Special Coverage

Greater LA Auto Show

LOS ANGELES – In an announcement that will have bloggers and environmental activists buzzing for days, General Motors Corp.’s hybrid-electric Chevrolet Tahoe fullsize SUV won the 2008 Green Car of the Year Award from Green Car Journal, a magazine focused on the environment.

The Tahoe beat out four other finalists for top honors: the Nissan Altima Hybrid, the Mazda Tribute Hybrid and hybrid-electric versions of two other GM models, the Chevrolet Malibu and Saturn Aura.

Green Car Journal Editor and Publisher Ron Cogan stresses that the judges are most interested in innovations on new vehicles that move fuel- and emissions-reducing technology forward.

“People don’t think ‘green’ when SUVs are concerned, and generally for good reason, since SUVs often get poor fuel economy compared to most other vehicles,” Cogan says. “Chevrolet’s Tahoe Hybrid changes this dynamic with a fuel efficiency improvement of up to 30% compared to similar vehicles equipped with a standard V-8.”

The Tahoe Hybrid was selected by a majority vote of jurors that included environmental and industry leaders in addition to four of the magazine’s editors, including Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club; auto industry icon Carroll Shelby; comedian and car enthusiast Jay Leno; Christopher Flavin of the Worldwatch Institute; Jonathan Lash of the World Resources Institute and Jean-Michel Cousteau of the Ocean Futures Society.

“GM promised they would use hybrid technology, and use it where it would make the most difference, on the biggest vehicles,” says the Sierra Club’s Pope. “They have delivered with the Chevy Tahoe.”

Now that GM is squeezing more mileage out of its powertrains, observers are wondering just how much marketing and public relations mileage it can wring out of the new award.