The 10 Greenest Car Companies in the World

BMW X1 xDrive25e
BMW i3 Electric Car Production | BMW

How do you determine a car company’s environmental impact? Back on Earth Day, we looked at the concept from fuel economy and other effects the automakers’ vehicles have on the roads, mainly from a consumer standpoint. For the annual Newsweek Green Rankings, the publication takes information on a company’s energy productivity, waste levels, corporate sustainability programs, and emissions levels (along with other factors) to get a score for each.

Newsweek partnered with Corporate Knights Capital and HIP (Human Impact + Profit) Investor to conduct the in-depth analysis on the world’s top 500 companies. The information used for the top scores of 2015 comes from data through 2013, so there may have been slight shifts in the numbers in recent years. Still, these figures are the most recent for corporations and were published in June 2015.

Here are the 10 greenest automakers in the world according to the 2015 Newsweek Green Rankings.


Hybrid Honda Vehicle

10. Honda

It’s easy to see how Honda could be considered a green automaker. The Japanese company was one of the original pioneers of hydrogen cars and has had a fuel cell vehicle on California roads for years. Meanwhile, Honda ranked second among all automakers in fuel economy at the last tally. A deeper dive into the company’s production model reveals flaws in carbon, water, and energy productivity. Nonetheless, Honda scored 10th among world automakers and 316th among the top 500 global companies.

2023 Soul
2023 Soul | Kia

9. Hyundai

The Hyundai Motor Company, which includes Kia, has made huge leaps in its green car lineup in recent years. Following the arrival of the Hyundai Sonata hybrid, consumers got the first pure electric car from the corporation in the award-winning Kia Soul EV. We’re also waiting for the Sonata plug-in hybrid to clean up family commuting a bit. From the standpoint of corporate production and waste, Hyundai has its deepest flaws in energy and water productivity, though it placed ninth among automakers and 306th overall in the Newsweek rankings.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV
2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV

8. General Motors

You might think of gas-guzzling Suburbans and black-smoke-spewing Camaros when you think of GM, and you’d be right to do so. However, the General is making a push in the green car department with the new Chevy Volt, the Bolt electric vehicle, the Chevy Malibu hybrid and other products. As a corporation, GM is doing a decent job in its water productivity though it still needs to improve in energy use and carbon emissions. GM pulled in at eighth place among automakers and 289th overall.

Crosstrek Hybrid
Crosstrek Hybrid | Subaru

7. Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru)

Fuji Heavy, parent company of Subaru, is doing an excellent job in waste productivity, a category in which it scored a perfect 15 out of 15 in the Newsweek rankings. The corporation also scored in high in water productivity. As for energy and carbon productivity, Fuji Heavy could not have done worse — it scored 0% in both categories — so there’s a clear path to improvement, though it did rank 234th overall and seventh among automakers. Subaru, the third-most efficient brand by miles per gallon, only has one hybrid on the road.

Volkswagen ID.3
Volkswagen ID.3 Electric Car Production In Dresden | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

6. Volkswagen

It is fair to think of Volkswagen as another car company getting progressively greener. Between the VW e-Golf, the brand’s first pure electric car, and the many efficient clean diesel vehicles on the road, the brand ranked fifth in fuel economy in the last study. As a corporation, Volkswagen scored decently (if not exceptionally) in every facet of the study, with its highest marks coming in energy productivity. Overall, VW ranked 190th among the world’s 500 biggest companies in 2015.

Ford Lightning Electric
Ford Pro Leading Companies into Electrified Future

5. Ford Motor Company

Ford has been proud of its sustainability programs for years and it shows in the automaker’s solid scores across the board, good enough to win it fifth place among car companies on the Newsweek list. From the corporate standpoint, Ford is doing best in water and waste productivity. Hybrid car products like the C-Max and Fusion Energi, along with the Focus electric, carry the car’s green torch on the roads, while its efficient gas Focus has been saving millions of gallons of gas as the world’s best-selling car. It ranked 178th among the top global 500 in the green rankings.

Nissan Leaf
Nissan Leaf

4. Nissan

Nissan checks in at fourth place both in overall fuel economy and in the greenest auto company rankings. The brand features the world’s best-selling EV in the Nissan Leaf along with many other efficient models. As a corporation, Nissan is doing its best work in waste productivity though it could use a better system for conserving water during production. It landed in 152nd place among the global 500 studied for these rankings.

Mercedes-Benz plug-in hybrid
Mercedes-Benz plug-in hybrid | Atiwat Silpamethanont/NurPhoto Getty Images

3. Daimler AG

You might think of massive S Class sedans chewing up resources when you think of Mercedes, but parent Daimler also has the Smart cars under its wing and received excellent marks in carbon emissions and water productivity during the manufacturing process. You’re going to see plug-in versions of the C Class, S Class, and GLE utility vehicle models along with the electric B Class on the road in 2015, so the lineup is getting greener, too. Daimler ranked third among automakers and 73rd overall among the top 500 companies in the Newsweek rankings.

2019 Prius XLE Red AWD
2019 Prius XLE | Toyota

2. Toyota

You don’t need a deep dive into the statistics to know Toyota makes an effort at reducing its environmental impact. Between its efficient lineup that influenced the world market, the groundbreaking Prius hybrids, and efforts to pioneer the next big thing in hydrogen fuel cell cars, Toyota has done many great things on the green front. This study showed the corporation scores very high in every facet of the manufacturing process as well, with it highest marks in energy and waste productivity. Toyota placed 35th as a green company among the global 500.

BMW X1 xDrive25e
BMW X1 xDrive25e

1. BMW

When BMW came out with its electric “i” series, the automaker went out of its way to make the production model as sustainable as the cars were green. The project is working. BMW ranked 26th among the top 500 global companies in the Newsweek Green Rankings. It had exceptional scores in waste productivity, water productivity, emissions controls, and energy use. We bet the automaker’s zero-emissions plant where materials for the BMW i3 are made had a hand in this achievement.

If you’re looking for Tesla, the company placed out of the top 10 and behind Porsche in the Newsweek rankings — 431st of the top 500 global companies studied.

Source: 2015 Newsweek Green Rankings