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Old 07-19-2008, 03:27 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Honda as a green company - perception overshadowing reality?

I believe it was SVOboy who recently posted an article which stated that Honda was the only major car manufacturer currently seeing gains in automobile sales. So strictly speaking to 2008 car models for sale, is Honda really that green in comparison to other car manufacturers?

Honda:

Fit: Subcompact - 28/34/31
Civic: Compact - 26/34/29
Accord: Full Size - 22/31/25
Civic Hybrid: Compact Hybrid - 40/45/42

GM:

Aveo: Subcompact - 24/31/27
Cobalt XFE: 25/36/29
Malibu: Midsize: Automatic Only - 22/30/25
Impala: Full Size: Automatic Only - 18/29/22 (E85 capable also)
Malibu Hybrid: Midsize Hybrid - 24/32/27
Pontiac G5 XFE: Subcompact - 25/35/29
Vibe: Station Wagon/Hatchback - 25/33/29

Ford:

Focus: Compact - 24/35/28
Fusion/Taurus - Both are poor in FE

Toyota:

Yaris: Subcompact - 29/36/32
Corolla: Compact - 28/37/31
Prius: Midsize Hybrid - 48/45/46
Camry Hybrid: Midsize - 33/34/34
Camry: Midsize - 21/31/25
Avalon: Full Size - 19/28/22


What I get from this list is that Toyota is far and away the greenest manufacturer right now. Toyota offers more hybrids in their lineup than any other car company, and they have 4 cars which average over 30 EPA MPG. Some of these cars are well over that mark.

Honda is second in line in terms of fuel efficiency, though they eclipse GM only because of the Civic Hybrid. The Civic has poor fuel economy by Civic standards, and is essentially tied with the Cobalt XFE. Aveo returned poor FE for a subcompact, and was even beaten out by the larger Cobalt, which leads me to wonder why there isn't an XFE version of the Aveo. Honda's Fit returns middle of the road subcompact FE.

GM's Impala and Malibu were available with only automatic transmissions, and are contrasted with the Accord, which was available with a manual, making this a slightly unfair comparison. That said, Honda won out slightly with the Accord (though you can take it with a grain of salt). Impala was available with e85, which Accord was not. But then again there was also a CNG variant of the Civic, so no net difference there.

The Civic Hybrid is the only car that really sets these two apart.

So this all leads me to the question of why people see Honda as such a green company. Could it be their past history for making highly fuel efficient cars? They seem to have a really bright future with the FCX Clarity potentially going into production down the road, but right now they're not nearly as superior to GM in terms of efficiency as people claim and Toyota kicks them all in the ass.

Just musing here. If it came down to it, I would probably buy a Honda for reliability.... though, every Chevy in our family has been 100% reliable as well.

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Old 07-19-2008, 03:31 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Fuel economy does not a "Green" company make.

In fact, it was nissan that won the "greenest car maker" distinction from the japanese government this year, even though their FE isn't nearly as good as Honda or Toyota.
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Old 07-19-2008, 03:37 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Sure, I get that. Emissions are hardly measurable to the common driver and the people who buy the cars though. How many people can actually tell you whether or not a Cobalt or Civic put out more carbon particles per mile? Moreover, how many people actually take that into consideration when buying a car?

Clearly people have been taking something into consideration when making Honda the far and away #1 choice this year, and I suspect FE is one of the big reasons.

Perhaps I should have just named this "Honda as a fuel efficient company".
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Old 07-19-2008, 03:41 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Well, I think if you look at the sales figures you'll see that Toyota saw it's drop from they're trucks and SUVs can smashed, which is just a market Honda never entered. If they had I'm sure they'd be sad about it, too,
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Old 07-19-2008, 03:50 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Yeah you have to include the yoder trucks in there too. Im sure that will put honda average fleet MPGs higher. Just wait until the new honda hybrid comes out, Im hearing 55-71 mpg and a price as low as 19k. 55mpg is the more likely end of the range in the states.
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Old 07-19-2008, 05:11 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I suppose that would make sense, since Honda doesn't really make heavy duty trucks.

It also doesn't change the fact that Toyota is still manufactures the most fuel efficient cars out there. I wonder what the sales comparisons are when only cars are looked at.
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Old 07-19-2008, 07:07 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Remeber, "green" car companies are not ranked like football teams.

You are talking about a reputation... hence any snapshot you take has to be chronologically and geographically more broad than what you are looking at here. Look at the global picture over time, and the company does well.

It doesn't hurt that Honda has consistently and voluntarily made not insignificant contributions in the area of emissions and efficiency.

Honda innovated the CVCC engine in the 1970's, eliminating the need for a catalytic converter, when other car companies were vocally arguing that the emissions requirements could not be met.

In 1998, Honda introduced its first natural gas powered Civic, and today is the only company that markets a factory built CNG car directly to the public. (See T. Boone Pickens, Jr.).

Honda introduced and marketed in 1999, nine years ago, an aluminum-bodied, highly aerodynamic vehicle and uniquely, ingeniously and hybridly powered car.

There are other specific examples, but either way, Honda is a leader if not the leader.
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Old 07-19-2008, 07:46 AM   #8 (permalink)
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They say perception is all that matters. If more people looked deeper auto sales would be very different than they are now across the board.
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Old 07-19-2008, 01:12 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atomicradish View Post
I suppose that would make sense, since Honda doesn't really make heavy duty trucks.
Honda doesn't make trucks at all, for the US market. (The Ridgeline is not a truck, but a large sedan without the trunk lid.)

As to the general question, you have to look at the fleet average, and at where the marketing dollar goes. Toyota may make some vehicles with good fuel economy; GM & Ford may sell some rebadged Japanese or Korean cars, but they mostly build and market the larger vehicles. Honda doesn't.
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Old 07-19-2008, 02:36 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I have a different take on it. Honda is making gains because their price point is right and they make very reliable cars. In hard times people want something that will last and although they might not have the best MPG's they give a great bang for the buck. Consumer reports on reliability.

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