Since 1998, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has periodically published its “Greenest Automaker” report, analyzing the eight biggest automakers in the United States based on factors like fuel economy and emissions. For the first 14 years, Honda sat atop the rankings, but the UCS’ most recent study found that another automaker is now the most eco-friendly: Hyundai-Kia.
Hyundai leapfrogged Honda to become the “Greenest Automaker” in the U.S., mainly because of two factors: decreasing the size of its engines and adding turbocharged options to the mix, and offering an electric-hybrid version of the Hyundai Sonata. Honda, meanwhile, was able to remain in the top two, reaffirming its place among the fuel-efficient elite.
“Honda continues to lead the way in many vehicle classes, but it’s started to lag the industry average in its midsize fleet – which includes its best-selling Accord, and accounts for a quarter of the company’s sales,” Dave Cooke, a vehicles analyst in the Clean Vehicles Program and the author of the report. “As Hyundai-Kia works to further improve fuel economy and electrify its fleet, Honda will need to step up its game if it wants to take back the crown.”
Nissan and Volkswagen managed to crack the top five as well, coming in a three-way tie with Toyota, while Ford earned the best rating of any of the American-based manufacturers. The report lauded Ford for making turbocharged engines available with most of its new model lineup, including the F-150.
The authors of the report looked at a number of factors – including fuel economy, tailpipe emissions and new technologies – to determine their rankings. Since 2000, the eight automakers have managed to reduce tailpipe emissions by 87 percent, and for the first time ever, they all achieved decreases in average carbon and smog-forming emissions compared to average levels in 2000.