2016 Nissan LEAF #1 On Automotive Science Group’s Life-Cycle Emissions Lists

APR 28 2016 BY MARK KANE 12

Automotive Science Group

Automotive Science Group

Automotive Science Group rated 815 model year 2016 cars (all trim variants in the North American market) in terms of life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The finding is that pure electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrids outclassed conventional cars, despite their production impacts being higher.

The top passenger car list is opened by 2016 Nissan LEAF, which produces 47% less life-cycle GHG emissions than the top ranking conventional combustion car – the Honda Fit (#22.), at least according to the study.

There is also 4 plug-ins in the top 5:

  1. Nissan LEAF
  2. Ford Focus Electric
  3. Chevrolet Volt
  4. Toyota Prius Two Eco
  5. Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid
  6. Tesla Model S 70
  7. Toyota Prius C
  8. Ford C-Max Energi
  9. Ford Fusion Energi
  10. Ford Fusion Hybrid
Ford Focus Electric

Ford Focus Electric



21 April 2016 [Santa Rosa, CA] – As global leaders convene in New York to sign the landmark UN Climate Accord on Friday, we pause to reflect on our own choices that will surely affect generations that follow. And with our transportation desires now accounting for 31% of total U.S. carbon emissions (source: U.S. EPA), our car of choice has a lasting effect. But with so many choices in the auto marketplace, and a Dieselgate shadow that weighs heavy on consumer minds, what does a “green” car really look like in 2016?

In 2016, advanced vehicle technologies are no longer futuristic auto show charades, these technologies are now being deployed in real cars that are available to real buyers. Hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs) are now more accessible than ever, and according to the Automotive Science Group’s (ASG) 2016 Study, these advanced powertrains outperform their conventional combustion counterparts in life-cycle environmental performance on nearly every occasion. While advanced powertrains inherently come with higher environmental burdens at production, these production impacts are offset by most models through greatly improved operational efficiencies during the use phase, according to ASG 2016 Study.

Next Generation Chevrolet Volt

Next Generation Chevrolet Volt

ASG found the production impacts for hybrid vehicles to represent 9-14% of a vehicle’s total life-cycle energy burden, PHEV’s ranged from 15-21% and EVs had a range of 29-38% across model year 2016 offerings. This is significantly higher than the 5-9% production impact burden assessed for conventional powered vehicles in 2016. But taking a closer look at all 815 model year 2016 cars (all trim variants in the North American market), not a single vehicle with a conventional combustion engine configuration scored in the top 20 when measuring life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, meaning the higher production impacts for advanced powertrains are indeed offset during the use phase.

The number one vehicle on ASG’s list – 2016 Nissan LEAF – produces 47% less life-cycle GHG emissions than the top ranking conventional combustion car – the Honda Fit – which falls off the list at #22. The top 5 green cars in ASG’s assessment include the Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus Electric, Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius Two Eco and Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid. With 4 of the top 5 vehicles coming with an electric plug, its clear that car electrification is reducing life-cycle carbon emissions, and the environmental benefits only increase as the electricity mix across the U.S. grid gets cleaner year over year.

When assessing all 567 model year 2016 Crossover/SUVs (with trim variants), ASG found the 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid to hold the smallest life-cycle carbon footprint of any model year 2016 SUV available in the North American market. The RAV4 Hybrid produces 16% less life-cycle GHG emissions than the #20 SUV, according to ASG’s Study. Of the nine SUVs with hybrid and PHEV configurations, only five of these models held a top 20 spot with lowest measured life-cycle GHG emissions. The remaining 15 places were held by SUVs with conventional powertrains powered by unleaded gasoline. No diesel configurations made the list in 2016. The top 5 green Crossover/SUVs in ASG’s assessment include the RAV4 Hybrid, Mazda CX-3, Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid, Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-5.

Hyundai Sonata PHEV

Hyundai Sonata PHEV

In the Full-size truck category, the RAM (3.0L Ecodiesel) offers the highest combined MPG rating at 23 MPG, however, the Ford F-150 (2.7L EcoBoost) with only a 1 MPG deficit actually delivers a life-cycle carbon footprint that is 8% smaller than the RAM’s, a savings of nearly 20,000 pounds of CO2-e emissions, according to ASG. ASG found the 2016 F-150 to hold the smallest life-cycle carbon footprint of any full-size truck in the North American market.

The F-150 aluminum design is key to Ford’s elevated performance, which not only reduces environmental burdens associated with raw material mining and processing, but with reduced vehicle weight, less power is required to physically move the vehicle, encouraging the use of the smaller fuel efficient engine found in the 2.7L EcoBoost.

In the Mid-size Truck segment, the Chevrolet Colorado (2.5L) gasoline powered truck leads the vehicle segment in environmental performance, outperforming the new and highly anticipated diesel configuration for the Colorado and GMC Canyon, along with the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier. With the GM 2.8L diesel gaining only 2 MPG (combined city/highway) over the 2.5L gasoline engine, while adding 440 pounds to its curb weight, the diesel fuel economy gains are not sufficient to offset the higher emission factor for diesel fuel, with the diesel option producing 4% more CO2-e emissions over the truck’s life-cycle.”


1 Nissan Leaf S 4dr Hatchback (24 kWh electric DD)100
2 Ford Focus Electric 4dr Hatchback (107 kWh electric DD)95
3 Chevrolet Volt LT 4dr Hatchback (gas/electric hybrid DD)81
4 Toyota Prius TWO Eco 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)77
5 Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6A)74
6 Tesla Model S (70 kwh)Model S (70 kwh)73
7 Toyota Prius cOne 5dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)71
8 Ford C-Max Energi SEL 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)65
9 Ford Fusion Energi SE Luxury 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)65
10 Ford Fusion Hybrid S 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)60
11 Toyota Prius v Two 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)59
12 Lexus CT 200h 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)59
13 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6A)59
14 Cadillac ELR 2dr Coupe (gas/electric hybrid DD)59
15 Toyota Camry Hybrid LE 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)58
16 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron 1.4 TFSI PHEV Premium 4dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid Turbo 6AM)56
17 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)56
18 Ford C-Max Hybrid SE 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)56
19 Toyota Avalon Hybrid XLE Plus 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)56
20 Lexus ES 300h 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)56

* This score is relative to the Best 20 list, not each vehicle’s competitive class set. The difference between a score of 100 and 94 is a 6% performance differential. The models listed are the best performing trim of that corresponding model.

Categories: Nissan

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

12 Comments on "2016 Nissan LEAF #1 On Automotive Science Group’s Life-Cycle Emissions Lists"

newest oldest most voted

I just read an article on Motor Trend about a 200 mile Ford EV in the works which the CEO mentioned, the world of EVs seems to be getting better everyday, glad that the environmental effect of the current EVs are so good only means good things for the future


Kind of surprised the BMW i3 isn’t top given the fact it’s built in a factory that is completely, 100% powered by solar and wind.

Yeah, that was my immediate thought too. Also, is this life cycle using coal or nat gas or what? A little light on details…

That and also it is the most efficient car on the road.

Are these car built in the USA only?

Where can I buy that 107 kWh Ford Focus electric? Must have at least 600 km of range!

No you don’t need that range. Then you are stuck in conventional ice thinking. How are you supposed to make a car with good lca results with a 107kwh battery?

It was a mistake on Auto Science Group’s part…should be 107 kW motor (143 hp) not 107 kWh battery. Focus EV has a 23 kWh battery.

It’s completely meaningless to say a car produces 47% less lifetime emissions if the ASSUMPTIONS aren’t stated.

How far do you drive? How green is your electricity? And, crucially, what are those numbers going to be over the life of the car?

Some assumptions are fair, say, using the average mileage today for the whole period. Some aren’t, say using today’s energy mix for the entire period.

As long as the assumptions aren’t stated it’s impossible to know if the numbers mean anything at all, since you can get whatever numbers you want by making the right assumptions.

I drive a LEAF in Norway (100% hydropower). I drove 16,000 kilometers in the past 12 months. I’m convinced the total lifetime emissions compared to even the least bad ICEV are closer to one third than to a half.

You’re right, but you have to make assumptions about millions of drivers to make a meaningful study…right? So def. you are one-third, while others are two-thirds if they’re powered on a coal grid. They cover all the methodology here, including grid, average distance, etc

What about the bmw i3?

Their website is really light on details.

Here in Israel, Renault’s authorized dealer has recently declared that they will no longer honor the warrantee on the battery (even though some cars still have 2 years left). I think AESC should be informed of this. Perhaps since Renault refuses to provide batteries for the cars to customers (in contrast to the contractual agreement), then AESC may be entitled to provide directly to end-user (or at least to licensed electrical technicians who will provide to end-user