Unconventional “green” vehicles took the spotlight during the Washington Auto Show’s Public Policy Day, with the Jeep Grand Cherokee taking home “eco” honours in the sport-utility category and the BMW i8 getting the same recognition on the luxury side.
The “Green” awards have become a cornerstone of the Washington Auto Show, with The Green Car Journal stepping up to recognize environmentally friendly transportation with three awards.
For 2015, the Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel was named Green SUV of the Year, beating out the Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell, Lexus NX 300h and Mazda CX-5.
In another non-traditional “eco” category, Luxury Green Car of the Year, the BMW i8 (definitely a non-traditional luxury vehicle) took the honours over the Audi A8 L TDI, Cadillac ELR, Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid and Tesla Model S.
The Green Car Technology Award was contested among the BMW i3, BMW i8, Chevrolet Impala Bi-Fuel, Ford F-150, Honda Fit, Kia Soul EV, Tesla Model S, VW e-Golf and Volvo Drive-E models, with the F-150 full-sized pickup taking top honours for its all-aluminum body.
The awards illustrate the recent trend by car-makers to bring environmental friendliness to all market segments.
“The auto industry's very early focus on small cars and efficiency-for-environment tradeoffs has evolved to now include a more dynamic field of ‘greener’ models in all vehicle classes,” says Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of the Green Car Journal. “Those wanting greater efficiency or better environmental performance are no longer constrained by limited choices or vehicle types that fall outside their top purchase preferences. Today, if you want a more environmentally positive vehicle – even an aspirational sedan or coupe, SUV or pickup – they're out there in growing numbers.”
The jury of The Green Car Journal’s editors and automotive experts singled out the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel for its excellent fuel efficiency, considering its size and driving intentions. Not only does it encourage the big Jeep to attain a highway rating of 7.8 litres per 100 km, but the 3.0-litre V6 is also approved for a new era of biofuels (fuels made from biomass, such as plant wastage materials that aren’t otherwise consumed) — in this case B20, which is a mixture of diesel and 20 percent recycled oils or fats. Although just starting to gain acceptance in North America, B20 is the fuel of choice in much of Europe.
Further, the panel also singled out an Eco Mode that maps out different driving scenarios for the eight-speed transmission, cuts fuel to the engine while coasting and lowers the ride height for aerodynamics at high speeds.
The BMW i8 is not only the latest darling of the supercar world for its looks, prestige and exceptional performance, but it takes top Luxury Green Car honours for its lightweight carbon fibre passenger compartment and aluminum drive module that take fuel economy to unprecedented supercar levels when combined with an electric motor fed by lithium ion batteries. Not only does the i8 have the legendary BMW “ultimate driving machine” performance genes, but it can do it on electric-only propulsion for up to 35 km (under certain driving conditions). The plug-in hybrid powertrain grants the i8 a range of about 500 km.
The F-150’s all-aluminum body allowed the model to shed up to 317.5 kg, improving fuel economy to new lows in the full-sized pickup segment. Combined with an EcoBoost V6 engine, the truck manages to keep power figures desirable to pickup buyers, while the aluminum body does not diminish the truck’s ruggedness.