Electrification was the overarching theme of the 2017 Green Car of the Year Award finalists announced yesterday.

Green Car Journal announced the five finalists for its annual award, four-out-five of which are available now in plug-in hybrid variations and one being an all-electric vehicle. The five 2017 model year nominees are: the BMW 330e, Chevrolet Bolt, Chrysler Pacifica, Kia Optima, and the Toyota Prius Prime.

Launched in 2005, the award has been seeing a growing list of available models considered by its panel of judges. Green Car Journal sees it as a reflection of the auto industry’s expanding efforts in offering new vehicles with higher efficiency and improved environmental impact.

“This year’s Green Car of the Year finalists clearly represent the momentum that electrification is experiencing in the auto industry,” said Ron Cogan, editor and publisher. “Whether it’s all-electric, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or a combination of these powertrains plus conventional gasoline engines within a model line, electrification is now considered by most automakers an essential technology for current and future high-efficiency models.”

BMW is being acknowledged for adding to its plug-in lineup, with the BMW 330e seeing a plug-in hybrid drive system becoming part of the BMW 3 Series. Green Car Journal reported that its electric motor with BMW TwinPower Turbo inline 4-cylinder engine has a total system output of 248 horsepower and 310 pounds-feet of torque.

The Chevrolet Bolt will follow another Chevy model that made the nominee list last year. That model, the 2016 second-generation Volt, won the award last year. The Bolt is being acknowledged for being the first production plug-in electrified vehicle to achieve a 200-plus mile driving range with the EPA-estimated 238 miles of range. Technology features that enhance and personalize the driving experience were also acknowledged in the all-electric car’s nomination.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles received a nomination for its first PEV that’s come to market. The Chrysler Pacifica is the first-ever plug-in hybrid in the minivan class. The judges were impressed with its 80 MPGe efficiency, a 30-mile electric driving range, and a total driving range of 530 miles with combined battery power and its V6 powertrain.

Kia made the list after its 2017 Outlook had hybrid and plug-in hybrid systems added to the lineup. Both variations are powered by an electric motor and a new 2.0-liter, GDI 4-cylinder gas engine. The plug-in hybrid comes with a larger battery pack than the standard hybrid to allow up to 27 miles of all-electric driving before it goes back to hybrid mode.

Toyota is being acknowledged for rolling out a new version, the Prius Prime, replacing the Prius Plug-In that had been taken off the assembly line. The 2017 model doubles the range of the original plug-in hybrid, now coming in at 22 miles on battery power. Other features that impressed panelist were unique exterior styling cues and its 11.6-inch touchscreen display.

SEE ALSO:  Tesla Model S 70D Wins Top Score in AAA Green Car of the Year

The winner will be announced Thursday morning, November 17, at the Los Angeles Convention Center during what was formerly called the LA Auto Show. The car show has merged its media days with the Connected Car Expo to be renamed AutoMobility LA, which will now focus on “the most pressing issues surrounding the future of transportation and mobility,” according to Green Car Journal.

Diesel-powered electric cars are no longer making the nominee list, even though two “clean diesel” models won previous awards. In late September of last year, Volkswagen and Audi had their previous awards taken away following revelation of the diesel emissions reporting scandal – for the 2009 Jetta TDI and 2010 Audi A3 TDI.

“Rescinding the Green Car of the Year awards for the VW Jetta TDI and Audi A3 TDI is unfortunate but appropriate,” Cogan said last year.

Green Car Journal