What is the most environmentally friendly car in America? That is a question that is open to a huge debate, depending upon how many different factors you consider. One organization which feels like it has an answer to this is the research firm Automotive Science Group (ASG) whom, using its own variables, determined the all-electric Nissan Leaf “to hold the smallest life-cycle environmental footprint of any model year 2014 automobile available in the North American market (with minimum four person occupancy).”
ASG said it used “a unique combination of vehicle data inputs that include conventional specifications as well as ground-breaking social, environmental and economic performance indicators” to create its selection of the Leaf in this role. It noted that
the U.S. assembled, battery electric vehicle with an estimated 84 mile driving range is the best selling all-electric car in the world for good reason, and now consumers can be confident that the increased environmental impacts of manufacturing the battery electric technology is more than offset with increased environmental performance during operational life. While the electricity mix of the U.S. grid varies by region, the average mix in 2014 provides an energy source for the Nissan Leaf that is environmentally beneficial. Looking forward, energy forecasts identify a cleaner electricity mix across the U.S. grid, further increasing the environmental benefits of electric technologies in future years.
In other rankings in its study, it found the Mitsubishi Mirage to hold the smallest life-cycle environmental footprint of any conventionally powered model year 2014 automobile, due in part to the car’s EPA estimated 40 MPG combined and a material composition weighing less than 2,000 lbs.
From an economic perspective, meanwhile, the “the 2014 Chevrolet Spark was revealed to have the lowest cost of ownership over a five-year economic forecast, taking into account purchase and operating costs of all model year 2014 automobiles available.”