FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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 www.automotivescience.com.
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ASG’S annual study found 37 electrified models - 15 full battery electric vehicles and 22 plug-in hybrid vehicles - up from just 8 production models in 2018. 2019 marks a momentous turning point where the most advanced powertrains are not only available to mainstream buyers, but according to ASG’s comparative analysis, some of these models also bridge exceptional environmental performance with industry leading economic performance and best all-around life-cycle value.
The Automotive Performance Index (API) applies statistical methods to demonstrate each vehicle rating in relative comparison. For example, the vehicle that performs highest in environment performance in a given class obtains a rating score of 100. Each vehicle in its class is then compared relative to the top-performing vehicle with a rating score reflecting the statistical difference in performance outcomes. A score of 91 translates to a 9% environmental performance deficit as compared to the top-performing vehicle.
Due to the API’s relative vehicle rating method, vehicle class divisions were identified as a critical input - these class divisions are detailed here.
While the Automotive Performance Index is indeed an exhaustive list of vehicles to trim level detail, with each vehicle assessment reporting over 200 unique data outputs (the culmination of thousands of data inputs), ASG has taken additional measures to ease the burden of sorting through all data points and all vehicle assessments. We have developed key performance categories and sorted all vehicles in each class according to Environmental Performance, Social Performance, Economic Performance and All-Around Performance. The vehicle in each class with the best score in each unique category is named the performance award winner (i.e. Best Environmental Performance Award winner). The vehicle in each class that scores highest combined scores in Environmental Performance, Social Performance and Economic Performance is named the ASG Best All-Around Performance Award winner.
One step further, we also name the Best 5 All-Around Performance Award winners in each class to provide consumers with a concise product comparison guide.