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Group's 'greenest' car is a Toyota hybrid while Hummer EV lands near the bottom

Luke Ramseth, The Detroit News on

Published in Business News

The Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid is the “greenest” car you can buy in the United States, beating out electric-only vehicles, while the GMC Hummer EV is among the least environmentally-friendly on the market, according to a new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Of the top 12 greenest cars the research nonprofit listed in its annual GreenerCars rankings issued Wednesday, seven were traditional EVs, with the rest either plug-in or traditional gas hybrids. None were produced by a Detroit Three manufacturer.

On the organization's "meanest" list — tucked in amid gas-powered big SUVs and pickups, as well as the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 — was the GMC Hummer EV.

Nine of the 12 on that least-environmentally-friendly tally were from General Motors Co., Stellantis NV, or Ford Motor Co.

The council assesses vehicle "green scores" not only by their on-road emissions, but also upstream emissions, including what generates the power needed for EVs, as well as emissions from mining and processing minerals for batteries, and creating vehicle components.

Peter Huether, senior research associate for the council, said the Prius Prime scores especially well for two reasons: it has a longer electricity-only range, 44 miles, than other similar plug-in models. And it has a smaller battery than full EVs, which translates to lower emissions needed to build it.

“It’s a very efficient vehicle both when driving on electricity and gas, and it has the largest range of a plug-in hybrid, so there’s more opportunity to drive on electricity, compared to other plug-in hybrids," he said.

The Prius Prime also topped the group's rankings in 2020 and 2022.

 

It was the first time the organization rated the Hummer EV. Huether said it's a "clear example" that a big, 9,000-pound vehicle isn't usually going to be very emissions-friendly, even if it's battery-powered. It takes substantial emissions to build the Hummer's large battery pack, he said, and far more electricity to charge it up than smaller EVs.

The report noted that more than half of the cars on the greenest list start at under $35,000. It's a good sign, Huether said, that such highly efficient vehicles aren't all luxury-level models with higher price tags. In addition, the report noted that the average fuel cost of a car on the greenest list was one-fifth of the price tag of those on the meanest list.

The estimated annual fuel cost for the Prius Prime was $529, according to the group, while the Hummer EV estimate stood at $1,746.

After the Prius, the next four vehicles on the greenest list are the Lexus RZ 300e EV, the Mini Cooper SE EV, the Nissan Leaf EV, and the Toyota bZ4X EV.

The council also includes a "greener choices" list, made up of cars with the lowest environmental impacts in each vehicle class that didn't make the greenest list. Ford's Maverick was the top compact pickup, and its Ranger was ranked tops in the standard pickup category.

The Detroit News reached out to GM, Ford, and Stellantis spokespeople for comment on the rankings.


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