2023 CleanTechnica Car of the Year Finalists — USA

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The year 2023 has come to a close, we’ve got official 2023 sales numbers in, and it’s time to finalize CleanTechnica Car of the Year winners! We have decided to do two awards this year — one for the USA and one for Europe. In this article, I’m including the finalists for the USA award and a poll for you to vote for your choice. Before introducing the cars and commencing the voting, though, let’s take a quick look at the rules.

The main aim is to choose the vehicle that we think will have the largest net positive impact on the world. That can mean the electric vehicle that is expected to get the most sales and thus replace the most fossil fueled vehicles, or it can mean that we think the vehicle is transformative and will influence the auto industry beyond its own sales alone. It’s your call to decide which of the finalists you think will have the most impact. This year, though, since we’re doing region-specific awards, the task is to pick the vehicle you think will have the most positive impact on the world from within the boundaries of the award region (in other words, if one model is also being sold in China and the others aren’t, that doesn’t give the model sold in China any advantage in this competition).

In terms of candidates, the models have to arrive on the market in the last two quarters of the previous year (2022 in this case) or the first two quarters of the award year (2023 in this case). Being half a year past the end of that arrival period, we should all have a great chance to consider the choices and come up with our top choice! That said, this is a more challenging year than most and I actually have no clue for once which model will win.

The Toyota BZ4X is not grabbing the most headlines on EV sites. And, frankly, it’s far from my favorite EV. But no one can deny Toyota is a behemoth brand with big pull, especially in the “green” arena due to its early leadership with hybrids. It’s definitely true that Toyota has been a gigantic laggard in the eyes of many EV followers (myself included), but there’s always been the possibility that once Toyota is trying with BEVs, it will be a leader. Is the BZ4X trying? Well, that’s up for debate, but it is in the prime vehicle class most buyers want today, and it did have more than 5,000 sales in the second half of 2023 (2,827 in the 3rd quarter and 2,843 in the 4th quarter). Does the BZ4X have the potential to change the world? Well, that’s something for you to decide.

Key specs and pricing:

  • MSRP = $43,070
  • EPA Range = 252 miles (for the base model at the base MSRP shown above)
  • Max Charging Rate = 150 kW

The Nissan Ariya is in the same vehicle class and comes from an early BEV leader (rather than an early hybrid leader). Better? That’s mostly up to personal preferences in styling. I strongly prefer the Ariya’s styling. Though, it should be noted that the Ariya is weak on the specs end, and objectively worse than the BZ4X above. That said, the Ariya is seeing better sales. It had more than 8,000 in the second half of 2023 (4,504 in the 3rd quarter and 3,765 in the 4th quarter).

Key specs and pricing:

  • MSRP = $43,190
  • EPA Range = 216 miles (for the base model at the base MSRP shown above)
  • Max Charging Rate = 130 kW

Now we’re in a different territory. The Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV may be a similar size and shape to the two models above, but it costs a lot more. And, normally, I wouldn’t give much weight to a high-end model, because luxury vehicles have less mass-market potential and BEVs have been infiltrating the luxury market for a decade. However, Mercedes has been moving BEVs better than most, I feel like I see this model on the road all over the place, and I think the model is quite competitive in its vehicle class. A testament to that is the fact that it scored nearly 8,000 sales in the second half of 2023 (3,488 in the 3rd quarter and 4,271 in the 4th). That’s nearly as many as the Nissan Ariya. And that’s despite competing with other Mercedes electric SUVs. Does the EQE SUV get as much attention as it deserves? Does it fly under the radar too much? You decide.

Key specs and pricing:

  • MSRP = $77,900
  • EPA Range = 279 miles (for the base model at the base MSRP shown above)
  • Max Charging Rate = 170 kW

Last but not least is the Hyundai IONIQ 6. This sedan has a futuristic look that’s also a bit of a throwback to the GM EV1. It’s hyper efficient, yet offers more space inside than the exterior implies. It’s fun, safe, and zippy. What more do you need? (Don’t say a higher seating position on the road). I think it’s also notable that this model really catches the eye, potentially helping to educate people about EVs. Interestingly, the IONIQ 6 is barely cheaper than the Toyota BZ4X or Nissan Ariya. At a smaller size, one would think it would be a bit cheaper, but it does offer more range and faster charging than those models. And, leading the pack, the IONIQ 6 had nearly 10,000 sales in the second half of 2023 in the USA (5,073 in the 3rd quarter and 4,681 in the 4th quarter). That said, does that mean it will have more influence and a bigger positive impact on the world? That’s for you to decide.

Key specs and pricing:

  • MSRP = $42,450
  • EPA Range = 361 miles (for the base model at the base MSRP shown above)
  • Max Charging Rate = 239 kW

What do you think? Complete the short poll by clicking here or via the embedded poll below to determine this year’s CleanTechnica Car of the Year for the USA.

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