Before we get into which countries are leading the way in manufacturing green cars, it’s important to clarify what we mean by the term green as it applies to vehicles. A green vehicle (also known as a clean vehicle, or eco-friendly vehicle) is a car that emits little to no harmful gases into the environment. Most countries have standards for green cars that are more stringent than cars that utilize gasoline, diesel or similar fossil-based fuels. Green cars are often powered using a hybrid system (two motors: one electric, one gas) or a fully electric system. These are designed to leave less of a carbon footprint on the planet. Although hybrid and EV engines often come up short in terms of performance, many automakers are designing cars that have surprisingly impressive performance. Get behind the wheel of a Malibu, and you may find yourself taking a defensive driving course!
1. United States
The electric vehicle market in the U.S. is still the strongest worldwide, and it looks like there’s no slowing down. Chevy’s EV prodigy, the 2017 Bolt, tops the list of most fuel-efficient cars in the plug-in category. The Bolt can get up to 230 miles on a single charge. If compact is not your thing, however, then Chevy’s arsenal also includes the Malibu Hybrid and the Volt (not to be confused with the Bolt). All three of these cars have been U.S. News & World Report, Consumer Report, and Car and Driver top ten picks over the last 3-5 years. Going green isn’t cheap, however, as the Bolt and Volt start out in the $30K range. Thankfully, the Malibu starts out at $27K. The U.S. has provided lots of incentives for purchasing green cars such as the NJ Auto insurance discount in New Jersey.
Although the U.S. has some of the top EV and Hybrid cars in the world, Japan is a close second. Toyota and Honda continue to dominate the market throughout Europe, Asia, and the U.S. with heavy contenders such as the 2017 Toyota Avalon, a remarkable hybrid that gets 40 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the interstate. Japan has also made great strides with the Toyota Prius, the Prius Prime, and the Prius V. Although the Prius hybrids are not known for incredible performance, they more than make up for with fuel economy and low carbon emissions. Rounding out the top Japanese green cars is the 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid, which may be Japan’s most comfortable, roomy ride that boasts lots of driver assistance features.
3. South Korea
The average consumer has no clue that two of the most fuel-efficient cars in the industry are made in South Korea: Hyundai and Kia. Both brands have taken their share of abuse over the last decade. Both companies almost folded as well in terms of sales in the U.S. Thankfully, however, the hybrid and EV market has breathed new life into the auto makers who have produced top-selling vehicles such as the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq and it’s closes counterpart, the 2017 Kia Optima. The best thing about these cars is the price. Consumers who are eco-conscious but don’t have $40K to spend on a vehicle can fit into these cars for under $25,000. And when it comes to performance, the Ioniq doesn’t disappoint. As hybrids go, it has amazing fuel-efficiency, agile handling, unparalleled comfort, and fast acceleration.
No green list is complete without Germany. Although German auto makers such as Mercedes, BMW, Audi, and Volkswagen are not hitting the top five rankings in the fuel-efficiency category, they’re still producing cars that are not only green, but can still deliver high-performance on the road. The Mercedes-Benz B250e is a top-selling EV car that is a true Mercedes-Benz both inside and out. The B250e can get up to 85/83 on a single charge. In addition, Germany has also seen the emergence of the Volkswagen e-Golf, Audi A3 e-tron Ultra, and, of course, the BMW i3, which has revolutionized EV transports over the last two years by producing arguably the most powerful lithium-ion battery in the industry.