Jaguar, Honda beat Tesla, Toyota for LA's 'green car' awards

Henry Payne
The Detroit News
Ray Mikiciuk, VP for Honda Sales North America, accepts the Green Car of the Year award for the Honda Insight hybrid.

Los Angeles — The envelope, please. . . .

The Jaguar I-Pace took away the first ever Luxury Green Car of the Year Award as the prestigious, 14th annual Green Car Awards announced their annual winners at the LA Auto Show. Other winners include the Mitsubishi Outlander GT plug-in and the Honda Insight sedan.

Presented by the Green Car Journal, the awards "honor the vehicle that raises the bar in environmental performance while remaining within reach of most consumers." With governments across the globe forcing an industry transition to zero-emissions electric cars, the awards have become important headliners for automakers.

The I-Pace, Jaguar's first-ever electric car, scored an upset by beating out the Tesla Model 3, the most popular electric vehicle ever with more than 80,000 in sales this year and some 400,000 more on order. The I-Pace brings the British cat's stylish lines to the EV segment as well as 240-mile range and the performance brand's signature, taught performance.

"We are committed to an emissions-free, accident-free future," said Jaguar North America President Joe Eberhardt in accepting the award on stage. "By 2020 all models in our lineup will be electrified. We are truly committed to an electric future."

Other luxury finalists included the Audi e-tron, Porsche Cayenne e-Hybrid, and Range Rover P400e.

Green Car of the Year went to the 52 mpg Honda Insight hybrid, defeating the Lexus ES 300h, Nissan Altima, Toyota Avalon hybrid, and Volkswagen Jetta.

The win over Toyota was sweet for Honda as the Insight — now in its third generation — has always played in the shadow of hybrid superstar Prius. The 2019 Insight gets 52 mpg.

"This was our first hybrid back in 1999," said Ray Mikiciuk, Honda VP of sales for North America. "We've come along way. Electrification is a big part of our future, but it's got to come with no compromise. Every one of our cars comes with great mpg and is fun to drive."

The awards also expanded into SUVs this year with the Mitsubishi Outlander GT plug-in climbing the rostrum ahead of the Cadillac XT4, Hyundai Kona, Lexus UX, and Volvo XC40. The Outlander can go 22 miles on battery alone before a 2.0-liter gas engine kicks in.

Award emcee and Green Car Journal Editor Ron Cogan emphasized the importance of including SUVs — the most popular vehicles with U.S. consumers — in the awards mix: 

"SUVs have for too long consumed too much fuel, but they now feature more advanced drivetrains. The future of the auto industry is tied to fuel efficiency. It is the only contest that matters."

California, where the Air Resources Board regulatory body is considering a ban on gas engines by 2030, is trying to influence national environmental policy. The state has targeted 1.5 million EVs on the road in just seven years with over 10 percent of vehicle sales currently being a hybrid, plug-in, or pure EV.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at or Twitter @HenryEPayne. Catch “Car Radio with Henry Payne” from noon-2 p.m. Saturdays on 910 AM Superstation.