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Chevrolet Volt Barely Makes "Most Green" Car List

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The Chevrolet Volt is at the cutting end of technology, heralding in the future of electric cars. So why did it almost miss making the list of the greenest cars?

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy’s Green Book is the bible of environmental rankings for cars and trucks. The 2011 issue just came out.

"This is the most exciting Green Book in a decade for me, because there are so many vehicles in the running," Therese Langer, ACEEE’s Transportation Director, told PluginCars.com.

The top car for the eighth straight year is the Honda Civic GX, which runs on compressed natural gas. The all-electric Nissan Leaf finished second. As for the Volt, it made the list, but in the 12th and final spot.

"The Chevy Volt came very close to not making the list," said Shruti Vaidyanathan, ACEEE Vehicle analyst.

The first negative mark against the Volt was its weight, which provides an indication of how much energy went into producing the vehicle. The Volt weighs about 500 pounds more than the Nissan Leaf or Toyota Prius.

Then it was on to the Volt's road performance, with its electric motor and small gas engine to power the car after the electricity runs out.

"The Volt running on gasoline doesn’t have terribly impressive fuel economy. It’s rated at 35 mpg in the city and 40 highway," said Therese Langer, ACEEE’s Transportation Director. “If you think of it as a vehicle that is roughly two-thirds electric and one-third gasoline, as an electric vehicle it does pretty well, but not quite as well as the Leaf."

The "two-thirds EV and one-third gas" refers to typical driving habits.

"As a gasoline vehicle, the Volt does okay, but there are a whole lot of gasoline vehicles that beat it out," said Langer. "So when you take the fact of those two things together, it comes out about where you think."

Here is the complete list:

Honda Civic GX
Nissan Leaf
Smart Fortwo Cabriolet/Coupe
Toyota Prius
Honda Civic Hybrid
Honda Insight
Ford Fiesta SFE
Chevrolet Cruze Eco
Hyundai Elantra
Mini Cooper
Toyota Yaris
Chevrolet Volt

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