The meanest cars for the environment in 2012
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy annually hammers out a list of 12 of the auto industry's most energy-efficient vehicles and another dozen that, presumably, Al Gore wouldn't ride in if he were hitchhiking across the Mojave Desert in August.
The standouts this year include the Mitsubishi i-MIEV electric car, which displaced the council's eight-year champ, the propane-fueled Honda Civic Natural Gas. Nissan's new electric Leaf tied for second, followed by a slew of hybrids. But what about the delinquents on the other end of the scale? Here's a closer look:
(22 points for the Bentley, 20 for the Maybach and 19 for the Bugatti … out of a possible 100; by comparison, the winning Mitsubishi scored 58 points)
Rising to the position of third "meanest car for the environment" in ACEEE's terminology, the Bugatti Veyron really can't help itself. With a top speed of 265 mph and more than 1,000 horsepower on tap from its eight-liter V16, it's actually a modern engineering miracle that the coupe can manage to get 15 miles per gallon on road trips (and 8 mpg around town). And let's be honest, this car's damage to the environment is as limited as it gets considering that at anywhere between one and two million dollars per Veyron, depending on its top configuration, these sports coupes can't be getting all that much road time. Only 30 or so are even built per year.
That can't be said for the other two rapscallions in the group, which are designed to ferry four well-heeled souls around with some frequency. Bentley's Mulsanne returns to the bad-boy list, repeating its score from last year. This flagship cruiser has a 6.75-liter V-8 helping push its nearly 6,000 lbs of heft through the air; although a sophisticated engine management system can switch off one bank of cylinders to conserve fuel, the Mulsanne still only rings in at a penalizing 18/11 mpg highway/city.
Finally, new to this continental Breakfast Club is the Maybach 57 from Mercedes-Benz, which gets 16/10 mpg. This posh 12-cylinder choice of the chauffeur-driven set has at least one thing going for it; it won't be scolded by the ACEEE for long given that poor sales - fewer than 200 of the $375,000-and-up cars sold last year - are leading to the brand shuttering next year.