The finalists for the Green Car of the Year 2015 have been announced, and what is most striking about the list is that only one of the cars is a sole electric vehicle.
Fuel efficiency has been improving year-on-year, but it is surprising to see the diesel Audi A3 TDi and Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI make the shortlist. Diesel engines are more fuel efficient than their petrol counterparts, but while CO2 emissions have been pushed down over time, the nitrogen dioxide given off by diesel engines has resulted in pollution levels in London that the EU has described as excessive.
The inclusion of the Honda Fit (known as Jazz in the UK) 1.5 litre Earth Dreams was a similar surprise as while it offers an estimated combined EPA MPG of 41 and clever i-VTEC (Intelligent Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control) technology to improve engine efficiency, it remains a petrol car, with all the non-green credentials that entails.
The Chevrolet Impala Bi-Fuel makes a greater claims to being green with its 3.6-litre hardened engine that can use the cleaner Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as an alternative to fuel, with drivers able to drive for 150 miles around a city without a single drop of conventional petrol.
However, the only truly green car in the list is the BMW i3 that has been designed from the ground up to be a purely electric vehicle (EV). Rather than refitting an existing model, BMW used data from millions of miles driven by volunteers in its electric Minis and 1 Series to create an electric car designed for the city. The company built the car using aluminum, magnesium and CFRP to bring its weight down to 1,200kg including batteries, which allows it to cover up to 100 miles from a single charge.
Green Car Journal says that the finalists are selected for their achievements in raising the bar in environmental performance and availability to mass markets, but with the recent improvements in electric car technology the awards should exclude all diesel and petrol engines at this point. Companies such as BMW have a wide range of new cars available, and if organisations want to push other manufacturers to follow suit and build truly green EV cars, then their green credentials need to be celebrated in awards like these.