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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,


With a bumper crop of fuel-efficient vehicles driving sales and jobs growth, automakers and their suppliers are looking ahead to a brighter future after the dark days of the recession. Since June 2009 when the industry hit bottom, the American auto industry has grown 24 percent, adding 150,000 jobs in motor vehicle and parts manufacturing.

And as demand grows for fuel-efficient cars, so does the business case to ‘onshore’ the production of fuel-efficiency components. Thanks in large part to the first round of stronger fuel efficiency standards that began this year, this onshoring is already happening.

Hybrid production exemplifies this trend. With U.S. hybrid sales booming (up 63 percent this year), Toyota and Honda are bringing production to the U.S. Honda plans to bring all global Civic Hybrid manufacturing to its Greensburg, Indiana manufacturing plant from Japan. Toyota has also announced it would bring production of its Highlander Hybrid from Japan to its Princeton, Indiana plant and the Prius to the U.S. by 2015.

With greater hybrid production comes even more jobs related to building the key components. Already Ford has moved battery pack assembly to the Rawsonville Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and electric drive transaxles to the Van Dyke Transmission Plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

But hybrids and hybrid components are just the start of the story. With standards set to be finalized – which will double today’s efficiency to 54.5 mpg by 2025 – automakers

will need to make more fuel-efficient vehicles and buy more fuel-efficient components. The high volumes needed to meet stronger standards means that a large proportion of these components will be made in America.

Setting strong fuel efficiency standards means that manufacturers throughout the auto supply chain gain certainty for what innovative and efficiency-boosting products they should invest in. Regardless of one’s place on the political spectrum, we can all agree that changing the terms of the debate from ‘out’ to ‘on’ is a positive development for our country.


Roland Hwang is Transportation Program Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council