Hyundai-Kia beats Honda as 'greenest' automaker in US

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Hyundai-Kia has unseated Honda to become the new "greenest" automaker in the U.S. market, according to a report released Tuesday by the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

The report, the sixth evaluation of its kind by the UCS, ranked eight bestselling automakers in the United States based on the emissions of both global warming and smog-forming pollution of their vehicles in 2013.

For the first time since the UCS began its Automaker Rankings report in 1998, all the eight automakers improved their environmental performance thanks to new technologies and stronger standards for fuel efficiency and tailpipe emissions in the United States, the report said.

Hyundai-Kia came out in first place thanks to an effort to improve its fleet's green performance by turbocharging and downsizing engines in a number of its models, the report showed, adding that the automaker introduced hybrid-electric versions of two of its top-selling vehicles, the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima.

It marked the first time that another company has bested Honda, which came in second this year but has earned every "greenest automaker" previous accolade from the UCS since 1998.

"Honda continues to lead the way in many vehicle classes, but it's started to lag the industry average in its midsize fleet -- which includes its best-selling Accord, and accounts for a quarter of the company's sales," said Dave Cooke, a vehicles analyst in the Clean Vehicles Program and the author of the report.

Toyota, Nissan, and Volkswagen tied for third place. Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler continued to bring up the rear, as they have in every automaker ranking, the UCS said.

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