Love that new-car smell? Not so fast …
Honda said it was pleased to have four models in the top 10 this year. Gearhart pointed out 83 per cent of its vehicles had PVC-free interiors, compared with zero just a few years ago. It pushed to find cost-effective substitutes.
"Over the past decade, Honda has taken a number of steps to reduce or remove chemicals of concern from our vehicles," said Marcos Frommer, American Honda's chief spokesman. "We voluntarily report these efforts in our annual North American Environmental Report."
Gearhart said his group tries to reach out to companies that do poorly to explain their testing approach and talk about finding safer substitutes for toxic chemicals.
A key factor is considering their use at the earliest design phase, not as an afterthought.
"If you try to do it at the end of the design process where you try and swap that's where you sometimes get into the cost issues," he said.
Automakers have already learned to do this when it comes to the recyclability of a vehicle's component parts, he pointed out.
While there are no North American standards, Nissan, which has one model in HealthyStuff's top 10 and one in the bottom, uses VOC standards set by Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. It's complied since 2007 but "we try to exceed and go beyond that," says Tim Franklin, Nissan Canada's senior manager of global product planning.
So should you add HealthyStuff's list to your vetting process when new-car shopping, along with performance, fuel economy and crash-test data?
It sure can't hurt to reduce your exposure. There are no specific government standards for car interiors but Health Canada spokeswoman Christelle Legault pointed out via email that the government is working to reduce VOC exposure in consumer products.
She wouldn't comment on HealthStuff's list, saying the department hadn't reviewed it.
A 1967 Shelby GT500 Super Snake sold for $1.3 million. Do you think classic cars were made better than modern rides?
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- Yes, the quality of cars from the 1960s and '70s is the best
- No, modern technology makes cars better today
- Maybe, it's hard to say since most Canadians get a new car every 10 years