Green Car Journal has been publishing “Green Car Awards” for years. CleanTechnica often doesn’t agree with the conclusions, because they’ve repeatedly slighted full electric cars for inexplicable reasons. However, the 2021 Green Car Awards seem a bit more inline with what we’d expect — with a few glaring exceptions. Let’s look at which cars won which awards.
- Green Car of the Year: Ford Mustang Mach-E.
- Luxury Green Car of the Year: Polestar 2.
- Urban Green Car of the Year: MINI Cooper SE EV.
- Family Green Car of the Year: Toyota Sienna Hybrid.
- Green SUV of the Year: Jeep Wrangler 4xe Hybrid.
- Green Truck of The Year: Ford F-150 with Hybrid option
The 2021 Green Car of the Year award winners were chosen by a jury made up of energy and environmental leaders including:
- Mindy Lubber, president of CERES.
- Jean-Michel Cousteau, president of Ocean Futures Society.
- Dr. Alan Lloyd, president emeritus of the International Council on Clean Transportation and senior research fellow at the Energy Institute, the University of Texas at Austin.
- Clay Nesler, interim president of the Alliance to Save Energy.
- Matt Peterson, president, and CEO of Los Angeles Cleantech incubator and advisory board chair of Climate Mayors.
- Jay Leno.
- Green Car Journal editors.
I do find it strange that hybrids are still considered green. They are greener than a traditional ICE vehicle, but they still burn fossil fuels — just not as much as gas vehicles unless the driver doesn’t use the EV motor. Furthermore, I can think of a few other deserving cars that are fully electric that are not on the list.
The trucks that made it as finalists for the award were the Chevrolet Colorado, Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-150, Jeep Gladiator EcoDiesel, and RAM 1500. There was no mention of Rivian or Bollinger. The issue is that if you are truly about “green” then any type of fossil fuel vehicle, even a prettily packaged and very well marketed “Eco” vehicle, wouldn’t top an actual pure battery electric vehicle. Perhaps these EV trucks didn’t meet the criteria because they are not here yet — but it is a “2021” award and the Rivian R1T is a “2021” model.
Green Family Car
The 2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid was chosen as the top winner in this category. Toyota Motor North America’s executive vice president of sales, Bob Carter, shared his thoughts in the press release. “The fuel efficiency of this all-new 2021 Sienna makes it a cut above the rest. This award just further highlights our dedication to hybrids in North America and we’re humbly honored to have the new Sienna be recognized as the Family Green Car of the Year for 2021.”
The EPA estimated that the winning hybrid has 36 combined miles per gallon fuel economy, which apparently sets a benchmark for that particular segment. But it should be noted that 36 MPG is nothing compared to what an electric vehicle offers and hybrids still create significant greenhouse gas emissions, so are not the “greenest” cars out there. Any vehicle that uses fossil fuels really isn’t that green at all.
A great alternative for this award would have been the Tesla Model Y.
Again, the Model Y could have won this award, but if you gave it the award above, you may want to select something else for this category (it seems the Green Car Journal team will not give a vehicle two awards). I think another great battery electric vehicle alternative to the hybrid version of the Jeep Wrangler, which won this award, is the 2021 Hyundai Kona EV. It gets 258 miles of range and doesn’t emit any greenhouse gasses when you drive it. It’s an all-around attractive vehicle that offers many modern goodies at an affordable price.
“Green” Cars Still Have Work To Do To Become Emissions Free
It’s great that car companies are being awarded for having cleaner vehicles, but we still have work to do. The ideal scenario would be to see all new vehicles become fully electric in the coming few years, or the coming decade at least. Advancements in battery technology have made this possible in terms of consumer needs. The biggest barriers at the moment are consumer awareness barriers and battery and EV production limits.
Unfortunately, many companies are still clinging to the idea that diesel is “clean” or “eco,” and that fossil fuels are acceptable — even in a “green car awards” system. I really think some people are deluding themselves as they resist change. Some companies, such as Volkswagen, are slowly adapting, but some still believe that gas and diesel powertrains are going to be around for a long time, so why not invest in fossil fuel vehicle models? The issue is: the more you invest in fossil fuel vehicles, the more you are investing in the heating of the planet and a growing climate change catastrophe. Sustainability should be the full focus — not the sustainability of fossil fuel based industries.
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