The editors from Kelley Blue Book, the leading provider of new- and used-car information, recently released its list of the top-10 green cars of 2011. This annual list comprises a variety of fuel-efficient vehicles along with detailed EPA-estimated fuel economy numbers and commentary on why each model made the year’s top-green-car list.
Along with the green-car list, Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence released data from a March 2011 survey detailing consumer sentiment and opinions on gas prices. According to the survey, gas prices are increasingly influencing car shoppers’ vehicle purchase considerations.
The number of survey respondents reporting that gas prices have changed their mind about the vehicles they are considering to buy increased 5 percent from February 2011 to March 2011. Further, the number of respondents who identified better fuel economy as the primary reason for purchasing a new vehicle also has been on the rise over the past three months, with 15 percent claiming that as their No. 1 reason in the recent survey. On average, consumers taking the March 2011 survey said that a vehicle would need to get at least 26.2 highway miles per gallon in order for them to consider it for their next vehicle purchase.
Another survey by Baum and Associates supported the trend, showing that high gas prices and a recovering economy led to a 46-percent increase in hybrid-vehicle and clean-diesel-vehicle sales in March 2011 compared to March 2010. The jump was about three times higher than the increase in the overall car market last month, according to an auto analyst from Baum and Associates.
The Kelley Blue Book editors kept consumer sentiment about gas prices in mind when selecting the 2011 green-car list and found a much wider range of vehicles worthy of consideration compared to years past. Not only did they find more hybrids than ever before but also more high-efficiency gas-powered vehicles.
“The sheer number and types of choices in the green-cars category have grown remarkably in the last year, with new plug-in electrically driven vehicles alongside an increased number of traditional gasoline-powered cars with improved fuel economy, as well as hybrids and diesels,” said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book.
To be considered for the 2011 green-car list, each vehicle was required to offer fuel economy and CO2 emissions superior to the bulk of vehicles in its class, while providing safety and comforts features that would make it pleasant to own. The variety of green vehicles included the 2010 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid, the 2011 Hyundai Elantra and the 2011 Honda Insight, among others.
One of the key trends identified by the Kelley Blue Book editors for 2011 is that fuel-efficient conventional gasoline cars are making a statement, with combined EPA fuel economy numbers in the high 30s and highway ratings nudging more than 40 miles per gallon. Because these vehicles also are significantly less expensive than hybrids, the Kelley Blue Book editors expect them to have a big impact with consumers who are seeing gas prices hit $4 per gallon.
However, in 2011, the auto industry also has witnessed the rise of the electrically powered vehicle. Nissan created a stir with its all-electric Leaf, which topped this year’s green-car list, daring to plunge into territory that General Motors found untenable more than a decade ago. But GM has learned from its past experience and launched the Chevrolet Volt, an electric car that carries a gasoline engine to power the vehicle only on rare occasions. As plug-ins, both the Leaf and Volt relieve drivers of gas-station fuel-ups.
As the consideration process continued, the kbb.com editorial department was confronted with the fact that, in terms of green cars, there are more good choices than ever before. While it makes the editors’ job of choosing the top 10 a bit tougher, it is nothing but a positive for all of the American drivers who are considering an environmentally friendly car these days.