The ‘greenest’ cars you can buy in 2024

The ‘greenest’ cars you can buy in 2024

Electric cars have gotten a bad rap lately for a variety of reasons, most notably their premium pricing, cold-weather battery range, and the poor state of public charging. But there’s no arguing that zero-emission electrified vehicles tend to be more environmentally friendly than even the most efficient gas-only models.

It should come as no surprise, then, that both fully electric (EV), partially electric hybrid (HEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicles dominate this year’s “Greenest List” compiled by the American Energy Council. efficient economy (ACEEE). Seven of the 12 cleanest rides for 2024 are all-electric, up from five last year and three models in 2020. And those who complain it costs too much money to drive an eco-friendly vehicle, they should keep in mind that seven of the dozen cars on the 2024 Greenest list start at under $35,000.

“It’s important for automakers to continue to rapidly expand affordable EV options so that the benefits of EVs are available to drivers across a wider range of incomes as we move away from gasoline-burning cars,” said Peter Huether, senior fellow in ACEEE Transportation Studies. “For drivers whose needs are not met by today’s charging infrastructure, there are very efficient and affordable hybrid options available.”

Unfortunately, none of the EVs and PHEVs on the 2024 greenest list qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 that is otherwise available to qualified buyers of models that meet strict requirements for local assembly and sourcing parts/batteries.

On the positive side, at least as far as consumers are concerned, average prices for all-electric models fell 18% last year in response to supply and demand issues and helped by recent supply chain improvements and falling battery prices.

On top of that, automakers have been ramping up EV incentives in recent months to help move the metal, with some subject to five-figure cash rebates or 0% financing. Additionally, several automakers are using a loophole in the tax credit rules that allows them to pass on the full $7,500 their vehicles would otherwise not qualify for to customers through their leasing programs.

Each of the 1,200 mainstream vehicles that ACEEE evaluates is given an overall green score that can be used to compare the relative greenness – or disadvantage as the case may be – of one model to another. They are expressed on a 100-point scale, with higher numbers being better. The best performing 2024 model in this regard is the Toyota Prius Prime with a green score of 71. We count down the 12 greenest models below, noting their starting prices and 2024 green scores.

ACEEE ratings are based on more than a vehicle’s energy efficiency and emissions ratings (particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, etc.) reported to the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board. ACEEE assessments further take a cradle-to-grave approach to the environmental impact of a model.

This includes manufacturing waste, the model’s energy source, manufacturing emissions and the impact of disposal and recycling. Plug-in cars further account for emissions associated with electricity production, which in the real world can vary depending on local energy sources, with renewables being the cleanest.

But since not everyone necessarily wants or can own an electric car, the ACEEE website identifies “greener” gas and hybrid powered choices on their GreenerCars.org website. For 2024, those alternatives include the gas-powered Mitsubishi Mirage subcompact, Mini Cooper Convertible, Kia Soul, BMW Z4 and the Ford Ranger pickup.

And where there are winners, there must be losers, and to that end, ACEEE also compiles an annual list of the worst environmentally friendly cars, which for 2024 is led by the notoriously green Mercedes-Benz AMG G63 large compact SUV Scored just 20 out of 100. We feature this year’s dirty dozen in a separate post.

The 12 greenest cars for 2024

  1. Toyota Prius Prime PHEV ($32,975): Green Score 71
  2. Lexus RZ 300e EV ($55,150): Green Score 67
  3. Mini Cooper SE EV ($30,900): Green Score 67
  4. Nissan Leaf EV ($28,140): Green Score 66
  5. Toyota bZ4X EV ($43,070): Green Score 66
  6. Toyota RAV4 Prime PHEV ($43,690): Green Score 64
  7. Hyundai Elantra Blue HEV ($26,250): Green Score 64
  8. Hyundai Kona Electric EV ($34,050): Green Score 63
  9. Toyota Camry Hybrid HEV ($28,855): Green Score 63
  10. Let the EV6 EV ($43,975): Green Score 63
  11. Toyota Corolla Hybrid HEV ($23,500): Green Score 62
  12. Hyundai Ioniq 5 EV ($41,650): Green Score 62

Source: ACEEE; the full report can be found here.

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