Washington, D.C. – Honda has been named the “Greenest Automaker” by the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) for the fifth consecutive time. The company narrowly finished ahead of Toyota and Hyundai, which tied for second just one point behind Honda. The report ranked model-year 2008 vehicles, the latest available.

“It was a photo finish, but Honda is still the champ,” said Jim Kliesch, a senior engineer in UCS’ Clean Vehicles Program. “Toyota was poised to take the lead, but stalled in its efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Meanwhile, Hyundai’s fleet saw dramatic efficiency improvements, pushing the company into a title contender spot.”

The report ranks automakers’ real-world environmental performance on an average per-mile smog pollution and global warming emissions of the entire fleet of vehicles sold. The top eight automakers, comprising 92 per cent of model-year 2008 U.S. sales, are scored against the industry average of all eight combined. Rated against the average of 100, the scores reflect now far above or below average an automaker pollutes, with lower scores better and higher scores worse.

Honda finished with an overall score of 86, reflecting a fleet that is 14 per cent cleaner than that of the top eight manufacturers combined. Toyota and Hyundai each finished with 87. Following in the rankings were Volkswagen at 90, Nissan at 93, Ford at 108, General Motors at 109, and Chrysler at 113.

“Honda is now five for five, though to retain its title in our next analysis, it will need stronger sales of efficient hybrids and better environmental performance from its conventional vehicles,” Kliesch said. “Toyota also will need to make fleet-wide improvements to stay in contention. Without its successful Prius hybrid, the company would have placed fourth this year instead of second. Hyundai, the new kid on the eco-friendly block, could be a real spoiler in the coming years.”

All of the automakers have improved their performance since UCS first ranked them, starting with model-year 1998, and the gap between the worst and best has narrowed. Kliesch said that state and federal emissions laws, along with a growing market for clean cars, are prodding automakers to produce cleaner vehicles.

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