20 April 2017 [Santa Rosa, CA] – As our global community assembles to celebrate Earth Day and the March for Science later this week, we pause to reflect on our own choices that will surely affect generations that follow. And with our transportation desires now accounting for the largest share of total annual U.S. CO2 emissions – exceeding the U.S. power sector’s annual emissions for the first time in nearly 40 years [Source: Energy Information Administration] – our car of choice in 2017 will have a lasting effect. Add the looming rollback of fuel economy standards and an Executive Order that seeks to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, and individuals now find themselves, quite literally, in the drivers’ seat of the U.S. environmental agenda.

Consumers have a choice, and according to Automotive Science Group’s (ASG) Managing Director, Colby Self, “The cars we choose to drive today, have a significant influence on the cars they will drive tomorrow. If consumers demand fuel efficient cars that stress the limits of the industry’s technological capabilities, automakers will deliver, regardless of where fuel economy standards lie. In this hyper-competitive automotive landscape, automakers will continue to advance to meet consumer demands, with innovation trumping deregulation.”

But one need not wait for the pending Model 3 release, according to ASG’s 2017 Automotive Performance Index (API) Study, there are real “green” car standouts available to consumer now.

ASG’S annual Study, which assessed 805 (with trim variants) model year 2017 cars in North America in a head to head life-cycle assessment, found one model with a conventional combustion engine earning a position on ASG’s Environmental Performance Index (Cars) – the 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage. The remaining positions on the Index were held by hybrids, PHEVs and EVs. The Prius Prime topped the car Index with the smallest carbon footprint of any model year 2017 car, besting the all electric #2 Nissan Leaf, #3 Chevrolet Bolt and #4 Ford Focus Electric by a slim margin ranging up to 3%, but topped the average model year 2017 car by an astounding 48%.

The Study findings, with 8 of the top 10 vehicles on the car Index equipped with an electric plug, make it clear that car electrification reduces life-cycle carbon emissions. ASG notes that the environmental benefits only compound as the electricity mix across the U.S. grid gets cleaner year over year. The U.S. electric grid reduced total CO2 emissions by 4.9% in 2016, largely attributed to reduced reliance on coal for electricity generation, and a sharp increase in natural gas and zero-emission renewable sources (Source: Energy Information Administration).

When assessing all 631 Crossover/SUVs (with trim variants) head to head, the all-new Kia Niro topped ASG’s Environmental Performance Index (SUVs) with the smallest carbon footprint of any model year 2017 Crossover/SUV, besting the Tesla Model X by 15%. The Niro reveals the technical advancements of Kia’s all-new hybrid powertrain with 51 MPG combined (city/highway) and a carbon footprint that is 50% smaller than the average 2017 SUV in North America, according to ASG’s assessment.

The all-new Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, with PHEV capabilities and an EPA rated 84 MPGe, also reveals new possibilities for the large vehicle segment. The Pacifica Hybrid landed just behind the Model X on ASG’s Index.

Innovative offerings are here in 2017, and they are not only here to stay, they are the new industry benchmark. For more on ASG’s 2017 API findings and Index ratings, please visit

As global leaders convene to sign the landmark UN Climate Accord on Friday, we pause to reflect on our own choices that will surely affect generations that follow. But with so many choices in the auto marketplace, and a Dieselgate shadow that weighs heavy...
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