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2012-11-30 10:57

GREEN STAR OF THE SHOW: Ford's Fusion has been praised for offering buyers a variety of engine choices from conventional combustion to plug-in hybrids.

LOS ANGELES, California - Ford's Fusion has won a 'Green Car of the Year' title at the 2012 Los Angeles auto show. The award, sponsored by Green Car Journal, recognises leadership in reducing exhaust emissions.

Journal editor Ron Cogan said: "It won by virtue of the fact that it offers an array of choices." The Fusion is available in conventional engine choices as well as plug-in and hybrid versions.

Dave Mondragon, general marketing manager at Ford, said: "This is a great testament to the transformation of our brand."

HYBRIDS NOT TAKING OFF

Previous winners include the Chevrolet Volt and Honda's natural gas-powered Civic. Despite automaker's focus on green energy, hybrids such as the Toyota Prius and Volt still account for less than 3% of new-vehicle purchases in the US.

The Fusion's petrol base model has a fuel consumption of seven litres/100km, the hybrid is gets 5.2 litres/100km. The plug-in Fusion Energi includes 32km of electric-only power with a backup petrol-electric hybrid powertrain.

The average fuel economy of Ford's cars and trucks for model year 2011 was 11 litres/100km, down from 14 in 2006. The industry average for 2011 was 10.7.

Sales of battery cars such as Nissan's Leaf and the Volt have not reached expectations, despite high fuel prices. This is in part due to the cost and conventional combustion engines are becoming more fuel-efficient.

Underscoring the automotive industry's recent toward fuel economy, each of the five finalists for the 2012 award is available to the mass market. They are the Dodge Dart Aero, Mazda CX-5, Toyota Prius C, the Ford C-Max and the winning Fusion.

'NOTHING EARTH-SHATTERING'

Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing for Consumer Reports, said the past couple of years had been characterised by incremental improvement rather than breakthroughs when it came fuel economy. "There's not a whole lot of 'hit 'em right out of the park' vehicles here. There's no new Tesla. You look at the Green Cars of the Year. There is nothing really earth-shattering."

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