At least this time, the race was close: Toyota and Hyundai (which lays claim to the most fuel-efficient automaker in the U.S.) tied for second, and their rankings were just a single point behind Honda. The most polluting automaker? Chrysler, but both Ford and General Motors were contenders for the title – blame their heavy mix of body-on-frame trucks.
The UCS ranks automakers based on the scores of their "smog-forming and greenhouse gas emissions (primarily CO2) in its U.S. automobile fleet." The 2010 award was based on model year 2008 data, the most recent information that was available for analysis. You can read a summary of the report here (PDF) or just get the whole thing (PDF).
[Sources: Union of Concerned Scientists, Honda]
WASHINGTON (October 7, 2010) – Honda wins the coveted Greenest Automaker title from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) for the fifth consecutive time, narrowly beating Toyota and Hyundai, which tie for second, finishing just one point behind Honda.
"It was a photo finish, but Honda is still the champ," said Jim Kliesch, a senior engineer in UCS's Clean Vehicles Program and the author of the rankings report. "Toyota was poised to take the lead, but stalled in its efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Meanwhile, Hyundai's fleet saw dramatic efficiency improvements, pushing the company into a title contender spot."
UCS's "Automaker Rankings" analysis captures automakers' real-world environmental performance by ranking them based on average per-mile smog pollution and global warming emissions of the entire fleet of vehicles sold. The science organization scores each of the top eight automakers (comprising 92 percent of model year 2008 U.S. sales) against the "industry average" of all eight combined. The methodology weighs smog and global warming scores equally to determine each automaker's overall score. With the industry average assigned a score of 100, automakers' scores reflect how far above or below average an automaker pollutes. Lower scores are better; higher scores are worse.
"Honda is now five for five, though to retain its title in our next analysis, it will need stronger sales of efficient hybrids and better environmental performance from its conventional vehicles," said Kliesch. "Toyota also will need to make fleetwide improvements to stay in contention. Without its successful Prius hybrid, the company would have placed fourth this year instead of second." As to these companies' newest competition, said Kliesch, "Hyundai, the new kid on the eco-friendly block, could be a real spoiler in the coming years."
Honda finished with an overall score of 86, reflecting a fleet 14 percent cleaner than that of the top eight manufacturers combined. Toyota and Hyundai each finished with 87. Volkswagen came in fourth place (90), followed by Nissan (93), Ford (108), General Motors (109) and Chrysler (113). The analysis is based on model year 2008 data, the latest available.
The three Detroit automakers have consistently placed at the bottom of UCS's Automaker Rankings analyses. Of the three companies, Ford has generally been the best, though this year only one point separates it from General Motors. "Ford is using the right playbook now by relying on both class-leading hybrids and better conventional technology. The company's future score will depend on how many of these vehicles get into consumers' hands," Kliesch said.
General Motors' next to last place ranking was due to its continued focus on inefficient vehicles with lackluster smog performance. Surprisingly, average smog emissions of GM's hybrids were worse than the combined average of all eight manufacturers' model year 2008 vehicles-hybrid and nonhybrid. "To date, GM has largely squandered its hybrid technology by using it to boost power instead of fuel efficiency and pollution control," Kliesch explained. "Some models, such as the Chevrolet Volt and Cruze Eco offer promise of new thinking within GM, but the company needs to make improvements across its entire fleet to really move the needle."
Chrysler, the dirtiest automaker, has finished last in four of the five UCS rankings conducted over the past ten years. "Chrysler does what's required by law and not much more," Kliesch said. "When it comes to environmental performance, Chrysler managers need to get their heads in the game."
All of the automakers have improved their performance since UCS first ranked them, starting with model year 1998, and the gap between the worst and best automaker has narrowed. State and federal emissions laws, along with a growing market for clean cars, are prodding automakers to produce cleaner vehicles, according to Kliesch.
"One of the analysis' clear findings is that clean car policies work," Kliesch said. "There's great ingenuity in the auto industry, and better products are already beginning to reach the market. In the coming years, stronger standards will guarantee that consumers reap these benefits."
Just last week the Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency outlined intentions for the next round of clean car standards covering model years 2017 to 2025. UCS and other groups are pushing the agency to adopt an average fleetwide standard of 60 miles per gallon and 143 grams per mile of global warming pollution by 2025.
Honda Marks a Decade of Environmental Leadership with Fifth Consecutive Greenest Automaker Award from Union of Concerned Scientists
TORRANCE, Calif., October 7, 2010 - Honda has been named America's "Greenest Automaker" for the fifth consecutive time by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The award is earned by the company with the lowest combined score of its smog-forming and greenhouse gas emissions (primarily CO2) in its U.S. automobile fleet.
Honda has led the UCS rankings of overall vehicle environmental performance since the first UCS study in 2000, marking a decade of Honda leadership in reduced vehicle emissions. Honda earned the recognition this year with an industry-best score based on model year 2008 data, the latest available for analysis.
"As with the past four awards, we accept this fifth honor as both recognition of our success and a challenge for the future," said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "We continue to accelerate our efforts to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions that contribute to global climate change."
"Honda's decade-long claim to the Greenest Automaker title has set a high bar for the industry," said Jim Kliesch, a senior engineer with the Union of Concerned Scientists. "The companies that do best in our analysis continually strive not only to sell the greenest vehicles, but also to green their best-sellers."
Honda's efforts to improve fuel efficiency have resulted in a 1 mpg gain in the company's U.S. corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) for model year 2009, up 3.3% over the previous model year to 31.3 mpg, and 9.8% above the MY2009 industry average of 28.8 mpg, as determined by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Since MY2005, Honda's CAFE has increased 7.2%, outpacing the company's voluntary goal, established in May 2006, to achieve a 5% gain in CAFE over 2005 levels by 2010.
More recently, Honda has taken a number of important steps in advancing the fuel economy and emissions performance of its U.S. automobile fleet. This includes the introduction of the Insight as the world's most affordable hybrid car and the CR-Z as the world's first production sport hybrid coupe. Further, the all-new 2011 Odyssey minivan and redesigned 2011 Accord made significant gains in fuel economy through the use of more efficient low-friction engines and improved vehicle aerodynamics.
Honda also continues its leadership in the area of alternative-fuel vehicles. Retail sales of its natural gas-powered Civic GX Sedan were recently expanded to dealers in Oklahoma and Utah, in addition to California and New York. Honda's FCX Clarity fuel cell electric vehicle, currently leased to a limited number of customers in Southern California, is arguably the world's most advanced zero-emissions automobile with zero tailpipe emissions and fuel efficiency three times that of a comparable, gasoline-powered automobile.
Additionally, in July 2010, the company announced plans to introduce a battery-electric commuter-sized vehicle and plug-in hybrid technology for mid-size and larger vehicles in the U.S., both beginning in 2012. These market initiatives will be preceded by U.S. demonstration programs beginning in 2010 and continuing in 2011 with Stanford University, Google Inc., and the City of Torrance, California.
Honda is also developing its own infrastructure solutions to the alternative-fuel vehicle equation. To address the opportunity for zero-emissions commuting in a fuel cell electric vehicle, in January of this year Honda began operating a next-generation solar-powered hydrogen production and refueling station on its Los Angeles R&D campus. The station uses power derived from Honda-developed and -manufactured thin-film solar cells to provide fuel for daily commuting in a carbon-free energy cycle.
About the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is the leading science-based non-profit organization working for a healthier environment and a safer world. UCS conducts an analysis of major U.S. automakers every two years. This year's report analyzes fuel economy and emissions certification standards of each company's car and light truck fleet to determine its overall contribution of smog-forming and heat trapping emissions. Honda also topped the rankings in the 2007, 2004, 2002 and 2000 UCS reports.
About American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
Honda began operations in the U.S. in 1959 with the establishment of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., Honda's first overseas subsidiary. Honda began U.S. production of motorcycles in 1979 and automobiles in 1982. With nine U.S. plants, Honda has invested more than $12.7 billion in its U.S. operations. The company employs nearly 25,000 associates and annually purchases $12 billion in parts and materials from more than 530 U.S. suppliers. Honda vehicles are manufactured using domestic and globally-sourced parts.