The logo of Hyundai Motor is seen on a car displayed at a Hyundai dealership in Seoul July 26, 2012. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Co is now the greenest automaker in the United States, unseating Honda Motor Co of Japan, based on the latest Automaker Rankings report released by the Union of Concerned Scientists' (UCS).
UCS attributed Hyundai's title to its concerted effort to improve the fuel efficiency and reduce the tailpipe emissions of its fleet, which resulted to 15 per cent less global warming pollution and 13 per cent less smog-forming pollution emissions than the national average.
"Using the adjusted, updated information on Hyundai-Kia's vehicles after the automaker had to revise its performance data with the U.S. EPA, our analysis shows that they still offer the best average environmental performance of the eight bestselling automakers," UCS said in a statement.
It noted Honda, Greenest Automaker in 2010, made similar improvements to its fleet. However, it "continues to lag the industry in the midsize class, which includes their top-selling vehicle (the Honda Accord)."
Automakers selling their wares in the U.S. need to meet stricter greenhouse-gas limits. In so doing, they have produced dozens of new hybrids, plug-in cars, electric vehicles and models powered by fuel-saving gasoline engines.
"These improvements are driven by consumer demand, new technologies, and strong fuel economy and pollution standards, which require automakers to produce cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles. The phase-in of future regulations-including the Tier 3 standards-will ensure these improvements continue," the UCS said.
Hyundai managed to unseat Honda when it placed smaller turbocharged engines in many of its cars, as well as introducing hybrid versions of the bestselling Hyundai Sonata and the Kia Optima, the AP reported.
"While automakers have widely used a few key technologies to reduce the global warming impact of their fleets, other technologies on the horizon are also important," UCS said.
Next to Hyundai and Honda were Toyota, Nissan and Volkswagen which tied for third. The Detroit "Big Three"- Ford, General Motors, and Chryslerwere - ranked last.
"Despite their progress, Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler still lag behind, with higher than average smog-forming and global warming pollution emissions. Continued investment in fuel-saving technologies will help these and other automakers offer consumers the cleanest, greenest vehicles possible," UCS said.