• Oct 24, 2011
Those are the past winners of the Green Car of the Year award, given out each year at the LA Auto Show by Green Car Journal. The five finalists for the 2012 award were announced today and there are four different powertrains among them. Here they are: Ford Focus Electric, Honda Civic Natural Gas, Mitsubishi i, Toyota Prius V and Volkswagen Passat TDI.

The rules for the GCOTY are that the vehicle has to have "quantifiable environmental achievement" as well as market significance and "newness." It has to be available by January 1 of the award year. Green Car Journal editor Ron Cogan said in a statement that the finalists offer "five exceptional answers" to the green car question. Which one is the most exceptional? We'll find out at the LA show on November 17. You can share your opinion in the poll below.

We may have a preview from the DC Auto Show earlier this year, when Green Car Journal gave the Focus Electric its Green Car Vision award. The awards aren't all that connected, though, since the Nissan Leaf won in 2010 while the Chevy Volt won in 2009.

Show full PR text
2012 Green Car of the Year® Finalists Revealed
Winner to be Announced at the LA Auto Show Nov. 17


LOS ANGELES, CA October 24, 2011 - Green Car Journal announced its five finalists for the 2012 Green Car of the Year® award today. For the seventh consecutive year, the Green Car of the Year® honors environmental leadership in the automotive field, with the winner being announced during a press conference at the Los Angeles Auto Show Press Days on Nov. 17. This year's five finalists include the 2012 Ford Focus Electric, 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas, 2012 Mitsubishi i, 2012 Toyota Prius v and 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI. The Green Car of the Year® award recognizes vehicles that become available by January 1 of the award year.

These five finalists are also honored as Green Car Journal's Top 5 Green Cars for 2012 for rising to the top of a field replete with increasingly more environmentally conscious and exciting models.

What is notable about this year's field of outstanding nominees is that they represent different takes on what makes a car 'green.' Honda's Civic Natural Gas champions an alternative fuel that burns cleanly and is abundant in the U.S. The Volkswagen Passat TDI continues this automaker's expansion of new clean diesel products that produce significantly lower emissions while achieving an impressively high mpg rating. The Prius v is a larger variant of Toyota's popular hybrid model and marks an expansion of Prius into its own family of vehicles. Ford's Focus Electric and Mitsubishi's i continue the march toward greater choices of zero-emission all-electric vehicles on American highways.

"This year's Green Car of the Year® finalists underscore that there is no single solution to our transportation challenges," said Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of Green Car Journal and editor of GreenCar.com. "Here we have five exceptional answers to the question of how we're going to increase efficiencies, reduce tailpipe and CO2 emissions, and decrease petroleum use. These nominees deserve to be recognized for their unique approaches in providing consumers diverse choices as cars intelligently evolve toward a more environmentally-compatible motoring future."

Narrowing the field to five nominees these days is no easy thing, according to Green Car Journal editors. Literally dozens of models are considered that feature improved environmental impact and increased efficiencies. Vehicles running on all fuels and technologies weigh in, including high-efficiency gasoline and diesel models along with ones that run on gaseous fuels, electricity and other alternative fuels. Along with quantifiable environmental achievement, market significance and 'newness' are but a few of many criteria considered as the field is narrowed to a final five.

Green Car of the Year® jurors include leaders of the nation's top environmental organizations, including Carl Pope, chairman of the Sierra Club; Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council; Jean-Michel Cousteau, president of Ocean Futures Society and Matt Petersen, president of Global Green USA. Also, Jay Leno, noted auto enthusiast and host of the "Tonight Show," as well as automotive icon Carroll Shelby join Green Car Journal editors in rounding out the 2012 jury.

About Green Car of the Year®
The GCOY award is an important part of Green Car Journal's mission to showcase environmental progress in the auto industry. Founded in 1992, Green Car Journal is considered the premier source of information on high fuel efficiency, low emission, advanced technology, and alternative fuel vehicles. Subscription information, along with a downloadable sample issue, can be found at GCJUSA.com. Green Car of the Year® is a registered trademark of Green Car Journal and RJ Cogan Specialty Publications Group, Inc.

About the L.A. Auto Show
As the first major North American Auto Show of the season, the 2011 L.A. Auto Show will host approximately 50 World and North American debuts. Press Days, Nov. 16 and 17, will feature more than 25 press conferences from manufacturers around the globe. Join the LA Auto Show conversation by following the Show at Twitter.com/LAAutoShow, Facebook.com/LosAngelesAutoShow and sign up for alerts at LAAutoShow.com.


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  • 38 Comments
      JP
      • 3 Years Ago
      Since NG cars have been around for quite a while what would be new or innovative about the Honda, and why is it on this list?
      Michael Walsh
      • 3 Years Ago
      At this point, the Focus BEV it's still mythical. And unless the judges have seen something different from what the rest of us have seen, then all they have to go on is a prototype held together with Velcro. Can't see how they could possible vote it GCOTY under the circumstances.
        Michael Walsh
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Michael Walsh
        Also, the Focus BEV isn't supposed to be available until March, from what I've been told. Though they will probably deliver a token car or two in December/January just to live up to the marketing hype.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      one might observe that despite the revolution in 2006 there is not a single car on the horizon that is designed for efficiency like the GM EV1 was or GM Ultralite or Solectria Sunrise. not even anything like the gen1 Honda Insight. or even gen1 Audi A2. a second edition EV1 in the same spirit would have instant fame. hmm, just had a thought. since Aerovironment designed the first EV1, why not do it again? show GM how it's done, maybe they'll pick it up again.
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        Actually - considering all the press it has gotten, a second gen EV1 (EV2) would have some instant marketing potential. Especially if they one-upped the Leaf on charging time, range, price (any of those). Good one Dan... :)
          Marco Polo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          @Ezee No, probably because the EV 1 was a much over rated, over-hyped, unsalable little vehicle. Since it's timely demise, it developed a legion of badly informed, WKTEC crazies who refuse to listen to reason and persist in the most irritating of myths. DF's ideal car that he berates every one with is the Wright speed. (the designer loathes DF). The point of this single seat car is that it has no doors, windows, roof, body panels, heating/cooling, safety, etc... It's basically a very fast go-cart on steroids! DF's demand that this very expensive car should be the only mass production vehicle allowed and be built the government, seems to anger those who get fed up with his endless repetition. It might be different if DF had ever built anything, but no,..he just superciliously lectures those who have!
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          The designer doesn't like Dan? Really, or are you just being funny? And my 'down vote' comment got down voted? :D (early in the morning to have tears of laughter in my eyes!). I never knew enough about the EV1 to separate fact from fantasy, so no idea on how good it is/was. My point was, however, is not how good it was, but the marketing aspects of it. Since the market for these things is currently rather small (no, not that people don't want them, but, the capabilities are not there for mass market, so everyone calm down), the potential marketing advantage of an 'EV2' could be considerable, depending on just how well known it is. The 'go-cart on steriods' actually does have a market, although the market has many vehicles. In Florida, there are quite a few retirement communities where people (the majority evil right wingers) live that are specifically designed for vehicles like golf carts. Some are rather humorous. Tiny hummers, tiny 57 Chevy's, tiny Model T's... Even where I live (not a retirement community) I see some tooling around. I live on a golf course (house gets drilled by golf balls now and then), so people naturally drive them around to the store, restaurant, etc.
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          Now how is that down vote worthy? Cause I supported Dan?
      Spec
      • 3 Years Ago
      I voted for the Natural Gas Civic. Not enough is known about the Ford Focus Electric . . . such as price, range, battery size, top speed, charge time, etc.
        SNP
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Spec
        i voted for prius V. I think that's just a regular prius using Liion and plugin tech. Why the hell did everyone choose the ford model? It's got no quick refuel/recharge option like gasoline or nat gas or battery swap. It's not practical.
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @SNP
          -5? Even this evil right winger can't hold your vote against you - it is what you like. Maybe people disagree "SNP - You Bastard! You dreally don't like the Prius! You like the Ford Dag Gum It!!"
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Spec
        Tough crowd... either people really like the Ford, or, maybe that the Civic runs on CNG (fossil fuel)?
      uncle_sam
      • 3 Years Ago
      the vote is broken, and trows a huuuge alert box with html code LOL
        ABG Sebastian
        • 3 Years Ago
        @uncle_sam
        We noticed that, and believe it has been fixed now. Is the error still happening for you?
      JP
      • 3 Years Ago
      Just worked for me.
      MTN RANGER
      • 3 Years Ago
      I have a sinking feeling that the Ford Focus EV will be expensive - definitely priced above the Leaf. Ford will not release the MSRP until the last possible moment.
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @MTN RANGER
        Hard to say - this is the first 'conversion' electric I can think of (of an existing car), so no real reference point. I would hope that maybe since technology is moving along, $30K - but will probably be somewhat more than that. Has anyone heard anything?
      ctsmith1066
      • 3 Years Ago
      None of these cars really stand out to me, based on the criteria listed above: - "quantifiable environmental achievement" - market significance - "newness" EVs are going to be impractical for most drivers for quite a while still, and it's not clear they provide substantial environmental achievement. The cars themselves don't burn any hydrocarbons, but in most of the country coal-burning is the most dominant method of energy harnessing. And coal-burning is at least as bad as petrol burning (probably worse). Therefore the Focus EV and MiEV fail to satisfy the first two criteria. The Civic natural gas is more practical than an EV, but probably less practical than a petrol car. And given the lack of awareness of natural gas technology, I don't see it selling in large numbers. Even though natural gas burns cleaner than petrol, it's still combustion. Both the Prius V and the Passat TDI offer much more substantial environmental achievement and look better positioned to advance in the market place (the Prius V especially), but they offer nothing "new". The Passat TDI is just another diesel from VW and the Prius V actually uses basically the exact same drive train as the normal Prius, while returning worse fuel economy. The only thing "new" might be that the Prius V offers legitimate cargo utility with a legitimate hybrid for the first time, but even then....
        JP
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ctsmith1066
        Actually EV's are already practical for most drivers, people just don't realize it. The coal argument is false, the US average grid is only 45% coal, and when you add in all the well to wheels emissions of gasoline, including huge amounts of electricity, even coal powered EV's are better than most ICE's. EV's can also become cleaner over time as the grid gets cleaner. NG vehicles are actually less practical than EV's since only a little over half of US homes have NG yet almost all have electricity. It's also more efficient to use NG in a combined cycle generating plant to charge EV's than it is to distribute it to millions of inefficient ICE vehicles. A home NG compressor costs thousands of dollars and will use about 6 kWhs to put 100 miles of NG into a car without moving the vehicle one inch, while an EV could go 25 miles or so on that 6 kWhs.
          ctsmith1066
          • 3 Years Ago
          @JP
          "Actually EV's are already practical for most drivers, people just don't realize it." lol 45% coal = coal is "most dominant". No other method amounts to anywhere close to 45%. Therefore, not false.
      HVH20
      • 3 Years Ago
      I would have voted Prius V if it was new technology. But they are just taking a prius drivetrain and putting it in their mini van.
      JakeY
      • 3 Years Ago
      I would have voted for the Focus EV if it was for sale already or at the very least if Ford had confirmed pricing and other spec details. At this point, I have no data to judge whether it deserves green car of the year. Mitsubishi i I feel is a bit too limited to deserve car of the year. So I gave my vote to Prius V.
      Ziv
      • 3 Years Ago
      I voted for the Ford Focus Electric, but I am starting to wonder what Ford is up to. You would think that the EPA AER range and the MSRP would be a given now that they are supposed to be selling them within 2 months, but no sign of either of them yet. I hope it comes out with an MSRP near that of the Leaf, and an AER that is at least close to the Leaf. If it can do those two things, the huge advantage that the FFE has over the Leaf in appearance will give Ford a huge edge. The Leaf looks like a well meaning but dorky catfish, the FFE has a slightly sporty look to it. All I know is that I hope both Nissan and Ford build and sell a ton of them. They wouldn't work for me, but everyone of them built reduces our trade imbalance and reduces the power of OPEC. But we will see.
        MTN RANGER
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ziv
        I got to sit in the FFE and it's pretty nice. Easily better looking than the Leaf. The biggest problem is that the battery takes up over 1/3 of the truck space.
        DaveMart
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ziv
        Since the Ford Connect EV goes for around $57,000 it hardly seems likely that the price of the Focus EV will be competitive with the Leaf, although I suppose it is just about conceivable that they have priced that so high as there is no competition in the US in the electric van market. It seems more probable though that they are going for high prices and relying on the 'US patriot car' to sell them to Government agencies etc.
          Michael
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          On the grounds as to that is where the market is price wise for electric vehicles.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Its given here are weighing 1,555 kg: http://www.evsroll.com/Ford_EV.html The Focus is pretty aerodynamic anyway, and if these vehicles are mainly used at what they are good at. city driving, then a low Cd is less important than for highway driving anyway.
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          @Everyone The conversion thing is a bit scary. Channeling my inner Dan - how much will it weigh? It doesn't seem as aero as a Prius/leaf/volt, so that will affect the range as well. I am a big fan of how Ford has been doing business, but if it is $40K and goes 65 miles....uhm, no.
          Ziv
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Dave, Plugincars.com stated that the scuttlebutt was that the price would be somewhere between $30,000 and $37,000. Now that is a fairly wide range for an estimate! LOL The FFE is 330 pounds heavier than a Leaf and it has 1 kWh less in the pack so its range is fairly predictable. If the EPA range for the Leaf is 73 miles, the FFE will be around 66-67 miles, unless they go even deeper into the pack, which would not be wise. The MSRP, anyones guess is equal but I would bet somewhere around $36,000. They aren't building as many as Nissan so they won't get the economies of scale. But Ford claimed early this month that they would be selling them in NY and CA this year, so we will see soon, I guess. That having been said, I thought GM was going to price the 2011 Volt at $39.9k, I was saying "No one would be so stupid to try to get an extra thousand dollars and shoot themselves in the foot by pricing it too high!" Oh well... http://www.plugincars.com/ford-focus-electric/price
          Michael
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Also the fact that the car is a conversion of an ICE based vehicle, so while not getting the economies of scale Ziv spoke of on the entire car, they will at least get it on the majority of the components.
          Ziv
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Dang, Dave, if GM's plans to build 60,000 Volts here in the States next year isn't 'high production' I don't know what is! LOL Seriously, Ford built 14,000 to 24,000 Ford Escape Hybrids a year, and that was a pretty respectable run for a vehicle. If GM builds 45,000 Volts next year and 15,000 Amperas, as they claim they will, I think that will be pretty respectable. I do understand your misgivings about Ford not building a BEV from the ground up, but there is a a chance that using a mainstream vehicle will allow them to build it for less in the short term, while it will inevitably cause the FFE to have a few compromises that will cause it to fall short of the Leaf in some areas. Cough! Lack of a decent sized boot. Cough! Cough!
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Perhaps I should make it clear that The Ford Focus EV and the Maxi hybrid will represent significant milestones for Ford, as the electric car from Volvo will, even if initially priced for low volume at a high price. This is because it will mean that the design work has been done, which has taken years and hundreds of millions or billions of dollars, and so then moving to mass production is, if not as simple as switching on a tap, essentially possible at any time with some lead in to tool up the factories. So moving to large scale production goes from being a technical challenge to a cost one, and petrol prices of perhaps $4.50/gallon or so might persuade Ford that the economics were right to press on.
          Michael
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Dave, With the number of ICE based Ford Focuses being sold, they should be able to easily match the Leaf when it comes to the cost of the components for the FFE. While the battery and motor will be more expensive, all other parts of the vehicle should be cheaper as they are made in a much higher volume.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Michael, Although the Leaf is a new car, that doesn't mean that they have not used the Nissan parts bin for as many of the parts as possible. The fact is that the Focus EV will need as many, or nearly as many, purpose designed parts as the Leaf, as many of them demand redesign to suit electric. The headlights, for instance, need to be LEDs or they drain the batteries too much, and similar considerations apply to many of the other components. You get far better economies of scale if you are producing 500,000 a year than just a few thousand. Mitsubishi managed to finance things by selling the first few thousand at a much higher price, and will hit 70,000 capacity by April. All I have to go on is the statements Ford themselves have made, which signify no great level of commitment to electric vehicles nor any intention to ramp up to really significant production levels.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Don't get me wrong, I hope that Ford turns out something that is competitively priced. I just can't find any evidence to date that they plan to, and their whole program is based on minimal adaptions to ICE vehicles right out to 2020. Unless they go for high production numbers there is no way they can match the Leaf's pricing without loosing a fortune on each one, which is the real reason why there are so few Volts being made. GM is only going to try for a high production run when they release the Volt II, if ever. I rather suspect they may go for a lease only model to cover up what they are doing a bit more.
          Michael
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Ford doesn't truly build the Transit Connect EV, Azure does (a Turkish company). Expect the FFE to be slotted between the Volt and Leaf in price. And with there still being a backlog, they'll probably be able to sell every one they produce.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          'Expect the Focus BEV to be priced between the Leaf and the Volt?' On what grounds, other than wishful thinking?
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      the lithium EV1
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