Electric car tops recent greenest vehicle list, but is it safe?

Early this February, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) published its 14th annual Greenest Cars List, which quite surprisingly, was topped by an electric vehicle for the first time ever. The winning vehicle? The new Mitsubishi i-MIEV, which changed the guard in the eco-friendly car world, knocking out the Honda Civic Natural Gas for the first time in eight years.

“Even taking into account the emissions generated from the electricity used to power the i-MIEV, it still handily outscores other vehicles on the market today,” ACEEE’s lead vehicle analyst Shruti Vaidyanathan said in a statement.

According to the ACEEE, the researchers who compiled the data for the study used a number of factors to assess the “green scores” they gave to certain makes and models. This included factoring in the amount of emissions created by a power plant used to provide electricity for new electric cars such as the i-MIEV and Chevy Volt, the latter of which failed to make the top 12.

And while many classic car enthusiasts – myself included – think electric cars are for better or worse becoming the future, there are still some questions that automakers need to answer before some consumers commit. For example, last November, one Chevy Volt caught fire while parked at a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration testing facility. According to sources, the resulting fire was big enough to singe other vehicles parked nearby.

The vehicle in question used a lithium-ion battery, which is also used to power the i-MIEV, and some reports say have been linked to fires and other safety concerns. And while probes into the matter are ongoing, those who have yet to embrace electric cars may have another reason not to extend this warm welcome until the results are in.