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Make the Switch to Electric with America’s Most Eco-Friendly Cars

electric

Electric vehicles have been around almost as long as their gas hungry siblings. Unfortunately, technical limitations, such as battery size and efficiency, have hindered the adoption of what is clearly a cleaner, more efficient form of fuel-powered transportation.

Today, thanks to innovations in how electricity is collected, stored, and discharged, the planet has entered a new era of mobility. Innovations, including high-energy lithium-ion battery cells, the development of battery charging networks, and engineering breakthroughs such as hybrid drive-trains and regenerative breaking, are rapidly making both electric and hybrid vehicles more attractive. Most of the world’s automakers either already produce, or are developing, Earth friendly transportation.

With today’s new hybrid technologies, it is possible to drive the equivalent of over 40 miles per gallon! Fully electric cars have even better millage, able to reach equivalencies of over 100 miles per gallon!

But, what if you are tired of always buying gas, or are against fossil fuels, or want to switch to electric to help curb pollution, and don’t know how? The following article is a list of the USA’s 18 most eco-friendly vehicles from 2018, as compiled by USA TODAY. (In a few cases, multiple versions of a given model have different fuel efficiencies, all of which were high enough to make the list. In those cases, only the most fuel efficient model is listed.)
Need a place to store your keys? Make sure your lanyard is eco-friendly by choosing recycled and organic materials and store it in a reusable bag when you aren’t wearing it. If you live in Florida, you might want to keep an umbrella in your new car

(All figures come from the US Environmental Protection Agency’s annual review of fuel economy for all passenger vehicles sold in the United States to determine the most fuel-efficient vehicles on the market for the 2018 model year. For electric vehicles, the fuel efficiency figure listed is in MPGe, or miles per gallon equivalent, a metric developed by the EPA to translate the fuel economy of vehicles running exclusively or partially on electricity into miles per gallon of gasoline.)

18. Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid

  • Type: Midsize Hybrid Sedan
  • Fuel/Energy Efficiency: 46 mpg
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $900

The Chevy Malibu Hybrid is one of two Chevrolet vehicles on this list. The 80-cell 1.5 kWh (kilowatt hour) lithium-ion battery pack provides extra millage compared to the 30 mpg non-hybrid version. The battery can run on speeds of up to 55 miles per hour (mph) alone before the gas engine kicks in. The 2019 version costs $28,000; about $6,000 more than the gasoline only version. The car earns a rating of Excellent from Motor Trend.

17. Honda Accord Hybrid

  • Type: Large Hybrid Sedan
  • Fuel/Energy Efficiency: 47 mpg
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $900

Honda also has two vehicles on this list. The hybrid version of one of America’s best selling cars carries an extra 14 mpg when compared to the most efficient non-hybrid equivalent. Honda claims that the 2019 Accord Hybrid has one extra mile per gallon, pushing it up to 48 mpg. It will cost you around $25,000. This is about $2,000 more than the starting price for the non-hybrid.

16. Kia Nero FE

  • Type: Hybrid Crossover
  • Fuel/Energy Efficiency: 46 mpg
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $900

In this case, the car with the most bells and whistles, as far as this topic is concerned, is not the top of the line. The $24,400 Kia Nero FE traditional hybrid crossover gets a little more mileage than the slightly fancier Nero LX. An extra $5,000 will get you the plug-in hybrid. It gets less mileage than the FE when the gasoline runs solo, but with assistance from the battery, you’ll see 105 MPGe! This year, Kia introduced a fully electric vehicle with an MPGe of 112 and a maximum range of 240 miles!

15. Toyota Camry Hybrid LE

  • Type: Midsize Hybrid Sedan
  • Fuel/Energy Efficiency: 52 mpg
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $800

The entry-level vehicle in the Toyota Camry Hybrid family, the LE, drives 18 more miles than the most fuel efficient four-cylinder version of the non-hybrid Camry. It also drives six more miles than the pricier versions, the XLE and SE. Though pricier and less roomier than the larger Honda Accord Hybrid, at around $28,000 for this year’s 2019 model, it has much more fuel economy.

14. Toyota Prius Two Eco

  • Type: Midsize Hybrid Sedan
  • Fuel/Energy Efficiency: 56 mpg
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $750

The second Toyota on this list is the most fuel efficient version of the Toyota Prius, the “mascot” of electric driving. Starting at around $25,000, it gets 4 more mpg, combined city and highway, than the standard Prius, which costs about $2,000 less. Toyota also offers the Prius Prime, a plug-in hybrid. For only $3,000 more, for a total price of $28,000, it can travel on battery power alone for up to 25 miles. It boasts an impressive a MPGe of 133, but has a worse mpg when the battery is not assisting.

13. BYD e6

  • Type: Small Electric Crossover
  • Fuel/Energy Efficiency: 72 MPGe
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $900

The only Chinese-made vehicle on this list boasts an impressive EPA-verified range of 187 miles per full battery charge! However, it takes up to 5 hours to fully charge the lithium-ion battery pack. BYD, primarily known for manufacturing electric car batteries and electric buses, is backed by US Business Magnate Warren Buffet. They are promoting the e6 as an ideal ride-share vehicle, although it is rarely seen in the United States.

12. Tesla Model X 75D

  • Type: Electric Midsize SUV
  • Fuel/Energy Efficiency: 93 MPGe
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $700

This is one of the more expensive electric vehicles out there, with a starting price tag of about $83,000. It does happen to be the most fuel efficient version of the Tesla Model X, with a 75 kWh battery and maximum distance of 237 miles per charge. Unfortunately, the all-wheel drive vehicle is not being sold anymore. The new base model features a 100 kWh battery pack, with has a MPGe of 87 and can travel up to 289 miles on a full charge!

11. Tesla Model S 75D

  • Type: Fullsize Electric Sedan
  • Fuel/Energy Efficiency: 103 MPGe
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $650

The Model S also has a 75 kWh battery pack. It is the most fuel efficient version of Tesla’s electric sedan, but, as with the Model X, it is being scrapped in favor of a larger battery. The new model comes with a price jump from $18,000 to $98,000! But, the 100D has an MPGe of 102 and can travel about 270 miles on a full charge. The 75D can only travel 237 miles.

10. Ford Focus Electric

  • Type: Compact Electric Car
  • Fuel/Energy Efficiency: 107 MPGe
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $600

Ford Motor Company’s entry into electricity happened with a battery powered version of the Focus compact. Despite the impressive fuel economy rating, it was not a very popular car in either the US or European markets, where consumers have more choices in small, fuel efficient vehicles. Last year, Ford announced the retirement of five of its six North American sedans, including the Focus Electric.

9. Smart ForTwo Electric Drive

  • Type: Electric Two-Seat Hatchback
  • Fuel/Energy Efficiency: 108 MPGe
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $600

You’ve probably seen these quirky little vehicles taking up the perfect parking spot. The coupe, which starts around $24,500, is among the top 10 most eco-friendly vehicles in the United States. In some larger cities, they are available as ride-sharing vehicles through car2go, owned by German auto giant Daimler, who also owns the Smart brand.

8. Fiat 500e

  • Type: Electric Subcompact Car
  • Fuel/Energy Efficiency: 112 MPGe
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $600

Just like the Smart ForTwo, this is primarily a city car. It is not meant for extensive highway travel or long road trips. However, it’s tiny size and battery power make it one of the most eco-friendly vehicles available in the country. Unfortunately, with a price tag of $34,000 and a limited range of only 84 miles per charge, the Fiat 500e may only fit a select few lifestyles.

7. Nissan Leaf

  • Type: Electric Five Door Hatchback
  • Fuel/Energy Efficiency: 112 MPGe
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $600

Nissan announced back in March that is has sold 40,000 Leaves worldwide since it’s 2010 introduction! It also noted that the Leaf is the first electric car to reach this milestone. Starting at just under $30,000 before any state or federal green-vehicle tax credits, the Leaf has the option of a 40 kWh battery with a range of 150 miles, or a 62 kWh battery with a range of 226 miles.

6. Honda Clarity EV

  • Type: Electric Midsize Sedan
  • Fuel/Energy Efficiency: 114 MPGe
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $600

This car would work best in smaller communities with ample charging availability. With a range of only 89 miles per full charge, the Honda Clarity EV starts at around $36,600 before any tax credits. Unfortunately, it is only available for purchase in Oregon and California. For about $3,000 less, Honda offers a plug-in hybrid that gets 110 MPGe and has a range of 47 miles on battery alone.

5. BMW i3

  • Type: Electric Subcompact Car
  • Fuel/Energy Efficiency: 118 MPGe
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $550

The i3 and sportier, but less fuel efficient, i3s may be the most eye-catching small electric car. The carbon fiber trim and sleek, minimalist interior comes with a hefty price tag: about $45,400 before tax credits. It also lags behind other comparable cars on this list; it only gets 153 miles per charge.

4. Chevrolet Bolt EV

  • Type: Electric Subcompact Car
  • Fuel/Energy Efficiency: 119 MPGe
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $550

The Bolt is an unlikely selection for parent company, General Motors, who generally relies on their big SUVs and pickup trucks. The Chevy Bolt has received positive reviews for handling and spaciousness, and its 238 mile battery range. It starts around $36,600 before tax credits. It costs less than the i3 but more than the roomier (but less fuel efficient) Honda Clarity plug-in hybrid.

3. Volkswagen e-Golf

  • Type: Electric Compact Car
  • Fuel/Energy Efficiency: 119 MPGe
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $550

Car & Driver magazine described the Volkswagen e-Golf as a “handsome little package” that has all of the pep of the regular Volkswagen Golf. At $32,800, it sits in the middle of the price range for small electric vehicles. Like other green vehicles, it qualifies for tax credits. Where it falls behind is in miles per charge. It only gets 125, compared to models such as the Chevy Bolt or Tesla Model 3

2. Tesla Model 3 Long Range

  • Type: Electric Midsize Sedan
  • Fuel/Energy Efficiency: 130 MPGe
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $500

The Tesla Model 3 didn’t turn out to be exactly what company co-founder Elon Musk promised. The car went from $35,000 to almost $40,000 before tax credits. In good news, it is still the lowest available new Tesla. If you want the long range battery, however, that will cost another $10,000; but, if you have the money, it will push the car up to 130 MPGe with an industry-leading range of 325 miles.

1. Hyundai Ioniq Electric

  • Type: Midsize Electric Vehicle
  • Fuel/Energy Efficiency: 136 MPGe
  • Annual Fuel Cost: $500

Leading the pack last year with a range of 136 MPGe was the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, the fully electric version of this vehicle. Starting at $30,700, it is on the lower end of the price scale. It only has a 124 mile range, so cost conscious buyers may want to sacrifice fuel efficiency for the plug-in hybrid, which gets 29 miles on battery alone.

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