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What is the GREENEST car out there?

calidavecalidave Posts: 156
edited March 2014 in General
Many people tout the Prius as the greenest machine, while others belive the diesels are the way to go. But most of these arguments focus only on mpg. (see Guiltless Gas Sippers: 10 Cars That Deliver the Most Fun Per Gallon (see also all the threads in the Hybrid discussion area of this site.)

What about emissions? What about recycled content? Recyclability? Longevity?

And how does safety fit in to the green analysis? The Volvos may not have best mpg, but they seem to have great safety, for example.
And Ford seems to be giving more than just lip service to its sustainability ideas.

What is the most important element to you in choosing a green vehicle?


  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    The Honda Civic GX has been rated by the EPA as the cleanest mass-produced internal combustion engine in the world.

    If driven from LA to DC, the car emits less pollution than spilling a


    "Driven from California to Washington, D.C., the Honda Civic GX natural-gas vehicle would emit fewer reactive hydrocarbons than what would be released by spilling a single teaspoon of gasoline."

    I can't see how any car can beat out the GX in that regard.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,111
    I like the new Gecko Green VW Beetle. That may be the greenest car I opt for.... :)

    Actually this is a subject that has gotten hashed out pretty well in the past. Some of us contend that the pollution in manufacturing is more of a long term detriment than what comes out of the tailpipe. Others feel what is spewed in another country does not invade my nose, so it is no big deal.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,111
    My vote would go for the early 1980s Mercedes 300 turbo diesel running on B100 biodiesel. It is GHG neutral. Not too bad on emissions. It has outlasted 3 average cars that are now part of the scrap heap. If the pollution to manufacture is about equal for all cars. The 25 year old MB will be one third the pollution of the 3 or more cars it replaced.

    Along that same line. I just found a law in the EPA website pertaining to imported cars. You can bring any 21 year or older car into the US without getting nailed by all the EPA regulations. There are probably a lot of well maintained low mileage Mercedes diesels in Europe that would be great to bring over and run on biodiesel.
  • falcononefalconone Posts: 1,726
    While not the greenest, it is the most hardy. Try closing the door on one of those cars. Feels like you closed the door on a vault. Now close the door on a 2005 Mercedes. Doesn't feel the same!! Two of my close friends have mid 80's 300Ds and they run forever. On bio, I guess they'd be green. On the muck we have here in NY... NOT.
  • calidavecalidave Posts: 156
    Yes, I've often thought that a car that lasts 200,000 miles is at least twice as green as a car that only lasts 100,000 miles.

    Of course, if the 100,000 mile car is highly recyclable, and if emissions are lower, etc. then it is much more complicated.

    Hasn't anyone done a "life cycle analysis" on cars (including manufacturing) and given us a report?

    (gagrice: I assume this has been hashed out all over the place in this forum, but I didn't see one place where all the issues were discussed. Often this topic is Off-Topic in those other forums, so it gets shut down.)

    I think the GMC truck hybrids are going to make a good case for being the most enviro vehicles out there. Not many vehicles can seat 7 and get 25 mpg (more?). And the ones with the power outlets will further reduce emissions because the truck is cleaner than the portable Honda generators.
  • It was the only double-green car.
  • falcononefalconone Posts: 1,726
    Yeah... and it had the lemon yellow interior!! :lemon:

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I'll nominate...drum roll please....

    The Subaru Outback PZEV.



    Simple, it's the most powerful PZEV sold in this country, and it's room enough, practical enough, and with AWD, a good enough substitute for gross-polluting SUVs that it could potentially replace.

    Sure, a Prius can replace...a Corolla! Wow, what an "improvement".

    A CNG Civic can replace a regular Civic. Again, whoopee!

    A PZEV Outback is a reasonable replacement for a Tahoe, at least one without a 3rd row. Or an Explorer. Or a TrailBlazer. Get a benemoth that guzzles gas and pollutes like crazy off the road and replace it with something that produces an output cleaner than most ambient air, and uses half the fuel in the process.

    So, because it potentially provides the biggest improvement from the trucks that could be traded in for it, it gets my vote.

  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    Gotta agree with you on that one, juice....

    ....that IS an odd-ball nomination. :P

    BTW - in my opinion, whereas the Prius could be considered a direct replacement for a Corolla, in no way would an Outback be considered a direct replacement for a Tahoe.

    For one thing, a Tahoe has SUBSTANTIALLY better towing capability.

    If you want to say the PZEV Outback is a reasonable replacement for a Tahoe, then I would put it to you that a Prius is a 'reasonable' replacement for a Chevy Malibu.
  • falcononefalconone Posts: 1,726
    Good one... maybe Subie should put the WRX STI engine in the Tribeca so it can get out of its way! :P
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    True, but how many owners actually tow? Less than 10%?

    So it's a suitable replacement for 90% of Tahoe owners.

    Malibu, even with a V6, is reasonably efficient. Let's do some math, for fun.

    Say you have a V6 Malibu, and trade for a Prius. Real-world mileage in the Malibu might be around 24mpg. EPA is 22/32 but that's not very realistic. Prius gets about 44 mpg in the real-time, again EPA is way off.

    The average driver goes 12k miles per year. They would have been using 500 gallons in the 'bu. Now they will use 273 gallons. Overall gas savings is 227 gallons, which is great. Plus emissions are a little lower.

    Now let's look at the Outback vs. TrailBlazer, to keep it fair, since Tahoe has more room inside. EPA for the Outback is 22/28 with auto, but again, let's call it 24 mpg for an easily obtainable real-world number. You'd use 500 gallons in the Subie.

    The TB leaves much more room for improvement. Even the more efficient 6 cylinder 4wd gets 15/20, 16mpg is a fair number to expect. That's 750 gallons of gas, so you'd be saving 250 gallons. Not to mention the drop in emissions is far greater.

    So depending upon the assumptions, my theory is not as wacky as you may think. In this situation the Outback actually saves more fuel and has the edge in emissions also.

    Plus, the Prius would be a bigger sacrifice in terms of performance, as the V6 Malibu is a whole bunch quicker, but the TB performs similarly to the Outback PZEV.

    I'm not so crazy after all. Actually, I am, but not for my nomination. :D

  • falcononefalconone Posts: 1,726
    Perhaps we should put a clean diesel into the equation. Is that an oxymoron or is a TDI running on bio cleaner than a PZEV???
  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    Let's look at the gas savings as a percentage:

    Going from a Malibu (500 gallons/year) to the Prius (273 gallons/year) is a savings of around 45%.

    Going from a Trailblazer (750 gallons/year; the TB mileage is REALLY that bad??? Yarg.) to an Outback (500 gallons/year) is a savings of 'only' 33%.

    So, based on percentages, you'll realize more savings by moving from the Malibu to the Prius than from the Trailblazer to the Outback. Not to mention the fact that you would only be actually USING the extra capabilities of an Outback over a Prius a very small percentage of the time. Wouldn't it be 'greener' to simply have a regular hybrid (Prius, HCH, etc.) and then RENT an Outback (or Trailblazer for that matter) for the few occasions when their extra capabilities are needed?

    As far as performance goes; sure the V6 Malibu will get up and go quicker than a Prius. But if your interest is in economy, then this additional performance is essentially meaningless. The Prius has more than enough performance to be acceptable on the road (in fact, probably better performance than a mid-90's V6 Malibu).

    You wacky Subie-lover..... :D
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,111
    So it's a suitable replacement for 90% of Tahoe owners.

    Comparing the 5 passenger Outback to the 9 passenger Tahoe is a real stretch. Even the Trailblazer is 7 passenger rated. You win on the MPG & PZEV. That will not make much of an argument for someone looking for a 6-9 passenger vehicle.

    That PZEV rating is only in CA and the 4 wannabe states.

    One last thing. You can get the Tahoe that burns E85. Isn't E85 supposed to be cleaner than any straight gas burning car?

    For me I like the Suburban better than any SUV out there. I have spent more than enough time in everything from a sidekick to an Excursion. If you really want to be green ride a bicycle and don't exhale.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Go check the SUV mileage thread, some of the reports are borderliner obscene. Edmunds' long-term Tribute got 14mpg on one tank, and 16mpg overall IIRC.

    Let's look at the gas savings as a percentage

    Why? Who cares? Isn't the bottom line how many gallons of gas are actually saved?

    Otherwise, switch from a Prius to a bicycle and you're saving 100%! 100% of nothing is nothing.

    Dunno about emissions, though, it would depend on your diet. :P

    What matters is the amount of gas saved, not the percentage. Fewer barrels of oil.

    The rent idea is not bad at all, in fact you can rent Outbacks in Colorado and some other places.

    You might even say buy an econobox and then rent a truck when you need more capability.

    I think we just solved the oil crisis and global warming in our 3 day conversation. :blush:

  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    "I think we just solved the oil crisis and global warming in our 3 day conversation."

    No wonder I feel like I need a nap......
  • calidavecalidave Posts: 156
    by gagrice Nov 23, 2005 (1:10 pm)
    Replying to: ateixeira (Nov 23, 2005 12:08 pm)

    So it's a suitable replacement for 90% of Tahoe owners.

    Comparing the 5 passenger Outback to the 9 passenger Tahoe is a real stretch. Even the Trailblazer is 7 passenger rated. You win on the MPG & PZEV. That will not make much of an argument for someone looking for a 6-9 passenger vehicle...
    If you really want to be green ride a bicycle and don't exhale

    Well, I agree on the first point, but that last sentence reveals your true feelings. YOu don't really care about the environment, that's obvious. So don't pretend to be discussing this topic objectively - you just aren't. Obviously a person doesn't have to abandon driving or breathing to decrease your impact on the environment, public health, etc.

    I appreciate juice's argument - that the best thing we can do from a gas consumption perspective is to get SUV into lower gas consumption vehicles. And gagrice is correct that for some people, they just want to be able to haul 6 or 7 people around fairly often. Accepting both of these arguments as valid, you then have to applaud GM for attacking fuel consumption in trucks and SUVs with hybrids, rather than in autos.

    Still, is a Subaru really "greener" than an RX400H?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Well, it takes a whole heck of lot more energy to build an RX400H. Plus, in the real world, they're not all that fuel efficient, only about equal to a 2.5l Forester or Outback.

    My Forester gets 25.1 mpg on average, and has lasted 8+ years with no dead batteries needing replacement. That's more than an RX owner will be saying 8 years from now.

  • calidavecalidave Posts: 156
    I hear ya, juice, though a 400H will do better than 25 if it gets a lot of urban/suburban driving, and if it's driven a bit carefully. (I don't expect to drive it that carefully, however.)

    no question the RX is going to have a higher cost to operate over 10 years than your Forester. ($.63/mile for the Subie vs. $.90/mile for the 400H)
    But my enviro. cred. will be slightly higher than yours. As will my luxury quotient. Your fun quotient could be higher, however, as I'd rather be in your Forester than in a 400H when in the mountains.

    I think the Forester is a great vehicle choice. If more people chose the Forester, it would be good for the world. I wish an American car company built something like the Forester that was also decent. Same with the 400H.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,111
    YOu don't really care about the environment, that's obvious. So don't pretend to be discussing this topic objectively - you just aren't.

    Having lived in LA from 1944 to 1958 I saw a big change in the air quality. When we moved to San Diego in 1958 I was able to breath without my chest hurting. Being young I had no idea what was causing the smog that impaired my breathing. I was very happy when steps were taken to clean up our air. We are a long ways from solving the problem. Drive down from Lake Arrowhead into San Bernardino and see the brown haze. That is not caused by cars. That is caused by ships and semi's. CARB and the EPA have squeezed the auto industry and our cars to where the exhaust is cleaner in many cases than the air it takes in. Our squabbling over the difference between a hybrid & a modern diesel car using ULSD is totally ridiculous. It disregards the real polluters in our land. I was watching the bulldozers & big dump trucks cutting the top off of the neighboring hill. Every piece of heavy equipment had a steady stream of black smoke pouring out of the stack. But good old CARB they act like they are doing their job by limiting diesel engines to 3/4 ton and larger vehicles. What a joke. Any car sold in the US, Europe or Japan is greener than the cleanest diesel bus or truck by many times over.
  • calidavecalidave Posts: 156
    (sorry for the apparent "tone" im prior post - I didn't mean for it to sound so snippy)

    yes, your points are all very true

    I'm not sure how much control CARB has over the port of LA. I know that's a monster polluter.

    It's true that the American consumer has less lobbying clout with respect to CARB's actions than does the construction industry or the Port of LA.

    I believe CARB recently passed a rule that you can't sit for hours with your semi's engine running. This has caused quite a stir, even prompting trucking advocates to say that our roads will be less safe, because truckers won't pull over and get a little shut eye in their nice warm cab. The only way to keep the cab running is to keep rolling. Still, the regulation was passed. And I think the port is even making some improvements. Once the port's ancillary (i.e. trucking) emissions are considered when analyzing, for example, a port's need for a permit when it wants to expand or replace facilities, the emissions from the entire facility can be improved. And, of course, if CARB makes it illegal to run the semi's engine when it is in line at the port, that means the semi manufacturers will have to turn to non-emitting technologies. I bet you can buy a semi, today, that has a hybrid syustem in it than will power a heater (or the AC) when the motor is off.

    (I know the Port in Alameda/Oakland is undergoing some significant changes that may decrease the emissions there.)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Once you account for the extra performance for the engine, you might argue it's a great balance of acceleration and economy.

    I guess green SUV is a bit of an oxymoron, though. Imagine the mileage a Camry could get with that powertrain. Or on the Highlander, they could have gone with the 2.4l + electric, but I guess it would cost too much to develop two hybrid powertrains.

    I'm not sure Lexus buyers would embrace a 4 cylinder anything.

  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,111
    I'm not sure how much control CARB has over the port of LA

    I would imagine CARB only has as much clout as the state legislature gives them. The shipping industry is very powerful. They have blocked several attempts to force them to clean up their act. There has been progress with shutting the ships engines down and using shore power to maintain the ships while loading and unloading. The transportation industry and the off-road equipment users are far from "green".
  • calidavecalidave Posts: 156
    The transportation industry and the off-road equipment users are far from "green".

    that's for sure
  • The greenest car sold in the US: The Civic CNG.
    The greenest car sold in Europe: The MDI Air Car.
    The greenest car sold in Africa: The e.Volution.

    If we want to discuss the greenest minivan, bus or whatever, another thread could be started, and numerous ingenious vehicles from all over the world could be brought in to that discussion as well.
  • Switzerland. They have been required (BY LAW) to kill the engine at traffic lights for the longest time anywhere. This is one thing that hybrids do very well, and will have a significant impact on urban smog, if they become widespread.
    Where are the brownest drivers? USA. Although Germans drive very fast, they don't compare with Americans when it comes to dispicably wasteful stomping (both on gas and brake pedals). And no matter how much you might think that your son drives like a racecar driver, you are probably fooling yourself, because many races are won or lost due to the number of refuelings, and so drivers must conserve as well as stay on course to win.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The CNG Civic now enjoys a hefty tax credit, too.

  • calidavecalidave Posts: 156
    I don't know about that. Since most of Africa has been using leaded fuel until recently, I'd say any driver in Africa is worse than the worst in America. Nothing worse for public health than all that lead. Way worse than NOx and SOx, and CO.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,111
    Named one of the 10 greenest by the EPA. VW TDI 45-50+ MPG. Running B100 it is GHG neutral. NO CO2 or SOx.

  • eaaeaa Posts: 32
    It has to be an electric vehicle like the Twike or Sparrow now (Nmg) by myers motors. Electrics are the only true zero emmission vehicles. Power generated by hydro, wind or solar is renewable and clean. Even other coal or nuke plants are cleaner than any fuel cars.
    My new light weight NiMH battery Twike has pedal assist to be even more efficient yet can go 70 mpg and over 50 miles on a charge at 55. With newer lithium batteries it will be even better.
    The T-Zero with lithium-ion batteries goes over 300 miles on a charge and is faster than a vet, Viper and Ferrari. It doesn't use any imported oil from terrorist countries that we now import over 60% of our oil.
    Next greenest is plugin hybrids and then the Prius full hybrid.
This discussion has been closed.