Polluting oligopoly

A clutch of automakers to blame for almost all of the tailpipe emissions in the US

 
Published: Wednesday 15 January 2003

-- six companies control 91 per cent of the us automobile market. They are also responsible for more than 90 per cent of vehicular emissions in the country. This was revealed in an environmental rating of automobile companies in the us, conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists (ucs), a non-governmental organisation. The report is based on a biennial study, which evaluated vehicle models for 2000 and 2001, by analysing their emissions of smog-forming pollutants and greenhouse gases.

Honda Motors Limited topped the ratings followed by Toyota, Nissan, Ford, General Motors and Daimler Chrysler. Vehicles from these six companies account for 93 per cent of all smog-forming pollution and 92 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions, the two major environmental problems analysed in the study. The rating is based on the relative emissions of the average new vehicle (cars, sports utility vehicles, minivans and pickups) sold by each company.

The study notes that Honda, which has seven per cent share of the us market, has retained its position since the 1998 ranking largely because it offers the best fuel economy. It has been observed that companies with sales dominated by trucks are generally bigger polluters as the currently enforced environmental regulations permit trucks to pollute more than cars.

Green ranking
Automakers have been rated from cleanest to dirtiest by placing equal weight on their contribution to smog and global warming
Rank Rating (model year 2001) Highlights
1 Honda Sells fewest dirtiest trucks and the most best fuel economy vehicles. Average new vehicle emitted 21 per cent less greenhouse gases and 31 per cent less smog-forming pollutants.
2 Toyota It has reduced its fleet average global warming gas emissions from 2000 to 2001 model year, despite a continued shift to trucks and, in particular, to larger trucks.
3 Nissan Nissan’s most popular cars and trucks are consistently among the least fuel-efficient vehicles.
4 Ford Improved its ranking because of lower smog-forming emission trucks, but efforts offset by the low-fuel efficiency of its overall vehicle fleet.
5 General Motors (GM) Continued to move into the dirty large truck market.
6 Daimler Chrysler Vehicles are 10 per cent dirtier than average for smog-forming emissions and nine per cent dirtier for greenhouse gases.
Source: Mark Jason 2002, ‘Automaker Rankings: the environmental performance of car companies’, Union of Concerned Scientists, September, page 2.

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