Honda Civic GX, Nissan Leaf named 2011’s greenest vehicles while Volt falters

Article by Christian Andrei, on February 21, 2011

There were several surprises in the annual list of the greenest vehicles of the model year that was released last week by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. The ACEEE is a Washington-based nonprofit group financed by foundations, electric utilities and state and federal agencies. The list has five new models.

Many expected that as the Nissan Leaf electric car and Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid are being delivered in the U.S., they would be competing against each other for the top spot at the council’s 14th Green Book annual ranking.

But while the Leaf got second place, the Volt was ranked 13th. Earning the No. 1 position for the eighth consecutive year was the Honda Civic GX, a limited-production model that burns compressed natural gas.

This will be available for retail sales nationwide in 2012, says New York Times. The list included several conventional hybrids and vehicles with old-fashioned gasoline engines.

Actually, seven of the vehicles on the list use only gasoline engines. To measure greenness, the council uses a novel, holistic method that expands on the fuel-efficiency and tailpipe-emissions factors that the Environmental Protection Agency considers.

Therese Langer, the group’s transportation director, said that they don’t only consider the emissions that come out while the vehicle is running.

She said that the EPA will consider the Leaf a zero-emissions vehicle because electric vehicles have zero tailpipe emissions. However, the ACEEE believes that the so-called upstream emissions of an electric vehicle can be substantial depending on where and how its electricity is generated.

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