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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: Of course American automanufacturers are last
By masher2 on 4/10/2007 2:54:36 PM , Rating: 3
> "Why aren't you using diesel at all in America by the way?"

Diesel cars pollute more, not less. Until recently, it was considerable more. But with new clean-diesel tech and low-sulfur fuel, the NOX and particulates are much lower than they use to be...but they're still worse than a good gas engine.

Diesels have lower CO2 emissions only...but pollution is higher.

> "And, I've said it before.. using MPG for measuring fuel useage is kinda misleading and sounds so unserious and non-important in comparison to xx liters/distance. :)"

And you're wrong each time you say it. The two terms are mathematical inverses of each other (plus the metric conversion of course) and equivalent in functionality.

> "If you didn't think "Ooh I like it big!" or walked around with big-headed attitudes your cars wouldn't be so big."

The rich of any nation buy large cars with powerful engines. If fuel wasn't so expensive in Europe, you'd see everyone tooling around in V-8s there also.

RE: Of course American automanufacturers are last
By Marlowe on 4/10/2007 4:33:53 PM , Rating: 3
"Diesel cars pollute more, not less."
Do you have any proofs of this? Kinda weird what several European governments are doing when putting more tax on gasoline then don't you think?

"The two terms are mathematical inverses of each other (plus the metric conversion of course) and equivalent in functionality."
Wow masher! Is that really so!? Do I really have to.. god..

What I was saying is that miles per gallon is psychologically interpreted in a different way than liters per 100 km. The former does at first glance measure the miles driven more so than the amount of fuel used when you drive. There's also a difference in the wording; MPG - the amount of miles you can drive per gallon. Versus liters/100km - the amount of fuel you will use each time you drive 100 km. It makes a psychological difference for how much people care about it in my opinion. You knew very well what I meant, you're just behaving childish.

"The rich of any nation buy large cars with powerful engines."
Yes, but that doesn't explain anything about the common American people, why car makers have to make special, big versions of their cars if they want to sell them in the USA.

You really pick and choose what you want to argue about huh.. that MPG argument thing was really unnecessary, and seemingly none of the others hold ground.

RE: Of course American automanufacturers are last
By masher2 on 4/10/2007 5:04:51 PM , Rating: 2
> "Do you have any proofs of this? "

Its rather elementary; I'm surprised you even challenge it. Here's a link to an NRDC primer on diesel emissions. Allow me to quote from part of it.

Diesel engines emit huge quantities of fine particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and dozens of toxic chemicals that harm human health and the environment...
Diesel engines emit much more PM than gasoline engines...
While EU NOx emission standards for 2008 are considerably less stringent than the upcoming American standards (in fact, the average European diesel car will emit nearly eight times as much NOx as the average American car at that time, regardless of its fuel)...
Today, with new clean-diesel technology and ultra low-sulfur fuel, the very cleanest of diesel engines can almost match the "average" gas-powered vehicle. But compared to the cleanest gas engines, they still lag far behind.

> "It makes a psychological difference for how much people care about're just behaving childish...."

Sorry, but if you think simply phrasing mileage as liters/km instead of miles/gallon is going to somehow convince people to drive less, then you should reconsider which one of us is being childish.

RE: Of course American automanufacturers are last
By hspder on 4/10/2007 6:03:40 PM , Rating: 3
Marlowe, masher2:

I'm originally from Europe (lived in 3 different countries there) but am now a US Citizen, so I know both places quite well. There's a few things I feel need to be clarified.

First of all, reading Marlowe's posts, the irony of the fact that Norway's wealth comes in great measure from oil is so mind-boggling my head almost exploded.

Second, and more seriously, with regards to some of your comments:

a) The "new" ULSD is basically the same diesel fuel that Europe has been using for a long, long time. Virtually all diesel engines will be using it fairly soon in the US, so the Sulfur problem is gone for all intents and purposes

b) It is true that old Diesel engines, even with ULSD, have NOx and particulate problems. However, German auto manufacturers have solved that with BlueTec, which has two systems who reduce them. masher2 did acknowledge that (although he did to call out Bluetec by its name) -- the thing is, these are far from being fringe engines; the technology will be ubiquitous across Mercedes, BMW, Audi AND VW models within two years in Europe. Unfortunately, these manufacturers are dis-encouraged from even attempting to put those out in the US market because of the FUD that people like masher2 spread. People here perceive Diesel engines as slow and dirty, so they won’t buy them even if they are clean and fast (like the Audi V12 TDI engine).

Bluetec-equipped engines are, per mile traveled, FAR cleaner than Gasoline engines with similar power.

c) I'm tired of silly comments about how big Americans cars are. Yes, they're big. And big, heavy cars require big, heavy engines. Now get over it. Reducing the size of the average American car would require a monumental, even spectacular, change in EVERYTHING in the US.

Let me explain:

This is a huge country with tremendous urban sprawl. Everything is far away from everything -- spread apart. Efficient public transit systems are impossible in most of the US (the Northeast is the exception because it is so much like Europe: extremely concentrated urban areas). A huge percentage of cargo has to be transported by truck (rather than by train), because it is far more efficient (a huge freight train is only useful between hubs; the spokes have to be cared for by trucks).

The road network is therefore tremendous -- and hence impossible to maintain all in good condition -- and filled with... trucks.

Only people who have very little consideration for their lives are stupid enough to commute every day in a small car. The odds of, during a 20 mile (average) commute, in the US, of getting hit by a truck, are pretty high. And if a collision between a 1 ton small car and a 3+ ton truck, guess who wins?

Example (real) story:

Small cars are also dangerous on their own -- not to speak uncomfortable -- in extremely uneven, damaged roads with frequent roadkill like the ones many regions have (notably California). If you go over a huge pothole, or run across a large animal, or a piece of large debris (like a ladder that fell off the back of a pickup -- happened to my friend) you’re much better off with a larger car.

I'm an environmentalist, an ex-European, and I try to use public transit as much as possible. However, there's no way I'd put myself or my family in, say, a MINI, over here in the US. I have an Audi Q7 4.2. Which -- irony of ironies! -- is one of many gas-guzzling EUROPEAN luxury cars. I know, it's not environmentally friendly. But my family's safety is first and foremost -- what's the point of saving the environment if we'll be all killed in a car accident?

Now, give me that Q7 with a V12 TDI Bluetec engine and I'll be a happy camper.

RE: Of course American automanufacturers are last
By masher2 on 4/10/2007 6:21:19 PM , Rating: 2
> "Bluetec-equipped engines are, per mile traveled, FAR cleaner than Gasoline engines with similar power..."

Good post hspder, but you're wrong about this point. Bluetec is the cleanest diesel technology yes, and it may be ubiquitous soon. But the fact remains that it just barely meets the CA LEV Bin 5 standards for CO, NOx, and particulates. That's a tough standard, but still considerably more polluting than a ULEV, a SULEV (tighter still), or PZEV and ZEV (tightest of all)

Many gas-powered vehicles make these tighter standards. There are quite a few ULEV vehicles...the Toyota Matrix, the Hyundai Elantra, etc. In the tighter SULEV category, the Ford Focus and the Pontiac Grand Prix meet the bill, along with the Insight hybrid. In the PZEV category, we have the Prius, the Subaru Legacy, and the Camry Hybrid.

ALL of these vehicles have considerably lower emissions than even a Bluetec-equipped diesel.

RE: Of course American automanufacturers are last
By czarchazm on 4/10/2007 9:57:27 PM , Rating: 2
Masher2 seems to be correct from a logical perspective about the cleanliness of diesel burning engines. While diesel does have a higher energy density, it also is refined less than gasoline.

So, even though gasoline pushes the car forward less (probably far less) than diesel, it is possible that the gasoline engine will still put off fewer emissions because the dirty chemicals in diesel simply aren't there in the gasoline.

RE: Of course American automanufacturers are last
By hspder on 4/11/2007 11:37:51 AM , Rating: 1
The way you ignore the CO, HC and especially CO2 emissions and not compare engines with similar power envelopes is intellectually dishonest.

A 4-cilinder Bluetec engine with 170 hp produces 0.06 g/km of CO, 0.08 g/km of NOx, 0.01 g/km of HC, 0.001 g/km of particulates and -- pay attention now -- 150 g/km of CO2.

A similar 4-cilinder *Gas* engine with the same HP produces 200 g/km of CO2 -- that is 50 g more CO2 per km. It produces 0.238 g/km of CO, 0.037 g/km of HC, 0.021 g/km of NOx and no particulates.

So it produces also MORE CO and more HC. The only areas it produces less pollution is 0.06 g/km less of NOx and no particulates. But we're talking MINUTE amounts here, especially if you compare them to industrial emissions.

On the other hand, the extra 50 g / km of CO2, plus the extra CO and HC far overwhelm that -- by three full orders of magnitude in total.

Looking at the average engine and mileage in the US, if you convert to Diesel, you'll be producing ONE TON less of CO2 per year while enjoying the same power (and higher torque, by the way). You'll also be putting out almost 4 kg less of CO if you use a Diesel.

So stop being intellectually dishonest and focusing on a small part of the pollutant zoo; European Governments are NOT complete idiots in providing incentive to the use of Diesel. Saying Diesel is dirtier is spreading FUD for no reason. DIESEL IS CLEANER.

(emission data obtained from and

RE: Of course American automanufacturers are last
By masher2 on 4/11/2007 12:17:54 PM , Rating: 2
But you're comparing the cleanest possible diesel engine to the "average" gasoline engine. And still it loses on particulates and far the two most damaging forms of air pollution. Compare the Bluetec engine to the cleanest gas engines, and it loses on HC as well.

As for CO2, its not an air pollutant. Its airborne plant food, nontoxic and wholly nondangerous to human health. It's produced by every living creature, as well as the planet itself, in quantities far greater than that produced by automobiles.

My point stands. Diesels are more efficient than gas-powered engines. But they also generate considerably more air pollution.

RE: Of course American automanufacturers are last
By hspder on 4/11/2007 1:18:32 PM , Rating: 1
You seemed to have missed the part where I said that the numbers came from a gas engine with a similar power envelope. So no, it's not the "average" gas engine, I'm comparing apples to apples.

If you don't believe me, check the website for yourself.

I'd dig out numbers from a lower power pair (i.e., a lower power diesel and a lower power gas engine), and I could also dig up the numbers showing Industrial -- and commercial, i.e., from freight traffic -- NOx and Particulate emissions in the US, but you've clearly made up your mind. Hopefully other readers will not be as close minded... and I haven't completely wasted my time doing some actual research.

RE: Of course American automanufacturers are last
By masher2 on 4/11/2007 2:15:37 PM , Rating: 2
> "it's not the "average" gas engine"

Its the average gas engine of equivalent power...compared to the cleanest possible diesel.

> "check the website for yourself."

But you didn't name the gas vehicle you compared against, nor could I find figures on the Bluetec site you gave, though admittedly I didn't click on every single link and read every single article.

But still, you have yet to refute the primary point. Even using your own figures, diesel loses on the worst forms of air pollution-- particulates and NOx. Comparing it to the cleanest gas loses on everything else as well. Which is what I said from the start.

RE: Of course American automanufacturers are last
By hspder on 4/11/2007 6:10:05 PM , Rating: 1
The numbers are for 4-cilinder Mercedes engines (diesel and gas) in the 2-liter class (the ones in the MB C220 Bluetec and C200, respectively -- same power envelope). I've driven cars with those two engines, so I have first hand experience with them.

And since you insist, let's do this:

Find me the "cleanest" gas engine that ALSO outputs at least 125 kW (170 hp), has decent torque (very important for the US market -- I'm actually giving you the advantage by not asking for 400 Nm of torque like the C220 Bluetec has) and has better CO2, CO and HC emissions than the C220 Bluetec (numbers in g/km so it is easy to compare) and I'll concede the point on *those* byproducts.

(I'm calling them byproducts so we don't get bogged down in a discussion about semantics)

RE: Of course American automanufacturers are last
By masher2 on 4/12/2007 8:25:45 AM , Rating: 1
I'll be happy to, but first you need to confirm the figures for Bluetec emissions as they don't appear to be anywhere on that site...and even the glowing press releases from DaimlerChrysler simply call the Vision C Bluetec engine the cleanest diesel in the world. Certainly if it were the cleanest engine overall, you think they'd be trumpeting the fact.

By hspder on 4/12/2007 11:24:26 PM , Rating: 3
Oh, for crying out loud! Are you trying to convince ANYONE that you're smart enough to be so sure about your claims but not smart enough to research the numbers?

I put up TWO links, and you conveniently ignore one of them, much like you conveniently ignore CO2, CO and HCs...

You can fool all the people some of the time, you can fool some people all the time, but you cannot fool ALL people ALL the time.

Want more numbers that can be found in a few seconds?

Take the Honda Accord, a PZEV vehicle (as low as they get in that class) with a 2.4 liter engine of similar power than the C220 Bluetec I mentioned.

Here are its numbers:

200 g/km of CO2
0.33 g/km of CO
0.070 g/km of HCs
0.010 g/km of NOx

Do you still think the MB gas engine I put up was "average"?

Sure, if you take a 1.8 liter Civic (a ULEV-2) for example, the emissions will be lower (158 g/km of CO2, 0.19 g/km of CO, 0.023 g/km of HC, 0.006 g/km of NOx) HOWEVER that's a slow car with a low power, low torque engine! If you want to compare to a similar power Diesel, you have to compare with the Diesel Honda uses on the Civic in Europe: 140 g/km of CO2, 0.12 g/km of CO, 0.015 g/km of HC.

This data is from the website you conveniently ignore --; I've tried about 10 different pairs of diesel and gasoline engines of similar power and EVERY SINGLE TIME, the Diesel has lower CO2, lower CO and lower HC emissions for the same power output.

And, again, I'm choosing to give you the benefit of ignoring torque; you must realize Diesel engines of similar power will have much more torque than its gasoline counterpart. So you get the same power, more torque, better mileage and lower CO2, CO and HC emissions.

As I said before, there is a reason European Governments provide extremely strong incentives for the use of Diesel. There is also a reason 44 auto journalists from all over the world just gave Mercedes the Yearly environmental award for the E320 Bluetec diesel.

You need to realize that if you want to call people idiots, you need to have some hard FACTS to back up your claims -- or you'll be the one looking like an idiot...

"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner

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