo at 33 city and 41 highway, it's actually less than the Volt's after the electric range is exhausted. We're being penalized against the Smart because our car is a four-seater with a battery pack and therefore weighs more. And we lose against the Leaf because we have a gas engine. But you really have to look at how the car is actually used - their methodology doesn't add up.

Looking beyond just the fuel consumption such as the emissions from the power when charging, ease of recycling, and factory pollution does paint a better picture overall of the impact a vehicle has on the environment. However, GM has a point that ACEEE's measurements may not reflect actual use especially when drivers such as Lyle Dennis are getting 111 mpg in the Volt with a 60 mile round-trip commute. Still, using phrases like, "We lose against the Leaf because we have a gas engine," have got to be a bit hard to say, no?

[Source: Forbes]


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  • 29 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      By Lyle's math, the Leaf would get inifinite mpg ;)

      Well actually, no. It would break the universe. You know, dividing by zero and all that.
        • 3 Years Ago
        All of these comparisons are well meant but miss the actual target. A true comparison can be made only on a "common denominator" e. g. joule. Further aspects to consider are: when comparing the energy equivalents they must also be related to the source e. g. fossil fuel, energy mix of electric energy, solar electric etc. and evaluated respectively.
      • 3 Years Ago
      "GM has a point that ACEEE's measurements may not reflect actual use"

      And when I charge my EV exclusively from my solar array, the ACEEE's measurements don't account for that either.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Not sure why GM cares about this list. Looks like nonsense to me. Yes, I said it looks like nonsense.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Eh, all the other hybrids under the Smart has a reason to complain too since it they obviously also have higher gas mileage than it.

      And even if the Volt didn't have a gas engine, it would still lose to the Leaf, since according to the EPA, it is less efficient running in CD mode. The gas engine only makes thing worse.
      • 3 Years Ago
      1) These guys need to watch the oscar-nominated movie "Gasland" and then rethink the tie between the Nissan Leaf and the Honda Civic GX.

      2) These guys are morons. The Smart versus the Prius needs to take into account functionality. The Smart is the least environmentally friendly car per passenger on that list. They need to deal with that. How do you consider weight without efficiency? If weight is such an issue (as a proxy for resources used) why not put motorcycles on the list?

      3) This list has pissed me off so much I can't even go on.
        • 3 Years Ago
        There is probably a CO2 component in the calculations. If a grid is getting most of it's electric from gas, or even worse coal, then you are likely to rate the gas-burner above the Leaf.
        If you are running an electric car in France where 80% of electricity is from nuclear the BEV wins hands down.
        • 3 Years Ago
        My thought on weight as an issue...
        The weight is already taken into account by the mpg and EV miles/EV efficiency ratings.
        I understand why weight is an issue at all... but the mpg and EV miles and EV efficiency ratings completely trump that.

        That's even why the Leaf beat the Volt in EV efficiency... the Volt is heavier therefore it takes more energy to go the same distance. I know other poss. reasons but honestly the weight diff. is THE main reason.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I see the PZEV rating that was mistakenly given to the Volt has been corrected, but isn't the gas engine a 1.4 liter not a 1.0 liter?

      I looked into this rating several years ago, and if my memory is correct, total environmental impact is calculated or at least estimated. For this rating it's not all about gas mileage or CO2. There are many other pollutants like evaporated hydrocarbons, which the Volt has more than more of than many other cars. But environmental impact go far beyond direct vehicle emissions. When everything is considered the outcome may not always be intuitive.

      Just because you don't like something your read, it's not proof of a bias. Most compainer are also some of the most biased.
      • 3 Years Ago
      "But you really have to look at how the car is actually used"

      That is a true statement. But the whole point of this exercise is to construct a comprehensive index. The problem is in comparing 4 passenger vehicles to 2 and in making extreme claims such as a 230mpgs.
      • 3 Years Ago
      The rating is totally bogus. Why else would the Smart ForTwo score better than the Prius and Civic hybrid, when both of those hybrids have lower emissions and higher fuel economy.
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is not surprising to me. An electric car car that has a gas cap, what an oxymoron. I don't know if a million Volts will help with our current oil problems. Gas prices are on the rise again simply due to world political events. The Volt with its small battery giving it such a small electric range is not a solution.
        • 3 Years Ago
        You just don't get it Randy, and I don't even want to try and explain it to you.
        • 3 Years Ago
        None of the current energy problems have a single solution.
        If we waited till there was one... "the end" (whatever you take that to mean) would already have occurred.

        For people who travel short distances only (or only 1 or 2 planned long trips per year)
        they have 100 mile EV's (70 mile EPA rated)

        For those who go longer distances more frequently you have plug-ins.

        Those are the best options at the moment.
        Until the Tesla Model S and their "down the road" vehicles. which are long range EV's.

        "Dont let the perfect be the enemy of the good."
        -Voltaire
      • 3 Years Ago
      GM shouldn't worry about yet another brainless attempt to manipulate
      consumer demand - consumers care about avoiding high priced gas.
      And is anyone crazy enough to believe that a recyclable car seat
      material will actually be recycled?
      Now is the time for these auto-involved bureaucrats to stop using
      MPG to indicate mileage for an electric car. EVs use ELECTRICITY, not gasoline, and there's NO intrinsic connection between the two different
      forms of energy. There's no economic conncection, and basing a relationship on joules, or some such is meaningless to consumers, who are interested primarily in cost, and meaningless in general. The object isn't to "save energy" but to reduce emissions. The world, dear friends, will
      ALWAYS need more and more energy. Jeeeez!!!
      • 3 Years Ago
      I can see the Volt losing the Green car award to the Leaf, but the rest of the 'winners' say more about the prejudice of ACEEE than they do about the Volt's green cred. The Volt is a pretty green car, the Leaf and IMiev are even greener, and the Focus Electric will be as well. Not sure why the Tesla Roadster wasn't included, it is sporty in a green sort of way.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I get the feeling that organizers of such rankings get paid for keeping Tesla Roadster out of them. It just can't be right that the top green cars include a BEV that has performance to beat every single ICE/hybrid/HFCEV car of the list. It isn't included even in "two-seater" -class.
      • 3 Years Ago
      My 2 year old Jetta TDI gets better mileage than most of those cars. Just saying.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Your mileage will fundamentally take a hit after your HPFP takes a nose dive south. Just saying.
        • 3 Years Ago
        But since it is a Diesel, it emits about 10% more CO2 per mile (and thus overall) than all of those cars.

        Tons of CO2/year:

        Your VW Jetta TDI: 6.2

        Honda Civic GX: 5.6
        Nissan Leaf: ?
        smart fourtwo: 5.2
        Toyota Prius: 3.8
        Honda Civic Hybrid: 4.6
        Honda Insight: 4.6
        Ford Fiesta SFE: 5.7
        Chevy Cruze Eco (manual): 5.7
        Hyundai Elantra: 5.7
        BMW MINI Cooper (manual): 5.8
        Toyota Yaris (manual): 5.8
        Mazda2 (manual): 5.8
        Chevrolet Volt: ?

        Now do you see why your Jetta TDI isn't ranked higher than those cars on a green list?
        • 3 Years Ago
        How can anyone claim "per year" figures? Everyone drives different distances. Someone could cut CO2 emissions by 10% by doing all their shopping one day a week, or cut their CO2 emissions by 50% by carpooling. I'm just saying, the car you drive doesn't necessarily reflect your carbon footprint.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Evan, the per year figures come from fueleconomy.gov. I didn't feel like dividing each of them down to a per km figure, so I used them verbatim.

        These figures are for 15,000 miles per year driven, and 55% city, 45% highway (same mix as creates the combined mpg figure).

        But none of that matters. You can change the figures to 1,000 miles per year if you want to do some math. No matter how you slice it, the Diesel emits more CO2 per mile.

        Furthermore, saying you can cut your carbon footprint by doing all your shopping one day a week doesn't matter either, because you can do that for all the cars on this list and thus each would cut their CO2 usage too, but in the end, the Jetta TDI would still have higher CO2 emissions for the same trips.
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