With great mileage, stylish choices, low operating costs, and a federal credit of up to $7,200 for a new electric car purchase, the hard part isn’t deciding whether or not to make your new car purchase a green vehicle. Instead, with so many great eco-friendly cars available on the market, the hard part is deciding which car is the right fit for you or your family’s needs.
Fortunately, Forbes and the American Council for Energy Efficient Economy put together a list of 2013′s greenest cars to make that decision easy.
How ACEEE Chose Which Cars Were Greenest
There are a lot of different ways to determine how “green” a vehicle is. Rather than simply relying on fuel economy, ACEEE rates cars based on several different categories. Since the carbon footprint of manufacturing a new vehicle is as high as driving it, it’s important to have a car that provides a strong all-around green experience. Using such categories as vehicle tailpipe emissions, greenhouse gases, fuel economy, and manufacturing process, ACEEE graded each car and then determined which was the greenest. In order, the top 5 scoring green autos of 2013 are:
- Toyota Prius c. 53 mpg highway/46 mpg city.
- Honda Fit EV. 132 mpg highway/105 mpg city.
- Toyota Prius. 51 mpg highway/48 mpg city.
- Prius Plug-In Hybrid. 95 MPGe (electricity plus gasoline). 51 mpg highway/49 mpg city.
- Honda Civic Hybrid. 44 mpg highway/44 mpg city.
As you can see, Toyota and Honda had a strong showing in this year’s list, beating out competitors like the Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf (which Kelly Blue Book calls its greenest car of the year). By combining the federal credit of $7,200 for electric cars and dealer discounts, you can get a new Leaf for as little as $22,000 — that’s a great price nearly any new car buyer can afford. Many dealers also offer discounted car leasing for electric autos.
If you’re not a fan of the Prius’s styling, however, don’t let this Toyota-dominated list prevent you from buying a green car. Options like the Leaf (as well as the 2013 Volkswagon Jetta, Ford Focus Electric, and Chevy Volt) are still better eco-friendly options than gas-guzzling SUVs and pickups.
Ways To Make Your Existing Car Greener
If you aren’t in the market to buy a newer, greener car yet, there are still ways you can improve your existing vehicle and make it more eco-friendly.
- Slow Down. By driving fast, you’re using more fuel than you need. Plus, fast acceleration and deceleration puts more wear and tear on your car.
- Lighten Your Load. Every extra pound of cargo you carry in your car affects your fuel economy. Get the most mileage possible by carrying as litle as possible in your car at any given time.
- Pick A Steady Speed. Whenever possible, use cruise control to maintain your speed. Just like keeping your home the same temperature uses less energy than letting the temperature fluctuate, maintaining your vehicle’s speed reduces the energy and fuel needed to propel your vehicle.
- Don’t Idle. It’s a myth you need to let your car “warm up” in the cold months. In fact, it only takes a few seconds for your car to warm up and get ready to drive. Since idling your vehicle means you’re just burning fuel (effectively getting 0 mpg), avoid it if you can.
- Inflate Your Tires. Properly inflated tires improve your gas mileage. Check your tires every so often to make sure yours have enough air.
You don’t have to buy a new electric car to make your morning commute a little more green. Follow these tips to make your car greener, adjust your driving style to save fuel, and try to drive your car longer so you can reduce your overall carbon footprint instead of buying a new vehicle every 3 years.