The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has published its annual list of the top 12 greenest electric cars of the year, but with a 12th-place tie, the list includes 13 vehicles.
With the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and Nissan Leaf electric car now being delivered in the U.S., experts would have expected that one of them would occupy the first place, but they were wrong, because Leaf earned a second place while Volt ranked 12th with the Mazda 2. Honda Civic GX, a model produced on a limited scale that runs on compressed natural gas, has been ranked first, becoming the greenest car of 2011.
In between are vehicles with old-fashioned gasoline-combustion engines and conventional hybrids. This thing is possible because the Council has used a method of calculating the environmental impact different from those of the Environmental Protection Agency.
“We consider not just what emissions are coming out of the tailpipe while the vehicle is running. The E.P.A. would consider the Leaf a zero-emissions vehicle because electric vehicles have zero tailpipe emissions,” said Therese Langer, the group’s transportation director, in a telephone interview.
She added that so-called upstream emissions of an electric car can be substantial, depending on where and how its energy is produced. The electricity generated in hydropower plants, for example, emits much less carbon dioxide than that produced by burning coal.
Here’s the top of the 13 greenest vehicles for 2011:
1. Honda Civic GX
2. Nissan Leaf
3. Smart Fortwo cabriolet and coupe
4. Toyota Prius
5. Honda Civic Hybrid
6. Honda Insight
7. Ford Fiesta SFE
8. Chevrolet Cruze Eco
9. Hyundai Elantra
10. Mini Cooper
11. Toyota Yaris
12. Chevrolet Volt
13. Mazda 2