AutoEcoRating provides information to help consumers compare cars according to their environmental impact. It scores cars and light trucks using what we call an “eRating” — an automotive ranking scale that represents just how environmentally friendly one vehicle is in comparison to another.

Think of the eRating like a “green” horsepower. Just as a horsepower number tells you how powerful a car or truck is for going fast, the eRating tells you how green it is, meaning how well it minimizes the impact on the environment when you drive it. The higher the eRating, the lower the damage to the planet.

Our eRating is based on principles of lifecycle assessment. It tallies up the environmental impacts of a product from “cradle to grave,” meaning from the extraction and production of the materials and fuels used in the car to their final end use and disposal. For automobiles, the biggest impacts occur from fuel use during driving, with the end products being “disposed” out the tailpipe and into the air around us. Even an electric car has environment impacts, because even though it might have no tailpipe and so claims zero emissions on the road, plenty of pollution comes out of power plants when generating electricity.

The eRating uses data on a vehicle’s fuel economy or other form of energy use as well as emissions, and it also tallies the pollution tied to manufacturing the car. The result is an estimate of a car’s total environmental impact. The higher the impact, the less environmentally friendly the vehicle is. Because we like to “think positive,” the AutoEcoRating system converts this total environmental into an eRating on a “higher is better” scale that represents environmental friendliness. In short, the higher the eRating, the greener the car.

That makes shopping for a green car easy for anyone, no matter what style you like and how much you can afford. It’s this simple: use AutoEcoRating to find the greenest vehicle that meets your needs and fits your budget.

Coming up with eRatings means crunching a lot of numbers, and that’s what we’re doing on this blog. It’ll take a while to compute the ratings for all vehicles, but we’ll get started by writing about the ratings for some popular models and add more data as we go. Send in your comments about vehicles you’d like to see rated, and we’ll do our best to look up their specs and give you their eRatings in future AutoEcoRating posts.


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