The 2013 World Green Car Of The Year Award Is Really A Two Vehicle Race

The 2013 World Green Car Of The Year Award Is Really A Two Vehicle Race

The three finalists for World Green Car Of The Year have been announced in Geneva.  And for the first time since the Model S was introduced, Tesla might not win this one.

2013 Tesla Model S

2013 Tesla Model S

The three finalists are:

Tesla Model S - available in 3 range levels in the US (40 kWh, 60 kWh and 85kWh) and 2 in Europe (no 40 kWh version), the Tesla can drive up to 265 miles on a charge; all the while making the driver not look like the eco-green nerd we know he (or she) is.

 

2013 Renault Zoe

2013 Renault Zoe

Renault Zoe - the first real purpose built electric vehicle for Europe, and the car that we all secretly wish the Nissan LEAF would have been in the US.

How good is the Zoe?  Renault actually delayed the Zoe's launch  for fear it would steal sales from the Euro-release of the gas powered Clio.  The Zoe has a 130 mile electric range (on the NEDC cycle, which translates to a little less than 95 miles here), variable "Chameleon" charging that lets the car accept whatever charge is available (30 mins to 9 hours), good handling and styling.  And all that from €15,700 after subsidy (about $20,000 USD) +  €79/month battery hire.

 

2014 Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid

2014 Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid

 

Rounding out the 3 finalists is the  Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid, which is a fine, yet expensive, plug-in hybrid that is simply not going to win...so we aren't going to spend much effort talking about it. We will note the Volvo  can travel up to 30 miles on just electricity, and it probably does really well in crash tests  (you can however read all about it here if you care to).

 

 

So, what gives us the impression that the Tesla Model S has a slight chance to actually not win an award that it is nominated for?

The Renault Zoe is a beast.  It has most everything your typical all-electric vehicle buyer wants, in an appealing package;  at an even more appealling price.   A price so low that it gives value over its gas counterparts from the moment you drive it off the lot (especially with $8.00/gallon gas), a notion not seen in the US.

And affordability is something Tesla really can't compete on...especially considering it's European pricing, where the top of the line, 85 kWh Model S starts around  €83,000 ($108, 000 USD.  As mentioned previously, there is no 40kWh version of the Model S outside North America, instead you find the likes of the 60 kWh electric sedan starting around €70,000 ($91,000 USD). 

The Tesla Model S has it over the Renault Zoe in almost every category, but it simply is not 4-5 times better in our opinion.  You have to consider the value per dollar/price achievement that has occured with the Zoe in Europe.

The Zoe sells for €15,700 (with €79/month battery lease, that also insures the vehicles ability to function as advertised long term), while 'competitors' such as the Opel Ampera sit at €37,900.  Even Renault's business partner Nissan looks fairly weak with the 75 mile LEAF starting at €25,900.

While Renault has just started making deliveries of its Zoe in the last few weeks to the general population, we are already marking it down as the best selling plug-in for Europe for 2013.   To illustrate the French EV's dominance, in just a few selling days in February, Renault sold more Zoes than all the other EVs combined for the month in France, with 440 sales.

Ryoji Yamada, from the event'sponsor Bridgestone, said of the awards, “The environment is everyone’s responsibility and throughout our global family of companies, we take this responsibility very seriously."

Also giving the Renault Zoe some extra credit, is a home-field advantage of sorts, as the award is voted on by an "international" cast of 66 automotive journalists, which rarely show love for the US nameplates.

Still, the Tesla Model S is premium name in the EV business right now, and its award dominance is unmatched.

Past Winners:

  • 2012 - Mercedes S 250 CDI Blue EFFICIENCY over the  Ford Focus Electric and Peugeot 3008 Hybrid.
  • 2011 - Chevrolet Volt over the BMW 320d EfficientDynamics and the Nissan LEAF
  • 2010 - Volkswagen BlueMotion
  • 2009 - Honda FCX Clarity
  • 2008 - BMW 118d
  • 2007 - Mercedes-Benz E320 Bluetec
  • 2006 - Honda Civic Hybrid
The winner will be announced at the NY Auto Show on Thursday, March 28, 2013.