WASHINGTON, D.C. — A newly released version of the hybrid-electric Honda Insight has seized the position of "the year's greenest vehicle," says the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), publisher of ACEEE's Green Book®: The Environmental Guide to Cars and Trucks. According to the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization, Honda's advanced CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) version of the Insight took the crown spot for all Model Year 2001 vehicles during the latest update to GreenerCars.org, the online home of ACEEE's Green Book®.
"Honda has one-upped itself with the release of the CVT Insight," says Jim Kliesch, co-author of ACEEE's Green Book® and manager of the GreenerCars.org Web site. "When we released the Green Book in February, there was a tie for the greenest vehicle between Honda's manual transmission Insight and their natural gas-powered Civic GX. The CVT Insight, now with Super-Ultra-Low-Emission (SULEV) tailpipe emissions, has topped both of those."
According to Kliesch, the new Insight has cleaner tailpipe emissions than its stick-shift counterpart, although a slightly worse fuel economy. "Automatic transmissions are not as efficient as manuals," says Kliesch. "However, the CVT Insight's efficiency is still among the best on the road and, with the cleaner tailpipe emissions, that was enough to push it over the top." The new CVT Insight received a Green Score of 57, 4 points higher than the Ultra-Low-Emission (ULEV) manual transmission version.
ACEEE's Green Scores are comprehensive environmental vehicle ratings that account for both tailpipe pollution and global warming impacts - including "upstream" emissions from auto factories, petroleum refineries, and, for electric vehicles, power plants.
The CVT is an automatic transmission that provides a nearly infinite number of gear ratios for smooth and efficient shifting. "Use of a CVT allows for increased efficiency over conventional automatic transmissions, yet retains the automatics' ease-of-use," says Therese Langer, ACEEE's Transportation Program Director. "During this time of high gasoline prices, the continuously variable transmission should make the Insight appeal to even more consumers."
The release of this new version of the Insight also marks another milestone - the first time a gasoline-powered vehicle has topped the charts in ACEEE's Green Book®. "This is an achievement of which the automakers should be proud," states Langer. "It's hard proof that - even given the engineering challenges - the industry can produce cleaner and more efficient gasoline vehicles."
Monthly and annual subscriptions to the Web site are available at GreenerCars.org. The print edition of ACEEE's Green Book®: The Environmental Guide to Cars and Trucks may be ordered from ACEEE, retail booksellers, or directly from the GreenerCars.org Web site for $8.95 plus $5.00 shipping and handling. Bulk sales discounts are also available.