You may or may not have heard of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and its annual greenest car rankings, but here are a few points to consider: No. 1: The award program has been in place for 14 years now, and this year’s winner of the top spot, the Mitsubishi i (known by most people as the i-MiEV) took the highest recorded ranking in the award’s 14 year history. No. 2: It’s the first electric vehicle to take the top spot since General Motor’s deceased EV1 12 years ago. No. 3: It knocked off the Honda Civic natural gas vehicle (which tied for second place this year with the Nissan Leaf), and the CNG-powered Civic had dominated the top spot for eight years.
So how does a car like the Mitsubishi i, which has only been on the market for a few months, take No. 1? For ACEEE, this means the car has the smallest overall environmental impact and gained the highest overall score in its testing. To calculate ratings, the organization considered manufacturing and recycling process, in addition to fuel economy and tailpipe emissions. But what about all the fossil fuel (coal) it takes to generate electricity — isn’t that dirty? “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,” an ACEEE official said.