Let's face it, the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) miles-per-gallon-equivalent rating (MPGe) is a good estimate, but an estimate nonetheless. Battery-powered electric cars don't burn gasoline, so a gasoline-based rating is always going to be a theoretical exercise in energy conversion.
Still, the EPA needs some way to compare electric, hybrid, and gasoline-burning vehicles. Such ratings benefit government agencies and auto companies, as well as consumers who would otherwise struggle to compare kilowatt-hours to gallons consumed. The EPA reaches its hybrid and electric vehicle figures by running test cycles, determining how many kilowatt-hours are burned, converting it to BTU/mile, and then dividing that number by the BTUs in a gallon of gasoline. The result is the MPGe figure, which will undoubtedly be a source of technical arguments for years to come.
Click on the image below to see 12 of the top fuel-efficient vehicles, as determined by the MPGe rating system.
Ford Transit Connect EV -- 62 MPGe (combined city + highway): Ford's Transit Connect is a utility van with a top speed of 75 mph and an all-electric driving range of 80 miles. (Source: Ford Motor Co.)
A better measure would be a cost of "fuel" per mile based on a stated cost of fuel. By fuel I am talking gasoline and electricity. Since both vary by location, all you would have to do is compare your price to the standard to get your cost per mile. This is what is important anyway. The measures we do have were born of a time when cost was not as big an issue. The question was more how many far can I go before I need to fill up.
I did notice that most of the vehicles in your slide show were small vehicles. There are a couple of mid-sized cars, and that is good. It is in the mid and large size vehicle that we really need to cut comsumption.
Wow. I was really impressed by the growing array of choices and pretty laudable metrics these cars boost in terms of efficiency. I hadn't even heard of many of the cars that made this list. Are some of the models just sold in overseas markets and not in the United States?
Good point on the size of the car, Naperlou. As traditional combustion engines become more efficient, it becomes harder to make a case for the high-priced hybrids and EVs. This is especially true when it comes to small traditional combustion engines.
The high number of Fords is really interesting. They've changed their appraoch to the market. Instead of only offering one EV and waiting to see if it sells, they started with a braod range of choices of EVs and hybrids to let the market decide.
Brilliant! I hope other manufacturers look at that model and start to lose their fear of innovation.
I agree with Lou, it's in the larger cars where fuel consumption needs cutting most. Of course, the manufacturers have to start somewhere and it makes sense to begin with the simpler problems and smaller weight/efficiency issues and quantities of smaller vehicles, and then scale up.
Also would like to know the projected retail price. I am actually curious about the transit connect, as I would love a small PHEV cargo hauler. On the last buying cycle, I liked the space in the transit, but the drivetrain put it behind the Mazda5. (smaller engine, but less efficient transmission, so it made more noise, felt like a they inserted a rubber band, and it got worse gas mileage than the Mazda)
Unfortunately Toyota doesn't see fit to import their hybrid minivan, the Estima. We have had great luck with our first gen Prius, which turns 12 in 3 months. I also remember well the "Moon cruser" toyota I bought in 84. Besides being impossible to kill, you could fit 4x8 sheet goods in the back, and close all the doors afterwards, yet it was no longer than the same vintage Civic.
Of course perhaps I should have considered the Fit - 2 weeks ago, I saw someone move a single manual late German harpsichord (with stand) in one. Admittedly they had to fold the front passenger seat forward, and lean the nose on it, and their passenger had to ride behind the driver, but it was 7 feet long, and wide enough to fit a 5 1/2 octave keyboard.
Only semi related: I was talking with a friend the other evening, who does Ford fleet sales. Apparently the transit's are shipped from Turkey with rear seats installed to get passenger car tarifs, but once in port, the seats are removed, shipped back to Turkey, and installed in the next batch off the line. Some sets of seats have made a half dozen trips...
It's nice to see that there is such a broad range of vehicles and technologies available. There may not be a perfect solution available yet, but with all those different manufacturers and product selections there is clearly a great deal of engineering effort.
@Nadine: It is pretty impressive how Ford has turned around its fortunes and really shifted so much emphasis to EV development. Giving consumers choice is definitely a smart strategy, but obviously requires some pretty deep R&D pockets.
Agreed. I would like to get the data for expected electric and fuel consumption based on average miles driven daily with the assumption that the vehicle can be recharged nightly. I can easily find the current fuel and electricity costs and do the math.
For those like myself with a longer (50 mi each way) commute, it is reasonale to assume that the entire round trip might not be completed running 100% electric. So having a single MPGe rating seems a bit simplistic.
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