2013 Green Car of the Year Nominees Emphasize Efficiency over Distinction

While last year’s Green Car of the Year award seemed focused on which green vehicle technology would take the lead (compressed natural gas, electric vehicles, hybrid, or clean diesel), this year’s list emphasizes efficiency – and includes brands you might not expect to see. Nominees have been announced for Green Car Journal’s 2013 Green Car of the Year award:  the Dodge Dart Aero, Ford C-MAX, Ford Fusion, Mazda CX-5 SkyACTIV and the Toyota Prius c. The winner of the eighth annual award will be announced on Nov. 29 during the LA Auto Show Press Days.

Internal combustion engine vehicles with high fuel efficiency – Dodge Dart Aero and Mazda CX-5 SkyACTIV – are competing with another of the enhanced Toyota Prius hybrid lineup (the Prius c is the smaller edition and last year’s larger and pricier 2012 Prius v made the contender list); Ford made the list again this year and this time with two entries, the Ford C-MAX and Ford Fusion. Both of these models offer car shoppers variations in efficiency – the C-MAX available in both hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions, and the Fusion offering these power options, plus fuel-efficient EcoBoost variants. Green Car Journal is emphasizing that this year’s list is distinct in that it showcases affordable mass-market products that deliver fuel efficiency and emissions reductions in typical daily driving.

There are no pure battery electric vehicles this year – last year there were two with the Ford Focus Electric and Mitisubishi i. I was convinced that the Focus Electric would take the cake, and that didn’t happen (it was the Honda Civic Natural Gas). The Focus Electric had better features than the 2011 Nissan Leaf, and it was Ford that was launching it – a company known in recent years for effective marketing and product launches while struggling through a difficult economic environment with lots of debt. Well, that has yet to come together for the Focus Electric – its sales numbers have been small (228 units sold as of Sept. 30), and Ford doesn’t appear to be committed to doing what’s necessary to ramp up production and sales volume. That might be different with the C-MAX crossover utility vehicle – and CUV is a segment that needs to see more green vehicle options.

There’s been a changeover in the award’s jury panel. Longtime Sierra Club chief Carl Pope has been replaced by his successor, executive director Michael Brune. Famed race car designer Carroll Shelby died on May 11 at age 89, and had served on the jury panel for several years. The other jury members are Ocean Futures Society president Jean-Michel Cousteau, Global Green USA president Matt Petersen, car buff Jay Leno and Green Car Journal staff.

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