The Real Green Car of the Year Award 2008

At the L.A. Auto Show this year, there were two separate award ceremonies for the Green Car of the Year 2008. Inside, at the “official” award ceremony, the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid was announced the winner. Outside, at an “unofficial” ceremony staged across the street, the Plug-In Toyota Prius Hybrid won the prize.
So which is the greenest car of the two? The Chevy Tahoe gets 20 mpg. The Plug-In Toyota Prius gets 100 mpg.

At the unofficial award ceremony, four Plug-In Toyota hybrids were on display by Plug-In Conversions and CalCars. These two enterprising organizations, along with the Rainforest Action Network, Global Exchange, and PlugInAmerica, staged the “real” green award ceremony to send a message to major car manufacturers that increased fuel efficiency is possible and affordable to produce.
Plug-In Hybrids are a great alternative for cleaner transportation. For fleet owners, the pay-back period for the conversion costs would be relatively short. The intial approximate price to convert a Pruis is $12,000. However, it costs less that one dollar to charge the vehicle. Its all-electric range includes the first 50-60 miles, and after that, the gas engine kicks in as in the conventional Prius.
For business owners looking to green their fleet and cut back on company carbon emissions, plug-in conversions are a great choice.

Shannon Arvizu, Ph.D., is a clean tech educator and cutting-edge consultant for the auto industry. You can follow her test drives in the cars of the future at

8 responses

  1. Plug in conversions are a great choice where grid power comes from renewable energy.
    If the grid power comes from coal, plug in conversions might just cut down on tailpipe emissions.
    Burning coal to transport electricity long distances to charge batteries to power cars is a very inefficient use of energy.

  2. This is not as simplistic as comparing 21 mpg to 100 mpg. It is meaningless to name a vehicle “Green Car of the Year” unless it’s available for consumers to buy. If they’re not available, then they have no chance of making any kind of difference in emisisons or oil displacement.
    Plug-in hybrids are a great concept and they will hopefully make it to the consumer market sooner than later. But today they cost over $10,000 more than a conventional hybrid and there clearly needs to be more experience with these vehicles before they are declared a “consumer” product. Even HyMotion, which says it will market plug-in kits next year, will be focusing on fleets (and not consumers) at approved conversion centers.
    Let’s pull for plug-ins but not be blinded to the reality that they are not yet ready for prime-time. And while we’re at it, let’s acknowledge that vehicles of all types — including SUVs — will be around for some time. All of them need to achieve much better fuel efficiency. The real Green Car of the Year is the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, which Green Car Journal recognized in part because of its 50 percent improvement in city fuel economy…a milestone never before seen in a large SUV. All vehicles need this kind of fuel efficiency improvement. –

  3. Thank you for your comments, Your magazine has definitely been a forerunner in the sustainable transportation field. And it is true, it is about time that SUVs get better gas mileage and industry manufacturers should be rewarded as such.
    Nonetheless, plug-in hybrids have demonstrated their feasibility and affordability. A Toyota Prius + Conversion = approx. $32-34,000. If you factor in the cost savings in fuel over the lifetime of the car, it makes even more economic sense to convert your Prius. (The Chevy Tahoe, by comparison, starts at $55,000, but this is probably an unfair comparison to begin with, because they each cater to different consumers.) can convert your Prius in one day. Hopefully, with the work of enterprising conversion mechanics and evolving state policies, like Californi’s ZEV requirements, we will see more plug-in hybrids in 2008 than ever before.

  4. Preposterous! An SUV awarded the crown of “Green Car of the Year”? Reeks of political back room play. Simply reinforces the wasteful behavior of Americans. What about the amount of materials involved in the manufacturing of the SUV vs other vehicles? The amount of energy consumed in manufacturing? seems to me to be just another front man for the automotive industry. The criteria for determining the green car of the year certainly seems to skew the results towards the most favored automobile, a large and ultimately wasteful vehicle for transporting usually only one human being around town. And to celebrate this as a significant achievement? Ridiculous!

  5. Really McCoy? You think a 50% increase in fuel economy is ridiculous? First of all, the beauty of a Tahoe Hybrid is that in one year, with GMs new hybrid system, a full size truck gets 30% better fuel-efficiency overall, which is very significant because they can use this system in many other models pretty easily. Second, its pretty obvious that making something like a motorcycle will get better mileage than that of a bus, but if you calculate per person fuel economy for those riding the bus you’ll find it actually is more fuel efficient. You can’t compare two completely different types of cars and whine that “Oh, this gets better mileage, its better.” Your argument is very ignorant. Your ridiculous!

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