For the first time in ages, the Honda Civic Natural Gas is not the "greenest" car in the U.S. This year, it's the Mitsubishi i. At least, it is according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), which takes it upon itself to rank these sorts of things.

The CNG-powered Civic has made the top of the list for the past eight years (last year, the Nissan Leaf shared the No. 1 spot) but it drops to second place this year. Last year, ACEEE gave the Civic Natural Gas a score of 54, a number that takes into account "unhealthy tailpipe emissions, fuel consumption, and emissions of gases that contribute to climate change." This year, the i managed to rake in 58 points, which ACEEE says is the "highest Green Score awarded since the rankings began in 1998." That deserves a golf clap or two, even if the methodology for calculating the score changed for 2012 (details in the PR after the jump).

The ACEEE also figures out which vehicles are the dirtiest for its "Meanest" list. This year, the Chevrolet G3500 Express/GMC G3500 Savana cargo vans, Ford E-350 Wagon and Bugatti Veyron can claim this dubious honor.
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Electric Car Tops Greenest Vehicle List for First Time in 12 Years

New Mitsubishi i-MIEV Unseats Honda Civic Natural Gas after 8 Consecutive Years at the Top

Washington, D.C (February 7, 2012): With the auto industry back on its feet and fuel economy standards shifting into high gear, automakers provided American consumers with a huge array of vehicles and technologies to choose from in 2012. Today at greenercars.org, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released its 14th annual comprehensive environmental rankings showing how these offerings stack up.

The "Greenest" list saw a considerable shake-up this year, with the Mitsubishi i-MIEV battery electric vehicle claiming the top spot from the Honda Civic Natural Gas, which has held on to first place for eight years in a row. Making its model year 2012 debut on the American market, the i-MIEV earns a score of 58, the highest Green Score awarded since the rankings began in 1998. With a combined city and highway fuel economy of 112 miles per gallon equivalent, the i-MIEV outpaces all other vehicles currently sold in United States. "Even taking into account the emissions generated from the electricity used to power the i-MIEV, it still handily outscores other vehicles on the market today," said ACEEE lead vehicle analyst Shruti Vaidyanathan.

The Honda Civic Natural Gas, despite its improved fuel economy this year, appears in second place, tied with the Nissan Leaf. Rounding out the top six are the Toyota Prius, the Honda Insight, and the Smart ForTwo. This year, hybrids dominate the "Greenest" list occupying half of all spots. Highly efficient conventional gasoline vehicles also continue to have a presence on the "Greenest" list, claiming three of the top twelve spots.

"It's increasingly obvious that automakers are fully invested in providing consumers with the widest possible array of vehicle choices. Earning a spot on the " Greenest" list is proving to be a real challenge for automakers given the variety of vehicle technologies on the market and the proliferation of highly efficient conventional vehicles. Just using the latest technology does not guarantee a top spot," said Vaidyanathan. This year saw the arrival of a number of new hybrid options for drivers from Hyundai, Kia, and Infiniti, but none broke into the top twelve.

Widely regarded as the pre-eminent buyer's guide to environment-friendly passenger cars, trucks, and SUVs, greenercars.org provides the facts necessary to examine the eco-performance of any 2012 model.

Vehicles are analyzed on the basis of a "Green Score," a singular measure that incorporates unhealthy tailpipe emissions, fuel consumption, and emissions of gases that contribute to climate change.

This year, a number of updates were made to the Green Book® methodology to more accurately estimate vehicles' environmental impacts. These include improved emissions estimates for the vehicle manufacturing process, changes reflecting current natural gas extraction practices, and consideration of upcoming shifts in the generation mix for the electricity used to power electric cars.

The greenercars.org website also identifies top, widely-available models in each vehicle class. This "Greener Choices" list includes trucks and SUVs such as the Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Canyon, Honda Odyssey, and the Ford F-150 (FFV). Cars such as the Chevrolet Sonic-5 and Hyundai Sonata top their respective classes. As the list demonstrates, consumers can make "greener choices" whatever their vehicle needs may be. Domestic manufacturers claimed five of the twelve spots.

The "Meanest" list this year sees a number of heavier light-duty vehicles, pushing out European sports cars as the highest emitters. The dirtiest vehicles for 2012 are the twin Chevrolet G3500 Express and GMC G3500 Savana cargo vans, followed by the Ford E-350 Wagon and the Bugatti Veyron sports car.

In addition to highlighting the year's "Greenest," "Meanest," "Greener Choices," and best-in-class lists, the greenercars.org website features informational write-ups on model year 2012 highlights, a consumer primer on vehicles and the environment, and advice on how to buy green when shopping for a new car or truck.

Summary "Green Scores" of the 1,000+ configurations of all model year 2012 vehicles are made available to subscribers of ACEEE's Green Book® Online interactive database along with each configuration's fuel economy, health-related pollution impacts, and greenhouse gas emissions. Subscribers can also build custom lists for comparing vehicles. Monthly and annual subscriptions to ACEEE's Green Book® Online are available at greenercars.org .

About ACEEE: The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors. For information about ACEEE and its programs, publications, and conferences, visit aceee.org.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 21 Comments
      Spec
      • 3 Years Ago
      Congrats to Mitsubishi, they earned it. They should be commended for coming up with such at efficient vehicle that is offered at such a reasonable price. I hope they can keep working their magic and bring the price down. And add a slightly more expensive model with a larger battery . . . add another 4 to 6KWH to the battery and it will be much more practical.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      btw they should price the i at 15k$. that would get this party started. and they could still be profitable at that price if they do it right
        Spec
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        " they should price the i at 15k$. that would get this party started. and they could still be profitable at that price" And you believe in UFO visitors. It all makes sense now.
        Dan Frederiksen
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        you were doing so well Spec : ) 200$/kWh, 16kWh, 3200$, in a pack 4000$, the rest of the car should be possible for 10000$ and voila. if they sell it for 16995 to cover transport and such I won't execute them.
          Spec
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dan Frederiksen
          Automotive Li-Ions are not $200/KWH. Maybe someday, but not now. They need to deal with warranties, safety, BMS, battery-heating, etc. At best they are a little under $400/KWH for high-quality well-tested cells. And and the BMS & heating system for the pack on top of that. They can't do what homebrew conversion people do.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      natural gas car being green... you might as well give the nobel peace prize to cheney. or obama
        Ford Future
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        Cheney & Obama. Iraq & Iran. Rock and Roll for Exxon, Baby.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Good and small so it save place and faster from other . I think it save out fuel cost .
      tifosiotaku
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why do they keep putting the Bugatti Veyron and Bentley Mulsanne on this list? They aren't volume sellers.
      Ele Truk
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's about time an EV beat a fossil fuel car as the greenest. Don't get why the Leaf or Tesla hadn't won earlier years.
        Spec
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ele Truk
        The Leaf tied the CNG Honda this year. Apparently they have a complex methodology where they consider all sorts of factors. http://www.greenercars.org/greenbook_method.htm
      JP
      • 3 Years Ago
      Finally. Someone figured out that compressing NG to fit into a vehicle tank and then burning it in an inefficient ICE is not a good use of NG.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Years Ago
        @JP
        Right? while NG may have low emissions, getting to it these days is very environmentally destructive and destroys fresh water.. drilling methods will only get more expensive / desperate / destructive over time. I wonder if continuing to blow up the Appalachian mountains and running a grid on 100% coal power might be greener, lol
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Years Ago
        @JP
        Drilling for any fossil fuel has major losses as well. Most of them involve cleaning up the environment. For oil, it includes refining. But combustion engines are 20-30% efficient, whereas the electric motor + controller are ~80% efficient at worst. That gives electric a big advantage. You can directly compare transmission losses ETC to the shipping and processing of oil and natural gas. Add a natural gas pipeline leak and there's your transmission losses for one. Just sayin.
        Spec
        • 3 Years Ago
        @JP
        Meh, I wouldn't bad-mouth NG vehicles. If you need a longer range, a NG vehicle is a very good way to go. Burning the NG in an electric power plant is certainly much more efficient than burning it in a NG car but you need to add in the transmission losses, charging losses, and EV motor losses. With an efficient power plant the EV probably comes out ahead but not by a huge amount.
          JP
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          60% combined cycle generating plant, 7% T&D losses, 10% charging losses, 10% operating losses, equals better than 40% efficiency. CNG ICE at 20% is already worse, then you have to add in the losses from compressing the NG to get it into your vehicle tank, which takes over 6kwh's of electricity to provide about 100 miles of range. It's a terribly inefficient system. There is also no CNG fueling station infrastructure so claiming you can use it for long distance travel is misleading to say the least.
          porosavuporo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          NG in a series hybrid would make good sense.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @JP
        Selecting the Mitsubishi for the award this year is not meant to be considered a condemnation of CNG. The Honda CNG is still cleaner than every other car out there - and tied with the Leaf.
      amtoro
      • 3 Years Ago
      As a LEAF driver, I'm very eager to see the "i" in person; I called the local Mitsubishi dealership to see when they will have their Demo vehicle delivered. Mitsubishi has to allocate more of the R&D costs to each of their "i" because, unlike Nissan, they have nor recovered those costs yet; Nissan did most of their battery and EV systems research a decade ago or longer, instead, Mitsubishi did it more recently and they need to balance their books. That is one of the reasons why, comparatively, the "i" is more expensive than the LEAF.
        porosavuporo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @amtoro
        Wth are you on about ? Mitshubishi MiEV R&D program has been going on for decades.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Mitsubishi has had their EV running around massive power plants for TEPCO since 2006~ performing R&D. They've been for sale in Japan for a couple of years as well. Mitsubishi put EV's on the road in Japan back in the 1960s for a short time and has been a large scale manufacturer of electronic components since. They are not new to the electronic business. Does Nissan manufacturer electronic components for sale under its own and other names? In addition, the i MiEV is not comparatively higher priced than the Leaf, as its MSRP is less and it uses Less KwH per Mile.
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