GREENEST CAR MAKERS: Top 20 fleet brands eco-rated
26 April 2012
Being green is now about more than a firm showing its commitment to saving the planet - it's about lower tax and fuel bills too. Celebrating its fifth year, BusinessCar's survey rates the top 20 fleet brands for eco-effectiveness
Every year the emissions considerations of running a fleet take on greater significance as tax rules and budgets continue to tighten.
BusinessCar's annual examination of the green credentials of each manufacturer brings those considerations into sharper focus again, and this year we have a new winner to finally end Toyota's four-year dominance.
The criteria has stayed the same as last year, although the data source for some of the issues has been improved. Again we have 10 categories, each marked out of five to give a grand total out of 50, which we've doubled to get our percentage score.
The 2011 average score, and percentage reduction on 2010 figures now relate exclusively to UK fleet registrations rather than the total UK market, thanks to the data being this year provided by the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders, which also provided the figures for the best-selling model from each brand and how that compares with the sector average.
BusinessCar's tax calculator - www.businesscar.co.uk/taxcalculator - is the data source for the number of models below both 121g/km and 100g/km. Provided by Comcar, the system also provides the information on each brand's most efficient model.
The EU's website sets out each maker's Europe-wide individual CO2 target, based on the brand's average sales with an allowance for the weight of the car. The latest figures are for 2010 and show how far each manufacturer is from hitting its goal.
The average local air pollution rating comes courtesy of www.cleangreencars.co.uk, which ranks each manufacturer according to their performance in the categories of NOx, particulates, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions.
The final two categories are at BusinessCar's discretion, rating the current and future eco offering from each brand by using our knowledge and experience to award between one and five stars across the 20 brands.
A big improvement for Audi this year, rising above major rival BMW due in part to a significantly broader range at under 120g/km and below 100g/km. A decent array of future efficient tech also helped it score highly, as did the A3's average fleet CO2 emissions.
BMW pioneered low-CO2 vehicles in recent years but has in part been caught by rivals, although its emissions are still falling rapidly year-on-year. The ED models are best-in-class, but others are now competing, while having just one sub-100g/km model didn't help.
Citroen now has a good breadth of green tech covering diesel hybrid, pure electric vehicle, efficient diesel and low-emission petrol powertrains. Fleet average CO2 plunged last year, but the popularity of diesel in its range harms the local air pollution rating.
Ford is easing itself towards the front of the class for low-emission options, particularly in the development of low-CO2 petrol engines with its Ecoboost tech. A big fall on 2010's emissions and a good choice of models help boost the brand's score.
The impressive efficiency/power ratio of the new Civic heralds the start of Honda's real focus on emissions. The next couple of years will see the manufacturer aim for class-leading figures, which gives it plenty of room for improvement.
A fairly middling performance from the Korean brand, not stand-out in many areas, but only one low score, and that was from the number of sub-100g/km models. The range of low-emissions models is boosted by the launch of the new i30.
Like parent brand Hyundai, it was a middling performance from Kia, although more sub-100g/km models and better average emissions for the Ceed than the i30 swung the scores towards Kia. More green technology on the way would have helped.
BIGGEST CO2 REDUCTION
This feature is always a little skewed against Land Rover thanks to only building premium off-road vehicles, but a massive drop in emissions brought on in part by the launch of the Range Rover Evoque certainly helped this year.
The Japanese brand has been slow onto the low-CO2 bandwagon, but that could be about to change with the launch of the much-vaunted Skyactiv scheme to maximise efficiencies across the range.
Although previously left behind by premium rivals, the signs are that Mercedes is starting to redress the balance, the proof being a big drop in average fleet emissions last year. New sub-100g/km A-class will also help a lot.
BEST FOR LOCAL AIR POLLUTION
Benefitting from a range dominated by smaller cars, Mini's average fleet CO2 is very good, but there was only minimal improvement last year as the bigger Countryman was added to the range, and there is little in the offing to help reduce emissions in future.
The launch of the electric Leaf put Nissan at the front of zero-emission motoring, and one or two other developments have come through this year to show that the brand is finally taking emissions reduction on its mainstream models more seriously.
A very impressive result for the French brand, dislodging Toyota for the first time to top BusinessCar's green guide. A good range of tech to suit every fleet, Peugeot's only real weak point was its local air pollution rating thanks to its diesel-dominated sales.
Renault's focus on EVs hasn't led it to neglect the more mainstream parts of its range, with good recent improvements on the Scenic and Megane. Slow rate of improvement in average emissions should be rectified by these, along with the new Clio due in under a year.
LOWEST AVERAGE CO2
Seat's Ecomotive range of low-emission vehicles is gaining popularity in the corporate sector, while its fleet average CO2, how far it fell last year and the Leon's average CO2 all impress. The only worry is that there's little imminent to help make further reductions.
Skoda relies on smaller-capacity diesel engines to offer some very impressive emissions and mpg figures, particularly with the larger Octavia and Superb. They could, though, be having more of an impact on Skoda's average emissions figures.
The previous multiple champion of this feature slips slightly, but in part due to previous successes making it harder to keep showing year-on-year CO2 improvements. Hybrid leadership helps in a number of areas.
MOST SUB-100G/KM MODELS
New Ampera plug-in EV should help renew Vauxhall's growing reputation, having finally put itself at the same level as rivals that moved more rapidly to cut emissions in recent times. The brand also has a huge range of low-emissions cars across different trim levels.
Perennial runner-up in this BusinessCar piece, VW again finishes second. A good range of low-emission diesel models and some additional benefit from low-capacity petrol engines helps create an impressive all-round score, while alternative powertrains are now close.
A huge improvement for Volvo, jumping into the top three thanks mainly to the sub-100g/km Driv-e versions of the S40 and V50, which contributed to it being a massive 8.8% below its EU target. Future developments look set to keep the brand up in this lofty position.
Car makers green-rated 2012
Peugeot's combination of low-CO2 diesel, diesel hybrid and electric models saw it take the top spot from perennial bridesmaid VW, which narrowly missed out because of its smaller choice at sub-100g/km and the fact that it could be further under its EU emissions target.
Volvo jumped to third spot from mid-table due to the progress of its Driv-e brand in the corporate sector. Meanwhile, four-time champ Toyota's fall from first to a still-respectable fourth was caused partly by the Avensis - its biggest-selling fleet model - not comparing well with the class best for average emissions. The car, however, has recently been revised to solve that. Joint fourth was Peugeot's sister brand Citroen, another reaping the rewards of combining traditional efficient diesels with EV and diesel hybrid options.
At the other end of the table, Mazda is on the verge of a new era with its Skyactiv tech that will seep across the range, while Mercedes-Benz is also set for a series of enhancements that should see it move up the table.
Bottom was Land Rover. Back in the top 20-selling fleet brands at the expense of Fiat, the off-road specialist doesn't yet have much by way of green road cars, but they will come in time.
. Thanks to the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders for providing CO2 figures for the 2011 average, percentage reduction on 2010, the best-selling model from each brand, and how that compares with the sector average. Thanks also to www.cleangreencars.co.uk for providing our local air pollution ratings.