According to research completed by Automotive Service Group (ASG), the Nissan Leaf is the cleanest vehicle you can buy in the United States.
What makes a vehicle “clean” isn’t based solely on how often you bring it to the detailer. Actually, it has nothing to do with that. Does the “cleanest” vehicle have the best fuel economy, best recycling percentage, or produces the least manufacturing waste? All of the above, really, and more. Sure, fuel economy weighs heavily in the equation, since fuel is the biggest emitter of pollutants over the lifetime of a vehicle, so it kind of makes sense that an electric vehicle, such as the 2014 Nissan Leaf, would be in the running for title of cleanest vehicle in the US.
Still, clean goes much further than fuel economy because, if that was the sole determining factor, the Chevy Spark EV could have taken the title, with the world’s best-fuel-economy electric vehicle powertrain at 119 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent). ASG surveyed over 1,300 different minimum-four-passenger vehicles, accounting for fuel economy, manufacturing practices, end-of-life recycling, to name a few categories, in a “wildly complex” process.
ASG found that the 214 Nissan Leaf to have the smallest environmental footprint of any minimum-four-passenger, which is encouraging, because the Nissan Leaf is also the world’s best-selling electric vehicle. For conventional vehicles, the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage took the top spot for smallest environmental footprint. As far as smallest financial footprint, the Chevy Spark EV was found to have the smallest overall ownership and running costs of the fleet, not to mention that it happens to have the best electric vehicle fuel economy on the planet. I wonder if Toyota Prius c, ACEEE’s (American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy) “greenest vehicle” owners have anything to say about this.