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Top 10 Low Carbon Footprint Cars (and one SUV) for 2009

People and fleets that use vehicles with the lowest greenhouse gas emissions per mile are rewarded with making our future a little better and with their fuel costs being much lower. The following cars, wagons, and SUVs have the lowest greenhouse gas emissions per mile of any vehicles available for volume commercial sales in the United States in 2009. All can achieve freeway speed. In many cases, they also have the best fuel economy. Most are already selling in quantity.

From California to Capitol Hill to Copenhagen, plans and incentives are being created for a cap-and-trade of emissions. Passenger vehicles can get up to a $7,500 per vehicle tax break for being zero emission. The rewards for buying and selling low emission vehicles will increase. The incentives will be paid for, in part, by higher costs for gas guzzlers.

Reduced greenhouse gas emissions are becoming a priority with fleet managers and millions of conscientious consumers. These Clean Fleet Top 10 Low Carbon Footprint Passenger Vehicles are listed from lowest to highest in carbon footprint.

  1. Toyota Prius
  2. Honda Civic Hybrid
  3. Honda Insight
  4. Ford Fusion Hybrid
  5. smart fourtwo
  6. Nissan Altima Hybrid
  7. Honda Civic CNG
  8. Toyota Camry Hybrid
  9. Ford Escape Hybrid
  10. Mini Cooper and Clubman

This list was developed by first searching the U.S. EPA and DOE’s valuable fueleconomy.gov, with its extensive search capabilities. The EPA combined miles per gallon rating is based on 45% highway and 55% city driving. The carbon footprint is carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) based on 15,000 miles of driving, using the GREET 1.7 model.

Fleets are also early adopters of vehicles with even less emissions including electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell, plug-in hybrid conversions, and diesel hybrid concept cars. Because these are not offered for commercial volume sale, they are not part of this 2009 list. Electric and alt-fuel vehicles are also covered in detail at Clean Fleet Report.

The Toyota Prius continues to lead the four-door sedan field in fuel economy and lowest lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions. This perennial favorite midsize is lowest on the list with 4 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent for the EPA annual driving cycle; combined fuel economy is 46 mpg. Yes, 4 tons of CO2e is a lot; but many cars, light trucks, and SUVs create three times that emission. At the North American International Auto Show, Toyota announced the 2010 Prius with an expected 50 mpg combined and an optional solar roof option to power accessories and thereby boost mileage.

The Honda Civic Hybrid compact rates at 4.4 tons of CO2e for the EPA annual driving cycle and a combined 42 mpg.

The new Honda Insight four-door sedan with an Ecological Drive Assist System is priced for thousands less than the Prius. The Insight will deliver 41 mpg combined, with annual emissions of about 4.5 tons of CO2e.

The Ford Fusion Hybrid midsized sedan has an EPA certified 41 mpg rating in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. Clean Fleet Report makes an unofficial estimate that emissions will be 4.8 tons of CO2e for the EPA annual driving cycle. The Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrid may travel up to 47 miles per hour in pure electric mode. The Advanced Intake Variable Cam Timing allows the Fusion and Milan hybrids to more seamlessly transition between gas and electric modes.

Complete Report

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report and is the author of Save Gas, Save the Planet.

2010 Prius Delivers Record Mileage and Accelerates Plug-in Plans

By John Addison. Toyota achieves a record 50 miles per gallon with the new 2010 Prius, which just made its formal debut at the North American International Auto Show. This article also covers Toyota’s latest plug-in hybrid and EV announcements.

Since the Prius was first went on sale in Japan in 1997, continuous improvements have been made. My 2002 Prius has a combined EPA rating of 41, and that has been its actual mileage. Newer models are rated at 46 mpg. The new 2010 should be rated at 50 miles per gallon, or better. Toyota

In addition to normal driving, Prius now comes with three selectable modes – EV, Eco and Power – to accommodate a wide range of driving conditions.

Hybrid components like the inverter, motor, and generator are now smaller and lighter. The new midsized 2010 Prius improves fuel efficiency with a 0.25 coefficient of drag making it the world’s most aerodynamic production vehicle. Hybrid components like the inverter, motor, and generator are now smaller and lighter. The new beltless 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder gas engine with 98 horsepower, runs at lower RPMs at highway speeds for better fuel efficiency and improved uphill performance. An exhaust heat recovery system, exhaust gas recirculation, and an electric water pump contribute to a more efficient hybrid system with a net horsepower rating of 134.

An exciting new option is the solar moonroof using Kyocera PV that automatically powers a ventilation system on hot days. This system allows fresh air to circulate into the vehicle, cooling down the cabin so that the A/C doesn’t have to work as hard, conserving battery power. The solar roof will be paired with a remote air-conditioning system that is the first in the world to run on battery power alone. LED head lamps are another exciting energy saving option.

The Prius will face increased competition. The new Honda Insight 4-door sedan, 5-seater, with an Ecological Drive Assist System is expected to be priced for thousands less than the Prius. Honda will start selling the Insight in North America in spring 2009. The Insight will have a combined EPA rating of 41 miles per gallon, over 20 percent less than the 2010 Prius.

The new Ford Fusion Hybrid midsize 4-door sedan will be on sale in the US this next spring, with an EPA certified 41 mpg rating in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. The Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrid may travel up to 47 miles per hour in pure electric mode. The Advanced Intake Variable Cam Timing allows the Fusion and Milan hybrids to more seamlessly transition between gas and electric modes.

Toyota is also accelerating its roll-out of plug-in hybrids. Beginning in late 2009, Toyota will start global delivery of 500 Prius plug-in hybrids powered by lithium-ion batteries. Of these initial vehicles, 150 will be placed with U.S. lease-fleet customers.

The first-generation lithium-ion batteries powering these plug-in hybrids will be built on an assembly line at Toyota’s Panasonic EV Energy Company battery plant, a joint-venture production facility in which Toyota owns 60 percent equity. During its development, the new Prius was designed and engineered to package either the lithium-ion battery pack with plug-in capability, or the nickel-metal hydride battery for the conventional gas-electric system.

Toyota plans to make a hybrid drive system optional on all vehicles by 2020. At the North American International Auto Show, Toyota confirmed its plan to launch a battery-electric vehicle (BEV) by 2012. The FT-EV concept shares its platform with the revolutionary-new iQ urban commuter vehicle. Toyota continues to give customers an increasingly exciting selection of fuel-efficient hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report. His new book – Save Gas, Save the Planet – goes on sale March 25.

Low Carbon Footprint Four-Door Sedans

By John Addison. The four-door sedan continues to be a popular vehicle for fleets and for individuals. These sedans often deliver the right amount of space for 4 or 5 passengers and enough cargo space for a taxi. The following 10 four-door sedans have the lowest greenhouse gas emissions per mile of any vehicles available for volume commercial sale in 2009. In many cases, they also have the best fuel economy. Most are already selling in quantity. In a few cases, we are betting that the manufacturer will sell 1,000 to fleets by the end of 2009. Buying these clean cars often gives fleets tax breaks and special funding opportunities.

Reduced greenhouse gas emissions are becoming a priority with fleet managers and millions of conscientious consumers. These Top 10 Low Carbon Footprint Four-Doors are listed from lowest to highest in carbon footprint.

  1. Toyota Prius
  2. Honda Insight
  3. Honda Civic Hybrid
  4. Toyota Camry CNG Hybrid
  5. Ford Fusion Hybrid
  6. Nissan Altima Hybrid
  7. Honda Civic CNG
  8. Toyota Camry Hybrid
  9. Toyota Yaris
  10. Chevrolet Aveo

Fleets are also early adopters of vehicles with even less emissions including electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell, plug-in hybrid conversions, and diesel hybrid concept cars. Because these are not offered for commercial volume sale, they are not part of this Top 10 Four-Door Sedan list. Electric and alt-fuel vehicles are also covered in detail at Clean Fleet Report.

The Toyota Prius continues to lead the four-door sedan field in fuel economy and lowest lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions. This perennial favorite midsize is lowest on the list with 4 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent for the EPA annual driving cycle; combined fuel economy is 46 mpg. Yes, 4 tons of CO2e is a lot; by comparison the 2009 Lamborghini Murcielago rates at 18.3 tons and only gets 10 mpg. Sorry fleet managers, you’ll need to take that Lamborghini out of the budget. Watch for new announcements from Toyota at the Detroit and Chicago Auto Shows, including a solar roof option to power accessories and thereby boost mileage. Prius

The new Honda Insight four-door sedan with an Ecological Drive Assist System is expected to be priced for thousands less than the Prius. Honda will start selling the Insight in North America in spring 2009. Honda is setting expectations that mileage will be similar to the Honda Civic Hybrid. Honda Insight

The Honda Civic Hybrid compact rates at 4.4 tons of CO2e for the EPA annual driving cycle and a combined 42 mpg. Civic Hybrid

The Toyota Camry CNG Hybrid was presented to me as a concept car at the LA Auto Show. Should gas prices start climbing as summer approaches, then Clean Fleet Report is betting that Toyota will make this available to fleets. A similar move happened 10 years ago in 1999 when Toyota marketed a CNG Camry to fleet customers in California. Clean Fleet Report makes an unofficial estimate that emissions will be 4.6 tons of CO2e for the EPA annual driving cycle, based on achieving 32 mpg combined. Camry CNG Hybrid

The Ford Fusion Hybrid will be the most fuel-efficient midsize car on sale in the US by next spring, with an EPA certified 41 mpg rating in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. Clean Fleet Report makes an unofficial estimate that emissions will be 4.8 tons of CO2e for the EPA annual driving cycle. The Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrid may travel up to 47 miles per hour in pure electric mode. The Advanced Intake Variable Cam Timing allows the Fusion and Milan hybrids to more seamlessly transition between gas and electric modes. Green Car Congress

Cleanfleet Report with discussion of other Low Carbon Vehicles

If you are planning to buy any four-door sedans, this list may be a good starting point. The focus is on low CO2e emissions and likely commercial availability. Some will need larger sedans, while others will need affordable small cars, including small station wagons and two-doors which are not part of the list. Executives and sales managers that once required luxury sedans may now insist on one of the green alternatives in the Clean Fleet Report Top 10 Low Carbon Footprint Four-Door Sedans for 2009.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report. His new book, Save Gas, Save the Planet, will be published March 25, 2009.