The second-generation 2016 Chevrolet Volt has been named 2016 Green Car of the Year. This is the all-new and improved version of the groundbreaking extended range electric vehicle that first made its appearance in 2011.
The Chevrolet Volt won out over other finalists Audi A3 e-tron, Honda Civic, Hyundai Sonata and Toyota Prius, mix of electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid.
It’s the first time two succeeding generations of the same car have won the award, which is awarded partly for fuel economy. My own test drive of the winner shortly after the announcement at the Los Angeles Auto Show clocked an impressive 78mpg in city traffic.
There is no diesel on this year’s list, which had nothing to do with the VW emissiions test scandal (the VW Jetta diesel has won the award in the past), because the finalists were announced before the scandal broke in September.
And surprisingly to me, the all-new Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell sedan is not on the list, either.
Here are the details on each of the finalists – alphabetically – from the Green Car Journal which gives out the award.
AUDI A3 E-TRON
The A3 Sportback e-tron is Audi’s entry in the hot plug-in hybrid vehicle market. This five-door hatchback uses lithium-ion batteries and a 102 hp electric motor to deliver up to 19 miles of all-electric driving, after which its 150 hp, 1.4-liter gasoline TFSI engine provides power for extended driving in efficient hybrid mode.
Chevrolet’s second generation Volt features sportier styling, better performance, and a lighter and more powerful two-motor drive system. The five-passenger, extended range electric now drives up to 53 miles on batteries alone, with its 1.5-liter gasoline powered generator creating on-board electricity to deliver an overall 420 mile range.
Now in its tenth generation, the all-new Honda Civic delivers exemplary fuel efficiency in an affordable, conventionally-powered model. The Civic thoughtfully blends hybrid-like fuel economy and appealing style, with an array of desired amenities and advanced electronics that meets the needs of a great many drivers.
Hyundai’s stylish 2016 Sonata offers it all with efficient gasoline, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid choices within the Sonata lineup. New this year, the hybrid delivers up to 43 highway mpg and features distinctive styling cues. The Sonata Plug-In Hybrid drives up to 24 miles on batteries with additional range on conventional hybrid power.
The venerable Toyota Prius – the best selling hybrid on the planet – emerges in 2016 a completely redesigned model, faithfully delivering the attributes expected of an industry-leading hybrid with important design, technology, and efficiency updates. It features a familiar yet bolder exterior and incorporates suspension and other improvements to deliver improved driving dynamics.
These five Green Car of the Year finalists are culled from an increasing number of vehicle models, which reflects the auto industry’s expanding efforts in offering new vehicles with higher efficiency and improved environmental impact. Green Car Journal has been honoring the most important “green” vehicles every year at the LA Auto Show, since its inaugural award announced at the show in 2005.
“Each of the five nominees makes a strong environmental statement in distinctly different ways, with a common strategy of recognizing what’s most important to today’s drivers. Their use of wide-ranging powertrain technologies underscores that all approaches are essential to achieving important environmental goals,”said Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of the Green Car Journal and CarsOfChange.com
The Green Car of the Year® is selected through a majority vote by an esteemed jury that includes celebrity auto enthusiast Jay Leno, plus leaders of noted environmental and efficiency organizations including Jean-Michel Cousteau, president of Ocean Futures Society; Matt Petersen, board member of Global Green USA; Dr. Alan Lloyd, President Emeritus of the International Council on Clean Transportation; and Kateri Callahan, President of the Alliance to Save Energy.
During the award’s vetting process, Green Car Journal editors consider all vehicles, fuels, and technologies as an expansive field of potential candidates is narrowed down to a final five. Finalists are selected for their achievements in raising the bar in environmental performance. Many factors are considered including efficiency, EPA and CARB emissions certification, performance characteristics, ‘newness,’ and affordability. Availability to the mass market is important to ensure honored models have the potential to make a real difference in environmental impact, and finalists must be available for sale by January 1st of the award year.
FYI – ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter is attending the LA Auto Show, and the Green Car Awards.