The automobile manufacturers are locked in a design race to produce the best vehicles of the year. Given the current state of the economy, the high fuel costs and the uncertainty of the world’s oil supply, the race to design the most ‘green’ machine is even stronger this year.
It’s no longer a case of the best vehicle, because being the best has a different meaning for different people. For many, the best in today’s world means the greenest.
The American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) is a non-profit organization committed to promoting and advancing energy efficiency to protect the environment while keeping the economy strong. The ACEEE publishes a product called the Green Book. In this book is the listing of the Green Scores and environmental information about every vehicle that is available in the model year. It also lists the top 12 ‘greenest’ vehicles that are on the market in that year.
The scores for each of these three top vehicles were very few points apart. The Honda Civic GX topped the list with a whopping total of 57 green points. In second place, the Toyota Prius had 53 points and the Honda Civic Hybrid came in third with 51 points.
This highly regarded Green Score is actually a numeric value assigned to the vehicle’s impact on the environment. This score is determined by the ACEEE. The ACEEE looks at several factors to determine this score, including:
- Fuel economy
- Exhaust emissions
- Other emissions that affect global warming
This is one situation where a high score counts - as the higher the score - the more environmentally friendly the vehicle is according to the ACEEE. When you think green you need to think small or alternatively, think hybrid. The ACEEE listed the top 12 vehicles for 2008. Of these, one third of them had hybrid powertrains. This is matched to an internal-combustion engine with an electric motor. This provides an improved fuel economy while reducing emissions.
Hybrids stand out on the market. Even with the downgrading on their fuel economy ratings with the new EPA calculations, hybrids still offer excellent savings. ‘Hybrid sales increased by a solid 40 percent last year alone,’ says an ACEEE analyst. “This interest in hybrid vehicles should shine the spotlight on other green technologies that can significantly improve fuel efficiency.’
The Honda Civic GX has made ACEEE’s ‘Greenest’ list for several years now and is at the top for the second year in a row. This vehicle is not a hybrid; it is a natural gas powered vehicle. It does not get the same fuel economy that some other vehicles may achieve, notably some hybrids however, it gets high points for two main elements:
- High efficiency
- Close to zero emissions
The combination of all three elements keeps this innovative vehicle at the top of the automobile world. It is interesting to note that this vehicle is not available for everyone. It is only offered for sale in California and New York.
Worth a special note is the 2008 smart fortwo car that came fourth on the Greenest list. This Mercedes-Benz car is new to the American market. Small, at less than nine feet long, this coupe or convertible model with its 1.0 liter engine is the smallest car around. It is low on power but does manage to achieve 41 mpg when driving on the highway.
2008 Honda Civic standard safety equipment:
- Anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brake distribution (EBD)
- Driver & front passenger dual-stage, dual-threshold airbags (SRS)
- Driver & front passenger side-impact airbags w/passenger side occupant position detection system (OPDS)
- Side curtain airbags
- 3-point seat belts in all seating positions w/front adjustable seat belt anchors, front automatic tensioning system
- Childproof rear door locks
- Outboard child safety seat anchors (LATCH)
- Emergency trunk release
- Side-impact door beams
- Daytime running lights