AAA unveils top electric, hybrid and fuel-efficient vehicles

The Tesla Model X 75D is a lean, green driving machine. CONTRIBUTED
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The Tesla Model X 75D is a lean, green driving machine. CONTRIBUTED

Local AAA Car Care locations offers free air and electric charging stations.

A new AAA study reveals that consumer interest in electric vehicles remains high, with more than 30 million Americans indicating they are likely to buy an electric vehicle as their next car. AAA predicts a strong future for electric vehicles, and announces the top electric, hybrid and other efficient vehicles in its independent, rigorous test-track evaluation.

Despite the fact that gas prices are about 40 percent lower than five years ago, AAA found that consumer interest in electric vehicles and hybrids has not waned. In fact, the number of Americans interested in an electric vehicle approaches the number planning to purchase a pickup truck, with the survey showing that 15 percent are likely to buy an electric vehicle for their next car purchase. Millennials are even more accepting of electric vehicles, with nearly one-in-five interested in going electric for their next car.

Concern for the environment remains the primary motivating factor for electric vehicle shoppers, but AAA also found that lower long-term costs, desire for the latest technology and access to car pool lanes are all influential factors. With their extended range and flexibility, hybrid vehicles are also desirable to Americans, with nearly one-third (32 percent) likely to buy the gasoline- and battery-powered alternative.

Beyond electric and hybrid vehicles, AAA’s survey found that fuel economy remains a major purchase consideration for all U.S. drivers, with 70 percent rating it as an important factor in selecting any vehicle – equal to the importance of the cost, crash rating and performance – ahead of safety technology (50%), brand (48%), style, color and design (46%) and smartphone connectivity (34%).

With a focus on the future, the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center rates and ranks electric vehicles, hybrids, compressed natural gas-powered (CNG), diesels and high fuel economy gasoline-powered vehicles for the annual AAA Green Car Guide. Vehicles are rated on the criteria that matter most to car buyers, including ride quality, safety and performance.

While electric vehicles are an attractive option for car shoppers, AAA found that more than half of Americans are hesitant to make the switch due to “range anxiety” — the concern over running out of charge or having too few locations to charge a vehicle. This fear persists despite the fact that U.S. drivers report an average round-trip commute length (31 miles) and time (46 minutes) that are well within the range of the more than 100 miles of range that most electric vehicles offer.

Range anxiety stems from seeing gas stations, not charging stations, on every corner. While electric vehicles may not yet fit every lifestyle, the number of charging stations has quadrupled over the last five years and battery ranges support average commutes.

To assist with range anxiety, drivers of electric vehicles can find the closest charging station via the AAA Mobile app or AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner. In 2017, charging station availability has grown to more than 15,000 locations across the United States. Ohio has more than 200 charging stations around the state, with more than 30 located in the Cincinnati area.

The following local AAA Car Care locations are equipped with electric charging stations and air stations to use free of charge:

  • Huber Heights: 8381 Old Troy Pike, Huber Heights
  • Beavercreek: 3870 Kemp Road, Beavercreek

Winners, detailed evaluation criteria, vehicle reviews and an in-depth analysis of the green vehicle industry can be found online at www.AAA.com/greencar. Additional survey data, study methodology, infographics, photos and video can be found at NewsRoom.AAA.com.

Every month in Life, Cindy Antrican, Dayton-based public affairs manager for AAA Allied Group, Inc., provides traffic safety tips and information for motorists. Email: CAntrican@aaa-alliedgroup.com.

In 2017, the following vehicles earned AAA’s Top Green Vehicle award:

Overall: Tesla Model X 75D

Subcompact car: Chevy Bolt EV Premier

Compact car: Volkswagen e-Golf SE

Midsize car: Lexus GS 450h F Sport

Large car: Tesla Model S 60

Pickup: Ford F150 XLT Super Crew

SUV: Tesla Model X 75D