Green Update–>Rankings and Rumblings

February 22nd, 2011
2011 Rolls-Royce Phantom

An Electric Phantom may be coming: See below.

You may not have heard of this outfit, but the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy is one of those DC-based nonprofits that ranks things like cars for greenness. It ranks them not just for emissions and fuel economy, but figures out what it takes in environmental costs to build and power a car.

Last week ACEEE came out with its list of Greenest Vehicles, and to the surprise of many, the Nissan Leaf came in second, and the Chevrolet Volt finished 13th. The top car (for the eighth year in a row) was the Honda Civic GX, a CNG-powered car, sold only in California, New York, Utah, and Oklahoma.

The Volt did badly because of two factors: its excessive weight and its not-so-hot fuel economy running on gasoline. How or whether these ratings will influence buyers and sales remains unclear. The ratings game for green cars is getting so complicated that few know how to play.

EPA grades for car emissions

EPA grades for car emissions

For instance, how can a buyer evaluate the fact that the so-called upstream emissions of an electric vehicle depend to a large extent on where and how its electricity gets generated?

I think most prospective green buyers need better, clearer information on these things. And that’s not likely to be forthcoming with constantly changing standards in car and energy production, plus new vehicles continually coming online.

Speaking of which, Rolls-Royce has announced it will show an electric Phantom at Geneva, the very idea of which provokes guffaws from many car gurus. But wait, there’s more: The car will be super-quiet and smooth, and remember what these cars are used for:

Phantoms often shuttle occupants between the office, dinner or the theater and they sit and wait a lot. Rather than take the Phantom for a long road trip, it will be used deliver [sic] the owners to the executive terminal at the airport so they can take the Gulfstream, making a 100-150 mile Phantom a “practical” alternative.

So says motofinity, and you can tell R-R what you think of their idea here. Chris Haak thinks the beast might need a good powerful V8 as a range extender (like the Volt) to avoid the plebeian horrors of range anxiety.

The Rolls-Royce Phantom weighs almost 3 tons and costs around $400K. Is it a good candidate for battery-electric power?

—jgoods

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Used Honda Civic
Used Rolls-Royce Phantom

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