Forbes Lists "America's Dirtiest Cars"

Cammy Corrigan
by Cammy Corrigan

There’s all kinds of controversy over what makes a car “green” and what doesn’t. Some point to size and efficiency, crucifying Hummers and full-size trucks as criminals against the planet. Others point to lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions, battery-component mining pollution and other less-obvious measures to excoriate hybrids. In any case, TTAC’s scientific department isn’t well-funded enough to issue a comprehensive report on the subject. Forbes may not have tested cars itself, or dug into true “dust-to-dust” footprints, but it’s gone ahead and published a list of “America’s Dirtiest Vehicles” anyway. Let’s take a look, shall we?

The article claims that to search out “America’s Dirtiest Vehicle” by using air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions data from the EPA. The EPA air pollution data is ranked on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the cleanest, 1 being dirty. “Air pollution” criteria are compounds like unburnt hydrocarbons, NOx fumes, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. And you thought smoking was a dirty habit! Greenhouse gases are done on the same 1 to 10 scale and are evaluated by measuring, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane emissions, which means the car’s fuel economy comes into play here. Less miles, more fuel burnt. More fuel burnt, more greenhouse gases emitted. In the event of a tie, they used combined fuel consumption figures to break the deadlock.

The article then goes on to its small print, namely, the vehicles which were excluded. Vehicles which were classed as “heavy duty” were exempt from this report because these vehicles aren’t subject to federal fuel economy requirements. Also missing were “super cars”; the reason being that they sell in such small volumes, it’s not worth counting them in. Saabs sell in small numbers, but I bet you they got put in this report.

So after setting out the parameters and established who’s being evaluated and who isn’t, what’s the result?

Well, according to Forbes, America’s dirtiest is . . . the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Yes, for once, Chrysler comes top in a survey. It scored 3 out of 10 for air pollution ratings and 2 out of 10 for greenhouse gas emissions. But the report decided to stick the boot in further buy saying “Even had we included those supercars, though, the Jeep Grand Cherokee still would have topped the chart.” Ouch! Not content with giving the Cherokee a battering, the report then deals its killer blow. “The flex-fuel engine—prized because it uses a renewable resource that reduces dependency on traditional gasoline—on the Cherokee was even worse: three out of 10 and one out of 10 for the air pollution and gas emissions, respectively.” That’s gotta hurt!

It then gets even worse for Chrysler, because not only did they secure top spot by a mile (insert your own MPG joke here), they also got a further four places in top ten. The Dodge Durango came in 10th, the Dodge Ram 1500 came in 9th, the Dodge Dakota came in 8th and the Chrysler Aspen came in 7th.

“We continue to drive our fleet average even lower,” Chrysler spokesman Nick Cappa, who was given the unenviable job of putting a positive spin on this report, said. “Chrysler Group products are 99% cleaner than vehicles of 30 years ago and meet or exceed United States federal emission standards, the most stringent in the world.” Reports of whether Mr. Cappa went into another room and burst into tears are unfounded.

The report then goes on to mention the rest of the top ten. “60% of the entries on our list are from domestic automakers. The remainder are German”. The other “dirty domestic” was the Chevrolet Trailblazer, which came in 4th. The list in full can be seen here.

Chrysler can take some heart in the knowledge that at least their electric and hybrid car plans will give them some much needed green credent—oh. Never mind then.

Cammy Corrigan
Cammy Corrigan

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  • JGlanton JGlanton on Nov 13, 2009

    For the Wikipedia glowbull warming scientists, let us check out the U.S. temperature for the past 100+ years. From the National Climatic Data Center. I encourage you to find your own CO2 graphs from a reputable source. Then re-explain the wiki assertions. Hmm, it's getting colder. I believe that I will spend Saturday re-igniting my dormant 454. Just gotta replace some fluids, lube the cylinders, spill a little hi-test into the Holley barrels, stir the 4-speed stick and roar off. I wonder if my cowl induction still works?

    • See 2 previous
    • Dean Dean on Nov 13, 2009

      JGlanton: from the very same source as your mean US temperature graph: Quote: Global surface temperatures have increased about 0.74°C (plus or minus 0.18°C) since the late-19th century, and the linear trend for the past 50 years of 0.13°C (plus or minus 0.03°C) per decade is nearly twice that for the past 100 years. The warming has not been globally uniform. Some areas (including parts of the southeastern U.S. and parts of the North Atlantic) have, in fact, cooled slightly over the last century. The recent warmth has been greatest over North America and Eurasia between 40 and 70°N. Lastly, seven of the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 2001 and the 10 warmest years have all occurred since 1995. I highlighted a statement that may help to explain the temperature graph you linked to. Please note that the term is "Global" warming. The US, contrary to what many seem to believe, is not the world. From the same site: Human activity has been increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (mostly carbon dioxide from combustion of coal, oil, and gas; plus a few other trace gases). There is no scientific debate on this point. Feel free to quibble with the contribution human-caused CO2 makes to global warming, but to deny the global temperature trend is up and to deny that humans have increased the concentration of atmospheric CO2 (I'm not claiming that you have made this argument) is nothing less than willful ignorance. Pointing to US-specific temperature data to back up your point is worse: it is willful ignorance mixed with parochialism.

  • JGlanton JGlanton on Nov 13, 2009
    I don’t know why I’m bothering, but; No really, you shouldn't have. This science moves quickly and quoting old magazine articles in non-productive. Quoting the MET is kind of a joke in climate science circles. Quoting a three year old, debunked BS report that is utterly false is even worse. They don't use real measured temperatures at the MET, they use fraudulent computer simulations that earn them more government payola. They made the 1930's cooler in their computers, and the 1990's warmer. But their own thermometers tell a different story and they ignore them. They use cherry-picked proxies. They use a single russian tree proxy at an 8-sigma deviation and tell us the world has a hockey stick curve when the rest of the trees say that we don't. Really, you shouldn't have bothered, until you catch up.
    • PeteMoran PeteMoran on Nov 13, 2009

      @ ritchie628 .... the real national sport: Anti-intellectualism. Yeah, as they say "please see the above".

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  • Theflyersfan I guess I should have kept my first ever car which was also a 1987 Nissan. Probably could have sold it for $50,000 by now if I was living in this fantasy world where used up 37 year old Nissans sell for the same price as a new Versa. I wish a link was here so all of us can check out this treasure among junk 200SX. The only way this car is even remotely worth that kind of money is if there are illicit substances hidden somewhere in the frame that, as part of the sale, you have to drive across the border and "make a delivery." Otherwise, get that thing off of my lawn.
  • Sobro Needs moar Roots.