Clean Up Your Act
Going green when you purchase your next business car is getting easier, and your choices include more than just hybrids. Environmentally friendly sedans with low-emission gasoline engines--including Chevrolet's Impala and Malibu Maxx, Nissan's Sentra, and Toyota's Camry and Corolla--are making greener-car lists, too.
Honda's Odyssey is the cleanest minivan on the market, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, which ranks cars and trucks according to their impact on air pollution. The California Air Resources Board, whose emissions standards are among the highest in the nation, gives the nod to models such as the Honda Accord, Volkswagen Jetta, and Volvo's premium midsize sedan, the V70. Although some of these super ultra-low emissions vehicles and partial zero-emissions vehicles are currently available only in California, auto manufacturers are scheduled to eventually meet these standards for all states.
Scoring highest on the ACEEE's list for both low pollution and fuel economy is Honda's natural-gas-powered Civic GX, followed by the company's Insight hybrid. Among the top 12 are a number of sedans, including the Ford Focus, the Mazda 3 and the Toyota Prius. James Kliesch, the council's research associate, notes that buyers can buy greener cars and trucks regardless of what types of vehicles they're shopping for--gasoline, natural gas or hybrid. Even some SUVs, such as Ford's Escape Hybrid, are among the greenest, although large gasoline-powered SUVs and pickup trucks are among the worst offenders.
How do you choose a 2005 green car? Check out www.arb.ca.gov for a list of hundreds of zero-emissions and partial zero-emissions vehicles in dealerships this year. The table of reference includes engine size, fuel type and emissions standards. The ACEEE's website, www.greenercars.com, also identifies clean vehicles and is loaded with federally certified choices for your business.
Editor and consultant Jill Amadio has been reporting on the automotive industry for 26 years.