Which Vehicles Are Most Energy Efficient?

(AP) “The House… approved a ‘cash for clunkers’ bill that aims to boost new auto sales by allowing consumers to turn in their gas-guzzling cars and trucks for vouchers worth up to $4,500 toward more fuel-efficient vehicles.”

Question: Does fuel efficiency equal energy efficiency?


What if we considered all the energy required to design, manufacture, use, maintain, and ultimately dispose of a vehicle?

It turns out that such a study was conducted.

CNW Marketing Research, Inc., performed a long-term study of “dust to dust” energy costs for cars and trucks. The research tracked and calculated the energy cost of each model sold in the U.S. in 2005, from initial concept to the projected time it is scrapped. CNW then calculated a lifetime cost per mile for all energy consumption. “And while many focus on fuel efficiency, that is only a small part of the total energy needed to design, develop, produce, drive and dispose of those vehicles. In fact, as the data shows, some of the less fuel efficient vehicles actually have extremely good Dust-to-Dust energy consumption requirements and conversely some hybrids, at least the current iterations of hybrids, are inferior in total energy demands while offering extremely high fuel efficiency.”

Here are some results of the study:

The Top 10 most energy efficient vehicles over their lifetime:


1. Scion xB ($0.48 per mile)

2. Ford Escort (0.57 per mile)

3. Jeep Wrangler ($0.60 per mile)

4. Chevrolet Tracker ($0.69 per mile)

5. Toyota Echo ($0.70 per mile)

6. Saturn Ion ($0.71 per mile)

7. Hyundai Elantra ($0.72 per mile)

8. Dodge Neon ($0.73 per mile)

9. Toyota Corolla ($0.73 per mile)

10. Scion xA ($0.74 per mile)

The 10 least energy efficient vehicles over their lifetime:


1. Mercedes Benz produced Maybach ($11.58 per mile)

2. Volkswagen Phaeton ($11.21 per mile)

3. Rolls-Royce (full line average: $10.66 per mile)

4. Bentley (full line average: $10.56 per mile)

5. Audi allroad Quattro ($5.59 per mile)

6. Audi A8 ($4.96 per mile)

7. Audi A6 ($4.96 per mile)

8. Lexus LS430 ($4.73 per mile)

9. Porsche Carrera GT ($4.53 per mile)

10. Acura NSX ($4.45 per mile)

Hybrid vehicles energy efficiency over their lifetime:


1. Honda Insight ($2.94 per mile)

2. Ford Escape Hybrid ($3.18 per mile)

3. Honda Civic Hybrid ($3.24 per mile)

4. Toyota Prius ($3.25 per mile)

5. Honda Accord Hybrid ($3.30 per mile)

By the way, Hummer H3 came in at $1.95 per mile.


See the full 458 page report here:

Click to access DUST%20PDF%20VERSION.pdf

or here:



Disclosure: I own a 2008 Scion Xb, bought before I read the study.

Bottom Line:

Could it be that some of those “clunkers” are actually more energy efficient than a new car would be?

One comment

  1. While it is nice to factor in vehicle cost to $/mile, it is somewhat misleading. ANYTHING that cuts down on our self induced oil dependence is a benefit.

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