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Honda's Civic Hybrid is rated as an Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (AT-PZEV)

Rankings of the the top 8 auto manufacturers
Honda and Toyota lead the list with domestic manufacturers pulling up the rear

Honda has always been a leader in the realm of fuel efficiency and environmentally friendliness. The Japanese auto manufacturer has consistently rolled out Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicles (ULEVs) and Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEVs) that dump less polluting emissions into our atmosphere. Honda brought the first hybrid-electric vehicle to the U.S. market in the form of the Insight. The tiny, tadpole-esque two-seater weighed less than 1,900 pounds and managed to achieve EPA mileage ratings of 60MPG/66MPG city/highway with a manual transmission.

Honda was also one of the first auto manufacturers to reintroduce the use of continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) to the North American market in the mid 1990s with the Civic HX -- Subaru had first tried out CVTs in the 1980s with the Justy. CVTs allow the engine to run at the most efficient RPMs and allow for increased fuel efficiency. Likewise, Honda has resisted the urge to drop a potent V8 engine in its largest SUVs and luxury sedans and has instead relied on pushing its efficient 3.5 liter V6 engine family to customers who purchase its largest vehicles.

This level of restraint and eco-friendliness on the part of Honda has led it to be labeled as the "2007 Greenest Automaker" by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). This is the fourth consecutive year that the automaker has won the award.

The top 8 auto manufacturers -- which represent 96% of the U.S. car and light truck market -- were tested across ten MY2005 vehicle classes on tailpipe emissions and overall contribution to global warming. You can download the full results of the UCS test here (PDF).

"Honda remains the greenest U.S. automaker. The company installs clean technology across its entire fleet of cars and trucks and that consistency makes it a top environmental performer" said Don MacKenzie, a vehicle engineer for the UCS and author of the report. "In addition, Honda continues to have the best smog score in four out of the five classes."

Honda slightly beat out second place Toyota which has also made strides to cut emissions and improve fuel economy across its entire vehicle lineup. "Toyota's ranking shows that size is no excuse for a dirty fleet," MacKenzie continued. "All of the automakers have the technology today to make all of their vehicles, from two-seaters to four-by-fours, a lot cleaner."

Hyundai/Kia placed third with Nissan and Volkswagen taking fourth and fifth respectively. Ford, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler rounded out the tail end of the list. General Motors was singled out for having the most vehicles in the lineup with EPA city mileage ratings of 15MPG or lower. Last place DaimlerChrysler was also criticized for its fleet of vehicles which produce 70% more pollutants than first place Honda and earned the "Rusty Tailpipe Award."

"There is a huge gap between the cleanest and dirtiest automakers," MacKenzie. "The winners are using clean technology across their entire fleets. The losers are installing it piecemeal, or not at all."

"Americans are paying closer attention to their personal environmental impact, and they want greener cars," said Ted Grozier of environmental strategy consulting firm GreenOrder. "The successful automaker is going to figure out a way to deliver those cars to consumers."

Just last week, President Bush issued a call to auto manufacturers to boost fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in new vehicles. Bush's plan calls for a 20% reduction in gasoline usage by 2017 and a halt in the rise of greenhouse emissions. The move is expected to cost the auto industry $114 billion USD.

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RE: new tundra not included!!!
By masher2 on 4/9/2007 1:50:33 PM , Rating: 2
> "Most reports from both consumers and manufacturers indicate that the batteries have a lifespan far longer than 8-10 years..."

True enough. However, I'd like to point out those are NiMH packs. The new breed of Li-ion based hybrids have a longer range, but a much shorter battery life.

RE: new tundra not included!!!
By RamboZZo on 4/9/2007 2:13:51 PM , Rating: 4
Yes and no. Lithium Ion tends to have a shorter lifespan than NiMH but thats been changing for a while. Li-Ion is still supposed to withstand many more recharge cycles within its lifespan than NiCD and NiMH which will eventually start deteriorating from recharging. It is claimed that a lot of the more modern implementations of Li-Ion batteries actually offer longer lifespans. Since they haven't been around as long these claims hard to verifiy. Nevertheless Li-Ion technology keeps steadily advancing and some of the newest implementations are long outlasting NiMH and NiCD several times over. Cost tends to be its biggest drawback. NiMH has pretty much reached the end of the road.

Enviromentally Li-Ion has one huge advantage and thats that its considered non-toxic. Its considered non-toxic waste by the federal government and safe for landfill disposal. Its still more profitable to recycle Li-Ion batteries so they should be recycled anyway. In the scale of battery toxicity lead is the worse followed by Cadmium, Nickel, and Lithium. Lithium-Ion contains none of those. Unlike Lithium (non rechargeable type) batteries which are quite toxic, lithium Ion actually contains no lithium in its pure elemental toxic form. Just compounds derived from it.

RE: new tundra not included!!!
By masher2 on 4/9/2007 2:21:35 PM , Rating: 3
> " Li-Ion is still supposed to withstand many more recharge cycles within its lifespan than NiCD and NiMH"

But a Li-Ion battery loses life whether its being charged or not, unlike NiMH. Put your car in the garage, and 30 months later, you've lost half your charge least with current technology.

> "it's...more profitable to recycle Li-Ion batteries..."

I could be wrong, but I believe recycling Li-Ion batteries occurs at a net loss....which is why the only organizations in the US that will take them are a nonprofit organization, or companies trying to build their 'green' image.

RE: new tundra not included!!!
By czarchazm on 4/9/2007 3:38:24 PM , Rating: 2
I use Energizer NiMH AA batteries and their charge doesn't last past 2 weeks. Do you have any info on where I can buy the NiMH batteries you were speaking of?


RE: new tundra not included!!!
By masher2 on 4/9/2007 3:47:13 PM , Rating: 2
Charge capacity ...not charge. And I was referring to Li-Ion batteries in any case, which lose almost 2% of their capacity every month, whether or not they're charged.

RE: new tundra not included!!!
By RamboZZo on 4/10/2007 12:21:12 AM , Rating: 2
He's refering to the maximum charge capacity, not the length it will hold a charge for. NiCD and NiMH batteries can loose up to 25% of their charge within the first 24 hours and anywhere from 1% to 5% every following day even if not in use. There's no way around that, its a limitation of the technology. Lithium Ion can hold close to its maximum capacity for about 18 months.

All batteries suffer from maximum capacity loss over time. NiCD and NiMH degrade over the years quite a lot as well and its non reversible. The same is true for Lithium Ion. The difference is the wear on Nickel based batteries greatly depends on how its used and charged, cycled and stored. Lithium Ion degrades at a rather steady pace. They actually degrade a lot worse when not in use. Something like 20% capacity loss per year. The effect is much reduced in a regularly used and cycled battery. If storing for extended periods of time a Lithium Ion battery should be stored at 40% charge in a cool place and never left to fully drain. The maximum capacity loss will be reduced to less than 2%-5% per year. That said a Lithium Ion battery that has degraded by 50% can still hold about as much or more charge than a fresh nickel battery. When you factor nickel battery wear Lithium Ion still comes on top. I would think in an application such as a vehicle a computer should easily be able to monitor the charge level of the battery and only charge it when optimal and store it, maybe even drain it when not is use to keep it at its peak storage level.

The thing with Lithium Ion is unlike Nickel batteries which are essntially the same family for all of their type, the term Lithium actually refers to a family of battery technologies with different chemistries with mostly just the word lithium in common. So not all the technologies suffer the same limitations. Most of the rules being discussed here actually pertain what is generally known about cobalt based Lithium Ion batteries. These are the most common and one of the oldest types. Its what powers small electronics such as cell phones and laptops. They have the highest energy density but are only suitable for slow deep discharges as what a cell phone would do. My guess is that a Hybrid vehicle would likely use Manganese based Li-Ion technology which is similar to what you'd find on a power tool Li-Ion battery. This chemistry has a lower energy density but can charge a LOT faster, as much as 80% charge in 5 minutes and are suitable for fast and high energy draw applications such as a car or power tool. This technology is claimed have a much higher cycle capacity than Nickel batteries, less damage from continuos cycling and longer overall lifespan. It still remains to be seen as that particular chemistry has only been around for about 2 years I think. Not long enough to verify the claims. There's also several other types of experimental with dramatic improvements. Its a technology that still offers a lot of possibility unlike older technologies which have been taken as far as they can go.

All things considered it is probably a lot less toxic to toss lots of dead Lithium Ion batteries in a landfill than a few Nickel metal hydride ones and definately than a couple of cadmium batteries. I don't really know about the cost of recycling Li-Ion but from what I've read it seems to still be profit in recycling them. They are afterall still very expensive to manufacture.

"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007

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