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For the eighth consecutive year, Green Car Journal is honoring environmental leadership in the automotive field with its annual Green Car of the Year award. The winner will be announced at the L.A. Auto Show.

This year’s finalists include the Dodge Dart Aero, Ford C-MAX, Ford Fusion, Mazda CX-5 SkyACTIV, and the Toyota Prius c. This ‘greenest’ field-of-five – representing not only the five finalists for the 2013 Green Car of the Year award but also Green Car Journal’s distinguished ‘Top 5 Green Cars for 2013’ – underscores the evolving auto industry’s increasing focus on efficiencies and tailpipe/CO2 emissions. It's also proof-positive that auto manufacturers are listening to the needs and desires of today's new car buyers. 

Green Car Journal has documented the 'greening' of the auto industry for over two decades, from a time of mere concepts and demonstration programs to today, when the number of environmentally positive production vehicles available to consumers is just short of amazing. And today it's not all about hybrids, which have become the de-facto answer to environmental progress in recent years. The answers being presented by major automakers encompass everything from a growing field of efficient gasoline-electric hybrids to high-efficiency gasoline and clean diesel vehicles, vehicles running on alternative fuels, and cars using plug-in electric drive.

This shift toward diverse 'green' vehicles is significant on many levels, providing excellent new car choices for buyers who want to drive cleaner and more efficiently while still experiencing the joy of driving. It’s also important to the imperatives of today, from reducing tailpipe and CO2 emissions to decreasing dependence on oil and thus enhancing our energy security.

The 'Top 5 Green Cars for 2013' illustrate the growing choices consumers have for going 'green.' The high mpg Dodge Dart Aero and Mazda CX-5 SkyACTIV show that conventionally-powered, internal combustion vehicles can indeed compete with the efficiencies of hybrids. Toyota's Prius c continues this automaker's tradition of offering all-new, high mpg hybrid models under the Prius name. The Ford C-MAX and Fusion illustrate how mainstream models can present drivers multiple high-efficiency choices – with the C-MAX offering both hybrid and plug-in hybrid iterations, and the Fusion offering these power options, plus fuel-efficient EcoBoost variants.

Importantly, all are affordable mass-market products that provide drivers full functionality and mainstream appeal, paving the way for making a difference in fuel use and overall emissions in daily driving. This availability is an important component of the Green Car of the Year program, since vehicles with great environmental credentials can only make a difference in decreasing CO2 and tailpipe emissions, reducing petroleum use, and improving overall environmental impact if they're available for new car buyers to purchase and drive.

The 2013 Green Car of the Year will be selected by a jury comprised of the nation's top environmental leaders, including Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune, Ocean Futures Society president Jean-Michel Cousteau, Natural Resources Defense Council president Frances Beinecke, and Global Green USA president Matt Petersen, plus Tonight Show host and auto enthusiast Jay Leno and Green Car Journal staff.

Which of these ‘Top 5 Green Cars for 2013’ will be selected as Green Car Journal’s 2013 Green Car of the Year? Stay tuned for news from the L.A. Auto Show on November 29,


For all of our Global Green projects to help communities, people, and the planet in crisis, we seek to reduce greenhouse gases and stem climate change. On the road, that means reducing emissions by promoting the use of public transportation, car sharing and carpooling, and driving vehicles that do not rely on fossil fuels.

 In this last year, one of our initiatives has been to help green the streets of Santa Monica, California, where we have our headquarters. For this pursuit, our focus has been on a vehicle that was invented long before the automobile. This type of vehicle reduces pollution, emissions, traffic, and parking congestion – and also helps drivers stay fit. I’m talking about the two-wheeled, human-powered bicycle.

Our policy and legislative team worked with the City of Santa Monica on its Bike Action Plan and bike sharing, bringing together businesses and community groups to discuss the possibilities and advocate for its adoption. We looked to cities such as Boston, Denver, Minneapolis, and Portland that have already seen the benefits of bike sharing programs. In addition to the positive environmental impact, bike sharing programs can improve the local economy, as bicycling cuts down on gasoline and other car-related costs and makes popular businesses more accessible.

Our efforts are paying off, as the Santa Monica City Council overwhelmingly voted to pass the Bike Action Plan with an added emphasis on bringing a bike share system to Santa Monica. We also helped the City of Los Angeles secure a Metro grant that will help fund bike sharing in Los Angeles.

We hope this will serve as a catalyst for communities across the Los Angeles basin and beyond to develop their own bike share programs and help us all depend less on greenhouse gas-emitting vehicles. After all, more bikes on the road will mean reduced greenhouse gases – and more room for the eco vehicles we still drive.


Matt Petersen is President and CEO of Global Green USA, the American arm of Green Cross International