Are you looking for a new low-emissions vehicle? Then you’ll probably be interested in Climate Central’s climate-friendly car guide, which evaluates the most efficient vehicle for you based not only on the vehicle’s consumption, but how green the energy used to fuel it is in your particular location (if you live in the U.S.).
Since 2010, when the Nissan Leaf became the first mainstream electric vehicle available in the U.S., the landscape for low-emissions cars has changed dramatically. Not only are there more electric car choices — often marketed as zero-emissions cars — but there is also a growing number of plug-in hybrid, gas-powered hybrid, and traditional fuel efficient vehicles on the market. These give car buyers many options for climate-friendly cars that produce relatively small levels of greenhouse gas pollution.
But just how climate-friendly electric and plug-in hybrid electric cars are depends on where you charge them. In states where electricity generation relies heavily on fossil fuels, like coal and natural gas, powering electric cars can produce more emissions than conventional gas-powered cars. On the other hand, states with large proportions of hydropower, nuclear or renewables on the grid provide a low-emissions power supply for cars that plug in to charge.
Climate Central has produced a state-by-state analysis of the carbon footprint of a large selection of 2017 model-year vehicles and a climate-friendly car guide so consumers can identify the lowest-emissions options in the states in which they live. This analysis includes most 2017 car models identified as hybrid (either gas-power or plug-in hybrids), all 2017 all-electric vehicles, and a selection of the most efficient of traditional gas-powered vehicles and diesel vehicles. This new report is the latest update in Climate Central’s series of reports on climate-friendly cars, including a report on 2012 model-year cars and one on 2013 model-year cars.