The 2015 Tesla Model S 70D was named the AAA Green Car of the Year, the motor club announced today. The Tesla is featured with 80 other green vehicles in the 2016 AAA Green Car Guide, a comprehensive report published annually by the largest member of the AAA federation – the Automobile Club of Southern California and its Automotive Research Center. The BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf SEL Premium rounded out the top three.
“The Tesla Model S 70D has a 240-mile range, room for five, excellent power and steering and fast charge capability,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “Add sleek styling, great acceleration and an air of sophistication that separates it from other alternative-fueled vehicles and you see why the Model S 70D was our top vehicle this year.”
Each of 13 evaluations was scored on 0-10 points. Scores were totaled to determine top vehicles. The guide summarizes vehicle specifications, test scores, data and observations and lists its strengths and weaknesses. Each year, the research center tracks significant changes to a vehicle from model year to model year. If no significant changes were made to the power train in 2016, a prior model year’s results were used. Top green vehicle winners received AAA’s environmentally friendly trophy made of sustainable bamboo and recycled aluminum.
“The research center’s evaluators divided the vehicles into six categories, crunched the numbers and identified winners in each category,” added Nielsen. “They also recognized winners by price. The Tesla took three awards – Best Green Car over $50,000, the large car category winner and the AAA Green Car of the Year. In other categories, the best green car under $30,000 was the Mazda 3S Grand Touring, and the best green pickup is the Ford F-150 Supercab Lariat.”
“Today, car shoppers can choose high-quality, zero-to-low-emission vehicles in a growing selection of body type and size and price. The AAA Green Car Guide is designed to help give consumers research-based information and tips to find the vehicle that best suits their needs and navigate the green car marketplace with confidence,” said Megan McKernan, manager of the Automotive Research Center. “AAA’s expertise along with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s nearly half-century of automotive research with alternative fuel vehicles continues to benefit AAA members and the public today.
“Green vehicles offer motorists a way to save on energy costs,” she added.
A recent AAA member green vehicle survey found that green car issues are important across generations with millennials and non-millennials saying they’d consider buying a green vehicle because of fuel costs and environmental impact. The majority of respondents in the AAA survey also said they are interested in a green vehicle when shopping for a new car and 82 percent stated it was important to understand green technology.
To help car buyers and enthusiasts looking for the latest information on fuel-efficient vehicles and low-emission technology, the sixth annual AAA guide reviews battery electric vehicles, compressed natural gas-powered (CNG) vehicles, clean diesels, hybrids, partial zero emission vehicles (PZEVs) and vehicles with high fuel economy. Vehicles were grouped into categories according to size, body type and three price ranges. They were scored by the Los Angeles-based Automotive Research Center in real-world evaluations (acceleration, handling, ride comfort, turning, cargo capacity, etc.). The report also contains in-depth information about green technologies, vehicle safety and advanced driver assistance systems.
Tested vehicles were selected based on emission certifications from the California Air Resources Board and U.S. EPA fuel economy ratings. Tests were performed at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, and on Southern California roads. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the EPA and the Automobile Club of Southern California developed the testing procedures.
The guide will be available to AAA members at no charge at select AAA branches while supplies last. More information can be found at AAA.com/greencar.