For the first time in 12 years, an electric vehicle is the greenest new car sold in the United States.
The Mitsubishi i — known everywhere else as the i-MiEV — came out on top when the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy crunched the numbers. To calculate ratings, the beancounters considered manufacturing and recycling processes in addition to fuel economy and tailpipe emissions. Of course, we all know the greenest car is the one you already own and rarely use, but these rankings can help if you’re in the market for something new.
The itty-bitty i is the first EV to top the list since the General Motors EV1. In its debut model year here in the states, the e-Mitsu earned a score of 58 — the highest recorded in the 14 years the council’s been handing out the award. Spare us that tired argument about electric vehicles being coal-powered vehicles. The council factored in the grid when determining the i’s score and it still came out on top.
“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,” lead vehicle analyst Shruti Vaidyanathan said in a statement.
The little jellybean of a car beat the Nissan Leaf and Toyota Prius, which ranked second (55 points) and third (54), respectively. It also topped the CNG Honda Civic, which has dominated the top spot for eight years. This year, the CNG Civic tied for second place with the Leaf. The Chevrolet Volt didn’t even show up in the top 12, which consisted of six hybrids, two EVs, three dino-juice compacts and one natural-gas vehicle.
Also missing from the list: hybrids from General Motors, Ford, Hyundai, Kia and Infiniti. Diesels from Volkswagen and Audi appeared in the “best in class” rankings based on vehicle size, but not on the overall “greenest” list. The new Range Rover Evoque took the top spot among SUVs.
That doesn’t mean the ACEEE thinks EVs are for everyone. “As the list demonstrates, consumers can make ‘greener choices’ whatever their vehicle needs may be,” the organization said in a statement.
For now, the car with the smallest overall environmental impact is the Mitsubishi i, which earned the highest overall score in ACEEE testing. The four-seater officially went on sale in the United States in November in Hawaii, California, Oregon and Washington, with a nationwide rollout ongoing. Customers in all states should be able to purchase an i by the beginning of the summer.