By on September 11, 2012

Producing the most fuel-sipping cars will have no impact on environment or oil reserves unless people buy those cars and carmakers sell them. This should be a truism, but too often it is ignored. Some cars are built with green halos, but with little regard for marketability.  Who’s cars really are the greenest?

Not much has changed since last time we looked at TrueCar’s TrueMPG  ranking. This is a sales-weighted ranking that tracks the MPGs of the cars that actually get sold, including engine size and drivetrain that affect a vehicle’s MPG ratings.

  Average TrueMPG
Manufacturer Aug-12 Aug-11 YoY %
Hyundai 28.1 26.2 1.9
Volkswagen 26.6 25.2 1.4
Honda 24.9 23.9 1.0
Toyota 24.5 23.3 1.2
Nissan 23.9 22.8 1.1
Industry 23.2 21.7 1.5
Ford 22.0 20.4 1.6
GM 21.6 20.4 1.2
Chrysler 19.9 19.3 0.6

Overall, the industry gained a mile and a half over August a year ago. The market share of small cars and smaller SUVs is up, which lifts the rating. Detroit does not look good on that scale. Ford is the best-looking of the top seven manufacturers, it also delivered an impressive 1.6 mile improvement.  Hyundai is far ahead of the field and delivered the best overall improvement.

  Average Car TrueMPG
Manufacturer Aug-12 Jul-11 YoY %
Hyundai 30.0 28.2 1.7
Toyota 30.0 27.5 2.6
Volkswagen 27.8 26.6 1.2
Honda 27.8 27.5 0.3
Industry 27.2 25.3 1.9
Nissan 27.1 25.5 1.7
Ford 26.4 25.2 1.1
GM 25.7 23.6 2.2
Chrysler 23.6 23.0 0.7

Looking at cars alone, Hyundai and Toyota are even, with Toyota having the most impressive improvement. Detroit is at the bottom.

  Average Truck TrueMPG
Manufacturer Aug-12 Aug-11 YoY %
Hyundai 23.7 23.5 0.2
Honda 22.3 20.9 1.4
Volkswagen 21.8 21.0 0.8
Nissan 20.1 19.7 0.4
Ford 20.0 18.4 1.6
Industry 19.8 19.0 0.8
Toyota 19.2 18.8 0.5
GM 19.0 18.6 0.4
Chrysler 18.3 17.9 0.4

Do I hear “But this is unfair?” Detroit is heavy with trucks, and they use more gas. Well, they do.

When looking at trucks alone, GM and Chrysler are at the bottom of the field, with Toyota taking third. Ford has an impressive showing with two notches over the industry average. However, even with trucks, Hyundai reigns supreme.

TrueMPG by Brand
Brand Aug-12 Jul-12 Aug-11 YoY% MoM%
smart 35.7 35.7 36.2 -0.5 0.0
Fiat 32.1 32.0 32.5 -0.4 0.1
MINI 30.0 30.0 30.3 -0.3 0.0
Hyundai 28.3 28.1 27.1 1.2 0.2
Volkswagen 28.0 28.0 26.6 1.5 0.0
Kia 27.9 27.5 25.1 2.8 0.4
Mazda 27.2 27.1 23.9 3.3 0.1
Scion 27.0 27.2 25.8 1.3 -0.1
Honda 25.4 25.6 24.4 1.1 -0.1
Mitsubishi 25.2 25.5 22.5 2.7 -0.3
Toyota 24.7 24.4 23.3 1.4 0.3
Subaru 24.7 24.8 23.5 1.3 0.0
Nissan 24.4 23.7 23.2 1.3 0.8
Suzuki 23.6 23.7 23.7 -0.1 -0.1
Buick 23.2 23.1 20.5 2.7 0.1
Industry 23.2 23.1 21.7 1.5 0.1
Audi 22.4 22.4 22.3 0.1 0.0
Chevrolet 22.3 21.8 21.0 1.4 0.5
Lexus 22.3 22.4 22.3 0.0 0.0
BMW 22.2 22.5 19.9 2.3 -0.3
Ford 22.0 22.1 20.4 1.6 0.0
Chrysler 21.7 21.8 21.0 0.7 -0.1
Acura 21.3 21.5 20.7 0.7 -0.2
Volvo 21.3 21.4 20.5 0.8 -0.1
Lincoln 21.3 21.0 20.3 1.0 0.4
Dodge 21.0 20.5 20.3 0.8 0.5
Mercedes 20.7 20.4 18.5 2.2 0.3
Porsche 20.6 21.8 19.0 1.6 -1.3
Infiniti 20.2 20.4 20.0 0.2 -0.2
Jeep 19.2 19.4 18.6 0.5 -0.2
GMC 19.1 18.9 18.5 0.5 0.2
Cadillac 18.9 18.9 19.1 -0.2 0.0
Jaguar 18.0 18.1 18.1 -0.1 -0.1
Ram 15.8 15.8 15.5 0.3 0.0
Land Rover 15.1 17.8 14.3 0.9 -2.6

Looking at it by brand gives this picture.  If you want it broken out in different ways, head on over to the TrueCar site. If you want it broken out in ways TrueCar does not supply, I’m sure that for a nominal fee of $50,000  to $100,000 per report, it might be possible to supply the data.

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20 Comments on “America’s Greenest Cars Still Aren’t American ...”

  • avatar

    > I’m sure that for a nominal fee of $50,000 to $100,000 per report, it might be possible to supply the data.

    Ostensibly, somebody has had some experience dealing with third party research firms…. (I always said that our motto ought to have been “You’ll love our commissioned sales staff!”)

    Not a lot of YOY change, but interesting to note that Mercedes is one of the ones with the largest gains… product shift to more B’s and C’s and less E’s and S’s?

  • avatar
    Freddy M

    This is a good report to see what the market as a whole is buying.

    If I want to buy a single car for personal use, I’d compare individual MPG ratings for cars I’m considering as well as consumer feedback on actual mileage. As it is this report doesn’t really serve well as a purchasing tool. But it does confirm my suspicion that Toyota sells a lot of fuel economical cars.

    It’s too bad Merc and BMW couldn’t use their Mini and Smart brands to bump them up over the industry average.

  • avatar

    Here’s another truism: when comparing lettuce and (fresh)beef, the lettuce will always be greener.

    Some people need beef, and because this is America, even if they don’t need beef, they’re entitled to have beef if that’s what they desire.

    Don’t get me wrong. Lettuce is great. But so is beef. Beef sells. For some people, it’s beef or nothin’.

    Beef also makes money. Way more than lettuce. Beef sellers aren’t going to stop selling beef as long as there’s both profit in it and strong demand…arbitrary comparisons to lettucemongers be damned.

  • avatar

    No matter how many times this gets posted, it’s still bunk.

    The statement “greenest car” implies qualification based on an intrinsic characteristic (the quality of being “green”) of the car, not an external characteristic independent of of the car’s design, manufacture process, shipment method, lifespan, etc (sales). According to this methodology, a company could make a car out of waste products that runs on sunshine and dandruff and never wears out, but if few people buy it, it isn’t a green car.

    I reject such a notion, just as I reject most ‘facts’ presented in The Enquirer and Weekly World News (they have best photoshops!).

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Ignore the man behind the curtain. Ford sold over half a million F-150’s, Chevy sold over 400,000 Silverados (throw GMCs in and it probably totals 500,000), and Dodge sold over 200,000 Rams. These are just tables showing that companies who don’t make and sell full-size pickups in volume have a better corporate fuel mileage average. Well duh! There needs to be a table showing the best selling vehicles too. Top selling car? The Camry at 308,000.
    Didn’t mean to offend the drivers of full-size Toyota and Nissan trucks, they just don’t sell that well.

  • avatar

    Let me know when Hyundai sells a full size truck.

    Hyundai wins trucks because it sells something like a Tucson and Sante Fe and very few of anything bigger than that.

    When you look at the trucks that Chevy, Ford, Dodge, and Toyota sell, it becomes obvious why there is a difference. Note that Hyundai sells nothing in large truck, large car, or the large SUV categories according to true car. I wonder why their numbers are so good?

    TTAC should do a much better analysis of this and not say, well Hyundai wins on trucks to.

  • avatar

    How much of Hyundai’s advantage comes from making up their EPA numbers? Even their hp numbers are suspect. The “201 hp” Veloster Turbo is about as fast as one might expect of a 160 hp car with its curb weight, never mind the claimed 195 ft/lbs of torque it supposedly produces.

  • avatar
    01 ZX3

    Hyundai and Honda don’t make a single BOF truck/SUV, no wonder their in 1st and second in the “truck” category.

  • avatar

    And the greenest mode of transportation is still public transportation, specifically by rail. So whats the moral of the story? Sell you dang Prius, and ride Amtrak and local rail transit services while biking, walking, or taking a bus or cab to the nearest station.

    You cannot not not be green and drive a car. Simple as that.

  • avatar

    I don’t know guys. Maybe I grew up in the wrong generation.
    But to me a truck MEANS a truck. (Seems that things were simpler a while ago…)

    A pick-up truck is a truck. A garbage truck is a truck. A semi is a truck.
    But an SUV is not a truck: that’s why it’s called “SUV”.
    A van is not a truck that’s why it’s called “van”.
    A crossover is not a truck: that’s why….well, you get the idea.

    I’d like to see the table reworked so that only real trucks are represented by manufacturer AND model, so that we know exactly where the MPG numbers are coming from. Last time I checked, only Ford, Chevy, Dodge, Toyota, and Nissan made the real trucks that anyone here would care about; and among those, there must be 20-25 models for a nice tidy data table.


  • avatar

    Americans have the cheapest gas in the world and is a huge market so it stands to reason that the local manufactures would not have any good reason to make comparatively economical cars. Same applies to buyers…
    It’s not a fair statement to make but it is not a comfortable one either in these economically stressed times.

    • 0 avatar

      “Americans have the cheapest gas in the world”

      This is a gross exaggeration, trying checking the price of fuel in some of the ME countries where it is heavily subsidized.

      A truer statement would be of the occidental countries, the US has the cheapest gas (guessing so, but that might not be true as well).

  • avatar

    This reflects what people buy from Detroit, not what the OFFER to sell. This is written as if Detroit doesn’t offer vehicles that get the high mileage…but that’s not the case. Ford offers 40 mpg Fiesta, Focus…hybrid Fusion/Lincoln Z…the Escape Hybrid (soon to be replaced by the C-Max)…etc. It’s no secret imports enjoy a stronger image in fuel economy and cars, for that matter…hence their advantage in the sales weighted numbers.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    WFT is going on with all the Green slanted stories. Did TTAC management get a report which says they are missing out on the Liberal net surfers because gas MPG is under-represented in their reportage? So this week, we get bombarded with stories about Volts, Pria, green cars, etc., Ad Nauseum.

    Yer makin’ me want to puke.

    Please do a story on ANYTHING with a big-as-Billy-be-damned V-8. Us gearheads out here are in withdrawal, dammit.

  • avatar

    This is just silly. Of course the EPA lumps them together for simplicity, but anyone with any sense can see that a Korean compact car-based SUV and a full size American pickup are not comparable vehicles.

    We should really be striving for better accuracy or at least an attempt at accurately explaining the numbers. If your local paper picked up the story as is, your avearage Jane/Joe would really get a skewed idea.

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