The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) announced last week that Japanese automakers continue to lead the pack in terms of lowering emissions and increasing fuel efficiency in their vehicles. Honda, Nissan and Toyota took top honors in the environmental group’s biennial survey of the vehicles made by the world’s top six automakers.
UCS’s survey measured fleet performance based on emissions of both smog, a major contributor to respiratory problems including asthma, and carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas. Honda’s cars produced less than half the pollution of the industry average, according to researchers. Meanwhile, General Motors took last place, with its fleet producing a third more pollution than the average.
Despite advances in fuel efficiency and a significant decrease in smog emissions (due to tougher federal clean air standards), UCS decried the fact that automakers have made relatively little progress in developing greener vehicles over the last two decades, especially in regard to addressing global warming concerns.
“In terms of heat-trapping gas emissions, automakers have been running in place for almost the last 20 years,” says David Friedman, research director of the UCS’ Clean Vehicles Program. “The industry is more or less ignoring global warming when you look at the products they’re putting on the road.”