The Green Car Journal is getting set to hand out its 2017 Green Car of the Year award at the Los Angeles Auto Show mid-week, and has narrowed the list from which the potential winner will come down to five.
“This year’s Green Car of the Year finalists clearly represent the momentum that electrification is experiencing in the auto industry,” said Ron Cogan, Editor and Publisher of Green Car Journal and GreenCarJournal.com. “Whether it’s all-electric, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or a combination of these powertrains plus conventional gasoline engines within a model line, electrification is now considered by most automakers an essential technology for current and future high-efficiency models.”
One of BMW 330e iPerformance, Chevrolet Bolt EV, Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, Kia Optima Hybrid/Plug-In Hybrid, and Toyota Prius Prime will walk away with the title.
BMW 330e iPerformance
Although BMW has a dedicated line of electrified vehicles (the i Series), the 330e iPerformance is a version of the more traditional 3 Series sedan featuring a plug-in hybrid drive system — an electric motor in tandem with the BMW TwinPower Turbo inline 4-cylinder engine. Net system power outputs are 248 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, which help take the compact 4-door go 0-100 km/h in about 6 seconds and to a top speed of 225 km/h. It has an electric range of about 22 km and able to reach a top speed of 120 km/h on electricity alone.
Chevrolet Bolt EV
The compact Bolt EV crossover is rated at about 380 km on a full battery, which is just over half what you’d expect from a similar-sized conventional internal combustion engine model. But then again, you don’t have to ever stop for fuel. And if you use it the way most electric vehicle owners use their cars (for around town driving) you might be able to actually not plug it in and still be able to use it the following day. One of its innovative features is a Regen on Demand feature that uses a steering wheel paddle to initiate more aggressive regenerative braking without actually stepping on a brake pedal.
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
Chrysler’s new minivan offers the first-ever plug-in hybrid in the class. It delivers a 48-km electric driving range through its innovative dual-motor variable transmission, and a total driving range of about 855 km, when combined with the 3.6-litre Pentastar V-6 internal combustion engine. The plug-in hybrid minivan can be charged in as little as two hours, with the use of a 240v adapter or double that time with through a standard 110v plug.
Kia Optima Hybrid/Plug-In Hybrid
There are actually two electrified 2017 Optimas — a Hybrid and a Plug-in Hybrid — pairing an electric motor with a new 2.0-liter, GDI 4-cylinder gasoline engine. The difference between the two is that the Plug-in Hybrid uses a larger battery pack than the standard hybrid, and can be charged externally to allow up to about 43 km of electric-only driving, before reverting to its gasoline engine propulsion with electrical assist.
Toyota Prius Prime
Not satisfied with the Prius Plug-In moniker for last year’s redesigned car, Toyota created the Prius Prime. Driving rang on battery power is about 35 km, roughly double that of the original plug-in Prius. Other than that, it’s the same Prius, with the same basic shape (although bearing unique exterior styling cues to differentiate it from the others).
The Green Car Awards have been handed out since 2005, with an increasing number of nominees every year and, of course, the advent of electricity played a big part in that.
Green Car Journal editors consider a wide range of vehicles, fuels and technologies to narrow down the field to five, based on many factors including efficiency, performance characteristics, “newness,” affordability, overall environmental achievement, and availability to the mass market. The finalists must be available for purchase by January 1 of the award year.
The finalists are voted on by a jury of experts, including Jay Leno (a well-known auto enthusiast), Jean-Michel Cousteau, President of Ocean Futures Society; Matt Petersen, Board Member of Global Green USA; Dr. Alan Lloyd, President Emeritus of the International Council on Clean Transportation; Mindy Lubber, President of CERES; and Kateri Callahan, President of the Alliance to Save Energy.