From: Tiffany Ray, Montgomery Advertiser, Ala.
Published December 21, 2004 12:00 AM

Honda Earns Green Automaker Award from Environmentalists

Dec. 19—The Union of Concerned Scientists last week dubbed Honda the nation's greenest automaker in a report on car companies' environmental performance.





The UCS, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group, ranked the top six automakers in the U.S. market in its "Automaker Rankings 2004: the Environmental Performance of Car Companies." The rankings were based on government data on 2003 model-year cars, sport-utility vehicles, minivans and trucks.





According to the report, the top six automakers General Motors, Ford, DaimlerChrysler, Toyota, Honda and Nissan are responsible for more than 90 percent of the emissions from new automobiles that cause smog and compound global warming.





Honda vehicles led the pack in environmentally friendly performance, producing less than half the average amount of smog-forming pollutants and 18 percent less heat-trapping emissions, the report said. Honda also ranked No. 1 in the UCS's two previous reports, which studied vehicles from the 2001 and 1998 model years.





On the other end of the spectrum, the group called General Motors "Public Polluter No. 1," ranking the corporation last among carmakers surveyed. GM vehicles emitted more smog-forming and global-warming pollution in model-year 2003 than they did in model-year 2001, the report said. The company takes over the bottom spot from DaimlerChrysler.





"Honda is in a class of its own when it comes to producing clean cars and trucks," said David Friedman, research director of the UCS Clean Vehicle Report and the lead author of the research, in a news release. "General Motors, on the other hand, is stuck in reverse. GM has spent countless dollars in advertising trying to create a green image, but as the only automaker to move backward on both smog and carbon dioxide, its rhetoric doesn't match reality."





Nissan, which earned second place in the report, has cut down on heat-trapping pollutants by about 6 percent since 2001, more than any other automaker.





Toyota fell to third place in the study, followed by Ford, which ranked best among the Big Three U.S. automakers. With improvements in its truck fuel economy, DaimlerChrysler moved up to fifth place from its last-place ranking in the group's previous report.





The UCS noted that Ford and Honda both saw increased truck sales but still managed to cut smog-producing pollution overall.





"One of the key findings of this report is that trucks don't have to be an environmental liability," said Don MacKenzie, UCS vehicles engineer, in the release.





But while car companies have succeeded in reducing smog-forming emissions in the face of new regulations, little progress has been made in reducing vehicle pollution that contributes to global warming, the report said.





The UCS advocated further environmental regulation of the industry. The group also urged closing legal loopholes that allow trucks to emit more pollutants than cars and some vehicles to avoid emissions regulations altogether. In other news, the 2005 Alabama International Auto Show, billed as the largest consumer auto show in the state, is set for Nov. 11-14 at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center.





The event, sponsored by the Birmingham Auto Dealers Association, is expected to draw about 100,000 visitors and 36 manufacturers. More than 400 vehicles will be on display over more than 200,000 square feet of floor space.





For more information on the show, visit www.carsbirmingham.com.





To see more of the Montgomery Advertiser, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com.


© 2004, Montgomery Advertiser, Ala. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.


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