Poor “Chubby” Volt

Called the “Chubby” Volt by Hybrid Owners of America, the Chevy Volt was dealt a serious blow to its electric car ego last week when it came in at number 13 on the annual American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy’s (ACEEE’s) Green Book ratings. That Green Book is serious business in car circles—it tells buyers if the green car they’ve set their sights on lives up to its environmental mission—from manufacturing methods to fuel economy to emissions.

The Volt’s major problem was weight-related—it weighs about 500 more pounds than the electric Nissan LEAF or hybrid Toyota Prius. And its fuel economy when running on gas—35 mpg city/40 highway—is less than impressive. In fact, it almost didn’t make the list at all. In fairness to the Volt, there were a lot more contenders this year. Despite the Green Book name, the listing, in fact, encompasses a whole range of vehicle types that can boast energy efficiency, from regular gas-powered cars to plug-ins, gasoline hybrids, diesels and natural gas vehicles. For the eighth year in a row, the natural gas-powered Honda Civic GX won first place, followed by the Nissan Leaf (all-electric). The gas-powered Smart Fortwo made third place, ahead of a lot of electric and hybrid contenders.

GM, who makes the Chevy Volt, has argued that the rankings are skewed, according to E senior writer—and green car expert—Jim Motavalli’s piece for Mother Nature Network. Motavalli mentioned that when driving the Volt, the need to run on gas is almost never an issue. It is a weightier ride, but also—and this is an important factor for car buyers—a more comfortable one.