In a photo finish, Honda claimed a narrow victory over Toyota and Hyundai as the Greenest Automaker in the Union of Concerned Scientists’ 2010 comprehensive environmental rankings. Meanwhile, for the fourth time in UCS’s five assessments over the past 10 years, Chrysler ranks as the most polluting automaker among the eight leading automakers.
The product-planning decisions of a small number of automotive companies have an immense influence on the environmental health of the United States and the world.
The "Top Eight" automakers—Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Toyota, and Volkswagen—together account for more than 90 percent of cars and trucks sold in the United States.
Using government data on model year 2008 (MY2008) vehicles—the latest year for which final data are available—and assessing each manufacturer based on the actual smog-forming and global warming emissions of its vehicle fleet, this report objectively measures each automaker's true environmental performance of each of the "Top Eight" best-selling automakers’ product offerings.
Better scores show that standards work.
This year saw marked improvement by all automakers in their per-mile smog-forming emissions. The achievement was prompted largely by state and federal smog-forming emissions laws, which required the automakers to clean up their products.
Fleet average global warming emissions, meanwhile, continue to be a differentiating factor in the rankings.
As new fuel economy and global warming emissions standards are phased in over the coming years, however, we anticipate seeing progress in that pollutant segment too.
Much more can be done.
The transportation sector accounts for roughly one-third of U.S. carbon emissions, of which more than half (about 60 percent) come from the use of gasoline in our cars, pickups, SUVs, and minivans.
Emissions of smog-forming pollutants also are sizable—as of 2007, accounting for roughly one-sixth of the smog-forming gases emitted in the United States. Thus, the technology choices of the "Top Eight" automakers are key.
All automakers, even the leaders in these rankings, can and should be doing more—particularly when it comes to global warming.
You can help.
Because public feedback is critical in making that happen, the next time you buy a car or truck choose the one with the lowest global warming and smog-forming emissions that meets your needs and budget.
Through our purchasing decisions we can give manufacturers a strong signal that consumers care about the environmental impact of their vehicles. Fuel-efficient models are a good place to start; when all else is equal, use these rankings to reward the best overall automaker.