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Hyundai-Kia Rated "Most Climate Friendly Carmaker" by UCS

(3BL Media/Justmeans) A new report just released by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), which ranks the environmental performance of the eight top-selling car companies in the U.S., had some interesting findings.

The report measured both smog-forming and global warming emissions for the model year 2013. First, the good news: every one of the companies evaluated has improved their global warming emissions compared with their 1998 average. This was, no doubt, influenced by the more stringent fuel economy standards. Cars that burn less fuel also give off less pollution. Overall, smog-forming emissions dropped by 87% since 1998. Global warming (GW) emissions, which have become regulated more recently, have dropped by nearly 20 percent. This reverses a two-decade trend, from 1985 to 2005, when gasoline prices fell and Americans fell in love with gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles. A slumping economy, followed by a slow recovery, saw relatively little investment in more-efficient technologies, a trend that has finally reversed. Letting the marketplace sort itself out, as free market cheerleaders have suggested, did not adequately reflect the long-term urgency of the global warming threat. It was only when the new regulations became law that we saw significant changes occur.

Most surprising perhaps, was the fact that for the first time, South Korean automaker Hyundai-Kia took the top spot, moving past long-time champion Honda. Hyundai-Kia made aggressive strides in improving its fuel-efficiency by shifting to smaller engines, adding turbo-charging and offering hybrid-electric versions of its most popular models, the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima. Honda continues to lead in several classes, including SUVs and pickup trucks, but has fallen behind in its midsize fleet, dominated by its best-selling Accord sedan.

Also disconcerting, though not totally surprising, is the fact that America’s Big Three were at the bottom in this list; all were rated below the industry average set by foreign-made vehicles. Looking at the list, the companies fall in line by geography, going from Hyundai-Kia, to Japan’s big three (Honda, Toyota, Nissan), to Volkswagen, to the best of Detroit. Domestically, Ford led the pack, followed by GM and Chrysler. These eight top-selling brands represent nearly 90% of all US vehicle sales.The differences between companies were significant with top-ranked Hyundai-Kia producing 26.4% less GW emissions than Chrysler. Ford was third most improved from last year, following Nissan and Hyundai-Kia.

Different companies are currently pursuing different technologies to improve their emissions, ranging from turbocharged gasoline engines, to hybrid electrics, to diesels, to plug-in hybrids and battery electrics. With EPA standards scheduled to tighten in the coming years, we can expect this trend to continue. GM has stated a goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 15% by 2017.

The UCS rankings were developed by taking the average per mile emissions for each

Tomorrow's Engineers Push Fuel Economy Limits in Shell Eco-marathon

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Last week I wrote a guest post on GM's Fast Lane blog on the future of transportation. The post examined some concept vehicles that GM has been testing that can communicate with each other enabling them to move down the road in synchrony, like a flock of birds or a school of fish might. This would not only improve safety but could also speed things up quite a bit while saving energy at the same time.

Over the weekend, I took another peek into the future as a visitor to Shell's Eco-marathon in Houston. Even if the slick little cars I saw quietly parting the sultry Houston air do not represent the shape of vehicles to come (though I suspect some will), I'm pretty sure I saw some of tomorrow's engineers and innovators in action in the paddock area, working feverishly to get their cars ready to compete. The students designed and built the cars entirely themselves, though they were allowed to work with mentors. The contest goal was to achieve the highest fuel economy.

There are two vehicle categories: prototype and urban concept and six eligible fuels: gasoline, diesel, ethanol, gas-to-liquid, battery electric, and hydrogen fuel cell.

The event goes back to 1939, when two shell engineers wagered over who could build the most fuel efficient car. The winner managed a respectable 49 mpg. This year's winners did quite a bit better.

Montreal's Université Laval’s Alérion Supermileage team took the top spot in a gasoline-powered car that achieved a fuel economy of 2,824 miles per gallon with their prototype vehicle. That would allow you to circle the globe at the equator on a little under 9 gallons, though I can't say it would be a particularly comfortable ride. As impressive as that sounds, it did not top the record set by the same team last year which was 3,587 mpg.

The urban concept category also saw a repeat by last year's champs, Mater Dei High School of Evansville, Indiana, who did manage to set a record in that category of 901 mpg.

All together some 126 teams participated from 5 countries. This was the Americas version of the event which also has counterparts in Europe and Asia. The 94 prototype vehicles consisted of 63 combustion type (including ethanol, diesel and GTL), and 31 electric (including fuel cell). There were also 32 urban concept vehicles.

American Carbon Registry Recognizes GM’s Sustainability Efforts

GM's sustainability efforts are now recognized by leading carbon credit non-profit American Carbon Registry.

GM to Produce New "Ecotec" Engine, Transmissions to Boost Sustainability

GM has announced more powertrain investments in several of its plants across the U.S.

GM Has Something to Twitter About When it Comes to Protecting Birds

GM has been recognized by the Detroit Audubon Society for its support of the Safe Passage Great Lakes project

GM Joins Solar Energy Industries Association

GM become a member of the Solar Energy Industries Association to further its commitment to sustainable energy.

GM's Baltimore Operations Facility Is a Sustainability Winner

GM's Baltimore Operations facility is awarded again for its commitment to sustainability.

“Safe Passage” Program Clears the Detroit Night Sky for Migratory Birds

bird-migrationThe Detroit Audubon Society recognized Chrysler Group LLC today for its support of "Safe Passage Great Lakes," a program that encourages owners and tenants of tall buildings to extinguish their lights at night during bird migration season.

ECOtality's EV Project to Help Expand Market for Electric Vehicles

ev-charging-station-blink-by-ecotalityECOtality, Inc., a clean electric transportation and storage technologies company, announced today that its Blink® smart charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs) will now be offered free in the

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