Envionmental Psychology

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ACEEE Announces 2006's Greenest and Meanest Vehicles

By Jeanette Joy Fisher

Fuel Efficient Vehicles - Alternative Fuel Cars

In February, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) announced 2006's "greenest" and "meanest" vehicles, as well as listing the environmental scores for every car and passenger truck from that year. The scores are contained in the ninth edition of ACEEE's Green Book® Online, which is available online at GreenerCars.com.

Not surprisingly, the greenest vehicles on the ACEEE list were all hybrid or alternative fuel cars. The winning manufacturer for 2006 was definitely Honda, whose hybrid-electric Insight finished in a virtual tie with their natural gas-powered Civic GX. Toyota's Prius captured third, while another Honda (Civic Hybrid) and a second Toyota (Corolla) rounded out the top five.

The numbers didn't bode particularly well for U.S. manufacturers, who scored only four top ratings of the fourteen vehicle categories rated by ACEEE. It shows that Detroit still has a ways to go to catch up to the imports when it comes to producing green vehicles, even though GM has been running a huge ad campaign touting the fact that 1.5 million of their vehicles will run on E85--which is definitely a start. However, there is still a long way to go before U.S. automakers can close the gap with their foreign competition when it comes to building green machines.

But the news gets worse, according to ACEEE ratings of "mean machines." When it comes to the least green of the entire 2006 crop of vehicles, Dodge captured the award for its Ram SRT10, followed by Lamborghini's Murcielago, Bentley's Arnage, and two more Dodges, the Durango and Ram 1500 250 pickup. Several pickups and SUVs rounded out the "bottom ten," including the Hummer's H2, Ford's F250 pickup, GMC's Yukon XL K2500, Volkswagen's Touareg, and Chevrolet's Suburban K2500.

With gasoline prices expected to continue to escalate, auto manufacturers will continue to feel the pressure from consumers to build more efficient vehicles, incorporating more and more hybrid features to offset the hit their customers are feeling at the gas pump. ACEEE recognized some effort by automakers by awarding some "Greener Choices" listings to such widely available vehicles as Ford's Escape Hybrid SUV, the Honda Odyssey minivan, Toyota's Tundra pickup, the Hyundai Sonata, and Ford's Focus Wagon. The ACEEE recognition demonstrated that automakers are at least moving in the right direction with some of their more popular vehicles.

The ACEEE points out that simply changing vehicles to the top of a particular class can easily save a consumer more than $500--while reducing greenhouse gas emissions some 30 percent. For more information about the ACEEE ratings, see GreenerCars.com.

Copyright 2006 Jeanette J. Fisher

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