list of most efficient vehicles had to be divided in two: one list for plug-in models that stand head and shoulders above all other vehicles, and a separate list created when users choose “no” in a dropdown menu to exclude electric cars and plug-in hybrids." />

2013 DOE-EPA Fuel Economy Guide Includes 14 Plug-in Models

By · December 07, 2012

Scion iQ EV

The government's fuel economy guide is apparently agnostic when it comes to production volume. Its Top 10 "fuel sipper" list includes the Scion iQ EV (shown here), but not the Nissan LEAF.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) this week released its 2013 Fuel Economy Guide. For the first time, the government’s list of most efficient vehicles had to be divided in two: one list for plug-in models that stand head and shoulders above all other vehicles, and a separate list created when users choose “no” in a dropdown menu to exclude electric cars and plug-in hybrids.

As the end of 2012 approaches, we should start seeing year-end evaluations of how electric cars fared this year. But regardless of how sales numbers are evaluated, it’s undeniable that consumer choice in plug-in models is growing. There are 14 plug-in models now listed on, the EPA-DOE website.

“This year’s guide gives consumers a broad range of information that they can use to select their next fuel efficient vehicle, whether they want to consider an electric vehicle or one that uses a more conventional fuel,” reads the official statement from the EPA-DOE. “Electric and plug-in hybrid electric models are the most fuel-efficient and lowest-emission vehicles available today and are becoming more common.”

The only no-plug vehicle to be listed as the most efficient model per segment is the Prius V wagon, because the “midsize wagon” class is the only one that lacks a plug-in model. The Prius V’s 42 mpg rating looks out of place among the mostly triple-digit ratings in the list. However, labeling the Honda Fit EV as a “small station wagon” required some degree of creativity. It’s also a stretch to see the Scion iQ EV and the Transit Connect in the list. In fact, the Scion iQ EV is indicated as the number one "fuel sipper," while the Nissan LEAF did not make the overall Top 10 list. Toyota has backed off plans to sell the iQ beyond about 100 units globally.

A Long List, Albeit Uneven

Nonetheless, the relatively long list of models reveals that 2012 was a year for product introductions, even if many of the plug-in were offered in low numbers and in limited markets. Unless there are surprises, the roadmap for 2013 includes fewer new plug-in products, with the Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid; BMW i3; Chevrolet Spark, and Fiat 500e the only new models on my radar. (What models am I missing?)

So, the challenge for growth in the EV market will be for automakers to ramp up production of the models listed below. And for consumers to gain a better understanding of the benefits of electric cars and plug-in hybrids, from sources such as the annual fuel economy ratings from DOE-EPA.

In order from highest miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe):

  • Scion iQ EV - 121 MPGe
  • Honda Fit EV - 118 MPGe
  • Mitsubishi i-MiEV - 112 MPGe
  • Smart ForTwo Electric Drive - 107 MPGe
  • Ford Focus Electric - 105 MPGe
  • Ford C-Max Energi - 100 MPGe
  • Nissan LEAF - 99 MPGe
  • Chevrolet Volt - 98 MPGe
  • Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid - 95 MPGe
  • Tesla Model S - 89 MPGe
  • Toyota RAV4 EV - 76 MPGe
  • Coda - 73 MPGe
  • Azure Dynamics Transit Connect Electric - 62 MPGe
  • Fisker Karma - 54 MPGe


· Anonymous (not verified) · 1 year ago

Are you blind Brad? The LEAF is number 7 at 99Mpge! What do you mean it didn't make the top 10 list?

· · 1 year ago

@Anon - I listed all the plug-in vehicles that the DOE-EPA included, but if you look at their page dedicated to the Top 10, it's not there:

· · 1 year ago


The list, as shown in your link, is currently flawed because some 2013 models are not posted yet. The Leaf is one of them. Also, the Tesla Model S 60kWh has been posted with a score of 95 MPGe Combined. Green Car Reports quoted the EPA range at 208mi, but I was unable to find that on

Also, the list broken down by class is mystifying:

How are the RX400h and the Highlander Hybrid in different classes? They are the same platform!

· Modern Marvel Fan (not verified) · 1 year ago

There is where EPA sucks.

EPA allow the plugins to CHEAT the system.
EPA test cycles are only 11 miles at longest. (Average over few different mode).

So, cars with short EV range such as Prius Plugin, Accord Plugin can "cheat" the MPGe by ONLY limiting its EV miles in the LEAST powerful mode so it achieves that number.

If you increase the test cycle to 20 miles, the PIP and Accord numbers will drop to 70 MPGe.

If you increase the test cycle to 30 miles, PIP and Accord plugin will drop to 60 MPGe and Energi models will drop to 70MPGe

If you increase teh test cycle to 40 miles, PIP/PIA will drop to high 50s MPGe and Enegi mode will drop to low 60s and Volt will drop to low 90s in its MPGe

But during all those tests, Leaf's MPGe will stay constant!!!!!

This the the biggest SCAM by the Japanese Plugin (Prius plugin and Accord Plugins) cars. At least the Volt is useful in most of the case (that is why some think of it as "EV").

· · 1 year ago

@Modern Marvel Fan

It wouldn't surprise me if the BIG Battery on the Volt (man I thought I'd never put those words in the same sentence) is one of the reasons its the Most Owner-Satisfied mass produced car, EVER!

· · 1 year ago

@Modern Marvel Fan
The definition of MPGe is the efficiency when running on electricity. Your "analysis" above is not correct. You are actually talking about net miles per gallon, but you are mixing electric equivalent gallons and actual gallons. So, the EPA is technically correct even though the terminology is confusing. I think the only significant problem with the EPA testing method is properly flagging PHEVs that cannot complete the test purely on electricity either because they need ICE power to reach the required acceleration or their battery is too small to cover the cycle distance. I have not sufficiently studied the PIP numbers to know how they actually deal with this. I really wish they would have a database of window stickers on That would make it a lot easier to get all the information.

Anyway, calling the PIP and Accord PHEV a scam is a little extreme. It is the buyers' responsibility to understand what the car can and cannot do.

· Modern Marvel Fan (not verified) · 1 year ago

"The definition of MPGe is the efficiency when running on electricity. Your "analysis" above is not correct. You are actually talking about net miles per gallon, but you are mixing electric equivalent gallons and actual gallons"

That is NOT true. EPA's MPGe is a conversion between Electricity usage and gas usage.
If a car uses both gas and electricity, the total are averaged to generate the MPGe number.

Ex: Toyota Prius Plugin uses 0.2 gallon and its full battery of electricity (including charging loss). The two numbers are "combined" to use to get the 95MPGe number.
EPA uses 33.7KWh per gallon number to convert between the two and combine them.
In EPA's estimate Pip 11 miles "mixed" driving uses 29KWh/100 miles (3.448mile/KWh), but in the same cycle it also use 0.2 gallon of gas (~6.7KWh). Total consumption for 100 miles is 35.7 KWh for 100 miles. That is energy per 100 mile. (33.7/35.7) x 100 = 94.398 MPGe. EPA rounds it up to the nearest digit. (Not your typical rounding of .5)

If PIP uses more gas, then its average will drop in a longer trip. MPGe ONLY makes sense when the entire trip is PURE EV miles. But PIP managed to sneak in the 0.2 gallon which is a scam b/c There is NO way that in a 100 miles case it would only burn 29KWh (derived from its 11 miles cycle) and only 0.2 gallon (from its 11 miles cycle). It is ONLY possible if those 100 miles are broken into multiple small trips.

If the test cycle is 20 miles, then PIP would use the same electricity (fully drain the battery) and its gas usage will go to ~0.2 (0.18) gallon per 20 miles (or 1 gallon for 100 miles). That converted MPGe would be 29KWh+ 30.33KWh for 100 miles. or 56.8MPGe or 57 MPGe.

This is why I call it a SCAM!!!!!! EPA "extend" its 11 miles "total energy" use (by combining gas and electricity through 33.7KWh/gallon) to energy per 100 miles and then calculate its MPGe.

So, the car with the shortest 11 mile Electric mode that ONLY kicks in gas during short spurs can "game" the number to make it look FAR MORE favorable than it actually is.

· Modern Marvel Fan (not verified) · 1 year ago

@ Mike I,

"The definition of MPGe is the efficiency when running on electricity"

Wrong. the definition of MPGe is the efficiency when running on electricty OR GAS (total energy usage). It was designed to show BEV's energy usage in terms of ICE user's understanding. In the case of Plugins car that use both during their test cycle, both ENERGY have to be accounted for. In the older cars, ONLY gas is ever put into the car so its energy consumption is MPG. In the EV case, MPGe is used to account for the energy of electricity (including charging loss).. In the case of Plugins, all energy are included (for those 11 miles test cycles).

At the end, MPGe is the energy consumed per miles. If gas and electricity are used, then both have to be accounted for. The 33.7KWh/gallon is the conversion factor.

That is why the "short distance" MIXED (Electric and Gas) miles can be "gamed" to make the number impressive.

· Warren (not verified) · 1 year ago

For an EV the range numbers are much more important than the kWh/mi numbers. The most efficient car on the list, the Scion iQ EV has the shortest range, so its having the best efficiency per kWh is pretty meaningless. The range listed for the car I am most interested in, the Smart Fortwo ED, is overly optimistic, given the advertised battery size. I emailed, and they said that, "they have found that for EVs and PHEVs, the advertised battery rating is not very accurate. Furthermore, there is really no established (universally accepted) procedure to determine the battery capacity", so they charge them up and run them through the dyno tests until they won't go anymore, and recharge them. It would appear the pack in the Smart is about 20% larger than they advertise.

· · 1 year ago

Isn't the Mitsubishi Outlander Plugin Hybrid going to be sold in 2013?


· · 1 year ago

"...they charge them up and run them through the dyno tests until they won't go anymore, and recharge them."

This procedure also allows a very efficient EV onboard charger to yield a higher MPGe than another car with a less efficient charger. They are counting the kWh coming out of the wall, not just the kWh coming out of the battery. The range of the RAV4 EV was also reduced because the EPA uses the default charging mode, not the available "Extended" charging mode.

New to EVs? Start here

  1. What Is An Electric Car?
    Before we get going, let's establish basic definitions.
  2. A Quick Guide to Plug-in Hybrids
    Some plug-in cars have back-up engines to extend driving range.
  3. Electric Cars Pros and Cons
    EVs are a great solution for most people. But not everybody.
  4. Eight Rules of Electric Vehicle Charging Etiquette
    Thou shalt charge only when necessary. And other rules to live by.
  5. Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
    A few simple tips before you visit the dealership.
  6. Eight Factors Determining Total Cost of Ownership of an Electric Car
    EVs get bad rap as expensive. Until you look at TCO.
  7. Federal and Local Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
    Take advantage of credits and rebates to reduce EV costs.
  8. Guide to Buying First Home EV Charger
    You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.
  9. Electric Car Utility Rate Plans: Top Five Rules
    With the right utility plan, electric fuel can be dirt cheap.
  10. The Ultimate Guide to Electric Car Charging Networks
    If you plan to charge in public, you'll want to sign up for charging network membership (or two).