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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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By herrdoktor330 on 4/9/2007 8:15:54 PM , Rating: 0
heyheyhey... don't bring unions into this. My Honda was manufactured in America by a union worker. Unions aren't the issue here.

The only real difference between my Honda and someone's Chevy or Ford is the engineer who designs the car and the price point. The labor that is going into these cars is of the same quality. Both laborers are working hard. But Honda and the Big 3 Americans work on different design concepts. Honda prefers more reliable designs with modest amounts of horsepower. The Big 3 are selling more horsepower at a cheaper price and are designing their cars in a manner that discourages consumers from servicing the cars themselves at a lower price point. Case in point: my friend has a Chevy Lumina. In order for him to change the battery he had to remove the upper sway bar and the windshield wiper fluid reserve to get to the battery. That isn't what I'd call an inviting under hood design.

The blame lies solely on the people on the top. They're the decision makers that have planted the seeds of their commercial failings. If the engineers took more plays from the import playbook, they'd be sitting prettier right now with products modern eco-consious consumers are looking to buy.

By Ringold on 4/9/2007 9:38:13 PM , Rating: 4
The unions deserve their fair share of the blame, they absolutely do. The UAW has given some ground, which is good, but they run the danger of protesting their way out of their jobs. If GM or Ford couldn't manage to be competitive with their current legacy costs compared to their rivals, and needed further cuts, and if the UAW decided to strike, it'd send the American manufacturers down a quick, slipperly slope to oblivion. It's not just US makers, though, but also European ones. Volkswagen, for example, it almost crippled by their European unions.

Also worth noting that non-union wages within the same industries have risen quicker over the last 15 years or so than union wages have. The bottom line is that the usefulness of union's in American industry has long since run its course in their current form.

By masher2 (blog) on 4/10/2007 9:00:45 AM , Rating: 4
> "My Honda was manufactured in America by a union worker. Unions aren't the issue here"

If you're speaking about the Maryville plant, the UAW was unsuccesful in unionizing that location. In fact, they've been largely unable to penetrate the Japanese transplants at all:

Furthermore, in those few locations unions are in Japanese shops, they're relatively young organizations, and thus haven't built up the framework of featherbedding and other costly tactics that are so damaging to the bottom line.

And finally, I have to point out that, while both US and Japanese automakers purchase a huge amount of parts from outside their organization, the US makers do so primarily from unionized companies...meaning they're hit with the union tab twice on every vehicle.

RE: Of course American automanufacturers are last
By amac21 on 4/10/2007 2:49:00 PM , Rating: 2
I can't claim to know much about the union issue, but I know I read last week that the top 2 execs at Ford earned over 60 million dollars last year. Not a bad reward for driving a company to a 10 billion dollar loss!

How many union jobs might be covered by such a windfall?

When you're bleeding, cost cuts should start at the top!

By masher2 (blog) on 4/10/2007 3:03:44 PM , Rating: 2
> "How many union jobs might be covered by such a windfall?"

At $35/hr plus benefits -- about 600 employees. Out of Ford's total workforce of 327,000 people...a rather small drop in a very large bucket.

Also, given that the CEO of Ford is William Ford, and thus one of the major stockholders as well, he's bleeding as much from the losses as any other owner.

Honestly, people need to realize companies don't exist to guarantee jobs to people. They exist to make a profit for their owners. If the shareholders are fine with the CEO's salary, then the rest of us should just shut up and let them spend their money how they wish.

By theapparition on 4/10/2007 5:39:31 PM , Rating: 2
.....and are designing their cars in a manner that discourages consumers from servicing the cars themselves at a lower price point.

I'd wager that if you talked to any experts (i.e. mechanics), not one will tell you any import is easier to work on than domestic, in general. Japanese cars, in particular, do a fantastic job of packaging everything into a tight space. That high level of packaging, comes at the price of reduced servicability. This is easily evident in the price disparity between import and domestic service costs.

Just because your friend had a car with a poor design doesn't make it a rule. I can name several instances where, to change a belt, meant either drilling a hole in the wheel well, or removing the engine.

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