Automakers Scolded

Eco-activists blacklist worst energy wasters.

Published: 21-Feb-2003

Car manufacturers are in the driver's seat when it comes to reducing smog, an environmental lobby group said yesterday.

Environmental Defence Canada (EDC) named its 10 cleanest and meanest machines at the Canadian International Auto Show to drive home their message that domestic car manufacturers are failing to clean up their act.

"General Motors has become a general menace," EDC executive director Burkhard Mausberg said of the auto giant that has six vehicles in the top 10 list of worst polluters.

The list was based on fuel efficiency, tailpipe pollution and the amount of materials used in manufacturing.

The seven-seat GMC Yukon XL K2500 came in third behind a Ferrari and Lamborghini followed by large models of the Chevrolet Suburban and Silverado.

But GM spokesman Richard James said EDC is blowing smoke since the pricey and heavy-duty SUVs on the list make up less than 5% of their total sales.

James said GM was just given three awards by the federal government for fuel efficiency in full-size, wagon and minivans at the show.

"I see this list focuses on compacts and subcompacts. It doesn't fit the needs of most consumers."

Prospective buyer Tom Pedden, who was sizing up SUVs at the show with his wife, Pam, said girth is a necessary evil in his case.

"It's not an ego thing. It's three kids, a dog, a big boat," Pedden said. "Otherwise, I'd have a two-seater sports car."

HONDA TOPS

Hybrid gas and electric cars led the greenest list with the Honda Insight edging out the Toyota Prius for top honours in emissions and fuel efficiency.

But it will take more green to be less mean since hybrid models cost thousands more.

Honda sales manager Bill Bunting admitted it would take gas prices to go over $1 a litre to recoup the added cost of their Insight, but the sacrifice for the environment would not mean less performance.

EDC director Mausberg said the government could encourage green vehicles by giving subsidies to car plants that make green cars and by providing more tax rebates, like the $1,000 Ontario gives to hybrid buyers.

"It's three kids, a dog, a big boat ... Otherwise, I'd have a two-seater sports car."

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