For the last 12 years, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy has released a list of the cleanest vehicles. For the first time, an electric vehicle has topped the list.
The ACEEE rankings
The ACEEE rankings, listed each year on Greencars.org, take into account not only the car’s fuel efficiency and emissions, but also the manufacturing processes involved in making a vehicle. The emissions from creating energy to power all-electric vehicles are also considered. For the last eight years, the natural gas powered Honda Civic has topped the list, along with compressed natural gas and all-electric vehicles. The list includes both overall best ratings and best-in-class ratings.
This year’s best of
For the first time since the list debuted, an electric vehicle has topped the list. The Mitsubishi i, also known as the i-MiEV, is the top of the list.
“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.
Next on the list are the natural gas powered Honda Civic and the electric Nissan Leaf. One point behind these two vehicles is the ever-popular Toyota Prius. All of these vehicles are available in the United States, though refueling of the natural gas Honda Civic can be difficult, depending on the city and available infrastructure available. Half of the spots in the 2012 Greenest list went to hybrid vehicles, while one-quarter of the spots were highly efficient gasoline vehicles.
Considering the full life cycle
Another factor considered in the ACEEE rankings is the full lifecycle of the vehicle. The Green Score measures tailpipe emissions, fuel consumption, effect of the fuel extraction or creation and manufacturing processes. The full lifecycle of vehicles is important to consider because the manufacturing of vehicles often has as much of an impact as years of driving.
Driving the cleanest vehicle
The absolute best possible vehicle to drive, when considering green criteria, is the vehicle you already own. Manufacturing a new vehicle, even a greener vehicle, takes a significant amount of time, money and environmental resources. A used vehicle that is not driven often, on the other hand, is greener because it does not use manufacturing resources. There are highly fuel efficient used vehicles available, some made as early as the 1980s and 1990s. If you are looking to replace your car, choosing a greener vehicle and recycling your old vehicle is the best option.