Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Green car award

There's a list by AAA for various cars for being "green". I think that list is flawed crock of sh*t, so I'll present a better list in this blog post.


Tesla S70D takes the top spot despite the fact that it's one of the least efficient EV on the market. Reason given is that it's due to being luxury car and some other nebulous metric.

Limited availability VW eGolf (83 miles range) takes third place, but it doesn't include other limited availability cars like Ford Focus Electric that's sometimes called poor man's Tesla for being "luxurious".

Worse, far longer range Leaf with 107 miles range isn't even mentioned, despite the fact that it's sold far more widely.

And most egregious, many gas cars are mentioned, but not SparkEV! Again, limited availability cars like SparkEV should be on the list since eGolf is. That is outrageous!

You can make up anything you want when measured so subjectively. In other words, that list is crock of sh*t. In this blog post, I'll present a more objective list of "green" cars. For me, "green" is least use of energy, so it's pretty easy to quantify objectively.

For EV, DCFC is a must. That's because DCFC allows one to drive far more than rated battery capacity in a day. For example, SparkEV is rated for 82 miles range, yet it's capable of driving 1000 miles in a day by using multiple DCFC sessions. That allows the car to be driven far more than non-DCFC cars, thus avoiding gas use.

One might argue that Tesla S70D has far longer range, almost eliminating the need for gas car. While Tesla does get more range, one cannot always drive a sedan. Often, one would drive much larger van or SUV or even truck to haul stuff when gas car is needed.

Also, BMW i3 gets about 25% better efficiency than S70D. To get equivalent energy use, Tesla driver would have to skip driving for a day every 5 days (drive 4 days, skip fifth day). Even against SparkEV would be skip driving 1 out of 6 days for Tesla S70D, still highly unlikely scenario.

Rather than taking such scenarios into account, I simply list them in order of EPA's MPGe, a metric of efficiency. Then the list is completely objective without bias (sans DCFC). Approximate prices are after US tax credit plus nominal CA rebate, total of $10K off the MSRP.

Make/modelEPA MPGeappx price USD
BMW i3124$35K
Chevy SparkEV119$16K
VW eGolf116$25K
Nissan Leaf (SV/SL)114$25K
Mitsubishi iMiev112$13K
Kia SoulEV105$25K
Tesla S70D101$65K


  1. Hi SparkEV, followed the link from the "current lease offers" web page, which I used to lese my Spark, in June 2015, and my Volt, March 2016. thanks again if this is also you. Question: you mentioned driving from SD to LA w your Spark EV.
    We live in LA, Marina Del Rey area. Wondering how we could make it down to SD w Sparky. Also, would like to make the 120 mile drive to Palm Springs. Looked up the fast chargers, but not much info about cost, working order, etc. suggestions appreciated.

  2. You must have DCFC (DC fast charge) option with your SparkEV to make long trips. Make sure you have this option. SparkEV without DCFC is just a city car. But with DCFC, it can pretty much be the primary vehicle, even for several hundred miles a day, though with some pain.

    I'm surprised you haven't used plugshare.com to find chargers. Go there to find all the chargers. Plugshare lists some prices, but eVgo is most transparent. If you don't already have eVgo's OTG membership, it'll cost you about $45 (4 DCFC sessions) for 300 miles (roughly LA-SD + some site seeing). That's equivalent to about 20 MPG gas car when gas is $2.80/gal. But if you have OTG, it'll cost about $10 equivalent or about 84 MPG gas car. See my blog post on public chargers in SoCal.


    There are lots of DCFC on your way to Palm Springs, you should have no problem going there. Again, see plugshare.com.

    But if you don't have DCFC option, it'll take 2 days (or more!) for LA-SD trip with SparkEV, and Volt or even a gas car rental would be a better option.

    I'm not affiliated with ev-vin's blog and his lease blog other than being his fan. He does a fantastic job in helping people, and I spread the word when I can. I see it as public service announcement.

  3. You are wrong again.

    The Model S 70D is more efficient than the i3 BEV at 70 mph. For long distance travel, the Model S uses less energy than an i3. The EPA testing overemphasizes urban driving, even the highway portion of that testing. The average speed for the high speed test and the highway portion is under 50 mph.

    In the real world, the Model S displaces more use cases.

    2014 BMW i3 Test: https://avt.inel.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/fsev/fact5658bmwi32014.pdf
    2014 Tesla Model S 85 Test: https://avt.inl.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/fsev/fact4500tesla2014.pdf

    @ steady 70 mph, in Wh/mi in DC energy:
    S85: 301 Wh/mi
    i3: 313 Wh/mi
    Leaf: 343 Wh/mi

    1. If you're talking about non-existent Tesla driver living at the edge of freeway off ramp in city without traffic that allows 70 MPH all the time and only goes to places at the end of freeway off ramp, sure, I'm wrong. But the reality is that most people will spend significant chunk of their time in cities and in traffic. With about 4800 lb of mass to haul around, even regenerative braking would make Tesla far worse than any of the smaller EV on the market today.

      Now you're taking about "best case scenario" for Tesla, but let's look at SparkEV real world case. Mine now shows 5.2 mi/kWh after 10,000 miles of real world driving. Converting to your units, that's 192 Wh/mi, or only 63% of Tesla's unreachable best case of "70 MPH only". In the real world, Tesla would waste far, far more energy.