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New UCS report indicates automakers have lost interest in reducing emissions

Car Exhaust 2

The Union of Concerned Scientists has issued a new report that ranks the environmental performance of global automakers. It’s no surprise that Tesla topped the rankings by a wide margin. (Yes, the report considers the full lifecycle of vehicles, including emissions associated with manufacturing and the production of fuel.)

However, EV fans may be surprised to learn that the second-place spot (a distant second) went to Honda, a brand that has struggled with its electrification efforts and until recently had no plug-in vehicle in its lineup. The Japanese brand has long specialized in smaller, fuel-efficient models, and it sells few of the trucks and SUVs that drag down most of the OEMs’ averages.

There’s good news and bad news in the new Automaker Rankings 2018 report: companies are making the cleanest cars in history, but they have drastically slowed the rate of improvement, despite having the technology to go much further. This is partly due to the industry-wide shift from cars to SUVs. However, a closer look at the figures reveals that some automakers have continued to reduce their average emissions, even as their SUV sales have grown.

“There is no excuse for this slowed progress,” reads the UCS report. “Engineers at these companies have consistently designed innovative technologies to make better, cleaner and more efficient cars that benefit consumers, and that comply with the emissions standards. But automakers barely deploy even some of the most cost-effective and readily available technologies in today’s vehicle fleet.”

“Manufacturers and suppliers have developed a wide range of technologies to reduce fuel use; many of these technologies have barely begun to be rolled out. History shows that in the absence of strong standards, manufacturers tend to use their resources to boost vehicle performance alone, foregoing reductions in fuel use and increasing emissions.”

Since UCS published its last Automaker Rankings report, Toyota, often thought of as one of the greener automakers, actually increased its average emissions. Detroit’s Big Three made an especially dismal showing: Emissions at Ford are roughly the same as they were four years ago, well above the industry average. GM is slowly beginning to market its Bolt EV, but sales volumes are still a tiny portion of its fleet, and the company’s average emissions are the second-worst of any major manufacturer. At the bottom of the list is Fiat Chrysler – the only companies with higher average emissions are low-volume builders of muscle cars, such as McLaren and Aston Martin.

None of this will be news to regular Charged readers. The legacy automakers regularly announce plans for new plug-in vehicles (mostly for the Chinese market), while quietly lobbying in Washington to eliminate or water down emissions standards. “The industry is not ready to walk the walk,” says UCS, adding that it hopes to see a change in attitude. “If automakers seize the opportunity to innovate and cut emissions, maybe the next Automaker Rankings will show that automakers are actually accelerating toward a cleaner future instead of fighting to slam on the brakes.”


Source: Union of Concerned Scientists

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