Detroit automakers worst in first pollution ranking

Only Isuzu produces dirtier vehicles; Honda is best of the rest.

provided by Union of Concerned Scientists

he Union of Concerned Scientists has released the first pollution ranking of the world's major automakers. DaimlerChrysler, Ford, and General Motors landed three of the four worst polluter slots, due largely to booming production of SUVs and other light trucks, which are a third less fuel efficient and up to five times dirtier than cars.

"We've all seen the commercials of SUVs communing with nature, but these vehicles are far from environmentally friendly," said UCS transportation analyst Candace Morey, lead author of "Pollution Lineup: An Environmental Ranking of Automakers."

"Our report separates the hype from the hardware," Morey said.

Cars and trucks cause more environmental harm than any other consumer activity. UCS, in collaboration with the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, analyzed the most recent data on air pollution and global warming emissions to rank each automaker's new vehicle fleet.

Isuzu's vehicles were found to be most polluting, followed by DaimlerChrysler, Ford, General Motors, BMW, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Subaru. Honda's fleet has the best environmental performance in today's market.

"The Big Three can easily follow Honda's lead by using gas-saving technologies and reducing auto emissions below required levels," said Roland Hwang, director of UCS's Transportation Program. "Ford, for example, has the technology today to jump to second best in our rankings."

Ten years of stagnant fuel economy standards and booming sales of light trucks have combined to drop US fuel economy to its lowest level since 1980. A federal loophole allows SUVs and light trucks to consume one-third more gas than cars, adding 240 million tons of global warming gases to the atmosphere every year. Closing the SUV loophole will move automakers closer to their advertising image.

"We encourage buying the cleanest car possible," said Morey. "But when choosing among equally polluting vehicles, consumers should buy from automakers with the superior environmental record."

The Union of Concerned Scientists is an independent nonprofit alliance of thousands of committed citizens and leading scientists working for practical environmental solutions. Last year, UCS engineers used affordable, existing technology to redesign a Ford Explorer to achieve 50 percent better mileage and pollute 75 percent less, at a lower total cost.

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