Greenest Manufacturer of the Year Award – The Contenders

The Green-Car-Guide.com Greenest Manufacturer of the Year Award will be a very closely-fought contest this year, with a shortlist of extremely strong contenders.

The award will go to the manufacturer who, in our opinion, has made the biggest impact in bringing lower emission cars to British car buyers. Two years ago we awarded the accolade to BMW, last year it went to Ford.

This year the competition is hotter than ever – which is exactly what we want. It shows huge progress by car manufacturers since Green-Car-Guide was founded more than three years ago. The fact is, virtually all car manufacturers are now, at last, taking steps to give us more efficient cars.

We’re not looking for a company that’s giving us just one ultra-low emission vehicle that sells in very limited numbers; although this may provide an example of excellent innovation, it isn’t making a big difference on a large scale. And we’re not looking for the promise of concept cars that may be here in a few years.

In keeping with Green-Car-Guide’s core philosophy, we’re looking at best-in-class emissions for cars that you can buy today – and the cars should also be great to drive.

So here are the car manufacturers that are shortlisted for this year’s award. This time the result will be announced on Green-Car-Guide during the first week of January. In A-Z order…

Audi

Audi has come late to the green car party, but is trying to make up for lost time. Although the brand has had efficient diesels in its range for a number of years, features such as brake energy recuperation and engine start-stop technology are now appearing on its models.

BMW Group

The BMW Group, including MINI, has been introducing its EfficientDynamics technologies across its entire range as standard. This means that, in the case of the BMW brand, highly efficient rear-wheel drive premium sector cars are now available, with huge advances in fuel economy compared to similar cars from just a few years ago; the latest 320d EfficientDynamics has emissions of just 109g/km CO2.

Citroen

Citroen has low overall CO2 emissions from its range, thanks mainly to its focus on smaller cars such as the C1 which can manage 68.9 mpg. The only currently-available electric car based on a manufacturer’s mainstream model is a C1, but it’s produced by a separate company, ECC.

Fiat

Fiat also has a very low CO2 average across its range, helped by cars such as the 500 which can squeeze 67.3 miles out of a gallon. Fiat has also introduced Eco:Drive, which is a system to help the drivers of its cars monitor, share and improve their economy and lower their emissions.

Ford

Ford has applied its ECOnetic technology to the Fiesta, Focus and Mondeo, and to its Fiesta and Transit vans. This results in the Fiesta ECOnetic having emissions of just 98g/km CO2, and the latest Focus ECOnetic is only 1g/km behind at 99g/km CO2. And the Fiesta, Focus and Mondeo are all regarded as having class-leading driving dynamics.

Honda

Honda’s hybrid Civic has now been with us for a while, but the big news is currently the Insight, which is billed as the ‘affordable’ hybrid. Although not a full hybrid like the Prius, the idea is that more people should buy the Insight as it’s cheaper than the Prius. Although not available in the UK, it’s only fair to note that Honda has also been a pioneer in the area of hydrogen, with the FCX Clarity.

Lexus

Lexus is almost appoaching an all-hybrid range. The new RX is only available as a hybrid in the form of the 450h, which manages to officially emit just 148g/km CO2 from a 2205kg 4×4. However the objective of Lexus is to achieve both performance and economy, in a luxury package. But this comes at a price – in top specification, the 450h costs over £55,000.

Peugeot

Peugeot, like sister-company Citroen, has a range that averages low CO2 emissions. The company also offers cars such as the Peugeot 207 Economique, which emits only 99g/km CO2. Peugeot believes it will be first to market with a diesel hybrid vehicle, the 3008 HYbrid4, but that won’t be here until 2011 so unfortunately it doesn’t count for this award!

Renault

Renault has a large number of low-CO2 cars in its range, including the Twingo and Clio. It should be noted that Renault, as part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, is positioning itself as the imminent leader in electric cars, which is genuinely praiseworthy, but as the cars won’t be here until 2011, we can’t include them in the judging of this award.

SEAT

SEAT offers Ecomotive variants of its models, which come with special CO2-reducing technologies. The Ibiza emits just 98 g/km, however SEAT has also recently announced new Ecomotive models; the Leon Ecomotive has CO2 emissions of just 99 g/km, while the new Altea Ecomotive models emit 119 g/km. SEAT combines such efficiency with its own chassis system, with the aim of also delivering an entertaining drive.

Toyota

The hybrid Prius has been an incredibly effective green car icon for Toyota, and deservedly, as the new Prius has exceptionally low emissions for a car of its size; it’s a five-seater hatchback that can claim official emission figures of just 89g/km CO2. The new Prius is also much better to drive than the last version. However in addition Toyota offers models such as the iQ which shows it can also produce revolutionary and innovative city cars.

Vauxhall

Vauxhall has its ecoFLEX models; the Corsa achieves 98g/km CO2 and 76.3mpg. The Insignia also comes in ecoFLEX guise, combining low emissions with great looks; the Insignia Sports Tourer returns 53.7mpg with emissions of 139g/km CO2. The forthcoming Ampera E-REV (Extended-Range Electric Vehicle) promises to be an excellent green car solution, but it’s not here yet!

Volkswagen

The BlueMotion range offers very low emissions, especially in the form of the new Polo and Golf BlueMotion. The Polo even beats the Prius with emissions of just 87g/km (in left-hand drive form), without any hybrid technology, although admittedly it’s a smaller car than the Prius. The new Golf BlueMotion emits just 99g/km CO2, which is again excellent for a car in this class. Even the Passat BlueMotion emits just 114g/km of CO2.

Volvo

Volvo has made huge strides with lowering the emissions of its cars over the last year. The DRIVe range represents the lowest-emission model variants, with the C30 DRIVe emitting just 99g/km CO2, and even the V50 estate managing just 104g/km CO2, which is excellent for a car of this size.

So all in all, there has been outstanding progress from all of these manufacturers; it’s going to be a tough job to choose a winner from such a strong field, but that’s just what we have to do, so check back to see the result in January.