The ‘Greenest’ Cars For 2017 – Forbes

Posted: Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The electric version of the new Hyundai Ioniq was named the Greenest Car for 2017 by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. (Photo by Bryan Thomas/Getty Images)

Fuel prices still remain affordable, and while some motorists may have responded to low pump prices the last couple of years by trading in their small sedans for larger and less efficient crossover SUVs and pickup trucks, some new-vehicle buyers remain steadfastly committed to the environment.

According to Green Car Reports, more than a half million carbon-cutting hybrids, plug-in hybrids and full electric vehicles were sold in the U.S. last year. Admittedly that’s only a small sliver of the 17.55 million new passenger cars and light trucks sold last year, but that number is expected to swell with additional electrified models coming to market with higher mpg ratings as a result of tightening fuel economy regulations. The just-introduced Chevrolet Bolt, a strong seller out of the starting gate, is estimated to run for an impressive 238 miles on a charge, with the long-awaited Tesla Model 3 that’s coming later this year promising a 215-mile range.

In fact, electrified vehicles comprise all 12 slots in the annual “Greenest Cars” list compiled by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) in Washington, D.C. The just-being-released midsize Hyundai Ioniq Electric tops the greenest list for 2016 with a “Green Score” of 64 – the highest ever recorded by the ACEEE – and an Environmental Damage Index rating of 0.78 (lower numbers are better in that regard). It has an estimated operating range of 110 miles on a charge. Coming in a close second with an identical Green Score, but a hair higher EDI rating, is the futuristically styled BMW i3 EV.

Toyota leads all automakers, placing three models – two hybrids and a plug-in hybrid – among the 12 greenest cars. The highest-rated gasoline-only model is the Mitsubishi Mirage, which just misses the cut here with a Green Score of 58. And just because someone will ask, no, the popular Tesla Model S did not find a place among dozen cleanest cars for 2017 despite being rated at an electric equivalent as high as 104 mpg and with an operating range as great as 270 miles, depending on the version.

On the plus side, most of the models on this year’s ACEEE’s greenest list are available in all 50 states; sales of some EVs like the Fiat 500e and Kia Soul Electric are limited to California (and perhaps a few other like-minded states) to help fulfill the mandate that requires major automakers to sell at least one zero-emissions model.

“For the second year in a row, plug-in electric vehicles – all-electrics and plug-in hybrids – dominate the Greenest List, proving that these vehicles are really coming into their own,” says Eric Junga, a Transportation Research Analyst at ACEEE. “Even the all-electrics are associated with significant emissions, however, arising from vehicle production and the electricity used for charging. It’s notable that conventional hybrids continue to be environmentally competitive with the plug-ins, taking four of the Greenest slots.”

We’re featuring the full list of 2017’s “greenest” cars in the accompanying slideshow.

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