Finally Some New Blood!Every year, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) releases a list of the "greenest" and "meanest" vehicles available in the US. There hasn't been too much movement at the top, though. For 7 of the past 8 years, the Honda Civic CNG (which stands for compressed natural gas) dominated the list, and last year it was tied with the Nissan LEAF electric car. But this year, things are different. There's some new blood on the list, and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car (aka the electric jellybean) takes the top spot with a total score of 58 (versus 55 for the LEAF and Civic CNG), the highest score awarded yet!
Above is this year's list. If you are curious about the opposite list - the worst ranked, meanest cars - you can see that list here.
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. [...]
“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. (source)
It's good to see more commercially available electric cars in the US - just a dream a few years ago - but CNG vehicles are still extremely rare. On one hand, natural gas is a fossil fuel that adds CO2 to the atmosphere and there are many potential problems with fracking, but on the other, it produces less CO2 and smog-forming emissions than gasoline, so it could be an interesting transition fuel until we have more mass transit, bike lanes, and electric vehicles charged from a clean power grid.