BMW crowned greenest car manufacturer by AutoeBid for 2013

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It’s a tricky question. Major manufacturers are frustratingly enigmatic organizations and sparing with hard data offered into the public domain so AutoeBid has commissioned a report on who the top 3 green car manufacturers are.

BMW crowned greenest car manufacturer by AutoeBid

BMW crowned greenest car manufacturer by AutoeBid

Top 3 Greenest car manufacturers crowned by AutoeBid 2013 - BMW, Fiat and Volkswagen

AutoeBid has been using several sources including environmental sustainability reports, the chief source of information, often unnecessarily verbose documents running on for hundreds of thousands of words whilst revealing small or insignificant statistics in addition to the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes, which evaluate the sustainability (environmental/economic/social) performance of many of the world’s largest companies, offer some valuable insight. Three names have consistently appeared on those indexes recently: BMW, Fiat and Volkswagen.

BMW has appeared on the index every year since its launch in 1999. In 2012 a score of 99 percent made it not only the most sustainable automotive company but in the top three of companies from all sectors. To achieve this kind of recognition BMW’s road-going cars are not only amongst the least polluting vehicles available to the public, but their production procedures and the supply chains involved are also efficient. All of BMW’s production facilities are ISO 14001 certified and by 2020 the company hopes to have cut energy consumption per vehicle by nearly 50 percent compared with 2006. BMW also keep abreast of carbon dioxide footprints related to employee mobility, transport logistics and energy consumption for production plants. Biomass thermal power, landfill gas, carbon-neutral electricity from wind-turbines and even hydroelectric power will be utilized across the company’s facility portfolio from 2013. It’s all very impressive, and that’s before buyers consider that their practical estate offering – the 320d Touring – has more than 50 percent more power than an Vauxhall Adam supermini but emits fewer carbon dioxide emissions, and that later this year the all-electric, carbon fibre-bodied i3 will debut as the BMWi sub-brand’s first offering. BMW are breaking new ground in the environmental sphere.

Fiat might not have the prestigious transportation arsenal that BMW Group offers, but an average carbon dioxide emissions figure of 119g/km in 2012 meant it was the cleanest of the larger automotive manufacturers. Its 2012 Dow Jones Sustainability Index score was 91 percent, and whilst that rating was for the entire Fiat Group, it’s the Fiat brand’s innovative engines – such as the two-cylinder TwinAir – and a focus on compact and light yet safe cars that are responsible for such notable reductions in tailpipe emissions. Carbon dioxide emissions have also fallen on the company’s production lines, with a 10 percent drop during assembly and stamping and an 18.5 percent drop in water consumption per vehicle produced. Both figures cite 2010 as a base year. Fiat Group also hopes to achieve ISO 150001 (a new environmental management system standard introduced in 2011) for plants that together contribute 90 percent of the company’s energy consumption by the end of 2013. Currently 23 plants, representing 70% of total energy consumption, are certified. An inherently practical and utilitarian marque, Fiat’s work with alternative fuels consists of modifying commercial vehicles to run on natural gas in Europe and Flexfuel or Tetrafuel in South American markets, rather than electric or hydrogen drivetrains. Fiat did, however, recently offer an electric version of the popular 500 – the 500e – to buyers in California.

If not quite the world’s largest automotive manufacturer, Volkswagen Group is certainly there or thereabouts. The sheer volume of cars the company produces only emphasizes how important it is that both the product and the way it is made are as environmentally sound as possible. Volkswagen Group addressed mounting pressure to self-impose a carbon dioxide emissions target earlier this year by announcing that the Volkswagen brand would reduce average fleet emissions to 95/gkm by 2020 (the ball is already rolling with the new 85g/km Golf BlueMotion) with a more immediate target of 120g/km across the fleet by 2015. These are aggressive figures that will require serious commitment and substantial innovation to achieve, so Volkswagen has been bold.

Going on tailpipe emissions, it’s not surprisingly that these three marques have risen to the top of their respective markets. Fiat’s TwinAir models are amongst the most frugal superminis and small hatchbacks money can buy. Volkswagen owns the C-segment, offering a mixture of frugality and quality that has remained peerless over the last few years – can you remember a time when the Golf wasn’t top of its class? BMW make the world’s most efficient engines in the most efficient way; it, too, is unrivaled in the premium sector.

Where does all of this leave (increasingly familiar) electric cars? At point of use electric cars are as clean as it is possible to be – that means absolutely zero carbon dioxide emissions. Much has been said about the detrimental effects of battery manufacturing, however, and, like conventional vehicles, the rest of an electric car has to somehow be built as well. Renault knew questions would be asked when the new ZOE was launched early in 2013, and so prepared a figure they had calculated for the car’s overall carbon emissions: 54g/km. Not bad for a relatively spacious five-seat supermini.

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Amin Saleem

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